• INTERVIEW: Jeremy Whitley on Writing My Little Pony: Season 10!

    After today's solicitation announcement, are you all excited for Season 10?!

    Can you not wait for more information?!

    Well, you're in luck! For Equestria Daily recently had the honor to sit down and interview veteran MLP Comic Writer Jeremy Whitley, who has taken on the lead writer duties for the season.

    So get ready everyone. We've got a lot of news for you to check out after the break!

    The Illustrious Q: It's been a little while since we sat down and had a little chat about your latest work on My Little Pony. If I recall correctly, the last time we did so was for my all time favorite MLP Mini Series: Nightmare Knights. So I have to say once again it is an honor and a pleasure to interview you for Equestria Daily.

    Jeremy Whitley: Awww, thanks Q! Nightmare Knights was so much fun to write. I feel like the ambition we put into that series has a lot of the same energy we're trying to bring to the upcoming stories!

    TIQ: To begin, first a congratulations. Jeremy congrats on being the lead writer for My Little Pony Season 10! How does it feel to be the lead writer for the MLP Comics heading into Season 10?

    JW: It feels awesome! I've always loved writing for the MLP comics (counting the Friends Forever that's out in February, I'll have 40 published before season 10 even starts) but they've always come with the understanding that the comic is second to the show. It's given us the opportunity to explore things the show didn't have room for, but it's also tied our hands with where we can go and what we can do. Even things that seem like smaller additions to continuity were often overwritten by the show, several I'm sure by accident. Being the primary canon for the first time means that we can think big and really explore the universe. It's really exciting.

    TIQ: The My Little Pony Comic Series has been coming out of IDW Publishing for the last 8 years. This is the first year IDW has released a MLP Comic for Free Comic Book Day. Jeremy how does it feel to be the writer for this monumental issue?

    JW: It's great! We've had the opportunity to have the spotlight for things like Halloween Comics Fest in the past, but this is a stage of an entirely different scale. Just based on the size of orders required to participate in Free Comic Book Day, it's likely to be the most read My Little Pony comic since the first arc. Not to mention, it will be the beginning of the first big My Little Pony story since the end of season 9. I'm thrilled to get a chance to share this book with longtime fans and all those younger readers, for whom this might be their first My Little Pony comic ever.

    TIQ: And on a related note, since this MLP issue is a Free Comic Book Day Gold Level sponsored comic, and thus all participating comic shops are required to purchase it for their stores, how does it feel knowing this comic will probably hit a sales record for you?

    JW: It's exciting and nerve racking. It will undoubtedly be our first chance to reach some audiences, just due to the sheer order size, so we want to make a good first impression. We also want to make sure our longtime fans know how valued they are and that we have some very big things cooking for the season ahead.

    TIQ: Could you tell us how you got the assignment for writing this issue?

    JW: Well, by the point it was decided that MLP would be the FCBD book for IDW this year, we were already well into prep work for season 10. Megan and Bobby wanted to make the FCBD book an original story that could tie into that, so I think I was the natural choice.

    TIQ: This isn't the first time a My Little Pony Comic has been given out at a comic event. Halloween Comic Fest has had free MLP Comics to give away in the past, only those were reprinted comics. The FCBD issue is different because it's a completely brand new story made just for this event. Jeremy, what were some of your thoughts that went into crafting this issue?

    JW: I had a good handle on what the first arc of season 10 was going to look like and we knew from the beginning that the only reasonable way to handle this was to make the FCBD book a book that could be read independently, but would also be an introduction to season 10. When Megan and Bobby approached me about doing the FCBD book, it became immediately apparent to me what I wanted to do.

    One of my favorite things about the Friendship is Magic tv series has always been the comedy cold-opens at the beginning of episodes, where we jump into the world of the story and get a warm and comedic welcome into the world of the show as well as setting up the premise for the episode before the theme song plays and we get to the episode in earnest. I've frequently said that the content of a 20 page comic is about half of what a 22 minute episode of the show can contain. Basically two issues equal an episode and a four issue arc equals a major two episode story in the show.

    Now, since the FCBD book is about half the length of a normal issue, I figured it's about the same length as one of those cold-open bumpers, so it gives us this great opportunity to tell a short story inside the universe that can be fun, include all of the characters, and cue up the story for the story to come. Fortunately, I had already been thinking about trying to do just such a bumper and figuring out how to cram it into the beginning of what's already a very dense story in the first four issues of season 10, with lots of new stuff to introduce. Being able to make that story the FCBD story was the perfect chance to give both this story and the first issue of season 10 the space they deserve.

    TIQ: One thing that will make this MLP comic different from all the others you've written is the audience for the comic. FCBD is known to bring in customers to comic shops who have never set foot in one before to pick up the free goodies. Was this something you considered when writing this issue?

    JW: Honestly, only a little. It's always been true of the MLP comics that we're aware that any issue could be somebody's first issue and that we know people will be more familiar with the show than the comic. So, we always try to make the stories new reader friendly. In this case, I put a little extra consideration into making sure every one of the mane 6 and Spike each had their moment even in the relatively small space we had, just so everyone reading it for the first time would know that all of their favorites are here and every one of them is going to have room for their own stories as season 10 goes on. If this is the first time you see an MLP comic, you'll get a chance to see the heroes of the series doing the thing you know them for doing.

    TIQ: The synopsis for this issue is a little vague on Free Comic Book Day's website. Aside from mentioning this issue ties into Season 10. Could you tell us a little bit about how this issue ties into the season? Is it a prequel to the season which I'm assuming that starts in issue 89 or it is a stand alone story set sometime during the season?

    JW: It is a little of both. It is a stand alone story in its own right. It's about Twilight's first morning raising the sun all by herself, now that Celestia and Luna have left. It's about all of Twilight's friends working together to make sure everything is perfect. And, a bit of a mystery, because no one can find Twilight and the sun is supposed to be rising any moment. It mostly focuses on her old pal Spike who is trying to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

    TIQ: What differences did you find when you wrote Twilight for this issue that weren't present when you wrote her in the past?

    JW: The big difference for me wasn't so much a difference in the character herself, but the level of responsibility. Twilight often got the tasks she got in the show because Celestia, as the ruler of the kingdom, needed to stay in Canterlot and run Equestria. That's no longer the case. That's Twilight's job now and, friends or not, Twilight can't constantly be running off into unknown danger. There's a line from another comic book that I can't seem to remember completely...but it's something like "increased aptitude in turn demands a proportionate increase in dependability" or something like that. Essentially, Twilight has to start depending on others to have the big adventures while she takes on the task of ruling Equestria.

    TIQ: This issue marks the first time Trish Forstner has illustrated a full issue of MLP. Have you seen her work on this issue yet? If so, what do you think?

    JW: Oh, Trish is really amazing! It was my first time working with her directly and I couldn't be happier with the amazing work she turned in. Along with Heather's colors, it has turned into a beautiful book and will undoubtedly be a great first issue for many new readers to enjoy.

    TIQ: Is there anything in particular you can tease about this issue you are excited to see the audience's reaction to?

    JW: Honestly, I can't pick any one thing because the real answer is "everything". I'm excited to see how everyone enjoys this issue and even more excited to see what they think of season 10. A lot of big things start right here.

    TIQ: Which in turn brings us to Season 10! Jeremy, first question about season 10 specifically, how long as this been in the works?

    JW: It's been quite a while now. To give you an idea, I got a sneak peek at the last few scripts of the show well before the episodes came out in order to pitch my outline for where I saw season 10 going. I knew all of those wonderful super secret things that I couldn't tell any of you about months before they happened. Those few months in between I had a lot of conversations at conventions during which people told me all of the things they thought would happen and I just had to smile and nod.

    TIQ: That must have been hard to keep under wraps for so long. Were there any times when you wanted to scream to the heavens you're writing season 10 but couldn't because of the NDA?

    JW: A little bit! A this point, having done stuff for Marvel that I sometimes have to keep under wraps for the better part of a year, I'm pretty used to it. But knowing what the end of the tv show was going to be and trying to remember what had happened already and what hadn't was a bit more challenging. Like I said, lots of smiling and nodding.

    TIQ: What is one of things you found to be different when it came to writing a season 10 comic as opposed to a regular Friendship is Magic Comic?

    JW: So, this especially pertains to the first arc, but something that frequently happened while writing the regular comic was that I would come up with a great idea, pitch it to IDW who would love it, and then Hasbro would come back and tell us that they were either dealing with something very similar in the show or that they had nebulous plans to deal with it in the future. As a result, there were a lot of comics I was very excited to write that never made it.

    But now that the show has wrapped, that's not an issue any more. We can do big things that change and expand the world of the series. We don't have to be concerned that something might be contradicted by the show. We can think big and swing for the fences. As a matter of fact, the first story from season 10 has some of the bones of an idea I pitched years ago, but was impossible for us to do while the show was still on. The idea has had some massive changes and, of course, has entirely different implications and characters involved to match continuity, but I was really excited to bring it back because I think it has really solid bones and makes a great MLP story.

    TIQ: One question I know everyone is scratching their brains to find out is WHEN Season 10 is going to take place. So I shall ask the question. Does the series take place after the final episode of Friendship is Magic or does it take place during the time jump?

    JW: I've been doing my best to make this all very confusing by saying that season 10 happens during season 9. What I mean by that is, the last episode of season 9 happens during two timelines, one several years in the future and one during Twilight's coronation. Season 10 continues the main continuity of the tv series, which is to say it starts only a short time after Twilight's coronation. These will continue to be the versions of our cast that the fans know and love, not an aged up version. We'll be telling the story of things that happen in between those two points in time. It would, however, be a mistake to think that there won't be any surprises just because we know where our main characters end up. We intend to do a lot with the extended cast of the show, the movie, and the comics. We're doing our best to do things in the comics that have never been done on the show. It's gonna be a wild ride.

    TIQ: Could you tease us a little bit about the first arc and how did you come up with the idea for it?

    JW: I mentioned earlier that it was based on idea I had pitched and had shot down at one point. Essentially, it's about a character that's been part of Friendship is Magic since almost the beginning, but we know next to nothing about - even where they come from. It has always been something I've wondered about and I thought had great potential to expand the world of My Little Pony and I felt like was just sitting on the table ready to explore. They're not like any other character we've seen, even as the show has progressed and the world has expanded, which means they must have come from a long way away. What could have driven this character to leave their home and make a home here in Equestria? What is their home like? Why don't they go back? I always wanted to visit the land they came from and find all of this information out. And now we get to do that.

    TIQ: With the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series now over, do you now have the ability to explore ideas that were hinted at but never shown in the series? Like for instance the exploring the city of Baltimare or perhaps something beyond the borders of Equestria?

    JW: Yep and that is the first thing we're doing. Not Baltimare for the moment as such, but we're thinking big.

    TIQ: If it doesn't give away too much, could you tell us the title of the arc? 

    JW: I can tell you that my scripts almost always have titles, they just don't always appear in the comic. I believe the first arc in this season I just titled after where it takes place.

    TIQ: How much fun has it been collaborating with Andy Price on season 10?

    JW: AH! I have to be honest. I am a big fan of Andy's. We've worked together on several stories in the past and the thing that always awes me about Andy is his character design. Every design we get back just makes me even more excited to tell the story. To this day, I'm still amazed Hasbro gave us the go ahead on the designs to the Umbrum in the Siege of the Crystal Empire story. They're genuinely nightmarish!

    This time he's getting to put those skills to work on some things that are a bit cuter. We're introducing a lot of new things to the world and I couldn't think of a better guy to design them and bring them to life. It's thrilling to get emails with his designs.

    TIQ: How many issues of season 10 have you written so far and about how far into the future have you planned the season?

    JW: Well, I just got approval on issue 3 and am getting ready to dive into issue 4, which will wrap up our first arc. Just like the show, the same writer won't be writing every issue, so after issue 4 you'll get to enjoy some more stories in season 10 with your other favorite MLP writers, but I have several more issues planned for this season, which are all gonna tie into one much bigger story. It's going to be two years before all of that's said and done, but I'm going to make sure the readers enjoy every last page of it!

    TIQ: What has been one of the unexpected joys you have encountered when writing this season? Like any character interactions you've found to be an absolute hoot to write?

    JW: Listen.


    I love these characters and there are going to be some new ones in this season that I think may end up being new favorites for some folks, but I won't give all of that away just yet.

    However, in the first couple pages of the first issue of season 10, there is a large gathering of characters and some characters get to chat whom we've never seen interact before. There are two interaction in this bit I'm still thinking about as I write this season. First we get to see just the complete lack of time Tempest Shadow has for Discord and his nonsense. Then there's the reuniting of my favorite duo I found in Nightmare Knights, Trixie and her buddy Capper. They're both so theatrical and they get each other on, like, a basic level. I could just write a series about the two of them going on adventures and getting into shenanigans forever.

    TIQ: What is something in the first arc you are really looking forward to seeing the audience's reactions too when it comes out?

    JW: LITERALLY EVERYTHING. This first arc has been an exercise in figuring out both what I'm allowed to do and what I am capable of pulling off in the universe. I am eternally grateful to say there have been very few notes and a lot of exciting developments. I haven't even finished the first arc yet and I've managed to pull off things I've been trying to do since I started working on MLP. I can't wait to get these issues into the hands of fans out there.

    TIQ: Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

    JW: Sure, I just wanna ask the comment section, who you would you bet on in this short script excerpt from the first issue of season 10?
    Panel 4: Rockhoof and Big Mac have started hoofwrestling. They are watched by Spike, Mage Meadowbrook, Rarity and Applejack.

    ROCKHOOF You’re a stallion of few words, ain’t ya?


    I respect that, but I’m still gonna beat ya anywho!

    TIQ: I wouldn't be surprised at all if your twitter feed is flooded with fan interpretations of that panel in very short order. Thank you so much for your time, Jeremy. Have a great day.