“My Little Pony” Annual #1 by Katie Cook, Ted Anderson, Andy Price, Tony Fleecs, Heather Breckel and Lauren Perry is a good if inconsequential introduction to the primary ponies (mostly as Equestria Girls in this volume) that any fan or newcomer can enjoy.
The story, set up by Katie Cook and Andy Price in the first eight pages and with a final page pay off, is a good one of friendship and lessons learned. Pony Sunset Shimmer takes a trip through the “magic mirror” and emerges on the other side as an Equestria Girl. From there the story ties back to Sunset Shimmer’s story nicely. There’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s appropriate for its audience and while the lessons are a bit unsubtle, they’re fitting. Unfortunately, the only real laughs are courtesy of Cook, and since she only does the first eight pages, her presence is much missed for the bulk of the book.
To be honest, I much prefer reading the actual pony stories, rather than the “Equestria Girls” stuff, so it’s a disappointment that most of this book is an Equestria Girls story, but the creators do a good job of making the story have a purpose in that regard.
The standout overall on the book, beyond Cook’s writing for the opening, is the gorgeous eye-popping art. Andy Price does a solid job with the ponies in the opening, and is particularly great with their expressions and the more comedic elements. When the story switches to the Equestria Girls, Tony Fleecs picks up the art duties and he does an exceptional job. Though the “on-model” style of the characters are all very similar (faces and body types especially have no variety) Fleecs really excels in giving each girl her own personality through clothing, body language and expression. Fleecs is also strong when it comes to the basics, managing to keep things very consistent while making strong storytelling choices overall. The colors by Heather Breckel and Lauren Perry have a wonderful vibrant pop. The book feels just saturated with color, but not in a way that becomes overwhelming. It’s clear that everyone illustrating is having a great time.
Though the annual is double-sized (clocking in at 47 pages plus a slew of alternate covers) it’s also a heft more than double-sized price tag, so mileage may vary on value for your dollar. For fans, this is a fun and pretty — if insubstantial — book; for newcomers, it’s a detailed and friendly introduction to the primary characters (as Equestria Girls) of the “My Little Pony” world.