Politics and Peanuts.
It seems that over the years, the two have often collided in some very entertaining, and memorable storylines in the funny pages.
In the Summer of 2016, I did a Peanuts Prospectus on Snoopy, and a number of very political birds. The storyline took place during the first few weeks of September in 1964, but almost a month later, politics would again return to Charles M Schulz’s comic strip.
Only this time, it would affect one of the Peanuts gang’s main child characters: Linus Van Pelt.
On October 5th, 1964, Lucy Van Pelt suggested that her younger brother Linus, run for School President, and she’d serve as his campaign manager.
Linus at first has trepidations about attempting to take on such a major role, but Lucy says the magic word that often makes most normal persons, rush into the Political minefield (see left). Plus, Linus’ face takes on an expression we don’t normally see.
Over the next few days, Linus officially signs up as a candidate, and is brought up before the student body to say a few words. Right off the bat, Linus promises to do away with “cap-and-gown kindergarten graduations,” and “sixth grade dance parties.”He also vows that in his administration, “children will be children, and adults will be adults.”
On a final note, he claims he may also do away with “stupid elections” like the one he’s currently taking part in. That’s definitely a lot to put down, though it is interesting to read his ideas. Growing up in the 1980’s, I never had kindergarten graduation, or a dance party in sixth grade. Of course, one assumes that Linus doesn’t fully understand just how much power he can wield as school president, if he claims he may do away with future elections (does this mean he plans to become a grade-school despot?).
Of course, one normally can’t have a President without a Vice-President, and Linus soon makes his choice: Charlie Brown! Naturally, Lucy feels this is a terrible idea at first, but warms up to it after a few moments of thought (see right).
Eventually, the school newspaper begins to interview the candidates. The job falls on a girl named Violet, who first asks Linus what he’ll do if elected. Linus bursts forth with a loud, passionate speech, but Violet just condenses it down to Linus being “very honored, and will do his best if elected.”
She also goes to Charlie Brown for a short interview, and after a few moments, decides to use the same blurb on him, as she did with Linus. Needless to say, Charlie has a funny comment about her reporting skills (see left).
The next few days, find Linus in the school auditorium, outlining what his election will mean. Most notable, is the strip from October 14th (pictured at right).
Along with his religious-laced ravings, Linus soon after mentions how he will also increase wages for school employees…which makes one wonder again, if he knows exactly what his role as School President will mean.
He also claims that if a little dog comes onto the playground, it will not be chased away, but welcomed with open arms, which leads to a standing ovation from Snoopy in the audience.
Along with the previous declarations, Linus also mentions that his first act will be to appear before the schoolboard, before Lucy quietly reminds him that this isn’t possible…since they meet at 8 o’clock, and he goes to bed at 7:30.
Over the next few weekday strips, Schroeder takes Linus’ picture for the school newspaper, and Lucy is hard at work checking on the polls, along with ‘encouraging voter turn-out’ (see left). Most notable is her “private poll,” which steadily climbs to 92%, with the remainder giving 7% of the votes to Linus’ (unidentified) opponent, and 1% undecided. The undecided vote stings a bit for Linus, as he wonders why some would be undecided to vote for a nice guy like him.
Finally, the candidates give their final words before the election, and Linus is up. Lucy is confident in her private poll numbers, and Charlie Brown is all-smiles, eager to gain an important position in their school.
And that’s when Linus drops a bomb (see right). Of course, he gets little more than a few sentences into talking about the Great Pumpkin, before he’s drowned out by the laughter of his classmates. “I’ve blown the election!” he says, as he trudges off the stage.
Naturally, Lucy is upset at her brother for what he said, and given her attitude, it seems a sure bet that her private polls have gone up in smoke, and that Linus’ rival won by a landslide.
Eventually, Linus has a small talk with Charlie Brown, who questions why Linus would even mention the Great Pumpkin. Linus firmly answers his friend, that he felt it was his duty to inform the other kids in school, re-affirming his belief to Charlie about the Great Pumpkin rising out of the pumpkin patch, and bringing joy to the children of the world. Naturally, Linus re-stating his believes does little to quell Charlie’s feelings about losing the chance to be Vice-President of the school.
During the final week of October in 1964, Linus even attempted to get some sympathy from Snoopy, claiming that he simply spoke what he felt was the truth. Of course, reading Snoopy’s thought balloons, even he feels Linus made a stupid decision (“if you’re going to hope to get elected,” he thinks to himself, “don’t mention the ‘Great Pumpkin!'”).
As Halloween approaches, the loss of the election even frustrates Linus’ belief system. He attempts to write a letter to the Great Pumpkin, which quickly turns into a small venting of frustration over him clinging to the hopes and belief that the Great Pumpkin will appear this time.
Linus carries around a sign, and tries to make sure the nearby pumpkin patch is sincere enough to catch the Great Pumpkin’s eye. Charlie Brown comes by, and even attempts to see if Sally may show a little compassion and sit with him, but after the last time she did it, she’s not about to be taken a second time.
Eventually, Halloween comes around, and the Great Pumpkin doesn’t show, leading to Linus writing a very angry letter in the November 2nd, 1964 strip (see right)…but not entirely.
Needless to say, things didn’t go so well when Linus finally expounded one of his primary beliefs on the student body. Surprisingly, the comic strip storyline about the school election, like several other storylines from the 1960’s, found it’s way into the television medium.
In October of 1972, the short You’re (Not) Elected, Charlie Brown was released as a TV special. Unlike the very Linus-centric storyline, this special would add some extra bits and pieces, to fill out the show’s running time.
Most notable is a very frustrated Sally Brown, who is fed up with how she is unable to open her locker at school…notably because she can’t reach it.
When it comes to the election portion of the story, the position is for Student Body President, and it is originally Linus who suggests Charlie Brown run for the position. However, Lucy is unsure if it would be worth it, and takes a small poll. With the data she gathers, she then claims that it’s very unlikely Charlie would win.
After this news, Sally recommends Linus as a candidate, and Lucy takes another poll. After adding some ‘intimidation tactics’ to her polling methods, she concludes that Linus might have a shot.
Unlike the comic strip, Linus is actually given a rival for the Class Presidency slot, in the form of a boy named Russell Anderson.
Of course, most notable about the special is how Charlie Brown’s name is mentioned in the title, and yet, he doesn’t figure that prominently into the story (heck, he isn’t even considered for, or given the Vice-President slot like in the comics!). However, he does play a part in the elections, working the podium during the stage appearances of Linus and Russell, as well as being part of the group counting the election ballots.
The short also mixes a small subplot about Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown joining Lucy as part of Linus’ campaign. They also go to a radio station and set up time for a call-in segment, for the schoolkids to call in and talk to Linus (pretty hoity-toity, if you ask me!). Of course, the radio program idea doesn’t go off too well, and the majority of the callers fail to even know what the election entails (at one point, one caller asks what Linus is going to do about ‘the rivers’).
Unlike the comic strip, Linus’ mentioning of the Great Pumpkin doesn’t fully blow his chances at the election, but knocks down some ground between him and Russell, tying both candidates in the polls. Lucy cautions Linus that if he keeps from doing another ‘stupid thing,’ he might have a chance.
Even so, Linus is more personally concerned over the laughter and jeers he heard.
“It’s depressing to think, that there are students that don’t believe in The Great Pumpkin,” he says to himself.
Soon, it’s time to vote, resulting in a tie between both candidates, with Russell Anderson casting the deciding vote. However, in a surprise move, Russell ends up voting for Linus, impressed by his convictions!
With Linus now Student Body President, Sally rushes him to the Principal’s office, eager to have him start making good on all his promises.
However, after a meeting with the Principal, Linus admits to Sally that he actually doesn’t hold enough power as Class President, to actually do most of what he claimed.
“He sold out!” bellows Sally, at the top of her lungs. “We elected him, and he sold out! They’re all the same! Promises, promises! You elect them, and they weasel out of their promises!”
Yes Sally, you realized the horrible truth about politics, first-hand.
Well, that was…pretty quick.
After the delayed release of issue #2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil‘s comic mini-series, I thought we’d be well into 2017 before we saw the next issue.
Instead, we got it as an early Christmas present! Pity I didn’t find it while on Christmas Vacation in California (even strutted to the comic store listening to Brian H Kim’s song, Marco’s Good Time Theme!).
But, my local comic shop that got the first two issues has kept up being the area’s go-to distributor on this series, and I picked the latest issue up a few days ago!
And now, it’s time for some of my thoughts and opinions on the third issue’s storyline, Glossy Knows Best.
After their recent jaunt to the past, Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz return to Marco’s house, with Star still intent on trying to find a way to clear Flying Princess Ponyhead’s name in The Waterfolk Domain.
Summoning her wand instruction book’s mentor Glossaryck of Terms, she asks for his help, and soon, Star and Marco find themselves transported into a somewhat familiar (but slightly-more-unsettling) suburban household.
With Glossy Knows Best, we come to that oh-so-special style of storytelling that we’ve seen in certain segments of the television show: the kind where we’re thrust into a world where most of the time, we are swept up in a tidal wave of weirdness, trying to understand just what is going on.
The title of the story is a parody of the old TV sitcom, Father Knows Best. However, most will probably see parallels to several films idealizing those past family sitcoms (such as Pleasantville, or The Truman Show).
Of our main ‘dynamic duo,’ it is Star who gets the most ‘screen-time,’ trying to keep it together, in the face of all the Glossaryck-induced weirdness.
Sadly, much like issue #2, Marco doesn’t really get much to do here. While his role is a tad larger than the last issue, it seems he gets in a small number of funny moments, while the rest of the time, he just seems super-annoyed by what is happening.
By the way, if you thought Glossaryck was a bit off-putting as a hairy-legged little blue man, the world he pulls Star and Marco into, may make you recoil in terror regarding the additional characters he creates.
Going over the story, I found that I surprisingly enjoyed it’s pacing. However, I did expect a tad more attention-to-detail, when it came to the word balloons of some characters. Several times, I found myself mentally re-writing a lot of the dialogue, to sound like something that Eden Sher or Adam McArthur would say.
And of course, like in the TV series, there are a few little dabs of ‘questionable humor’ that may make some readers squirm in their seat.
Not to say there aren’t some fun visuals in several places. There’s also some tie-ins to what we’ve seen or experienced on the show (such as Glossaryck calling Marco “Margo” at one time, like he did in the segment, Star on Wheels). Plus, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it caricature of a certain actor whose done some voice-work for the show.
Throughout the story, one gag the artist reuses, is an ‘angry close-up.’ I guess it’s meant to be humorous, but it only worked a few times for me. We’ve seen the ‘angry close-up’ used well in several places (like in the TV show segments School Spirit, and Hungry Larry), but the less-is-more approach to them on television, just seems more satisfying.
There also seems to be a severe lack of comic sound effects in some moments. A few scenes had me expecting a ‘slam’ or a ‘vhip’ regarding some movements, but such things are largely just depicted by a tiny amount of speed lines. It almost feels like the kind of motion scenes I would expect to see in a storyboard session, where you’d have the storyboard artists draw the scene, and then verbally explain what’s happening, along with the sounds that would be made.
Glossy Knows Best isn’t without it’s faults, but strange as it may sound, it feels a tad more solid in it’s overall story structure, than last issue’s Ol’ Moon River storyline. Yes, I hate to say that about a storyline involving some background on Star Butterfly’s parents, but this story just seems to have a better flow to it, even though like most Glossaryck-based appearances, it’s an awful lot of ‘nothing’ to get to the ‘something’ at the end.
Of course, given how deep we dive into the world of Glossaryck, it’s going to largely be up to the reader if they are willing to ride the ride, or just scream to be let off.
Me? I’m weird enough to ride the ride.
Final Rating for Issue #3: B
Well, I think we’ve had our fill of Glossaryck for now. So that means, 3 issues down, and 5 more to go!
Coming up in issue #4’s story, word is that Star and Marco will be visiting the dimension of cats with human faces (which was touched upon briefly in the segment Freeze Day, in Season 1). Plus, we’ll get the return of two familiar faces we haven’t seen yet in Season 2 of the show: Marco’s friends Ferguson, and Alfonso!
Will they be there to lend a hand, or somehow cause more chaos to reign? See you back here (hopefully soon), when we review the next issue!
Hello, yeah, it’s been awhile.
After the sudden arrival of the first issue of the Star vs The Forces of Evil comic at the end of September, many like myself were hoping for the second issue to appear a month later. However, it quietly kept getting pushed back in the comic release listings, until finally hitting comic store shelves, on November 16th.
Unlike our introductory story, the second issue’s storyline (titled Ole Moon River), quickly leads us down a much different path than where we left off.
Star Butterfly is still determined to clear Flying Princess Pony Head’s name, and decides to use time-travel to do so.
Figuring she and Marco Diaz can go back in time to catch the real culprit in the act, they borrow the Wheel of Progress from Father Time, in order to put this plan into action.
Unfortunately, Star ends up going back further than expected, and the two end up in the past on the planet Mewni, where Star’s parents are in their teenage years!
Reading comics over the years, I’ve noted how some multi-part stories often have the thankless task, of spending their opening pages, summarizing the past issue(s). In this issue, writer Zach Marcus quickly gets this formality taken care of, in probably the fastest way I’ve ever seen!
Most surprising to me, was the appearance of Father Time, from the Season 1 segment, Freeze Day. Just like Star and Marco, the writer has managed to channel the character’s strange bi-polar tone, and the artists have made the Plains of Time just as many of us remember them from the show! For those readers who are familiar with this character, I’m sure you’ll be able to imagine Jim Gaffigan’s voice coming out of his mouth, just like I did.
Of course, the highlight of the issue, is seeing Star’s parents in their younger days. Up until now, there’s been scant information about the early years of Moon Butterfly and River Johansen, and it’s not clear if the story we see here, will be considered canon with the DisneyXD show.
Time-travel stories have usually held me in their sway since I first saw Back to the Future, and like that film’s story, Star runs a major risk of creating a time paradox here (though fortunately, we are spared Moon Butterfly having ‘the hots’ for Marco).
Much of the action in this issue, feels more visual than verbal, as we follow River’s attempts to impress Moon, who seems more at ease with a handsome and clean-cut young man named Dirt (yes, you read right).
While the story is a valiant attempt to plunge us into an unexplored realm, it feels like it doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as the first issue. In a few areas, I found myself getting a little confused regarding several bits of wordplay, and who they were being directed at.
One of the more curious things about the story, is seeing Star refer to her parents as ‘preteens.’ However, we see Moon has her wand, and as Star mentioned in the first episode of the show, a Princess is only able to claim the wand on her 14th Birthday. So, is labeling Moon and River preteens, an error on the writer’s (and Star’s) part…or is it possible Moon obtained her wand early, because of unseen circumstances in her past?
Also of note, is the additional use for dimensional scissors. In the show, we’ve seen they can be used to traverse across space, but in this story, Star shows they also have the ability to cut into the flow of time! Of course, the big question is, will this just be something isolated to the comics, or could it be used in one of the show’s stories? Given what we’ve seen in the last few episodes during Season 2, cutting into time could probably solve a few questions some of us have.
Much like in the first issue, I was rather surprised by the artwork. In a number of panels, illustrators Devin Taylor and Cindy Plourde break up the rather ‘flat’ imagery we’ve come to know from the show, and really push angles and perspective, for a more dramatic effect. It also feels like the art style is ‘loosening’ up a bit more from the first issue, as if the comic is trying to find a mid-ground between the show’s visuals, and it’s own particular style.
With issue #2, very little of it had anything to do with Pony Head, making the story feel like a major deviation from where we came from in issue #1. This storytelling method used here, does make me question where the story is going. Will the next few issues follow this deviating adventure style, or will we soon fall back into Star attempting to clear her bestie’s name?
Final Rating for Issue #2: B-
With time-travel having proved a sticky road to go down, Star is going to be trying something a little different next issue.
As one can see from the cover image for issue #3, it looks like the enigmatic Glossaryck of Terms will be showing up to help (or hinder)the investigation to clear Pony Head’s name.
Will Glossaryck prove to be the key to helping solve the mystery? See you back here (hopefully soon), when we review the next issue!
Oftentimes with a successful television series, 21st century companies will try to find some way to keep its audiences ‘faithful’ during the show’s down-time, until a new season of episodes starts. In the case of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the dry-spell has been relieved, with the release of several comics through IDW Publishing. While a regular series has covered multi-part stories with numerous cast members, IDW also has created a micro-series. Each of the micro-series issues is meant to focus on a certain character, or group of characters.
Issue #7 marks the first issue that doesn’t deal with the “Mane 6” characters of the series, and focuses on a trio of little fillies: Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. The three comprise a small club called The Cutie Mark Crusaders, and it is their intent that together, they intend to earn their cutie marks (aka a symbol on a pony’s flank, that tells what their ‘destiny’ is to be).
As the issue starts, the three have spent a week trying all sorts of things to find what their special talents are, but have gotten no cutie marks to show for it. When Applebloom mentions they’ve tried everything in Ponyville, Scootaloo recommends they go searching the nearby Everfree Forest for something that might help.
Their journey leads them to an underground cavern, and the discovery of a large gem. However, upon taking it back to Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle claims that the girls have not found a gem, but a creature known as a Mimicker. It can take on the form of anything, except ponies. And since the one the girls found is not an adult, it can copy many things, as it attempts to find one form it will settle on upon becoming an adult.
Hearing that the Mimicker is just a young creature also trying to find one thing that defines it, the girls eagerly adopt it into their club, and attempt to help it. However, their good intentions quickly start to stray.
The story deals a little with ‘selfishness,’ and at times, ‘using others.’ That’s the best I can say without giving too much of the story away. Suffice it to say, I’m sure many will remember back to their own youthful days, and probably draw their conclusions there.
Writer Ted Anderson and Artist Ben Bates last collaborated on Micro-Series issue #5, which dealt with a story based on the character of Pinkie Pie. Issue #5 felt a little too manic (then again, it was a Pinkie Pie story), but issue #7 is probably my second-favorite story of the entire micro-series so far. It’s structured well, and flows in a way that makes it quite a page-turner.
To me, one sign of good writing is when the comic I’m reading, feels like it could meld perfectly into the television series/movie/etc it’s based off of. It does feel that given several more pages, the story could become a proper 20+ minute television episode (maybe even containing a song as the girls try to help the Mimicker find a proper form).
The Mimicker (dubbed “Imp” when the girls find it hard to call it by its scientific name, “Globulus Improbulus”), is also a nicely-added character to the comic’s canon. Imp’s forms are defined by its blue eyes, and word balloons containing musical notes. Also of note, is that Imp’s transformations are usually accompanied by a ‘Ploip’ sound effect, which helps give it some character. Imp’s eyes become a crucial element in helping us understand its feelings, and that comes into play several times over the course of the story.
Ben Bates’ art style this time around, is much looser and ‘sketchier’ than his last outing. The rough pencil-like lines, along with digital coloring, helps give the story of the young crusaders a more child-like quality. The style definitely helps enhance the story regarding these young characters. One has to figure that if the artist had had more time, the coloration could have been rendered with watercolor and ink.
Overall, Micro-comic #7 is an enjoyable read, but just don’t expect a lot of laughs. I found it a bit more of a serious story, with a few chuckles here and there. But, don’t let that stop you from picking up one of the Micro-series’ best releases yet.
*One thing most of the series’ writers/artists are known for, is putting little pop-cultural ‘Easter Eggs’ in their issues. This ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’-styled dress Applebloom is modeling, did give me quite a chuckle. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle’s reactions help complete the scene perfectly.*
Hard to believe that in less than three years, the fandom of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has expanded the world of Equestria beyond the boundaries of the animated series. The internet is alive with fanfiction, fanart, and music remixes from the show.
Spinoffs were inevitable, and that’s what’s happened thanks to IDW Publishing. Tying into the world of the animated series, the comic series appears to do for the fandom, what the Expanded Universe has done for Star Wars: take familiar characters and places, into realms that are limited by the source material. You won’t get swearing ponies or adult-appropriate material, but you will most likely see storylines that wouldn’t pass muster by Hasbro to appear in animated form.
Issue #7 brings us the third part of the comic’s second major (4-part) storyline.
After the mane 6 ponies (Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy) end up having a series of nightmares, they are shocked when Rarity is whisked away to the moon. Apparently, the dark spirits that had possessed Princess Luna, turning her into the dreaded Nightmare Moon, were never fully destroyed. Preying on Rarity’s fears and elemental powers of ‘help and generosity,’ they end up overtaking her, turning the prissy pony into: Nightmare Rarity.
This proves a rather interesting dilemma: with Rarity overtaken by these forces, the Elements of Harmony that were used to repel the dark spirits can’t be summoned. As well, Princess Luna holds her stoic demeanor, while seeming troubled over the events. Though the other 5 still trust her and maintain she is their friend, one can’t help but wonder if there is some revelation coming down the pike, that may make their trust in her waver.
The latest in this 4-issue story arc continues with the artistic/writing duo of Amy Mebberson, and Heather Nuhfer. What’s lovely about these two, is they have been all across fandom with their talents. Nuhfer has written for the Fraggle Rock comic series, and Amy’s art has run the gamut from Muppets to Disney (she also worked for DisneyToon Studios in Australia!) .
Mebberson’s art style seems a little more whimsical and streamlined than Price’s, whose artistic work looks like ponies by way of MAD or Cracked Magazine (not that that’s a bad thing, mind you). The streamlining of characters definitely comes out in Princess Luna, whose Alicorn features are a bit more angular in the animated series, but seem ‘softened’ with Amy’s art style.
The latest story arc also seems to be going into an area that may cause some unease among fans, in that this storyline does have humor, but seems to be going for a plot that runs a little more ‘serious’ in nature. It also serves as a call-back to the events in the animated series’ introductory story arc, The Mare in the Moon. The little shout-outs to previous storylines help establish familiarity to fans, and jog their memories regarding what has come before, but I do have to wonder about those that may just be joining the fandom, and if they’ll be able to keep up.
Also brought into play in issue #7, is Spike’s crush on Rarity. He ends up getting a little more attention in this issue, with a rather touching few pages near the end.
On a (slightly) negative note, I must say that there are a few areas in this issue that felt…muddled. A few panels don’t seem to have very good ‘flow’ in telling the story, and a few feel like they could have been restructured to get down the narration of the scenes involved. As well, there are a few jokes that just seem to fall flat.
Overall, the story continues to build on the foundations of the previous two issues. We all have a pretty good idea how the story will end, but the big question is, “how” will it end? It feels like a storm is coming, and issue #8 is when it makes landfall.
On a final note, I thought I’d share the image on the left. I recently attended the C2E2 expo in Chicago, where I got the chance to meet several of the persons working on the MLP:FiM comic series. Meeting Amy Mebberson in person was definitely a highlight, as she drew this image of Fluttershy for me on an issue #1 variant sketch cover.
You can find out more about her artistic endeavors, by going to www.amymebberson.com.