Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Legends of the Guard Homages part 2

As a theme for my next sketchbook (which was going to debut at NYCC...but will have to wait until later this year or early next)  I had the idea of doing Mouse Guard pieces based on specific characters & stories from the guest contributors in Legends of the Guard. (I did a series of these already and shared them in a previous blogpost). For those who don't know, Legends is a spinoff anthology series where guest artists write and illustrate tall tales, fables, and folklore set in the Mouse Guard world. The 3 volumes of Legends are now available in a nice boxed set.

Below I'll show a bit of the original artist's tale that I used as reference, and the inks and colors for my homage:

The Battle of the Hawk's Mouse & The Fox's Mouse:
by Jeremy Bastian

In Volume 1, Jeremy told a story about mice being the servants to larger beasts, doing their bidding as well as fighting their battles for them. The Hawk's Mouse and the Fox's mouse enter into a combat  for their masters, but are halted by the Fox Mouse's son & the Hawks Mouse's wife. Legend holds them as the first two Guardmice and the wife the Guard's first Matriarch.

I've always LOVED this Legend, and I like it better than some of the origins of the Guard in the RPG. I've tried to integrate these mice into Mouse Guard lore anyhow...Faulknir & Silfano (Hawk's Mouse & Fox's Mouse) have been featured on bookplates, and they along with Sefatus (Silfano's son) were in the story: "Service to Seyan" and Feruin (Faulknir's wife) is imortalized in stained glass in the Matriarch's chamber in The Black Axe. So, for my version of this Legend, I wanted to pay homage to the battle between them were they learn the lesson "Mouse must not kill mouse".

The Critic:
by Guy Davis

Guy Davis did a wordless story (using pictograms in a few cases) in Volume 1, where a mouse seeing the primitive painting of an owl, gets delusions of grandeur thinking if he says something like the abstracted image he'd become a great mouse. However, when he finds a next of owls, it's a pure horror show...bones everywhere and the discovery that spooky owls are much bigger and more terrifying than the scale-less simple painting.

I wanted to show the moment of dawning realization where the mouse has seen the bones, but not the owls haunting him from behind. As an extra nod to the story (so the reference to it is clearer) I added in the pictogram speech of the owl painting.

The Thief, The Star-Gazer, The Hunter, & The Tailor:
by Cory Godbey

In Volume 2, Cory told a story of four brothers who each learn a specific trade: thieving, star-gazing, hunting, and sewing. When they are reunited they are called to aid a mouse king whose daughter has been taken by a beast and they each must use their specific skills to rescue her toegther. Because I like Cory's dragons, I bent the Mouse Guard rules for non-regional animal species (or in this case, imaginary.

For my portrait of the brothers, I wanted to include that dragon, but to bring it back into some more familiar Mouse Guard territory, I referenced the visual of a snake eating its own tail, but now with a dragon head.

The Ballad of Nettledown:
by Nate Pride

Nate's story from Volume 1 is only three pages (a restriction I had to impose on him because of a miscommunication from the other contributors in that issue) but it doesn't feel small. It tells the story of a mouse who saves the town of Nettledown from a flood by drinking the all water before it reached the village. I've referenced this tale twice in Mouse Guard, Doren can be seen in the feast in Seyan in "Service to Seyan" and the town of Nettledown works into some past Black Axe lore in "The Axe Trio".

It was hard to pick a moment in this story to draw, and I worried no one could draw Doren better as a big sloshy impossibly overfilled mouse, but I did my best while including some of the townsfolk I was drawn to.

Love of the Sea:
by Christian Slade
In Volume 2, Christian did a story about a young pirate-y mouse who rescues a female mer-mouse from a sea creature. They emotionally connect before she swims away. We watch the Pirate mouse age and return to the sea edge as an old fur..he sheds a tear and she reappears and they sit on a rock and watch the moon.

I tried to keep the muted palate and hatched linework feel of Christian's pages, and simply just redrew one of his panels (adding in the moon from the last page of the story) in my own style.
Back and Forth:
by Jackson Sze

Jackson had never drawn a comic story before his Legends tale. He's an amazing concept painter for the Marvel movies, but to make up a narrative and tell it panel by panel was something new for him. I loved the concept paintings he'd done of exotic locations in his sketchbooks, so I suggested a travelogue type story, with a Guardmouse escorting a cartographer around noting things of interest/danger at each one. He added a nice tone of the Guardmouse feeling it was somehow beneath him to 'babysit' a mouse to write notes and draw maps, but in time he's won over by the adventure and usefulness of it.

For my version, I just tried my best to reinterpret Bridgeporte in my inked illustrative style to see how it would look. I included the two mice in the foreground paddling in their approach.

The Tale of Abdiel's Heart:
by Ramon K. Perez

Jackson Ramon's tale is a circular narrative in some ways. A mouse finds a scrap of paper noting a treasure as well as the perilous obstacles standing in the way (Think Dr. Henry Jones Sr.'s Grail Diary on one sheet). The mouse navigates and overcomes the dangers to find the bones of a mouse holding a heart-shaped jewel...as the would-be thief obtains the prize, a last trap reveals itself as a blood-red crow...and the paper blows away and lands at the feet of another mouse

The skeleton holding the jewel is what I most wanted to draw for my version. And it only seemed logical to include the mouse thief as well as the crow.

The Watcher's Stone:
by Ryan Lang

Ryan Lang's Legends story is one of the most shared and was and important story in terms of landing some of the pieces to get the Mouse Guard movie deal in place. Ryan has worked in animation for years, but I think this was his first published sequential comic work. Beautifully painted, The Watcher's Stone is about a mouse who stands sentry over a mink's lair to keep her town safe. But she doesn't use brute strength or her sword to keep the mink at bay, she holds it prisoner by using what it fears the most against it. And the Legend goes that she stood there so long, she eventually turned to stone, leaving an eternal landmark at the spot.

It was hard not to just recreate  the last panel and reveal of Ryan's story for my homage. I tried to play up the ink textures and line to make sure it was my own. I also had the mouse's ears exposed, as I can never seem to pull off the mouse hood with the ears tucked inside without it looking wrong.

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