Saturday, 29 June 2013

No, I haven't disappeared!

There's nothing wrong, either, and I expect to get back to regular updates in the next couple of days. (No, this isn't one of those times when someone says that and then vanishes for months!) I'm just very tired at the moment, and there isn't a lot I have to write about anyway. However, in the nearish future there'll be at least a couple of reviews of new My Little Pony publications, as well as a classic episode review.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

How do you spell "nervoucited" anyway, Pinkie?

It's now less than two months until BUCK 2013 is upon us. This is therefore the point at which I run around in small circles, panicking that I haven't done anything at all to prepare for it. (Okay, that's not strictly true... but sometimes it feels that way!) Pinkie's new word is just about spot on for how I feel about the whole thing. This will be my first full-scale con of any description, so it's jumping in at the deep end a bit. I intend to have a lot of fun, however, since otherwise Pinkie might be upset. And you don't want to make Pinkie upset...

Monday, 24 June 2013

S2 cast poster in the UK monthly mag!

S2 cast poster from inside the UK MLP:FiM mag
So, does this mean that Apple Bloom's destiny is to be yet another princess?
Since the IDW comics started appearing, I've almost stopped buying the monthly My Little Pony magazine, which is aimed fairly and squarely at the show's target audience. (Despite said show barely having been shown in the UK...) In all honesty, I have better things to buy with £3.99 or so. But this month there was a reason to buy it: thanks to Chrisgotjar on UKoE, I knew that the centre spread was... well, look at the picture above and you'll see!

This is the Season Two cast poster, devoid of its Hub and Hasbro branding from the original. It doesn't quite contain everypony who appeared in S2 — Rarity's parents aren't there, for example — but it comes close. And the little details make it pretty obvious that it was put together with bronies in mind. On the down side, you do get staples in the middle. But hey, where else can you get this poster in the UK? Unless you import it, just about nowhere!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

UK of Equestria reaches 3,000 members!

UK of Equestria screenshot showing 3,000 members
Becoming as popular as popular can be
Just a little post, since this isn't really a news blog, but I couldn't let this pass without a quick mention. UK of Equestria, a very fine site (despite having me as a member) has just registered its 3,000th participant. Considering this is a country in which MLP:FiM has barely been shown on TV and which Hasbro really doesn't seem terribly interested in developing as a market, I think that's pretty impressive!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Comic review: MLP:FiM Micro-series issue #5: Pinkie Pie

MLP:FiM Micro-series #5 Cover A
Amy Mebberson's very amusing Cover A
As usually seems to happen with IDW's My Little Pony comics, I was slightly taken aback by the quick release of issue #5 in the Micro-series, featuring Pinkie Pie. There's an all-new team for this one: writing duties are given to Ted Anderson, while the artwork is the responsibility of Ben Bates. Since I couldn't make it to Nostalgia & Comics this time, I spent £2.64 on a digital edition from Comixology. Apologies for the poorer-quality pictures than usual: I couldn't get screenshots to work properly, so resorted to photographing my monitor with a camera! Anyway, spoilers and such beyond the jump...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Guardian's Stuart Heritage blogs about the EqG trailer

Construction Paper - Lyra Facehoof by MusicalWolfe, Dec 2012. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
Construction Paper - Lyra Facehoof by MusicalWolfe, Dec 2012. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
Yes, folks: we really have been reduced to this in order to get some actual UK-centric coverage for MLP on this blog. The Guardian's intermittently amusing film/TV/music writer Stuart Heritage has written about Equestria Girls. Not the actual film, mark you: nobody in Britain has (officially, at least) seen that yet. Instead, the movie's release has been marked by Heritage with a blog post about the (second) trailer. And remember, this guy is a professional: he's getting paid for doing this. So it had better be good. Is it?

We-ell... I think "intermittently amusing" would also be a good description of his writing here. Nothing Heritage says is going to come as a shock to those of us who've seen the trailer, and I'll grant that some of his comments are actually quite funny. My favourite is his description of the interdimensional wormhole opened up by the magic mirror: "like a million children have vomited Haribo into a branch of Claire's Accessories, but with more weird photobombing pig things". Others, such as Sunset Shimmer's jaundiced look, are run-of-the-mill.

And does Heritage mention the fandom? Oh yes. Well, sort of. Like almost every other journalist in Britain (unlike, I have to say, some of our American cousins) he either hasn't done much research on the fandom's lack of noticeable screaming demand for EqG, or he has but doesn't care. As it's a humorous blog, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt there. And then take it away again for his exceptionally feeble and unfunny comment about how we "adult male brony fetishists" will love the scene with Twilight on her knees and Spike on her back. Sigh.

As I type this, the comments section beneath Heritage's piece is a mixed bag, with some Pony fans, some outsiders and some who think the whole thing is completely incomprehensible. I can live with that: I'd just prefer not to have The Guardian, of all papers, thinking it's fine and dandy for commenters to openly compare bronies with the likes of Jimmy Savile, as happened below the line of Rebecca Angel's article in the same newspaper last October. As for Heritage's own piece? Not all that offensive, but not all that funny either. Shrug.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Why "really pretty good, considering" won't be enough for Season 4

Despite the practically rock-solid certainty of large swathes of 4chan that the show is in terminal decline, the only sensible answer to that question is: "No idea yet." I think most fans would agree that season 3 of Friendship is Magic was the least impressive yet, but how much of that has to do with Lauren Faust's departure and how much is due to other factors remains to be seen. It's interesting that Hasbro seem to have given the creative team more freedom once Faust had gone, perhaps realising that they'd made a mistake, though I doubt they'd admit it.

Season 4 this winter will be the big test. The team have had a long time to prepare for it, it's a full 26 episodes long and the sense of people finding their feet without Faust will no longer be an excuse. In short, it must be more consistently good than S3 if faith is to be maintained/restored (delete according to preference). Yes, S3 had some wonderful moments, not least "Sleepless in Ponyville" — one of the all-time classic episodes — but it also had some pretty shaky moments. It simply wasn't up to the overall standard of either S1 or S2.

I've only seen a few snippets of Equestria Girls, but it looks as though that may be a potentially terrible movie saved and lifted into the realm of the genuinely good by a tremendously talented creative team. That's not a million miles from what happened with "Magical Mystery Cure", where MA Larson and Daniel Ingram in particular came up with the goods, to the extent that the only really major complaint was the one they couldn't help: that it was very clearly a two-ep story forcibly crushed into 22 minutes.

But that's not going to be good enough when S4 finally arrives. What I want, and need, to see is a season whose episodes are excellent in their own right. Not "really pretty good, considering", but just plain excellent. FiM is a special cartoon, as all of us in this remarkable and (let's be honest) bizarre fandom know. The standards it set in S1 were amazing, and it mustn't aim simply at being a good, solid kids' cartoon. It has to be more than that, and I'm sure Meghan McCarthy knows it. Let's hope she can pull this off.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

And so dawns the fateful day

Yes, that's right: the  Equestria Girls movie is released today. (Well, in North America, anyway; we won't get to see it in UK cinemas at all, as far as I know.) At the time of writing this, I haven't seen any reviews of the film, so it's pretty much a case of "As you were". But we shall (eventually) see!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 8

Amy Mebberson's fan-pleasing Cover A
Amy Mebberson's Cover A is ridiculously awesome
Today saw the release of the final instalment of the current four-part arc in IDW's main My Little Pony comic. So off I toddled to Birmingham's Nostalgia & Comics (which had this Rainbow Dash shirt in the window!) and handed over the usual £3.15 for my own copy. The A, B and RI covers are all great this time around, but I chose Amy Mebberson's Cover A because of its ridiculously awesome cast of characters. The question was whether the story inside would match up. If you'll come with me past the jump, we'll see about that!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Cindy Morrow's going to BUCK!

I'll get a review of the latest MLP:FiM comic posted in the next day or two (sneak preview: it's very good) but for now, some BUCK news. Cindy Morrow will be attending! She's the writer responsible for my favourite episode of the entire series ("Hurricane Fluttershy") as well as another of those I'd put in the top tier, "Read It and Weep". I don't like everything she's done — "Owl's Well that Ends Well" was a disappointment — but I'm still delighted that the BUCK team have pulled this off. It's a tremendous achievement.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

May IDW comics sales figures: driftin'

IDW Micro-series comic #4 Cover A
Fluttershy seems quite cheerful about her issue's stats
Yes, it's comics sales figures time again! As usual, the stats come from Comichron, and also as usual, they're estimates for sales to North American comic shops only. Because of the launch of the graphic novel — imaginatively entitled My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Vol. 1 — there are three numbers for us to look at this month. Let's start with the monthly comics, though: issue #7 of the main series, the third in a four-part arc, came in at no. 68 and sold:
This represents a decline of 5.1% over issue #6, which is a slightly gentler fall than last time, and pretty much in line with my expectations. The comic remains IDW's best seller, although not by a huge margin. That's because of the success of another title, though: TNMT Ongoing issue #22 did extremely well this month and came in 78th with 22,759 sales. Moving on to the Fluttershy micro, that secured 103rd spot in May's table and racked up sales of:
A fall of 3.8% there, which in all honesty is less than I'd expected, given the only fairly positive reviews of this comic compared to those of the Rarity micro. It's a shame that it hasn't quite managed to hold on to a spot in the top 100, although the exact same number would have done so last month. Finally, we should look at the trade paperback. This did really rather well, managing seventh position in May's graphic novels table and shifting a total of:
That isn't an IDW monthly record for a graphic novel (boo!) since Richard Starks Parker: The Score sold about a thousand more copies last July. It's also only about half the numbers sold by May's top book (Adventure Time Vol. 1: Playing With Fire) but it's still very good indeed for this publisher. I just wish it were a bit easier to find the Pony TP in bookshops over here: I've seen one copy in Waterstones in Birmingham, otherwise it's just comic shops and online.

Going back to the monthly comics, though, I think we've done all right. The month-on-month decline is continuing, but it's slowed appreciably since last time for both the main series and the micros. What, if any, influence the more positive recent "preception" for Equestria Girls has had on this I don't know. Overall, though, I don't have major concerns about this months sales figures, and I would imagine that June's stats will show the current trend continuing.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Lauren Faust on Ponychan

Here's the Equestria Daily archive of the questions that Lauren Faust answered, stripped of the random babblings that chans have everywhere. Some interesting stuff in here, as you'd expect: a tantalising hint about the origins of Nightmare Moon, an even more tantalising hint that one day — presumably after the show itself has ended — we may get to hear Ms Faust's original plans in detail, and the revelation that she wanted the show to feature Viking caribou, no less!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

New Equestria Girls trailer out

Thanks to Lyra Hooves on YouTube for hosting this; it was originally posted at Entertainment Weekly's site. So... what do I think? Well, I can't deny that things look a lot rosier now than they did when the first preview pictures came out. I still have several substantial problems, including with the entire premise: I simply don't want humans anywhere in the ponies' knowledge, even if they're in another dimension. I'm also still unhappy with the human girls' stick-thin arms etc. The song that plays during the second half of the trailer is... okay. Not terribly memorable, but okay. All in all, "quite good" is my guess right now. I hope it's better, though!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Book review: The Elements of Harmony (Brandon T. Snider)

The Elements of Harmony book
And 20% more predictable than all other references
Of all the MLP-related books due to come out this year, this is the one I've been most looking forward to. My Little Pony: The Elements of Harmony: Friendship is Magic: The Official Guidebook, to give it (just this once — promise!) its rather absurd full name, is the book that more than any other held out hope of being something really substantial. Author Brandon T. Snider has form with this sort of book, being the man behind the generally well received DC Comics: The Ultimate Character Guide a couple of years ago. How has he done with our pastel ponies? Past the jump, we'll find out!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

FlutterComic splurge!

Fluttershy micro comic covers A B and RI
Three Fluttershys. Including FillyShy. Should this have a health warning?
Oh yes, indeed. This is the first comic since the very first one (in the main series) that I've bought more than two covers of — but I just couldn't decide! Amy Mebberson's Cover A is great because it includes so many animals from the show, including the flying squirrel, fruit bat and beaver. Tony Fleecs's Cover B is great because Fluttershy looks absurdly adorable with all those butterflies. And Sabrina Alberghetti's Cover RI is great because... well, come on. Filly Fluttershy and filly Derpy? How could I resist that? :D

Monday, 3 June 2013

On a brony trail, head full of Derpy

This is something a little different: a look at the fandom from an Australian perspective. The actual content of the four-minute video is fairly standard, since it was made for a mainstream audience on the only-slightly-offbeat TV channel SBS2 (it's sort of like BBC3. Ish), but it's nice to see a little clip from "Ebic Wub Time" in there! :P Right, British telly: where's your coverage of the UK fandom, hmmm?

Saturday, 1 June 2013

We need a Celestia episode in S4

Chibi Celestia by MagicaRin
Chibi Celestia by MagicaRin, Jul 2012. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
I have precisely zero behind-the-scenes (or even in-front-of-the-scenes) information that any such thing is going to happen, but it really, really should. Of all the major characters in MLP:FiM, Celestia is the least developed. We know even less about her background than we do about Zecora's (another character whose backstory I'd love to see explored) and the one and only time she really took centre stage in a fight — against Chrysalis — she was defeated. Celestia also doesn't seem to have many, if any, flaws in her character.

We've had 65 episodes now, and Celestia has appeared in the vast majority, albeit less so in S3. But possibly the only time we've truly seen her lose her cool was when Discord first (re)appeared in S2E01. Luna, on the other hand, has had far fewer appearances but they've always been interesting. I'm in the minority(?) of bronies who doesn't squee madly whenever Luna appears: I don't dislike her, but nor is she an out-and-out favourite. But there's no doubt that so far, at least, she's had the better storylines to play with.

So, what could S4 do with Celestia? Obviously, we could go back a thousand years and see the lead-up to Luna's banishment, though unless handled very carefully that might just make things worse for Tia fans. Perhaps more excitingly, we could have another historical option: just what did happen when Discord ruled Equestria the first time? I don't think John de Lancie has recorded for S4, though, so presumably that's not going to happen. Finally, we could see the princesses' childhoods: were they always alicorns?