• INTERVIEW: Writer Celeste Bronfman on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 98

    Hello everyone! The Illustrious Q here once again with a brand new interview!

    This time I had the honor to sit down and chat with new MLP Comic Writer Celeste Bronfman. Celesta wrote Friendship is Magic issue 98, which according to Diamond is scheduled to come out this Wednesday, June 2nd.

    Knowing Diamond this year, we'll see if that actually holds.

    In any event, Celesta goes into detail about her career, the differences in writing for television and comics, and how much fun she had writing for the former princesses of the sun and the moon! 

    Be sure to check it out after the break!

    The Illustrious Q: This is the first question I ask to everyone I'm interviewing for the first time: who is your favorite pony?

    Celeste Bronfman: It’s so tough to choose! But I guess -- with the caveat that I love each of the Mane Six – Fluttershy is the character I most connect with. She’s an empath who sees the best in every creature and uses her innate sensitivity as a source of power and strength. In our culture, sensitivity can often be seen as a weakness, so being able to see a character like Fluttershy use it to save the day is exciting.

    TIQ: How did you first come into contact with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic franchise?

    CB: I’m definitely a newcomer. My first introduction was actually through the comics a few years back. My friend had written a few issues and I remember picking them up and immediately falling for the characters and world of Equestria. So when I was given the opportunity to pitch for the comics, I was so excited to dive right in.

    TIQ: Most of your previous work in writing is involved in the television side of writing. Most notably with teen drama Degrassi: Next Class, as well as The Big Fun Crafty Show, and Big Top Academy. What are some of the major differences you've found that come up with writing live action television that you just don't have to worry about when writing a high fantasy comic like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

    CB: That’s a great question! There are some major differences between writing for live action TV and writing for comics, especially when it comes to writing towards what’s feasible and affordable. Comics are more flexible at times because you have an unlimited budget in terms of locations and visual effects. In this issue of My Little Pony, I wanted the ponies to be underwater, which requires the same skills for comic book artists to draw and color as having the characters be in a restaurant. But it’s a completely different story in live action TV. For a scene with characters underwater, the director would have to film in a special facility that allowed for underwater shots, which would be much more expensive and time consuming than filming in a restaurant. So there are definitely factors to consider when switching between the two mediums, but I also think adapting to the different rules is part of the fun!
    TIQ: Degrassi: Next Class was a television series produced by DHX Media. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was also a television series produced by DHX Media. While you were working on Degrassi, did you have any interactions with the MLP: FiM production team?

    CB: That’s true! And while I wish I could wax poetic about how I remember working beside the MLP team and that it feels like it was all meant to be, we were actually on our own separate lot for Degrassi so unfortunately I never had a chance to interact with anyone working on the show.

    TIQ: While MLP: FiM #98 is your first single issue comic book credit, big congrats on that by the way, it's not your first foray into the comic book medium. You've written a good number of single page "Tales From..." stories for the Rivers of London graphic novels. What are some of the biggest differences you've encountered when writing a multipage story like issue #98 and a single page story like "Tales From..."?

    CB: Thank you so much! I’d say the biggest challenge with writing single page gag strips is fitting a character driven story and twist into just five panels. It’s a great exercise in understanding story structure and comic book format, but it did make it really difficult at times when I had to throw away stories that just couldn’t fit into one page. So it was actually very freeing to be given 20 pages to play with. You can give moments space to breathe and not try to rush anything.

    TIQ: This one-shot issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic focuses on former princesses Celestia and Luna. What ultimately attracted you to writing a story focusing on these two characters?

    CB: Celestia and Luna are two characters I always wanted to know more about. I loved the episode “A Royal Problem”. Seeing the fun and tension in Celestia and Luna’s relationship through this episode only made me wonder -- what other situations might bring out the best and worst in them? The more ideas I came up with, the more excited I got.

    TIQ: What I find compelling about this comic is not that it's a high stakes adventure where the very fate of Equestria hangs in the balance. The story itself is very low stakes, and instead focuses on a very common childhood occurrence: the trauma of losing a favorite toy. How did you come up with this idea to explore with Celestia and Luna?
    CB: We’ve come to know Celestia over the years as this incredibly composed ruler who is usually the voice of reason. But nobody, not even Celestia, can always be in control. I was curious about what might lead us to see cracks in her fa├žade. And the idea of facing childhood trauma felt like just the thing to bring out this new side of her.

    TIQ: Part of the... perks (let's go with that) of being an adult is having your own money to spend on whatever it is you want. And one of those common purchases is spending money on reacquiring items from our childhood. Like toys, books, posters, and anything else that could potentially bring adults a little closer to recapturing their youth. With Celestia and Luna being who they are, obviously buying replacements for their lost toys simply won't cut it. They would have to get their originals themselves. However I am curious, was this feeling of nostalgia something you were actively thinking of while writing this adventure for Celestia and Luna?

    CB: My own nostalgia definitely came into play when I was thinking through their arc! The idea of nostalgia is so complicated – it can be idealized, distorted, something we’d like to hold onto, or something we’d like to forget. Luna and Celestia have very different recollections of the day the kraken attacked and they lost their dolls. Because Luna was younger, her memories are more distorted and the pain isn’t as palpable as Celestia’s. That’s definitely something I’ve experienced with my younger brother who oftentimes remembers things very differently than I do. I just think it’s fascinating how time and age can affect you and lead two people -- or ponies -- to experience nostalgia in a different light.

    TIQ: How did you settle upon having Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy being the two ponies who start Celestia and Luna on their misadventure?

    CB: I felt it was really important to add Fluttershy in at the beginning because she sees the best in every creature and has a very different perspective than Celestia and Luna when it comes to the Kraken. And in terms of having Rainbow Dash at the beginning as well – she’s a personal favorite who brought some much needed levity to the scene!

    TIQ: What were some of the best aspects that come with writing Celestia and Luna's relationship?

    CB: Sibling dynamics are always fun to write and dissect. Celestia and Luna in particular have such a complicated history – usually Celestia’s the voice of reason who is there to talk Luna down. But I had so much fun twisting their dynamic in this issue and having Luna be the sister with the level head who is there to talk Celestia down.

    TIQ: Did you have any experiences with your family to draw upon for their dynamic?

    CB: I have a younger brother so was definitely able to reference our relationship in this issue. There’s something special about siblings, an unspoken bond that is different than any other. And so building that into Celestia and Luna’s relationship felt very natural.

    TIQ: We've danced around the monster in the ocean long enough, so let's talk about the Kraken. What ultimately made you decide to use this fearsome beast from Norse folklore as the primary antagonist for this story?

    CB: Yes! Look, I’m just fascinated with sea creatures. So much of the ocean remains unexplored and it often feels like the more we learn about the sea, the less we understand. So I was thinking about this and realized that while we’ve seen so many threats on land in Equestria, underwater remains unexplored territory. It also takes Celestia and Luna out of their element, literally throwing them into the deep end. So it all just worked thematically as well!

    TIQ: Big monster known for sinking ships and killing sailors is of course the thing Celestia and Luna run into with Starswirl the Bearded while they are out at sea. I can't help but notice that this story happens to continue a long-standing trend with the wizard: either the modern problem is fault, or he is not only wrong about solving it but is in fact completely useless when it comes to solving it. Was this something you had actively considered when writing this comic, or just happenstance?

    CB: It was something I was aware of and something I definitely talked through with my wonderful editor, Megan Brown. Ultimately though, in this situation, Starswirl was taken by surprise while on the ship. He didn’t know the Kraken was behind them. If he had, he absolutely would have been powerful enough to stop her, but because he didn’t understand what was happening, she had the upper hand and grabbed him before he had time to react.

    TIQ: Like all good episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, this issue contains a moral at its center. Was the moral of this story one you had known the story was going to have originally, or was it one you discovered while you were crafting this tale?

    CB: I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but the moral of this issue is one I discovered organically while thinking about what the Kraken represents for Celestia and Luna. Everything kind of fell into place after I figured that out. But I definitely know how important the ultimate message of each My Little Pony story is and wanted to make as big an emotional impact as I possibly could – is that vague enough? Haha

    TIQ: Can you tease us a little bit about the one thing in this story you are looking forward to seeing the audience's reaction too?

    CB: There’s so much! I’m excited to see fans react to Celestia being out of her element while forced to confront the Kraken. I’m also selfishly excited for readers to see the Kraken in all her glory! Akeem and Heather did an incredible job bringing her to life.

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

    CB: I hope the story resonates with fans and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts! Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me today, Q!

    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #98—Season 10 Episode 10
    Celeste Bronfman (w) • Akeem S Roberts (a & CVR A) • JustaSuta (CVR B) • Robin Easter (1:10 RI CVR)

    When a painting brings up memories of the past, Celestia and Luna must confront their fears in order to move on-which means coming face-to-face with the kraken, that terrible creature that attacked their ship so long ago! But things aren't always as they seem in Equestria...

    FC • 32 pages • $3.99