• Galacon 2015: The Retrospective

    Better late than never. EQD's a busy bunch, and some of us have only been back in the United States for a week or so. We hope this makes up for it.

    First though, I have a confession to make- I love going to conventions.

    Getting to see the miniature horse enthusiasts that you work and associate with in meatspace is a rare treat that all of us can only afford to do a handful of times a year. It’s an amazing feeling to get to meet the blog’s viewers, the show staff, and maybe make a few new friends along the way.

    Equestria Daily has been a guest at many events going back to the fandom’s first fledgling year and the very first Bronycon, and we’ve always had a blast. The exceptions are rare enough to have a name; I think we decided on The Con That Shall Not Be Named. We’ve been invited all over the United States over many years and been to everything from the smallest of get-togethers all the way to the biggest conventions the fandom has to offer. We’re often repeat customers. It’s like an addictive drug without the unpleasantness of a gulag.

    Where to go from there? How about Germany, and Europe’s biggest Friendship is Magic convention?

    Cereal Velocity

    I’ve never been outside the United States, and neither have the majority of the Equestria Daily staff, so you can imagine our disbelief to hear at the end of 2014 that Galacon wanted us to be community guests of honor at Galacon 2015. They wanted us to do a panel and report on the convention. We were pretty sure it was a prank. Nearly ten months later we all found ourselves on international flights heading to Ludwigsburg, Germany. Funny how life works out like that.

    Cereal attempts to be artistic with a smartphone camera.

    The packed main hall right before the opening ceremonies.

    I think it’s safe to say that none of us knew what to expect.

    Despite being convention experts at this point, none of us knew a lick of German and we weren’t at all certain that Equestria Daily had a sizeable set of followers in the country. The latter turned out to be completely false- we do- and the former turned out not to matter, except in one notable instance where I fruitlessly tried to mime the concept of “no vegetables” to a German cashier. Despite the language barrier I think we both felt a little ridiculous. Helpless laughter abound for the poor American.

    Despite being halfway around the world, Galacon attracts as many people as some of the notable medium-sized conventions in the states, like Nightmare Nights Dallas and Babscon. This year was no exception, and the attendees easily filled the Forum am Schlosspark.

    Plushies for days!

    Vendors lined the hallways of the event with more plushies than I think I’ve ever seen in one place, though that might have been influenced by the presence of PlushieCon, which we’ve covered in a separate post.

    We gave our classic panel, which is usually ten or so minutes of me making a fool of myself in front of our most loyal fans- my favorite part was the slide of a bald eagle I edited to have bacon in its beak in front of an American flag- followed by a Q&A portion. We’re always thrilled by the attendance of these little get-togethers because it’s one of the only times when we get to meet you guys and see how we’re doing, and we love every one of you that shows up. We even appreciate the, “who’s best pony” questions, even though that one always starts a fight. Luckily, that one didn’t make an appearance this time.

    Lots of people showed up!

    Someone took a video of us blaming someone for something afterwards. I have no idea.

    A number of show staff were in attendance, including Daniel Ingram and Jayson Thiessen, as well as Michelle Creber and Tabitha. We got a good number of nice tidbits from them all about the progress the show has been making, like why there’s a hiatus- they all claim they didn’t have anything to do with it!- the fact that Daniel now has access to a live orchestra to score the show, and a super secret event that happened that we weren’t allowed to film. It was totally awesome though, trust me. Suffice to say Daniel does an excellent Pinkie Pie.

    I think the highlight for me was the charity auction that went on during the final day of the convention. A number of cons have started doing these, and it really warms my heart to see people being so generous towards them.

    When I say generous, I mean I’m still a little shocked at some of the transactions that went on. A signed hat from the presenter went to a man in an immaculate Joker getup for €810, and a signed Galacon staff poster went for a staggering €2500 after two very determined bidders refused to back down. Every increment of their respective bids was met by thunderous applause and the building disbelief of the presenter. People held up their plush ponies to use as bid markers and the room was packed with onlookers. Sadly it had to be cut short for the closing ceremonies, but all told, over €13,000 was raised. It was truly a sight to behold.

    Perry championing the auction.

    That's one way to draw attention.

    I think we all walked, or rather flew, away from Galacon 2015 thrilled that they had asked us to attend. It made all the months of planning well worth it, and if they ask us back, the answer is an enthusiastic yes.

    The Illustrious Q

    As Equestria Daily’s premier expert on all things related to the IDW MLP Comic Series, going to GalaCon was a something of boon for me. This is because, while I know all things there is to know about the original English language versions of the IDW MLP Comic Series, the international language translations of the series is something I know next to nothing about. Partly this is due to the lack of information that is sent into EQD—and thus myself—about them. But I feel that this is primarily due to a general lack of awareness about them.

    The MLP:FiM fans who only speaks German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Polish—the current known translated languages of the MLP Comics—logically has to be smaller than the bi-lingual fanbase. Furthermore, the Original English Language comics are always years ahead of any other language the series is translated into. Which means that for keeping up to date on current events in the series, getting the issues straight from IDW is the way to go.

    Daniel Ingram apparently telling a very funny joke.

    When the con day finally arrived, there were more custom plushie artists spread out across the vendor hall than I had ever seen at BronyCon. Seriously. Just about every single table had an artist who makes custom plushies. I couldn’t believe it. There were so many well made ponies that I couldn’t ever hope to afford surrounding me every way I looked. I’m sure GalaCon’s Plushie Con had something to do with it, yet I couldn’t stop seeing them everywhere I turned.

    But I was holding out hope that GalaCon was going to have something for me to look at. After all, that con is the premiere European MLP Convention. They must have gotten the attention of one of the European MLP Comic Publishers.

    Thankfully, they did. Namely one Panini Comics. Which just so happens to be located right above Ludwigsburg in Stuttgart, Germany.

    Yes, I bought everything from Panini while I was there. Yes, I budgeted for it. No, I can’t read a lick of German. Yes, I could have bought everything I purchased at GalaCon from Amazon.de. Do I care about that last point? Absolutely not. For me, meeting Panini Comics and picking up German language comics in Germany was one of the highlights of the con.

    And I cannot thank GalaCon enough for getting them to attend.

    The other highlight came during our EQD Panel when I polled the audience and asked how many people read the IDW Comics. Seeing every single hand shoot up really made my position on EQD validated. Actually knowing that people besides me read these comics—heck I saw a few bronies reading the Panini Translations while walking around the convention hall so I know people enjoy them—really made the trip worth it.

    Well, that and spending quality time with my co-conspirators from EQD in the week leading up to GalaCon. Being spread out all over the US certainly makes hanging out on the weekends a difficult—not to mention expensive—proposition.

    Perhaps next year—if GalaCon invites us back—they might end up hosting an IDW MLP Comic Panel. And I for one would be honored to moderate that if given the opportunity.


    It’s funny how much impact one little sign can have. It’s just a handful of words, much like ‘Dr. Pepper mit taurine’, but much like that drink, their impact is pretty hard to ignore (also, ugh).

    I guess I should explain. And also confess. I actually hate conventions. I don’t like crowds of people, I don’t like being seen if I can help it, and I especially don’t like the hustle and bustle and pressure to do a million things all at once. We’ve a history, conventions and I, where every decision I make about where to be or who to chase winds up being the wrong one, and if only I had stood three feet to the left, or gone out for a drink despite being worn out, or talked to this one extra person, I’d have seen or done something amazing. But it never happens, and instead I spend the next morning listening to all of my friends talk about the super cool thing they just did without me. Not to mention the guilt. You don’t see me much here on EqD, though it’s not because I’m not doing things. But when you’ve faded so deeply into the shadows, it can be weirdly embarrassing to be told to step into a spotlight. One time, a convention went so terribly for me personally that I almost quit the site and the fandom because I was so completely convinced I had nothing left to offer anybody.

    Jayson and Jocelan Thiessen giving up the goods.

    And I mean, let’s be clear here. These are Phoebe problems. All of the con staff I’ve ever met anywhere have been bright, awesome people doing the best they can to keep the seven-headed hydra the call an event from rampaging out of control and ruining a lot of other people’s weekends. It’s all on me and the pressure I put on myself that so often leaves me feeling like I’m drowning. So you can imagine how incredibly nervous I must have been to be going to Galacon, of all places. I’ve never been outside of North America and I don’t know a word of German that hasn’t appeared in an anime. I was so spun up that at one point I was sure I was going to faint. Or throw up. Or both.

    And then I saw that sign. And then somebody asked me to step through the door it was on. So I did, and all of the crowds and the pressures and the noise disappeared, because suddenly I was practically alone in a corridor leading behind the main theater stage standing near an entourage including Jayson Thiessen and Daniel Ingram. I looked down at the corner of my badge, below the picture of Trixie and the space where I’d clumsily scribbled my name, and I saw a couple more words that made a big impact on me, “Very Important Pony.”

    The full plushie invasion at PlushieCon.

    I’m not, of course. I’m the farthest thing from it. But wow, did Galacon make me feel like one anyway. For the first time, I felt free to explore and experience things the way I wanted to, and to say the three or four words to people my teeny tiny voice lets me get away with inside of loud buildings. I felt empowered. And that let me, for the first time in a very long time, get to really experience this fandom in action. It was uplifting and incredible and inspiring and so many other words that if I used half of them I’d make a thesaurus blush. I felt connected, which is such a precious feeling and I had almost forgotten what it was like.

    I could spin stories all day about the cool things Galacon let me see and do, but what I’m going to remember most is that sign and what if felt like to step past it, and then fifteen minutes later when I heard my name and got prompted to step out onto the stage. You know, the part where I nearly tripped over the electrical wires and face planted in front of however many hundreds of people. I won’t forget it, or the fact that somehow despite it, even being in the spotlight under all those eyes didn’t make me feel like I wanted to disappear. This is the first convention I have ever come back from feeling energized and looking for ways to continue contributing and improving the landscape of our fandom. For that alone, I’d find my way back across the ocean as many times as they ask me to come.

    Someone even made us these custom cards!

    Oh, but um… Canni? It’s “fee”, not “foe”. Haha… ah. Yeah.


    So, Galacon, right? Hoo boy.

    Galacon was my first time outside of North America, and what a time it was! After 17 hours in the air, I touched down in Amsterdam and met up with the rest of the EQD crew- and after a day on the town, we lost no time in getting on the road for the trip down to Germany.

    Galacon was one of the most welcoming, accommodating cons I’ve ever been to. We arrived in the early evening of the night before the con and were greeted by the lovely NH Ludwigsburg hotel provided to us by the con. We then went off to a lovely beer garden for a great dinner with some of the Galacon staff and other guests.

    Tabitha, Black Gryph0n, and Michelle Creber attempt to not laugh at a water bottle.

    The next day brought the first day of the con proper. Incredibly jetlagged though I was, I was really excited to see what Galacon had in store for us, and it didn’t disappoint! After the opening ceremonies, we were let loose to peruse the con, and before we knew it, it was time for the Equestria Daily panel!

    This was probably the highlight of the con for me. The panel room was nearly filled with new faces- most of which had never met us before because they hadn’t gotten the chance to visit the US convention circuit. Seeing all those new faces- and the excitement and enthusiasm they brought to the panel- it simply couldn’t be topped.

    Especially this guy. Holy crap.

    Galacon was an incredible, magical experience, and their hospitality can’t be overstated. IF you ever get the opportunity, you should go- and I hope that I’ll get to go back next year!


    Since I am a European, the novelty of being in Europe for this con wasn’t as big for me as it was for my travel companions on the Equestria Daily team. However, European novelties aside, the con week was probably the most fun I had in a long time.

    The planning for this started in the last few months of 2014 and required us to get the passports, flights, hotels etc. for 7 people ready to go. It was a lot of exhausting work to get this all done and it was absolutely great to see it all come together in an extremely fun trip. 100% worth it!

    Our view from the stage at the end of the closing ceremonies.

    GalaCon was amazing. I never felt more welcomed at a con than at the Forum Am Schlosspark. It was amazing having this opportunity to meet so many people in the fandom who had come many different countries in Europe (and even some people all the way from other continents). It has been a true pleasure visiting and I will do my best to make it back next year.

    Also, they have the cutest mascot.