Mice have just been out there wrecking it for a while. I am starting to think that the most compelling characters in stories are animals and I’m not talking about Thundercats or Disney movies or Pound Puppies or other stories based on anthropomorphic characters but a deep and rich narrative that brings you into a thoroughly believable narrative that can only be considered as anthropomorphic because they use animals as the conduit through which to relay them. These two series featuring mice are the gold standard when it comes to anthropomorphic tales. I could have included the Rats of NIMH as well but I thought it best to just focus on these two.
Mouse Guard by David Petersen is the heroic tale of a civilization of mice who must make their living in a world of larger creatures. The Mouse Guard fights to protect that civilization by selflessly combating creatures whose existence is on a grander scale ,obviously, as compared to that of a mouse. Not to mention the fact that they have to deal with the elements. The story has all of the intrigue and complex characters one would expect from medieval stories featuring humans. I would call it Game of Thrones light with mice but that is an invalid and inherently unfair characterization. I only make that to get the throngs of Game of Thrones fans to give an equally good story a try. LOL. Mouse Guard incorporates other themes and elements that make it an entirely uniq ue animal that can’t realistically be compared to anything else. It has the added element of a strong camaraderie among the Mouse Guard that is tremendously captivating within the narrative as well as other elements that set it apart.
The world of Mouse Guard focuses on the difficulties that would encumber the lives of real mice but the story of “Maus” a Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman is the very real and dramatic account of a human experience. It depicts the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats and goes through the experiences of Art Spiegelman’s father as he fought through the hardships of life under the Nazis. Honestly, when this book is read you completely forget that the pages are drawn with images of mice. You see the mice as only humans. Your perception will be so skewed that I assure the pictures on the page will only serve as a jump start for real images of humans in your mind. It’s an odd and amazing feeling. The symbolism is obvious but that graphic depiction goes far beyond simple symbolism. There is more quality to it that. Furthermore, the story is expansive enough to mesh Art Spiegelman’s present with that of his father’s past. It accomplishes this so seamlessly that you get the feeling of just how the past has colored their family’s present.
I am just touching on the surface of the strength of these two narratives. Give them a read if you want to feel what it is like to have mice move you more than humans.