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How Cartoon Brew Spawned Bronies

One of Cartoon Brew’s most popular archived posts is my October 19, 2010 commentary about the end of creator-driven animation. The post, which discussed a common topic within industry circles, took on an unexpected life of its own among younger readers and spawned the well-known “Brony” fandom, which is the celebration of the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by male viewers. If you’ve ever wondered how my post led to Bronies, here’s Scott Spaziani explaining its history. My role in the movement pops up around the 6-minute mark. You’re welcome, guys.

  • As everyone has said TU started with all this :D, I tell you AMID (the new John K.)

  • tonk82

    Looking again for a huge amount of comments, using My little pony for it? They are laughing about how out of context and silly your statements were, and you’re still proving them right.

  • stavner

    So you admit defeat.

    • amid

      Defeat? More like a proud papa.

    • Inkan1969

      I really doubt that Amid stays up all night fretting about MLP having a fandom.

      OTOH, while Amid’s article might’ve made some people notice this show, I think the fandom exists only because of the show’s own strengths. I really don’t think people are putting all that time on this show for the sole reason of “sticking it” to Amid; I’m definitely not. The article was just the first step in the long journey.

      BTW: At 33 minutes, they have that “Art of the Dress” scene that touches on the same issue that this blog holds as important: creative talent kept from doing their job by clueless suits.

      • “Suited for Success” is definitely one of the more interesting episode. That was essentially a metaphor for clueless people interfering the creative process of animation.

        The show’s staff admitted that was the case and added that the episode was their way of venting their frustrations with the industry.

      • Taco Wiz

        No they didn’t. Where? Lauren Faust confirmed that it was NOT a satire on the animation industry. Source, please.

      • I had to search around a bit to find exactly what she said (found a quote on EqD). Fair enough, it wasn’t exactly poking fun at the animation industry, but it is something many work-for-hire artists went through, and many can relate to it.

        (I could’ve swore one of the animators said it felt like that, but I can’t find the exact quote)

      • Okay, I found the write-up. It’s NOT from Faust, but from the director. Here’s a writeup from last September’s BroNYCon, when he made a guest appearance

        “Apparently Suited For Success was in many ways about writers/boarders blowing off steam under a micromanaging director or corporate influence. They’ve all been there, and it was really cathartic. He kinda mentioned that out of the blue, and when I compared it to “Stimpy’s Cartoon Show”, he agreed with the parallel. (God it was fun talking animation shop. Haven’t been able to do that in years.”

  • Jonathan

    This is why we love you, Amid.

  • A.C.M.

    Yeah, thank you, Amid. Frankly I could do without the very sexist, misogynistic, dudebro fandom, but tbh if it weren’t for your post that made it popular I would’ve never given the series a glance.

    I just hope the people who work on the series will continue to ignore pandering to the brony demographic, and instead just keep on making an entertaining children’s cartoon like they have been.

    • Matthew Koh


      What’s that word mean?

      • Inkan1969

        Most fandoms are overwhelmingly male. The MLP fandom is not an exception. Since there’s no one out to tell fans what they can and can’t do, some nasty behavior can get through, and that behavior becomes the squeakiest wheel. I try to steer away from the offensive stuff, and I’d never hold that stuff against the show itself.

      • Jabberwocky

        Um. What fandoms do you pay attention to? Because there are a LOT of fandoms (especially anime fandoms, although there are others) which are mostly female. “All” fandoms are not misogynistic. I’m still pretty new to the MLP fandom, but it seems like there’s at least as many older women enjoying the show as they are older guys. Like anything else, I think the site where you see fandom activity influences behavior more than anything: the atmosphere on 4Chan is, I’m sure, pretty different than that on deviantart, even if both groups are talking about ponies.

  • cbat628

    I can honestly say I would not have found out about this without that post, so thanks Amid!

  • Geneva

    Egads! What the heck is this even from? A panel where everyone agrees that shoddy years-old 4chan jokes are not horrifyingly awkward to shout in a crowded room?

    • ThomB

      The sad fact is of any fandom created from the depths of 4chan, is that it’s followed by those who were the ones who browsed 4chan in the first place.
      That demographic, the ones who see no shame in openly following a fandom like this, can only be assumed of not being completely emotionally or socially stable, I mean hence they’re on 4chan. Just sayin’.
      But the result is these individuals try to talk their way out of the criticism outsiders give to the social comfort zone their fandom gives, by being aggressive and outward and praising their source material so that, in their hopes, the critics are proven wrong.

      So I’m still convinced this fandom became so huge because of two reasons, namely the comfort it gives to socially unstable individuals and the self-given justification of liking such a show, and how, as the group grows, they are backed up and encouraged by each other more as more criticism is given.

      I myself got into it for a while, I liked the cute but learning aspects of the show, but the fandom just ruined everything, and made it more than it had to be.

  • You should probably check out Know Your Meme’s video on My Little Pony for a condensed, more comprehensive video (with audio you can actually hear):

  • JR

    Boy, that video just about sums it up, doesn’t it. Wow.

    By the way, has there even been a reason given why Lauren Faust left the show? That whole situation was so weird.

    • Old Man Father Time

      My guess is she left the show because there was apparently a lot of executive meddling from Hasbro and she was annoyed by it even though the studio made the best of their limitations in the final result, and Faust acted graciuos and civil about it in public.

  • matt Sullivan

    I watched the show because of Amid. I thought to myself “Well, if he hates it it must be pretty good”

    And I was right :D

    • joe

      Amid never said the cartoon was bad.

      • Snagglepuss

        Just the death of animation!

  • Scarabim

    I watch the show myself, and I really like it. Clever writing, beautiful production design, likable characters, an interesting fantasy world, great sense of humor, lots of heart without a drop of sap…what’s not to like about it? IMO, if you really like animation, you should be willing to at least sample every genre. What you find might pleasantly surprise you.

  • Seeing that we’re half-way through season 2, this is appropriate. Although I prefer “Ponygoon” to describe myself, but only because the FIM message board I go to is called that (not to mention, “Brony” is a pretty gendered term)

    It took me a while for me to like the show. Almost didn’t because my first episode was “Call of the Cutie” (which is generally agreed to be one of the weaker episodes), but I watched more and fell in love with it.

    So to Pony fans reading this, how would you rank the season 2 episodes aired so far? So far my favorites are “Sisterhooves Social”, “Lesson Zero”, “Secret of My Excess”, and “Family Appreciation Day” (Granny Smith is hilarious)

  • Scarabim

    Since you asked, Charles, my season 2 favorites so far are “Babycakes”, “Lesson Zero”, “Secret of my Excess” and “Luna Eclipsed”.

  • I skipped to the 6 minute mark only to stop it at the 10 minutes mark. His mumbling drove me crazy.

    • Noted. I half blame the audio quality and half blame my presentation ability.

    • Inkan1969

      If the bronycons last, I hope the organizers and presenters learn from their experience and improve the presentations.

  • Herpadoo

    I like how you’re spinning “I made a post about a cartoon show’s popularity that was so histrionic that an entire subculture grew out of people laughing at my ridiculous Chicken Little act” into some kind of accomplishment. Keep reaching for than rainbow, Midz.

    Related question: The death of creator-driven animation (as I assume the birth of the new “Animation Dark Ages”) was some time ago. How do you find the strength to carry on during this new miserable era?

    • Jorge Garrido

      Amid’s post was about the death of creator driven TELEVISION ANIMATION. Why would this be a miserable era for Amid? This is the birth of a new animation renaissance. TV is an vestigial, archaic distribution format.

      The fact is, Amid was right. TV is for the dead and dying.

      Netflix is starting original series. Kevin Smith’s Red State bypassed traditional theatrical distribution and went directly to on-demand streaming. Louis CK used his production company to sell his special directly online and cut out the middle man.

      Did ANYONE with any business sense read Amid’s article?

      • Snagglepuss

        Adventure Time? Ugly Americans? Archer? Regular Show? Beavis and Butthead returning? Super Awesome Mountain? Green Lantern: The Animated Series? Not to mention all the new pilots being picked up! Whether they succeed or not, its still showing that unique animation visions are alive and well! How on Earth is TV dying!?

      • Jorge Garrido

        Because ratings are falling while advertising rates are rising. Sponsors are therefore more reluctant to use television advertising, which is the entire reason television exists.

        There’s great new shows EVERY year. It’s irrelevant whether or not you like them or not. It’s going to take a LONG time for television to die and collapse completely. It will take decades, if it ever happens at all. But Amid’s point was that before this happens completely, television animation is going to be more corporate, less risky, and more centered on franchises.

        Unique animation visions on television are alive and well? Well, I’d say alive, but not well. Not compared to independent animation (which at the moment isn’t sufficiently revenue driven.)

      • Snuggleplus

        Well of COURSE television is corporate! Rocky and Bullwinkle had one sponsor whom they had to answer to. If anything, the more we go into the future with systems like Hulu, Netflix and just more advertisers in place, television is more unique than ever. And of course indie animation will be freer. That’s.why it’d indie. Even Looney Tunes was corporate, its why they were so short and only aired in front of WB cartoons. Amids entry was like coming up to someone and saying “You’re going to.die… Eventually!” Which, like the entry, is a rude and obvious thing to say. Television will die long before television animation btw. We are already at that stage.

      • Snagglepuss

        Soooo many typos…. but the point remains! With a greater influx of diverse advertisers and ways to release media, TV in general, not just animation, has become infinitely more diverse.

        Or you can complain about three tv shows that are meant to appeal to a nostalgia market from the 1980’s.

  • Tedzey

    What a goobers. I’d understand what this guy had to say if he wasn’t eating the microphone!

    • Less of a problem as I go on, also the audio quality of this camera isn’t that good. But I’ll be sure to watch for that in future events.

      • watched it all and found it informative…Tedzey be damned.

  • >Amid writes an article bashing MLP
    >Is totally showed up by the shows popularity
    >Somehow imagines he was the cause of the popularity


    • Ness

      Exactly! Anyone actually involved with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic community will tell you that it all started on 4chan, specifically on the /co (Cartoons and Comics) board. Sorry Amid :c

  • Thanks for the post!

    Oh hey, I have my own tag on Cartoon Brew now! That’s going in the resume.

  • Isaac

    Faust and Renzetti left the show after the second season. Faust left for her own WB project Super Best Friends Forever, and Renzetti hasn’t gone public with his latest work as far as I know. Maybe these A-list animators did feel a little constrained by a toy-based show.

    • Nunya

      So she went from one corporate owned property to another? Something stinks to high heavens on that one, It appeared that Faust loved the ponies, it would have had to have been executive meddling or her talking about them galaxy girls too much. Ill give that super best friends show a shot, but that DC animation block dont give me much hope. WTB moar DCAU plox.

  • Twh

    /co/ here, we’re ashamed that we’re actually, to a certain extent, responsible for this, and you go out and claim to be the one responsible? Even though you’re absolutely not, it’s still a huge shame to spawn a fanbase like this one, why the hell would you even want to be the one who did it? The most respected person in the fanbase is a furry-scalie-otherkin roleplayer, congratulations.

    • amid

      I’m not claiming responsibility for the movement, but acknowledging that others, like Scott Spaziani, feel our article had a significant role in launching Bronies. It’s a claim that’s been made often, such as in this video:

      • DCollard

        Mostly because they don’t know any better.

        /co/ was discussing the show long before you. Its popularity stemmed from a combination of Lauren Faust’s influence, the fact that a good cartoon for little girls somehow came into existence, and /v/ and /b/’s little “Robot Unicorn Attack” event. As it grew more popularity in /co/, /b/ latched onto it, still high from the fumes of “Always” and entered /co/ giving themselves the title of ‘bronies’ and forcing the fandom to grow outward and would eventually leak into various social networking sites where the fandom flourished. It was around the time that /b/ started taking interest that you posted your article.

        I know because I was both here and on this site.
        And you claim no responsibility for the movement? That’s an awfully misleading title.

        But that is obviously not to say that your input did nothing. If it wasn’t for your article, there may not have been enough backlash to force the show into the phenomenon it became.

        Also, please never use “Know your Meme” as a source ever again. Thank you for for your understanding.

      • A comrade

        Here are the links for when the archive is up, or you can see if Google has the pages cached.

        You can clearly see that while the first episode piqued people’s interest, there wasn’t much activity, and how the CartoonBrew article is mentioned in the second episode’s thread.

        I’ve seen your version of events before, it seems to be commonplace among people who actually weren’t there to see the first and second episodes on /co/.

    • A comrade

      DCollard, I’d like to point you to where all /co/ threads are archived. Before CartoonBrew’s article, there were a couple of very minor threads about the show. You can see how there were subsequently a couple of long threads about the CartoonBrew article where people became determined to watch the show. Then, when the second episode aired, people specifically mention that they decided to watch the show because of the CartoonBrew article.

      Your revisionist history about /b/ and whatnot doesn’t actually match the facts.

      • DCollard

        I heard you the first time dear.
        Unfortunately, your links won’t load for me.

      • A comrade

        You can view the Google cache version of the pages, for example

        You can see the article and Amid mentioned several times.

        From the 19th (when the article was published) to the 22nd (when the second episode aired) there were a few threads about the article deriding Amid’s article and Amid in general. Amid may be overblowing his contribution to the rise of the show’s popularity, but his article definitely did increase the initial interest in the show.

        /b/ didn’t take notice of the show until a few weeks later when it became a constant irritation on /co/.

  • your_homework

    Retrospectively, it doesn’t seem surprising that MLP became so big. I mean, Faust is one heck of a talent, to the point where I am surprised Cartoon Network etc let her out of their grasp. Still, that does not negate the feeling that I shared with you that the animators lost something important over the last few years. I mean, MLP may be great (I don’t agree, but I can understand how others might think so), but what if Faust was given more free reign and/or budget to make a show of her own vision rather than having to go for a toy series? MLP may still be her idea of how to implement the toy, but it can’t be as expressive or truly her creation from start to finish like Ward’s Adventuretime. And maybe, this show was her calling and she really wanted to do a show about the toy. But what of other people who don’t want to make a show about toys but are stuck in an era where networks are getting conservative with their budgets?

    To me, the post that spawned this whole thing wasn’t so much a rant against Hub or MLP as much as it was a growing fear that I had as well: This may be the end of creator-driven content. And I think it was valid to state that fear publicly.

    So I guess I am glad to hear that some great artists thrive no matter what. However, certainly not every artist would work well when all TV shows either have to be about a toy or a movie that’s already sold well. I agree with you that the internet will become a place of fundraising talent that cannot or does not want to work within the small confines of corporate advertising, but it certainly would be nice if networks got a bit more willing to give creators their own try. Even if many of their creations are kind of violent or “ugly.”

    Though, several months later, there have been a few creator-driven shows that may have taken off (Bob’s Burgers, perhaps?). Additionally, I would not be surprised if we do see a revival of creator-driven shows when networks that can’t show Spongebob or The Simpsons forever finally take the least-costly risk and get someone so over-achieving and obviously talented such as Faust.

    • Scarabim

      IMO, Lauren took a germ of an idea (the toy line and the original My Little Pony cartoon series) and turned it into something extraordinary. Something akin to spinning straw into gold. And not just *anyone* can do that. I’ve seen creators destroy their own creations (Butch Hartman comes to mind), so I don’t get the fixation on “creator-driven content” being superior to someone taking an already established property and doing great things with it. Look what Frank Miller did with Batman. Or what Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings. There’s a certain genius in bringing in a fresh angle and applying it to an established property and making it work. With “Pony” it worked spectacularly.

      • Great point about Butch Hartman. Creator-driven doesn’t always translate to good.

      • your_homework


        I am not saying that Lauren is not talented (in fact, I said that repeatedly). I am instead suggesting that she might have done something even far far better had complete had creative control. You say that not everyone can do what she did, and I agree. Most artists in this field, I would argue, would not work at all with the toy industry. Again, like I said before, I am fearful of the lack of creative control preventing or inhibiting great animation leaders to do something great because they can’t work within those narrow guidelines.

        Having a vision of a particular book or series and being able to execute on it is fantastic BUT only if it is allowed, specifically with the limited well-trodden works that Hollywood allow to be adapted (or re-adapted). Hollywood studios at least let established directors do their own projects. Peter Jackson had to do three LOTR movies and a King Kong film before allowing a non-well-trodden adaptation for the big-budget spectacle District 9. TV’s far more conservative than that, I’m afraid, and it does look like fewer and fewer are getting less and less creative control (though I am betting that Faust makes a big splash on her next, creator-driven show.)

        So, I think it is alright that we get more of these well-worn works redone. I like seeing Nolan’s interpretation of Batman, for example, even moreso than Inception, which was of his own idea. But I would rather have a system where works with more creative freedom like Inception get made. It’s far more exciting, and every so often you get outstanding works like Ward’s Adventuretime and McCracken’s (w/Faust) Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

  • The internet is speeding up the rate at which pop culture anomalies reach cult status. Star Trek gained a huge following over several decades and the fans swear by it for life. I wonder if My Little Pony will always have a following, or if this new community will treat their entertainment like fast food? Only the newest shows brony!

    On a side note, 4Chan CartoonBrew and YouTube didn’t invent a movement, people watching TV did.

    • Inkan1969

      I expect the fandom to follow the same pattern seen for the old Disney Afternoon shows (“Rescue Rangers”, “TaleSpin”, “Darkwing Duck”) and the old Kids WB shows (“Tiny Toon Adventures”, “Animaniacs”, “Pinkie and the Brain”, “Freakazoid!”). Fandom activity for all those shows was huge when new episodes came out. Once production stopped, activity dried up considerably. But each of those old shows still have one or two fan websites, and people still remember those shows and mention them on /co/. So I expect the “Equestria Daily” website to survive once the show ends. Maybe one or two other websites survive as well. But we wont get the flood of fanart and fanfics we get now.

      • Funkybat

        You are probably right regarding the current Pony fandom. If the show goes downhill or whenever it’s cancelled, there will be a decline in it’s following, but fond remembrances forever for those who were “there.” I was and remain a big fan of those classic Disney Afternoon shows and early Kids WB series. I consider them just about the best animated television series ever made.

        The only excellent series’ from that era I ever hear people regularly geek out about anymore are the Timm/Dini DC Comics shows. I keep hoping that the DA and Kids WB shows will somehow catch on with kids who are currently in the original “intended age group” and experience a revival/immortality the way Scooby-Doo has, but the Boom Studios comics seem to be the closest thing to that likely to happen.

        There are several good & great shows from the late 90s and early 2000s that are pretty much nowhere to be seen on TV today, I suspect MLP will end up in that twilight zone. But who knows, maybe it will be the exception like Invader Zim, and linger around long after its production ends, Star Trek style.

  • Ryoku75

    I’d be quite ashamed if I started a league of fans who tend to have very short-tempers, and have a thing for ponys.

  • Mark Morgan

    For the record, Lauren Faust left the show because she’s pregnant. She’s still working on a consulting basis from home, mostly doing script editing.

    Secondly, Amid, this whole post is disgusting. I was on board with MLP light years before it landed on the Brew. All I had to read was Lauren Faust and I was there! Second, there are a lot of people who have blasted your post! Lauren and her husband Craig McCracken actually came on this site to defend themselves against your uncalled for attacks and NOW YOU’RE CLAIMING CREDIT FOR HER SUCCESS!!!


  • Jorge Garrido

    The presenter did a terrible job of disseminating Amid’s points in his blog post.

    He didn’t understand that Amid’s point about something not creator driven being an anomaly was NOT a contradiction of his post just because the post was entitled “The end of creator driven television.” Amid’s point was about a massive shift away from traditional corporate owned and controlled distribution models like television, networks, etc… that for a time in the 90s were more “creator driven.” Looking back we’ll probably see this time as being aberrant.

    As the internet is supplanting traditional high-cost models of distribution, advertising rates increase, ratings decrease, viewers become more fragmented, more people stop paying for cable, piracy increases, internet distribution becomes more feasible and profitable, and production software and learning increases, television production WILL die. It only stands to reason (and this is supported by hard EVIDENCE, like the clear increase in franchise driven shows and movies which mitigate risk) that less original content will be produced. The studios can’t afford to that that risk, so they rely on the tried and true. I’m not saying that’s good or bad. They’re simply trying to bale water out of the boat for as long as they can. The smart people are learning to swim.

    Amid’s point was NOT an alarmist rant about the end of creativity in animation. It was about a trend towards the corporate model of animation distribution collapsing and how for a time before it completely ends (which could take only a few years or decades, depending on who you talk to) the studios will rely on safe bets like toys, movies and video game cartoons.

    The presenter at one point says, “Who cares? You’re making cartoons!” which is a completely naive and unnuanced look at the choices artists now have before them on how they can make money, how much control they can have, what they want to work on… Who cares? It’s actually one of the things they’ll MOST care about, is “who should i animate for? should i distribute on youtube? should i work for some asshole studio?” etc, etc….

  • Snagglepuss

    The moral? It doesn’t matter that the point of the article was proven completely wrong, and even the toyetic was creator driven in the end. The important thing is: it got attention!

  • Inkan1969

    A year ago, bronies latched onto a background pegasus that happened to be drawn with “derped” eyes. They named her “Derpy Hooves” and made tons of fanart and fanfics of her.

    Well, in a recent episode, the series actually named her “Derpy”. Has that ever happened? Has any TV series with a fan following ever used a fan-invented name in the actual show? I thought there were legal reasons against that.

    • It’s a comic strip, but Catbert from “Dilbert” was originally an unnamed, one-shot character. Fans loved him, however, and wrote to Scott Adams asking him to “bring Catbert back”.

      Scott later said that, when thousands of fans simultaneously name a character for you, it’s a keeper.

    • Funkybat

      I can’t think of any animated TV series that have done this, but it’s rather common with old 8 and 16-bit games. There are several cases where unnamed or differently named game characters got officially renamed or retconned to match what the fans were calling them.

      Though it’s not quite analogous, it also reminds me of the character “Homsar” in Homestar Runner, who was created in response to a poorly typed “letter to Strongbad” someone sent in (unless the creators ginned up the letter itself.)

    • Old Man Father Time

      A fan of Adventuretime made an original character who lives in the Land of Ooo. The staff loved it so much they inserted the character into an episode! Don’t know if they used the same name, though.

  • Ignatian-Mystic


    Amidi, I’ll be honest here. I’m a proud brony, and while I am grateful for the outburst of (in my opinion) ignorance about creator-driven media that you displayed in that article which INDIRECTLY LED TO the brony fandom’s establishment, don’t even TRY to act as if you were the reason for the show’s massive gain of popularity.

    Your article was originally claiming that we were seeing the end of the era where the creators had control of the direction shows went in. Considering this, the very idea of you suggesting that one such show’s fandom was started thanks to you, is extremely hypocritical.

    The only thing you can claim credit for is the backlash of protest that people raised in response to your article. It was those people challenging your point of view (coupled with the talent and handling of the show by Lauren Faust) that started the MLP fandom, NOT your article itself.

    To put it another way, we (that is, the bronies) are the ones who provided the spark that lit the flame– you just supplied the kindling. Again, while I am grateful for you supplying said kindling (as it led to us ‘starting the fire’, so to speak), don’t try to act as if you had a *direct* role in the inception of the Brony community. Your role was a distant and indirect one, at best.

  • Narishia98

    I’ll bet Bronies would have appeared even without you. I had been planning to force myself to watch any show that everyone knows the name of and hates (e.g. Dora, Bob the Builder, Tellytubbies, etc) already, and considering my ability to start things like a wildfire where I live (that is, over the net AND at school) I had just as much a chance to be the founder of Bronies as you claim to be. You only pointed it out first. Any one of us could have done the same thing. Starting the fandom, I mean. You do not have our thanks, Amid. :)

  • Kirbychugirl98

    Here’s the some reasons on how you started the My Little Pony Generation 4 fandom:
    1. You wrote an article about Friendship Is Magic called “The End Of The Creator-Driven Era In TV Animation” that tells people about the end of creator-driven animation.
    2. 4chan looked your article up on /co/ and it made some watch to first episode of the show and ended up liking it.
    3. It spread to /b/ and 4chan started a brony ban 3 years later.
    4. It made the fandom spread to different parts of the web and created sites such as Ponychan and Equestria Daily.
    5. They started setting up songs, videos, stories, art and conventions.

    • Kirbychugirl98

      Pardon me. that was 3 months later, not 3 years later. ^_^”