EEnE Slashfics, Interviews, Awkwardness: HarmonyCon Coverage Day 2 and 3 by

Rolling Pone: Dukie Does Dallas
Ed, Edd and Eddy Slashfics and Awkwardness at  HarmonyCon: Day Two and Three
Foal (Not Raoul) Duke, International Affairs, Addison, Dallas, 08 -10 Feb 2019
 
There are photos of the con schedule, maps & guests at the end so you know what I refer to.

So, readers, BABSCon has just finished, and I'll be getting onto that shortly, but in the meantime, we have to cover the rest of HarmonyCon, the spiritual successor to Nightmare Nights Dallas, and local con for most of our National Office (the shed behind Capper's hydroponics lab).
    The Saturday saw plenty of fun events, and plenty of awkwardness. Aside from the usual displays of dakimakuras (body pillows for those not educated in the true art form of anime) and other art showing small ponies with huge asses angled toward the viewer for any apprehensive parent to wonder is this safe for work/my kids?, we had some cringe of our own for we were doing...
    INTERVIEWS.
    It went about as well as you'd think. After the break, read the full thing, with videos!
     #horsenewsmlp #ponytv

Pic by @teaandstrumpet


Panel: Show Staff Q&A
This was the first big event of the day, and all three of the guests were in attendance: Elley Ray Hennessey (voice actor, Mistmane and others); Big Jim Miller (Director* of MLP, who has worked on other shows, including Ed, Edd n Eddy); Tony Fleecs (comic artist, IDW).
    First, the con chair, who was hosting the panel, had a series of questions that had been pre-submitted on cards; the second part was the usual line-up Q and A. This was a good idea as it allowed them to ensure they covered some important basics and possibly things that don't get discussed much.
    As per usual, they patiently fielded all of the interesting, inane, or insane questions that fans might want to ask them, and took the time to provide some valuable insight into how the creative process of a cartoon works.
    Having the Director and a VA present, rather than just a VA-only panel, allowed for people at different ends of the production line to give their own perspectives to the same questions, and sometimes in ways you wouldnt expect.
    For example, the issue of collaboration between the voice actors and the director and how that impacts the storyboarding of animation was something that got brought up, and other issues such as a comic artists guidance for characters being informed by the VAs (sometimes), in a similar way.
    Of course, it wouldnt be a pony convention without the staff making some spirited attempts to pick on one another, upstage each other, and even frighten the con chair hosting the panel by forcing him to show them the question cards and then deliberately picking the most provocative ones And, of course, they asked each other things that generally implied the poor host briefly lost control. Tony and Jim then came out with this gem:

    Jim: "We're legally not allowed to read fanfiction! Or write it! As Ive said before, on many occasions: if we read something and we happen to produce a story idea that's even vaguely similar, that would give the author grounds to sue us!"
    Tony: "Come on [Jim], it's alright; you have that huge folder of Ed, Edd n Eddy slashfiction on your desk, dont you?"

Oh boy. As the audience burst into howls of laughter, I remembered that comic writers and artists have this sense of humour as a rule. I had an interview with Tony later. I knew I was in for a bumpy ride.
_____________________
*Mr Miller wishes to make it clear that he is the Director, and not Producer, of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and that the mistake has caused him considerable distress. We would like to inform our readers that we wish to apologise, and that he can put down the two-by-four** and let security escort him out of the office now.
**His lawyer, known only as Plank.



Panel: Back to the Future - Twilight Time and Anxiety
At the same time as this, we had the poignant and touching talk by Autumn Dawn, philosopher, about the fan favourite episode It's About Time and how it relates to the viewer and their personal anxieties and worries. Of course, this was applicable to children and adults alike, but she worked to make it more relatable to a more adult, real life setting (outside of our manchild bubble, and everyone has a manchild bubble, we just like to be honest about it unlike West Ham supporters; at least we didn't tear up the seats when Twilight got wings).
    Autumn did this with considerable aplomb, and knew the audience and episode seemingly inside out. I think there should've been a few more people to make it truly worthwhile, but a comfy panel is a comfy panel, and Oak 2 (as shown in the Cons on a Budget Panel from Day One) was the right place to put it  small but spacious. Oak can split into three rooms or two

Panel and Demo: My Little Tesla

EVERY convention has something a bit weird. If you want to see something weird, then you won't get much weirder than a guy has built a Tesla coil that can be programmed to play the show songs. Three feet lightning bolts, projected from a sphere on top of a column named after its inventor, Nikola Tesla, noted supergenius, generate a lot of noise. Getting the right frequency, voltage and intensity to create your desired note is something you had to be there to watch. It was like a strange, robotic lovechild of Rainbow Dash and Zeus singing karaoke. Or possibly a Dalek.
    Yes, these are the same Tesla coils found in Red Alert 2. No, you can't direct them like lasers. The bolts fizzle out in the air after three feet or so. Yes, it was amazing.
    And shocking.
    But not as shocking as what I was about to see.

Interview: Comic Catch-up With Tony Fleecs
I sat down with Tony to discuss how his art and comics have progressed over the last year, and how he has experienced the fandom over the past year in a blatant attempt to make us feel good about ourselves for liking a cartoon aimed at five year olds oh God, why am I analysing this show I'm a manchild oh God I'm so embarrassed I can't even look at myself in the [rest removed by the Ed.]
    Tony came at things similar from a fans angle himself. He was quite surprised and happy when he got asked to draw ponies for the IDW Comics series, but as a professional comics artist and illustrator for roleplaying games and other things, it was a logical step to make.
     So if you want to get involved in something that you're a fan of, officially, become a professional in the arts and then start asking once you've built up a folio of ideas for it, on top of your existing work. If all else fails, you have a very nice folio of fan art and you still have your regular comic gig at the company. Like how Russell T Davies was an accomplished BBC writer (and Doctor Who fanboy) before he even submitted his scripts. Sort of like a fan artist / fic author, but in reverse, basically.
    We discussed his influences such as Michael Bendis, the impact his childhood cartoons had on him (including Tiny Toons and Batman) and of course, much needed advice on getting a comic together (just draw and write and draw and write until you have a big folio) and then of course getting noticed. He has not done much writing, but if you spend enough time around the writing staff at IDW they will rub off on you.
    There are opportunities to showcase your work at the bigger comic conventions and trade fairs, and like all art, that means you have to be willing to suffer a bit for it (or your wallet does, at least). You may have to travel. The parallels with voice acting in this regard are striking.
    Tony was very candid and open about his dealings with the fandom, and mentioned he was looking forward to the wedding at BABS Con this year (and it was fantastic, let me tell you). As a comic artist, even for a licensed series like My Little Pony, there is not too much in the way of creative control beyond the executives at Hasbro, the Editor at IDW, and maybe some sub-eds. This explains his rather uninhibited sense of humour pretty well.
    Anybody who's ever read anything by Warren Ellis knows what I mean.
    Asking Jim Miller, director of Ed, Edd n Eddy, about EEE slashfiction, implying he has a huge folder, in a panel with hundreds of people is a prime example. As such, he's not fazed by the worst this fandom has to offer, and sometimes reads Horse News, which led him to gleefully discuss that one true fan's dedicated attempt to store pony figurines in baby food jars and fill them up with his own jizz. He admires the guy's effort.
    We at Horse News would like to take this opportunity to remind you that we are dedicated to bringing you only the finest and freshest news of this calibre, and we will do even more to make the fandom grow. It's things like this, one guy documenting his attempts to fill jars containing pony toys with semen and their changes in texture and smell when stored on a shelf over a radiator, that make the fandom relevant to the world, and what non-fans and the normal media are talking about. Far more than our charity work or artistic endeavours, amongst Diana conspiracy theories and nude celebrity photos taken without their consent through a long lens.
    It says just as much about normal people as it does about us, don't it?


Entertainment Panels and Kids Stuff: Thoughts
There were plenty of other interesting panels in Oak 1, most of which were more just to entertain and amuse. They had everything of a certain category in a certain room, such as things for personal development and education in Oak 2 and other game show type things in Oak 3, with the big community stars doing their typical thing. I'm now officially a Youtuber, so I can identify with the need for attention no Racebest put that club down not the face.
    These were sadly not filmed for the most part as I only had one camera, but now I have two. Look, we're looking for new contributions all the time, so if you want to do stuff for us, and maybe capture things I can't, when I'm rushing about like a blue-assed fly filming two panels at once, hit us up on Twitter and let us know, instead of sitting there and judging.
    Unless its the kids stuff. Toonkritic.
    There was a nice variety of kids activities, and I can imagine that Elley Ray Hennessey, after her wonderful voice acting tutorial (the first lesson of six, which is free, and the rates are quite good) that is always, always an emotional, tense, and very dramatic and engaging affair, no doubt used her talents for storytelling to engage the kids very well in her storytelling lesson and capture their hearts and minds.

Interview: The Gauntlet with Jim Miller
Oh, dear.
    Oh dear, oh dear.
    This did not go well. Aside from my pig-headed insistence he was the Producer of the show, Chelis and Shellshock were already drunk as Lords (drunk as Commons would be more appropriate; they have the twenty-four hour bar) and this only made Jim want to beat me even harder with his walking stick.
    There were misfired questions, people arguing with each other, and generally awkward, glacial silences between them and Mr Miller. The rules were, simply put, for Chelis to ask Big Jim Miller the most awkward, weird or shocking questions that he has ever heard asked at a convention panel (except for Drunk Writers at BABS), and whoever reacts the least wins.
    If the Matt Lucas lookalike answers straight, he gets a point. If he refuses or tries to answer it with banter and fails, then Big Narstee lookalike Chelis gets a point. If he says something that makes Chelis laugh or react, he gets two. Likewise, if Chelis makes him react he gets two. Add a point for any other person in the room who reacts, including Shellshock, as the umpire.
    I got to judge, being the only person not so drunk they were singing Wonderwall yet.
    After the chewing out I got I threw in a question about Jim's favourite Ed, Edd and Eddy slashfiction as payback, but I was secretly rooting for him as a fellow slave of the Crazy Corgi Lady. In reality this was a pretty funny thing, and we'll definitely be showcasing it again in future.
The video is here.

Coltchella
Yes, a pun on Coachella. The concert was, like the previous night, absolutely wonderful, with the fantastic 4everfreebrony from out of state and the local boys LuckRock and DotheDaringDew.
    Their sets were very good, the group musicians complemented each other very well, and spending all your time dancing with a load of other people in a big chain, doing can-cans, head bangs, and the obligatory conga made this small but fun night something great to attend in between the parties (Horse News do the best parties, I might add) with people such as MC Arch, a friend of mine who was not in fact playing that night, all the way through till two in the am.
    You can find the whole rave here at ASP Productions.


Closing Ceremonies
Sadly, everything had to come to an end, but what a time we had. The staff had raised a lot of cash for Ronald McDonald House, and we ventured a ton of fun into the bargain. However, before we were sent away, we had a feedback panel where the general mood seemed to be one pretty decent convention, and Igor of MLP Ties and Woot Master in particular thought the turnout for vending and the concert were great.
    The funny thing is, to go back to my original question from the previous article, is that it wouldn't really be fair to compare it to Nightmare Nights Dallas and leave it at that. Yes, it did a pretty good job of filling the role of a Deep South Con, but more than that, it brought new people to the fandom scene, including latecomers, and reminded us that even if the show is ending, we aren't, and there will be new things for us and for the G5 crowd when it comes around.
    HC stands on its own four hooves as a con that, despite only having a third of the numbers of its predecessor, still got the best part of a thousand people on its first year, and this is in the same rough ballpark as one and a half thousand or more. It still drew in people from across the country, across the world, and quite a few of them were very new. If you build it, they will come.
    We are still going to go on.
    So yes, in terms of both its style and the numbers this con punched above its weight and did a pretty good job. And Ill be back next year, Feb 5th to Feb 7th, eager for more. The boy's done good, Hank.

The Important Bits and Other Activities
It is a good time to mention that there were several other activities going on at this time that were a bit more niche, and it's nice to see those niches being accommodated. These included a meet and greet for the autism-spectral fans (making friends at a new con, or your first con, is hard enough as it is), and lots of panels discussing the show from a personal perspective such as Pony Music and Your Mind, and rather interestingly, a sign language tutorial panel.
    For personal reasons, I think this is rather neat. The fandom, like anything a bit alternative, is going to get people who were just a bit different or felt they didn't fit in (which is a shame, readers, as you will generally fit in most places), and that naturally would make it a draw for those who tend to get left by the wayside if we aren't careful as a society, such as the deaf and the autistic.
    As a society - especially as a journalist, as it's my job to do this - we must speak for those that can't speak for themselves.
    It could not be more true here, and it's partly why I do what I do, why Horse News supports RAINN, and why we all work together to help promote the charities at the cons, and why so many talented people network, align, and befriend each other to create amazing conventions with concerts full of fan-music and plays and fan animations all based around a kids show. Or a series of satirical fantasy novels like Discworld. Or a love of Japanese cartoons. So I'll say it again.
    You have to speak up for those that can't speak for themselves.
    This is an important bit of societal magic  the magic of friendship writ large, through nationwide cooperation and charity, at its most powerful. Anybody who imparts that bit of societal magic to others, or helps them to empower themselves, is wonderful and they get a big fucking gold star in my book.
    And it starts with little things like this. So, I put it to you. Help the cons by attending; help yourselves by making friends in a nice atmosphere; help fuel the magic into G5 and beyond:
    Help the charities.
    That's what all of these things are for: to help the charities and the people around us, to fix what you see outside your front window, and to make the world a little bit better. By speaking up for those that can't speak for themselves, and helping others learn how to do that.
    This is why it would mean a lot to me if you would start helping us promote the cons, and their charity work, by retweeting our live coverage at #horsenewslive when you see it.

--Foal Duke, International Correspondent

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