It's hard to stand out in the sensory ping-pong that is New York Comic-Con. One way to do so? Be a boy proclaiming your fondness for Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, two ponies (one a pegasus!) in the My Little Pony universe. A "herd census" places the overall number of such fan-men and boys—known as Bronies (bros + ponies), i.e., the fervent fans of the Hub series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, currently in its third season—at about 7 to 12.4 million in the United States. (Mind you, these numbers are an estimation.) Frequently left to populate the online communities of Pony fan sites like Equestria Daily and Derpy Hooves, New York Comic-Con gives them a bricks and mortar spot to meet, mingle, and talk ponies at formal and informal gatherings over the four days of the event. When I arrived yesterday to New York City's Javits Center, an otherwise pretty generic convention block, on the first day of Comic-Con, I found it humming with the syncopated electric thuds of people beating each other up at Marvel's new role-playing game and dotted with men and women dressed like characters from their favorite video game series—some wielding massive swords. With all that in the background, Bronies, our pony fanboys, seem, well, a little too huggable.
After all, the world of Equestria, the ponies' planet, is full of pastels and flowing pony manes that are a mashup between Farrah Fawcett's famous locks and the hair of the ladies in Jem and The Holograms. And wings, lots of fluttering wings. Pony story lines revolve around feelings, caring, friendship, acceptance, learning, tolerance and love. Nevermind that Bronies have continually iterated that Hasbro and Hub have a wonderful product with great voice actors and strong storylines on their hands—they've oft been faced with the stereotypical judgments of your average under-enlightened middle-school bully.