With San Diego Comic-Con less than two weeks away, David Petersen, creator of the Eisner-Award winning series, Mouse Guard, speaks with writer Henry Herz on his Fantastic Visions blog about some of the challenges of being an illustrator and advice he has for aspiring writers.
What do you hope readers will get from reading your work?
Mainly I hope that they have a good time reading it and that they get some emotional tug (joy, relief, sadness, etc) in that parts that touch them. I also hope readers minds swirl with questions about what I didn’t tell or show in the illustrations, what lies beyond that hill, or around that corner.
What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
Getting it all to fit visually is a struggle for me. Drawing comic pages means that the panels need to be arranged in an order where the reader always knows which panel comes next…but if I need to have a very tall panel in the middle of that page, it can make getting everything else for that page included a real trick. I can spend a few days laying out just one page if I get stuck. I think it’s the part that takes me the longest, and is the most difficult for me. But in many ways, the page layouts and what goes in each panel is more important than the final drawing.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being an illustrator?
I’d say it’s the effect an illustrator can have on a reader. I’m amazed when I hear from readers saying my stories (specifically some of the illustrations) had them crying over certain characters or events. In one issue, a crow is killed by some large weasels. The bird was a companion of one of the main mouse characters, and I had to carefully figure how to show that without going too far. I never showed a weasel actually touching the bird, and I also focused on the reaction of the mouse witnessing it….a very Hitchcock approach. But fans told me how they cried and were so sad over the bird’s violent death and how graphic it was….but it wasn’t graphic, they filled in the gaps I didn’t show in their mind.
Read the full interview here.
If you will be attending this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, join us at Booth #2929 where Petersen, along with several of our other creators, will be signing books throughout the weekend!