|We swear we did not arrange this ourselves.|
|The Twilight Sparkle candle smells like old books - that includes a leather smell.|
GFX is not a brony convention, instead it is a con that caters to all forms of "geek" and "fan" culture, and as the photos above show, ponyfans are not excluded from the group. Special guests for this first-year convention included Rob Paulson (a voice actor with such credits as Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, Yakko from Animaniacs, and literally so many others the man himself cannot count them all) and Timothy Zahn, acclaimed science fiction writer best known for his Star Wars novels.
|Rob Paulson sings a few songs for us|
Attendance for this start-up by our reporters eyeball-estimates place it at around 200-300 people, which the size of the venue was quite appropriate for those numbers.
But what the convention lacked in crowd size, it more than made up for in atmosphere and the way they handle their attendees, practices that make us take a harder look at those of some of the larger brony conventions. Why must things be this way?
|Lobbycon: Dearborn Edition|
The first object of note is how relaxed and realistic the convention schedule was. GFX had panels for everything, and rarely could you find a room with an empty timeslot. Everything from the obligatory cosplay panels and gaming events, to introductory panels for other fandoms, (thanks to GFX, our reporters finally found out what Homestuck is; they also have no intentions of ever going anywhere near it ever again). Most interesting however were the "adult" panels. GFX is as every bit designed for children as any brony convention is; there were countless kids dressed up like the Warner siblings wandering the halls, even girlscouts and tiny ninja turtles, and events for the little ones.
|The 501st legion was there|
Children everywhere, and there was no overt "protect the children" themes to be found, just carding people at the doors to 18+ panels (such as "guests against humanity"- which is exactly what it sounds like). Why this issue seems so prevalent in brony conventions is a head scratcher. GFX even had fully-sanctioned pool parties for attendees and signs for room parties and speakeasies in full display, and everything worked out just fine.
|Author Timothy Zahn|
Another big aspect to GFX that we have not seen at many (if any) brony conventions was the signing structure. Autographs from the guests on items that attendees brought themselves were free, and people even had the option of having Rob Paulson do a voice recording for them for a small fee.
|City Championship promo cards were up for sale from one vendor|
There was an event in which cosplay girls acted as hostesses at the hotel bar/restaraunt, and several concerts that people didn't have to pay extra to see (and there was a bar INSIDE the concert/rave area).
Rob Paulson hosted a "sing along" in which he took requests to perform songs from shows he has been on in the past, and also cover other songs in his cartoon voices.
Hearing Pinky sing "The Immigrant Song" is simply magical.
Even when things were bad they were hilariously good. On Friday night the power was knocked out due to a torrential rainstorm and a subsequent tornado warning, attendees stayed calm and lighthearted, hunkering together in the temporary darkness, comments like "if the keg still works, pour me another!" could be heard before the lights flickered back to life.
Despite its small size (due almost wholly to its status as a first-year convention) we can honestly say that GFX was a wonderful convention with lots of potential, and has given us much to think about when comparing it to our own single-fandom gatherings.
Is there something inherently different about pony fans from other fans to where some large cons think we cant be trusted with ourselves? The fact that not only was alcohol allowed at, but actually PROVIDED at musical gatherings for the general attendees without incident speaks to this separation of mindsets. And after going quite some time without attending a non-pony-exclusive convention it was refreshing to see this sort of atmosphere. (We have been asked to clarify that the alcohol in the room party was not provided by GFX directly, but was made available one of the guests on-site).
|No seriously, this is how cool these guys are.|
So, if you find yourself wanting to visit the D next year, Geek Fan Expo is definitely worth a look, especially if you can't make it out to the grand daddy of all Michigan conventions - Youmacon (coming up Halloween Weekend). And if you can't, maybe take some of these ideas and lessons back to your own cons. Loosen your grip on your guests, and you might even be surprised.
To GeekFanExpo: Don't change a thing. We expect just as much awesomeness on the next go around.