Mouse Guard

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Mouse Guard

Official Mouse Guard logo
Publication information
Publisher Archaia Studios Press
Schedule Bi-monthly
Format Metaseries
(Series of Limited Series)
Genre
Publication date 2006–Present
Creative team
Writer(s) David Petersen
Artist(s) David Petersen
Creator(s) David Petersen
Collected editions
Fall 1152 ISBN 1-932386-57-2

Mouse Guard is an Eisner Award-winning bi-monthly comic book series published by Archaia Studios Press. The comic stands out on shelves due to its distinctive form factor -– a square (8" × 8") as opposed to the standard comic size (6½" × 10"). Mouse Guard is written and illustrated by David Petersen.

Series one and two of the series have been collected in a single volume each, titled, respectively Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (ISBN 1-932386-57-2), and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 (ISBN 1-932386-74-2). In June 2013, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe (ISBN 1-936393-06-9), a prequel which deals with Celenawe's earlier life, was published.

Main story[edit]

Petersen signing a copy of Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 at WonderCon 2009.

Mouse Guard is set in a world of sentient mice who live in a medieval era, paralleling the same age in human history, though in their world there are no humans. Its stories revolve around a brotherhood of mice known as the "Mouse Guard" who have sworn an oath to serve their fellow civilian mice in times of need, including making safe passage for them through the wilderness and protecting them from predators.[1]

"The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. After persevering against a weasel warlord in the winter war of 1149, the territories are no longer as troubled. True, the day to day dangers exist, but no longer are the Guard soldiers, instead they are escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories. Many skills are necessary for the guard to keep the borders safe. They must find new safeways and paths from village to village, lead shipments of goods from one town to another and, in case of attack, guard against all evil and harm to their territories."[2] They are not simply soldiers that fight off intruders; rather, they are guides for the common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one hidden mouse village to another. The Guard patrols borders, finds safeways and paths through dangerous territories and treacherous terrain, watches weather patterns, and keeps the mouse territories free of predators. They do so with fearless dedication so that they might not just exist, but truly live.[3]

Characters[edit]

  • Abigail - A healer at Lockhaven who secretly shares Midnight's ideals.
  • Celanawe - A champion of the Guard from long ago, known by some in the Guard as the legendary "Black Axe", whose mythic tale was thought ended long ago.
  • Conrad - A salty, peg-legged mouse who once trained with the Black Axe. Conrad was sent to man the seaside outpost Calogero.
  • Gwendolyn - The Guard's matriarchal leader who inducted many of the current Guard and oversees its members' assignments.
  • Kenzie - Known for his intellect and cleverness in battle, many of the Guard owe their lives to his levelheadedness. He has patrolled for many seasons beside his close friend (and polar opposite), Saxon.
  • Landra - One of the Guard's quartermasters who has succeeded Rand in many of his duties, responsible for tracking the movements of Guardsmice on missions.
  • Lieam - Although one of the Guard's youngest members, he has earned the respect of his fellow Guardsmice several times over with his proven heroism and swordsmanship.
  • Midnight - The Guard's blacksmith. He steals the black axe from Celanawe and, dubbing himself the new Black Axe, raises an army that besieges Lockhaven.
  • Rand - The shield-bearer of the Guard, charged with maintaining the defense of the Mouse Territories. He is crippled by a leg wound.
  • Roibin - A scribe who serves Gwendolyn who is also a poet.
  • Sadie - A young Guardsmouse once posted on the Eastern shores who has returned home in search of the camaraderie of other mice. She wields a pair of daggers and is an expert slinger.
  • Saxon - A bold swordsmouse, who tends to confront a problem first with blade drawn. Though his hotheadedness is sometimes to his detriment, he is amongst the bravest and strongest of the Mouse Guard. This makes him a fine complement to his friend Kenzie.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152[edit]

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 is the title given to the first six-issue mini-series in its collected form.

Issue #1 - Belly Of The Beast[edit]

Released: February 2006
ISBN 1-932386-14-9
includes pin-up by Guy Davis

A mouse peddling grain took the path from Rootwallow to Barkstone alone, but never arrived at his destination. Mouse Guard members Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam are dispatched by Gwendolyn, head of the Mouse Guard to find him.

It is quickly uncovered that the missing merchant mouse was devoured by a snake, which the three Guard members dispatch, but the plot thickens as the merchant is revealed as a traitor, carrying a detailed map of Lockhaven, home of the Mouse Guard.

Issue #2 - Shadows Within[edit]

Released: April 2006
ISBN 1-932386-16-5
includes pin-up by Guy Davis

While Guard members Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam were tracking the path of the grain merchant, Gwendolyn has sent word to another of the Guard, Sadie. Sadie, who once watched the shoreline region of the Mouse Territories, is to make contact with another missing mouse, Guard member Conrad, as there have been no outgoing communications from his Northern shoreline dwelling "Calogero".[4]

Sadie arrives at Calogero to find it abandoned, or so it appears. She is quickly met by the peg-legged Conrad, who relates that the grain merchant from issue #1 is a traitor who would meet his mysterious master, who always remained in the shadows at Calogero. The duo plan to leave for Lockhaven at first light to warn them, but are surrounded during the evening by crabs. Conrad sacrifices himself to the crabs so that Sadie may have a chance to escape and warn the Mouse Guard of the traitor.

Issue #3 - Rise Of The Axe[edit]

Released: June 2006
ISBN 1-932386-18-1
includes pin-up by Rick Cortes and anjindesign.com

Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, having abandoned the grain cart, have opted to take a lesser known path to the city of Barkstone in hopes to keep as low a profile as possible. What worries them more than knowing of a traitor, is not knowing who the traitor is. They are unaware of the information Sadie carries with her to Lockhaven, nor the fate of fellow Guard Conrad.[5]

Arriving at the mouse city of Barkstone, Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam are forced to create a diversion to avoid watchful eyes. Kenzie and Saxon perform a duel between themselves while Lieam attempts to blend in with the townsmice. Lieam's investigation takes an unexpected twist when he uncovers The Axe, a well-organized anti-Guard group.

Issue #4 - The Dark Ghost[edit]

Released: August 2006
ISBN 1-932386-23-8
includes pin-up by Mark Smylie

Hiding within the ranks of the mysterious militia known only as 'the Axe', Lieam is unaware that his Guard companions, Kenzie and Saxon, have been left for dead outside Barkstone's gates. Celanawe, a hermit and stranger of the mouse cities, retrieves and drags them to his secluded home.[6]

The hermit Celanawe proclaims himself to be none other than the Black Axe, famed champion of the Mouse Guard who has been long presumed dead. Saxon, escaping his bonds, engages in combat with Celanawe, which results in the hermit's house burning down, but not before Kenzie is able to convince Celanawe that they must work together to stop the Axe. The Black Axe's legendary axe has been pilfered, which the two Guard mice agree to help recover. Elsewhere, Lieam is uncovered by the Axe as a spy and he realizes that the Axe's leader has a familiar voice.

Issue #5 - Midnight's Dawn[edit]

Released: October 2006
ISBN 1-932386-25-4
includes pin-up by Jeremy Bastian

The Axe marches on Lockhaven with the captive Lieam. While tracking the treacherous Axe army, Saxon and Kenzie found a new ally in an old hermit mouse named Celenawe, claiming to be the ancient hero of mice: The Black Axe. His fate intertwined with two of the Guard's finest, he offered to aide them in their pursuit, in hopes to hold them to their word of retrieving his missing axe.

Midnight, the Mouse Guard's weaponsmith, is revealed to be the commander of the Axe army. He claims that "The Guard is useless...Gwendolyn exploits us. Cities, towns, and villages hold all the power. And Guard mice are their pawns. The territories need one sole leader. One who can offer security and prosperity. One who is not afraid to hunt down our predators. One who is more than a mere Guard mouse."[7] Midnight then relates a tale of his discovery of the fabled Black Axe, which began when he accidentally uncovered, during the previous year, a secret room below the armory that housed a record of The Black Axe.

As Saxon and Kenzie travel with Celenawe, they privately discuss whether they think the old hermit is indeed the Black Axe. Celenawe continues to impress the Guard mice, not only setting the pace for their tracking but detouring them to higher ground and near a stockpile of weapons Kenzie made years before.

Sadie makes her way to Lockhaven successfully, beating both the Axe army and the Guard's mice tracking them to the gates. She warns the mice inside of the impending treachery and Lockhaven immediately locks itself down.

Issue #6 - A Return to Honor[edit]

Released: January 2007
ISBN 1-932386-29-7
includes pin-up by Jeremy Bastian

Midnight's army reaches Lockhaven as the Guardsmice inside try to stave off the invasion. Kenzie and Celanawe convince Saxon not to try attacking the army head on.

The Axe assault Lockhaven and Midnight and several of his followers are able to get inside before the portcullis is dropped. He nearly succeeds in killing Gwendolyn but is thwarted by the timely arrival of Celenawe, who fights Midnight while Lieam frees himself and fights alongside Saxon, Kenzie and Sadie against Midnight's followers. Celenawe finally subdues Midnight, leading to The Axe's defeat. After Gwendolyn banishes Midnight beyond the scent boundaries of the Mouse Territories to certain death, Lockhaven begins to settle down for the winter and Celenawe returns to the Guard.

Collected edition[edit]

Mouse Guard - Fall 1152

Released: May 2007 HC, March 2008 PB
ISBN 1-932386-57-2 HC, ISBN 0-345-49686-8 PB
Both the hardcover and the paperback include several pages of previously unreleased material. The paperback includes an additional eight pages of "pin-up" art by Petersen himself (not to be confused with the guest pin ups which are also included in both editions).

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152[edit]

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 is the direct sequel to Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. It is a six issue mini-series that was published in 2007-2008. This series differs in that there are no subtitles to each issue.

Issue #1[edit]

Released: July 2007
ISBN 1-932386-60-2
includes pin-up by Geof Darrow

Saxon, Kenzie, Sadie, Leiam, and Celanawe are out during a bitter winter that has befallen the Mouse Territories. They embark as ambassadors for Gwendolyn in an attempt to unite the Mouse Territories and aid Lockhaven throughout the winter, for the home of the Guard Mice is short on supplies.

Issue #2[edit]

Released: September 2007
ISBN 1-932386-65-3
includes pin-up by Stan Sakai

After Sadie drives off an owl by hitting one of its eyes, the group is divided when Kenzie, Saxon and Sadie fall into a tunnel. It's soon revealed to be a Weasel air vent with no easy way out. Above ground Celanawe and Leiam push on home in the hopes of returning with the supplies in time to save both Rand and Lockhaven itself. Working their way through the abandoned Weasel city of Darkheather the trio of guard mice wonder if it's as deserted as it looks. While back home in Lockhaven a poisoner is afoot!

Issue #3[edit]

Released: November 2007
ISBN
includes pin-up by Craig Rousseau

With Lockhavens exits sealed, the search for Abagail the poisoner begins. Elsewhere the freezing rain forces Celanawe and Lieam to dig in until it passes. Kenzie, Saxon and Sadie go deeper into the former Weasel territory and discover its new occupants, Bats!
As the trio fight the bats the ceiling collapses forcing the bats to retreat while Saxon is still holding onto one. Back in the snow hole Celanawe hears something above them...

Issue #4[edit]

Released: January 2008
ISBN
includes pin-up by Nate Pride

Bats taking claim of the abandoned weasel kingdom of Darkheather halted Saxon, Kenzie, and Sadies's progress through the underground nightmare. In a foolishly brave maneuver, Saxon raised sword against them and was carried off into the darkness. Back at Lockhaven, Abagail the poisoner has been killed. Meanwhile, the remaining bottle of medicine from Sprucetuck is also in danger as the one-eyed owl has found Celanawe and Lieam's ice shelter

Issue #5[edit]

Released:June 2008

The battle between Celanawe, Lieam, and the one-eyed owl rages on. Tired, frozen, and with little hope of getting the medicine to Lockhaven, their only goal now is survival. Deep beneath the surface in the abandoned Darkheather, Saxon escapes the bats. He then finds the remains of a former master, obtains the dead master's weapon, and rejoins his companions Sadie and Kenzie and discover a way back to Lockhaven through an underground river that runs into Darkheather. The owl fatally wounds Celanawe.

Issue #6[edit]

Released: August 2008

Lieam manages to kill the owl with Celanawe's Black Axe. With the food and medicine shortage still unresolved, hares and riders depart from Lockhaven, on a desperate search and rescue mission for Celanawe and Lieam, still unaccounted for. They find Lieam and bring Celanawe's body back to Lockhaven, where he is cremated. A flashback reveals that Celanawe named Lieam as his successor prior to his death, and he later leaves Lockhaven with the Black Axe.

Collected edition[edit]

Mouse Guard - Winter 1152

Released: December 2008 HC, Unreleased PB
ISBN 1-932386-74-2 HC, ISBN Unreleased PB

Mouse Guard: Spring 1153[edit]

A one-shot released in May 2010 as part of Free Comic Book Day. Three months after Lieam's disappearance, the mice face threats from predators which have come out of hibernation.

Mouse Guard: Black Axe[edit]

Mouse Guard: Black Axe is a prequel to Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152. It is a six issue mini-series that began in December 2010. The 6th and final issue was published in February, 2013. In June, 2013, a single volume collecting all six issues was published.

Mouse Guard: the Winter War (Of 1149) (working title)[edit]

In August 2009 Petersen said in an interview with Comic Book Resources that after Black Axe he would start working on the fourth title in the series that would take place during the mouse war with the weasels in winter 1149. He also continued: "I'm scared to death of drawing a war because that's daunting. In the fifth book, we're coming back to this time-line post-winter"[8]

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard[edit]

In October 2009 Petersen announced a new mini-series anthology spin-off, featuring stories from the Mouse Guard world by other creators, including Jeremy Bastian, Nate Pride, and Mark Smylie.[9] The anthology was published in four issues, with a single-volume collected edition published in November, 2010 (ISBN 978-1932386943). It won the Eisner Award in 2011 for best anthology.

Sketchbooks[edit]

2006: Petersen created a Mouse Guard Sketchbook that was self-distributed, both through his website and at conventions. Each copy had a unique sketch by Petersen drawn on the inside of the front cover.

2007: A second sketchbook was released in July 2007, which debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con. This release was 40 pages, black and white, with a mix of pencil sketches, inked convention drawings, and new character profiles. Production was strictly limited to 333 numbered copies.[10]

2008: A third sketchbook was released in July 2008, available at the San Diego Comic-Con. This was a 24 page release in full color, utilizing a hand selected pick of commissioned sketches drawn at conventions for fans. Production was limited to 300 numbered copies.

2009: Like the 2008 Sketchbook, this was also a full color 24 page publication of handpicked commissions. Its debut was the San Diego Comic Con in 2009. Production was limited to 300 copies.

Other editions[edit]

Comixpress edition of issue #1[edit]

The ComiXpress printing of Mouse Guard issue #1 from May 2005 is the "true first" printing of the issue. It was self-published by Petersen prior to signing with Archaia Studios Press and limited between 200 and 250 copies. The main differences are the interior art, which is black-and-white as opposed to full-color in the Archaia edition, and the "$3.00" price printed on the covers top-right corner.

Various reprintings[edit]

Due to high demand and low print runs (Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 issue #1 was produced in a quantity of 8,000 copies), Archaia Studios Press has made various reprintings of issues as they have gone out of print.

Fall 1152: Issue #1

  • Second Printing (April 2006)
  • Third Printing (July 2006)
  • Fourth Printing (November 2006)

Fall 1152: Issue #2

  • Second Printing (July 2006)

Fall 1152: Issue #3

  • Second Printing (September 2006)

Other media[edit]

Games[edit]

Wrap around cover to the RPG rule book

An official Mouse Guard role-playing game was created by Luke Crane in late 2008. It is similar in design to his fantasy role-playing game The Burning Wheel, using a simplified version of the rules.[11] It won Best Role-Playing Game at the 2009 Origins Awards.[12]

Figures[edit]

An official set of PVC figures (Lieam, Saxon and Kenzie), a plush Lieam doll and a group statue (Lieam, Saxon and Kenzie) was also released by Diamond Select Toys.[13]

Film[edit]

There are plans in progress for Mouse Guard to be made into a film with Petersen confirming interest from a producer and director.[14]

Awards[edit]

  • 2008:[15]
    • Winner of "Best Publication for Kids" Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.
    • Winner of "Best Graphic Album—Reprint" Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Petersen, David. "About | Mouse Guard". mouseguard.net. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  2. ^ Petersen, David (February 2006). Mouse Guard, issue #1. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. pp. from the inside front cover. ISBN 1-932386-14-9. 
  3. ^ ASP 2006 Catalog. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. August 2006. pp. from the inside front cover. 
  4. ^ Petersen, David (April 2006). Mouse Guard, issue #2. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. pp. from the inside front cover. ISBN 1-932386-16-5. 
  5. ^ Petersen, David (June 2006). Mouse Guard, issue #3. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. pp. from the inside front cover. ISBN 1-932386-18-1. 
  6. ^ Petersen, David (August 2006). Mouse Guard, issue #4. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. pp. from the inside front cover. ISBN 1-932386-23-8. 
  7. ^ Petersen, David (October 2006). Mouse Guard, issue #5. Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press. pp. 4–6. ISBN 1-932386-25-4. 
  8. ^ Interview with David Petersen at CBR
  9. ^ Interview with David Petersen at CBR
  10. ^ "David Petersen's Blog: San Diego!!!". 2007-07-23. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  11. ^ "Mouse Guard RPG". Archaia Studios Press. Retrieved 2009-01-18. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Origins Awards 2009". 27 June 2009. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Mouse Guard film development
  15. ^ 2008 Eisner Award Nominees Named (press release), Newsarama, April 14, 2008

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]