In this entry I'm probably going to not try hard enough to give enough context for a reader who doesn't know the MLP:FiM fandom. So I guess it's written for fans, especially people who know/have attended GalaCon before. But I'll try to explain what I'm talking about at least a little bit where necessary. Or maybe I'm not going to go that far into details. We'll see.
After 2 years without a GalaCon in person (because of COVID), there finally was one last week in Ludwigsburg. When in 2019 it was officially announced that there will be one in 2020, I and others were happy to hear that GalaCon was not one of the My Little Pony fan conventions that quit because the fandom was finally shrinking after a surprising grouth since 2011. I always thought badly of the Bronycon organisers for ditching the project as soon as it seemed that it might not be an easy yearly money printing operation any more. GalaCon is different and I expect the foundation behind it to continue to organise events as long as there are people willing to organise them and some fans willing to attend them. But nobody planned with the pandemic of course. So, I and others were even happier that the plans for the next in-person convention weren't cancelled. As it has turned out, the fandom didn't shrink into a tiny puddle of half-heartedness, like it was predicted by some in 2019. GalaCon started out as the European MLP fan convention because not enough people thought it worthwhile to start conventions in their European countries at first. Since then, several other MLP conventions have been held and some of them became a yearly expectance. And now, years into the pandemic, there are more MLP convensions in Europe than ever before. It seems that the USA weren't guiding the trend in this case, contrary to what almost everybody expected. I'm not saying the fandom grew in the last three years. I think the opposite is likely true. But it sure is still thriving and lots of (not huge but worthwhile) in-person events are happening this year and are planned for next year. The fact that attendance at GalaCon 2022 wasn't much smaller than in other years may be because many wanted to have one last GalaCon and couldn't in the last two years. We'll see how it goes next year. I'll assume that there will be another one of them next year. By the way, it's not quite true that GalaCon didn't happen at all in Ludwigsburg in 2020 and 2021. A few people still came and met outside the Forum. In some cases because they couldn't cancel their travelling arrangements and hotel rooms, in other cases because they don't live too far away.
steeph at GalaCon 2022
I was, like at almost every GalaCon in Ludwigsburg, a vendor, selling some of my engraved LED pictures. So I didn't take much time away from the vendor table during opening hours. But as always, I still saw and met a lot of things, ponies and people. I didn't have any time to make new LED pictures in the last three years, since the last GalaCon. But I still had enough from earlier to fill the table.
I just accepted that it's not really interesting enough to describe everything that I saw, mention everybody that I talked with and explain everything that I learned. But here is a list of things determined somewhat noteworthy by me right now. I mean, I'll try to make it shorter. I don't know if I can. (Spoiler: I stopped trying too hard after just a few sentences. Who cares?)
Starting on Friday, there was a DJ with a mobile set at the quare in front of the forum, playing mostly electronic music from the fandom that I know and like but also performing similar music. That meant that the cops this year already found a reason to interrupt on Friday. Good cop calmed bad cop down and we agreed that the lack of a permit for the live music isn't actually relevant because we were bothering nobody and that Rainbow Dash is cool.
There wasn't much time for setting up the table. I always take too long for that. But I had enough up when the doors opened to show what the table was about. I sold a few pictures over the two days, making just a bit more than I payed for tables, entry tickets, traveling and hotel, but not enough to pay for all materials. But I bought those years ago. So I'm just glad that I could visit GalaCon more or less for free again this year. From behind my table I also met a bunch of people, including some that I know but only ever meet at GalaCon. I had some nice conversations without leaving the table. And I liked every time somebody stopped just to tell me that they like my LED pictures.
As usual I missed all the panels, games and other sessions because somebody had to be at the table pretty much at all times and my helper couldn't be there all day either. But I took some minutes here and there to visit other tables. I was stunned by some of the art. I was happy to see old acquaintances who are also regularly vendors at GalaCon and I was glad to still find a very big variety of different fan-made merch and different art. A lot of stickers this time. But as usual not many t-shirts and I again didn't get one in my size. Except for the official con shirt. But those are always very cheap, don't last long but cost a lot of money. I did get a pile of used pony t-shirts, though. Zunt brought his private shirts as part of his final sell-out.
As always the first chalk drawings started to appear on Friday. On Saturday there were many more than ever before. There was no rain during the entire weekend. But that alone can't explain why there were so many more chalk drawings on Saturday than on any other GalaCon Saturday. And there were even more on Sunday. People continued and added pictures way into dawn. Some of these drawings are really stunning. But it's also interesting to watch them develop, to watch how they are made. The result may look kind of magical sometimes. But seeing how it's done reveals that it's learnable skill that creates that look. There are some pictures of some chark drawings attached. I made way more photos of them. This is just a selection of a few that I like for different reasons.
Prince Whateverer (YouTube, Bandcamp) was at the concert. I like his songs (lyrics, music, voice). Some of the songs he writes are so strong if you knwo the context or the inspiration for them. For some I don't really knwo what they are about. But those sound good, too. Too bad the sound at the concert wasn't mixed properly. Maybe it sounded right from the monitor speakers, I don't know. But it was pretty bad from right in front of the stage, except when you were standing right in front of of the tweeters. I enjoyed the performance anyway. We has a band now, which is great! I only saw him perform alone before, with the rest of the instruments as playback. I took the opportunity to get a CD and get it signed. If I had tried I probably could have had a chat and/or a beer with him later at the pub. But he had enough people around himself whenever I saw him. He probably wouldn't have enjoyed more fans talking at him. I'm just glad I got to talk to him for a minute before he left.
Blackened Blue (YouTube, Bandcamp), another metal musician from the UK who is in the MLP fandom, was great, too. I hadn't heard him before But his stuff is definitely worth checking out. Some good remixes of recent songs from The New Generation, among many original songs.
Zunt sold out and ended his side-business. If you don't know who Zunt is, well, it doesn't really matter to you. But Zunt has been well known for buying and selling pony merch from very early on in the fandom. He imported licensed and fan-made merch from the USA and traveled through Germany selling it at brony meetups and later also at GalaCon. At this year's GalaCon he sold the last of his stuff, including his tombola wheel and raffle box. People who know his role in the German brony community can imagine how I felt taking a symbolic photo of him selling his last plushie, and sitting behind his empty vendor table. I was glad to catch that little, sort of historical moment.
The were also two new vendors this year. I mean, there are usually new vendors every year. I don't keep track of everybody. But these two I'd like to mention. This one guy (apparently I didn't remember to write down his name) decorated glass jars with landscapes and pony figurines and they look really great. He didn't have his own table in the vendor hall, just part of somebody else'd table. I guess maybe this was the reason that they didn't sell that well. Because they really look amazing. There are a few pictures of his work below. And if I find a webpage to link to, I'll add the link here. (Well, I didn't.)
The other new vendor that I talked with wasn't officially a vendor. She tried to sell some MLP-themed bracelets outside the venue. She was sent away by staff before she could sell anything. When she tried again outside of the property ground that belongs to the venue, she apparently was threatened, or at least harshyl told to stop in order to not get into serious trouble. I don't know why anybody thought it necessary to tell her and her dad that selling things here without a permit would be illegal. A 7-year-old trying to make 2 bucks didn't hurt anybody at all. I offered her to take half of one of my tables. But when we spoke on Sunday they had already given up because she was too intimidated.
One other vendor that I'd like to mention. I mean, there would be more with products and art worth presenting. But then I'd take several more weeks until I finish this entry, and that isn't my intention with this writeup. So, this painter of whom I have to look up the name again (Yeah, this entry still seems to be work in progress even though it isn't.) had this painting at her table. She had several very good painting. But this one stood out to me and made me stop at her table every time I passed it, whether I wanted to or had time to or not. There's a picture attached. It's not so much what this piece expresses, but rather how it speaks to me. The style, technique, but also the character, her expression and the setting. That's one of the few times I've seen a pony painting and thought "Now that is real art!" There are lots and lots of really great drawings and paintings that came out of the brondydom. The MLP fandom of the last decate is kind of known for that. But only very few, less than a handful, stick out to me like this. I'm not an artist and I don't know art. So I won't try to describe the painting any further. It's the one of Fluttershy below in the attachments.
The Future Of The Fandom
Some people have voiced their negative or at least less optimistic outlook on the development of the fandom, especially in terms of size, at the last GalaCon in 2019. We were all glad back then that GalaCon wasn't one of the MLP fan conventiosn that announced plans of ending things. The future of the fandom is safe, I'm sure of that. It just couldn't keep growing, especially at the fast rate many bronies were used to. And after the 4th generation series ended, it's to be expected that people move on. Now, three years later, GalaCon still had a good amount of attendees. It wasn't the fullest the venue ever was during a GalaCon weekend. It was probably just right. Very diverse and enough visitors so you definitely couldn't say "hi" to everybody in just two and a half days, but not so full that you couldn't calmly stroll through the halls at almost any time.
Sunday after closing I took some time to talk more to random people, about the show and its developments, the new generation, the fandom and its developments, other fan conventions and fan events and their development. It was so nice to meet those nice people again after a 2 year long hole of no events!
I thought I'd summarise what I gathered people think of the new generation and how they expect the fandom will develop. But I didn't make a survey or something and the conclusion may, in the end, not really top what most people said on the topic even before season 9 of the G4 show ended: The fandom will shrink, but the core of the fandom will stay, and G5 will have to be good if Hasbro wants a sizeable fandom to continue to exist at all. The movie was promising. There is potential. The actual G5 show hasn't started yet. So it may use that potential and keep a good amount of bronies around. I'd like that. I hope it will be a show that I can enjoy watching. But I'm not sure whether that (for me) would be a show that's very much like the previous one, or one that takes standards (both storytelling and animation) to another level.
There are a bunch of photos with descriptions attached. Most of the photos aren't manually edited at all and most of the descriptions have typos (probably). I will probably reduce image resolution and increase JPEG compression to save space on the server. The JPEG files from my GRIII (the compact camera that I took to GalaCon) are huge. Just ask if you want an original.