WC14: IDW Highlights Kids' Comics with "My Little Pony," "TMNT" and More

IDW Publishing put the focus firmly on all-ages comics with an "IDW Publishing: Kids Comics! Ponies, Turtles, & More!" Easter Sunday at WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim, California.

On the panel were IDW editors Sarah Gaydos and Carlos Guzman, plus "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" writer Derek Fridolfs. Gaydos started the session by discussing the upcoming Cartoon Network character crossover, "Super Secret Crisis War," a six-issue miniseries written by Louise Simonson and illustrated by Derek Charm, starting in June.

Gaydos said Charm was her first choice to illustrate "Super Secret Crisis War." The story starts with "Samurai Jack" villain Aku forming "The League of Extraordinary Villains," featuring characters from across IDW's licensed Cartoon Network properties.

In a pre-recorded video, Simonson shared her enthusiasm for the project and Charm's art, saying he's doing a "wonderful, fabulous job."

"I'm having a wonderful time," Simonson said. "I get to watch cartoons for reference. How cool is that?"

An upcoming "Super Secret Crisis War" variant cover will be an homage to DC Comics' "House of Secrets" #92, the first appearance of Swamp Thing -- which Simonson modeled for back in 1971. In the variant, the Powerpuff Girls are in the place of Simonson. Guzman recapped the various "Super Secret Crisis War" one-shots.

"This is supposed to be a fun crossover event," Gaydos said, making a contrast between other unnamed crossovers, and while the tie-ins aren't a must-read to understand the main story, he said they add to the experience.

Next up was the recently released two-part gender-swapping "Samurai Jack" story. "This was such a fun one to read," Guzman said. Artist Andy Suriano illustrated and co-writes issue #8, a "mostly silent" installment. Phil LaMarr, voice of Samurai Jack, wrote the foreword to IDW's "Samurai Jack" comic book collection that's out in May.

Coming up in "Powerpuff Girls," the girls go to see their favorite boy band, "3D," but their plans are interrupted by the Rowdyruff Boys. Dexter and Dee Dee both cameo in the story.

Fridolfs shared his "Dexter's Lab" memories. "I remember Dexter's Laboratory because I was on my way to finishing college, but I still loved cartoons. When I was approached to pitch for this book, I went back and watched some episodes -- by the opening credits of the show, they pretty much set up the whole antagonistic qualities between a brother and a sister. I thought, 'perfect.' The story is right there within the first five minutes of every episode."

Given that, Fridolfs decided what Dexter would want more than anything is to work in his lab without having interruptions from DeeDee, so he devises a plan to get rid of his sister and do whatever he wants -- but things don't work out easily.

Mark Evanier joined the panel to talk about "Rocky & Bullwinkle," which he said he was a fan of since the show debuted in 1959. "The one characters that I loved from my child that I never got to work with were Rocky and Bullwinkle," said the veteran writer.

"He captures the entire tone of it, and just synthesizes from his head," Gaydos said of Evanier's work. Gaydos showed some of Roger Langridge's "Rocky & Bullwinkle" art in various stages, between pencils, inks and colors.

Evanier explained why he wanted to use Dudley Do-Right in the comic.

"The No. 1 cartoon voice actor in the world is a man named Frank Welker. Frank's one of my best friends, and said, 'Let's do a Dudley Do-Right live action movie. Went to ['Dudley Do-Right' voice actor] Bill Scott, he said, 'Sure, let's do it,' and we sold this movie to MGM," Evanier said. In the middle of production, Bill Scott passed away. Since then, Evanier said, Dudley Do-Right has been a character with a lot of emotion attached for him, which prompted his inclusion in the "Rocky & Bullwinkle" comic.

IDW marketing's Rosalind Morehead talked "My Little Pony," saying Katie Cook and Andy Price will take the ponies into the "opposite world" in "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic." "My Little Pony: Friends Forever" will feature teammates between pairs of ponies -- Fluttershy and Zecora, and Rainbow Dash and Trixie.

Fridolfs is writing two "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures" stories. "I grew up reading the original black-and-white 'Turtles' books. To get a chance to work on a property like this is a lot of fun. The first issue I'm writing has to do with Spider Bytez, who is one of my favorite villains." The other story has Michelangelo, a comic book fan, looking for his own sidekick -- which ends up being a malfunctioning Foot Bot.

Discussing "Littlest Pet Shop," debuting at IDW in May, Gaydos said it's "about capturing the energy and excitement of the show in the comic book format."

Another new IDW licensed comic, "Angry Birds," will get variant covers featuring the Birds meeting other properties on IDW's roster, like "Star Trek," "Popeye" and "KISS."

Moving to audiences questions -- which included many enthusiastic young comic book fans -- the panel was asked what other IDW characters they'd like to see the Cartoon Network characters meet. Gaydos named Ghostbusters, while Guzman said he'd like to see "Samurai Jack hanging out with the Ninja Turtles."

Favorite pony? "I think my favorite pony is Rainbow Dash," Gaydos said.

"I'm a Fluttershy kind of guy," Guzman said.

A fan asked what kind of grade point average she needed to work in comics. Gaydos said to keep at writing and drawing every day.

Chance of a "Mars Attacks" comics for kids? "It's come up, we'd probably love to do it," Guzman said, stating that the current Sam Kieth miniseries is definitely not for kids.

How do "Ed, Edd n Eddy" fit in to "Super Secret Crisis War"? The villains "want to take over all the worlds they can, basically," Gaydos said, deploying robots to the various worlds as tests for the heroes. "They're looking for the greatest hero of each planet. Some kind of adventurous mishap happens, and a robot also gets sent to the world of Ed, Edd and Eddy. And somehow, they prove themselves."

Chance of a "Littlest Pet Shop"/"My Little Pony" crossover "Good idea," Gaydos said. "We'll try."

Why was "Ben 10" just five issues rather than an ongoing? Gaydos said they're likely going to employ the "Hellboy model" for "Ben 10," with more contained arcs as opposed to an ongoing series.

A young fan asked for advice on how to stay motivated with drawing every single day. Fridolfs said, "Sometimes it's best to carry a sketchbook around you -- get out of the house. be around your friends. shake up your day and do something different. Sometimes when you get away from it, you want to draw even more."

Another young fan asked if there's a chance for the Ponies and Angry Birds to have some sort of an adventure together. Gaydos asked the fan for her idea on what the adventure might be, and she replied, "An adventure where they have to cross jungles, cross the oceans with dangerous sharks." Gaydos liked what she heard and said the fan should check back with her in a few years.

A young female fan asked, "Why are the ponies all really girly?"

"It's a good question," Gaydos answered. "We don't make the TV show, we just make the comics. Our jobs, when we do comics like these, is to be as faithful to the show as possible. Even if we wanted to make them less girly, we don't really have the ability to do that, since they're not our properties." Gaydos asked the fan what she'd like to see. "More action," she replied. Gaydos said the fan should also check out "Ninja Turtles."

A father asked if his 4-year-old "MLP" fan daughter was at a good age to start reading comics. "Give her all the comics you can," Gaydos said. "Start with ponies, and she'll get hooked."

A fan asked how old someone has to be to get comics published. Gaydos encouraged her to self-publish online, and that IDW has published artists in their early 20s, and maybe younger than that. "As long as no one has to sign a permission slip for you to submit your art, I think you're good," Guzman said.

Last question asked was if the success of the IDW comics could help motivate Cartoon Network to bring some of these shows back to TV. "We hope so," Gaydos said. "Cartoon Network is our partner. Even if they don't [bring the shows back], we're really trying to make these live on."

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