It’s somehow appropriate, given the news earlier this week that Hasbro is expanding its My Little Pony brand with Equestria Girls, that ICv2 should draw attention to the 2013 Brony Herd Census, which is exactly what it sounds like: a tally of how many male devotees there are of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
So, just how many bronies are there in the United States? As many as 12.4 million, if we go by this survey. Or, in the words of the website, “Thus, we can state with a 95% confidence that between 4.0% and 6.8% of the internet-using US population strongly identify as bronies, or approximately 7 to 12.4 million people.”
If you can’t quite fathom the renewed popularity of Hasbro’s 30-year-old My Little Pony franchise — in animation, comics and merchandising — and the accompanying “bronies” phenomenon, you may not be ready for what comes next.
According to The New York Times, the toymaker is extending its brand with Equestria Girls, which recasts the characters from the animated My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as human teenagers. It will launch with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, a full-length animated movie premiering in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival before being released in 200 theaters nationwide. Naturally, a DVD will follow.
If it seems like only last week that we were looking back on Marvel’s 1980s sci-fi series ROM: Spaceknight, that’s because we were. Spurred by Hasbro’s new trademark filing for ROM, we summed up the inauspicious history of the Parker Brothers action figure, and the more successful — and more fondly remembered — comic book it spawned.
But no sooner had we left Galador and the Dire Wraiths behind than Comic Book Resources debuted art from Marvel’s Age of Ultron #2, by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch. And right there on the massive two-page cork board, squeeze between photos of Doctor Strange and Wiccan, is none other than ROM, greatest of the Spaceknights!
Are the two things related? It’s certainly possible — after all, Marvel and Hasbro have had a long (and presumably profitable) relationship that continues to this day with Avengers and Superhero Squad action figures, giant plastic Hulk hands and the like. So who better than the House of Ideas to help revive that plastic relic of 1970s toy chests? However, it’s unlikely Marvel would plunk another company’s character into a major story event, particularly after it’s had to untangle its own creations from licensed properties over the decades (ROM, Micronauts, Godzilla, et al). It seems more probable that Bendis and Hitch are having a little fun, dropping a figure from Marvel’s past among some of its more prominent players. Still, though, an Easter egg like that is usually tucked away along the edges of a panel or a page, not smack-dab in the middle …
For years comic-book and toy fans have been clamoring for the resurrection of ROM: The Space Knight, cyborg enemy of the Dire Wraiths, star of his own Marvel series, and poor-selling action figure. Now it appears his return may be imminent.
Toy Ark catches that Hasbro has filed to trademark ROM for “toy action figures and toy robots convertible into other visual toy forms,” signaling the manufacturer’s plans to rescue the clunky, and noisy, silver doll from late-1970s obscurity.
Released in the United States in 1979 by Parker Brothers (now a Hasbro subsidiary) amid a wave of science fiction popularity that followed the success of Star Wars, ROM was a commercial failure, fulfilling Time magazine’s prediction that the cheaply made figure would “end up among the dust balls under the playroom sofa.”
“Rom is a spaceman doll whose computer memory gives it a disappointingly narrow range of behavior,” the magazine wrote. “It breathes heavily (one of its better effects), buzzes, twitters and flashes its lighted eyes, and sounds ominous gongs, one for good and two for evil. The trouble with this Parker Bros. homunculus is that it looks as if it should be able to use its arms and legs like a true robot, and it can’t.”
Marvel on Monday urged the Second Circuit to deny Gary Friedrich’s attempt to revive his copyright claims to Ghost Rider, reiterating that the writer no only signed away his rights to the character three decades earlier but waited too long to file his lawsuit.
Friedrich sued Marvel, Columbia Pictures and Hasbro, among others, shortly after the 2007 release of the first Ghost Rider movie, insisting he had regained the copyright to the fiery Spirit of Vengeance some six years earlier. He argued he created Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in 1968 and later agreed to publish the character through Magazine Management, which eventually became Marvel Entertainment. Under the agreement, the publisher held the copyright to the character’s origin story in 1972′s Marvel Spotlight #5, and to subsequent Ghost Rider works. However, Friedrich alleged the company never registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office, permitting the rights to revert to him in 2001.
In December 2011, a federal judge rejected Friedrich’s lawsuit, finding the writer gave up ownership to the property when he endorsed checks that contained language relinquishing rights to Marvel’s predecessors. The judge said Friedrich signed over all claims to the character in 1971 and again in 1978 in exchange for the possibility of more freelance work for the publisher. (Two months later, Marvel agreed to abandon its 2010 countersuit accusing Friedrich of trademark infringement if the writer would pay $17,000 in damages and stop selling unauthorized Ghost Rider merchandise.)
The writer appealed in July, arguing the court erred in ruling that the language on the back of Marvel paychecks in the early 1970s and in the 1978 contract were sufficient to constitute transfer of copyright. However, his attorney also reasserts the claim that the agreement was entered into under duress, with Friedrich told “if I wanted to continue to work for Marvel that I would have to sign it.”
From the annals of “Oh, What Might’ve Been” comes this doozy, courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis: art from Phil Jimenez ‘s pitch for a Justice League/Transformers crossover that, for some reason, never came about.
“Oh, what an epic that would have been,” Jimenez wrote last night on Twitter, saying to one follower, “You missed out on Wonder Woman’s invisible jet becoming a very cool Transformer.” You can get a peek of that in the image above, along with an enormous Bat-former and, perhaps best of all, Optimus Prime as a Green Lantern. (He added this morning, “Giving credit where credit is due: the idea for Optimus Prime as a GL was none other than [IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall's].”
Jimenez also dusted off another piece of art featuring Prime wielding his power ring and Megatron clutching Superman’s tattered cape, which you can see below. Hopefully the artist will offer more details about the pitch, and why it never went anywhere.
Building on the licensing agreement they already have with The Tranformers and G.I. Joe, it’s no surprise to learn that IDW Publishing will publish comics based on Hasbro’s My Little Pony toy line.
“My Little Pony is a highly successful brand and we’re incredibly excited to have the opportunity to extend the franchise through this collaboration with Hasbro,” IDW CEO and Publisher Ted Adams said in a press release. “We look forward to providing new stories for the fans and launching their favorite ponies into comic book form.”
“A MASSIVE kudos to Katie, as she suggested me for the art chores on the book,” Price said on his DeviantArt page. “We have great goodies planned, and for both of us this is a labor of love, as we are both Bronies
The series starts in November and will “stay true to its moral foundation, while providing themes and subject matter that older audiences can also appreciate,” according to the release. The series will feature covers by Jill Thompson, Stephanie Buscema and more.
It’s been a big week for the trading-card game Magic: The Gathering. Let’s recap:
On Monday, Gizmodo intern Alyssa Bereznak briefly took the crown as most despised person on Twitter when she revealed that she was matched up with Jon Finkel on a computer date and rejected him once she learned that he was a former M:TG world champion. This got Bereznak a ton of hate Tweets and Finkel a lot of sympathy on geek and mainstream blogs.
On Wednesday, Dark Horse released The Last Dragon, a truly gorgeous fairy tale-style fantasy illustrated by M:TG artist Rebecca Guay.
And Thursday, IDW Publishing announced it’s teaming up with Hasbro to launch a Magic: The Gathering comic book. It’s not the first M:TG comic (here’s a list), but it is the first in more than 10 years. The series launches with a four-issue miniseries about “a unique, new Planeswalker, a powerful mage with the ability to travel between worlds in the Magic Multiverse,” which of course allows for lots of flexibility when it comes to stories. Game designer Matt Forbeck is writing the comic, and Martín Cóccolo will handle the art. The comic will be available digitally as well as in print, and it will be collected into graphic novels. And naturally —y ou know they had to do this — it comes with “exclusive, playable, alternate-art cards for the MAGIC: THE GATHERING TCG,” in “select issues” of the comic.
Just … if you read it, be sure to mention that in your computer dating profile, or you might be accused of being a stealth geek. On the other hand, that apparently isn’t all bad.
The San Diego Comic-Con runs kicks off with a preview night on July 20, then runs July 21-24. If you are a comics creator or publisher, and you’re planning to bring something new to the con — a sketchbook, a print, a graphic novel debut, anything! — then we want to hear from you. Drop me an email and let me know if you’ll have something cool on hand that attendees should know about. Feel free to send any artwork as well.
This time around we have panties from Pantheon (seriously), more Mimoco, word of an announcement by Dark Horse, plans for Viz and Arcana, several Hasbro exclusives and more. So let’s get to it …
Skullkickers creators Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang will be at the Image Comics booth #2729, selling hardcovers of the first volume of Skullkickers with an SDCC-exclusive cover. You can find more details here.
Hasbro sent over images of the action figures and toys they’ll be selling at Comic-Con International next week, including Thor, Galactus, Spider-Man and Captain America figures. Some of them will be available on HasbroToyShop.com after the show.
Check’em all out after the jump …