By Cameron Hatheway
The My Little Pony comics at IDW Publishing are extremely successful, attracting a legion of die-hard fans both young and old. Tony Fleecs, one of the talented artists of the series, was on hand at Comikaze Expo this past weekend and was nice enough to sit down and answer a few of my questions.
Cameron Hatheway: You've produced a graphic memoir (In My Lifetime), you've written a hardboiled crime comic based on a 70's porno (Tell Them Johnny Wadd is Here), your work has been featured everywhere from the Justice League to The Walking Dead: How the hell did you get involved with all things My Little Pony and what were your first thoughts going into it?
Tony Fleecs: My first thoughts were "Sweet, work!" At first I was excited to have a job drawing comics full-time. Since then it's gone from a mercenary experience where I was just happy to be working, to I've actually become a fan of the characters and stories. And I'm really into drawing comic books that kids can enjoy—and adults enjoy them to, and that's great—but there's nothing better than being at a convention or a store signing and some little kid comes in with a comic book that's so beat up and so read over and over again. I don't have kids but I have nieces, and I like doing something that they think is cool.
CH: "Bronies" have the reputation of being extremely protective about the property. Have you been approached or contacted by any "Bronies" who had nitpicks about something you illustrated, or do the writers get the brunt of it?
TF: I think the writers get the brunt of it. Although, if I draw stuff wrong, they'll definitely let me know about it. I've drawn the wings wrong; Twilight Sparkle has wings, but her wings are not like Rainbow Dash's wings. I drew them one time like Rainbow Dash's wings and I definitely heard about it. The very first thing I ever drew for Ponies, I drew the knees totally wrong and they gave me a hard time about that. They're usually pretty understanding, and I've gotten better, and they seem to appreciate what I'm doing now so that's nice.
CH: Do you consider yourself to be a "Brony" after all this?
TF: No I wouldn't consider myself a "Brony," so much as like "Brony Adjacent." I'm Brony friendly.
CH: You're currently working on two different projects, one from Oni Press with Josh Fialkov, and one from Action Lab's Danger Zone line. Now I know you can't talk about either yet, but what's it feel like keeping so many delicious secrets? Do you just want to explode and tell the world about your plans, or in the end is patience a virtue?
TF: I think patience is going to be a virtue. Although, I'm at the point where all of those projects—the Oni book is finished, I'm done drawing it, they have it, and that'll be out whenever it's out. And then the Action Lab book, I still have to write a bunch of it, anytime I get Pony work it sort of pushes all that stuff back a little bit. But it's sort of about scheduling, and figuring it out. It's not hard to keep a secret because I will just talk about whatever. If you weren't recording right now I'd totally just tell you exactly what was going on with all that stuff. But the hard part is just not being able to do everything that I want to do: I already work 16 hours a day, so to be able to do everything that I want to do I just have to remove my sleep.
CH: You write, you illustrate, which do you prefer? Or does it just depend on the day/week?
TF: I guess it kind of depends on the day. Although, I'm definitely more confident about illustration than I am about writing. I feel like I'm good at writing, but I spend a giant majority of my life drawing so I'm definitely way more confident doing that.
CH: You've attended several conventions over the years, what would have to be your most requested sketch or sketch card?
TF: Since Ponies, I do a lot of ponies. I draw a lot of Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. Before that it was a lot of Harley-Quinn, because I draw pretty girls and fun girls and she's a fun, pretty girl. But now it's mostly ponies and I'm delighted because they're super easy to draw.