It was an innocent enough question.
I'm lucky to work in an environment of people who are their own sort of nerd about something. We have an in-office D&D campaign going, a league of Pokemon collectors, a bastion of Trekkies (who really had a difficult week, bless their souls)...and of course we've got a few Bronies in the stable too. I'm among pretty good company. And while the question "why all the ponies?" wasn't asked in any manner of hostility, I've seen message boards ignite this inquiry not with curiosity but frustrated rage.
I've got my own reasons. The character designs are easy to draw. They're bright with bold colors allowing me to flex my palette more. They're just so darned expressive. There's a massive talent pool of artists whom I can collaborate with if I'm not doing a pony image of my own. But one of the biggest reasons, and this is important for somebody who makes a part of their living freelancing alongside other independent entities (that's you wonderful folks) is exposure.
The fandom, by some amazing miracle, is actually bigger than it was a couple years ago. It's still going strong, and with the source material allegedly given the greenlight for another two years, it shows no indication of slowing down. But the same applies to any of the fanart.
Bronies are absolutely ravenous for new material. And with the hiatus lingering six months longer than usual prior to Season Five, the wait's especially difficult (especially considering how well of a high note Season Four ended on, sweet Mohammed H. Ali). The IDW comics are doing well holding the fandom together, but a lot of the demand is going to need to be satiated by the fan artists. Equestria Daily is still going strong. The /r/MyLittlePony subreddit is still as active as ever. Derpibooru is just as weird as its always been (turn on that NSFW filter before jumping in that gutter, kids). Conventions are still churning along and netting top-tier show talent for panels. It's not often a show as young as this one maintains this sort of momentum for half a decade, especially considering how conventions are looking more towards branching out across entire genres to fill a guest roster, while Brony conventions can remain centric to a single specific brand.
All these avenues exist and are still incredibly active. They're full of energy, and crave as much content as possible.
Let's say I upload a comic book cover. Yes there are a ton of comic book readers out there, but when it comes to fan sites of specific comic books, there's not much for small and independent publishers. We're pretty much on our own. So when that cover goes up, it's pretty much seen by my deviantArt followers, my Tumblr followers, and my Twitter followers. It plops onto the Internet, it slides down your inboxes, it disappears without fanfare. Maybe it'll get a little boost through some comic blogger, a publisher's Email newsletter, or someone's posting on Comic-Vine. Little pops in activity, but nothing that exciting. It goes up, gets about 1500 views in the first day, 300 the next, and then is done.
However, if I upload a pony, something different happens. The first day is usually the same. In fact, pony images tend to do worse on their first day. Most of my followers aren't fans of the show; they're fans of comic book characters. They'll get about 1000 views on the first day. But something strange happens on the second and third days. It doesn't slow.
On the second day, a pony image will get distributed around the different avenues as more people in the fandom trip over it. It gets posted to Reddit, 4Chan, EquestriaDaily, and several other sites. And this distribution doesn't happen all at once. It occurs over the course of a week. And each avenue it gets posted to, that's another substantial hoof-full of viewers pouring into the image. All the deviantArt MLP #Groups
request it for their galleries, and these #Groups
have between hundreds to tens-of-thousands of followers. Getting your work accepted by a group like PoniesPlus
can net an easy 500 views alone.
The lifetime of an MLP piece is unpredictable, but it's never quick. An image I did a year and a half ago, 'Git Down Here!'
, got reposted to the MLP subreddit this week, hit the top spot, and got quite a significant booster. Images I drew years ago are still getting posted by prominent individuals and popular blogs, so every now and then they experience a bit of a "rebirth" like they were completely new again.
So why ponies?
Because the fandom is abso-feather-lutely insane.
Of course, all that being said, I'm now curious to see what would happen if I feed the Rick and Morty zealots.