The series has proven a hot seller, reportedly pulling in lots of bronies who haven't bought comics in years and presumably also kids who have never bought them before. In 2012, the first issue, along with Image Comics' The Walking Dead, were the only two non-DC, non-Marvel comic titles to be listed in the top 100 comics of the year. Individual issues have been IDW's top selling comic for each month regularly placing in the top titles sold in those months.
The series begins with a pair of four-issue Story Arcs, with the first featuring the return of Queen Chrysalis, the villain of the Season 2 finale. Other stories span one or two issues. Some issues also have a two page back-up story. This series is notably the first major part of the Friendship Is Magic Expanded Universe, and promises to follow the same all-ages tone that made the show so popular, although the comics sometimes go a little crazier with the characters than the TV series.
It was announced at the 2019 New York Comic Con that the comic, starting with issue 89, will continue where the show left off in its own self-contained "Season 10".
After running for nine years, the comic book series concluded with issue #102.
See also the other My Little Pony series put out by IDW:
- My Little Pony Micro Series (completed) — a ten-issue run, each issue focusing on a single character.
- My Little Pony: Friends Forever (completed) — a thirty-eight issue run, single issue stories highlighting two characters.
- My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic (completed) — a five-issue run, each issue focusing on a major villain character.
- My Little Pony: Legends of Magic (completed) — a thirteen-issue series, consisting of stories that will "explore the secret history of Equestria".
- My Little Pony: The Movie Prequel (completed) — a four-issue IDW series set before the events of The Movie that introduces several of the film's new characters.
- My Little Pony: Ponyville Mysteries (completed) — a five-issue series set after the events of the six Ponyville Mysteries chapter books, each issue featuring the Cutie Mark Crusaders solving a mystery around Ponyville.
- My Little Pony: Nightmare Knights (completed) — a five-issue series with an overarching story, in which Princess Luna and a team of former villains face a new threat to Equestria.
- My Little Pony: Spirit of the Forest (completed) — a three-issue series with an overarching story, in which the Cutie Mark Crusaders investigate another mystery in the Everfree Forest.
- My Little Pony: Feats of Friendship (completed) — a three-issue series with an overarching story, in which the Young Six compete in the School of Friendship's very first sporting event.
- My Little Pony/Transformers: Friendship in Disguise! (completed) — a four-issue series with an overarching story and a crossover with The Transformers.
- My Little Pony Transformers The Magic of Cybertron (completed) — a four-issue sequel series to Friendship In Disguise.
- My Little Pony Generations (completed) — a five-issue series focused on the mane characters crossing over with their G1 counterparts.
- My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: Little Fillies (completed) — a four-issue series of the classic book Little Women retold with the cast of Friendship is Magic.
- My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: The Unicorn of Odd (completed) — a four issue series retelling the events of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- My Little Pony Classics Reimagined Valentine's Day Special: Romeo And Juliet (complete) — A one-shot comic retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet with Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich as the titular couple.
IDW has partnered with Madefire to create motion comics from the series as well.
Despite the recent formation of the Hasbro Comic Universe with the Revolution event, they've said that for now, MLP won't be a part of it, but that could change.....Then it happened. Not an early April's Fool Joke nor an unofficial fancomic or even a Robot Chicken sketch. The worlds of Transformers and My Little Pony collide in a four-part monthly crossover. (Originally planned for May 2020; suspended due to Diamond shutdown and released on August 5, 2020.) Now returning with a new sequel on April 28, 2021.
This series provides examples of these tropes (for more, please also visit the character guide and recap page for individual story arcs):
- Abhorrent Admirer: Andy Price's art will often include background gags of Sweetcream Scoops making advances on a very wary Big Macintosh. Price has stated to fans that he considers that the name "Sweetcream Scoops" sounds like that of a lady of the night, and plays her into that trope.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: Issues drawn by Jay Fosgitt frequently show ponies standing on their hind legs and holding things with their front hooves.
- Arc Villain: Almost every arc has had an antagonist of some kind, from heavy hitters like Queen Chrysalis, Nightmare Rarity, and a Mirror Universe Princess Celestia, to a common thief and a high school bully. The only arc so far without an antagonist of any kind is Zen & The Art of Gazebo Repair, it's just Big Mac experiencing a ton of bad luck.
- Artistic License: Amy Mebberson often draws AJ without her hat; she states that with the hat, this limits how much she can draw of AJ in certain poses and chooses to forgo it instead.
- Canon Foreigner: There's a few, see here for a full list.
- Can't Argue with Elves: The Deer in issues 27-28; nobody ever even mentions the possibility of pointing out the things they did wrong, despite the fact that they were clearly the antagonists in the story.
- Zigzagged with Cassie the Kelpie; although not a lot of attention is paid to it In-Universe, where she is Easily Forgiven, Rainbow Dash does at least make an attempt to call her out on her choice to brainwash the entirety of Ponyville to tear down a dam and flood their homes instead of just asking for help to retrieve her friends.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: A type 2 and type 3 at points with background stories.
- Continuity Nod: Several relating back to the series, as is natural for a tie-in comic.
- Covers Always Lie: What's on the cover usually has nothing to do with what goes on in the story.
- Creator Cameo: Just a few...
- Katie Cook has appeared throughout as a green unicorn mare (often wearing a kerchief headwear) with a word-balloon cutie mark. She has also had her husband Ryan appear as a mule in issue #1, with her laughing at him, as light-hearted revenge for his dislike of Fluttershy. This also counts as an indirect example of Interspecies Romance. And despite her personally being younger than Andy, Andy Price drew her next to him in the yearbook (the bottom two left ponies on the Juniors page) on his variant cover for Issue #11 .
- Andy Price has drawn himself along with his wife Alice as pony characters at least thrice (Issue #1, #9 and the Rarity Micro-comic); his OC is Leadwing, a blue earth pony with a Batman-like cutie mark (part of his previous pedigree), while his wife's OC is a red-headed unicorn mare with a bird-like emblem cutie mark.
- Heather Breckel, the colorist for most of the comics in both the main and micro, has her ponified Angie OC appear in the Rarity microcomic.
- Darker and Edgier: Storylines are much more mature, Death is actually referred to as such, a lot more of focus is put on the teeth and eyes of characters (in all their icky glory), and the writers are not afraid to include more involved fight scenes and look at some of the more disturbing aspects of Equestrian life, such as just what the Changelings do to their victims. The comic as a whole features a lot of content the cartoon could never get away with in terms of copyright restrictions or Moral Guardians.
- Depending on the Writer: Like the show, different issues will have different tones and approaches to the characters & universe. A notable example is that Heather Nuhfer and Katie Cook seem to have different opinions on how to approach Princess Twilight's way of dealing with outlaws. In the Nuhfer-written pirates Story Arc Twilight tries to use her Princess status to make a peaceful deal with a group of pony pirates, when they threaten to kidnap her she magically zaps them into submission. Katie Cook on the other hand has Twilight refuse to use her magic on cattle bandits even when they're clearly breaking the law and attacking her friends, on the basis they're legal, sentient citizens of Equestria.
- Doppelganger Link: When the portal to the Mirror Universe is open, the inhabitants of both worlds become linked to their respective counterparts. The evil version of Celestia takes advantage of this by attacking the evil Luna to harm the good Luna.
- Expanded Universe: This series will be the biggest part of it. There have been short "G4" comics and stories found in little girls' magazines before this, but they simply used stock art with poor writing. This series has promised to follow more closely to the show's continuity and tone, while also having the opportunity to flesh out some things that can't be covered in a 22-minute episode. Katie Cook explains that she is writing each 4-issue story with content roughly equal to two 22-minute episodes.
- Foreshadowing: A cross-arc example: Rarity's issue 1 cover is noticeably darker in colour than the others, and has a cloud or two. Also, Luna is in the background, as if approaching Rarity.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Meta-wise, the comic is one of a handful of Hasbro properties not taking part in the Revolution (2016) event and not part of the Shared Universe that it's set to create.
- Loose Canon: As the writers for the comics don't collaborate with the writers for the show beyond Hasbro telling IDW what is off-limits for them to cover, the show and the comics often go in different directions, and the show tends to not specifically reference the comics or care if it contradicts them. This results in discrepancies in the lore of the two that are impossible to reconcile. Things get even more complicated with the later comics that reference things that happened in the show that explicitly contradict something established in earlier issues of the comics. The result is that it is simply impossible for all the comics to be canonical, and it's up to fan interpretation on an individual basis to decide which they consider canon or not and how to explain the Continuity Snarls between the two.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Katie Cook’s autobiographical strip for Synergy: The Hasbro Female Creator’s Showcase at one point mentions that the reader will likely assume the story was made up for the book, before cutting to an actual photograph to prove that the story is true.
- Once per Episode: Andy Price, a big fan of the television show Fringe, has included an Observer pony (grey, hairless, wearing a suit and fedora) in every story he's drawn, watching events from the background of a panel.
- Reference Overdosed: Even more so than the show, especially in the Cook/Price issues. The other writers & artists tone it down a little, but there's still a few shout outs per issue. There's also an interesting case of seeing different tastes in shout outs; Andy Price for example seems fond of old-school Western sci-fi & pop-culture while Amy Mebberson has a tendency to draw ponified Disney & Anime characters.
- Restricted Expanded Universe: The comics have to stay consistent with the show's status quo, ensuring any major events get wrapped up well enough to stay self-contained.
- Saved by Canon: It's a simple matter of fact that the characters aren't in any real danger, given the supplementary nature of the comic. While "Season 10" is free of that, it still applies to those seen in the show's Distant FinaleList click me! .
- Story Arc: The heavier, darker story arcs are four issues long, with Slice of Life comics being one or two issues.
Tropes applying to the various covers
It wouldn't be a popular comic series without tons of covers. Guest cover artists include Jill Thompson, Stephanie Buscema, Amy Mebberson, Melanie Tingdahl, J. Scott Campbell, Tony Fleecs, Sabrina Alberghetti, and Rob Reger.
- Balloonacy: This happens to Apple Bloom on Issue #1's Cover D◊.
- Character Celebrity Endorsement: Issue #1's Lone Star Comics variant Cover RE◊ shows Pinkie Pie, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom reading a Hoof Beat magazine with an InUniverse Celebrity Endorsement on its back: a Lone Star ad featuring Spitfire.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Hot Topic exclusive issue 4 cover references gags from both "Call of the Cutie" and "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000".
- Andy Price's cover variant for Issue #11 calls back to Cheerilee's "80's look" from "Call of the Cutie", mentions Moondancer, the pony who's party Twilight didn't want to go to in the first episode, and then touches on several minor characters, including Lyra, Minuette (Colgate), Caramel, and Thunderlane. Even Wheat Grass, introduced from the Rarity micro-comic, makes an appearance.
- Covers Always Lie: Most of the revealed covers are sort of just generic "ponies being cute/cool" and very few so far even hint at the return of changelings. Not that we don't expect ponies being cute/cool or anything, but Rainbow Dash doesn't go snowboarding or dressing up as a superhero in Issue #1.
- Inverted though in other cases, in that the covers are directly using single-page spreads from the comic. In one case, Issue #9's BronyCon exclusive Comics World variant used a full page spread from the story that basically was part of a major joke in the comic, to the point that the writer and artist of the issue, Katie Cook and Andy Price, were annoyed with how much it spoiled.
- Played straight with the primary cover for #9.
- Played with for one of the covers for #10◊. While the depicted scene doesn't occur, fireworks and explosions do feature prominently thanks to the Crusaders attempts at fireworks operating cutie marks.
- Funny Background Event: In the background of Issue #13's Cover B, Rarity can be seen leaning over the side of the ship, clearly seasick.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The six covers depicted on this very page are arranged like this.
- Lampshade Hanging: Third Eye Comic's variant cover◊ for the first Twilight Sparkle micro-cover points out the fact that there are a lot of variant covers for the series.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Shining Armor's yearbook photo is this.◊ One can see below the picture that he's part of the LARP Club, the Math Club, the Chess Club, and the Gaming Club (though he also runs cross-country), yet he would look like a dreamboat to many a girl.
- Uncle Sam Wants You: Issue #1's Third Eye Comics variant Cover RE◊, featuring Spitfire and Soarin'.
- Wolverine Publicity: Some of the variant covers prominently feature popular background ponies like Derpy, Time Turner, and DJ Pon-3. The main cover for Issue #10 has nothing but background ponies.
- Most of the covers for the 2013 Annual feature Twilight Sparkle very prominently. She only gets a cameo in The Fall of Sunset Shimmer short and doesn't appear in the main story at all.
- Hot Topic's covers tend to have zero to do with the actual story but feature popular background characters, commonly Trixie. Issues #21 and #22 feature Season 4 fan favorites Maud Pie and Cheese Sandwich, respectively.