Since the 1980’s My Little Pony was relaunched and rebranded as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic in 2010, it struck a chord with fans and revitalized the franchise creating an entirely new generation of fans. When IDW launched the comic book adaptation of the television series, the first issue became one of the highest-selling comics of the year with 100,000 pre-orders prior to its release.
Writer and actor James Asmus has had a prolific career, writing a number of X-titles for Marvel and Quantum and Woody for Valiant. Starting with issue #51, he’ll be taking the reins of the Mane 6 with a brand-new arc of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but there’s a twist with this.
The television and comic book had been kept separate for the most part, but with this new issue begins where the comic will follow the show a lot more closely.
Newsarama chatted with Asmus about the details and ins and outs of how that’s going to work out and he has planned for Equestria.
Newsarama: James, so first things first. As you take over My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic this week, the comic book is going to be tied more directly to the animated series. How does this process work exactly?
James Asmus: Well, in my case at least, the good folks at the show shared outlines and scripts for key parts of the season. But from there, they give a lot of freedom and room for me to build our story and have fun. A team member from Hasbro then weighs in on the script and identifies any little details we need to tweak to match continuity.
Nrama: Coming from another huge franchise, how was the transitioning to something like My Little Pony? Talk us through how you ended up behind the writer's desk for this.
Asmus: I’ve got a three-year-old son who had recently gotten really big into the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series a few months before New York Comic Con. I wound up talking with editor Bobby Curnow at the show, and mentioned our fandom. I gladly pounced on his offer to write some issues! This is my first chance to make a book my kid can get excited about, you know?
In terms of it being a shift, though, I’ve always been more interested in trying a new challenge and exploring fresh territory rather than continuing to go down the same path. It has been nice to play around with something that’s much more fun and optimistic, though! And I definitely didn’t anticipate how much I enjoyed sitting down to work every day.
Nrama: With the seventh season set to air in April of this year, how far in advance are you prepped on things?
Asmus: By the time I was refining my outline, I got copies of the scripts I needed! So it gives me a sense of just how much farther ahead animation works than comics.
Nrama: Will the series have any ties to the upcoming movie?
Asmus: My issues relate to an arc on the show, but I’m not sure to what extent some of the other writers’ plots might tie in, though.
Nrama: Starting out, did you have any misgivings about this world and the characters?
Asmus: Only that we were still working our way through the episodes here. I’m always a little nervous about writing for a world whose fans often know every detail. You don’t want to disappoint or lose the people who love it the most, but you still want to find your own story to tell. To my relief, though, the support team from Bobby to Hasbro has been the best I’ve ever worked with in terms of catching those details and helping to suggest changes that actually help the story.
Nrama: Who have you enjoyed writing the most so far?
Asmus: Pinkie Pie gives you the most freedom to swerve and surprise, so she’s the gift that keeps giving. But I was surprised by how much I found myself gravitating toward Rarity.
Nrama: Even though she's still a pretty new character with not a whole lot of exposure, are there plans for Flurry Heart?
Asmus: She’s not a part of this first arc, but if the fans get excited about characters, I know IDW pays attention. Make those cards and letters out to Bobby Curnow, folks!
Nrama: How is like working with artist Tony Fleecs?
Asmus:Tony is legitimately fantastic! He’s an ideal collaborator on this. Any time I had an impulse to lean into a style, or a mood, or a kind of cartoony element – he understood exactly what I had in mind and delivers pitch-perfect execution. I was actually an actor, mostly doing comedy before I switched fully into writing. So I’m always especially picky about artists draw the comedic moments and character performances (for lack of a better word). But Tony has an absolutely killer sense of humor and consistently turns in the best versions of moments I could hope for.
Nrama: Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about the plan for your first arc?
Asmus: We’re teasing out and unraveling the secrets of a mysterious new pony. You’ll see early on in the first issue, this pony is on a mission to erase specific books and accounts across Equestria. (Because what better adversary to give Twilight than a rogue who destroys books?) The bulk of the story is a more fun, episodic pursuit adventure than you might expect, but there’s still plenty of intrigue and earnest ideas at stake. What exactly this mysterious pony is after and how it ties into the new season’s mythology will unfold across the three issues, while each part plays with its own motifs and complications. They’re pretty packed!
Nrama: Going forward, what kind of stories would you like to tell? Anypony you'd really like to include in them?
Asmus: This arc really does juggle a lot of locations, concepts, and action – but keeps all the Mane 6 involved. I think the natural counterpoint (and exciting new challenge) would be to tell one of the more character-driven, playful and emotional explorations. I’m also a sucker for every time they introduce and explore a new city or setting that serves as an analogue to someplace in the real world. So, maybe don’t be surprised if you see me writing a one-off of Rarity’s trip to the Equestria equivalent of New Orleans…