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As a culture, the Japanese love to celebrate pop culture in some pretty unique ways. Now, one restauranteur in the Tokyo, Japan’s Harajuku neighborhood (home to the famed Harajuku clothing style) has created a way for fans of “My Little Pony” to share in their equestrian obsession over a cup of coffee or some marshmallow and banana chocolate chip pancakes by opening the world’s first “My Little Pony” theme café (via MentalFloss).
This nostalgic eatery isn’t just decorated in bright colors and pictures of Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, though. Everything at the café has some sign of “My Little Pony”, from the “I Want a Pony” message burnt into the toast to the little card stuck in the pork and orange cheese pancake. Even the latte features a pony design sprinkled right on top. And what would a theme shop be without souvenirs? Collectors can pick up limited edition merchandise like keychains, tote bags, and notebooks all decorated with your favorite ponies. What’s more, there’s an actual, real live pony waiting outside to greet new customers.
Toys R Us has revealed a lineup of Comic-Con International exclusives that includes a Batman classic TV series Batgirl action figure, a Batman vs. Harley Quinn set, and a first look at a new addition to Star Wars: The Black Series.
The retail chain has also announced a “Collector Vector,” a new shop dedicated to collectibles for “the mature collectible community,” featuring more than 100 items from the likes of Bandai, Diamond Select, Mezco Toys, McFarlane Toys and NECA. The new hub can be found at Toysrus.com and in stores nationwide.
Passings | Maine cartoonist Jeff Pert, best known for his cartoons and illustrations of lobsters and moose, died Friday on his way to the hospital with chest pains. He was 55. His cartoons adorned souvenir postcards and coffee cups, but he was also an active part of the local comics community in Brunswick, Maine, a regular at Casablanca Comics, and a participant in the Maine Comic Arts Festival. Pert created his first comic when he was in fifth grade and sold copies to local comic shops. “They probably gave us the money and then threw them in the garbage, but we were happy,” said his collaborator (and best friend) Jon Dumont. Pert was known for supporting other artists and even persuaded his local state representative, Maggie Daughtry, to start drawing her own comics: Daughtry knocked on Pert’s door when she was campaigning for office, and, she said, “Within an hour of meeting him, he literally changed my life.” When Daughtry told Pert that she had dreamed of being a cartoonist as a child, he encouraged her to start drawing again, which she did. [Portland Press Herald]
In case you missed its premiere Monday as part of Logo TV’s What!? documentary series, the cable channel has made Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony available online.
The documentary, which explores the phenomenon of bronies — adult- and teen-male fans of the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and its merchandise — got its start with series voice actor John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation), who discovered that a majority of his fan mail seemed to come from adults. He soon teamed with Michael Brockhoff, Friendship is Magic creator Lauren Faust and voice actor Tara Strong to spearhead a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the documentary, which features interviews with bronies from around the world as they head to My Little Pony conventions.
At comic conventions, a company like comiXology has to get creative in order to draw traffic to its booth; after all the digital distributor doesn’t have anything physical to sell, and it’s not like you can line up a bunch of creators to sign iPads. (I mean, you could, but why?) At New York Comic Con, however, comiXology is getting physical — by offering limited edition art cards during artist signings.
These limited-edition art cards will be signed and handed out during creator appearances at the comiXology booth, where you can meet Nick Dragotta (East of West), Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Lazarus), Katie Cook (My Little Pony), Sara Richard (My Little Pony) and Doug Braithwaite (Unity #1). You can also meet Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari, creators of the wonderful The Bunker. They’ll be signing sketch cards that’ll have a code to get the first issue of The Bunker for free.
Publishing | Sales of IDW Publishing’s My Little Pony comics, in single-issue and graphic novel format but not counting digital, have topped 1 million copies. (It does really well in the iBookstore — there are multiple issues in the Top 10 every week — although it seldom registers on the other digital comics platforms.) IDW’s Ted Adams says this is because it’s such a great comic, but shrewd marketing such as offering a special Scholastic Book Fair edition with a bonus pony figure probably helped a lot. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The motion-comics platform Madefire has secured $5.2 million in funding. In July it announced agreements with four comics publishers — IDW, BOOM! Studios, Top Cow and iTV — and the first IDW comics came out in August. Madefire also has a partnership with DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]
In case the Brony Herd Census released earlier this year wasn’t enough to convince you the sparkly threat is real — it pegged the U.S. brony population at somewhere between 7 million and 12.4 million — we now have irrefutable evidence that it’s attempting to infiltrate the business world: May we present what is, by all accounts, an honest-to-goodness My Little Pony-themed resume from an unabashed brony.
Bronies are, of course, the adult- and teen-male devotees of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a nearly three-year-old animated series (based on the Hasbro toy line) that has already spawned a spinoff, comic books, a video game, a collectible card game, and who knows what else. It’s wildly popular, and attracts a male following large enough to 1.) have a name (“brony” is a combination of “bro” and “pony”), and 2.) rate its own conventions and meet-ups around the globe.
Digital comics | IDW Publishing released its first batch of digital comics on the motion-comics platform Madefire this week. The selection includes partially animated My Little Pony, Star Trek and Transformers comics, which sell for $1.99 each. Jeff Webber, IDW’s vice president of digital publishing, noted that because Madefire has a partnership with DeviantArt, the books are being exposed to “an incredibly broad network of illustration fans.” To commemorate My Little Pony’s Madefire debut, Dave Gibbons drew the image at right “to show that Friendship IS Magic!” `[Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Cartoonist Jack Matsuoka, who chronicled life in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp in his book Camp II, Block 211, has died at the age of 87. , Born in the United States to Japanese parents, Matsuoka was a teenager when his family was sent to internment camps in Salinas, California, and then Poston. After leaving the camp he was drafted and served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in occupied Japan. He went to college on the G.I. Bill and worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for many years. Camp II, Block 211 was based on sketches he did while living in the camps and set aside for many years; his mother found them and encouraged him to share them with the public. They were put on exhibit in San Francisco and then collected into the book, which was first published in 1974. A revised edition was released in 2003. [The Rafu Shimpo]
Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and digital comics totaled $750 million in 2012, making that year the best of the millennium so far for the comics business, according to the retail news and analysis site ICv2. Total print sales were estimated at $680 million and digital at $70 million, a hair over 10 percent of print and almost triple the 2011 total of $25 million. The website also breaks down the top properties in eight graphic novel categories (superheroes, genre, manga, etc.), based on interviews with retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Interestingly, Hawkeye is nestled at No. 7 on the list of Top 10 superhero properties, between Iron Man and Spider-Man. [ICv2]
Publishing | Torsten Adair takes a look at IDW Publishing’s financials, and they’re looking pretty good. [The Beat]
Retailing | Saying that video games, texting and digital comics have killed interest in collectibles, 80-year-old Joseph Liesner is closing his Sunnyside, Queens, store Comic Book Heaven after nearly three decades. “The store’s not making any money,” he says, “and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah.” The store will remain open for another two months, with Liesner using the time to search for a much younger girlfriend via a sign in the window. [Sunnyside Post]
A limited edition of the Artist’s Edition: Best of EC Covers Portfolio, two new Locke & Key pewter replicas and a glitter variant for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9 are among the highlights of IDW Publishing’s exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International.
All of the convention-exclusive items will be available at the publisher’s booth, along with limited advance copies of the highly anticipated Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1, and Berkeleyworks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed: From Bloom County and Beyond.
See the full rundown below:
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.
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
The animated cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is already a hit in Japan (where the title is My Little Pony ~Tomodachi wa Mahō~), and now it’s coming to the pages of the children’s manga magazine Pucchigumi as well. The news was revealed at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, where, according to Anime News Network, a flyer was passed out with the news. A representative from the Japanese company Bushiroad told ANN that the artist for the manga will be named sometime this spring.
Pucchigumi sounds like the sort of magazine that kids love and parents loathe; it runs a lot of licensed series based on properties such as Barbie, Tamagotchi, and Jewelpet. A glance at the cover of the current issue reveals a crowded layout, an excess of pink, and lots of big-eyed, super-cute characters, so Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle should fit right in.
Pucchigumi is published by Shogakukan, one of the parent companies of Viz, so if the manga were ever to be licensed in the U.S., that’s who would probably publish it—and indeed, it would be a logical addition to their VizKids line. Of course, IDW already has a serialized My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic, so the relationship could be complicated.
Legal | A Belgian court of appeals has ruled that Tintin in the Congo is not racist and stated that the book has “gentle and candid humour.” The ruling came in a case brought in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, an immigrant from the Congo, and the Belgian Council of Black Associations. Although Herge himself expressed regret in later life for the book, which includes numerous depictions of black characters as stupid and inferior, the court did not support the plaintiffs’ claim that “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.” [Sky News]