Bryan J L Glass stops by the Outhouse to discuss what's to come in his Harvey Award winning book, MICE TEMPLAR, as well as talk about his latest projects from the House of Ideas. Plus, hear the pipe dream of all Mouse comic crossovers here!
Bryan J L Glass is the Harvey Award winning writer of Mice Templar, one of the boldest and most critically acclaimed books out on the shelves today. Glass chatted with the Outhouse about what's to come in Mice Templar, his newest work with Marvel, and shares with us an idea for what may be the coolest comic book ever.
The Outhouse: Mice Templar has been around for over three years now and is one of the more critically acclaimed books on the shelf today. How have you enjoyed the accolades for your creator-owned book?
Bryan J L Glass: Well, right up front, the most astounding experience I've had as a direct result of my work on THE MICE TEMPLAR was winning the Harvey Award in 2009 for "Best New Talent!" Knowing that the Harveys are voted upon by the comic industry's professionals, and that I was chosen by my peers to receive that honor had such an amazing impact upon me.
Four months later, that work and its recognition led to my finally writing in the Marvel Universe on Thor and Valkyrie. And then, MICE TEMPLAR was nominated for Harveys again and won in 2010 for its collected edition!
Yet I still encounter comic readers who don't know what MICE TEMPLAR is, or who tried an issue or two and dropped it for one reason or another. Those who stuck with the series, or discovered it later in its collected format, have been enamored with the series, and how it defies genre expectations!
OH: For those readers who haven't read Mice Templar, what exactly is the book about?
BJLG: Obviously, THE MICE TEMPLAR is an anthropomorphic medieval fantasy.
Legend claims the Templar of the title were commissioned by the creator of the world to preserve the balance of the natural world; between order and chaos, predator and prey, to stave off scavengers and the harbingers of pestilence and destruction. And they performed this duty well for thousands of seasons, until a generation ago when the Templar found themselves divided by ideology, over the true purpose and destiny of the order: to maintain past tradition or evolve into something new, divorced from ancient beliefs. The rift became so volatile that it led to civil war, and in one great battle, the Templar destroyed themselves, leaving embittered survivors on both sides, each still blaming the other for their war.
With the guardians of order no longer performing that task, chaos has descended upon the world, upsetting the natural balance, and setting competing species against each other to fill the power vacuum the Templar have left behind. The insane mouse king Icarus has claimed the throne, and is supported through a delicate alliance between traditional enemies, a rat army and weasel royal guard. An ancient druidic order is also exploiting the situation, as King Icarus is slowly destroying his own culture and eradicating his people, seemingly at their behest.
Amidst this setting, we introduce our hero, the young mouse Karic who grew up idolizing the Templar Knights of old. But on the eve of his own village's destruction, he receives visions in a very Joan of Arc-like fashion, that the Creator Wotan has chosen him for an unknown destiny that will restore the balance of the world.
For two volumes, THE PROPHECY and DESTINY, the series has followed Karic's journey to adulthood, and the sobering lessons that we all face: the Templar were corrupt, and brought about their own demise, while the surviving factions would rather kill each other than unite against their common enemy. And Karic's new role as a "Chosen One" leads him to be hunted by some, and exploited by others, when all that consumes him is the rescue of his own family from captivity and certain death.
MICE TEMPLAR explores politics, religion and social dynamics, revealing the good and bad in each, as our hero, and his supporting cast, wrestle with their guilt and demons of the past, struggle to survive each night, and seek their own path to future peace.
OH: Mice Templar has a ton of different elements to it and blends several distinct genres into one awesome book What influenced you to write Mice Templar?
BJLG: I was brought onto MICE TEMPLAR in 2003 by original concept creator Mike Oeming (POWERS). Mike had developed a six-issue mini-series treatment back in the 90s, inspired by his childhood love of THE SECRET OF NIMH, and born of his appreciation of Celtic and Norse mythology, but which he felt followed Joseph Campbell's traditional "Hero's Journey" a bit too faithfully. Mike brought me in to "build" him a world, and to tweak expectations in a way that honored classic mythology. He wanted a story with resonance and emotion, and knew I was the guy to deliver both.
My first question to Mike was: how did the Templar fall? Mike had no answer. But as I answered the first question, this entire series now deals with the consequences of their fall.
But as to my own influences...I am just as intrigued by mythology as Mike, but while he explores them in their pure state, I am more fascinated by how belief shapes culture, and how traditions evolve over the years. Thus MICE TEMPLAR is less about the various mythologies we've raided for our tale, and more about how the cultures within our story have been shaped by their beliefs and values. In the end, MICE TEMPLAR feels as familiar as it is unique!
OH: What do you think makes Mice Templar such a distinct book on the shelves today?
BJLG: Without question, it begins with the awesome design and final art of Mike Oeming! He brought a whole new game to his work on MICE TEMPLAR, with his approach of placing traditional cell-animated foreground characters into highly detailed nature backgrounds. Add to this the rich palette and techniques of original colorist Wil Quintana, and simply put you end up with a series that looks like no other book on the market. Mike's approach has now been replicated by Victor Santos (WITCH & WIZARD) and colorist Veronica Gandini (various Marvel titles), who have both in turn taken their predecessors magic and then added their own touches.
From a story perspective, we are pure medieval-themed, high fantasy, which means heroics and magic, and the stirrings of ancient evil...and their simply isn't a lot of that in the comic marketplace that is typically so dominated by superheroics. MICE TEMPLAR is action-packed, dramatic, and gut wrenching, and containing scenes that have brought tears to the eyes of many fans, which is no small feat considering the series is about mice waging war!
OH: Your latest collection of Mice Templar, Destiny 2.2, ends the second chapter of your Mice Templar book. How soon will Chapter 3 be coming out and how many more chapters do you have planned?
BJLG: Volume 3: A MID-WINTER NIGHT'S DREAM launches in floppy format in December, and will run for 8 monthly issues. The overall saga of Karic that began in THE MICE TEMPLAR #1 will come to a definite conclusion with Volume 4: LEGEND, which will run between 10-12 issues, and wrap up all the mysteries and character arcs of the series in a manner I believe fans will be thrilled with!
OH: For readers who are interested in picking up Mice Templar, will Chapter 3 be a good jumping on point for them?
Volumes 1-2 really are one cohesive chunk of the story. With Volume 2's finale, every member of our cast is in a new place, both geographically and within their own character. Volume 3 is about consequences, and has been designed for new readers to climb aboard, treating the previous two volumes like backstory.
OH: What can readers expect out of Chapter 3?
BJLG: There are new threats, new mysteries, and the action quotient keeps increasing with every volume. We left our hero Karic in a coma at the end of Volume 2, while the desperate and distraught King Icarus ascended his royal tower with new consort Alexis. When Volume 3 begins, neither Karic has awoken, nor Icarus descended, and the title A MID-WINTER NIGHT'S DREAM is reflective on both of their situations: winter is a time for hibernation, and a coma loans itself to a dream from which one cannot escape. And in the world of MICE TEMPLAR, the dream state is a supernatural conduit to the Outer Darkness, where our ancient evil Nathair were banished long ago.
Volume 3 will also see our female characters come to the forefront of the action and drama. The existence of the female Maeven Archers was teased way back in volume 1, and an entire camp of Maeven-in-training was introduced in the middle of DESTINY, but with Volume 3 they become one of the primary focuses, particularly when pitched against the Mortair, sisterhood of rat assassins!
With the vacancy left by King Icarus's mysterious fate, the rat druids have assumed control of the kingdom, yet find that their long sought after dream of total dominion is fraught with uncertainty. They realize it is far easier to destabilize the ruling power than it is to rule themselves. And King Icarus's genius in balancing rats with weasels is in peril without his Highness running the show, no matter how insane readers thought he was!
Karic's family may have been rescued from the dungeon and the threat of sacrifice, but they remain equally imprisoned in the capital city, locked down under martial law!
One-Armed Leito, Karic's best friend, now finds himself under the tutelage of Karic's former twisted mentor Pilot the Tall!
And prepare to see the troubled hero Cassius unleashed as never before in a blood drenched issue entitled "Solitaire."
OH: How does it feel to work with Michael Oeming, one of the biggest artists in the industry today?
BJLG: You mean my buddy for the past twenty years, Mike Oeming? [laughs]
I have been friends with Mike ever since Adam Hughes introduced us to each other way back in 1989! I've worked with Mike on almost every published property to date: we started SPANDEX TIGHTS together in 1992, and it was that series that brought him to DC's notice and got him his first big-time gig on JUDGE DREDD; we created SHIP OF FOOLS together in 1996; Mike illustrated my novel QUIXOTE in 2005; 86 VOLTZ the Dead Girl; Mike got me the MAGICIAN adaptation that started at Dabel Bros. and then jumped to Marvel Comics; and of course THE MICE TEMPLAR!
It has been fantastic to have worked with Mike for nearly twenty years, and to have seen him grow not only as an artist, but as a writer/storyteller in his own right!
And when you get right down to it, Mike is simply one of the best human beings on the planet, and one of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for!
OH: Recently, you were at Mid-Ohio Con and sat across from David Petersen, the creator of Mouse Guard. Have you ever talked to David Petersen about a crossover of your two books?
BJLG: David Petersen is such a class act: a terrific guy and extraordinary artist and storyteller! It might shock some of those MOUSE GUARD fans who perceived/accused MICE TEMPLAR of somehow exploiting David's series, to know how often we hang out after hours at convention after convention, as well as the dinners we've had together! I even have a portrait of Templar heroes Cassius & Karic drawn by David in his MOUSE GUARD style! I have nothing but the utmost respect for David and his work, and feel that respect reciprocated in turn!
Bill Willingham proposed a three-way cross-over between GUARD, TEMPLAR and his own Mouse Police from FABLES, while I suggested making it a charity event for one of our industry's many good causes. But at the present, it is only a dream project for many reasons, not the least of which are congested, conflicting schedules.
OH: You have a couple of other books out right now with Marvel. Can you tell us a little bit about Valkyrie and Thor: First Thunder?
BJLG: VALKYRIE was a one-shot featuring Marvel's Norse shieldmaiden Brunhilde that was released as part of the Women of Marvel Comics event that showcased female characters and creators all year long. Valkyrie is one of the most convoluted characters in all Marvel history, with each incarnation working in its own right, yet a mess of continuity when strung together. When I asked which incarnation of the character Ed Brubaker was using in the then forthcoming SECRET AVENGERS, editor Bill Rosemann told me Ed was going with the pure Norse Brunhilde, as opposed to any of the mortals that have inhabited her body or served as vessels for her spirit.
A bit of research also revealed she was one of those killed amidst Ragnarok in Oeming's AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED: THOR, and yet she was never given an "on-screen" return when JMS resurrected all the Asgardians in the relaunch of THOR. This provided the opportunity to achieve many things: to give the character the respect she deserves, repair a continuity breach that allows Brunhilde to return, clear and reset her character, and simply present her as a strong woman warrior that isn't subservient to ultra-feminist extremist views as she has appeared in previous incarnations.
With THOR: FIRST THUNDER, a gig I received based upon the work I did on VALKYRIE, my assignment was quite specific: to take the first twelve appearances of The Mighty Thor in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #83-95, and translate 1963 into the new millennium. This was an opportunity to update the character's origin through today's storytelling sensibilities, while not altering the work initially pioneered by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber. At first glance, the opening issues of this five-issue mini-series appear to be mere retellings of stories already told, yet with subtle additions to the characterization. But as the series continues, those subtle additions to the characterization will take over the story, and reveal an origin of the god of Thunder that is both faithful and fresh!
OH: How do Valkyrie and Thor: First Thunder differ from all of the Thor books out today?
BJLG: The magic of all the Thor hoopla right now, is that it is allowing this fantastic character, with roots both in mythology and in Marvel Universe continuity, to take center stage for a year; it allows a wide variety of creators, artists & writers, to explore a multitude of aspects. We're getting savage Thor, introspective Thor, science-as-magic Thor, a parade of Asgardian stars in Odin, Sif, Loki, the Warriors Three, and classic old school Thor in the earliest days of the Marvel Universe in FIRST THUNDER.
It was this primitive Marvel Universe that fascinated me the most: the public only knows of the existence of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. The Hulk is a government secret. Iron Man has not been built. Captain America is frozen in the ice. Henry Pym has only just started experimenting with his Pym particles via his girlfriend, socialite Janet van Dyne. The Avengers are still a year or more away. Thus, Thor gets to be pretty special as he finds himself out of time and banished to a world he no longer recognizes. The ever-mysterious relationship between Thor and Dr. Donald Blake takes center stage, and will be clarified for all who have ever been mystified by it (until the next retcon assumes a different take altogether). [laughs]
Valkyrie, meanwhile, is more a focus of the superhero side of the Marvel U and is used to a lesser extent in the Asgardian storylines.
OH: All three of the books you're writing right now contains heavy references to Norse mythology. What about the Norse gods is so appealing to you?
BJLG: Horns on helmets are just so badass!
And swords! [laughs]
OH: Do you have any other projects coming out soon?
BJLG: As I said earlier, MICE TEMPLAR Volume 3 launches in December!
I'm developing a new sci-fi, post-apocalyptic series with Michael Golden entitled TWO WORLDS that will debut sometime in 2011
I'm also writing one of Marvel Comics video game tie-ins for an undisclosed character, which should be revealed soon.
My other Marvel projects are still too early to be announced.
And I'm hoping next year will see the release of a creator-owned superhero series, and a sci-fi/horror mini-series featuring a concept no one has ever tackled before!
It should be an exciting year!
Mice Templar Volume 2.2: Destiny hit the shelves yesterday. It can be found at bookstores everywhere.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer