• Bronycon Panel Writeup: The MLP Official Comic

    It’s the last day of Bronycon.  Everyone’s beginning to get a bit worn out, but that’s no excuse to stop covering panels!  Today, we have the result of a Q&A session with Andy Price, Katie Cook, and Heather Breckel, the artist, writer, and colorist of the official MLP comics.

    Obviously, some spoilers about the released comics are found below the break, as well as a few tidbits of info about what’s still to come.

    Katie and Andy began by listing the issues they were involved with, which include: Issues 1-4 (the Chrysalis arc), the Rarity Micro, the Big Mac arc, and the upcoming Shining Armor and Cadance arc, as well as a new micro that has not been revealed yet.

    Heather was the colorist for issues 1-14, and the Rarity and AJ micros.

    The panel hosts asked the first set of questions.

    Q: Do you collaborate on movie references, and do you need permission?
    • Katie and Andy collaborate a lot.  Many of the references are Katie’s ideas, and many are Andy’s.
    • Katie added that she and Andy have been friends for years, so “It’s like working on a comic with your buddy.”

    Q: How did you get involved with MLP comics?
    • Katie was approached by IDW about it.  They asked her to do an MLP comic, and she agreed.  That’s all there was to it.

    Q: Some of the references in the comics are obviously from horror movies. What are your favorite horror movies?
    • Andy stated that issue 4 alone references Indiana Jones, “It”, The Shining, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Evil Dead 2.  His favorite horror movie:  George C. Scott’s “The Changeling.”
    • Katie’s favorites are psychological thrillers like The Shining.

    Q: In issue 2, in the cave, the ponies meet the troll.  Was that supposed to be making fun of bronies?
    • Katie: "I was making fun of Jim Miller, the assistant director from MLP.  So just one brony, not all of them."

    Q: Do you have the story arc planned out in advance or does it take over sometimes?
    • Katie has to pitch all four issues of an arc to Hasbro at once, so the basis gets set in stone pretty quickly in regards to the actual events of the story.

    Q: What’s it like working with the Hasbro?
    • Katie: “Contrary to popular belief, Hasbro is delightful to work with, and gives us a good degree of freedom.”
    • In Issue 9, for example, she was surprised that the CMC’s firework-related antics were approved.

    Q: How did you prepare to write this series?  Did you watch all the episodes?
    • All three panelists were fans of the show before the comic began.  Katie was brought on first, and she recommended Andy submit his drawings.

    Q: How did you all get into the community?
    • Andy’s wife heard about it and started watching it, so he joined in and after a few episodes was hooked on it.
    • Katie has gotten her husband and child into the show.  She mentions her husband Ryan is depicted as a mule in the first issue of the comic. (She calls him Cranky Doodle Ryan, and she wants fanart.  Get on that, artists!)
    • Heather was already an animation fan.  She saw the promo and thought it was a bit too girly, since she’s more into boy cartoons and anime, and it’s the anime-like elements that hooked her on MLP.

    Q: Katie, did you ever write something expecting Andy to be challenged?
    • Katie: “Every time.”
    • Andy: “When she sent me the M.C. Escher staircase request, her editor sent her a note saying ‘I thought you liked him’.”

    Q: Heather, do you get to pick background pony colors?
    • Usually Andy and Katie specify those, but sometimes she has freedom to make up a pony’s color scheme, and often make’s references to certain people in her life with the color schemes.

    Q: All of your own OC’s were included in issue 1.  Anyone else in there?
    • Andy, Andy’s wife, Katie, and Andy’s 6 cats are all appear (as ponies) in the first issue.  They stressed that they can’t include other people’s OC’s without the possibility of legal problems.  They also can’t read fanfics for this reason.

    Q: What would you change if you could change any aspect of the show?
    • Katie: “I would make Big Mac an Alicorn.”
    • Heather: “I like grimdark, so everyone would probably die in a giant, cupcake shaped nuclear explosion.  And Twilight will be there with her glasses, going ‘There’s time now to read everything!’” (This is a reference to the Twilight Zone, for those who missed that.)
    • Andy: “Luna, Applejack, Chrysalis, and maybe Rarity would be the only characters the show had.”

    Q: What difference have you noticed between pony cons and other cons?
    • Andy stated that the bronies are the closest thing he’s ever seen to the passion of the original Star Trek phenomenon.  He pointed out that bronies have the voice to make a difference in the show and merchandise.  For instance, Hasbro uses Vinyl Scratch (as a real name) and DJ-PON3 (as a stage name) for any merchandise regarding the character, and bronies are responsible for that.  

    • It was at this point that Katie informed us that bronies are responsible for Hasbro’s decision to make Equestria Girls.  Hasbro views a huge amount of brony fanart, and they saw enough humanized art to make the decision that humanization would be a good direction for a movie.  Remember, artists, Hasbro is watching…

    After this, fans were allowed to ask a few questions questions.  EQD’s own Couch Crusader led that segment off by letting the panelists know we were down there in the front row writing down everything they said, (Katie and Andy made a number of verbal jabs at each other, knowing we would mention it here) and then asked the first two questions of this segment.

    Q: Katie and Andy, what are your favorite gags in the comics?
    • Katie: “The entirety of the Rarity micro.”
    • Andy’s favorite moment is in Issue 4: Chrysalis’s face when she gets blasted by Twilight is so funny to him that he had to take several breaks from drawing it until he stopped laughing..

    Q: Heather, what’s your favorite bit to color?
    • In one comic, Luna is wearing a shirt which has text that changes in each panel.  She particularly likes the shirt that reads “blame my sister”.

    Q: Are the comics being distributed in Canada?
    • Katie said they are slowly going international.  If they’re not yet available in your country, you can always get them from Comixology.
    • Heather mentioned that physical issues are superior in coloring when compared to the digital version, though.
    • And Andy stated that physical comics bring more money to the people making the comics, so if you want them to keep being made, buying physical issues is the best way to do so.

    Q: How do you avoid crossing your canon with the show?
    • Katie said all her scripts are approved by Hasbro.  They reject certain scripts if they are similar to (or contradict) upcoming events in the show.  She also told us the original idea for the Rarity Micro had to be scrapped, because it was identical to an upcoming episode in season 4!
    • Andy once discussed an idea he and Katie had for a comic with Meghan McCarthy, to which she replied “That is badass!”

    Q: Do you have more freedom in the comic than on the show?
    • Katie: “Probably.  You can tell a broader story, especially if it’s an arc instead of a comic.  So there’s room to ‘play around’ sometimes.  And Hasbro lets us do a lot.  In fact, the issue 11 script (Of the upcoming Princess Cadance and Shining Armor arc) came back with no changes requested from Hasbro.  I like to write silly, funny, weird things, and it shows in the comics.”
    • Andy also explained that the whole comic is on paper, so production budget isn’t an issue.
    • Katie: “Hasbro trusts us.  When you write Hasbro saying ‘I want to make two issues about Big Mac finding a box of nails’ they write back and say ‘what’?  But once they saw it they let us do it.”

    Q: Are you guys responsible for the alternate covers?
    • Katie told us IDW handles that.
    • Andy mentioned that companies can commission a cover if they commit to ordering a certain number of copies.

    Q: Are any of you looking forward to looking at fanworks after the comic eventually ends?
    • Katie is too busy being a mom right now to actively follow any of the things she’s a fan of, including ponies.
    • Heather thinks it’s cool to see fanworks related to the comic, but is not very involved in the rest of the fandom.

    Q: Will there be any original villains in the comic?
    • Katie: “It’ll happen.”
    • Andy adds that they will be “Ranging from Trixie level up to Chrysalis level.”

    Q: Other comic series’ you are fans of?
    • Katie and Andy both said “Lock and Key” is fantastic, and recommended everyone pick that up.  When you go to get your next MLP comic, look into it!

    Q: DC or Marvel?
    • Katie and Andy: DC
    • Heather: Marvel
    • Katie: Oh, and Archie is good too.

    Q: Are you going to make a game reference in the comics?
    • Andy: “Issue 9 has a Bioshock reference.”
    • Katie: “I’m a parent.  I don’t get to play videogames anymore.”
    • Andy told us the references they make in the comics are perfectly legal, because they are all covered under parody laws.

    Q: What’s the deal with the spy pony that keeps appearing in the comics?
    • Andy: “It’s a parody the observers from Fringe.  I put Fringe references in constantly.”

    Q: I know you’re a Luna fan, Andy.  What do you like about her?
    • Andy: “The Nightmare moon storyline really set the tone of the show.  Her backstory is great, her design is great…  Luna is best pony.”

    Q: Is there a motion comic in the works?
    • Yes.  But it’s not voice acted.

    Q: Is there going to be a Luna micro issue?
    • Katie, Andy, and Heather all exchanged glances and said “We’d like there to be one.”  Interpret that how you will.

    That was the last question, but Katie and Andy revealed a few other interesting things before they left. 
    • Katie mentioned that some of her stories may seem a little different now than they were before, because she is currently pregnant and can’t drink.  She did admit to drinking two bottles of wine on the day she wrote the Rarity Micro, though!
    • Katie declared (rather smugly) that earth ponies are the “lamest” ponies.
    • Andy said there is one pony that he will never include in his comics, but didn’t tell us who it is.
    • Military bronies have been instructed to keep their eyes peeled in issue ten.  There’s something for them there.

    I found these three to be every bit as entertaining as the staff from DHX.  Keep an eye on those comics!  It sounds like there are a lot of treats on the way.