Writer Wednesday: Jeremy Whitley, princesses and My Little Pony

Jeremy-and-Zuri-WhitleyJeremy Whitley is the three-time Glyph winner and two-time Eisner nominee for his Princeless and The Order of Dagonet fantasy comics, head of the educational initiative for Action Lab Entertainment and writer for issue #2 of the new My Little Pony: Friends Forever Hasbro-licensed series of full-color comics by IDW Publishing, in which the Cutie Mark Crusaders team up with fan-favorite Discord in the latter’s first comic book appearance. Jeremy lives is Durham, NC, with his wife Alicia and their daughter Zuri. Find him on Twitter and at the NC Literary Festival, Heroes Con, Lexington comic and toy con, SPX, Denver Comic Con, SC Book Festival, Free Comic Book Day at Ultimate Comics and AwesomeCon.

1. Why is the title of the first Princeless comic “Save Yourself”?

Princeless is all about a princess who is locked away in her tower and, rather than waiting around to be saved, decides to save herself.  The “Save Yourself” mantra of Princeless really exemplifies what I want my daughter and young girls coming to comics to take away from the book.  They don’t need someone else to be their hero – be they a superhero or a prince – they can be the hero of their own story.  If they are in trouble, they have the power to help and to save themselves.  It’s the kind of agency I worry is missing for little girls in a lot of fairy tales where they have to wait around for someone to come save them.

Princelesscover2. In Princeless, you confront a lot of the fantasy tropes that degrade women and girls. But there aren’t any chainmail bikinis in My Little Pony. Do you feel you’ve been able to deliver positive messages through the pony tales, as well?

I think My Little Pony shares a lot in common with Princeless. It’s a story where the girls are the heroes.  These young ponies have saved Equestria time and time again. More than anything, what I love about MLP is that the Mane 6 show girls that there is no right or wrong way to be a girl. The girls have a variety of different priorities and come from a variety of different experiences. The show also shows that no matter the differences between those girls, they can be friends. Your differences make you special, but they don’t have to isolate you.

I think MLP is full of great messages and as much as it is often maligned by people that are afraid of what watching pink ponies on a tv show means about their maturity or masculinity, it’s one of the best animated shows coming on tv right now. And it’s been a brilliant comic book too!

3. You’ve said elsewhere that you created Princeless to give your daughter someone to relate to. As Zuri gets older, do you see yourself creating strong female characters of color for her (and us) in other genres–perhaps science fiction or horror–and other forms, such as cartoons, novels, or video games?

princeless-vol1-tpb-1Absolutely.  I have a couple of things like that in the works now. In fact, my friend Jessi Sheron and I are hard at work putting together a horror/fantasy comic with just such a heroine of color. I have a few more in the works down the line to. And as for cartoons, novels, and video games – I would love nothing better than to work with folks to make great cartoons and video games. For the novel part of things, I’m waiting for a story that I genuinely think fits the format better than a comic. I have my sights set there some day.

4. What fun and exciting projects are in the works?

Well, obviously I have the My Little Pony issue coming out and another one later this summer. Beyond that I have a few more books of Princeless scheduled for this year.

As for new stuff, my friend Jessi Sheron and I are pitching a series called “Snow” which is all about a young girl who awakes to find the whole world has changed and her sister has been pulled off into the dark by some truly dangerous creatures.  She must overcome her own fears to save her sister from the dark secrets of this new world.

Additionally, I’m also putting together a few pitches for both creator owned stuff and some contract stuff for a few larger publishers. As for the creator owned stuff, I have a spy book, a sci-fi book, and a couple of superhero books I’m hard at work on.  Hopefully you’ll be seeing all of them in some capacity soon!

5. If you were a pony, what would your cutie mark be and why?

I think it would have to be a notebook. As boring as that answer is, I carry a notebook with me obsessively. I can’t stand the idea of getting an idea, not writing it down, and forgetting all about it. So many great stories have died that way.

jeremy-pony(Jeremy Whitley pony courtesy of Pony Creator)

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2012-jenJ.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, and a contributor to CharlotteGeeks.com and the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. She is the founder of Raleigh’s Can’t Stop the Serenity event and a CSTS global sponsor. Her jewelry designs are featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and deviantART.

About JLHilton 12 Articles
J.L. Hilton is the author of the post-cyberpunk Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press and a jewelry artist featured in the books "Steampunk Style Jewelry" and "1000 Steampunk Creations." Find out more at JLHilton.com or JLHjewelry.com.