Review: My Little Phony: Fandom Is Tragic (A Brony Adventure)

At San Diego Comic-Con, the newest episode of the hit series “My Tiny Horsey” is shown before an audience of fans which consists mainly, if not entirely, of adult men. After the show, two fans named Clark and Dane get into a heated argument about how best to enjoy their shared interest as well as whether the older version of the show was better than the more recent adaptation. Dragging their respective best friends along, Clark and Dane engage in a battle of one-upmanship that takes both on a journey to the farthest reaches of sanity. Unfortunately, the cost of their devotion may prove to be heavier than they could have ever imagined.

To many people, the idea of older men being drawn to a show that is specifically designed for young girls is perplexing. Imagine finding out Sam Peckinpah, whose films brimmed with machismo, was secretly a collector of Barbie dolls and various Barbie accessories. Imagine Sin City creator Frank Miller having a special place in his heart for Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. (Actually, on second thought, don’t.) For people like me who just like the show in general, it’s the writing that draws us in. For others, it’s the positive message on the importance of friendship, which is never a bad thing to remind folks of. As far as I know there’s no empirical one-reason-fits-all explanation that can be pointed to for why grown men would like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

Let me be frank for a moment. ”My Little Phony: Fandom Is Tragic” is not a subtle satire, though it is satirical in nature. It is a blunt, in-your-face, scathing rebuke of the more outlandish fans of MLP:FiM (commonly known as Bronies). It pulls no punches as it savages fans who have a love for a show so strong and overwhelming that it crosses over into psychosis. It paints a picture of uber fans Clark and Dane (or “bronies” in this case) as delusional, mentally unhinged losers who have latched onto something that “wasn’t meant for them” in a desperate attempt to feel important and superior, especially to other “bronies.” We’re essentially shown the process of natural male competition and instead of focusing on mating, food, or status; the impetus is a kid’s show. It shows that these kinds of fans ruin what a fandom really should be in the most degrading, blatant and insulting way possible.

However, with that said, it doesn’t mean that the writers of My Little Phony are wrong. I, myself, have seen pictures, read fan-fiction, and even watched videos of things that take “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” into some very dark, sinister, and often times, sexually depraved areas. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s the internet. Stuff like that happens all day, every day and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Before anyone throws “Rule 34” in my face, think of it this way: I support freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But when you have pictures of Pinkie Pie engaging in acts of erotic egregiousness so heinous that it would make the Marquis De Sade throw up, I really don’t think I want to, nor should I be forced to, hear what you have to say.

The writing of this story feels like it was conceived on someone’s tumblr before being made into a script. From the realistic notions of tattoos Clark and Dane get up until styling their hair to be more “pony-like”, both men strive to bring what they believe is “the one true vision” of their favorite show to reality. By the third act, the plot goes to Hell (he said, trying to avoid spoilers) and is, from there, a straight up screed against overly obsessed, obnoxious fans and how it ruins the enjoyment for everyone else. I can understand that sentiment. We all know folks who have an almost slavish devotion to something we don’t know about or like or even understand and make no small effort to profess and defend their love for said media at any occasion. I think the difference between “fans” and the monstrosities that Clark and Dane become in this comic, is that most sane folks, despite loving something very much, know when enough’s enough. They know that there’s a line where it stops being about how much of a brony you are, and it becomes about how much of an ass you are. To be honest, the lesson about how fandom can go awry is very poignant and this comic could’ve used just about any popular show’s fandom if taken to extremes to illustrate their point.

The artwork by Kewber Baal and Ken Haeser is really decent. They took the dark, satirical tone of the book and made it work, drawing the events every bit as cartoonish and silly as the source material they lampoon. Even when showing clips of “My Tiny Horsey” degrading into an orgy of fairy drugs, sex and violence, it’s a consistent tone of irreverence that keeps the comic’s main focus firmly on point. I’d only recommend this story to people who can take a joke and have strong constitutions when it comes to having your fandom made fun of.

Make no mistake of the title cover, this comic isn’t about bashing My Little Pony itself or telling you you’re an idiot for simply enjoying a piece of pop culture media. It’s okay to love a show, even if other people think you shouldn’t because you’re not the target demographic. It’s okay to be a huge fan and be inspired by something you enjoy. In some cases, it’s even okay to incorporate positive lessons from a show you enjoy. But, in the words of the great Wil Wheaton; “Don’t be a dick”. Don’t make a TV show/movie/media franchise the only thing in your life that gives you any semblance of joy. Don’t make it the only thing in your life, period. Don’t be like the jackasses in this comic. Don’t force your views on others. Don’t think your opinions are the only ones that are valid. For, as this comic demonstrates, down that path lies madness.

My Little Phony: Fandom is Tragic (A Brony Adventure) is written by Mike Moreci and Steve Seeley and illustrated by Ken Haeser and Kewber Baal. It’s published by Dynamite Entertainment.

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