Littlest Pet Shop #1
Story by Georgia Ball, Mat Anderson
Art by Nico Pena, Antonio Campo
Colors by Victoria Robado, Diego Rodriguez
Letters by Tom B. Long
Cover by Nico Pena, Katie Cook
Looking at the long list of credits above, it’s baffling to try to comprehend how a comic book, based on a multi-media sensation, can be so unimaginative, and uninspiring. Clearly, this critic isn’t the target audience, but the first issue of Littlest Pet Shop accomplishes little for those not already familiar with the franchise, and nothing for anyone past primary school.
For the unfamiliar, the wildly popular toy line created by Hasbro Studios, launched a half-hour animated comedy series in the 90’s; again in 2005; and once more in 2012. In between Hasbro, alongside various digital media developers, have produced video games for various consoles and over 3,000 different characters. The franchise has conquered the world in several forms, and starting this May, they have their own monthly comic, a series following the adventures and antics of their most popular furry friends.
Following hot on the heels of the success of the My Little Pony comics, IDW hopes Littlest Pet Shop will find a market amidst the already crowded comic book industry. But will this pre-existing popular series find a large enough audience? One would assume it will, based on the popularity of the television show alone, but will parents be willing to shell out $4 for each issue alone?
The new comic series written by Georgia Ball (My Little Pony) with art by Nico Peña and Antonio Campo (The Penguins of Madagascar) is said to appeal to all ages, but in all honesty, the writing here is aimed strictly for those between the ages of 5 and 7. Each issue of the series will be self-contained, at least for the initial 5 issues, and those stories will mimic the style and structure of the television show. The problem is, based on this one issue, and the info detailed on the press release, Littlest Pet Shop isn’t trying very hard in introducing a new and exciting dimension to the already, incredibly popular brand.
The theme of practically every episode revolves around the tiny doe-eyed
pets, and two mean-girl types who taunt their peers, while plotting mean-spirited pranks against them. On the plus side, the series benevolent central character welcomes adventure, stays true to her values, and handles bullying in the most mature, and healthiest ways possible. The strength of her character stems from a close relationship with her single-parent dad, and Blythe welcomes new friends of all walks of life. There is a positive message here; but unlike the great classic kids comics of yesteryear, there is also nothing that will move them. The comic tries to be funny, but most of the attempts are derivative and lack real humour. These sticky-sweet creations typify a new idea in marketing. Invent the toy, blitz the children with a television show, throw in a video game, and finally top it all off with a comic book series, all in one adhesive, lazy package. Reading Littlest Pet Shop is like being immersed in cotton candy for an hour and a half: Only a few minutes is all you need before you begin to feel a rumbling in your belly, and an aching in your tooth.
Littlest Pet Shop represents the latest entry in the recent spate of promotional material aimed to help sell toys, but disguised as educational reading for children. Listen to the ring of the cash register, as Hasbro attempts to turn young viewers into young readers. The rainbow color cuteness of Littlest Pet Shop masks a corporate greed as cold as ice, as sharp as a razor blade. Based on first impressions, I’m not sold that this is anything but that. In the first issue, Blythe Baxter’s adorable friends believe that they will be replaced by rocks in the marketplace. As they all offer arguments as to why a rock can never be as exciting as a pet, I couldn’t help but think, that staring at a rock would be more rewarding than reading this.
– Ricky D