Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mouse Guard

Why isn't Mouse Guard part of Free Comic Book Day?

If I had to take one book on the stands as my evangelist creed, one book with which to convert the masses to comics, it would be Mouse Guard. Sure, it's oddly shaped. Sure, it's about talking mice with swords. Sure, it's not a masterwork of the medium. What it is, though, is a great idea of what comics can be. In lieu of it being offered on that magical Saturday in May, I'll probably pick up an extra copy or two on next week's trip to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics: a copy for my girls to read (and mutilate), and some extras for nieces and nephews.

Mouse Guard isn't just for kids, though. This beautiful little book about the adventures of a Rodent Knights Templar, protecting travelers and merchants along dangerous passages full of enemies to their kind, fits in that ever-so-elusive "All Ages" category. It's enjoyable because it's simple and beautiful, and very true: unconcerned with market niche, David Petersen
tells the tale as it comes to him, without worrying that it's "too dark" for kids, or "not dark enough" for everyone else. Like the best of Disney, or the Brothers Grimm, or Bone, there's a hint of darkness and rough edges.

Apart from the tone, I'd also proselytize with this as a near-perfect "single". As the industry gradually shifts to graphic novels, and most monthly books are simply serialized paperbacks, Mouse Guard hits the "single" structure just right. There's a complete story the this slim book, with multiple beats, but it ends on a nice cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more.

If I did have a problem with the book, it would be Greg's. The format's wonderful, but damned inconvenient as a long-term keeper. It's not about storage for investment purposes ... just that I'd like to keep this book around, and will need to make a special effort to do so.



joncormier said...

Spot on Mark. This is a strong first issue and I'm really looking forward to more. I think mostly because it doesn't treat the reader like an idiot. If the story is well told and the characters interesting we will figure it out or simply enjoy the tale. We don't need all the middling details on how or why they came to this point. Just run with it and enjoy.

Mark Fossen said...

I think mostly because it doesn't treat the reader like an idiot.
Exactly what makes the book "all ages" in my mind. He's not writing down to anyone.