At the New York Comic Con ICv2 sat down with Archaia Studio Press’ Mark Smylie to discuss what he has up his sleeve to follow the tremendous success of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard (seeMouse Guard Collection Over 25 K”).  The answer is a Webcomic that Neil Gaiman described as “a semi-gothic, funny-sweet school story with mysteries and robots and so forth" that reminded him "of the early days of reading Bone.”



What is the "next Mouse Guard" from Archaia Studio Press?

The next Mouse Guard book, I hope, is called Gunnerkrigg Court.  It’s actually a Webcomic by an artist named Tom Siddell.  He’s British and he writes a fabulous little online strip about a young girl going to a boarding school, which has a Hogwarts feel to it in the sense that it’s British boarding school, but it has a lot of great and strange things that happen at it.  The main character has this wonderful “Wednesday Addams” feel, that kind of precocious, mature before her years--pre goth.  It follows her and her new friends as they discover all the intricacies and mysteries of the school. 


How long has the Webcomic been around?

About a year and a half.  It’s already been nominated and won some awards that are related to Webcomics, including an “International Clickies” award, and  a number of Web “Cartoonist’s Choice” awards.  It also has the distinction of being Neil Gaiman’s favorite Webcomic.


When’s the book coming out?  What’s the format?

I believe it’s coming out in two or three months.  I solicited it for April for the direct market, but it will probably be in the June, July, August range.  It will be 304 pages full color, 5.5” x 8.5” so it’s a digest size with $26.95 cover price.


How much material is there?  Once you publish the first book, will you be caught up or is there more stuff in the pipe?

He’s hoping to do one year for every year that she’s at the school.  So I believe the British boarding schools do six years or seven years--so it’s the equivalent to grades 6-12.  So I believe there will eventually be seven years with each book covering one year.


How many years has he covered on the Web?

He’s in the middle of the second year.


Where’d he come from?

I believe this is his first self published or published work.  According to his bio on his Website, he loved to draw and then started drawing this story and started drawing this Web comic and was happily surprised to find that people responded to it and liked it.


What kind of traffic numbers does the Web comic generate?

As I understand it he has 15-16,000 unique readers every time there’s a new posting.  We thought those were nice numbers, but also a lot of it was how we personally responded to the material, in the same way when David showed us Mouse Guard.  That feeling that, “wow this is something special and unique.”  There’s something very different going on here and his style has a very open quality that appeals to both adults and also to younger readers.  That triggered in us that same kind of response--this was the kind of book that we had to do.