Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Black Axe Hardcover!

It's been a looooong time coming, but this week, Black Axe arrives in-stores as a hardcover collection! I wanted to take this blogpost to talk about the book and its extras. To the left is the wraparound cover, which I covered in a process blogpost earlier this year. For those who didn't follow the series in issue format, Black Axe is a prequel book that takes place about 40 years before my Fall and Winter books. My rule as I went about telling this story was "the only point of a prequel is to add insight, perspective, and weight to the existing books".

Black Axe is a longer book than Fall and Winter. The issues are the same size, but I've added more hardcover extras than ever before. To bundle all the stuff together and make sure it all was in the correct order, that two-page-spreads covered the right places, and that I was on target with all the extras I had to produce, I made a pagination guide. It shows all the interior pages as two-page spreads (even numbered pages on the left, odd on the right) and came in very handy not only for myself, but also when handing all the files off to Archaia.

Black Axe will start with a Prologue...which is a reprinting of the 2010 Free Comic Book Day story. While "The Black Axe" isn't mentioned in that story, the themes and story meld well with the spirit of the prequel story. This marks the only time a Mouse Guard Free Comic Book Day story has been reprinted/republished (though when I have enough of the more recent stories like The Tale of the Wise Weaver, The Tale of Baldwin the Brave, and The Tale of Thane & Ilsa, I'd like to collect those together).

After the contents of the 6 issue story, is a new Epilogue. The epilogue is a bit shorter than the past ones, but with a different visual style than anything I've done with panel-by-panel storytelling. Obviously, I can't give much away about what the epilogue covers, but I'll say that I used it to tie up two loose ends I saw...one from a story point of view and another from a moral point of view.

Then we have the extras. In Fall and Winter there were 8 pages (four two-page-spreads)....for Black Axe, there are 22 (eleven two-page-spreads). These make up location guides, multiple maps, better looks at artifacts, and ships. Below I'll share a few examples of some of the inked original art for the guides:

All six awesome pinups will be included in the hardcover. I love seeing other artists interpretations of my mousey world. So huge thanks to the following folks for their pieces:

Mike Mignola (colors by Dave Stewart)

The last thing I'll note is also the most unusual and biggest surprise (even for me). The Foreword was written by Monty Python's own Terry Jones! When Editor in Chief Stephen Christy asked me to brainstorm about who I would like best for that task and told me to "dream big" with suggestions, Terry came up as being a big longshot. I'm a big Python Fan, but Terry seemed like a wonderful fit also because of his background in medieval history and his work in children's books. I was floored when Stephen got back to me saying that through some connections, he'd reached Terry and that he'd be pleased to write something. Thank you,
Sir Bedevere, the Nude Organist, and Mr. Creosote.

Watercolor Wednesday:

Last week's pieces came from the basic principle that it's always fun to draw animals with clothes (I've made a career out of it so-far). I wondered what animal it would be fun to paint that I hadn't tackled already and I decided on parrots. I started with two, but after a friend saw them, he encouraged me to do some more. So last week saw 4 paintings.

Upcoming Appearances:
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21
Boston Comic Con: August 3-4
Baltimore Comic Con: September 7-8
New York Comic Con: October 10-13


Craig said...

My daughter and I have been waiting for this book! I've also been sharing your blog with everyone. Thanks for your great work.

James Anderson said...

Congrats on your book and getting Mr. Jones for the forward. I can't wait to read it!

Anders K. Sekanina said...

I have been waiting for this ever since the first issue came out. Looking real forward to it! :D

Cheryl said...


Blog Archive