Creative Commons license icon

A fringefur's report on Anthrocon 2010

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (8 votes)

As I mentioned in a similar report a couple of years ago, I consider myself a fringefur because I don't do things that more committed furries do (writing, art, fursuiting, taking on a fursona). Mostly I just like to read furry comics; most of my favorite Webcomics are furry, and I first got into the fandom when Fantagraphics stopped publishing Critters and I had to find another source. Text stories don't appeal so much, though I loved Michael Payne's Blood Jaguar, for instance, and I don't much care for movies or TV of any sort. I've never seen Disney's Robin Hood, which I gather is something of a furry gateway drug.

So why did I go to Anthrocon at all? Well, I'll tell ya.

It's something like a science fiction convention, just with a lot more fur. It's comparable to Worldcons in size; there were 4238 registrants this year, up from 3776 last year and 3390 the year before that, and I suspect the non-attending percentage is significantly lower than for Worldcon. There is a higher percentage of workshops on creative things like writing, building and performing with puppets, building and performing in fursuits (I missed Fursuit Charades this year, dammit), improv (including two sessions of 'Whose Lion is it, Anyway?'), and of course art, with this year's GoH James 'Dinotopia' Gurney hosting several sessions. No movies or anime, for whatever reason, but a videogaming room with several tourneys. And a Dr. Who LARP, aka live action roleplaying game.

There was a dealer's room with about a hundred dealers; only two comics dealers, though, so I couldn't find a copy of Furrlough #183. I did pick up my preordered copy of Demon Sandwich from Lizardbeth, along with a button of Inix emerging from a box. Also bought the penultimate Digger collection from Sofawolf Press, highly recommended; and Bill Holbrook's latest Kevin & Kell collection, On Strike, likewise. Bill offered to sign it for me but I told him I didn't like people scribbling on my books. Hope he didn't take it personally. I've said the same thing to Greg Bear, for example. All these creators were busy whenever I went by so I didn't get to talk to them much.

The art show had numerous excellent artists. Dark Natasha, who does the best fur in the fandom. Richard Bartrop, with several excellent ads featuring the Vixen, Big Red. The Anthrocon theme this year was 'Modern Stone Age Furries', so he produced Big Red Cooking With Fire. P_moss (Paviamostyn Fox), with some beautiful pictures of her moss fox persona. Ursula Vernon, who besides Digger is big on strange fruits and vegetables. Spotty the Cheetah, prone to gay and/or X-rated art but with lots of good general art. That's a Chechen flag he's burning. And perhaps my favorite for her mix of weird and cute (alas that we see no more of Saiko and Lavender): Diana X. Sprinkle. One of her most memorable is Cat Puking Kittens. For more goodies, try Cuddly Parasite, House Mouse (note the door-to-door salesman), and Pancats. Also Circle of Cute, The Ugliest Duckling (same page), and Visual Puns 2 .

One of my favorite parts of both NPL- and Anthrocons is gaming. The gaming room is always busy, and there were over a dozen game demos, notably by Looney Labs. I was introduced to Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls, newly back in print, in one of them, and if there'd been a copy for sale anywhere I'd be bringing it to Seattle.

I didn't get in as much gaming as usual this year. Once, though, I sat in on three or four games of Martian and Zombie Fluxx and, in a virtuoso display of luck, won three of them. The Zombie Fluxx win was a notable example. I played a 'draw cards and give one of your choice to each player' card and kept the 'I Alone Survived' goal card, which requires you to have a Car, no Friends, and no Zombies. I had the Car, no Friends, and only one zombie, which was encouraging. In the course of this drawing I drew and had to accept a zombie in addition to the one I had. Groaning Required was in play but I forgot to make a zombie noise when I put it down. The guy to my right called me on it, so he got to give me one of his zombies; he chose Larry, who like Radioactive Potato prevents you from winning as long as you have it. Him. It. So...I played 'I Alone Survived'. Since the goal changed, Larry moved to the next player counterclockwise. Weapon Bonus was in effect, so I smashed one of the remaining zombies with my baseball bat and the other with my shovel, and won. Note that if I hadn't been given Larry he would have come to me with the goal change and all my work would have been for naught.

Buttons weren't as much in evidence as at SF cons, but there were plenty of interesting T-shirts. I can't remember many offhand. My other shirt has a skull on it. Don't mind me, it's just that time of month [with a werewolf in front of a full moon]. A T-shirt à clef; I may even buy this one. I like poetry, long walks on the beach, and poking dead things with sticks.

There was a masquerade, as at many SF cons. It's hard to talk understandably in a fursuit so dialogue is generally prerecorded. I enjoyed it but wasn't bowled over. The final act was 'History of Dance', which got lots of laughs of recognition where I remained just puzzled; I did recognize the 'badger badger badger badger mushroom...' music, though.

There was no filksinging session, which strikes me as a bit odd considering all the other performance activities. Maybe because it's too hard to play a guitar in a fursuit; there were a couple of keyboarders in the masquerade, though. Filker Tom Smith did two solo performances and I was impressed enough to buy one of his CDs. It was more f&sf than furry, not that I cared. I particularly liked his two-minute summary of Dune, 'Crystal Gayle Killed Frank Herbert' [MP3]. And 'Return of the King, Uh-huh' in the style of The King.

One of the high points of Anthrocon for me is Uncle Kage's Story Hour. Uncle Kage is Samuel Conway, the CEO of the con, and he's a great raconteur. Despite his nom (short for kagemushi, Japanese for 'cockroach'), he prefers to wear a chemist's lab coat, suitable to his profession, rather than press-on mandibles, and his stories are furry mainly when related to running the con or meeting furry friends abroad. One story this year, for whose veracity I will not vouch, involved a trip to Germany to visit Eurofurence friends over New Year's. As he left, one of them gave him a cake to take with him. (Miming of almost falling over sideways from the weight.) He went through airport screening and a valkyrie ordered him to open his suitcase, then pointed to the cake and said 'schtolen!' 'No, nein! Gift! Gift!' Not the wisest thing to say in Germany. So she marched him in back, eins! zwei! eins! zwei!, and a tired functionary wanded his cake with a mass spectrometer or something. He finally learned two things: that *stollen* is a German fruitcake (you saw that coming, didn't you?), and it has the same signature on an X-ray machine as C4 plastic explosive. It being the holiday season, he was the fifth person they'd had to check that day. Se non è vero, è ben trovato. Incidentally, he wrote the foreword to On Strike, mentioned above.

One thing Anthrocon has that I don't recall from SF conventions is a chosen charity. This year it was Fayette Friends of Animals, an animal shelter for which a charity raffle, a charity auction, and other odds and ends raised $12172 (Editor's note: Later raised to at least $12212). And the most distinctively furry thing is the Saturday fursuit parade. This year, 713 fursuiters took part. They all went past in 15-20 minutes and blurred together in my memory for the most part. Lots of generic dogs and foxes, a GothLoli furry or two, a dinosaur with a tail so long he kept it off the floor on a roller skate, an attractive white kirin. The only ones that stuck in my mind were a pretty full-body lynx suit, a gorgeous cat head on a costume I've forgotten, a rather clanky mechafurry, and my favorite of the convention: Kuhn, an insane black-backed jackal in chains and an unstrait buckle-studded strait jacket. The wide white eyes and open fanged muzzle made him something you wouldn't even want to meet in a well-lit alley. Several of the marchers also blew venezuelas as they marched. Vuvuzelas. Whatever.

So I had a good time, and I intend to go back every time its scheduling doesn't conflict with the NPL's convention. This year I returned on Sunday and will head to Seattle on Tuesday.

Comments

Your rating: None

Nicely written! I quoted you in the "onesentence" community on LiveJournal.

--"Tom Howling"

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

I have to ask... what the hell is a fringefur?

"The Reverend" Ash Maurice Cairo
"I kick ass for The Lord!"
twitter.com/AshMCairo
AIM: AshMCairo, ICQ: 1920631, Yahoo!: ashmcairo
Visit http://furryne.ws for the latest in furry news!
Got Furry? Visit http://furry101.com

Your rating: None

He pretty much answers that question in his very first sentence: he considers himself a fringefur (ie, someone who hangs back on the fringe of the fandom) because he's not involved in most of the activities or interests of most other furry fans. His interest is more casual. In his case, he's only interested in the comics.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Fair-weather furries.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Wow! Harsh, judgmental and unwarranted all in one shot! Especially since Treesong's given what I would consider a reasonable and uncontentious explanation for the limits of his interests.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Not really unwarranted, though. It's trendy to be unenthusiastic about one's hobbies these days. Showing anything more than a passing interest in them is dorky and uncool by John Q. Public's standards. It's his prerogative if he wants to distance himself from those dorky and uncool people who are more interested in their hobbies than he is, but let's not pretend there's something inherently virtuous in being a "fringefur."

tl;dr: "I like furry stuff, but only a little bit!" That's why they're fringefurs instead of actual fans.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

"...let's not pretend there's something inherently virtuous in being a "fringefur.""

Nobody was... which is what makes the snide reactions all the more bizarre.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

It's a snide reaction to the snide presumption that liking furry comics is somehow less important than things that the so-called "more committed" furries do. How the holy hell is liking furry comics a "fringe" activity exactly? It's been at the core of the fandom since Day One!

What's truly bizarre is seeing Chuck Melville agree that comics just aren't that important to the fandom.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

"It's a snide reaction to the snide presumption that liking furry comics is somehow less important than things that the so-called "more committed" furries do. How the holy hell is liking furry comics a "fringe" activity exactly? It's been at the core of the fandom since Day One!"

So it has been. But Treesong's post was saying a) that he was personally more interested in the comics than most any other furry activity, and b) that the common perception now is that most of today's furries are interested in things other than the comics. I know that I've run into that attitude myself with a number of furs off and again, that the comics (and, for that matter, the literature -- IE, prose) is way low on their priority list, of far less interest than partying (at cons), badges and paraphenalia, fursuits and mingling. In fact, it often seems that socializing has largely replaced any other aspect of interest as a raison d'être for furry fandom. Therefore Treesong's perception that his interests, which were once the staple of the fandom, appear to now be a fringe interest. And he did not offer that observation in any snide way whatsoever -- certainly in no manner that ever deserved the sort of snidery he got in response.

"What's truly bizarre is seeing Chuck Melville agree that comics just aren't that important to the fandom."

And where in God's name did I ever do or say that!?

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

"And where in God's name did I ever do or say that!?"

The parts where you agree that liking comics are "fringe" activity.

That's where you and I disagree, I guess. I'd characterize the people who show up at cons for the parties and socializing and have no interest in furry stuff as "fringefurs", because they aren't interested in what the fandom has to offer.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

While I begin to understand where you're coming from, your reaction is totally illogical and rude, so I'm not feeding the troll after this reply.

Chuck Melville explained my views so well that I can't improve on his words. I will just say that any outsider looking at the AnthroCon program would think that comics were one of the least significant aspects of the fandom, well below socializing. Out of about 170 items in the program, four (Toonseum's Annual Top Ten, Furthia High, The Best Furry Stuff, and ToonSeum Presents: Once Upon a Toon) were partly or wholly devoted to comics, the same number as those for furry ham radio. And two of those were because there's a comics museum in Pittsburgh. (Someday I hope to do talks on French furry bandes dessinées, but right now I'm 400 miles from my source material.) Art is important in the fandom, but there were only eight items besides the comics ones in the Art section. Comics were a significantly greater presence in the dealer's room but still one of the lesser ones.

Throw out the people there for the socializing--which is the essence of the SF 'fringefan'--and comics fans are still a fringe element, at least at cons. I regret this, because comics are what brought me into the fandom and what keep me there. But, reporting from the fringe, I thought it truth in advertising to label my con report accordingly.

Always carry a grapefruit, Treesong

Your rating: None

"And where in God's name did I ever do or say that!?"

"The parts where you agree that liking comics are "fringe" activity."

Then you need to reread the posts, and this time do so comprehensively.

I've never said that comics were an UNIMPORTANT part of furry fandom and would never say that. I DO say that they APPEAR to have become a fringe element of the fandom CURRENTLY, given the low priority they seem to be given in general throughout the fandom. That statement's based on personal observation at cons and various forum boards, and I'm not the only one to note it.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Comics as an art form are still very popular, as are many comic artists. But the popular comics nowadays are the ones available for free on the Internet, not the ones printed and sold in Artists' Alley or the Dealers Den.

Similarly, the popular comic artists are still at conventions, but they're not selling comic books there. They use their comics to promote their talent, which they sell in the form of commissions, both at cons and online.

Perhaps one reason people aren't spending a lot of time discussing comics at conventions is that they don't need to. They can do that online, through the forums dedicated to each individual comic, which often have tens of thousands of posts.

This applies generally; conventions are largely about socializing because other things can be done online nowadays. Conversely, fans who are only interested in the other things don't have as compelling a reason to come to conventions.

Your rating: None

"Comics as an art form are still very popular, as are many comic artists. But the popular comics nowadays are the ones available for free on the Internet, not the ones printed and sold in Artists' Alley or the Dealers Den."

Which almost makes it pointless to do comics anymore if the opportunity to make a few bucks off of them is all but nil. Granted that nobody was ever going to get rich off of furry comics, but it used to at least bring in enough bucks to offset some expenses.

"Similarly, the popular comic artists are still at conventions, but they're not selling comic books there. They use their comics to promote their talent, which they sell in the form of commissions, both at cons and online."

Isn't their talent writing and drawing comic books!? If folks are commissioning them to do art that is other than comics, then what is the point, other than to deprive them of the time they need to write and draw their comics? If this is something the artist is okay with, then no harm done -- it may even be part of his marketing plan. But I find something wonky about the situation.

"Perhaps one reason people aren't spending a lot of time discussing comics at conventions is that they don't need to. They can do that online, through the forums dedicated to each individual comic, which often have tens of thousands of posts."

Not the forums I've seen. I scan through several on occasion and they're either dead and dormant, or else they get a bare trickle of interest from a few hard-core followers. Only a very, very few get any attention. I would hope that those creators who get to cons at least get more attention from folks who drop by the table.

For the most part, I find furry forums to be a disappointment. There isn't really an engaging level of conversation anymore in most. There are a few exceptions, but not so many. I can't even bear to look at the Furaffinity Forums anymore, where the average level of converse is punking. Even alt.fan.furry in its heyday, for all of the arguments and fighting, had a higher level of intelligent exchange.

"This applies generally; conventions are largely about socializing because other things can be done online nowadays. Conversely, fans who are only interested in the other things don't have as compelling a reason to come to conventions."

Don't these people socialize online as well? And they still come to the cons anyway. It sounds more like the furry aspects of the fandom have less importance overall, save to use as an excuse to get together. We're not getting together for a pizza so we can talk about furry cartoons or comics anymore -- we're going to the furry con so we can get together and go out for a pizza.

The greater emphasis on pure socialization is probably why I'm more and more disinclined to attend many. I don't mind getting together with folks I don't usually see that often, but the socializing was always just a part of the attraction -- mostly I wanted to see what they'd done and what they'd had to offer and to discuss what they were likely to be doing next. It's better to see the art and the books and the people in person. The web is okay, but it's no substitute; it's rather like watching the world through a glass plate -- you can see it just fine, but you can't really experience it. I don't want to see the image, I want to see the painting. I don't want to read an online text, I want to see and hold the book. Lately, I'm getting more of a thrill out of going to regular comic book conventions than I am out of the furry cons.

Your rating: None

Socialization is perhaps the biggest single draw, but it's still not predominant, and it's still significantly furry. Turning again to the program subject groupings as a very very rough guide to what people care about (at least enough to do panels and performance):
Guest of Honor - 7 (James Gurney and Jim Martin on art and puppetry)
Convention - 13 (pre-con mixer, dances, charity auction, opening and closing ceremonies, etc.)
Art - 12
Family - 6 (stuff for kids like balloon animals, beginning drawing)
Social and Fandom - 33 (for fans of felines, canines, hyenas, marsupials, and nine other categories; fans from Ontario, Florida, etc.; and other SIGs)
Fursuit - 18
Gaming - 25
Puppet - 8
Performance - 23 (improv, standup comedy, individual performers like 2 and Uncle Kage)
Science and Technology - 12
Writing - 5
Videogaming - 6

Relevance to furcons in general is not guaranteed.

As for furry comic forums, I think those for DMFA and Kevin & Kell are good, the one for Kaspall is OK but not designed for rich interaction, the one for Digger is disappointing compared to the quality of the strip (many squeals of joy and snarls at badguys), and I don't follow any others. None of them are nearly as good as the ones for the fringefurry Girl Genius and Skin Horse (which have one major furry character each).

Always carry a grapefruit, Treesong

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

In a first draft of this answer I asked why you didn't read my article instead of projecting your anxieties on me and imagining I thought fringefurhood was somehow virtuous, etc. Then I looked up what 'tl;dr' meant.

Jeez.

Even if you do have the attention span of a ferret on speed, you might have asked yourself why, if I'm ashamed of my furry interests, I wrote a too-long Anthrocon report and posted it online--in three places, in fact.

I also signed it with my nom, which is easily connected to my real name now in the Google era. Something, I note, that you and Feh didn't care to do. Get a life, ya cowardly anonymous dorky uncool......hm, what noun will annoy you the most?......furry!

Always carry a grapefruit, Treesong

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Truly what I think many will understand from your mere response to these oddly vicious comments is that you can't be a 'fair weather' fan, because I would say you're sticking around for some odd squalls of misplaced anger.

Your rating: None

It's a furry that likes the show Fringe, lol.

okay, okay, not really. He defines it in the article as " fringefur [...] don't do things that more committed furries do"

Thought it's odd because by that definition comes the obvious follow up what does a 'more committed' furry do?

Fursuit? Only about 15% do that. So are 85% fringe?

Go to cons? Never been to one, guess I'm a fringe? You've been to AC more then once by some of the sentences of your article.

From the feel of the answers you do provide to these questions it seems like the definition is one who spectates instead of creates.

If you're trying to introduce it to the furry vernacular, you'll run into the major bump in the road. Being a furry is simply expressing a fanship of anthropomorphism by most definitions. However I will give you that the degrees of how much one is a fan of something is existent. I guess it's like someone who watches Star Trek and is a fan versus someone who dresses up like a Klingon is what you're referring to in a simile sense.

Therefore, in my opinion instead of being called a fringefur, if you're trying to separate those who watch and enjoy anthropomorphism to those who engage in it, I would probably distinguish them in a similar manner. "Anthropomorphic Fan" VS "Furry", like "Star Trek Fan" VS "Trekkie"

Your rating: None

I'm comfortable with 'fringefur' as a self-description. If others want to call me a fair-weather fan or an anthropomorphic fan or late for dinner, fine with me. Though I don't think anyone will, because I'm just a fringefur. I coined the term by analogy with fringefan, by the way.

Always carry a grapefruit, Treesong

Your rating: None

Aww, cool! Thanks for the fanship, glad you liked my fursuit. It's got a cage over the head now, finally complete. Don't sweat these guys. I'd say I'm a fringefur too, but then I might be too involved in the fandom, I'm not sure. What I do know is I'm not as passionate as the furs I know or have met. It's fun, and that's just it.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <img> <b> <i> <s> <blockquote> <ul> <ol> <li> <table> <tr> <td> <th> <sub> <sup> <object> <embed> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <dl> <dt> <dd> <param> <center> <strong> <q> <cite> <code> <em>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This test is to prevent automated spam submissions.
Leave empty.

About the author

Treesongread storiescontact (login required)

    from West Chester, PA, interested in furry and word puzzles

    Page traffic