[Pssst – Readercon 22 reports are in the works. Thanks to some sitey issues, we’re holding off on really image-heavy posts for the moment; have an only moderately image-heavy post in the meantime.]
Date read: 7.18.11
Book from: Borrowed from Kakaner
“Mice struggle to live safely and prosper among the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. They are not simply soldiers who fight off intruders: they are guides for common mice looking to journey safely from one hidden village to another. The Guard patrol borders, find safeways and paths through treacherous terrain, and keep the mouse territories free of predators. They do so with fearless dedication so that mice might not just exist, but truly live. In Fall 1152, follow the adventures of three of the Guard’s finest – Lieam, Saxon, and Kenzie – as they seek to uncover a traitorous plot against the Guard…”
In an obvious progression from my childhood love for Redwall, I’d been longing to read Mouse Guard for ages ever since I spotted its cover in a bookstore a few years back; Kakaner obliged me last week by thrusting the first two volumes into my hands. While the story is pretty much a throwaway (Petersen could really use an editor for grammar alone), the comic works purely on the basis of visuals and concepts.
Petersen’s figures aren’t very dynamic, but his panels are often beautifully composed, and his pairing of liberal hatching and stippling with a rich, autumnal palette creates delicious texture and depth. The climactic battle that spans the last chapter – heralded by a shift in the palette first to moody plum shades, then to an eerie, luminous red – is surprisingly dark and gritty; again the visuals are successful in generating drama and atmosphere despite lackluster storytelling.
And let’s be honest here: it’s SO. CUTE. Oh my god big-headed mice in cloaks. Oh my god tiny glassblower blowing tiny bottles. Oh my god tiny castle masonry and kilns and inkwells and… you get the idea.The scenes of everyday life in Barkstone, the town where the central trio uncover the anti-Guard conspiracy, and Lockhaven, the Guard’s fortified headquarters, pretty much had me spasming with glee; equally so the faux-historical tidbits and diagrams on mouse trades and settlements included at the end of the book.
Thanks for the conniptions, Petersen! I look forward to more in volume 2: Winter 1152.