There is perhaps no other franchise that embodies the full spectrum of modern fandom as completely as the rebooted My Little Pony multimedia empire.
Once a simple candy-coated line of pastel toys and an innocuous TV series designed to sell those toys, the new incarnation of My Little Pony is both a cultural touchstone and a lightning rod. Little kids still love it, but that's almost an afterthought, given the large contingent of adults who have committed very publicly to celebrate the adventures of the fantastic equine kingdom. In particular, the obsessive segment of adult male fans has inspired fascination, skepticism, and grudging admiration.
The term "brony" is almost a punchline to the uninitiated, but that doesn't bother Andy Price, the longtime artist on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic book, who says that the fervent fandom is really just in the early stages of the long journey toward the pop culture mainstream.
"I'm old enough to remember when 'Trekker' was a dirty word," Price, who has been attending conventions for nearly 40 years, told The Fandom Files during an interview at Emerald City Comic-Con. "Which just shows my age — they called them 'Trekkers' before 'Trekkies.'"
During a conversation for The Fandom Files' first live show, held last weekend on the SYFY WIRE stage at ECCC, Price pulled back the curtain on the MLP mystery to reveal a passionate and self-aware fandom that revels in dark in-jokes and sly pop culture references. The comic has long been publisher IDW's best-selling book, in part because it's not simply a monthly sugar rush of bubblegum optimism. The comics are replete with David Bowie references, “drunk (sugar) junkie” ponies, and inside jokes, and provide fans plenty of jumping-off points for fan fiction and original character creation.
Price spoke with The Fandom Files both on stage and off, diving deep into the MLP fandom as well as telling stories from his own early days as a fan, when he attended small conventions in cities across the South and spent all night watching bootleg VHS tapes. As he can explain, things have certainly changed over the last four decades.
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