Welcome to the Mouse Territories. Blacksmiths, masons, healers, and craftsmice ply their trades in grand cities and small townships, from the libraries of Lockhaven to the homey inn in Barkstone. But who seeks out the safe ways from village to village? Who patrols the borders and defends the paths from savage beasts and the weasel armies?
Mouse Guard is a graphic novel series by David Peterson, published by Archaia comics. The series has won four Eisners and hit the New York Times bestseller list, as well as garnering the greatest award of all: a cult following of loyal fans. I am one of those fans, and a recent rereading of the series gave me a new appreciation for the power and artistry at work here.
The animal-fantasy premise draws inevitable comparisons to Redwall and Watership Down, but Peterson’s main inspiration was the medieval role-playing games he fell in love with as a kid. He blends animal stories and high fantasy in an immersive illustration style that speaks of his background as a printmaking major, crafting a thoroughly and lovingly detailed mouse civilization. The result is a visual feast, evocative and cinematic, rich with themes of loyalty and betrayal, hope and despair.
Mouse Guard has spun off a fantastic anthology series, an award-winning role-playing game and some really sweet legos. But the main story (thus far) is contained in three gorgeous hardcover editions from Archaia: Fall 1152, Winter 1152, and The Black Axe.
THE BLACK AXE
I can’t wait for more. Peterson has a new volume in the works, a story set during the great Winter War of 1149. In the meantime, if you haven’t entered the world of Mouse Guard yet, there’s plenty of time to catch up on the first three volumes, and the Legends of the Guard anthology books are a smorgasbord of comics from some of the most skilled artists working today.