“Mouse Guard – Fall 1152” recently arrived at my 5th & 6th grade library and the graphic novel has been a downright hit with kids. Creator/author/illustrator David Petersen has been having an exciting month, receiving a couple of Eisner Award nominations for his work. Mr. Petersen graciously took the time to be interviewed for the 100 Scope Notes “5 Questions With…” series.
David Petersen: I woke up a little early the day I found out. I was tired and thought about going back to bed for a few hours, but first I checked my e-mail. The news that I was nominated was sitting there in my inbox from my publisher. I read it, and then re-read it (making sure I wasn’t misreading). Then I said it aloud, so that I could hear myself say it. I was thrilled! It’s a dream come true. I realize how lucky I am to have a book so young and different be nominated for the honor. I decided not to go back to bed that morning.
DP: Believing in what you do is the hardest part. Just because you have some issues under your belt doesn’t make the next issue that much easier. It’s easy to doubt your work (as either a writer, artist, or both). You just have to work though it. Know that everything you do won’t be perfect, but to put the best book you can out there and always try to make it better.
The most rewarding is having people who are fans of your work. Sometimes all it takes is one of those nice fan e-mails to turn around the doubt I mentioned before.
SN: Which graphic novels do you think should be standard in school and public libraries?
DP: Hmmm, well, I think MAUS is a an obvious choice. The Bone books (or single ‘brick’ compilation) are well liked by young and old, I really enjoy Rick Geary’s Victorian Murder books, so I think at least one of those would showcase historical GN work. Watchmen is such a pinnacle of the medium, I can’t think of a book more well known or respected. And it seems like a Will Eisner book should be in every collection as well.
SN: Your illustrations have been getting a lot of attention. Is the style for “Mouse Guard” something you had in your mind from the beginning, or was there a lot of trial and error?
DP: There certainly was some trial and error. My first mice were blatant copies of the work of a children’s book illustrator named Tom Pohrt. I eventually figured out that I had to draw in a natural way and couldn’t rely on someone else’s style because I had to draw more mice than I would ever have other artist’s reference for. So I think while I knew at the start of Mouse Guard that it was going to focus on a style of ink line illustration I had toyed with, it evolved from issue 1 up until now.
SC: “Mouse Guard Winter 1152” series is currently being published in installments, with a collected edition available in November. What can readers expect from this continuation of the story?
DP: The winter book shows another settlement the Guard visit, it focuses more on the relationships between our heroes. It opens a can of worms about the history of Celanawe, the old Black Axe mouse they met in the fall. It also pits them against one of the toughest trials they can face: the grueling, unyielding, harsh winter weather that no mouse should be out in. On top of all that, a main character will perish.
To visit the Mouse Guard website, click here.
To head on over to David Petersen’s blog, click here.