Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett reviews Transformers/My Little Pony: Friendship in Disguise!, looks at the new Mandrake the Magician, and finds a new twist in the popularity of the Bugs Bunny stamps.

Back in February (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- Consider The Freak Out Factor") I wrote how much I was looking forward to reading Transformers/My Little Pony: Friendship in Disguise! #1, if for no other reason than for the utter outerness of the concept.  But I also suggested it had "...the potential to be an unexpected hit and instant sell-out."  Well, I'm surprised as anyone to discover that it, along with Transformers Vs. Terminator #1, Transformers/My Litttle Pony #1, would be getting a second printing in September.  And I have to agree with Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, now is the perfect time for a My Little Pony/Terminator crossover.  Given the current dismal state of the world, I think we could all use seeing a bunch of pretty flying ponies using the power of friendship to take down Skynet.

As for the comic itself, Transformers/My Litttle Pony #1 is an enormous amount of fun.  The creators, James Asmus, Ian Flynn, Tony Flees, Jake M. Wood, Jake Lawrence, Luis Antonio Delgado, and Neil Uyetake, do a remarkable job of splicing together two such wildly dissimilar franchises.  It consists of two stories, "Transformation is Magic," which does all the heavy lifting required to get the Ponies and Transformers together.  And "Shine Like a Diamond," which focuses on Arcee and Rarity as Transformer and Pony as they awkwardly get to know each other, demonstrating that friendship actually can be magic.

Speaking of magic, Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician has always been one of my favorite characters, and it's always bothered me he's not appreciated more by both comic strip fans and critics.  If he's remembered at all these days, it's for serving as "inspiration" for a legion of Golden Age comic book magicians.  All of them have also been mostly forgotten, except for DC’s Zatara, father of the Justice League's Zatanna.  So naturally, I was pleased when I heard Mandrake would be making a comeback, sort of (see "Mandrake The Magician Reinvented As 17-Year-Old Girl").

You would think a big Mandrake fan like me would object to this kind of "forced diversity" but turning him into a teenage girl makes nothing but sense in today’s market.  Especially given how popular this supposed B-list character Zatanna is: along with appearing in three seasons of Smallville and multiple DC animated series, she has her own young adult graphic novel, Zatanna and the House of Secrets.  Of course, I’d much prefer seeing the actual article, and I’m hoping Mandy’s mother turns out to be Narda, Mandrake’s wife, and Princess of the European nation Cockaigne.  And there’s evidence we’ll be getting at least a cameo from Mandrake’s partner Lothar; Mandy’s "BFF" is named "LJ," which was Lothar’s son’s name in the 80s Defenders Of The Earth animated series.

Last week (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy - That Oscar-Winning Rabbit"), while talking about Bugs Bunny's 80th Anniversary I mentioned the Bugs Bunny commemorative Forever stamps featuring Bugs in various outfits from his animated shorts.  But what I didn’t know then was that, according to Them, the "…two designs that proved to be a favorite among Twitter users were ones featuring Bugs in drag," and that users expressed "…their love and appreciation for recognizing Bugs’ most gender-expansive moments."  Those being Bugs as Brunhilde from What’s Opera, Doc? and Hare Ribbin’ where he's seen as "a sultry mermaid wearing red lipstick."

I've never thought of Bugs being a gay icon, but I don’t mind if people do, and clearly, a lot of people do.  As I've pointed out before (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy --Gender Norm Panic Meltdown"), men dressing as women have long been a comedy staple, but the difference here seems to be with the way that he did it.  The 'joke' wasn't that Bug was dressed as a girl, it was the approving way Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam reacted to him when he was dressed that way.  Trans historian Susan Stryker has said, "When Bugs Bunny was doing ‘girl,’ Bugs Bunny was desirable and powerful."

Since I really can’t speak with any authority on this subject, I’ll close by quoting Bugs from Rabbit Every Monday: "I don't ask questions. I just have fun."

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of