Celeste Bronfman has had a good career, with credits that include the Emmy-award-winning series Degrassi and Discovery Kids’ Big Top Academy. Now, the writer is branching out into comics, adding My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to her growing list of titles.
The Beat chatted with Bronfman to discuss the upcoming IDW book (which features art by Akeem S. Robert) and what it’s like to crossover into the medium.
Deanna Destito: How is it different working in comics versus television?
Celeste Bronfman: TV and comics are both visual mediums, which means that as a writer you’re always trying to tell your story in the most visually intriguing way possible – it’s a lot more fun to see two characters breaking up while running away from zombies than it is to see them breaking up at a kitchen table!
But of course, different mediums also mean following wildly different rules. When you write a TV script, you hand it over to a director who blocks each scene and decides how shots will be framed. But in comics, the writer is given the chance to direct and frame panels themselves. You get to write in which characters you want in the foreground, how many characters are in each panel, and how they’re physically interacting. This is definitely something that took me a second to adjust to, but now blocking and framing is something I actively have to stop myself from doing when I switch back to TV scripts!
Destito: What attracted you to My Little Pony specifically?
Bronfman: This past year has been an exceptionally difficult one, and in times of immense stress I find myself turning to stories that give me hope. That’s why I was so excited to write for My Little Pony! My Little Pony is full of heart, emphasizes the power of friendship, and when characters make mistakes, they always apologize and forgive one another. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that friendships are the most powerful bonds we have — so it was really cool to honor that idea through this issue.
Destito: What does your current story arc have for old and new fans of the Pony universe?
Bronfman: Something I’m really excited for fans to see is a different, more vulnerable side of Celestia! Through the series and comics, we’ve come to know her as this composed ruler who never lets her emotions run astray –– but in this issue, she’s forced to confront her childhood trauma and is flooded with a whirlwind of emotions. The façade she’s always upheld cracks and I think fans will be shocked to see how she reacts to it all.
Another cool thing fans can look forward to seeing is Celestia and Luna as young fillies – I had a blast finding parallels between their relationship in the past and present. Spoiler alert, Luna’s always been the troublemaker of the two!
Destito: How has it been working with this creative team?
Bronfman: As a newcomer, I felt really nervous coming into the world of My Little Pony. I love these characters so much and felt a massive responsibility to honor both them and the fans. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry too much because my incredible editor, Megan Brown, went above and beyond to welcome me into the world of Equestria. It was her passion and love for these characters that made this one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a writer.
Destito: What challenges do you think women writers face and does the medium make a difference?
Bronfman: There are, of course, day-to-day challenges that come with being a woman in male-dominated spaces. Sometimes, you’ll be the only woman in the room, and it can often feel like you’re being asked to speak for all women (which of course no one woman can do). When this happens, it can feel incredibly isolating.
But in terms of some challenges I’ve faced as a writer, many of them come up when I’m pitching stories driven by queer, female protagonists. Oftentimes, these pitches will move up the ladder and get to the top where executives will pass because they still believe this myth that stories driven by queer women won’t sell, which is obviously untrue.
But the good news is that as more women, POCs, LGBTQ+ folks, and people with disabilities are hired in positions of power, the more we are seeing content that reflects the world in which we live. There’s still so much work to be done, but I’m hopeful that over the next few years both comics and TV will become more inclusive spaces.
Destito: Favorite character?
Bronfman: I definitely have a soft spot for Fluttershy. She’s an empath who sees the best in every creature and uses her innate sensitivity as a source of power and strength. That’s something I’ve always really connected with. So often in our culture being emotional is seen as a weakness and it’s an insult I’ve had thrown my way several times. I used to take it to heart, but now I realize my vulnerability is my strength. It helps me better relate to others, which is why it’s exciting to see a character like Fluttershy use it in that same way!
Destito: What do you have coming up next?
Bronfman: I’ve got some exciting comics projects in the works that I hope to announce soon! And in the film/tv space, I have a short film called “Quell” and a very personal TV pilot about a fan’s relationship to fandom that I can’t wait to pitch around soon.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #98 is set to release on Wednesday, May 12. Check out a few preview pages here!