Sunday, May 25, 2008
Word Balloon: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
May's installment of the Word Balloon will feature a great all ages book by writer and artist David Peterson, Mouse Guard. Mouse Guard is a bi-monthly series published by Archaia Studios Press that is centered on an intelligent colony of mice set in the middle ages. The mice of the Mouse Guard are sort of an all purpose soldier for the colony, acting as pathfinders, escorts, military support, and border guards against all sorts of predators, snakes, owls, and so forth.
The first volume of the series, recently collected in an excellent hardback, titled Fall 1152, compiles the first six issue mini series, about 3 mice of the guard who start off to find a missing grain peddler, and get embroiled in a plot to over throw the Queen of the colony. What I love about Mouse Guard is it's all ages feel, that never seems to be talking down to the audience. The author approaches the book in such a way adults and children can get behind the character.
He manages to make each mouse its own character, Lieam the fresh faced recruit, Saxon the bold swordsmen, and Kenzie, the leveled headed thinker. Even in the ancillary characters, like Gwendolyn the colonies matriarch, or Celanawe the Black Axe, as the mythic hero long thought dead. The book has its own unique look in a strange 8 X 8 square book form as opposed to the standard comic size, but Peterson uses the format to accentuate the panels in his book, opening the book to more of a wide screen appeal by focusing on bigger panels to tell the story, really limiting the decompression of the dialog. It keeps the book moving and dissolves everything else into the essence of the story.
The book surely has some influence from Jeff Smith's seminal book Bone, but it finds it's own voice and it's own unique style. Mouse Guard deals in intrigue and danger in a much more real world venue than Bone does. Disbarring anthropomorphic mice, the book has a real undertone.
Mouse Guard has quickly grown into one of my favorite titles every month. Do yourself a favor and check out Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 volume 1 by David Peterson and Archaia Studios Press.
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