Fan-favorite writer/artist Katie Cook sat down with CBR Executive Producer, Jonah Weiland in the CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to discuss her massive hit, IDW Publishing’s “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” and the cult fanbase that has come out to show their support for the book. She then talks about her humble beginnings working on her webcomic “Gronk,” having the series arrive in print at Action Lab, drawing covers for Marvel, and what she wants to do next.
On the “My Little Pony” craze and breaking 100,000 copies with “Friendship is Magic” #1:
My brother, my older brother, of all people, was like, “You’ve got to watch this new pony show.” ’cause he has a daughter, and he was like, “It’s great.” And I have daughters. And he was like, “You’re going to love it. You’re going to love watching it with them.” And I watched it and tweeted, “This is great!” The editor from IDW went, “We just got the license. You want to write it?” That’s how you break into comics folks. [Laughs] So I got the job, and Andy Price, who draws the ones I write, has been a friend of mine for years, and I walked past his table right after I got the job and I saw a pony piece he was doing for somebody. And I was like “You like ponies, don’tcha Andy?” “Yeah I like ponies.” And I was like, “I got a job. We got a job. Oh my god, we can work on something together!” And we sent his stuff to IDW and didn’t expect any of it.
It was at New York, two years ago, right before the first issue came out, I was setting up my table in artist alley, and all of a sudden I started getting all of these text messages. I was ignoring them. I’m trying to put a table together. I have eight feet to concentrate on. And finally my husband called me and was like, “Have you looked at anything online today?” I was like, “No, I just flew into New York, and I’m here.” I was trying to set up, and I was about to hang up on him. Finally he’s like “You’ve pre-sold over 100,000 copies of “My Little Pony” issue #1. And I kind of had this moment of “What?” I thought he was joking. I looked at all the text messages I had been getting from people all day. “Oh god, did you read this?” Articles on CBR, articles on every comic news site. And I had this panic attack. I was like, “People are gonna read it. And people online are mean.” It got great review, because I approached it in a weird way. I didn’t write it as a little girls’ comic. I didn’t even write it as a kids’ comic. Because I write all-ages material, I wrote it really for me. What would I have wanted to read when I was a comic reading nine-year-old girl, back in the day, when I was reading comics, so I wrote it for me. And Andy drew it for him. And it ended up being this weird, silly “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” kind of, with ponies. And then all of a sudden it started getting great reviews, and positive response, then all of this attention, and it just blew up. It still freaks me out two years later. I’m freaked out about it.
On all-ages comics being marketed to everyone instead of focusing on just kids:
If we treated the “My Little Pony” books like Fluttershy’s fluffy bunny tea-party, they would sell abysmally. Yes, it would be a comic that you could give to any little girl, but you can’t give it to boys because they’re not going to enjoy it as much. We treat the Pony books as comedies, epic adventures, and things like that. And that’s what keeps the kids reading it. And keeps adults reading it.
There was one issue that Andy and I did that was a one-shot, that I had this guy very quietly come up to me at a show in Detroit, and he went, “I bought this for my granddaughter. I’ve been reading comics since the ’50s, and this is the funniest thing I have ever read. And I hate ponies.” And he’s like, “I bought a copy for myself so I could read it.” And that was a high compliment to me. It happens every show now, I get someone that’s like, “I don’t read comics, but my kids eat this up.” Or “My daughter’s learning to read on it.” Or I get into very epic arguments with nine-year-old boys about plot structure and how I treat Rainbow Dash.
That’s what I love about it, because it’s something — adults love, but kids are reading it. I love signing a copy of a book that you can tell that it’s all mashed up and gnarled, and you can tell that they’ve read it a million times, and the cover’s falling off. One dad — I got this copy and it was nasty and I was like, “I have a new copy of it, do you want it?” and she hugged it and her dad leaned over and goes “She sleeps with it.” A nine-year-old, when I was in Cincinnati, gave me a Pony comic that she had made, and it was full-color, and really clever, and in the back of it was, “My name is so and so, I’m nine, and the first comics I’ve ever read are the Pony comics and this is the first one I’ve ever drawn. I want to be just like you when I grow up, and I want to write and draw comic books.” So it’s like what Jeff Smith did for me with “Bone,” I did to that little girl. She gave me the book. “I’m sorry little girl, I’m gonna sell it and buy a house.” [Laughs]
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