This 64 page book is the ABCs, through the lens of the world of Mouse Guard, featuring alphabetic poems by me and gorgeously illustrated paintings by Serena Malyon.
For this blogpost I run through the choice for Serena to illustrate the book, and several of the letters' illustrations & poems:
My wife Julia is the person responsible for getting this project's ball rolling. But something she and I both realized was that I had too much on my plate with conventions and working on the next Mouse Guard book: The Weasel War of 1149, that I couldn't be the one to illustrate the ABC book.
Serena was the perfect choice. I'd discovered her work from Mike Mignola who saw her at an Illustration Master Class session. With this being the first full Mouse Guard book with no art of mine, I made this decision to hire Serena carefully.
Two pieces of Serena's especially spoke to me: a map & a triptych of witch sisters. I'd use these two examples as the basis for describing what the visual language of the Mouse Guard ABC book should be. We also looked at certain reference of my books for motifs, character & architecture designs, as well as color palates & themes.
We talked over Skype about a few Alphabet themed books we wanted to model by Edmund Dulac & William Nicholson, but also stylization like what Serena was already doing in her work as well as being inspired by Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Arts & Crafts era printmaking & quilts.
We wanted this book to feel in-world, that this is the book that the mice in cities from Barkstone to Burl would use to teach their youngfurs their letters and important lessons.
The letters in the Mouse Guard Alphabet Book represent characters and locations from Mouse Guard, but also animals, trades, and conceptual life-lessons. I wrote four-line-stanza poems for each letter's subject. Below are the pages for the letters A, M, N, & U:
The Mouse Guard Alphabet Book will be available in-stores in September. And can be PRE-ORDERED through your local comic or book store using the Diamond code: MAY171234
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24
New York Comic Con: Oct. 5-8