Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jan 2013 Q & A

This week's post will become a semi-regular topic: Fan/Reader Question and Answer. I put out a call for questions on Facebook and Twitter, and received more than one post's worth, so I'll break this up and post another one in the near future and also then put out a call for more questions.

I apologize in advance that due to the nature of this topic, there will be very little in terms of visuals to spruce up the post.

Q: What is your timeline for books on the Weasel Wars?
-Katie Timko Bath

A: I have not yet started writing, plotting, or planning the schedule for my next full Mouse Guard series: The Weasel War of 1149 (which will most likely be an 8 issue arc instead of 6). After I finished Black Axe and Legends Vol 2, I decided the timing was right for me to take a break from Mouse Guard. I have another creator owned project I'm planning on releasing in 2014 as a one-shot 48-64 page graphic novel. Once I finish that project, I will start The Weasel War, but don't expect it to be solicited until I'm several issues into the series...for my sake and yours I don't want to be under the deadline gun every issue.
Q: Have you started working on your "taking a break from Mouse Guard" project yet? If so how goes it?

A: Speaking of that project, no, I have not started yet. At least not in earnest. Due to various cover work, conventions, and some personal commitments, I have yet to get a real chance to dive in. However, I did sit down with two other creators (on separate occasions) and verbally walk them through the story and each were positive about it and what they thought I'd do with it. That is like a step zero for me, before I start a story, I'll often verbally tell it to a few trusted folks (tightening up the overall flow with each re-telling) and get their knee-jerk reaction. So step zero: check! Now to just do all the rest...and there is a chance I'll not get to it before getting back to more Mouse-work.

Q: What do you DO with all those elaborately constructed models when you're done with them? Do you keep them? Is there an entire replica of the Mouse Guard world in your home?
-Barbara Guttmann

A: Most of the models I build have stood the test of time and are carefully stacked on the tops of the bookshelves in my studio. A few were built rather quickly in the early days, without thought of longevity, so they bit the dust and were scrapped (the gates of Lockhaven, an early model of Gwendolyn's office, and the interior of Sprucetuck are among these). But most of the rest I either made of sturdier stuff or I've gone back and reinforced and improved. After all, I do plan on returning to these location in the Mouse Guard world, and they are super handy as reference. There are a few problems with displaying them in a world of Mouse Guard fashion: 1) As you implied, they would all take up a great deal of space, as it is I've dedicated almost all the spare space I have to storing them stacked and puzzle pieced together. 2) None of them are in the same scale, so putting them next to each other for viewing always seems a bit wonky to me. And 3) None of these are built as display models, they are all made of scrap materials and often they are modular, so there is only 1/2 a room built, and it's all paper glued to cardboard. Someday I'd love to do a few real models of some of my favorite rooms with layed tile floors, cellophane windows, and wood trim.

Q: Will there be Spring & Summer books?
-Ben Farrow

A: I started a pattern there with those first two books that implied I was going to round out the year of 1152 (or carry over into 1153). However, the titles of Fall and Winter work as a homonym & metaphor respectively. Fall works as the Autumnal season, but also that there is an uprising with a potential potential fall of the Guard. Winter can be a metaphor for the end of someone's life, and that is a meaning I meant to imply in that book. As for why no Spring or Summer, I don't want to plan out every day of these character's lives (for your sake and mine). I'd rather leave some open space, for you to imagine your own adventures, for me to leave wiggle room for events if need be, and to suggest that not every season of the character's lives have something so important going on, it's worth writing and drawing a book about. When I do get to the 5th book, which is untitled for now, it will pick up with a post-Winter 1152 storyline....and 5 years or so will have elapsed. So there will be more books, but I don't know if any more will necessarily be seasonally titled.

Q: How much of the future direction for Mouse Guard do you already have planned out in your head?
-Ronn Dech

A: Currently I have The Weasel War (which will be the 4th Mouse Guard book), a 5th, as-yet-untitled book, a few more of the Free Comic Book Day style stories, and a story about Saxon & Kenzie joining the Guard planned. Beyond that I have several ideas for stories directions already, but haven't spent too much time focusing on developing them since I already have a back log. Not to mention, with each story I write, I seem to open doors to characters, events, locations, and history, that I can spin out into if I ever feel stuck...one such example is I'd like to do a medieval Dickensian-style story set in Copperwood which not only is a good story, but explores all of Copperwood as a city.

Q: Is there any form of religion in the world of Mouse Guard? Midnight's Black Axe "following" could loosely have been called a sort of religious cult worshiping the weapon, but I wondered if any other religious sects push the medieval mice along much like Christianity and paganism were a major driving force in medieval Europe
-Kyle Healy

A: For a wide variety of reasons, I have avoided religion in Mouse Guard stories. One of those reasons is that it can get messy both in the story and with fans and/or parents of fans. Perhaps if we change the word "religion" into "belief" in your question I'd say that I could explore that idea more...like a belief in certain superstitions, prophecies, or remedies, but I'd still like to avoid the mice (or any other species at this point) having a deity or dogma they focus on. And while this doesn't reflect my views at all, I think having the mice essentially "alone" with no form of life-line on which they rely but themselves, makes for a more interesting society and story in the books. Any time I deal with something, lets say "supernatural" in Mouse Guard, I'd like to offer no real proof either way to it's true existence, and when you start doing that with real world religions & beliefs, you are making statements I don't wish to make.

Q: Did you have any plans to do stories on the territories as they were before the guard and perhaps the determined mice who helped to start Lockhaven? 
-Neil Rickmond
Q: Are there any plans for a story set in the distant past of the Mouse Guard world?
-Luis Enrique Aguilar

A: Do I have plans to tell those stories, no, but I certainly could mine those bits or use them as settings for a deeper story when one occurs. Each story I do has a purpose beyond just telling an adventure, so if I came up with a good reason to set a story at the founding of Lockhaven or to nail down the pre-history of the Guard, I would certainly do so. Seems like there are at least two fans wanting to know more about that era of the Mouse Guard world. And Jeremy Bastian gave a me an excellent story start of when mice banded together in his Legends of the Guard Volume 1 story.

I'll do another Q&A post next month...so if you submitted a question and don't see it here, you probably will next month.

2014 Appearances:
MSU Comics Forum: February 22
C2E2: April 25-27
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

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