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Idiot's Guide Weekly: Brian Jacques Remembered

Written by Christian on Saturday, February 12 2011 and posted in Columns

Idiot's Guide Weekly remembers Brian Jacques, writer of the popular Redwall series, with Bryan JL Glass (MICE TEMPLAR) and David Petersen (MOUSE GUARD).  Plus, news, comics and more!

Welcome to a weekly column summarizing the good, the bad and the ugly that occurred throughout the week in comics. With fifty billion websites covering all the minutia of the comic industry and dozens of comics hitting the shelves, it's about time that someone has the stones to take it all in and regurgitate it like a mother bird to her chicks. Idiot's Guide Weekly will cover pertinent news, the best and worst comics of the week, and anything else worth mentioning in a jovial and mocking manner. So enjoy it while it's fresh: Idiot's Guide Weekly aims to please.

The News:

Top News Story of the Week: In the last week, we've seen trailers for Thor , Captain America and X-Men: First Class.  In my humble opinion X-Men had the most surprising trailer of the bunch while Captain America's trailer was probably the most disappointing. However, this was offset by an awesome shot of the Red Skull...which looks exactly like the Red Skull.

Couple of new comic book announcements this week. Felicia Henderson will be writing a Static Shock series.  After Henderson's truly awful Teen Titans run, I expect DC to mercy killing the character after the end of the run. Meanwhile, Sean McKeever and Mike Norton are teaming up for a Fear Itself crossover called Youth in Revolt, which teams up Gravity with a bunch of less-awesome characters.

Marvel's marketing department announced that they'll be killing off one character per quarter at the ComicPro retailer summit on Friday. Marvel stated that the reason behind the controversial mandate was that comics are just cooler when dudes get graphically torn in half on page. DC's response? "We've been doing that for years but no one's noticed..."

An Idiot's Guide Remembrance: Brian Jacques

Brian Jacques was the author of the popular series centered around Redwall Abbey and the talking mice who reside in it. He passed away last Saturday, which was doubly saddening not only because I was one of the authors' biggest fan but also because I was planning on running a feature this week about the two in the same genre as his book series, Mice Templar and Mouse Guard.

For me, the original Redwall book remains one of the most influential books in my life to this day. As an undersized eight year-old with few friends and more than a few issues fitting in, the protagonist of Redwall, a small mouse named Matthias, proved to be an unlikely, yet powerful, influence on my life. Matthias began Redwall as a clumsy, undersized novice with more than a few issues fitting in and a skill set that didn't fit in right with the other mice in the abbey. As the book progressed and evil threatened his home, Matthias didn't rely on strength of mind or strength of body to win the day. It was his strength of heart, his trust in his friends, and the ability to stand tall in the face of adversity that allowed him to triumph over his enemies. As corny as it sounds, I took those lessons (and many of the others presented in Jacques' books) to heart and can honestly and truthfully attribute a lot of my growth as a person to trying to mirror my favorite childhood character, one that I plan on naming my first son after (much to the chagrin of my fiancée).

I turned to Bryan JL Glass, the writer of Mice Templar, and David Petersen, creator of Mouse Guard, for a few words about the passing of their peer and visionary in the anthropomorphic medieval genre.  Here's what they had to say:

Bryan J L Glass: Regarding the passing of author Brian Jacques: it seems odd to say, as the co-creator of THE MICE TEMPLAR along with my creative partner Mike Oeming, that the literary world of REDWALL had no influence upon the creation of our own anthropomorphic medieval adventure...but it is nonetheless true.

For my generation, author Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, THE PLAGUE DOGS) was the anthropomorphic author who inspired me. Yet as my own series was in development, I would describe my upcoming saga to family and friends, only to be asked if what I was creating was "like REDWALL?" I soon realized that the fantasy world of Brian Jacques had captured an entire generation the way the sagas of Richard Adams had captured mine.

Concern that my own mouse adventures might inadvertently touch upon creative ground already tilled by Mr. Jacques, I sought out and read his first three mouse-centered volumes. I was soon inspired by his tales...while thankful we were each pursuing a different tack on this traditional genre; just as fellow mouse saga creator David Petersen (MOUSE GUARD) has also chartered his own course.

And thus, I am moved to learn today of Mr. Jacques passing. He does not hold the same place in my heart as he does for the legions of fans who grew up with the legend of Martin the Warrior ever before them...but I am honored to have spent some time in the same ocean he charted.

May he rest in peace...and may his legacy live on in the hearts and minds of this generation, and of many more still to come.

David Petersen (taken with permission from his blog): Today's blogpost comes a day early to mark the passing of Brian Jacques, author of the wonderful children's series of Redwall novels. The series focuses on the medieval goings on of generations of animals who live in and around Redwall Abbey. Mr. Jacques was the lead torch holder in keeping anthropomorphic characters alive and prospering after such other greats as Aesop, Rudyard Kipling, & Kenneth Grahame.

Redwall was as much an influence on Mouse Guard as it was an anti-influence. It was while I was developing the ideas for my own group of mouse rangers I was handed the first book in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed Brian's writing, and his gift for including vocal accents into the text. It charged in me even more desire to pursue my love of animal stories and medieval cultures.

However, I knew instantly that I could never top what Mr. Jacques was doing. So when I say his books were a counter influence, I only mean that I had to set out in a different path from what he was already master of.

In honor of a great and prolific author who scouted the road and opened the doors of the modern market for tales of mouse heroes, I humbly thank him and wish his family peace.

To wrap up, Brian Jacques was a man who inspired the lives of many with his words and wonderful stories. It cannot be stressed how wonderful his books are and the impact he had on a generation of youthful readers. Mr. Jacques legacy will live on through his timeless series which will undoubtedly, like Redwall Abbey, last throughout the ages.  Thank you, Mr. Jacques, from the bottom of my heart.


Moment of the Week: Max Lord shoots Blue Beetle in the head in a twist that hasn't been advertised by DC for the last three months. (Justice League: Generation Lost #19) I seriously doubt this is the last of Jaime, who's grown on me a lot over the last few years, but it certainly solidifies Max Lord's place as a grade A asshole, especially after constantly making typical gringo comments to Jaime the whole issue.

Comic of the Week: Secret Warriors #24. Jonathan Hickman introduces eight new character and promptly kills them off in one panel. I wish that they didn't move up the timetable on this book, because the story has been consistently epic over the last two years.

Surprise of the Week: Batgirl #18. This book has repeatedly been a fun read for over a year. This issue focuses on Batgirl and Klarion the Witch Boy teaming up with hilarious results. While Batgirl doesn't reinvent the superhero comic, it certainly highlights that a little bit of characterization can go a long way.

Best Character of the Week: Black Panther (in Black Panther: Man Without Fear #515). This month, T'Challa pulls a McGuyver and uses magnets, circuit-boards and a piece of gum to create some handy toys useful for taking down Eastern European mobsters.

Worst Character of the Week: Nobody really acted stupid this we'll give it to the Ultimate Black Cat (in Ultimate Spider-Man #153) who blew up a city block and handed over some ancient artifact over to a dude who's admittedly evil.

Other comics of note:
New Avengers #9: Bendis seems to have two or three issues where he's spot on and then follow it with a clunker. This definitely is one of the latter categories. The flashbacks were really disjointed and took away the resonance of a shocking cliffhanger.

Onslaught Unleashed #1: Sean McKeever takes what could have been a terrible idea and actually turns it into a pretty engaging story. The art's not really my style, but given a few more issues, it might grow on me. On an unrelated side note, McKeever keeps hitting on my fiancée on Facebook. Totally not cool, man.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #7: I really don't see why this couldn't have been kept in Green Lantern Corps. Snakey McThinksalot it one of the lamer villains to come out of the Green Lanterns in a while.


Batman and Robin #20: I was really disappointed to hear that Tomasi and Gleason were only sticking around for one arc. The first issue was quite promising.

Red Robin #20: Damian Wayne seems to be a character that shines no matter what the setting. He even upstages his older brother in the latter's book.

Heroes for Hire #3: Weakest issue of the series thus far, but still better than 80% of the other books that came out this week.

Hello... (New Characters)

Dorothy Gale (Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1): The titular character of the Oz series reimagined as an assassin for hire? I can dig that.

Hot Pursuit (Flash #9): Two years ago, there weren't any Barry Allens in the DC Universe. Now there are two? Weird.

New Venom (in Amazing Spider-Man #654): Called that one. Flash Thompson, Super Symbiote Spy. I actually think that's kind of a cool idea.

Elongated Kid (in Flash #9): Awesome new character, Geoff Johns! Way to add another character to the Flash mythos...

Goodbye... (Dead Characters)

Elongated Kid (in Flash #9): WHAT THE HELL? SERIOUSLY! THE KID DOESN'T EVEN SHOW UP ALIVE IN ONE FREAKIN' PANEL! For shame! (Actually, it looks like a cool little murder mystery)

Marla Jameson (in Amazing Spider-Man #654): Dan Slott kills his second character in just as many story arcs. Marla has been a staple in Spider-Man for a long time and provided some stability to J. Jonah Jameson's explosive personality. Slott is showing that he has no problem mixing it up and making big changes to the status quo.

Quote of the Week: "Global Warming. It produces more weather."- T'Challa, providing some Inconvenient Truths about the climate while purchasing magnets to beat thugs up.

Everything Else (Musings and whatnot):

An apology for the lack of pictures this week. I blame it on my dumbass kitten once again. He makes for a handy scapegoat sometimes. Snooty comments relating to panels will be back again next week!

Much thanks to Bryan J L Glass and David Petersen for their contributions to this week's column. Both are spectacular writers and are responsible for some of the best books out today. They're also both great people who really gave me some solace on Monday when I truly needed it. I highly encourage everyone to pick up copies of Mouse Guard and Mice Templar.

Requests for new features or guest spots are always appreciated. Send a PM or email for more information.

Next Week: The Return of the IGW Contest! Catching up with Jason Todd! IGW Harasses a well-known Internet Troll! All this and more!

Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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