Kenza has been drawing me pictures, for the longest time, of this little guy. He’s shaped like a smoothed pyramid and he’s got a little tail, kind of, and we don’t know what he is. However, every time Kenza draws him, she makes him unhappy. Eventually, I asked if she wanted to draw an entire comic about his neurotic adventure to kill himself, only to have him realize that killing yourself is hard when you have no thumbs and the world keeps avoiding you.
Kenza declined the idea of an arcing story, but she does really like this character, and she drew us a few comics! We’re calling them Happy Pages because they’re very happy like that. There’s no set schedule for this comic right now, but Kenza may develop one in a month or so when her college work ends. They’re planned to be one shot jokes. The later two are made with water colors!
Meanwhile, in the world of pones and pone-related things, there’s been a lot going on with this whole Equestria Girls situation. As of just recently, it’s come to a lot of people’s attention that My Little Pony may get the Disney princess shill. At the same time, Disney just gave the Disney princess shill to Brave’s plucky, independent main character, Merida, and produced enough public outcry that the company had to completely renege on the idea.
The internet is frankly abuzz talking about Hasbro’s current marketing strategy and business plans. More than ever, the general public is trying to figure out where shots are being called from and where things are headed. Granted that just a year ago all anyone associated Hasbro with were huggable horses in an array of beautiful colors, I’d expect that Hasbro’s executives are probably having a few meetings about their direction now, too. It strikes me as a catastrophic meltdown of marketing strategy when a company sells toys, and suddenly all their consumers are talking about “the brand” and how the company intends to profit from it.
A lot of people are angry, but it’s important to note that Hasbro is still listed as one of the US’s top 100 employers and that, by and large, they’ve been pretty open and kind to the fans of their products. They’ve been taking risks, letting their flagship products experiment with new directions, and it seems like it’s paying off here and there. My Little Pony has perhaps paid off the most, becoming a cultural phenomenon so large that I can barely go anywhere online without seeing it. It’s ironic, then, that the minute they tried to take the franchise in what would normally be considered a “safe” direction in the eyes of a business, following Disney and operating in the Disney market, that people became outraged.
Our own copyright issues related to our parodies also weren’t due to any direct action by Hasbro either. I still see people complaining about that from time to time, and I’ve got to reiterate again that the problem lies with some very borked copyright laws and Youtube’s inability to take them seriously. We got swept up in a program designed by Youtube to punish everyone, regardless of guilt, and there was no getting out of the way of Youtube’s antics. I’ve never developed any reason to think that Hasbro is out to hurt anyone or do anything intentionally wrong in the name of money.
My feelings about all this are deeply curious. I’ve talked before about how difficult it is to manage a company composed of seven thousand people. It’s not as though decisions are made and carried out immediately, and a lot of rumors are indicating that Equestria Girls has been in the works since long before now. It sounds like they spent years building up infrastructure to make toys and promote the thing, and it wasn’t meant to be some quick cash grab they’ve thrown together for the sake of greed.
It’s important to remember that Lauren Faust was stepping down from her role as project leader before Friendship is Magic became insanely popular, and she did so for reasons she couldn’t or wouldn’t divulge. It’s obvious that a lot has been going on behind the scenes, and the big problem with that is that we don’t know anything about what’s happened behind the scenes. It sounds like some long term plans had too much momentum to justify halting right away, and honestly, it’s possible Hasbro is freaking out as much as anybody right now.
Who knows. It may all be bad timing. Hasbro rebooted My Little Pony numerous times without really producing much in the way of results. Imagine somebody in a marketing meeting saying, “I don’t know, why don’t we do another reboot and see if we can’t justifying transitioning into dolls”. Then Lauren Faust shows up with a show idea about girls they could turn into dolls, and hey, a perfect match! She’s hired! So Lauren lays out her creative vision that’s different, charming, and a lot of fun! This time, the reboot is insanely successful! So much so that you could slap those cute little horses on anything and they’d sell! This time the reboot is successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, but the company had been planning from the start to take the franchise in an utterly different direction.
I couldn’t even be mad at something like that. People have gotten to love this cartoon so much, and Hasbro’s five year plan never realized they’d accidentally break us out of the Disney rut. They never could have foreseen how angry we’d all be to go back into the Disney rut once we’d escaped. I hope that maybe this will be a lesson to the business world: Disney is dead to the general public, and the only way to match their success directly is to have all their money and to own their countless copyrights – there’s nothing special or good about Disney business, and it really is time for some new ways of thinking.