This weekend Katie Cook (writing), Andy Price (art and covers), Amy Mebberson (art) and Sara Richard (covers) sat down and took questions from the audience at Granite State Comicon in Manchester, New Hampshire. Fans, both young and old, asked questions about character development, Easter eggs, season 4 and art errors. Jump past the break for the write up.
The artists are under a strict non-disclosure agreement, so they were unable to comment on most future issues, plot lines and info on season 4. Comic editor Bobby Curnow was able to disclose some additional information yesterday that spoke on what the artists could not. Twilight’s mom being the writer of Daring Do was a topic that could not be spoken on that Curnow didn’t cover.
Every plotline for the comics has to be cleared by both the editor and Hasbro to ensure brand management and story. G.M. Berrow is writing chapter books while IDW makes comics, so Hasbro has to ensure that none of the stories are too similar to each other. As the show comes first, this can limit potential story ideas for the comic; during season 3, IDW was banned from using Discord due to him having an episode in the show. There was one cover with Discord on it, but he was otherwise absent from the comics.
Comic stories are generated by the comic writers, with Hasbro only intervening if there are issues. Cook said that the Rarity micro originally was sent back because its plot was too close to a season 4 episode.
Cook mentioned that much of what Hasbro makes is based on what fans show interest in. The high number of fan comics lead to the creation of the IDW comics, for example, and all the art of human ponies gave Hasbro the idea to create Equestria Girls. “This [was said] by the show people to my ears,” said Price. Ponies wearing socks inspired the markings on the newest blind bags as well. There is a limit as to what Hasbro can do, though. The BBC is very protective of its properties, so a Dr. Whooves comic or episode is likely to never happen.
Fan works do influence the comics, but only to a point. Cook and Price noted that if they read any fanfiction, they can be held liable for creating content that is too similar. They do use fan-canon ideas such as Lyra sitting like a human, as its not linked to any one source and it’s generally accepted as in-character.
Alicorn Twilight will soon be in the comics, but it will have no major effects on the comic plots. Cook said of the backlash of this change “Why do people hate alicorn Twilight? … Twilight earned that title…that’s a great role model [for girls].”
“I don’t get it,” Price said. Cook and Price said that this new development would cause the characters to all react to this new change as a group, but that this would mostly be handled in the show.
When the comic first was announced, many fans were upset that it was pandering to bronies, Cook said. The panelists spoke of how other properties such as Ghostbusters and Firefly continue to live on as licensed comics as the main media (such as movies or TV series) end, which gives fans more content and property owners more money. “I try and give something adults can enjoy, too,” Cook said. As MLP is aimed at young children, most content needs to be aimed for them to enjoy.
The panel, filled with young children, teens and adults, shows the wide appeal of the comic. The various art styles in the comics are based on the different artists, which Hasbro is very tolerant of. Plot ideas, scripts, pencils, inks, colors and lettering are all green light by Hasbro and checked for consistency. Sometimes errors like missing wings or ears slip through and are then only caught by the fans. Any new characters or content that are created in the content are legally owned by Hasbro, so they could always make an appearance in the show.
A number of Easter eggs have gotten into the comics, to which Hasbro generally allows. They range from Richard’s Karate Kid Pinkie Pie micro cover to references to favorite media.
Price is a huge fan of Fringe, so in every issue he draws he puts a grey pony in the background as The Observer. Sometimes Cook explicitly writes ponies to be in the background for Price to draw in the script. Mebberson knows that Lauren Faust was a huge fan of Sailor Moon, so she has put each of the Sailor Scouts into her comics. She also enjoyed the Gordon Ramsay pony in the Celestia micro.
Price is a huge fan of the haunted mansion–he was even wearing a shirt at the panel–and includes many references to that. In the upcoming issue #12, Cook had her older brother be included as a pony. He was the person to get her into MLP and the nod “was the first time he thanked me for anything.” She’s also written in Flash Gordon and Apocalypse Now references.
The Luna micro, the last of the micro series, is on Luna being the princess of the day while Celestia has the day off. The micro will be replaced by another on-going series that can’t be elaborated on other than that it is not Equestria Girls.
A young comic fan asked about the season 1 and season 2 designs for Luna and how they differ. Mebberson said that she came out of Nightmare Moon as a young version of herself to show the time that she had lost, while she had her redemption (in the Nightmare Rarity arc) in between seasons 1 and 2. Hasbro has season 1 Luna as the “official” design for her, though they have started to make season 2 Luna merchandise. The Nightmare Rarity arc was a way to merge the two designs and styles of Luna into one, Price said.
The other princess, Celestia, is a sore spot for the comic staff. “A lot of people ask where Celestia is,” Cook said. “She’s like Superman…. It’s too easy to solve the problem with her.” Because Celestia is an all-powerful being, Cook sent her and Spike to have their own battle in Canterlot to give the mane 6 the room they needed to combat Chrysalis.
When asked who their least favorite pony was, there was a lot of contention about certain character’s designs. Price was glad that he could now use Twilight’s wings to hide her difficult cutie mark and Richard still has trouble with Rarity and Pinkie Pie’s hair. Mebberson has to constantly think of how Celestia’s hair, ears, crown and horn are all wrapped around each other and arranged on her head. Price mentioned how Pinkie’s exuberant personality requires two or three redraws of her to make sure that you could feel her through the page. Cook lamented that Applejack has no plotlines past working hard and not letting others help her.
All of the panelists noted that the vast majority of bronies are good fans and are very enjoyable to work with. Price noted that the current state of the bronies was very similar to how Trekkies were in the beginning. All of the staff were very excited to see what the younger fans of MLP would be like when they grow up with the brand and where they would take the fandom next.