I’m baaaack!

If you missed the first installment of Comic Virgins, catch up here.

TL;DR? I haven’t read comics – until now. Let’s call it an experiment. You will tag along with my introduction to comics, selected by Ben and Mike. Hijinx ensue.

For this post, I read Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (the first six issues of the series), a lovely little adventure in a world where mice have little mice cities and towns that need little mice protectors. It was written and drawn by David Petersen, a Michigander with a pretty sweet goatee, if the Wikipedia page is accurate. (Side note: I haven’t used Wikipedia this much since I first discovered the “Random Article” button. It’s a treasure trove of comic info.) It is published by Archaia Studios Press.

What I loved most about this comic was the world it was set in. I’m a huge fantasy novel fan, and, if possible, I would live in Middle Earth. The world Petersen has created is very reminiscent of the fantasy worlds I’ve spent hours upon hours exploring through novels, and the added visual element of the comic is definitely one more way to dive deeper into the rich world created by someone else’s imagination. Having just one comic to compare this to (last week’s Irredeemable), I kinda feel like whiplash. These two comics seem pretty far apart on the comic spectrum in many categories – style, plot, subject, world, timeline, etc. Hell, even the species of the main characters is wildly different.

Nope, definitely not an angry superhero-turned-villain blowing up the world. Think cuddlier. And smaller.

Nope, definitely not an angry superhero-turned-villain blowing up the world. Think cuddlier. And smaller.

But I think that’s what I’m growing to realize about comics. It’s a medium that can be used for so many different things. If you can dream it, I’m pretty certain you can make a comic about it. Because it’s visual, it’s approachable to many who might not sit down for a long novel, or maybe those who can’t sit down for a long novel because of reading level. For example, Mouse Guard won Best Publication for Kids in 2008 from the Eisner Awards. Kids might not sit down to read The Lord of the Rings, but they sure can get an adventure in a wonderful, distant land from something like Mouse Guard.

Anyway, back to my original point: I felt at home in this comic because of all of the time I’ve spent with my nose in a fantasy novel. It was a welcome experience, what with the disorientation I had in Irredeemable with the first Comic Virgins installment. I know how fantasy works – at points, the plot was very predictable. (Possible spoilers ahead, though it came out in 2006, so if you haven’t read it yet, get on it.) I knew who the “traitor” was when we first met him – not just from his visually dark color palette, but because it’s a trope used by many fantasy authors. That doesn’t make it any less of a story, though. In fact, I think it helped me sink even more into the world of the story because it did feel so familiar – but also richer, because of the visual element. I actually am going to seek out the next collections of this series because I wish to continue spending time in the world Petersen created.

One other brief observation: I LOVED the format/size ratio. Is this unique for comics? Aren’t most, well, comic-sized? (I know, you’d think I’d have a better description, but I don’t.) I think the square shape really sticks out. If I were headed into a comic shop (who knows? Maybe someday I will.) and I saw this size on the wall next to all of the traditional comics, I’d be drawn to it. I also feel like the orientation allows for differently sized and spaced panels than the traditional comic. I don’t know if I would go as far to say that it’s better. I don’t have the experience to say that with any authority. However, I will say that I liked it. A lot.

If there was any problem I had with the comic, it was the lettering. I found Irredeemable’s lettering significantly easier to read, and also more attractive. I was not a fan of the typeface used for this comic. It is in ALL CAPS, which can be garish to read, and doesn’t give the author the freedom to use capital letters for emphasis when needed. However, seeing as I didn’t see a “letterer” listed anywhere (still can’t get over the fact there are people employed just to write letters for comic bubbles), it doesn’t seem like there was as much emphasis placed on the physical appearance of the words as there was placed on the words themselves.

Also, was anyone else reminded of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series when they read this? When I first saw the cover of Mouse Guard, I couldn’t help but picture the cover of Redwall, which also features a little sword-wielding mouse. Redwall definitely came first, which does leave me wondering if Petersen gained any inspiration from it. Yet again, there have been many wonderful stories featuring anthropomorphic creatures – it’s not a new story. Few things are new stories.

See? Mouse. Sword. Valiantly fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that jazz.

See? Mouse. Sword. Valiantly fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that jazz.

With all this said, I truly enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve loved what I’ve encountered so far on this comic journey. I’m hoping I will continue to enjoy what I read – keep checking back to find out!

About The Author

Hey there! I'm Amanda, and I'm the managing editor for DetroyTheCyborg! I come to the job with a background in journalism, English, American culture and all-around interest in what makes up our site.

For a living, I'm a government reporter for a newspaper my hometown. Seeing as that can be a bit monotonous, I welcome the opportunity to write occasional book (and other) reviews for DTC. If you see a book coming up I should review, let me know!

My interests are many and varied. I love table top games, bad movies (and good films!), music of all genres and the occasional graphic novel. Ben P. is trying his hardest to increase my interest in comic books - stay tuned for the outcome of THAT adventure. When it comes to books, I've yet to find a genre that I won't read. I have a particular affinity to Lord of the Rings and non-fiction first-person explorations - see Mary Roach's Stiff or Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals for examples.

My other abilities? I find that I make a mean batch of cinnamon rolls, and I can (most of the time) keep the crayon inside the lines.

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