Hey, ever wanted to hear someone talk about the start of this fandom in the same fashion your drunken grandfather rambles on about “the war” during Thanksgiving? This is the article for you. For this site, its a very long article written about the origins on this fandom, back in the day when the business of pony was a tad more simple, and the community was actually one. Indeed we are united as one for the fact that we watch a cartoon made for little girls, but truthfully we’ve outgrown the “community” and become our own country on the internet. And like any mass group of people, there are different minded people who won’t always get along.
Family Appreciation Day coming up here soon, and afterwards Bronycon coverage to let you know what is going on there.
Anyways, In the beginning….
The earliest days of the fandom can only be retold by someone who is older than I, what I’m writing down here is basically what the originals told me. The entire pony thing of course started with the launch of The Hub on 10/10/10, though it would take nine more days for the fires to start. But as many had said, as soon as FiM was seen, people started to talk about it. The catalyst that started pony is said to be the article by Cartoon Brew, an animation website. The end of the creative driven era in TV Animation was the title, and it talked about how basically animation on television had become pure crap. To quote…
“Watching names like Rob Renzetti and Lauren Faust pop up in the credits of a toy-based animated series like My Little Pony is an admission of deafeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry.” – Cartoon Brew
Its ironic this article is what is claimed to be the start of the FiM Fandom and Community, obviously the author didn’t know he was solving the puzzle box from Hellraiser. Everything would begin on 4chan’s Cartoon and Comics board, aka /co/. There had been threads before this article, but like the tradition of the image board, things were discussed and people moved on. After 10/19/10 the place would give birth to the My Little Pony Generals (MLPGs), an ongoing thread that is never ending. This would always cause trouble with other /co/mrades through out time, general threads are despised and many didn’t want to believe that we could be talking about colorful equines that much. Also many assumed it was like three people posting in a thread, and not a population that would go from ten to god knows what now.
My first encounter with ponies was in November, a forum board I was on had an active thread about it. I ignored it at first, but after a week of seeing the thread on the “latest post” widget, I had to see what the hub-bub was about. I was unaware of the reboot, and more or less was thinking why there was suddenly people talking about something from the 1980s in this day and age. Like many, someone had posted up the first few episodes and claimed you gotta try this (like some drug). They made note about who was behind it, and what those guys had did. Dead honest, I didn’t know anything about Lauren Faust, though was well aware of her husband’s work. Like most, you watch the first episode, end up with a desire to watch the second to finish out the story arc, and then find yourself watching the rest. At the time I think there was only the first 5 episodes.
It was Derpy Hooves that brought me to /co/ and the MLPGs, the fact people were pulling no name background characters and actually giving them names, personalities and drawing fanart of them. And this is where I joined up with the community. The MLPGs of the early days were a totally different world. Everyone was a brony, used terms like brohoof, everypony, and other slang from the show. Trolls were parasprites and people said spoke of Love and Tolerance as something other than a moral motto. (Truthfully in my book, Love and Tolerance was about not going off on trolls and haters, and the fact we were all people watching a cartoon aimed for young girls).
The MLPGs at this point was the center of the community, because there was basically no community out there. I’m sure on some random sites there was groups forming, but if you wanted anything related to the show, you went to the MLPGs. They were chalked full of all the creative powers in the fandom, artists drawing things and posting them left and right. Stories had yet to evolve into massive fanfics, was just short stories and blurps that got posted as an image. Episodes were not available in HD and for awhile not even downloadable. If you wanted to see ponies, you went to PensivePony. Mentos would quickly come out with the first downloads, namely made from the HubWorld player (which required to wait a week before you could download the episode of the previous week). Internet wise there was no slew of websites, no Equestria Daily or Derpy Hooves, nothing but a now dead forum board and the MLP Community Wikia.
In the December months, things would start rolling. Archive of 413chan would create the MLPG Archive, a system used to record all threads while letting people find the MLPGs without searching /co/’s main page. They would also found Ponibooru, an image depository. DerpyHooves.com would come around 12/17, though our page sported the look of being from 1999 and was mainly a simple hub for finding all the episodes and other random links that were appearing on the web. The population of fans at this point were doubling all the time. Someone on /co/ use to keep track of the average posts per day (a graph that obviously just kept climbing). At the end of the month we had our first hiatus from the show, and kept ourselves busy during those two weeks. Some even feared the fandom might die out a little due to this break….again, obviously wrong about that. Its also when the seeds of disaster were planted for the big 4chan blow up at the end of February.
January would roll around, and the community would shift into high gear. PMVs were now being produced regularly, high def episodes became available through TrollHD, fanfics were transforming from short stories to multiple chapter stories. A few /co/mrades had been wandering around other boards on 4chan, or well ‘raiding’ people with ponies to see what kind of reaction they would get. They would do this to /b/, the most chaotic board of them all. Strangely enough, a bunch of people in /b/ liked ponies, and the board gave birth to its own MLPGs.
Come February the entire business of pony was turning into serious business. Equestria Daily started at the end of January and did provide a useful service. Before EqD if you wanted to see what you missed, be it new artwork, videos or stories, you had to dig through the archive and all the threads you missed. Basically EqD bundled that up for you, which is why it was dubbed the /co/ blog at the time. What really made EqD popular was the fanfics and the use of google docs to post them. By this point DH was trying to collect fanfics, but our entire site (ran only by me) was pure HTML, and what stories did get added were added by hand. Some of them I typed out by hand because the only ‘copy’ of the story was a picture from /co/.
The end of February would come Pony Chernobyl, its been given many names over the past year but I like mine the best. This is when the reactor core of the community housed on 4chan exploded, sending radioactive pieces of itself upon the internet. After this, nothing was ever the same as those early days, and definitely end of an era. The /b/ generals were in full force, and so were the trolls and haters on /b/. Their board being all that is chaos didn’t include ponies, so they tossed porn and gore at the community. /co/ itself had stopped using the term brony at this point, as the /b/ community started to call themselves /b/rony. We tried using /co/lts, but that didn’t really stick. We had our own haters, but the /co/ side of things were civil, just people who came in, saged the thread and bitched about keeping it in one thread, or why the hell did we like ponies, and what was the need for a thread to be going 24/7 (still assuming there was like 10 of us in there).
The basic chain of events.
2/26/11 (Saturday) – A 4chan mod decides it’d be funny to attempt to purge /b/ of ponies. Mass bannings happen during the early evening, whole threads being banned. The guys from /b/ resist and basically flip the bird to the mod, continue to try and have MLPGs, while the rest of /b/ screamed and shouted for blood. Gore and porn rained down upon their heads. /co/ would chuckle at the accident, though some of us worried about shit going down on our side.
2/27/11 (Sunday) – Everything runs normal through out the day in the /co/ MLPGs. On the /b/ side the fight was still going on. The Mod has grown tired of this shit and /b/’s refusal to get out and go to /co/, so the mod the mod took it to /co/. Again with the banhammering of whole threads. /co/ is now outraged, most of the contributors get banned, and of course the rest of /co/ cheers the mod on for purging the ponies. I left the generals early that night, figured it would blow over.
2/28/11 (Monday) – Total chaos on /co/. Somewhere in the night, the “Thread Marker”, an image used for the 413chan archive to mark what thread on /co/ was the general, was banned. Basically the entire first 5 pages of the board was nothing but pony related. A mixture of people starting generals, meta threads of trolls and haters laughing, and somewhere a spammer trying to piss the mod off. The chaos would last into the early evening, when a sticky would appear on /co/ with many rules to follow.
Stay in one thread. Do not post pony pictures outside of MLPGs. Do not post pony threads anywhere but /co/. Trolls and Haters to cut all their meta threads.
I always assumed the mod didn’t know (or care) that there was two communties of pony fans existing on 4chan. /co/ got hit because of the constant /b/ generals despite everyone saying no, and the mod figured it was people from /co/ resisting. Either way despite the rules the mod would continue to purge the pony plague. This time he called out a raiding party from the /b/ residents and aimed at the sites, claiming this is where we gather to “raid” /b/. Listed was Equestria Daily and Lauren Faust’s deviant art account (“their creator”) and the newly created Ponychan. Ponychan got DDOS’d, and nothing else happened. No horrid comments on Faust’s DA account, no spamming on EqD. I did confirm that Ponychan did get a DDOS, I had always assumed the crappy server it was on had collapsed when the /b/ raiding party all rushed in to look at the site. And actually it was a combo of most, the server lasted about 30 seconds against the DDOS, because it was crap.
But this would end the first era of ponies for everyone. The MLPGs of 4chan were never the same after this. People stayed, but people also left. Many of the big creative names in the community went to the newly formed FiM board on 413chan, many of the /b/ people went to Ponychan. And for the first time, this fandom was not one.
That has become a topic of recent, something that is creating a dynamic shift in the fandom. We call ourselves a community but we are no longer one. We are a country, we are united as one under the fact that we all watch this show, but within our own ranks we are split into different parties. Its only natural when it comes with something like this, with the population that we do have. There is going to always been different types of fans, those who consider the business of pony to be nothing more than a hobby and a past time, and those who will take the morals of this show to the extreme, and make it a lifestyle and beyond. Unified love and tolerance is a joke, because bottom line it is totally against human nature. We can try our best, and we’ve done our best, but there are always going to be people who don’t mix together.
PonyArchive is a major example, and the reaction from that has caused the different sides of the fandom to notice themselves. Yeah, there are people out there who feel that Hasbro is entitled to let us pass around these episodes, and will toss aside love and tolerance to give Hasbro the bird. Simple facts. Hasbro is an international company that is aware of us. They have DVDs coming out, and they know they can make a profit. What gets made as a DVD isnt’ up to them, but the people who are buying the DVDs. Sadly that is not us, but retailers, who are probably pretty oblivious to this fandom. Easily the DVDs are seen as nothing more special than another straight to DVD Barbi movie to these guys. There’s been a lot of turmoil over that, people who claim they won’t bother buying the DVDs unless they get a box set and blu ray, and in some cases have been down right nasty about it.
In short, don’t despair about the community, just find a place with like minded people. There are plenty of people who do not take it to the extreme.