For many Bronies, the love of the show comes not from, well, the show, but the community that surrounds it – the authors writing great stories, the music artists producing beautiful songs, and the loons on the forums. Although some websites (including ourselves) try to include some focus on the community, this is usually restricted around show news and the larger names in the community. CartsBeforeHorses, creator of new website ‘FiMFandom‘ hopes to change this by creating a blog solely focused on community work, becoming a one-stop shop for everything Brony. As a new ‘Friend of TDO’, we chatted to him about the website, the fandom and, of course, R34.
When did you get the idea to start FiMFandom, and what’s your aim for the website?
I got the idea around the beginning of August. I was chatting with a friend, DerpyGrooves, who is a somewhat well-known musician in the fandom, and we were just talking about some of the other fan sites. He noticed that there was a lack of coverage of the musical side of the fandom, as well as the arts and crafts side. Also, I had recently joined a group on FimFiction called the interview group and had already conducted a few interviews. So I wanted to go more in depth with the creators than some of the other sites – and from that, FiMFandom was born.
My aim is to provide a unique insight and in depth coverage into the Brony community. With the creators, what better way to do that then letting them speak for themselves in interviews? For the news type articles, I tend to go rather in depth and present analysis that other blogs might not do. Also, I aim to represent some of the international fandom. Some of the problems I’ve noticed with a few other blogs is that they tend to assume everyone is American – whereas I try and get in touch with creators all across the world and cover international Brony news. I look for creators that are overlooked as well as [those that are] famous – I want to promote them through my blog and help them get famous.
What do you think is the most promising side of the community, in terms of creativity?
As a writer myself, I might be inclined to answer fiction. That is my creative contribution at least. I am in the process of writing a novel length fic at the moment. I have also seen some very promising work by others. On the other hoof though, the fan fiction community could use a lot of improvement – for one, a lot of them could be great writers if they learned proper grammar and syntax.
I actually started the largest grammar related group on FimFiction to help with that. Also, fiction is almost its own category in terms of creative endeavor. For one thing, no one gets paid for it. It’s not like artwork or plushies or music where you can sell it. So it is understandable that there might be some quality issues associated with it - most people, myself included, write as a labor of love in our free time.
Additionally, there are the barriers to entry. On fiction, it’s rather low. To write a fanfic, all you need is arguably a working keyboard and internet access. So there is a LOT of subpar stuff you have to wade through; whereas with music, you have to invest in recording equipment and instruments. So there are a lot of fanfics out there. Also, you need to invest a lot of time to enjoy fanfics. Music you can listen to in the background while you are doing other things. Videos take like five minutes to watch. You can look at dozens of artwork pieces in a few minutes. Fics take a time investment.
On FimFiction, 1,000 views on a story is something to be celebrated. 1,000 views on deviantArt, you can get rather easily. 1,000 views on a song or vid on YouTube, and you ask yourself what you are doing wrong! So for that reason, fics tend to be the most overlooked area of the fandom – which is sad because I love writing and reading as well. I guess the benefit is that it is a close knit community; I regularly chat with and interview famous authors for my site, whereas a lot of animators or musicians that I have reached out to won’t give me the time of day – which is unfortunate. If I ever get to interview the folks behind even one of the quality MLP animated works on YouTube, it’ll be a day of celebration.
Art is another good area, though. I have seen many artists who I could never hope to draw like them if you held a gun to my head. A lot of them do take commission and plan on being full time artists, so in terms of success later on; they might be the best example I have seen of future professionals. Music is another area where a lot of them want to go big later on, but the problem is that there isn’t that many of them who meet standards of quality yet. Also there is a HUGE abundance of electronic music which is fine, but I would love to see other genres better represented like rock or folk or jazz or heck, even country! But part of that is a barrier to entry; you can make electronic music very easily on the computer. Also, it has the added bonus of getting popular very easily. Those other sorts of music aren’t high in demand, and they also require more time and money invested. Whereas on the radio, those genres I mentioned that aren’t too popular in the fandom tend to dominate.
So out of the groups I just mentioned, in terms of who will go on to do great things after the fandom dies down…probably artists. My sister is one example of that. She is actually going to art school right now and she has done a few MLP drawings that are very good including the banner for FiMFandom itself, as well as the cover art for one of my fics!
Where does this fandom rank compared to others you may have encountered with regards to the amount of fan made content?
As far as I know, we’re number one. Star Trek produces a LOT of fan fiction, and some of it has even been novelized and sold. But there isn’t too much art. There isn’t ANY music. There are no Spock or captain Kirk or Captain Picard plushies. There are no clay sculptures of the Enterprise. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sonic, Pokémon, etc. may come close – but again, other than fanfic (and a lot more art than Star Trek) there aren’t too many other creative endeavors. Whereas with MLP, if you can think of it, chances are that there are dozens of creators doing it; so in terms of diversity, we are number one. And I say this as a fan of every one of the aforementioned series.
But amount? Like, weighing everything equally? We’re probably in the top ten, but haven’t reached number one yet. I mean, Star Trek has been going on for decades and decades and has made an impact on popular culture. Any random Joe on the street knows who Captain Kirk is, who Spock is. In another few decades? Who knows, MLP may very well be towards the top. Particularly if we get new series like Star Trek did. As for now, it is still kind of an underground thing. The random Joe on the street has no idea who Pinkie Pie or Princess Celestia are.
So what’s your view on ‘unsavoury’ fan creations (r34 and horror/gore) and do you think it should have a place in the community?
I personally don’t partake. However, there are those that do and that’s their right to do. I have interviewed a few people who write r34 fics, (along with other, rated everyone things) and they all seem like normal people to me. The policy on my site is that everything is welcome, though I might not show pictures of explicit content or reach out to those creators in the first place.
But if they wanna be on there, I’d be more than happy to accommodate them as long as the front page of the site is SFW – so if you draw NSFW pics, it may pose a problem since I tend to showcase pictures on the front page. But if you write fanfic, then as long as nothing overly sexual is mentioned in the interview, that’s fine. So I have no problem linking to it, but I won’t display it on the site itself. As for place in the community, my view on that is reflected in my site policy as my site does make a claim to represent the community.
What are your future plans for the website? Anything we should be aware of?
Hmm…I will probably continue to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Just finding people to interview and posting the interviews. When S4 starts to air, you might see more review type posts from me. As of now, my only review is Equestria Girls, because that’s the only thing that’s come out (other than the comics, which I don’t really keep up with) since I started the site. Also, when I have interviewed enough people I may do a monthly/weekly/ however long ‘follow-up post’ on them to showcase what new stuff they’ve done since I interviewed them. Those would be more content-based than creator-based and be more like the types of fan made content posts you see on EQD, except that I would not accept submissions from creators that aren’t affiliated with the site, at least at first.
But that might not be until a while when I really have a broad swath of the fandom represented right now. For instance, I’ve still only ever interviewed one musician, so interviewing more musicians is high up on my to-do list. Also, I may start accepting guest articles and submissions. I already do accept them, but I mean once people actually send them to me! For instance, I’d really love some more how-to articles. ‘How to write good MLP Fan Fiction’ was written by me and is the only instructional article on the site. I’d love to have more.
The usual generic question is ‘best pony/episode’ – but in a slight twist, what is your favourite fanfic, song and artwork?
Ooh. My favorite fanfiction is “It’s A Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door.” That one was from back in the early days of MLP fanfic before FimFiction was created but still holds up today, even in spite of the fact that most of it is no longer canon. It’s not on FimFiction but it’s on Google Docs, the Pony Fiction Archive, and I believe on EQD. I like it because it’s a suspenseful adventure and has great characterization.
Favorite artwork… Hmm, that’s even more difficult but here is a link. This is particularly stunning but again, like with fanfic, there’s so much good stuff that it’s hard to choose.
Favorite song? Good Ol’ Days by the Living Tombstone, JackleApp, and Mic the Microphone. It’s rare that you find a song in this fandom that could stand on its own outside of ponies, but this one is it. It also has a great message as well, that everybody believes that the time that they grew up in was the best, but that we all have to move along and allow others to have their own memories and make their own experiences. Also, it has probably the three best musicians in the fandom all collaborating together. That is the best part of our fandom, in my opinion… that we all respect each other and work together to produce something good. Even though these musicians are all from a variety of musical backgrounds (Dubstep, hip hop, and folk) they still fit together seamlessly. Magic of Friendship, and all that.