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A Peanuts Prospectus: Linus Van Pelt’s bid for Class President

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.

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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.

peanutslinus1Linus 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?).

peanutslinus2Of 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.”peanutslinus3

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).

peanutslinus4The 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.

peanutslinus7Over 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.

peanutslinus5And 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.

peanutslinus6Linus 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.

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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.peanutslinus8

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.

peanutslinus9Unlike 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’).peanutslinus10

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.

peanutslinus11However, 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.

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Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #4)

Wow! It seems like just the other day I purchased issue #3, and now a few weeks later, we get issue #4 of the Star vs the Forces of Evil comic series!? Maybe this release is due to the delay getting the second issue out?

Needless to say, torrential rain couldn’t keep me from picking up the latest issue at my local comic store, as we near the half-way mark of the 8-part comic mini-series, under the main story title of Deep Trouble.

Now, let’s dive into our review of issue #4’s story, Cat’s Pajamas.

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Following the run-around that Glossaryck of Terms took us on last issue, Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz visit Flying Princess Pony Head in her jail cell, and explain that they need her phone/compact. As suggested by Glossaryck, it may contain clues as to why Pony Head has been imprisoned in The Waterfolk Domain.

Pony Head tells the two that she last saw it in The Dimension of Cats with Human Faces. Star sets off with Marco in tow, and ends up bringing along his two school friends, Alfonso and Ferguson (along with a few, cute surprises!).

Pretty soon, the group is knee-deep in cats (which isn’t good for Marco, who has a severe cat allergy!).

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Wow…now this was a very entertaining story!

starcomic4-1After issue #1, I was a little let down at the structure of issues 2 and 3. Fortunately, it seems this issue returns us to the main task at hand, in trying to find out who framed Pony Head.

Plus, the writing and pacing of this issue is fast and entertaining, making me happy to go back and read it several times over!

This issue is more like an undercover mission, so there isn’t a whole lot of funny scenarios with Star and Marco, though their characters seem right on the money (even if Marco is largely not enjoying the events of the story). Much like Marco’s negativity towards wet socks in one segment of the TV series, I can totally get behind his exasperation with cat allergies here.

Much like issue #2, we visit a domain that was mentioned in the TV series, but not fully-explored. In the season 1 segment titled Freeze Day, we got the vaguest of hints at what (horrors) lay in The Dimension of Cats with Human Faces. However, the one cat we saw on the show, may have been an exception, as most of the ones depicted here, seem pretty normal in their appearance (well, as normal as a cat with a human face can look).starcomic4-2

According to illustrator Devin Taylor on his Twitter feed, almost all the cats we see in this other dimension, are caricatures of some of the crew that work on the television series! Unfortunately, I’m not good with faces, so I’ll leave it up to the more Twitter-obsessed Star fans to figure that stuff out.

One fun cameo I do want to point out, is the brief appearance of the Ruler of Purrkistan, Cashew (as seen on the right).

This is a fun joke/reference, as Cashew’s human face is a caricature of the series’ creator, Daron Nefcy. Plus, the name Cashew, derives from Nefcy’s own pet cat, AND a pet cat that appeared in her early comics of Star Butterfly, before she developed the DisneyXD series!

As Season 2 of the show has gone on, many of the fans who watched Season 1, have been perplexed at the absence of Marco’s two friends, who went on a few inter-dimensional adventures with our two leads, way-back-when (they also make a fun reference to one of them!).

starcomic4-3Ferguson and Alfonso don’t play a big role, but they do lend a hand here or there, as the story goes on. In a sense, the madcap romp through this dimension (with them along for the ride), almost reminded me of the Season 1 segment, Pixtopia. In this case however, Cat’s Pajamas is much ‘tighter’ with the story it’s telling, and it feels for all intents and purposes, like a TV segment treatment, re-purposed for the comic series. Plus, there’s a pretty entertaining deus ex machina, despite my usual dislike of such things.

Overall, I can’t find much wrong with Cat’s Pajamas. It doesn’t hit you hard with the comedy, but the story is one of the most solid so far, and, there is the fun factor of hidden easter eggs, as well as references to things you’ve seen, if you’re an avid fan of the TV series.

Also surprising, is that it doesn’t feel like there’s a wasted frame or word balloon in the piece. Out of all the wacky adventures chronicled so far in the comic series, this is one that I highly recommend picking up!

Final Rating for Issue #4: A

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Though cover art for issue #4 has been out already, there has been no information released regarding issue’s 5-8. So far, the only word about comics-related future releases, is an ad in the back of issue #4, telling of a comics collection coming next month. My guess is this will collect the first four issues.

Plus, at the end of this issue, there’s a small glimpse of a familiar food truck from Season 2, selling a rare and very tasty inter-dimensional treat. Looks like we may be seeing the return of a questionable little goblin in the near future.

Hope to be back soon, to see where this story will take us next time!

Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #3)

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.

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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.

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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.

starcomic3-3The 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.

starcomic3-2And 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.

starcomic3-1Glossy 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

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starcomic3-4Well, 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!

Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #2)

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.

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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!

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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!

starcomic2-1Most 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).

starcomic2-2Much 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?

starcomic2-3Also 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-

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starcomic2-4With 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!

Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #1)

Almost 1 1/2 years after its record-breaking debut on the DisneyXD cable channel, Star and the Forces of Evil seems like a very quiet success story for the Walt Disney Company.

While it has cultivated a small fanbase online (made up mostly of fanshippers, given the tone of most social media conversations), there’s been next-to-nothing regarding merchandising for the show.

That changed recently, when at a San Diego Comic-Con panel, it was announced that the series would be getting its own comic series, published by Joe Books Ltd.

This month saw the release of the first issue, titled Star vs the Forces of Evil: Deep Trouble, with writing duties by Zach Marcus, and main illustration duties by Devin Taylor.

The first issue kicks off the first part of the story, titled: Parlay with the Pony.

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As our story begins, Star Butterfly is shocked to find out that her bestie, Flying Princess Pony Head, has been jailed in the Waterfolk Domain, for multiple crimes against the citizenry!

Star eagerly goes to help her bestie (along with Marco Diaz, who seems less-than-thrilled to be encountering Pony Head again), but finds that getting her friend a fair trial, might be harder than it looks.

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One thing that I was most excited about regarding this mini-series, was that unlike some comics that are connected to a show or film, this one is written and illustrated by people who have worked on the television series!

starcomic-1Zach Marcus (who has done storyboard work on the show) is the man who keeps the energy flowing as we turn the pages, AND keeps the characterizations spot-on! Star is bubbly-yet-emotional, and Marco’s attitude towards Pony Head is no different here, than it is in the show.

One of the show’s character designers, Devin Taylor, takes on illustration duties for the comic, and for those like me who are sticklers for characters ‘staying on-model,’ he translates the designs extremely well! Even the rendering of non-familiar characters, like the different fish and aquatic creatures in the Waterfolk Domain, fit within the design aesthetic of the animated series.

Another fun detail, is seeing Taylor insert some fun little character bits here-and-there. One thing I missed from the early parts of Season 1, was Star’s habit of gnawing on her magic wand, and in one panel, Devin surprised me with bringing back this familiar sight!

The Waterfolk Domain is definitely different from what we’ve seen before, though it’s hard to tell if it’s part of a larger ecosystem, or just a small part of a vast underwater planet.

starcomic-3One fun addition, is that we get to see more of the Pony Head species (along with a quiet return of Pony Head’s imposing father!) at the trial. We’ve seen very little regarding the Pony Head kingdom up to this point in the TV series, and it was neat to see how other members of this body-less horse-race would look.

The only new character we are introduced to by name, is a dolphin named Johnny Blowhole, a former-party-animal-turned-lawyer, who agrees to defend Pony Head. Though Johnny’s name is definitely a pun on a real-world person’s name (it should be familiar to some who watched MTV back in the day), his persona is the most malleable of all. His characterization seems to point to him being a one-off for this issue, but we’ll have to wait and see where this series takes him.

Pony Head’s trial takes up a good chunk of the storyline, and at times, feels like it’s channeling the more memorable courtroom humor from The Simpsons, along with some of the irreverence of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

This is the first issue of an 8-part story, and it manages to still stay entertaining, despite being largely about setting up the stakes for upcoming issues. For fans who are on the lookout for official items tied to this series, I highly recommend a purchase!

One thing I was most surprised at outside of the comic, was a lack of pre-release information. Word had come out of Comic-Con that the first issue would hit in September, but it wasn’t until we were right on top of the release date, was anything mentioned about it!

One would have assumed there would have been some early pre-release clout to get others excited, but there was none. Plus, going to my local comic shop, I was surprised to find they hadn’t ordered any of issue #1! I had to take a 4-block walk to the second-closest comic shop near me, and luckily, they did order a few issues! This makes me wonder what the situation will be like come next month.

Now that we have an 8-part comic series coming out for Star vs the Forces of Evil, I’m wondering what it would take to find some way to get figures or other merchandise made of the show’s characters (seriously, looking around online, I am still surprised that noone on Etsy, has even made a plush baby narwhal like the ones we’ve seen Star conjure up!).

Final Rating for Issue #1: B+

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starcomic-5Next month sees the release of issue #2. No summary has been given, but seeing as in the final panel of this comic, there is an emphasis on Star’s use of the word “time,” I think that might be  a hint…along with the illustration for the second issue’s cover, seen here to the right.

Most notable, is the open locket on the cover image…which has pictures of Star’s parents, looking considerably younger! Maybe we’ll get an Expanded Universe insight into the early lives of Moon Butterfly,  and River Johansen (or at least, that’s my one hope for the next issue!).

Comic Review: My Little Pony – Micro-Series, Issue #7

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.*

Comic Review: My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic, Issue #7

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.