David Peterson, Jeremy Bastian, Ted Naifeh, Alex Sheikman, Sean Ruebin Terry Moore Gene Ha, Katie Cook, Guy Davis, Nate Pride, Jason Shawn Alexander, Craig Rousseau, Karl Kerschel, Mark Smylie
Mouse Guard created by David Peterson
I first came across Mouse Guard one Free Comic Book Day, it was 2011 to be precise, I liked what I saw. Then in 2012 the Mouse Guard edition was a small hardcover book. It included a short Mouse Guard tale and tales from Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl and Cow Boy. I was very impressed.
Later in November 2012 I saw David Peterson at Thought Bubble in Leeds. His layout at his desk impressed me, as did the throngs wanting to see him. My pocket was limited so I didn’t invest. I also saw David take part in a panel where artists sketched as they were interviewed by 2000AD artist Peter Doherty. David did a water-colour of Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The pictures from the two sessions, I saw both, were auctioned for charity, the funds going to Barnardos.
Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard
This hardback is an anthology. There are a few spoilers below but I keep them light.
The story takes place inside the June Alley Inn in Barkstone, a Western city in the Mouse territory. This is the setting for a competition where the winner will have his bar tab written off, all others must settle their bar tab within seven days. The patrons are each to tell a tale, the one June likes the best will be the winner.
This is a brilliant way for David Peterson to open up the world he has created without letting go. Each story told by the patrons of the Inn are presented as tales as told by David’s characters. That character is then the narrator, trustworthy or not. So some of these tales may be true, true as far as the knowledge of the teller or fabricated. Timings and names of characters or places could be inaccurate. Regardless of what occurs in the stories they add to myth and legend of the world of Mouse Guard giving it a full and rounded feel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book reading it from start to finish with glee. Below are a few short words on each story without revealing too much to spoil enjoyment.
The Battle of The Hawk’s Mouse and the Fox’s Mouse
by Jeremy Bastian
A tale told deep in history when Mice still served other animals. Two enemies, a Hawk and a Fox battle it out by proxy.
A fine tale with excellent art, the layout of which does indeed give it a ‘legend’ kind of look. It is reminiscent of children’s books from Victorian era.
A Bargain in the Dark
by Ted Naifeh
A Mouse encounters an injured Bat and despite differences between their kind he agrees to help him home. On the journey they tell each other something about their lives.
A tale of looking into one’s heart and understanding others. Beautifully drawn with darker tones to the panels with the Mouse and the Bat together or the Bat alone and much lighter to show flashbacks in the life of the Mouse.
Oleg The Wise
Art & Story Alex Sheikman Colours Scott Keating.
The ancient tale of a long dead king. Whose death was prophesied by a wise old Mouse, “Your steed will be the death of you’. The king sends away his faithful steed…
What a sad story. I’ll say no more on the plot…
Excellent tale with a great twist. The art is bold and emotive.
Ary by Sean, Story by Alex Kain
A young Mouse marvels at the fact a member of the Guard troubles to spend time aiding his small hamlet.
A tale to show that even the least among Mouse kind are precious to the Guard.
The tale uses bold action from the Guard from the perspective of the youngster. Excellently put together.
The Shrike and the Toad
by Terry Moore
Two Mice trapped in the open and attacked by a flock of hungry Shrikes. A wounded bird and a passing Toad gives one of the Mice a cunning plan.
A funny little tale that likely falls among the category of ‘falsehood’, though who knows for sure? A short story, just two pages long, with no dialogue, just narration along with the images. Effective and quite to the point.
Worley and the Mink
Art by Gene Ha, Story by Lowell Francis
Worley, a trader, was cheated by a Mouse from another community and sets out to recover his goods. He ends up having to try to save a kidnapped female Mouse from a deadly Mink.
A tale of brains over brawn and a search for justice.
A clever plot accompanied by rich colourful art.
A Mouse Named Fox
by Katie Cook
An orphan Mouse oddly adopted and raised by a childless Fox couple. The poor young fellow quite understandably develops an identity crisis.
Charming cartoon style art to a charming children’s tale somewhat between a Brere Rabbit tale and the Gruffalo in some ways.
by Guy Davis
Word free… a tale of one Mouse going out boldly to face a pair of Owls using the battle plans as drawn up by another Mouse. The first Mouse hoping to become King by defeating the Owls.
Funny results from an engaging plot. The simplistic sketches by the second Mouse are fun in themselves.
The Ballad of Nettledown
by Nate Pride
A song sung by a patron of the Inn telling of a flood and how disaster was averted.
Told in rhyme, the singer does suggest that the story might have been altered, for artistic reasons
Art & Adaption by Jason Shawn Alexander
An adaptation of the poem of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe.
Dark and moody as befits the poem. Excellent re-work of a classic.
The Lion and the Mouse
by Craig Rousseau
A tale from a distant land where a Mouse aids an injured Lion.
Aesop… this reminds me very much of Aesop’s fables.
by Karl Kerschel
A lone Mouse out guarding a remote area in deep winter…
Another story without words, save for sound effects. Motion is effectively displayed and this gives a good look at how steadfast one Mouse can be.
Crown of Silver Crown of Gold
by Mark Smylie
A tale of treachery and foolishness of those that seek power.
Brilliantly crafted story of deceit and revenge.