Pitch me: Mouse Guard
The first thing you need to know about Mouse Guard is that it’s perfect. Or at least in my mind it’s perfect. It won an Eisner though, so it’s not just me who thinks it’s great. When people tell me they aren’t reading Mouse Guard because “really, mice?”, or because “I dunno,” I’m honestly shocked because it’s really, really good.
Mouse Guard is an animal fantasy in the grand tradition of Wind In The Willows and Redwall. In the Mouse Guard world, mice live in quasi-medieval towns, usually built around a tree or some other useful, natural fortification. Travelers are protected by the Guard, an ancient order of warrior mice.
The art is the series’ biggest selling point, and for the most part, I’ll let it speak for itself. So look up now, at those four pages from Fall:1152. Our protagonists are on a mission, and while traveling, they encounter a huge snake, bent on having them for dinner. The pencils are of course incredibly charming—I can easily imagine endless volumes of Petersen kids books—but there’s also a sense of menace here. No punches are pulled. Mouse Guard is an all ages book that doesn’t talk down to kids, or make smug asides to the adults in the audience.
The story is a typical fantasy quest, but the characters and the mystery at its heart are so deftly handled that it never feels typical. And too the gimmick—sentient mice! with swords!—is played for all its worth, but it’s never hackneyed. Over the course of the series, Petersen thoughtfully explores the world of Mouse Guard with an eye to world building and myth making, and always, adventure. It’s as engaging as Hogwarts or Westeros, or any of the great fantasy worlds, and its tiny protagonists are as loveable and as admirable.
The collected Mouse Guard includes, Fall: 1152, Winter: 1152, Spring: 1153, Black Axe and Legends of the Guard, all of which are available in bookstores, comic book stores and online.
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