• INTERVIEW: Tony Fleecs on Time Trouble, Feats of Friendship, and Tails of Equestria!

    Got another interview for ya!

    It's been a little while since we've last sat down and chatted with MLP Comic Artist extraordinaire Tony Fleecs. With his new creator owned comic book coming out soon, now was a good time to catch up with him.

    In today's interview we talk about his upcoming comic, his recent work on Feats of Friendship, and what's been going on with Tails of Equestria.

    As always, you'll be able to check it all out after the break!

    The Illustrious Q: Tony, it's been a little while since we last sat down and conducted an interview. And you have been a busy boy. Covers for Tails of Equestria. Interior work on a number of My Little Pony Comic issues, and what started off this interview today, your own creator owned comic! So, first of all, I just want to say thank you for sitting down to be interviewed by Equestria Daily.

    Alright, let's go and dig into this interview! And I'm going to start out with a question I've sure you've heard many times at comic shows around the country. For those of us who are unaware, what is Time Shopper?

    Tony Fleecs: TIME SHOPPER’s a new comic book that I wrote. It’s a story about a guy who’s hired to go travel in time and fix history’s biggest mistakes, (warn the Titanic about the iceberg, put the roof up on JFK’s car, kill baby Hitler, etc.) The people who hired him give him a time machine and a bunch of money in case he needs supplies and send him off. And then the minute the guy arrives in the past, he immediately gets distracted by how cheap everything used to be in olden times and forgets to do his job. Hijinks ensue.

    It’s a one shot, self contained hardcover book. I wrote it, art by Christian Meesey and Tone Rodriguez, colors by Brad Simpson-- it comes out in late January/early February from Action Lab Comics.

    TIQ: How did you come up with the premise for the comic?

    TF: I’ll hear or read a story or watch a movie or TV show, and I’ll think I know where the story’s going, “Oh, this is going to be about these people doing X,Y, Z.” And then when that’s not what the story’s about at all, I’ll think,“Well why didn’t they do that thing I thought of?” Sometimes it’s because my idea was dumb or obvious, but sometimes it’s because the idea is something only I would think of. And when that second thing happens I try to write that idea down.

    TIQ: For those who may not be aware, you are no stranger to creator owned comics. With some of your past works including your autobiographical comic In My Lifetime and your collaboration with Joshua Hale Fialkov, Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth. What's different about this creator owned work is that you're not drawing it! Tony, what is is like not illustrating a comic story you wrote?

    TF: Well, it’s much easier for one thing. Being able to have the idea, “Carl flies his flying motor scooter through traffic in a futuristic city,” and then not have to draw the futuristic city or the traffic or the motor scooter?? Incredible. I’d written a couple small things before that I didn’t draw myself and I always loved the collaboration and the synergy of it. I know what something would look like if I drew it, but what if this other person who draws all this cool stuff, what if they drew it?

    Christian Meesey and I have been friends for years and I’ve always loved his artwork. It’s so wild and energetic. I feel like the longer I work professionally as an artist, the more structured my stuff gets. You start to draw the same things over and over again and you sort of start to box yourself in. When I draw MY LITTLE PONY, I do it in my own style, but the ponies have to look close to what pony fans recognize so I draw inside of certain parameters. And the longer I do that, I get better at drawing ponies but when I go to draw a new thing, it’s hard to think outside of those parameters. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    Anyway, Christian’s full-time gig is that he’s a caricature artist, so he designs things from a whole different perspective. His experience isn’t drawing one kind of character over and over, it’s drawing different kinds of people different ways. So when he sent in the first designs for TIME SHOPPER, I remember thinking I wouldn’t have thought of any of these things. He has so much experience drawing all these different people, different shapes… AND he can caricature. So if Lee Harvey Oswald shows up in the script, he looks just like Lee Harvey Oswald.

    My short answer is: I love writing for somebody else. I know in my head what I’d draw something like. And I love seeing how somebody else would draw that same thing. So Christian and I are going to do more stuff together and I’m working on another project with another incredible artist right now, too.

    TIQ: In writing this story, what were some of the lessons you learned?

    TF: The thing I want to do in comics more than anything is to create my own stories. But I also love drawing Ponies and STAR WARS and working in all these different worlds and for these different editors and publishers. And practically, I like drawing stuff for other people because I have bills to pay and I’m in this rare position where I get to do my dream job and pay the bills doing it. But when I’m drawing Ponies, it’s a full-time job—seven days a week, all the time.

    So what I learned on this project was how to make time to do my own stuff while working on Ponies at the same time. And the real trick was just 1.) Starting. You have to start. That seems obvious, but it’s not. I’ve got a pile of ideas and if I was talking to somebody about them, I’d say, “Oh, I’m working on a thing that’s about...” but I’m not REALLY working on it. It’s just an idea in my notebook. So you have to actually start or it’ll always live in that notebook. And then 2.) Set reasonable goals, but treat it like it’s your job. So when I make my schedule, it’ll say, “Ink 2 pages of MLP:Friendship is Magic 87” on a Tuesday, so I just add to that, “Write one page of Time Shopper. Or work on outlining.” It’s not as much work as I’m putting in on Ponies, but I’m moving the ball forward.

    TIQ: Now for the big one about Time Shopper, why would a My Little Pony comic fan be interested in this comic?

    TF: You remember that one time Twilight Sparkle went into the future and came back to warn her friends about how disastrous it was? It’s exactly like that. Except with people instead of horses. And instead of disaster… there’s shopping.

    I think if people like Discord stories, this has a lot in-common with those. It’s very fast paced and chaotic. It jumps all over the place and into all these ridiculous situations. And we snuck in a lesson about friendship, too.

    And for Pony Comic fans who I’ve met at conventions, if you liked our interactions — Time Shopper is as close to my own voice/personality as anything I’ve ever written. Just with more time traveling. And Robots.

    TIQ: Speaking of My Little Pony Comics, we have the third issue of Feats of Friendship coming out this month. So, what have been some of the challenges that have cropped up while illustrating this mini-series?

    TF: Haha. I assume you mean, “Why on earth has it taken so long for this 3 issue mini-series to come out?”

    Totally my fault. I was working on Star Wars Adventures and this at the same time AND it was all happening at the same time as the last Bronycon and San Diego Comic Con. Basically, everything happened at the same time and for the first time pretty much ever, I couldn’t make it all happen as fast as I needed to. I had been coloring myself on Star Wars, and I’d forgotten how much I liked doing that. So I’d planned to color Feats of Friendship, too, but I just totally forgot how LONG that takes me. So luckily Heather Breckel was gracious enough to come and pull our butts out of the fire and color issues two and three. The last issue should finally be in stores by the time you’re reading this.

    TIQ: What are you most looking forward to the reaction to in the final issue?

    TF: I love how the Student 6 all get along in our series and I’m excited for people to get to see the wrap up where they all have to pull together to finish the feats. We introduced this cool new character, Swift Foot, and we show a bunch more of her backstory in part three. She’s been trying to sow division between the Student 6 and what I really dig is how difficult that’s been for her. They go to the School of Friendship, for Pete’s sake. You have to work PRETTY hard if you want to mess up their friendship.

    TIQ: River Horse recently announced the latest adventure book expansion to Tails of Equestria: Melody of the Waves. Before we get into discussing that fantastic cover, could you tell us a little bit about how you ended up taking over illustrating the covers for this series from Amy Mebberson?

    TF: Amy got too busy at some point to keep doing the covers for them and she passed my name and contact info on as somebody who could take over if they needed more stuff— which was an incredibly gracious thing to do. Amy’s a good friend of mine and I’m just a huge fan of her work so that was really nice. But then when I got the gig, they were like, “OK—we need you to match the style that Amy’s been doing.” And she’d been doing this incredibly beautiful, complicated, storybook style with no outlines—something I’d never even tried to do. But when you’re a freelance artist you follow the Ghostbusters golden rule: when someone asks if you’re a god, you say YES. So I said, “No problem! I can definitely do that.” And then I had to figure out how she did that.

    TIQ: What were some of the fun things you had to consider while illustrating the cover for Melody of the Waves?

    TF: On this one they gave me the Kraken design, which I really loved and they wanted the 3 Ponies on a boat, sort of under attack, and each doing their own thing to try to get away from the kraken. So I looked at a lot of paintings of ships in stormy seas and tried to key off of those—give it a classic color palette so that the second you look at it, you get that this is the one where they have adventures at sea. I think it came out pretty good. I’m happy with it.

    TIQ: Is there anything else you want to talk about?

    TF: Right now I’m working on Friendship is Magic #s 87 & 88 (With Ted Anderson and Heather), which, I think, are the last ones before we jump into season 10. I’m not sure if we’re re-numbering or not yet but I’m treating 88 like it’s the last issue of the FiM series we’ve been making for the past 7 or 8 years. So I’m doing a pretty fun cover for that one. Working on it right now, as a matter of fact.

    If you read this and you wanted to check out Time Shopper, it’s in Previews right now, which means, you can tell your local comic shop that you’d like them to order it (Order code: NOV191336.) That’s the best way to get it, the more pre-orders they get, the more books we print and the more chance there’ll be that we get to do more creator owned stuff. But also, if you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you can order it from Amazon or it’ll also be available digitally on ComiXology.

    Time Shopper
    Tony Fleecs (w) • Christian Meesey (a) • Tone Rodriguez (c)

    Carl has a time machine, a giant pile of cash and a mission: Go back in time and stop history’s biggest disasters from ever happening. The problem is, when he goes back in time, Carl becomes OBSESSED with how affordable things are in ancient times! Now he travels from one key moment in history to the next… Time Shopping. Will he fix history? Will he end history? Will he be fired? Killed by a time-travel robot? Featuring special guest appearances by JFK, Franz Ferdinand, Judas Iscariot, Steve Jobs, Adolf Hitler’s Mom and Dad, Tupac Shakur and many more, TIME SHOPPER is Bill and Ted meets Super Market Sweep!

    HC • $14.99 • 48 pages • ISBN: 978-1-63229-532-3