• Bronycon Retrospective: Cereal Velocity

    I'll start with this- Bronycon was phenomenal.

    Click past the break for a 1500-word elaboration.

    This picture was drawn in the hotel room by AceSential following the, uh, smokin' hot con.

    I had heard some choice horror stories about the convention in January and as a result was very nervous about attending this one, especially since it would be my first convention ever. That fear stayed with me throughout my trip to the city. After I landed in New York, I met up with the majority of the staff (sans PK, whose flight was delayed) and we made our way to our hotel room. I was glad to hear they shared my concerns, which came up in conversation as we passed the large Bronycon banner above the convention center. Nevertheless, we were excited.

    It should be noted that the staff and I landed at LaGuardia airport, which was a colossal mistake. It took us over three hours to reach the hotel, and that involved three different kinds of transportation and lots of walking and spent cash. We all treated it like an adventure, though- and, in all honesty, we were having fun.

    The opening ceremony was just as full of pomp and circumstance (whatever that means to you) as I had expected. What I hadn't expected was the amount of people there. Four thousand ponies sounds like a lot, but to see (almost) everyone in the same room cheering on the voice actresses and Lauren was pretty overwhelming.

    Our panel, which immediately followed the opening ceremony, attracted about as many people as I expected it to- that is, about seventy five or so. We had no media aside from my Equestrian Innovations introduction video, so we made due with a Q&Neigh. The audience had fun with the questions, which pleased me, especially since we had to compete with the noise coming from the musician's panel. I may have cracked a few jokes about everyone attending the wrong panel.

    For those interested, the above embed was the video that I made for the panel's introduction, just in case you didn't get to see it.

    The artists' part of the convention was great fun- every type of merchandise you could image was for sale: plushies, hats, shirts, cups, buttons, stickers, prints… I'm pretty sure I bought or was given one of everything. Despite offering to pay for everything, some of the vendors gave me free stuff when they found out who I was. You know who you are, and if you're reading this, thank you so much.

    A selection of the stuff I was given: an awesome Rarity scarf (which I ended up wearing everywhere despite the heat), custom prints of my pony and the EQD staff from Atlur (signed), a print from PixelKitties, a Rainbow Dash print from SmittyG (signed), a sickeningly cute custom button of my pony from John Joseco, and…

    … a sick-nasty steel-etched version of Rainbow Dash's cutie mark from AnimeApothecary. You are all awesome.

    The voice actresses were entertaining as always, as were Peter and Lee. They were a little hard to hear at the panels themselves, but I caught the recordings later for the parts that I missed. Lauren was presented with a gigantic poster of her alicorn at the end of her panel, and I swear she was about to cry. It was very touching, until she asked how she was going to get it on the airplane. Then it was hilarious.

    The second panel I co-hosted on Saturday was the fan fiction panel with the pre-readers. This one attracted a much larger crowd, filling all the seats and forcing some people to stand in the back. After I gave my section's advice (exposition and information presentation) I was applauded. I wasn't expecting that. I re-used the same joke from the previous panel, except this time we had to compete with the noise from the Friendship is Witchcraft panel. After the third time I had to stop what I was saying to wait for the applause to die down, I asked the crowd, "why are you guys over here instead of over there?" Someone in the crowd replied, "we prefer you guys!" Loud applause and cheering resulted. My heart melted. Afterwards I was even asked to sign things for some of the authors in the crowd.

    Unfortunately I didn't attend Bronypalooza, because I opted to attend a dinner and after-party with the pre-readers and the staff. I heard a lot of entertaining stories about it, though- you'll just have to go elsewhere to read them.

    The second day was just as eventful, as I'm sure has been made clear from everyone who attended. Seth and I managed to grab the correct seats- the sponsor ones- at the writer's panel and were able to hear everyone much better. Unfortunately, during that panel, the con caught fire.

    Molten plastic, anyone?

    I heard a commotion behind me and everyone started turning around. Assuming it was a notable person approaching the panel, I turned and got my camera only to find molten, red-hot plastic falling from the ceiling from one of the light fixtures. We were calmly escorted out of the building by the con staff and the police before the lights in the fixture popped. While the entire con sat outside in the New York heat, a person in an impeccable Mare-Do-Well costume sat above everyone on the roof of the parking garage next door.

    Thanks for saving us, dude.

    For the next hour, we were either taking pictures of her (enjoying the irony, of course) or cheering on the fire trucks that arrived to make sure the convention center was still habitable. After an hour, everyone was let back in, and the con resumed with a modified schedule.

    That day was also the day that Seth was interviewed for the Bronycon Documentary. We were allowed to sit in on the greenscreen recording and listen to the questions, which were very fair and answered well by Seth. While all the equipment was being set up, I geeked out with one of the technicians about the cameras they were using (it was nice stuff! I can't help myself). After that, the crew followed Seth around the con for a few minutes as he interacted with some of the artists. I opted not to be in any of the shots, so you won't see me there except perhaps in the background. After that they followed the rest of the staff to the hotel and filmed them updating EQD with a few posts.

    Calpain and I were also interviewed by an NPR representative in the hotel next door about the fandom in general and what we felt its cultural impact was. The interviewer was pleasantly enthusiastic about everything, having covered several Comic-Cons before (in short, I think she understood). I think both of us did rather well on the questions, and we expect it to be aired in a couple of months.

    During this time I was also able to shake hands and speak to John de Lancie briefly, as well as Peter New as he conversed with the staff outside the interview room and Nicole Oliver as she traversed the artists' galleries. Those interactions were the high point for me, because they seemed genuinely pleased when I mentioned I was from Equestria Daily. I guess they like us!

    As the convention wound down, I went around and gathered signatures from all of the artists and musicians I could, including Circuit Mane and the team behind Friendship is Witchcraft, before they left for the day. I wanted to get signatures from the voice actresses, but the vouchers were near impossible to get and the lines to use them were impossibly long. I think I'll have a better chance at Everfree Northwest.

    The one thing that was amusing about the closing ceremonies was the audience's reaction to John- all he had to do was approach the microphone- in his Brony shirt, no less- and he was given a standing ovation. After his four-word speech, "I am with you," he was given another one. That man has the respect of the entire fandom, including myself, and it shows.

    That night the EQD staff was invited to drinks with one of the camera crews for the documentary. We discussed the documentary frankly, signed some forms, and watched Friendship is Witchcraft on the hotel television. It was revealed to us that before filming had started in earnest, none of the crew were fans of the show. As of that night, two had been completely converted. I think that says more than I ever could about the community.

    In retrospect, my fears about this convention were completely unfounded. Every person I met and talked with at the con was extremely friendly and happy to be there, and made me feel welcome. The entire event was run with clockwork precision, expertly coordinated, and ended with no major incidents aside from the small fire- and, frankly, even that was handled expertly.

    I wouldn't have traded this past weekend for anything. Not one thing. It was the best time I've had for a very long while, and the second the next Bronycon is announced I'm signing up, because now I know what to expect: the time of my life.