Guests From Redwall Abbey.
Yesterday, I had a rare event where there was no weekday post. That was in part because I had nothing so intensely on my mind that I felt it needed a post, and partially because I was exhausted, and went to sleep super early instead of drawing. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while lately, and sometimes that just piles up on you. Also, life has been kind of dropping challenges on me like someone has been dropping arrows on the little guy depicted above, so a momentary rest was in order.
As of now…”Catcher in the Rye” is safely in the proverbial rear view mirror of my class. The final projects were turned in yesterday, and the average project shows solid effort, and a real understanding of the basics of the text. Overall, those are good things, that i am pretty happy with. For the next couple of days, I will be teaching about Shakespeare’s life, and the Globe Theatre, leading into the final text of the year, “Julius Caesar.” With a few weeks left to go, that is on the ambitious side.
The art, though, has nothing to do with any of that. Unlike many of my colleagues, I’m constantly reading, and I read a huge variety of texts. There’s always a book on the front seat of the car, just in case I’m stuck waiting for something. I download a bunch of stuff into my Kindle, just in case. That scanning for new material is constant. Given some of my search for artistic reference for the Edu-Mountain setting, it dawned on me that I had never read anything from Brian Jaques’ “Redwall” series.
“Redwall,” by Brian Jacques, is a series of fantasy novels. It is the title of the first book of the series, published in 1986, as well as the name of the Abbey featured in the book and the name of an animated TV series based on three of the novels (Redwall, Mattimeo, and Martin the Warrior), which first aired in 1999. The books themselves are primarily aimed at older children. In the series, there have been twenty-two novels and two picture books published. The twenty-second, and final, novel, The Rogue Crew, was posthumously released on May 3, 2011. I just downloaded that into my Kindle, since the first book, “Redwall” is not available for download. That had to be ordered in the old fashioned way.
The characters in the books are all anthropomorphic animals of some sort, almost all of whom are capable of speech. That’s what led me to the series, in my search for reference art. However, unlike the super-evolved creatures of the Edu-Mountain, the Mice of Redwall are to all intents and purposes, mice. They have their mice culture and mice language, but they are mouse sized, and relate to the world from that perspective.
So…I would say they are Advanced Mice? Regularly Evolved Mice? Certainly not Super-Evolved Mice, but better than regular mice. Books in the series often contain one or more “monsters,” but these are not mythical creatures, rather being some type of ferocious predator. So…kind of like “The Jungle Book,” but without people and with the animals using medieval or Elizabethan technology.
From the beginning, Brian Jacques was praised for his Redwall series, being described as one of “the best children’s authors in the world.” Pretty serious praise, especially considering that despite that, I have yet to read one of the texts. The books of the Redwall series have drawn comparisons to J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, but being fair, almost everything in the fantasy genre eventually gets to that comparison. Jacques combines “action, poetry, songs, courage, and vivid descriptions” to create a unique style that spans the very long series.
The Redwall series has also received praise for its “equal-opportunity adventuring, in which female creatures can be just as courageous (or as diabolical) as their male counterparts.” That’s a pretty big deal, even if they are female mice or badgers, and not quite young women. Novels such as “Mariel of Redwall,” feature strong female leading characters…something there wasn’t a whole lot of in eighties Fantasy writing at all. Jacques has also received acclaim for his development of unique language intrinsic to certain species, giving the novels an “endearing dialectal dialogue.”
That’s a whole lot to sell the series. In a couple of weeks, I should be able to make a more accurate ruling than a survey of the research that suggests a solid read. That little guy above seems pretty stressed out, though. He shouldn’t be…it would be cool having a little mouse friend with all of that gear that could just hop in your pocket, and go on adventures with you. Oddly, that reminds me of a Disney Film called “The Rescuers,” from 1977, that has been rattling around my brain a bit as of late as well.
But that…that is also something for another post, True Believers.