I first had the pleasure of discovering David Petersen back in 2009. One rainy afternoon I was wandering the isles of Powell’s Books (fondly referred to as the “City of Books” for its size). I found myself in the graphic novel section in the cafe when my eyes caught the cover of “Mouse Guard: Fall 1152”. I was immediately captivated by the book’s beautiful line work and colors and subsequently delighted by the fantastic storytelling within. I’ve been a huge fan of Petersen’s work ever since, constantly impressed by his art and storytelling.
One of the most interesting things about Petersen’s work is his process, in which he uses handcrafted models as studies for his illustrations. Petersen will literally build his worlds before putting them to ink. These paper models are as much art as the final pages of his works. Luckily for us, he is very open about his process and shares it readily on his blog. Which you can find here.
Petersen’s storytelling is whimsical and child-like, but it’s also deep, at times dark, and is perhaps best described as mythic. His art style, which has only grown in beauty over the years, invokes great emotion and awe. Each panel is worth savoring.
Petersen is able, like the best of fantasy storytellers, give a weight and wonder to his world. His heroes and villain’s shine like those in tales of yore, and yet they are remarkably relatable. Reading his third volume “The Black Axe,” I was struck by how well he captured that feeling of legend. Celanawe’s quests could be at home in a compendium with such epics as Beowulf, The Odyssey, Jason and the Argonauts, or a number of Arthurian quests. If you are a lover of adventure, fantasy and rich storytelling do yourself a favor and pick up Mouseguard today.
It would be a crime not to mention one of Petersen’s latest projects “The Wind in the Willows”. Petersen like many illustration masters before him was commissioned to do this timeless classic for IDW’s publishing. His version takes cues from classic artists such as Ernest H. Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Robert Ingpen, and Paul Bransom. Petersen, while standing on the shoulders of giants, is able to bring his own unique flavor and personality to the book. Whether, like me, you have a special place in your heart for this classic or whether its new to you, Petersen’s “The Wind in the Willows” will not disappoint.
Wind in the Willows
David Petersen is the creator of Mouse Guard. He enjoys fantasy, folklore, myth, and legend. Even more than that he loves to draw and write about it. A steady diet of cartoons, comics, and tree climbing fed his imagination and is what still inspires his work today. David won the 2007 Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer. In 2008, David won the Eisners for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 & Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album – Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Hardcover). David and his wife Julia reside in Michigan with their dog Autumn..