In May, Archaia will launch the “Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard” anthology. This four-issue limited series is Mouse Guard’s first comic-book spin-off, and will feature tales from Gene Ha, Guy Davis, Jeremy Bastian and Ted Naifeh. “Mouse Guard” creator David Petersen will provide covers and chapter breaks.
NERDAGE: Can you tell me about some of the people you’re working with on “Legends of the Guard”?
DAVID PETERSEN: Jeremy Bastian is one of the ones who kind of inspired the project in the first place. He’s a buddy of mine. He did a pinup for the first series and he just does amazing work. I said to him when he turned in his pinup, you’re welcome to come play in the Mouse Guard world whenever you want.
Jeremy Bastian, Gene Ha, Ted Naifeh of Courtney Crumrin fame, and he also did Polly and the Pirates. Some of the names Archaia is holding back on for now because we’re waiting to get confirmation on scheduling.
NERDAGE: Just the names out there so far seem like a pretty all-star cast.
PETERSEN: Mark Smylie is also one that as long as the schedules can allow, Mark does a book at Archaia called Artesia. And he was another one that when he turned in his pinup, I was just, I felt like he got it, he understood what mouse guard was, and it was him and Jeremy that kind of got the thing going.
My initial push was to try to find creators who are both artists and storytellers, just like I am. I do everything on Mouse Guard, and I know that there are other people out there who do that on their own books. And I thought, those are people who are in the same mindset of what I do for Mouse Guard. So I think that’d be good to bring them on, to do their own stories. I’m going to be doing covers, and then I do pages in between their stories. The setup is that it’s a storytelling competition at a tavern in the Mouse Guard world.
NERDAGE: And as such, you don’t have to worry about interfering with continuity, because they could just be tall tales.
PETERSEN: We’ve already had a story turned in that has a mouse riding a weasel. In my Mouse Guard stories that’s never going to happen – I shouldn’t say never. I don’t plan on that ever happening. They’re diametrically opposed. But the way he frames it in the story, and with a little bit of setup, it totally works. You don’t see it as a problem.
NERDAGE: Gene Ha has worked with Alan Moore, with James Robinson; he’s done some brilliant work. How did you guys go about approaching him?
PETERSEN: That was just really cool. I had kind of already gotten a mental list of who I was thinking about for this series. And Gene hadn’t come to mind, because he’s a superhero guy, like I said, I was mainly thinking of people who were artists and storytellers in their own right, that kind of thing. And I was at a convention, and rumor had started to leak. I was getting a couple people coming up to me at conventions saying, “Word is you’re thinking about doing this anthology thing.” And I was at a convention and Gene came up to me. And he said, “I hear about this thing, and I’d really like to be a part of it.” And I said, “Well, that’s awesome, Gene.” So we traded contact information and I figured I’d follow up with him.
By the time I got home, he had already e-mailed with me samples of a web comic he’s been working on where animals are the main characters. It was essentially like he was giving me his art resume in the field, saying look, I can do animals too.
He has a writing partner who is doing the writing and the dialogue. They submitted stuff every step along the line to make sure that I was OK with it, when, for the most part, I was saying, just give me the basic plot and turn it in. I’m not going to over-edit this thing. My goal is really to get storytellers to do their own thing.
They auditioned for it and fought for it just as hard as someone who doesn’t have the kind of clout that Gene Ha has. He legitimately really wanted to be a part of this, and it’s really flattering and cool. And the artwork that he’s turned in is gorgeous as you’d expect.
- Matt Price