David Peterson’s The Art of The Mouse Guard: 2005 – 2015

66987051-C6A9-4AF5-BB96-7798944C8254Without doubt, the Mouse Guard series is one of the best illustrated graphic novel series I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. It certainly ranks up with Bill Willingham’s Fables, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and G. Willow Wilson’s Air for creating truly unique stories.

Peterson’s excellent website describes this oversized affair in this manner: ‘In honor of the ten-year anniversary of the first self published issue, T.the Art of Mouse Guard 2005-2015 is a celebration of the world, characters, and process of David Petersen’s beloved series. Never-before-seen sketches, over 150 pages of full-color oversized artwork, and commentary from colleagues, collaborators, and Petersen himself in this unprecedented look behind-the-curtain.’

Though it does have a very compelling story as Petersen writes it as well as illustrating it, the awesomeness of the series for me lies in how he illustrates the mice and other creatures of this universe and the universe itself. These are, after all, mice being treated as humans in a medieval setting. For more on the series, take a look at our review of Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

The Art of The Mouse Guard is an oversized book measuring just twelve inches by twelve inches though it seems larger than that. It, like Drawing Down the Moon, The Charles Vess retrospective, has no dust jacket, just a lovely embossed cover. As noted in the title, the series is not a long running one, but rather is barely thirteen years old.

Simplest summation would be that any fan will find this the perfect art book for Mouse Guard, as the art herein runs from early sketches to book covers, pages and little models that David Petersen made, but I’ll detail why this is so.

(It has a lot of text from Petersen and others. That it goes into quite some detail on the history on the creative process of his books and the character development which is fascinating, but the best text here is that which is focused on the visual aspects of Mouse Guard.)

Indeed, the book has enough room to give us a delightful in-depth look at how the series came to be, and more importantly how the creatures,  mice and other beings, such as various birds, came to look the way they did. Peterson, like all artists, has a distinctive look and Mouse Guard reflects that.

The Art of The Mouse Guard is nearly three hundred and seventy pages of awesomeness and it’s packed with artworks such as sketches, pen and ink illustrations, and painted art. Let’s not overlook the photos of miniature sets of interiors and buildings that were used as references. Yes miniature sets of interiors and buildings were built by David Peterson to help him visualise the unique reality that his mice exist in.

OK, this is only a work that the fan deeply, madly in love with Mouse Guard will want as it’s definitely only intended for them. However if you are a fan, go get a copy before it sells out! It’s that good!

(Archaia, 2015)

About Cat Eldridge

I’m the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current reading is the Wylding Hall novella by Elizabeth Hand, Simon R. Green’s Night Fall, and listening to Rita Mae Brown’s Crazy As A Fox.

I’m listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I’ll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather stays nasty.