You might have heard a lot from Katie Cook and Andy Price, the creative team behind the first arc of the IDW Publishing mainline MLP comics series. But they’re not the only ones writing long form pony comic stories. While Katie and Andy regroup for issues 9-12, Issues 5-8 are being handled by a second creative team. For this arc, we’re graced with Amy Mebberson and Heather Nuhfer on art and writing, respectively. Heather has kindly agreed to talk to us, and we’ve got a shiny interview just for you!
Read more to find out Heather’s opinions on comics, ponies, and more!
A fair warning: some questions discuss events that take place in the recently released MLP: FiM #6.
First, thanks for joining us, Ms. Nuhfer!
My pleasure! I’m a big fan of The Round Stable!
How did you get into the field of comics writing?
A few years ago, a friend of mine was rounding up writers and artists for a new Fraggle Rock comic book from The Jim Henson Company and Archaia. He asked if I had any ideas for a Fraggle tale, so I sent him a few pitches. Much to my delight, one of my ideas was chosen for the very first story! After that, I was asked to pitch for other licensed comic properties.
Relating to that, what brought you into the fold on writing Friendship is Magic for IDW?
I actually asked IDW if I could pitch for a short of backup story! I had heard Katie was writing the first arc and assumed all the lead stories were taken. Luckily, our amazing editor, Bobby Curnow, saw how enthusiastic I was about MLP and encouraged me to expand my ideas.
You really seem to understand the characters and their personalities. Were you familiar with the show before you started writing for IDW?
Yes! I am a VERY big fan of MLP: FiM! As soon as I saw the very first episode I became that person who had to tell everyone how great it was. I knew it would be an awesome comic, so I was thrilled to hear IDW was doing it, even before I had the faintest notion I’d be working on it.
What was your inspiration for the story behind the current arc?
In licensed comics it can be really hard to get stories approved – especially when what you are writing is still in production as a television show. There can be a lot of overlap. I had a few ideas that were turned down because they were too close to episodes that hadn’t been finished yet. It’s a great complement to know I was truly writing in the vein of the show, but it’s tricky when trying to come up with ideas… and I had a LOT of ideas! Hasbro asked if I could create a new story involving Nightmare Moon, which I was more than happy to do. Then my challenge was making it something new and interesting – something I’d want to read.
Before the big reveal at the end of #6, some of our forum users and I had correctly guessed that Rarity would become the new Nightmare. Rarity is my favorite pony, and I’ve always loved her character’s struggle with her generosity and, well, her drama queeny-ness. The idea of her falling prey to self-doubt intrigued me, and it makes a lot of sense. What about Rarity’s character brought you to cast her as the next Nightmare?
I’ve always loved Rarity’s generosity and thought it would be interesting to test the limits of it. One of my biggest rules was to make sure Rarity didn’t come off as being vain. Her weakness isn’t vanity, by any means. She is generous to a fault. If her greatest gift and happiness in life is helping others (often by making them fabulous,) what happens when she doubts her gift? To me it seemed like an interesting parallel to Luna whose selfishness played a major role in her becoming Nightmare Moon.
Princess Luna is one of the fandom’s most favorite characters. Your story is directly addressing her backstory and some of her personal demons. It has to be difficult but exciting to put your stamp on an important part of the franchise’s lore—but based on fan reaction they are loving your take so far. What are your goals with her character and history in the comic?
Well, I really wanted to show that Luna had a broader range of emotions than we’ve been shown, and I wanted to know more about her time as Nightmare Moon from her own POV. Trying to imagine what her life was like while she was Nightmare Moon was really fun! I was a little nervous because of Luna’s popularity, but we were also very lucky to have Hasbro completely on board and giving stamps of approval along the way, too. That helped!
When you write a book, what’s your process, especially when collaborating with an artist? What are the challenges you find when writing for a visual medium?
SPACE! Cramming a story into so few pages / panels can be really challenging. Since comics are so visual, you have to think a lot about pacing, including things you normally wouldn’t have to – where page turns are, how many characters can fit in a panel, things like that. For this arc, I would write the script with light panel descriptions and Amy would bust out the feels in all of them! She’s amazing. Her pencils for #8 literally made me cry.
What do you see as the most important element in writing these characters, and what do you think makes them so appealing to a wide audience?
The characters ARE the most important element. I think our ponies are amazing characters and staying true to that is the most essential part of writing a good story for them. I also think that’s why they are so appealing and popular! If you don’t know your ponies and love your ponies you aren’t gonna write a good pony story. The end. ;)
Friendship is Magic is still tearing up the sales charts, and is IDW’s most popular franchise at the moment. It’s been a hit across all age ranges, genders, nationalities, you name it. It’s even standing toe to toe with the big names from DC and Marvel. What role do you think FiM will play in the comics world as a whole and do you think it can sustain its success by making new, lifetime comic readers?
At signings I’ve been seeing so many little kids and wonderful folks who have never touched a comic before! It’s SO great! Reading is one of the truly magical experiences we get in life, so if reading MLP comics gets you to read more of anything, I’m happy!
If you were given the opportunity, would you consider writing for the TV series?
Of course! The reason I write this comic is because of my love of the show! If I had the chance to write for the show, I’d be honored.
With the Nightmare arc concluding in June, will we be seeing more of you in Pony comics? For #13, maybe?
I can’t confirm anything yet, but fingers crossed I’ll be heading back to Ponyville real soon!
Besides ponies, is there anything else you’re working on, personally or professionally, that you would like our readers to know about?
Let’s see… later this year I have a slew of comics coming out! Everything from Strawberry Shortcake to How To Train Your Dragon to Sesame Street and even a full-length Monster High graphic novel! You can’t escape me! Bwah-ha-ha!
Thanks for the great questions, guys! I appreciate all the fans who love MLP: FiM as much as I do!
And thanks for joining us, Heather! You can read Heather’s work in MLP: FiM Comics issues #5-8! ■