Apologies for the copious amount of intermission posts over the last couple months — we’ve been pushing pretty hard to get the book ready for print this month, and it looks like the hard work is close to paying off! The interior page edits have been made (and will eventually be integrated into the website archive), the cover is done, and the only thing left to do is arrange the page layouts for the book extras!

BWDcover_01

Speaking of the cover, that’s just the front at the top of the post! In actuality, it’s a full wrap-around image like the one just above, not just the 8×8 square frontage. I’m incredibly pleased with how the cover turned out, and we’re hoping it will turn heads when it goes on sale this August at Boston Comic Con.

In addition to showing off the cover this week, I wanted to take an opportunity to show another of our fantastic guest pinups that will be featured in the book. This one is by the incredible David Petersen, creator of the multiple award-winning series, Mouse Guard. His work can also be seen on the covers of comics ranging from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Fraggle Rock.

western deep color

The piece, of Quinlan and Dakkan in the Land’s End Tavern, has a good deal of backstory for me — so I will explain!

Back in 2009, I remember quite clearly that I brazenly walked up to David’s table at New York Comic Con and showed him a series of printed images of what would eventually become the main cast of Beyond the Western Deep, along with some color tests and early script work. Mouse Guard had been a major inspiration in shifting the story from prose to comics, after all, and I really wanted to get its creator’s opinion on my own “animals with swords” story. I had grown up with Redwall, but Mouse Guard took the things I enjoyed from Redwall and put a fresh spin on it (with some amazing, one-of-a-kind artwork and world-building that I’d never seen before).

westerndeep_sketches

I look back now at the material I showed and cringe a little bit, but David was not only a consummate professional in his critique of the material, but also provided us with concrete steps for improvement (particularly with the coloring). He also pushed the webcomic concept, which I’d never really considered — I had originally believed that webcomics were the purview of gag strips like Penny Arcade and XKCD, but David helped introduce me to long-form webcomics like Sean Wang’s “Runners”, Nate Cosby’s “Cow Boy”, and Ramón Pérez’s “Kukuburi” — all of which were fantastic reads.

In 2010, I had the tremendous privilege of contributing the story “Potential” to David’s Eisner award-winning anthology “Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume 1″ with my friend Sean Rubin. Sean, for those unfamiliar with his work on the Redwall series, created over a dozen pieces of some of the most striking and memorable artwork of the Redwall world on the audiobook packaging, and handled the interior artwork for “The Sable Quean” and “The Rogue Crew” — the two final Redwall books.

That next New York Comic Con, I was sitting between David and Sean at the Archaia booth, signing copies of “Legends of the Guard.” It was a childhood dream come true.

1legendshc

In the book, mice from around the Territories congregate in the June Alley Inn to participate in a storytelling competition. The winner of the contest has their outstanding bar tab cleared by the owner — and this tradition has carried on into the second (now Eisner nominated!) “Legends of the Guard” anthology. Quinlan and Dakkan being in the Land’s End is a direct reference to the June Alley Inn from “Legends” and serves as a fun reminder of the work David and I have done together.

Anyway! For more information on David’s pinup and the process he went through to create it, you can read all about on on his blog by following this link!