When I started looking more seriously into the local comic scene in 2009 and 2010, I found some big names: Tommy Lee Edwards, Scott Hampton, Richard Case. And, thanks to Ultimate Comics’ Al Gill handing me a copy of The Order of Dagonet #1 I have been able to follow comics writer Jeremy Whitley for a few years now, through the original Dagonet run from Whitley and artist Jason Strutz’s Firetower Studios, the re-issue of the comic from Action Labs, and a similar path for Whitley’s next project, the Eisner-nominated Princeless. I interviewed Whitley and Strutz for Bull Spec #3, and published their 4-part graphic story “The Long Lives of Heroes” across issues 5 through 8. I’m a big Whitley fan, which is one reason I’m so excited to see his story for My Little Pony: Friends Forever #2 from IDW next week. Here, Whitley writes about getting to play inside the rules of the My Little Pony universe — a bit of a contrast from creating in his own stories.
By Jeremy Whitley:
The hardest part of writing My Little Pony was accepting that I’m playing in someone else’s world. A lot of writers only ever get to/have to write in worlds that are of their own making. When I started working on MLP, I would make decisions, commit to them, and then be told that it was something I couldn’t do. I’m a big fan of the show and I love the world they’ve created, but in something like that that’s constantly evolving both on tv and in the comic, you can hit walls you didn’t even know existed.
Part of what defines me as a writer is my stubbornness. When an editor tells me that something in one of my stories doesn’t work my solution is often to change it and whittle it and force it until it does work. Hitting a wall where I’m told I need to back up, turn around, and start over is a new experience for me. I’m used to hitting walls and then just beating them until they break. When you’re playing in someone else’s world, the walls are where they want them to be and they’re there for a reason.
The hardest part for me was accepting that I’m not really in charge here and working to make that a strength where I perceive it as a weakness. Knowing that I had an editor who knew more than me and had a good idea of what could and couldn’t work in the world of the story meant that I could throw ideas at him early and, in a way, let him help me write the story. Usually, I have a lot of ideas and I have to commit to one before I know for sure how it will read. Having an editor who edits this book every month and has a direct line to the creators of the show, I could fire tons of ideas at him and find out what would read before I even started the main draft. As a writer, I have a hard time giving up control, but I think in this case, leaning on my editor allowed me to make a better product.