The Jungle Book. The Hobbit. Winnie the Pooh. The Last Unicorn. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The Dark Crystal. Mouse Guard.
There is an exclusive royalty of fantasy tales featuring non-humans in fantastical realms. These books and movies should be on the bookshelves of everyone with an imagination. Strange worlds familiar and yet unfamiliar. Steeped in tradition, filled with myths and legends and populated by extraordinary creatures. These are fantasy masterpieces that make us look beyond our humanity.
Based on a world of characters he created in college in 1996, in May 2005 artist and writer David Petersen self-published the first of several stories of his micro-universe called Mouse Guard. In 2006 Archaia started publishing Mouse Guard issues books. Petersen earned the 2007 Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and in 2008 he earned Eisner Awards for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 & Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album – Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Hardcover). We at borg.com have been bragging up Petersen’s Mouse Guard series from the beginning.
This month Archaia is releasing the first Mouse Guard Coloring Book, and we have previews of the book below. It is a fantastic book to go crazy with crayons or pencils. But it’s even more. The more than fifty black and white illustrations in a format larger than what is printed in the Mouse Guard series shows the intricate detail of the environments, cities, and characters from across the Mouse Territories. Although some images are printed smaller than the original artwork behind these previously published works, this is the closest you may come to getting your hands on an affordable gallery of Petersen’s original pencil and ink drawings. At a convention commissioned inked 7×7 works from David Petersen go for $500. Original Mouse Guard pages sold for that amount a decade ago but would sell for at least triple that today. So this coloring book serves also as a look at what Petersen sees with his original art pages, as well as a great convention sketchbook. And costs less than $15.
I was 11 in the Summer of ’82. And yet I remember that summer vividly. Rare has there been a year since that I saw so many awesome movies in the theater. Many have commented on what was the best year in movies over the years, with the classic answer from critics usually being 1939 because of stellar films like The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Princess, Young Mr. Lincoln, and Drums Along the Mohawk.
So what do you think is the best year of movies? If you whittle it down to the best summer of movies, I’ve got a real contender here.
I remember standing in line at a new theater on my side of town, with my mom and sister, getting a sticker advertising a new brown and orange candy somehow tied to one of the movies. I saw an unexpectedly powerful sci-fi franchise entry with my brother at the S.E. 14th Street Drive-In Theater (pictured above before they tore it down a decade later) on a really hot day one Friday night. And he and his RadioShack computer tinkering friends took me to see a new Disney film that had its setting inside a computer at a Saturday matinée. The preview for one of the movies gave me nightmares. Two of the movies I wouldn’t truly appreciate for another 20 years. It all happened during the summer 33 years ago.
Check out this summer movie sneak preview from the YouTube archives and recall where you were during the Summer of ’82:
Litographs is a company with a line of prints featuring the entire text of a book using the words themselves to form a picture. They sell these as prints/posters and on t-shirts. Want to own a beautiful picture of Alice falling down the rabbit hole that is also, when you look close, the entire text of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland? Want to walk down the street actually wearing a favorite book?
Peter S. Beagle, author of the fantasy classic The Last Unicorn (reviewed here at borg.com earlier in graphic novel form), A Fine and Private Place (we reviewed the comic book adaptation here, too) and many other great works announced today a limited discount Litograph design for The Last Unicorn. And until midnight tonight, you can get a $10 discount on your order by entering the code FORTUNA during the checkout process.
Today IDW Publishing is releasing a new printing of The Wizard’s Tale. Originally written in 1990 and published in 1997 by Homage, a Wildstorm imprint before DC Comics acquired Wildstorm. At first look The Wizard’s Tale impresses as a work of amazing classical fantasy artwork. But the story itself is a fun bit of fantasy satire, and together the story and art form a standalone fantasy masterpiece in the realm of Willow and The Hobbit.
The Wizard’s Tale was scribed by Kurt Busiek, best known for writing superhero tales like Astro City, but also DC Comics’ weekly Trinity series, as well as Power Company, Conan and several Avengers stories, working across all the major publishing houses at one time or the other. With The Wizard’s Tale, Busiek wrote a story influenced by works he was a fan of, including James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks and Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. The Wizard’s Tale has the sensibilities of both The Last Unicorn and The Hobbit, including plenty of wit, charm, and atmosphere. Despite not having a fully fleshed out full-length novel to pull elements from, Busiek writes a story full of fairy tale and high fantasy characters and themes, including a dangerous journey, an improbable king, and a magical frog. And Busiek even includes a recipe for Sunshine Cake at the back of the book. Cake!?
Review by C.J. Bunce
Once upon a time and long before Charles Perrault wrote down his version of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in the 17th century someone else created and shared through the oral tradition the fairy tales we know today. Before Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White were collected as stories and written down and shared by familiar names like Grimm someone first thought of and created these elemental and immortal characters. But we will never know the names or these writers, shake their hands, ask them questions and know much about them at all. Creators of more modern classic tales are long gone as well, like Tolkien, Carroll, White and Lewis, and luckily a lot has been shared about them and their works. We know these creators of immortal works–stories that stick in your memory. But is The Hobbit and Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as elemental to our storytelling tradition as Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty? Maybe. If they don’t quite fit in that category they are certainly on the next shelf over.
Review by C.J. Bunce
When a publisher adapts a work of fiction into comic book or graphic novel form, there should be a reason for it. How can a visual representation of this work add something to the story for a reader, either new to the story or not? And timing is relevant. Why release this adaptation now? Easy answers that are valid are simply because the work is a classic, because the work is by a noted writer, or because the subject matter is one that resonates with current audiences.
I don’t have an answer as to why now is a good time for an adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place into comic book form. But many of the easy answers fit. Beagle is one of the most beloved authors of all time, and perhaps the most beloved author of classic fantasy of the level of Tolkien and Carroll and White and Lewis still living and still writing. Issue #1 of IDW Publishing’s adaptation of Beagle’s first novel, A Fine and Private Place, is probably a long time coming. Published in 1960, eight years before his celebrated The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place is our first window into the thoughtful and introverted characters fans love Beagle for.