• Let's Review: MLP #69

    Today marks a special occasion. An IDW comic featuring covers from not one but two artists from within the fandom. Plus one of these artists drew and inked the story artwork.

    How does Pinkie Pie's romp with nigh-omnipotence go alongside this special artwork? Find the review after the break but watch out. Pinkie Pie wished for spoilers!

    So here we are. A fandom. Artists. A pink pony. It's a funny realization but Pinkie Pie has been the focus of many of the recent one-shots. Issues 57, 59, 63, and now today's work. This is not a complaint as I think fondly of Pinkie, but the various presentations raise a question: who is the real Pinkie? 

    Someday I'll complete my Party Death Star...

    Of all the Mane cast, I think Pinkie is the easiest to get wrong. Sometimes she shows surprising depth and insight. Other times she's used for the quick joke and can become intrusive. Today's comic might be an example of her at her best and worst. Both understood and misrepresented. Yet before that, let's talk artwork!

    Octavia's all like,
    "How am I even here?"

    Both Cover A and the comic's line work are courtesy of Toni"Pencils" Kuusisto. I'm in the habit of using fandom names whenever possible, so I'll be referring to Kuusisto as Pencils for much of the review. Thereby reinforcing my belief that Brony conventions can often sound like an odd episode of GI Joe

    I find it fitting that Trixie is covering up
    part of the logo with just her hat.

    The Retail Incentive cover is Sophie Scruggs' creation. I unfortunately missed the chance to talk with her at Bronycon this year, but her talent will be available for many to see. For those of you attending Crystal Mountain Ponycon, she'll be there as well. 

    A cute batpony OC...
    $10 says Seth now loves this artist.

    There's a fun message in comparing the two covers. Namely, you can draw the same characters a variety of ways. Though we're all used to the show's representation, I enjoy the comics for how each artists' style shows. Some aim to be very close to the show's look while others seem to defy it. Both Pencils and Sophie keep the proportions consistent but the big difference is in the details and coloring. Pencil's cover features micro-details like the spots on the cake or individual confetti pieces emerging from a French horn. I never thought I'd write a sentence like that, but here we are. 

    I gotta wonder, is that horn feeling sick?

    Sophie's details lie more in the coloring phase as she adds glitter to Starlight Glimmer's assistant outfit and a textured layer to the stage. She also employs brighter highlights while Pencil's goes for 3 tones per pony and keeps the highlights to the edges. Pencils' line work is black while Sophie employs colored lines to match the show's style. The white outlines around Starlight and Trixie is one of the more striking features. It helps the characters stand out but may also divorce them from the background.

    Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle.

    Pencil's depiction is a satire of Michalangelo's "The Creation of Adam" and hints at the comic's core story but with some extra elements meant to draw a buyer's attention rather than appear in the story. Case in point, I don't think Gummy has been able to rock a top hat like that.
    So debonair. Rarity clearly got the wrong pet!

    I feel guilty for not giving Sara Richard's B Cover proper attention, as her colorful and hypnotic art style is a treasure. She too demonstrates the variety of ways one can depict these characters. I recognize Pipsqueak, Cloudchaser, and that one purple dragon even though the style is completely unique. 

    I don't think this dragon has a name, yet he's earned a place on a cover.

    But onward to the interior art and one benefit to Pencil's role: experience. With a lot of the artist for IDW we've witnessed their evolution. When Andy Price started he posted a variety of initial drawings and ink tests, and looking at these you can see his form has changed with time and practice. The same is true for Tony Fleecs, who has grown more comfortable with these characters. I'm confident Pencils has gone through a similar process, but because this was through fan comics and artwork, he hits the scene with greater confidence than artists outside the fandom. 

    Love how the house reflection is rendered.
    But I'm wondering about that fortune teller...

    One of the key features is his willingness to draw ponies as varying angles. Given the show doesn't allow for a lot of three-dimensional views, it's rare to see ponies looking up, inclining their heads, or taking on a variety of action poses. Rainbow Dash and some of the background ponies get the best expressions and situations. The same detail seen in Cover A appears within the backgrounds as there's a high level of detail even in far-off buildings. 

    Blinded by the light!

    The one elements that feels awkward is Fluttershy, who spends much of the comic being invisible. The art conveys this through white lines and a pink gradient and it's the latter part that throws me off. This doesn't convey a sense of invisibility so much as oddity. I don't know how much more complex it would be to make Fluttershy simply white lines and draw the backgrounds and other ponies behind her, but I'm betting this was a time restriction. 

    That doesn't look like blending to me.
    I instead envision she's radioactive with fun particles.

    Why is Fluttershy invisible? Because Pinkie wished it so! This is where we get into how well this story depicts Pinkie Pie. It's start is less-than-favorable as Pinkie seems dissatisfied with a pony's thank-you note.

    Sometimes, a little while means more than hours of sadness.

    Pinkie is fantasizing about a perfect party that promotes perpetual pleasantness. In other words, ponies never get sad. A sweet ideal, but perhaps too naive. There's a reason why the Smile song is one of my favorites. In that music, Pinkie acknowledges that some days are "dark and lonely". It's not a denial that life throws us difficulties, but that Pinkie's talent is helping pull others out of depression or pessimism. So the fact she's not willing to accept helping a pony "for a while" doesn't mesh well with her character. 

    This is another example of Pencils' skill at depicting various angles.

    Yet her purity and enthusiasm are a close match. After accidentally ingesting a mystical golden apple, Pinkie has the ability to make any wish come true as long as it is pure of heart and strong in belief. Two traits that Pinkie has in abundance. 

    Love the detailing on the yarn and the yarn cart.

    Golden apples have a dark role in mythology. The comic's rule that the apple grants wishes is a relatively new idea. Often, golden apples are a MacGuffin used as a goal or distraction. It's the image of a bright object that looks pleasing, but in application it causes misfortune. One example is when the goddess of discord, Eris, threw a golden apple into a godly banquet with the inscription "for the most beautiful". This prize caused an argument amongst three goddesses and would eventually lead to the Trojan War. 

    This is sometimes called the "Apple of Discord".
    Let's think on that for a moment.

    Pinkie's wishes are far less tragic, but theme continues. Impulse leads to misfortune. We witness the consequence of Pinkie's magically-bestowed wishes taking shape as Twilight and Applejack the follow the trail of unintended consequences. None of these wishes are filled with malice, but they highlight the danger of innocence. An innocent person can't consider misfortune, and so everything seems wonderful in the moment. Growing older and weathering experience may diminish our innocence, but it expands our perspective so we can see further ahead. 

    I suddenly wonder much a golden apple acts like real metal.
    I should not be wondering that!

    Pinkie's "rampage" through Ponyville is much more in line with her character. Though bringing joy is one of her top priorities, her enthusiasm is often her undoing. She's caught up in the moment and moving faster than the consequences. We get to see the impacts as each of the Mane Six reacts, especially as Rainbow Dash develops a special rivalry. 

    I never knew how badly I wanted to see this
    until it was right in front of me.

    To Pinkie's credit she does recognize her mistake once her friends catch up and ask the right questions. I think this is more effective than a lecture as it gets Pinkie to sit still and realize her mistake. One might question why she doesn't just wish to undo the damage she's caused but I think that it makes sense. Her solutions involve decisive, deliberate actions whereas a wish would just be repeating the same spontaneous mistake. Shortcuts often involve a greater price. 

    With that pose and expression,
    I most certainly would panic!

    Though the comic starts on an awkward beat with Pinkie's absolutism, I think it gets her character down in the long run. She is a pony focused on bringing joy but at odds with her own enthusiasm. Yet at the end of the day she can make amazing things happen in a short time-frame. Lucky for her she has friends who can give her some straight talk when she goes off-path. 

    Say "Candy Mare" in a mirror three times.
    See who appears.

    Story-wise I think this is a fun tale that gets Pinkie Pie right most of the time and holds to the classic themes around golden apples and impulsiveness. That will be plenty to entertain the casual reader. For members of the fandom, this is a special moment where talented artists join the creative team's ranks and I hope this will offer both Pencils and Sophie future opportunities. Give it a read and I'm confident you'll enjoy it.

    Golden Harvest might not have 
    enjoyed this comic as much.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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