James Asmus is best known for writing superhero comics, primarily at Marvel and Valiant Entertainment, with credits including “All-New Inhumans,” “Gambit” and “Quantum & Woody.” Yet in contrast to the action-heavy, sardonic humor-tinged fare he’s built his name with over the past few years, his latest gig is his first purely all-ages comics work, and in one of the most famous kid-friendly franchises: A three-issue stint on IDW Publishing’s “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” comic book series, starting with this week’s issue #51, which is illustrated by mainstay “Pony” artist Tony Fleecs.
Asmus joins “My Little Pony” at a conspicuous time for the comic book series, which is now officially canon within the stories of the animated series. The comic book will now tie-in much more closely with the show, and Asmus and Fleecs’ arc will introduce a new character — specifically, a “mysterious new pony who’s erasing pieces of written history” — whose story will lead into a major arc of the Discovery Family cartoon’s upcoming seventh season.
CBR spoke with Asmus about what drew him to “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” (his toddler son happens to be a big fan), moving from writing iconic superheroes to Hasbro’s beloved ponies, his collaboration with Fleecs, crafting an original story that fits into the TV show’s narrative and his interactions with the famously devoted “My Little Pony” fans.
CBR: James, you writing “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is not necessarily something anyone likely would have predicted. What brought you to the franchise — and for a full arc, at that?
James Asmus: I’ve got a son who’s going to be four in a few months, and it just so happened that he got really big into the “My Little Pony Friendship is Magic” series a few weeks before New York Comic Con. I got to talking to Bobby Curnow at the show and after I brought that up, he asked if I’d like to do something for the comic. So, of course, I jumped at the chance!
As much as Devlin (my son) enjoys looking at some of the comics I write, almost nothing I’ve done has been appropriate for him for one reason or another. But I really enjoyed the show, too, so when there was an option to go for a longer story, I knew I would enjoy it enough to really dig in.
As a writer, how challenging has it been to write comics specifically for a young audience? Did anything in your career help prepare you for this run?
Having a kid definitely helps! But a bunch of things made the transition a pretty comfortable one. The voice of the show (and IDW’s “My Little Pony” comics) are so strong that the boundaries and possibilities are both so clear and encouraging. But I also spent three years working as a writer/performer/teacher in Los Angeles for an amazing group called The Story Pirates. They teach and encourage writing to kids through school programs, and adapt the students’ stories into live shows. It was an incredible experience, and one that really developed my tricks and instincts for younger audiences, too.
Word on the street in “My Little Pony” circles is that this arc actually will tie-in to season seven of the animated series. What kind of insight can you share about the connection between what you’re writing and what’s coming up in the animated series?
In these issues, Twilight and her friends are in pursuit of a mysterious new pony who’s erasing pieces of written history. As the issues play out, and we unravel the mystery surrounding this bandit — the answers are also teasing and tying into a big storyline in the upcoming season of the show. The “My Little Pony” team very kindly shared their stories and plans and opened up some opportunities for us to build into and out of what they have coming. Ultimately, we got to craft a really rich, fun, and ultimately meaningful story of our own — but they were kind enough to help us line everything up so that will hopefully be even more satisfying to fans of the show.
While you’re new to the world of Equestria, Tony Fleecs is one of the most accomplished “My Little Pony” artists out there. How has it been working with him on this story?
Tony is genuinely fantastic! He has totally mastered the style of the show, capturing the best of its style, spirit, and comedic voice. He nailed the humor and emotion of every scene. But he’s also been a great and really fun collaborator. I’m really grateful to Bobby for pairing us up!
“My Little Pony” is certainly known for having a very dedicated fanbase. Have you had much interactions with “Friendship is Magic” fans thus far?
Pretty much as soon as our first issue was announced, I started getting a lot of new followers with Ponies in their IDs! There have been a lot of folks asking some questions or welcoming me aboard, too — but what stood out to me was that these have been the most polite, uniformly positive fans I’ve ever encountered. I think the genuine warmth and hope of the series is honestly reflected in the fans. Now, I just hope the fans (and my son) dig our issues!
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” #51 is scheduled for release this Wednesday, Feb. 22.
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