'Rowrbrazzle' editor's surgery brings in emergency editor

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Rowrbrazzle #100William Haskell, current Official Editor of Rowrbrazzle, will be undergoing surgery in September, which means Steven F. Scharff will be the emergency editor for Rowrbrazzle #123, due this October. Haskell should return to his position as editor for issue #124, due in January 2015.

Rowrbrazzle was launched in 1983 by Marc Schirmeister, the original editor. In 1989, Fred Patten took over as editor, until 17 years later in 2005. After a series of interim editors, Haskell took over in 2007.

Rowrbrazzle has been called "a handy landmark to say that 'furry fandom existed at this time'." Members of Rowrbrazzle have included a veritable "who's who" of early furry fandom, including Stan Sakai, creator of Usagi Yojimbo, and three time Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Chris Sanders.

Review: 'Dancing in the Moonlight: RainFurrest 2013 Charity Anthology', edited by Ryan Hickey and Garret Biggerstaff

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This is the third annual RainFurrest charity anthology, published to be sold at the RainFurrest convention in Seattle in late September, following 2011’s Stories of Camp RainFurrest and 2012’s Tails of a Clockwork World. It is also for sale through the FurPlanet online catalogue.
Dancing in the Moonlight: RainFurrest 2013 Charity Anthology

The RainFurrest Annual Charity Anthology was created to celebrate and showcase the literary aspect of the anthropomorphics fandom as well as to raise funds for charity.

All of the contributing writers and artists have waived all fees so that the totality of the sales can go to the RainFurrest charity of the year.

The charity for RainFurrest 2013 is The Clouded Leopard Project, dedicated to the conservation of clouded leopards and their habitat by supporting field research, implementing education initiatives in a range countries, and bringing global awareness to clouded leopard conservation issues.

Dancing in the Moonlight, named after RainFurrest 2013’s theme, contains five short stories in teeny-tiny type, four of them illustrated. The book’s cover is by Sarah Alderete.

Illustrated, Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, September 2013, trade paperback $10.00 (77 pages).

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #21 ('MLP' and 'TMNT')

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Alopex by Ross CampbellAnother day, another Pull List.

Today, we’ve got some IDW titles, including issues from two very different Micro-Series. One is from the My Little Pony Micro-Series, which features cute adventures, and another is from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series.

It doesn’t feature cute adventures.

Review: 'Spies in Their Midst', by Alflor Aalto

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Spies in Their MidstSpies in Their Midst by Alflor Aalto is listed as the third book in The Llyrian Wars: Act One series, following The Prince of Thieves and The Streets of His City and Other Stories. The series is also referred to as "The Llyrian Wars tetralogy”, so apparently there is at least one more book to come. There is no information about what will follow Act One.

Hmmm. The Prince of Thieves includes a Rabbit Valley advisory notice that “This book deals with homoerotic themes and descriptions of erotic acts.” You had better consider that Spies in Their Midst needs one, also.

Spies in Their Midst stands well on its own. The protagonist of The Prince of Thieves and The Streets of His City and Other Stories is Prince Natier of Llyria, a red fox; the heir to the throne. The protagonist of Spies in Their Midst is Orrin, Lord Vintaa, a raccoon and Llyran nobleman. Yet he is not a new character. He was an important supporting character in “The Looking War”; a short story in The Streets of His City and Other Stories. This is his novel-length story, starting before the other two books.

Illustrated by Robbye "Quel" Nicholson, Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley, December 2013, trade paperback $20.00 (303 pages).

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is in the top five TMNT movies

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Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIf I were to rank all five TMNT movies, this movie would come in dead last.

This is not to say I did not like this newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie; I like all five of the movies just fine, thank you very much, and this one is no exception. It’s quite possible that I may not be capable of disliking a movie involving teenage mutant ninja turtles.

I’d like to point out for the record that I have put forward reviews of the two most recent incarnations of the turtles’ story; I have been overwhelmingly positive towards both of them. Heck, the IDW comics are a reboot featuring ancient aliens mucking around with Earth’s history, and if I had to pick two storytelling devices I hate most, it would probably be those reboots and ancient alien stories. And yet, I not only loved that incarnation, I especially pointed out this newest origin story as a positive.

Since my first story at Flayrah back in 2010, this is my third review of a Ninja Turtle origin story; that’s almost one per year, for those of you who don’t like math in their movie reviews. Thank God this movie is doing well at the box office and the next movie will be a direct sequel with the origin story of the turtles all taken care of. Hopefully this time it lasts a while, and we don’t get a Amazing Spider-Man type situation. Because that would suck.

I’ve already talked about positive bias in movies, and it’s not really fair to compare this movie to previous incarnations of the franchise, but like that’s going to stop any of the hundreds of other amateur fanboy reviewers (and even a few professional fanboy reviewers, I’m sure) from doing just that, so I might as well.

Review: 'The Mysterious Affair of Giles', by Kyell Gold

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The Mysterious Affair of GilesThe Mysterious Affair of Giles is an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery and is best read with a cup of tea nearby. (publisher’s blurb)

Kyell Gold already has the reputation of being the preeminent author of high-quality erotica in Furry fandom. Now it seems that he is trying to establish a similar reputation as furry fandom’s number one mystery author, at least of what is usually called the British “cozy” mysteries, or the country-house murder mysteries of which Agatha Christie was the acknowledged mistress.

The Mysterious Affair of Giles makes no secret of this. It is advertised as an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery. It is dedicated “To Dame Agatha for all the inspiration.”

An acknowledgement thanks London furry fan Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden for “Brit-picking” the manuscript, making sure that it, and especially the dialogue, are correctly British. The furry characters are all English animals except where they are noted as coming from British India. Most tellingly, the title The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an obvious pastiche of Christie’s first novel, the 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced both her as a mystery author and her most famous private detective, Hercule Poirot.

Yet do not think that Gold’s novella is a point-by-point imitation. There is no Famous Detective in it. The year is 1951; not exactly the present, but not the old-fashioned past, either. Tremontaine is a large manor house a couple of hours’ drive from London. The cast is Mr. Giles St. Clair, an aristocrat but also an up-to-date industrialist, his wife, and their son and daughter in their early twenties, all red foxes, and Martin Trevayn, Giles’ business partner, a stoat, their guest at Tremontaine on a business visit, plus the manor staff, a deer senior housemaid, two weasel cooks, a rabbit and an Indian otter housemaid, an Indian brown rat butler and Mr. Giles’ dhole valet.

Twelve characters. One of them is murdered.

The principal investigators are a badger police Inspector and his wolf Sergeant. The mystery’s protagonist is Ellie Stone, the young weasel assistant cook, a reader of murder-mystery novels who has never wanted to live in a real one, but who can’t help comparing the actual police’s sleuthing with her fictional police’s detecting. Naturally, everyone has a secret, and during the course of the story they all come out. Some are pertinent; others are not.

Kyell Gold’s stories often come with “Adults Only” readers’ advisories. The Mysterious Affair of Giles does not need one – quite – but its cast are all adults, and some of the secrets revealed are adult ones. I do not recall Agatha Christie ever delving into this territory, but it feels natural here and it helps to keep the story from being a period-piece.

Illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles,Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, February 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (107 [+2] pages), Kindle $6.99.

2013 Cóyotl Award nominees announced and open for voting

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The Furry Writers Guild’s annual Cóyotl Awards are now open for voting by all members of the guild in good standing. The Cóyotl Awards were founded in 2012 to recognize excellence in anthropomorphic literature and promote quality writing within the furry fandom.

Voting will last until August 31, and winners will be announced at this year’s Rainfurrest.

The nominees are:

'Mousenet': marketed at children, meant for everyone, reviewed by a furry

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MousenetIt may come off as an unpleasant surprise for some of you, to see a review of something two years old submitted only now. But, as the old saying goes, better late then never!

Anyways...

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose is something of an oddity, for it is truly a book for all ages. As long as the idea of a child protagonist and cute little mice does not turn you off, you will enjoy the story, no matter your age. Actually, a good thing to compare this story to would be The Rescuers, an obscure little movie from the 70s you have probably never heard of.

The story concerns itself with mice, which is sort of obvious. But these mice are not ordinary; they have evolved. Though it is implied the computer technology of the humans (that's us, by the way) helped, the fact remains that the mice of the book have gained quite a lot of intelligence recently, to the point of creating a worldwide mouse society, with standardized sign language, culture and social order. And the mice have taken a liking to the Internet, creating the titular Mousenet in the depth of our Internet. Unfortunately, mice can only use computers while we are away or asleep, and operating huge keyboards with tiny paws is cumbersome and hilarious, as described.

On the other side of the plot, an inventor named Fred invents the world's tiniest laptop. He intends it to be a novelty, something to be put in a museum of useless but amusing things. The mice however, see it as an opportunity...

Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, Disney-Hyperion, February 2013, hardcover $12.97, paperback $7.19, Kindle $6.83, 416 pages.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 2

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD back coverHere we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.

The first disc was reviewed here, and the rest of the first season can be found starting here, continuing here and here. So, let’s get to the episodes!

The Episodes

“Enemy of my Enemy”

Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.

Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.

Review: 'The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo'

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The Sakai ProjectStan Sakai created his first Usagi Yojimbo story in Steve Gallacci’s Albedo: Anthropomorphics #2 comic book, November 1984. Only 2,000 copies were printed.

From there, Usagi Yojimbo has grown to become a very famous comic book, traveling through several publishers, the most recent being Dark Horse Comics since 1996. The comic has always been written and drawn by Stan Sakai. During that time, he has become one of the most popular artists in the professional comic-book community, for his friendliness and readiness to join in numerous benefit projects. When furry fan artist Michael-Scot McMurry was dying of cancer in 2000, he drew the cover for a benefit comic book for McMurry’s expenses for an operation, showing Usagi and McMurry’s Zonie the coyote fighting monsters.

Stan has often been an attendee of furry conventions, sometimes with his wife, Sharon, and their two daughters. I remember one convention, probably a ConFurence in the mid-1990s, where Stan’s daughter Hannah, then about 3 years old, tried to climb up Kjartan Arnörsson, a lean 6'9". Stan was a member of Rowrbrazzle, the furry amateur press association, from 1990 to 1998. He is a member of the Furry Hall of Fame. His Usagi Yojimbo won the Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Book category in every year from 2001 to 2005. He has also won non-furry awards such as the Eisners, a Parent's Choice Award, the Comic-Con's Inkpot, Spain's Haxtur Award and many others. He has been a furry convention guest-of-honor on three continents, at an Anthrocon, a EuroFurence and an Australian MiDFur.

If you have not heard – it has been widely publicized - Stan’s wife Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for the past decade. It was mild at first, but has gotten progressively worse until she is now confined to bed and in need of round-the-clock care. The Sakais have medical insurance, but their medical expenses have far exceeded the amount of the insurance. Dark Horse Comics and the Comic Art Professional Society have organized The Sakai Project, this 160-page hardcover book, to both celebrate Usagi Yojimbo’s 30th anniversary and as a benefit project for the Sakais’ medical expenses. All proceeds go to them. Dark Horse is not even reimbursing itself for the printing expenses.

By various, foreword by Mark Evanier, preface by Tone Rodriguez, Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse Books, July 2014, hardcover $29.99 (160 pages).

'Watership Down' may be joining Criterion Collection

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Watership Down Criterion CollectionEarlier this month, Criterion released Watership Down to iTunes; a full Blu-Ray/DVD release has not been announced at this time, and Criterion's own site doesn't list it as yet part of the collection, even as "coming soon". [Tip: InkyCrow via Newsbyte]

If this does make Watership Down part of the Criterion Collection, it would be only the third animated feature in the collection, after Fantastic Mr. Fox and the no longer available Akira.

The movie is an adaptation of Richard Adams' bestselling novel; it's main competition was in the bestsellers list was Peter Benchley's Jaws, which it beat, despite being about rabbits. Though both novels were later adapted to movies, they didn't directly compete at the box office, which is probably a good thing for Watership Down.

It was directed by Martin Rosen, who went on to direct a second Adams adaptation, The Plague Dogs. It features the voice of John Hurt as Hazel. Hurt is probably best known for his memorable role in Alien as the ill-fated Kane, though he recently played the 8 1/2 incarnation of the titular character in the long running BBC series Doctor Who as the "War Doctor."

The rabbits of Watership Down speak their own language, words of which have been known to be repurposed by furries.

Review: 'The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West' and 'Piper at the Gate', by Mary Stanton

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Piper at the GateMany of the reviewers of this adventure fantasy have said that it is like Watership Down, but with horses instead of rabbits.

Not exactly.

Watership Down tries to be as realistic as possible except for its intelligent, talking rabbits.

The Heavenly Horse is much more fantastically complex, with its structured organization of equine herds into formal officers, the concepts of the Army of One Hundred and Five (a representative of each of the domesticated breeds of horses) who live in the horsey heaven known as the Courts of the Outermost West and the equine equivalents of Satan: the Dark Horse, his lieutenant, the fanged horse Anor the Destroyer, and the Soul Taker, who tempts horses into betraying themselves.

The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, by Mary Stanton, illustrated by Judith Mitchell, Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, June 1988, [4 +] 344 pages, 0-671-65410-1, paperback, $3.95.
Piper at the Gate, by Mary Stanton, illustrated, Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, May 1989, [6 +] 306 [+ 2] pages, 0-671-69820-6, paperback, $3.50.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 1

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD front coverThis is actually a two disc collection of the back half of season 1 of the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I’m breaking them up into to two reviews, one for each disc, so that it doesn’t break the around six-ish episode streak of each review.

If you’d like to check out reviews of the rest of the first season, you can read the first seven episodes reviewed here, and the second six reviewed here, plus an extended review of the first two episodes (or one long episode, the series still isn’t clear on that) here. In fact, you should probably read that last linked article first, seeing as how it’s both the first chronologically and it also has breakdown of what this series is about.

You know, just in case the series title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t clue you in that it’s about turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers.

The Episodes

“I, Monster”

And we start off with one of the best episodes of the series, with the weird penchant for horror tropes and allusions finally given an episode where they fit like a glove. Dr. Falco (Jeffrey Combs) continues his experiments with the mutagen, but a lab accident turns him into the Rat King, with the ability to control all rats, and the turtles come to a horrifying realization; Splinter’s been taking it easy on them in training.

Video: 'Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows' demo

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The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co. has released a short demo video of their adventure game Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows that is currently in development.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History', by Andrew Farago.

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TMNT: The Ultimate Visual HistoryThis large, full-color book is published both for the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book, which was first published by two comic-book fans at a comics convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1984, and for the release of the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical feature opening this Friday.

This is one of those “all you want to know about” books. It is not so much about the characters themselves as it is the official history of the TMNT phenomenon, or franchise, or whatever you want to call it. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the TMNT’s creators, are collectors as much as anything else, and this book is full of original sketches, the flyer for that 1984 comics convention, comic book covers, storyboards and cels from the TV animated series, posters and stills from the theatrical features, photos of all the TMNT merchandising items and so on.

Personally, I would have preferred more profiles of the anthropomorphic supporting characters besides Splinter the rat sensei, such as Bebop the warthog, Ninjara the vixen, or Dogpound and Fishface, who are not described because, with names like that, who needs to? Or plot synopses of the stories in the comic books, the TV series (or selected episodes; I suppose that asking for a synopsis of every TV episode would be too much), and the theatrical features.

Foreword by Peter Laird, San Rafael CA, Insight Editions, June 2014, hardcover $50.00 (192 pages).

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