Who brings kids to a furry con? Check out Furscience.com: Resources for parents, or Moms of Furries. Vice has a report: How the Furry Community Became a Safe Space for Youth. Sometimes kids bring their parents, and sometimes furries have their own kids. Of course they do, this fandom started in the late 1970’s. Multiple generations is what makes it grow.
BunBun, a mom and furry near San Francisco, proposed kid-friendly programming to Further Confusion in January. She said the board really wants to make it happen. She’s now working to make special events for kids. There’s a schedule including guided story writing/mad libs (maybe with a writer guest?) and having the kids design a space ship, matching the sci-fi theme of the con.
It will be the best time ever for them. You can help!
- WANTED: STAFF. Bunbun needs people willing to volunteer.
- WANTED: ART SUPPLIES. Including hands-on craft or sewing supplies, like scrap fur, needles and thread to help them start furry costuming of their own.
- Is anyone willing to put on a fun panel for kids, or be a DJ for kid friendly music?
Contact: email@example.com or Telegram: @bonbun if you want to make it happen.
On furry groups (including Greymuzzles) I asked for suggestions. Jake Johnson suggested writing and designing their first fursona. Artslave said that interacting with animals from the charity could be a hit, but “make sure to note that this is not an event for adults to drop their kids off at” — it’s for parents to do with them. Maelstrom Eyre said a project the kids can bring home with them, like ears or a simple tail (making a fursuit could be a tall order, but a tail could be just what the doctor ordered.) Grubbs Grizzly wanted a list of cons with programs for tiny furs and what they are. And Sylvan writes:
Suggestions, as a con-runner for over 20 years, would always start with a craft/workshop room. In that room, you schedule craft events such as making puppets, learning to write, learning to draw, putting together models, and just non-guided craft projects that anyone can indulge in at any time with pencils, pens, crayons, markers, scissors, hole-punches, yarn, cardboard, crepe paper, glitter, and thousands of other craft items. CONvergence, in Minnesota, has been doing that for years and always makes it a point to schedule things that kids can do with other kids as well as things that kids can do with their parents.
This reminds me… when I was 10 or so, I got to go to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It had the animatronic band on stage, but underneath the stage, there was a sort of child-sized maze. Does anyone else remember this? I didn’t dream a portal to a magical netherworld did I?
I remember it had a little tunnel door, and you could crawl around a bunch of bends that were nice and carpeted, and hide out or make mischief. It was probably a terrible idea if the fire alarm went off or a kid barfed pizza chunks, since I don’t know how they could send a full-sized adult in to help! It was probably super gross under there, something they wouldn’t allow these days, and the most fun thing ever.
Oh yeah, there was also the big dancing mouse, but he’s actually more fun to me as a grown up. The mouse tunnels were my favorite part of the party — can someone make a full-sized version? Until that happens, help Bunbun make something that special for the kids who are at Further Confusion with their parents, so not just the grown ups get to have a magical convention.
(Patch): It’s a special time to be a fan of this alcoholic, washed-up actor who’s also an anthropomorphic horse. With 5 seasons under his belt (saddle?) Bojack Horseman’s show is in the middle of its sixth, and final, season. 8 episodes arrived in late October 2019, with the final ones coming on January 31st, 2020.
I have to confess to being a bad furry reviewer, because I only got half way into the first season before I heard it got really good. I got too distracted to keep up and it’s been bugging me to watch everything. It’s not just for enjoyment — If I had hooves, I’d be able to kick myself extra hard for missing an interview opportunity with show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. He asked in 2015 when I interviewed Adam Conover, show cast member (and his former roommate), but I was too busy covering other furry stuff to reply in a timely way.
Which reminds me that the show designer Lisa Hanawalt‘s spinoff show, Tuca & Bertie, had a single season this year. It was canceled to fan dismay. This would be a good time to ask her what upcoming projects she may have — let’s see if her agent gets back to me. I can pay in carrots!
BoJack Horseman — a review by Candy
Season Six has Princess Carolyn adopting a porcupine baby, which she handles with oven mitts, while Todd takes on the day care. It’s an adorable sight gag.
I’m new to the furry scene, but this hilarious Netflix series totally reminds me of it when it features both humans and animal-like personalities, and incorporates animal traits into each of their characters. For example: Princess Carolyn is one of my favorite characters, and one of her tag lines is: “Oh Fish!” when something goes wrong. The show is full of a bunch of little clever puns like that.
I was recently introduced to the world of Furry by Patch, so I might be missing the mark some. But what I do know is that taking on a Fursona is allowing people to be more of themselves, and some of us identify with cats or dogs or squids or birds or whatever more than 100% human all the time. Sometimes it’s nice to step into a different personality/animality? Just to show how you really feel or just to let things go. I’m not sure in all honesty. I personally enjoy costuming for the same reason, but I change costumes a lot. It’s super fun and stress relieving to be someone/something else even if it’s for a day a week or a few hours.
BoJack Horseman definitely isn’t for everyone, it’s very sarcastic and 18+, but if you like cartoons and anthropomorphic creatures, it’s definitely a show to check out. It deals with a lot of adult issues like relationships, substance abuse, self-worth, depression, work, sex, death and more. It’s not a show made by furries (as far as we know) but some of the themes cross over.
That’s why I wrote this for DogPatchPress, because there are a lot of cross-overs within “mainstream” culture, even though a lot of furries feel afraid to tell people that that’s what they’re into. I don’t totally understand why, but I think people can be ashamed about some of these issues, with a huge stigma in popular culture about people who want to have multiple personalities/fursonas. Those can help to personify unspoken things that are otherwise unexpressed, in a sort of therapeutic way. But we don’t always have to be totally serious about everything all the time! Sometimes it’s just about having fun as your “other self”.
BoJack reminded me of the furry community not only because of the art and acting, but also because it deals with how people see themselves. And how empowering it can be to truly just be yourself/do what you feel like/not give a fuck about whatever other people think or say about it.
< 3, Candy
When Fursuiting and Charity Radiates Positive Difference – Dogbomb, Furry Weekend Atlanta & The 2019 ALS Walk
GUEST POST BY JOE GORIA (JOE G. BEAR)
As a young kid growing up in 1970’s Los Angeles, I was always fascinated by seeing costumed performers at events like circuses, or Disneyland and the now defunct Hanna-Barbera’s Marineland in Palos Verdes, CA. To see tall cartoon characters come to life as Baloo, Yogi Bear, and Scooby Doo let me escape into a virtual fantasy life of myself living in a world alongside Anthropomorphic Animals.
Though I grew up and went to college, graduated and attended grad school — and recently celebrated 19 years employed for a major telecommunications company with a Pension and 401k — I’m still that kid that refused to grow up. The ‘Hooman’ in me was not enough. I wanted to be my own ‘Bear.’ It led to my amazement that there’s a fan base just for this.
I discovered ‘The Furry Fandom’ in late 2013 by another Furry who had a German Shepherd fursuit stored in the trunk of his ol’ jalopy. His name was ‘Kaz,’ and he was picking me up at San Diego’s Santa Fe train station. When he popped open his trunk to put my bags in, I noticed his fursuit and asked him “is that a dog costume?” I thought he was working at an amusement park or something. Instead he was a Furry, and I got my 15 minute crash course in ‘The Fandom’.
I didn’t attend my first Furry Convention until June, 2015: ‘Califur’ in Irvine, CA. I was with two friends who were young enough to be my own kids. It was an experience to watch Furries parade around The Irvine Marriott — but I couldn’t make much sense out of it, and I did feel somewhat out of my comfort zone.
That first ‘Califur’ is where I met Tony Barrett, known as ‘Dogbomb,’ with his version of a German Shepherd fursuit. He was very friendly and we chatted for a few minutes. I found out he was a local Orange County resident and active in the Fandom. He was friends with someone I knew early on named ‘Teh’ or ‘Desoto’ who was a Shep too. I knew ‘Desoto’ a lot longer than ‘Dogbomb’, but in retrospect I wished I had more time to get to know Tony. That is a regret I can’t correct.
Ten months later, in April, 2016 — I got an invitation from another Furry friend named ‘Toad’, who lived in Atlanta. I could room with him ‘for free’ at Furry Weekend Atlanta 2016 (The theme was ‘Camp Furry Weekend’), at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta. I bought my United Airlines ticket and flew out. What a change FWA was in comparison to ‘Califur’ 2015. That second convention is what got me SOLD into ‘The Fandom’.
Two years later, after careful thought and consideration (and the sudden death of my Mom in July, 2018) — I decided to commission my own Grizzly Bear fursuit. It would be made by a close friend and incredible fursuit maker named ‘Eddie,’ from ‘Builder Bear Studios’ near Easley, South Carolina. This 52 years old ‘Greymuzzle’ was finally going to ‘Suit Up’ as in The Foxes and Peppers song.
— Furry Jukebox (@FurryJukebox) November 28, 2019
On May 9th, Joe Bear debuted at Furry Weekend Atlanta 2019 after Opening Ceremonies. I was amazed at the quality and love Eddie put into making my ‘Fursona’ into a real awesome looking Californian Grizzly Bear with glasses and a moving jaw. I had a lot of fun being out on the multi-con spaces that make FWA my favorite furry con. But I had thoughts – I blurted out ‘This Is Great!!’ but what’s next? I had NO prior costuming experience, and I felt like a lumbering fur rug walking the Marriott carpet with little emotion.
I knew there was something ELSE that I could do to make a difference, that would satisfy my urge and contribute to the common good. Furry Conventions are great, but it’s just a weekend long fur-block party for the attendees. However, the con does so much good too. Our FWA con fees do help those in need, as these cons do lovingly give back in dividends like their support for The Conservators’ Center In North Carolina (In 2018 alone, FWA attendees donated $50,000 for their charity). That made me feel satisfied that ‘The Fandom’ made it happen. But, I wanted to do more – to get more involved personally.
On the night of my fursuit unboxing at FWA 2019, Eddie Bear looked me in the eye and said “You’re bound to do great things, Joe”. I was surprised to hear that remark. He saw something in me that maybe I wasn’t seeing or realizing at that moment — that maybe something good would come out of getting my fursuit, two years after getting my first AARP card? Well, Eddie’s remark was ‘Spot On’.
My path led back to Tony Barrett ‘Dogbomb’, who was a strong athletic runner and participated in several Los Angeles Marathons. In March 2018, Tony’s shocking diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) led to an amazing outpouring of support from Furries near and far, including myself. In November 2018, Furries donated in large numbers to ‘Team Tony’ for The 2018 ALS Walk. The National ALS Association noticed the surge and appreciated the support. Sadly, ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease with a short life expectancy rate. Tony Barrett passed away on April 5th, 2019 — and we all changed our social media icons to his signature colorful Lei in his honor.
At FWA 2019, I hung out with a friend of mine and Tony’s named ‘Whiskey Foxtrot.’ He was wearing the 2018 ALS Walk shirt at a panel we attended. I promised to Whiskey that I was determined to get involved for The 2019 ALS Walk. One week after FWA & BLFC, I started to get my friends, family and my co-workers involved to support my page for ‘Team Tony’ and the upcoming walk.
Joe G. Bear is a SoCal fur who is helping to raise funds to find a cure for ALS in memory of @dogbomb1. There's a walk coming up November 9 in Irvine. Want to help? Here's his fundraising page for it. https://t.co/C4T43T12j7 pic.twitter.com/YjIUzqHCDs
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 1, 2019
My co-workers knew I was a Furry, and supported me generously. I appreciated a friend of mine and furry musician, Runtt Wah, and his band of collective fursuiter musicians called “WE ARE ONE” for creating a beautiful song in honor of Dogbomb, called “With You I Can Run Forever”. My 2019 ALS Walk fundraising goal was $500, but I ended up with $850!!
I’ve never been involved in a charity walk before, let alone in fursuit. The 2019 ALS Walk in Irvine, CA on Saturday, November 9th was my first charity walk, and ‘The OC Great Park’ in Irvine is a great venue. It was an AMAZING experience to be part of an event to honor one of our own, with 75 Furries, alongside many families and friends of those who were honoring a loved one and/or currently suffering from ALS. I finally realized the positive benefit of being a Fursuiter — as kids and adults alike were coming up, asking for pictures or for a hug. It was an emotional experience, something I will never forget.
I feel that using my fursuit for charity events is my way to support others, and I’m looking forward to participating in 2020 and beyond. I’m hoping to participate in a charity event in San Diego come mid-December — walking in The North Park Holiday Parade with a local charity group — along with future events including supporting The ALS Association of Orange County.
Tony Barrett wrote a heartfelt letter that was read by our friend ‘Zarafa Giraffe’ before The 2018 ALS Walk. It’s something I take to heart and which I honor:
“I’ve had an amazing life, and I’m truly sorry that it’s coming to an early close. The saving grace is that get to do something positive before I go and that I get to say a proper goodbye to all my friends. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful folks, and I hope you take this moment and carry it forward — Be kind to strangers, help those in need, have a smile and a good word for everyone. Tell your friends and family that you love them at every opportunity. There will come a day when no one has to suffer from ALS, and you are making that future a reality. I am proud and honored to be a part of such an amazing group, and I love you all very much.”
I’m truly grateful to be part of a fandom that gives back to others, and this Bear hopes to grow in that journey by honoring Tony’s legacy and living up to his message. — (Joe G. Bear)
Thanks to Joe for sending this guest article, and to Dogbomb’s friends and supporters.
MORE ABOUT DOGBOMB’S IMPACT: dogpatch.press/tag/dogbomb
Last June, Dogbomb’s friend Trip Collie announced a tribute book with stories and art in memory of Dogbomb. Midwest Collie organized it with help from Trip, and it was planned to be over 120 pages with submissions from over 200 artists, with all proceeds going to benefit the ALSAOCC. It’s ready!
Finally done! The work of @midwestcollie start this is complete. All of the artists, and other people involved to make this book happen are absolutely amazing! The pictures do not do it justice. It starts to ship after the holidays, and some will be available for mff..thank you.. pic.twitter.com/Mi6yo9eJF2
— Paw to Press @ Furpoc (@Paw_To_Press) November 28, 2019
Went suiting at Mutt Lynch’s Bar in Newport Beach, one of @dogbomb1’s favorite hangouts. Bouncer wouldn’t let us in because it was too crowded. 300 customers’ voices chanted “LET THEM IN! LET THEM IN!” The bouncer relented, & 3 of us went in. Joyful chaos ensued.: Joe G.Bear pic.twitter.com/hH6KXer64r
— Zarafa (@Zarafagiraffe) November 10, 2019
WhiteClaw previously submitted Why furries should care about politics in 2018.
Most of us on the internet have probably heard of and witnessed dogpiling. Some of us have even been unlucky enough to be on the receiving end. But nearly everyone will deny having taken part in it.
Even people in the middle of dogpiling will resist the label. According to them, they are: critiquing, complaining, offering their opinion, standing up for themselves and/or others, responding, calling out — and any other number of words and terms that can be used to describe their actions.
But never are they dogpiling.
So, what is this strange act that seems to be everywhere, but committed by no one? To answer that question, we have to start at the beginning.
The Cycle Begins: Something “Bad”
With very few exceptions the cycle starts the same way. Someone, somewhere, does something “bad.”
Now I say “bad” because the range of events that can kick off the cycle is so broad, that one word is poorly equipped to describe them all.
Within the spectrum of events there are: making an honest mistake or slip up, wording something poorly, having a bad take, promoting an idea or opinion that is polarizing, promoting an idea or opinion that is actively harmful, being a bigot, or committing acts that are dangerously close to or are in fact illegal.
Pretty much any event that begins the cycle can be slotted somewhere into the above list. But the truth is that the act or event that begins the process often doesn’t matter in a way that significantly affects what happens next. And what happens next is, invariably…
The Cycle Continues: The Callout
Now there have been countless articles, essays, and thinkpieces that have explored the topic of callouts and cancel culture, and honestly, I’m not here to rehash. Callouts, like most things are neither all good nor all bad.
It is worth mentioning a few things, however.
Whatever the “bad” thing that kicked off the cycle, the internet is a pretty big, chaotic place where things can be and often are lost in the shuffle. Even within a relatively smaller community such as the furry fandom, it’s impossible to keep track of all the events, discussions, and drama happening at any given moment.
But within the fandom (and really the internet in general), there are online accounts who, more or less, exist solely to post and signal boost callouts. Now I won’t name names, but many of you know the type.
They typically have hundreds to thousands of followers and usually gain more with each callout post. They love internet fights and have a seemingly endless amount of time to engage in them. And their big go-to move, especially on Twitter, is the “quote retweet” to ensure every one of their followers has a chance to see not only how clever, woke, and perfect their response is, but also the account of the person that dared to offend them.
Now I said I wasn’t going to rehash the callout/cancel culture debate, and I honestly don’t think all call outs are bad. Some I consider almost a public service.
Yes, I would like to know if this person whose work I enjoy is actually a racist, or abuses women, or hates trans people. Because whether or not I still enjoy their work (which is an entirely other topic about if it’s possible to separate art from an artist and whether you should even bother trying to), I don’t want to support that person. Not with my money, not with exposure… and probably not with my appreciation of their work, either.
So good can come from callouts. But, one of my favorite articles on this topic, titled “We Can’t Fix The Internet” has the following lines:
“It isn’t advocacy, it isn’t activism, it’s pure performance. It’s fundamentally the equivalent of saying “you’re in my hopes and prayers,” after a national tragedy.”
Yes, the town gossip can be an invaluable source of information when you need it. But they aren’t doing it for you. They’re doing it for themselves. So, make of that what you will.
@speaksangie did nice work here. Callouts on their own fall into "the thrill of empty catharsis and spectacle", they can't substitute for deep investigation. Of course there's a difference between "performative wokeness vs de-platforming of harm" as a commenter says. 1/ https://t.co/2aS6JY7lAD
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 11, 2019
The Cycle 3: This Time It’s Personal — The Dogpile
Now it’s tempting to blame the callout accounts for what comes next, and certainly some of their tactics are designed to elicit a specific response. But the cycle is not a coordinated, planned event. In fact, it’s often very reactionary and spur of the moment.
And while “raids” conducted by forums and sub-communities do result in dogpiling, there is one very important difference. In the cycle, the members of the dogpile don’t know about each other.
Side A: The Attackers
Okay that’s not entirely true. It’s not like each person in a dogpile is sealed off in a bubble. But members of Side A do tend to suffer from tunnel vision.
In fact, at this point, the word “dogpile” seems like an inappropriate metaphor for what’s happening. A better visual description would be a wolf pack biting at and tearing apart its victim. Each wolf is definitely aware of the others, but their main concern is getting in there, and biting off a piece for themselves.
And that’s why members of the dogpile (or wolf pack, or whatever you want to call it), don’t see themselves as a group. At least not at this stage of events. Each person views themselves as unique. In fact, many view themselves as the leader of a silent army. They are the ones speaking up and championing for those who can’t defend themselves.
Unfortunately, many of the people they’re “leading” are doing the exact same thing.
This is why it’s impossible to engage with a dogpile. There’s virtually no communication between its members. Which brings us to…
Side B: The… Bictim(?)
To the victim of the dogpile, the attack is not one of several individuals, but a single, solitary mass of hate directed right at them. Because Side A has little to no communication, many of its members will repeat the same words or phrases. To the person on the receiving end, this feels like a coordinated effort, where the attackers have rallied behind a very specific interpretation or criticism of events.
(It could take another article to list all the ways in which interpretations can be out of context, distorted by emotion, misstated with crude literalism about figurative meaning, mischaracterized in bad faith, or otherwise twisted and cooked-up to hurt.)
Amplifying makes the attackers feel more justified and their grievance more real. But the reality is that the repetition of certain words or phrases is a symptom of their division, rather than their unity. It’s also the result of a single person receiving several comments in a very short amount of time. After a while, the entire thing starts to blur and run together. The brain focuses on what’s repeated.
Now if the victim tries to call out people for dogpiling, each person will claim they’re independently offering criticism… which may be true. And the victim can try to respond with a nuanced explanation that is tailored to each and every person coming after them. (It becomes orders of complexity harder the more twisted the accusations are from sources playing telephone-game from a root cause.)
But… Individual responses to an onslaught is a ridiculous thing to expect anyone to do.
Except that’s exactly what the people on Side A want. Remember that Side A doesn’t see themselves as a group, they see themselves as individuals. So, because they have individual criticisms, they expect individual responses.
Which is why what Side B does next never, ever works.
The Cycle 2.0: The Public Apology
The section titles I’ve been using here have mostly been jokes, but there is a sort of 2.0 or next phase element to this part of the cycle. See, Side B has been drowning in a deluge of negative comments and criticism, and it’s not feasible for them to address everyone individually. So, they pretty much have two options.
Option 1: Run.
Now, most people don’t go with this tactic because it usually involves abandoning your online accounts. It’s also not a great look because there’s a mindset that only the guilty run. (It isn’t true, but it is the first conclusion most people jump to.)
Option 2: The public apology. (The more popular of the two.)
This is where Side B attempts to explain themselves, apologizes for their actions, and seeks forgiveness. The statement can’t address every criticism that’s been lobbed at them, so it typically goes for a more general, “I messed up, I’m so sorry, please forgive me.”
Some are short, some are long, and some spend a little too much time trying to explain or rationalize their actions. But it’s a typical reaction that most people at the center of a dogpile are going to try and save face at least a little. What matters is what the person does next and how they act going forward when —
Oh wait, never mind, no it doesn’t. Because this never works. In fact, this is where the cycle begins its 2.0 phase, and a new set of dogpiling occurs in response to the public apology. The statement is criticized for being cookie cutter, insincere, and just all around not good enough.
And at this phase of the cycle, it’s tempting to write the remaining members of Side A off as trolls, and there are certainly a few of them who are just there to cause damage. But the amount of anger and rage some of these people exhibit can make them seem like trolls, when in reality, they’re just really, really mad.
Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to tell the difference.
For a long time I have given opinions that if a callout is used it should come with higher goals for longer term effect. Exposing while reporting or organizing has a place, but aim for a "high value target". Just attacking, making it a sport and chasing clout sucks. 3/
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 11, 2019
Now before we wrap things up, I’d like to address a couple of things.
1. “Genuine criticism =/= harassment.”
This is a phrase popular with Side A when they’re called out for dogpiling. It’s also a massive form of gaslighting that’s attempting to delude everyone.
“Genuine” means real, which is in direct contrast with… fake? This is basically a math equation, so if real criticism doesn’t equal harassment, then fake criticism does? And therefore, harassment equals fake criticism?
Except, why does it matter whether or not I believe what I’m saying? If I’m following you around, shouting it at you, it’s still harassment. You can follow someone around and shout “Trans rights are human rights!” But if they don’t want you there, you’re harassing them.
(Now does that person deserve to be harassed? I don’t know, are you just following around a random person and shouting at them? Because there are better ways to get your message out.)
The point is that this is a phrase that tries to convince both the person on Side A and the person on Side B that what’s happening… isn’t actually happening. It also makes no sense and isn’t true.
2. “Attacker” and “victim.”
There’s a connotation that accompanies these terms that suggests the “attacker” is always in the wrong, and the “victim” is always in the right. But I don’t believe that’s true. You can be a victim of your own terrible actions. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve what’s coming to you.
As for “attacker” well… If everyone in a dogpile where calmly stating something like “I feel like you have maligned this group of people with your words/actions, and I would very much like you to explain yourself and/or apologize”… we wouldn’t even need to even have this discussion.
But an attack is defined as an aggressive action and members of a dogpile are pretty aggressive. I’m not saying that aggression is always unwarranted, but dressing it up as something else isn’t much better than the whole “genuine criticism =/= harassment” thing.
Sometimes, something should look and sound ugly. That’s why we don’t call it the “pretty truth.”
This stuff came up in a phone call with Gizmodo this weekend. They're working on a story about furry history and how it evolves with social media. A need for deeper investigation and the shallowness of callouts was just a small part of the topic. 7/
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 11, 2019
The Final Chapter
So, is dogpiling bad? Afterall, if callouts can be good or even have good results, can’t dogpiling be the same?
Here’s the problem. Dogpiling is pretty much a masturbatory act. The callout is posted, and you get to ride a wave of indignation along with other people.
But it isn’t really accomplishing anything. That big, public apology that Side B posts? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t make anybody feel better. Because the goal of the dogpile isn’t to have Side B change for the better.
The dogpile wants only one thing: to revel in the enjoyment of taking someone down.
Because if it were about something else, literally anything else, then dogpiling would be the least effective means to an end.
If you feel someone is dangerous, problematic, or just overall a bad person, you could spread the word about them to others who are affected, organizing with real solidarity. You could start a campaign to have them banned from conventions or group outings to create distance. You could encourage others not to support them online and dry up their earnings. You could call the police.
But if your solution to a problem is to confront someone both publicly and directly, I think it’s important to ask: What is your long term goal? Are you looking for a response, or are you looking for a thrill?
It’s right after Thanksgiving, and have you had enough stuffing? Want more?
Until 2014, there were few or no openly advertised, public-access furry fetish parties in the world. Then San Francisco got Wild Things at The Citadel, a BDSM dungeon club. (Wild Things is now Animal Farm.) It’s an opportunity to visit a licensed, safety-minded, full-time venue in the middle of the city. Any curious visitor can have a healthy, nonjudgemental experience of an often-hidden layer of the furry community. If the media ever mentions it, it’s either “Gross! Consenting adults are having sex!” Or, they collaborate with furries to spread coy PR and euphemisms to deny it exists. If it existed of course THEY don’t do it!
That meant no access unless you score a private invite from the right people for the special convention room parties. If you don’t know them, or you’re shy or worried about that setting, you just have to feel left out. But now you can visit a safe club for it. The popularity of it shows how unreal the PR can be.
So, what really happens here?
Everything. Got a murrsuit with a hidden SPH? Bring it and hide nothing. Have a partner whose kinks align with yours? Bring them, or come find a new one. Or, just come casually and enjoy the lounge part of The Citadel where nothing naughty is happening — just chatting, a counter full of snacks, and maybe, making friends with the person(s) you want to drag into the dungeon on a leash for a frisky good time.
Shy newcomers welcome! People who think they’re too clean-cut, you can come too, but don’t be surprised if you leave with stories of things you never thought you’d be caught doing!
Party like this:
- A dungeon full of gear and toys.
- Murrsuiters, pet players, and any animal costuming or gear are encouraged, with lockers and headless lounge.
- Safety supplies provided (house rules discourage going raw dog unless with your SO.)
- Lounge has lots of couches and chill space, with a full kitchen serving snacks.
- A light-up disco floor with DJ.
- Volunteers are needed for setup, cleanup, kitchen, and more. Want to help run demos?
Get involved, find friends, and volunteer:
Happy spanksgiving everyfur
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 29, 2019
Remember All! We have an upcoming party!
Saturday, November 30, 2019
8:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Location: SF Citadel – 181 Eddy Street, San Francisco
Cost: $25 cash at door, $26 credit card
We hope to see all you pet players, furries, trainers, and anyone that enjoys a fun night! pic.twitter.com/BiVXN1FhD6
— Animal Farm party (formerly Wild Things) (@AnimalFarmSF) November 7, 2019
Here’s Part 3 for yesterday’s article, which asked: If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? When I got invited to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles for their second animation/comedy/music event, I added a side trip to the nearby Prancing Skiltaire house. That’s a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open it to fans by the hundreds. It was all started by an invite from “Dr. Girlfriend.”
Fan video screening at the Prancing Skiltaire
House resident Changa showed parody videos where he recut Disney’s Zootopia to emulate iconic TV show openings. There’s a channel of them that goes with curating videos for Furry.Today, one of many projects run from the house including The Confurence Archive, InFurNation and the Ursa Major Awards.
What Dr. Girlfriend says about visiting:
Going to the “iconic” furry house was interesting. Rod gave Patch & I the “nickel tour” which was awesome! What stood out to me was the vast collection of animal characters, including: ceramics, plushies, anime, drawings, zines, videos & so much more.
They told me that they have furry parties every month that have gotten to around 300 people! Whoah. Also that the local In-N-Out restaurant banned the furries from congregating there because their patio was so small. Hehe. I know a little about being kicked out of venues (public spaces?) as someone who helps organize Bike Parties, which sometimes get into the thousands of bicycle riders having a dance party on the street.
Anyways, everyone was super friendly and they even had Christmas furry art up (before Thanksgiving, but who’s counting?) These guys are immersed in the culture, and there’s even a documentary coming out about the fur-dorks that I got a mini sneak peak of! Look forward to The Fandom in 2020!
The self-proclaimed “dorks” and originators of some of the first furry cons and Prancing Skiltaire house gave us an interesting and informative look into the heart & love & art that goes into a fandom. Also we got dinner together and it was delicious and full of great conversation and good vibes.
Director of ‘The Fandom’ Ash Coyote talks about visiting for a video shoot — look for a trailer launching this week on Black Friday!
Dr. Girlfriend mentioned that we got a look at the documentary that co-director Eric Risher, Chipfox and Ash Coyote have been at work on all year, after a successful $32,000 launch on Kickstarter. Ash is excited to have a trailer almost ready to show. She sent a few words about visiting the house before us, plus photos from the video shoot of Rod and Mark. Ash says:
When we first approached the story of our community’s history, it was a little hard to find a “ground zero” for the birth of the fandom. As with many subcultures, the concepts from which they are built tend to occur in unison and then coalesce into something bigger. This was very much the case with the furry fandom.
Starting in the late 1970’s, Mark and Rod played a pivotal role in the shaping of our early community, and laid the framework for a lot of our community as it exists today. They hosted furry parties at science fiction conventions since the mid 1980’s and put on the first furry con in 1989 (Confurence 0).
Mark and Rod are the grandparents of the furry fandom. They take center stage in our project, and help us to explore our origins in animation, art and community set to the backdrop of the Skiltaire House.
After-travel chat with a few good furs
Patch: Just did an awesome pilgrimage to the holiest shrine of furry.
Chipfox: They wanted shirts from us and I felt bad that we didn’t print extras >.<
Patch: I think they have enough furry stuff though i still brought them more. Maybe enough shirts will be demanded to make more.
Aris: Where is this??
Changa Lion: Oldest furry house that started in the 80s. Prancing Skiltaire in SoCal.
Arrkay: If someone had the funds to do a travel blog, what would the stops of the “furry pilgrimage” be? Prancing Skiltaire is the obvious place to start. At least one major con per continent? Japan’s fox themed new year or cat festivals?
Cosmo: You’d have to include Anthrocon as the oldest con still running. MFF as the largest. Eurofurence for the oldest in Europe. Japan cat festivals, Chinese New Year festivals might be a good shout too.
Arrkay: Are there major art installations of anthro statues or artwork hung in galleries?
Cosmo: Actually JMoF would be a good one to hit up on the way. I’d chuck the Greyfriars Bobby and Hachiko statues on for the feels angle.
Arrkay: Corporate vacation hellscapes like Disneyland?
Cosmo: See I was about to say that, but at the same time… while they’ve had an influence on furry, they’ve had enough exposure IMHO.
Arrkay: Are there any mascot museums?
Cosmo: The Mascot Hall of Fame? I’d like to see someone do a tour of old-guard furry artists and writers, the Terrie Smiths, TaniDaReals and Olvens of the world. Fandom history’s a big thing for me, I find it fascinating.
Dralen Dragonfox: I think that right now, there would have to be a visit to Toronto during a Kerfluffle or a Howl.
Arrkay: So far the furry pilgrimage would roughly be:
- Prancing Skiltaire
- Anthrocon (oldest running)
- MFF (Largest)
- Mascot Hall Of Fame (Indianapolis)
- Disneyland/costume heavy themepark
- Furry Gathering of China
- Furry Japan
- FurDu (Australia)
- South Afrifur
- Fox Festival New Year in Japan / Cat Festival Japan
- Alternative venue furry party (Toronto’s Kerfluffle or similar)
- Plus any cool statues/art installations or relevant museums.
Here’s Part 2 of yesterday’s article, which asked: If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? It could include conventions, mainstream destinations, and special stops that a non-furry wouldn’t think of. When I got invited to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles for their second animation/comedy/music event, I made it a mainstream AND fandom mini-tour, with a side trip to the nearby Prancing Skiltaire house. That’s a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open it to fans by the hundreds. It was all started by an invite from “Dr. Girlfriend.”
Till next time, LA pic.twitter.com/oUvm6I1x0U
— [adult swim] (@adultswim) November 17, 2019
Festival review from Dr. Girlfriend:
The Adult Swim Festival in Los Angles was sooo much fun! I went with Patch (who was in fursuit) as Dr. GirlFriend from the Venture Brothers cartoon. I had a blast! He was the only one among thousands of goers who was fully fursuited, in his punk-rat suit, and much to my delight and laughter he got a lot of people asking if he was Chuck-E-Cheese (more like Chuck-E-Cheese’s evil twin).
One thing that stands out in my mind is when we both went to the bathroom, he was taking a whiz and someone told him, while he was in suit, “Nu-uh, we aren’t doing this in here”. Hahaha. Such a stigma with fursuits.
Another person said and pointed, “oh hell no!” , to which I quickly took out my laser gun from my garter belt and blasted him away. Other then those two haters, the festival was SUPER receptive to the giant furry rat. Multiple people came up and said they were furry too! There were even several people who recognized Patch from his blog (jeez, soooo popular… what? ever!) I’m not gonna lie, I spend hours upon hours on my costume and he still got more requests then me for pictures (jealous, not jealous).
The highlight of MY night was when someone had asked me where I bought my hat? Biiiiiitch – I made it!! And that is one of the things I love about the furry community, that people put so much time and effort into their fursona/costume/cosplay/outfit/whatever you call it, that it is truly a work of art.
I loved dancing to music and getting to see a few of the creators of my favorite animations, like Dethklok/Metalocalypse, the new season premiere of Rick and Morty, and some Squidbillies live in action. Overall, it was a total success and we even got a picture together on the official Adult Swim twitter feed!
Next stop: the holiest shrine of furry fandom.
The festival covered Friday and Saturday, then there was a full Sunday to visit the Prancing Skiltaire house, 40 minutes away in Garden Grove, CA.
Pure windows-down balmy-weather SoCal driving needed some vintage 1980’s New Wave tunes, like Missing Persons — Walking In L.A. (Fandom vibes: to break out on early MTV they booked their own shows and made their own outrageous Day-Glo makeup and clothes.)
Our hosts were Changa Lion, Rod O’Riley, and Mark Merlino (Sy Sable). This is Old Guard fandom — and I have to say after being at a high profile media event with attention on fursuits, these founders prove YOU DON’T NEED A SUIT TO BE FURRY.
Their front door led in to an Aladdin’s Cave of treasure. Shelves, bins, statues, and framed art of anthropomorphic creatures were stacked and showcased from floor to ceiling in every media imaginable, including dead ones that haven’t existed since the 1970’s.
They didn’t need more, but that didn’t stop me from bringing gift DVD’s I got in Prague of The Little Mole (AKA the Mickey Mouse of the Iron Curtain.) The foreign toons were received with gratitude and shock at the prices written in Czech crowns, until I said “that’s not US dollars!” I hope they join the rotation of animation played at their monthly house parties.
Changa showed us his elaborate fan parody videos, where he recut Disney’s Zootopia to emulate iconic TV show openings, like the X-Files or Moonlighting. The 2010’s CG graphics were copied onto VHS tape and back to digital, and dubbed over with vintage audio for a mind-bending Mandela multiverse effect. The same was done for Zootopia VHS tapes in clamshell cases with carefully simulated labels and stickers — artifacts fit for a Museum of Furry. The Confurence Archive is the closest thing online, curated by Changa from the treasures all over their house.
After a nickel tour by Rod, 5 of us kept talking into the night, including a walk for dinner at their nearby mainstay diner. For a future article, I got to ask Mark about how Second Life accommodated furries years ago (Linden Labs recently engaged me about new outreach for 2020.)
Some of the best talk was about the house’s place in fandom.
Their monthly parties had brought 300 people in the past. It became important to limit couch crashers when things got out of hand with 8 or more long-term stayers, and cars blocking driveways or bringing late night talking and drinking on the sidewalks. Now they say attendance may be closer to 65, give or take.
Mark had been told that the house was a long-time LGBT safe space that helped launch careers for dozens of past furry roommates including animators and tech pros. He said, “That wasn’t the point, but now that I think of it, that’s true!” They weren’t chosen to live there because of identity, but shared interest; the conscious interest just aligned with their nature. Just like when that nature is strong in the whole fandom.
The old label “lifestyler”, sometimes said negatively, was just people being themselves like you can see in how their nest is put together. I’m so grateful they open it this way for monthly partygoers and our visit.
- In the main room with Changa (he’s camera-shy) and Mark. Something jazzy was playing.
- Their collection has games, movies, fanzines, comics, guidebooks, science fiction paperbacks, and Manga sets since some were rare imports in the 1970’s.
- The plushie corner is full of things left after parties for years.
- Rod poses with Mark’s art of a critter on a 1982 Subaru (rainbow background is washed out.)
- Rod showed 1980′-90’s multi-genre guidebooks that worked like a “phone book of fandom”, where you could find which shops dealt “funny animal” goods, get mailing lists that were sold to fund the guides, or network with others before the internet.
- Look up above Mark: those are bins stuffed with furry comics. Every corner is set up for the treasure hoard.
- Rod occupies the executive command center for his In-Fur-Nation newsletter run since 1991.
- No space is left un-furred. I dug the Robin Hood figures (top right). Not shown: Mark’s Otter collection that won a prize at a fair for collectible displays.
- In Changa’s room, we watch a private work-print trailer for The Fandom documentary, in progress from Ash Kries, Eric Risher and Chipfox.
- Mark and Rod pose by video shot at the house for the movie not long before this visit.
Changa, Mark and Rod reminded me of about what furry fandom is about. Those roots can inspire new watchers with The Fandom documentary, which just finished its last shoot and is going to post-production for release soon. Look for news about it here soon. Tomorrow: more about furry traveling.
If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? Try some big conventions and mainstream destinations like Disneyland or the Mascot Hall of Fame, and some special stops that a non-furry wouldn’t think of. California has ones like the Prancing Skiltaire house, a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open their house to fans by the hundreds.
A travel story wasn’t my plan when I got an invite from… let’s call them “Dr. Girlfriend”, to go to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles on November 15-16, 2019. The opportunity just fell on me, so I made it a casual mini-tour including a stop nearby in Garden Grove, CA to visit the Skiltaire friends.
Dr. Girlfriend had tickets to the second live festival for Adult Swim, a now almost 2-decades old TV programming block for absurdist comedy and alternative animation. Cartoon Network hosts it at night while young audiences sleep, unless naughty kids are sneaking it (like I used to do for MTV Liquid Television). The leading show is Rick and Morty and it rarely has anything furry. But the show creators definitely know about us, and festival goers gave fist-bumps to a 6-foot rat scurrying among them. As “Patch Packrat” (I’m usually a husky dog) I was the only fursuiter in sight at the 22,000 capacity Banc of California Stadium.
I’m not a huge fan of all Adult Swim shows (I’ve seen all Rick and Mortys and sampled others) but this multi-media mutation had me saying MORE PLEASE. The lineup had music acts tied to the TV shows, with rap, heavy metal, DJ/house, and the dancy, synthy, or darker side of indie rock. Live comedy sets had talent from their own shows and voiceover artists for animation. Animation screenings mixed with creator Q&A panels like you’d see at Comic Con. The live experience included games/rides and stadium-sized sound and lighting.
The geniuses behind it created more of a rock show/carnival vibe and top-down organizing, compared to furry cons with their focus on fan-led panels, small dealers, dances and dance comps, room parties, and personal art. Even if this much larger event was media-centric, it was full of energy you don’t get from a film fest or animation industry event. And how much would you expect furries at a rap or metal show? This hybrid event is a killer place for a furry meetup!
I was surprised to be the only one strutting my stuff in fursona, although several stealth-furs high-fived me for being bold. Here’s what I got into.
— jax (the only) (@the0nlyjax) November 17, 2019
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 16, 2019
HEALTH was my main draw besides Dethklok because I like industrial rock, but it wasn’t a great start. It was early on Friday and the crowds were nowhere near the size it got later on Saturday. They filled a small corner of the stadium without much movement, while the band thudded on stage to try filling the void, but the emotionally-distant singing felt lost in the racket. It wasn’t bad and made me bop a little but I’d prefer to see it in a dark cave instead.
DETHKLOK killed it. They made maximum use of the venue for their first show in 5 years. Brutal gore-toons splashed across jumbo video screens and blasted my eyeballs with shock editing. It included a couple of comedy breaks and super helpful read-along lyrics so you could laugh at the blurts of blasphemy from the singing. I only like small doses of death metal (Pungent Stench <3) so words and cartoons filled in what I’d miss by just having my ears pummeled. “Impeach God” had a hilarious live debut. The crowd wasn’t the most active, but it was OK with the 110% effort on stage.
RAPSODY was a rapper with good danceable beats and conscious lyrics that charmed the crowd. The LA crowd was different from who I’d mingle with in the SF Bay. The music made it feel good to be there, and other people must have felt the same with the air getting smoky. I barely listen to rap but this won me over.
JAMIE XX did a stellar DJ set of dance/house music that made me do a beeline to the front to make it my personal furry rave. Here too the crowd was lower energy than a fur con, but it was packed for the peak of the festival and they loved a giant rat jumping like a kangaroo. I got hugs and gave piggyback rides to people who surely wouldn’t have done it without a furry invading their ranks.
No really my neck is messeded up. But furries don't get old, they just get new fursonas, lol
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 16, 2019
— jamieloftus (@jamieloftusHELP) November 16, 2019
Panels, screenings, and interactive stuff:
ROBOT CHICKEN had a panel with the writers and makers. Writer Jamie was on stage after she got a pic with me at the afterparty on Friday night when I just thought she was a random fun person. Seth Green took questions about the show and how to get work at Adult Swim (make your own shit to get noticed.)
SQUIDBILLIES had the show cast doing live dirty comedy country/rockabilly songs, and one doing off-kilter puppeteering of Granny Squid, dressed head to toe in the same fuzzy pink as her puppet. And a standup comic named Connor O’Malley seemed perplexed at a furry in his crowd, then did a bit about his ancestors being “ratters” who would chase the vermin in their fields.
RICK AND MORTY Season 4 episodes were on par with previous ones, but LAZOR WULF disappointed. It’s a show based on a Tumblr comic with some talking animals. I wanted to like the nifty vaporwave/future funk vibe (it has a predominantly black voice cast) with graphic objects floating in animated space, but the “so random” humor got few laughs.
Those used smaller screens, but ERIC ANDRE LIVE used the same stadium stage as the music acts, which made certain stunts so… extra(!) like pulling a random guy from the audience and making him call his ex-girlfriend live to the world.
For interactive fun there was a “bull ride” with a hot dog, and cat-jousting. I avoided that and the giant inflatable slide in fursuit… wouldn’t want another hole knocked in my ear or get tossed and have my tail caught. The “Meatwad dome” was very worthwhile for trippy animation projected across the inside, and there was an elaborate rig to 3D-scan your dancing and add it to a scene of Rick and Morty doing the “Show Us What You Got” dance for “Get Schwifty.” They said they would try the extra high-def scan for my fursuit but it didn’t seem to scan that well and the app won’t play on my phone. Get furries to test it next time?
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 17, 2019
Location, crowd, and fursuiting:
The LA weather was as mild as could be. The stadium entrance level was a ring you had to circle to reach the stairs for access to the lower field level, sending you past all the vendors for merch and food with festival prices. If I was a poorer rat, for $14 beers I might fill up on cheese before the show or scurry in through the sewer (don’t do that, the entry cost was nice). Decent choices though. I like trash, but a grilled chicken sandwich felt healthy. That vendor had no line and was sympathetic to my sweaty costuming, handing me free beers for both paws.
To know where to go, the festival app had super useful multiple views by time, place, a visual view, a “favorites” list and an RSVP list for panels with limited capacity. The stadium seating always had space for breaks. A fursuit lounge could have been nice but at no point was I ever pressured by crowding. Attendance started slow but by late Saturday everything was raging.
The crowd was half normies in street clothes, and then nerd/comic/anime types with only moderate cosplay, like casual Ricks. Staff was abundant in standout color. There wasn’t a fursuit everywhere you turned, so anyone like Dr. Girlfriend stood out nicely. It wasn’t nearly as queer/misfit/young as fur con goers, and there was some funny side-eyeing at my fur but not enough to get ugly, and appreciation too. There was fandom magic. Shoutout to the nice woman who called me brave and said she was too shy to come in partial suit!
I lied a little about this trip being casual. Making news means eye for opportunity, so I asked ahead to the festival’s media/partnering contacts about interviews or backstage access. Of course they don’t care about a mere furry blog when big Hollywood people do their thing there every day. This fandom is the size of a flea on a dog to them. Something else worked: being there.
They didn’t answer when I tried asking for a little face time, but they kind of made us the ass of the fest. I’m so honored!
Till next time, LA pic.twitter.com/oUvm6I1x0U
— [adult swim] (@adultswim) November 17, 2019
Can’t wait to go again! Tomorrow in Part 2: A review from Dr. Girlfriend, visiting the Prancing Skiltaire, and more about furry traveling.
Posted by a friend: “Marked all my videos as unlisted — Will delete them later — I’m sorry to disappoint everyone but the voice acting video is canceled due to the new law.”
Yikes! That’s not a nice thing to post, and plenty of others are feeling afraid of being fined under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA.) The law is around 2 decades old but was recently used for major action about violation by Youtube. It seems to threaten a growing scene for furry Youtube creators:
- Furries are winning Emmys and Youtube Creator Awards.
- More Furry YouTubers You Might Not Have Seen
- Furry YouTubers You Might Not Have Seen
Sadly I might have to say goodbye to youtube. The new COPPA laws may put a lot of furry youtubers under fire and possibly a $45,000 fine for each video from what I understand. :*(
— Ino89777 (@TheInodog) November 19, 2019
About the law and changes to Youtube, PCGamer reports:
YouTube is changing significantly in January, and video creators are afraid they may lose income and even be fined by the US government for making videos about, among other things, videogames.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a federal law in the US which forbids the collection of data about children under 13 without parental consent. Generally, that’s simply meant that social media sites like Twitter ask for your date of birth when you sign up, and boot anyone who says they’re under 13. A kid can lie, of course, but the Federal Trade Commission allows for that reality.
Starting in January, however, it won’t allow “content made for kids” on YouTube to include targeted advertising or employ YouTube’s social features.
There’s several problem here. First there’s the idea of the government coming after any average creator. But not so fast: that probably isn’t going to be a worry for anyone on the small and personal level, or furry fandom level. If you aren’t running a huge network that does shady things for money, you’re probably OK:
Heard about new COPPA rules for Youtube? Don't panic! Many Youtube furries are upset, but may not understand the situation. Don't delete your channel — the COPPA panic may be Youtube's own creation. This video explains. (Tip: @sturmovikdragon) 1/https://t.co/HSalqdYrDZ
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 22, 2019
Next, is the issue of how to comply with this law, with creators being held responsible for notification about if their content is for kids. That can be a VERY murky condition to meet. Furries know that animation is often treated as kid stuff by default, even when loved by grown-ups.
Some of YouTube’s most popular categories falls into a gray area for the policy, including gaming videos, family vlogging, and toy reviews.
Lastly, apart from what the government expects, Youtube is putting in more automated flagging of videos that will surely create a lot of false positives. This isn’t what the government asked for; it’s something Youtube is doing to benefit itself more than its creators.
For those final two problems, and the fallout on creators with Youtube making it hard to monetize and support themselves, we can only wait and see how things go. But the idea that the government could fine you may not be a reason to stop creating on the fandom level.
UPDATE: this lawyer’s video confirms it. The problem isn’t the FTC — the FTC recognizes “general audience” content that appeals to either kids or adults. The problem is Youtube is not giving an option for creators to put their content in this category, to protect themselves.
Is your identity a stretch goal?
On Flayrah, Sonious wrote two articles about Artworktee, a popular furry t-shirt company with many happy customers. In May 2019, he wrote a positive story about their charity benefit campaign. Now in November 2019, a shirt selling campaign is not so positively covered. The difference — no charity this time.
After being asked to write, Sonious felt conflicted about giving them “blatant advertisement” as news. It could have been turned down, but wait; there’s more. He found reasons to criticize their campaign launched on October 22: “Furry and Proud Shirts! Show your furry pride with ArtworkTee’s new line of LGBT+ shirts!” On Kickstarter as I write, it has 396 backers pledging $24,758 — likely in the top few percent of furry crowdfunding.
The article digs into the ethics (and sincerity) of selling things to special communities, and who reaps the rewards. The problem is, the campaign sorts sexual identities into money tiers/stretch goals, letting popularity rule who is included. Demand gets more and more divisive the more obscure the identity is.
Imagine sorting by race, or other legally protected class (a specific list that excludes politics) and leaving out the least numerous. Many places in life need separation from market demand — what if this was dividing LGBT medical care by popularity? Luckily it’s just shirts, but it’s a jump-off point to bigger topics.
Of COURSE discrimination isn’t the intention of Artworktee (assume good faith). But arguably, it shows a profit motive that isn’t about identity or pride at all. They could be selling flavors of soup, or rare Pokemon cards just the same, and who likes being a token?
Fursona Pins: “Your identity is not a stretch goal.”
Sonious will be interested to see the angle he found has been taken seriously by other businesses.
That’s the case with Fursona Pins. In February 2019, I was asked to do a news article about the business; and I also avoided advertising by reposting their own story, and did an informative Q&A instead. (Business news is news.) Fursona Pins went on to launch an LGBT furry themed Kickstarter campaign in June 2019.
Pride Pins became “the #1 most funded enamel pin Kickstarter in history, and the most funded LGBT project live on Kickstarter right now.” During its open month, 5,304 backers pledged $249,610. Whoah! (I’m shocked I hadn’t noticed this already when I talk about high fursuit auction prices being a sign of fandom activity.)
Notice: the campaign unlocked tiers for animal mascots, not identities. They just got recolored to represent whatever identity is wanted with no limits on 15 flags. It came with a repeated promise:
Now I’m wondering if Artworktee saw the huge pledges to Pride Pins with dollars in their eyes, and rushed to get in the same game, but missed the point of it. A mistake… or part of a history? Sonious only touched ONE Artworktee campaign, not even getting to a lot of extra context behind it. That’s why I made a ANOTHER response on Flayrah, with another article’s worth of info (read on).
There’s nothing wrong with shirts, cool art, furries, or being LGBT of course. Some of Artworktee’s supporters and shirt models are friends I really love. My response isn’t a “beware” to tell you to stop getting shirts or supporting the company now. Please don’t cancel anyone; it’s to just make you think and look ahead, and ask, what business will you support in the future? And why does it matter? You can ask them to improve, and vote with your dollars.
- On Flayrah, my other response covers a lot more than one sale campaign — read it here.
- This updates my August 2018 article, ArtworkTee issues and the heart of the furry economy.
- Furries have a history of going independent from the mainstream to be a subculture that resists commercializing. Instead it acts like a collective project, and a real community (not just a consumer group) where people pitch in together, and capitalizing on it too much is kind of cheating.
- Artworktee isn’t like other fandom projects, it uses aggressive tactics that look like bootstrapping, growth-hacking, or SEO targeting you’d expect from mainstream startups. Before it was Artworktee, it was “Drawponies,” an art operation involved in a scandal of tracing to crank up production. That was rediscovered and they did PR effort to fix things.
- Then Artworktee kept using shady tactics to farm followers, boost traffic, and push merchandizing with other accounts (Furrymemes, Awoonews).
- It’s a problem because of Part (1). This fandom isn’t just business, and what about hard work of small creators who don’t use those methods? Talking about commercialism can help them when there’s a market grab.
Commercializing of the fandom worries some because of the risk of outsiders coming to make a quick buck, while not caring what it’s about, grabbing market from those who do. It’s a good idea to watch out for the tactics here if you see them again.
WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS? Artworktee/Furrymemes/Awoonews ripoff issue.
Background: in 2015, an artist who aggressively monetized brony fandom was caught tracing. https://t.co/pw94VgnfKI
In 2018, furries learned the artist was aggressively monetizing them as Artworktee. 1/ pic.twitter.com/PFYHsY8boC
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 23, 2019
Good news sites are welcome, the more the better. Mine has years of sharing original content no matter what size of audience. Isn't news for reporting, not building audience by shady methods? There will be promises to do better, but why multiple times? @EquestriaDaily
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 24, 2019
Dogpatch Press is commissioning regular new banners — check out a gallery from past months. Along with the art, each artist gets an article with a goal to promote ones outside the USA. Last month, Magferret from the UK was featured with a spooky Halloween banner. Now, Mexican cartoonist Glasses Gator is here with an homage to Disney’s Frozen 2 to coincide with the movie’s wide release later in November. (We could have an American Thanksgiving theme, but this is for fandom. The only colonizing here is by love for talking animals that has no borders.)
(Staff:) Hi Glasses, can you give a little intro about yourself, where you live, and where to find you on social media?
Hi, I’m GlassesGator, I’m 25 years old, I’m Mexican but also 1/4 Chinese. I live around Sonora, and normally you can find me on Twitter as @Glasses Gator. I also have a DeviantArt and FA account but I kind of stopped using those for a while, been wanting to update but it will take me lots of posts.
On your personal profile, I found at least four different alligators* that look like your fursonas or original characters (OC). Do you consider yourself a scalie or a furry?
Well one is an iguana, and no, they aren’t my fursonas. The aqua colored alligator I consider it my mascot, I use him freely for anything and it pretty much represents my gallery and myself in situations (It’s more fun to me than humans in my opinion, making anthro animals expressive are easier than humans for me).
As for the other three reptiles, they are characters for three stories I’ve been working for years, they have slow development but still progress as much as I can. And no, I don’t consider myself a scalie. I simply have fun drawing cartoon animals, it’s easier for me than humans, and of course fun, pretty much it’s what works for me. Reptiles are my favorites of course but I also like other species.
Do you mostly do art in furry fandom, or somewhere else for non-furries? Do you do it for a living, or just sometimes for money, or for fun?
I can draw humans but I still need more practice on those, when I get time. So I don’t do art for any specific Fandom, it’s just art I choose to work on, and most of my commission clients happens to be furries, it doesn’t bother me though.
And it’s a mix of fun and money, and to show stuff I like and my original ideas. Drawing can be fun (and tiring at times). But I also need the money for expenses, and games of course. “For a living” — it’s hard to say honestly, I still don’t know what I wanna aim for exactly with my art.
I've been in a superhero mood for a while so here I drew some doodles of my Superhero OC, Victor!
These took me a while but I had fun doing these, nice warm up to return to art too!
Included a few special guests OCs from friends. pic.twitter.com/uPdP1qgjgn
— Alegator (@GlassesGator) July 29, 2019
Do you think we might have a chance to see you at any furry conventions? Are you interested in such events? Maybe as an artist/dealer?
Well I would like to go to some con someday, always been wanting to go to one, but they’re never nearby to where I live, so it would require expenses to go to a far one. As for me as an artist dealer, I don’t know, the idea sounds nice. But I probably feel too embarrassed to do it since I’ve never done such things, so of course I’d be reluctant. I wouldn’t mind going to a fur con as a regular goer because I might find some good art and other interesting stuff.
Do you have local friends who like cartoon animals like yourself?
I do have a local friend who likes the concept of cartoon animals, but they live in another city not so far from where I am.
About the banner you made for the site, it’s clearly a furry parody of Frozen 2. Is there any other ‘furry’ parody you could imagine?
That pretty much depends, in my opinion. Like, if you’d tell me to imagine an anthro animal parody of the Legend of Zelda, then the obvious choice for Link is a wolf, and a boar for Ganondorf, and for Zelda herself any graceful animal.
So thinking of furry parodies can depend for sure. Some would be easy and some would be hard.
Is there anything you want to add?
Nothing I can think of, but thanks for the interview, I’ve never been interviewed in art related stuff, so it feels nice.
Where can a researcher start to invite furries for a survey? Well, it’s happened here before. Sometimes it means walking on eggshells about tricky topics. In this case, a researcher has requested to announce a survey not just looking at fandom, but sexual behavior in it. This comes with a message that “the furry fandom itself is not explicitly sexual,” and the research is inclusive for members who aren’t.
Experience says that it might get flak from furries who feel like it creates stereotypes. For them I encourage thinking about the point of sex ed in school. I like science, and know that studying or testing isn’t pushing something. If you want less stereotypes, this is how to replace them with facts. Of course it should be done professionally. For that reason, I got permission from the researcher to consult Furscience in case there was any reason to worry. Now I’m happy to help.
Researcher Ashley Brown sent this info, with a general FAQ to be as open as possible and address some of the more common questions about it.
THIS IS ONLY FOR PARTICIPANTS IN THE UK — but anyone can access the participant information sheet on the first page of the survey. It introduces the focus of the research, with advice about comfort, confidentiality, and where to go for assistance about it.
Are you part of the furry fandom and have related sexual interests? Would you like to be involved in research? By taking a survey, you’ll be entered to win one of two £50 Amazon gift vouchers!
The link is here: https://kcliop.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5AyABQ3KByh95IN
A bit about me and this research:
My name is Ashley and I’m currently a PhD researcher at King’s College London conducting a study on a number of different interest groups, including furries. I’m looking at these groups in relation to experiences of discrimination, mental health, and sexual interests. While a good bit of the study asks about sexuality, we understand that not everyone who participates in the furry fandom do so for sexual reasons. There is no prerequisite for being interested in yiff/other sexual aspects of the furry fandom. However, the survey will still have questions that ask about arousal levels in relation to this, as we are trying to get a more detailed picture of the contexts in and extent to which people view this as being sexual, if at all. This was designed to investigate those with furry related sexual interests, but the questions are designed to accommodate/be relevant to furries without related sexual interests.
Other sexual interest groups included here are pet players, BDSM, age players and balloon fetishists.
My goal is to create a study that is all inclusive of people of different gender identities, sexual orientations, age, and backgrounds. This study takes about 30-45 minutes to complete, but I have it set up so you can come back and finish it within a week of starting it- just use the same device as you did when you began taking it.
This involves answering questions about your sexual fantasies, behavior, mental health, personality, experiences of discrimination, and demographic info. All responses are anonymous and we’re not collecting any identifiable info. I need you to help make this research as strong as possible!
What are the eligibility requirements?
- Be a current resident of the United Kingdom
- Be over 18 years of age
- Have an interest or participate in one or more of the following: furries/fursuiting/murrsuiting, balloon fetishism, pet play, BDSM, age play, age regression, or adult baby/diaper wearing.
Why only the United Kingdom? I want to participate!
This is primarily due to legal reasons. We’re asking about sensitive material and not all countries would give ethical approval for this (especially about topics related to age play). Thus, our ethics board only approved this research in the UK. We hope one day we can make a study that’s inclusive of more countries!
I’m asexual- can I still take it?
Yes! if you read the instructions during the portion asking about fantasies and behavior, it asks you to indicate level of interests instead of level of arousal from a scale of very interested to very disinterested. This study recognizes that many asexuals enjoy participating in behaviors sometimes usually associated with these interests. Other portions of the survey may be less relevant to you, but please do your best to finish what you can.
My involvement in these behaviours isn’t sexual, is that okay?
Also yes! This survey is designed to include those who do this for both sexual or non-sexual reasons
I feel like some of the questions you asked here are a little vague or odd, why did you make them like this?
I didn’t make all of the questions! The only one’s written by us are the sexual fantasies and behaviours and the interest-specific questions. If some of these questions seem uncomfortable or odd, know that they were designed that way. It’s useful in data analysis later, so please respond as honestly as possible.
Part of research is ensuring the validity and reliability of your data- we do this by using previously tested and validated measures, like for anxiety and depression. These measures are sometimes a little vague, but just answer them to the best of your abilities. This is common and an unavoidable drawback of research in every subject. If the questions seem odd, trust me, they’re there for a reason! If you have issues with later parts of the survey, it’s probably not something I can address- they were created by other researchers and I can’t touch them!
Can I share this with other people?
Yes, I would love that! Feel free to share this with anyone- the more participants, the better.
Will you show us the results?
Yes! However, it may take awhile. This is a very large sample that I’ll be doing quite a bit of data analysis with, and it’s going to break down into multiple publications. I can come back and give preliminary results when I have them, but if you want the full results, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll put you on a spreadsheet as someone who will receive copies of the publications when I have them!
Please feel free to leave questions/comments! You will also be able to provide feedback on the survey itself.
Fred Patten, a fandom historian and one of the best supporters that furry literature ever had, passed away one year ago at age 78. Here’s a rememberance post for Fred. But he left more than good memories and a lot of his news and reviews here at Dogpatch Press. His last book is finally here.
From McFarland Books:
Tales featuring anthropomorphic animals have been around as long as there have been storytellers to spin them, from Aesop’s Fables to Reynard the Fox to Alice in Wonderland. The genre really took off following the explosion of furry fandom in the 21st century, with talking animals featuring in everything from science fiction to fantasy to LGBTQ coming-out stories.
In his lifetime, Fred Patten (1940–2018)—one of the founders of furry fandom and a scholar of anthropomorphic animal literature—authored hundreds of book reviews that comprise a comprehensive critical survey of the genre. This selected compilation provides an overview from 1784 through the 2010s, covering such popular novels as Watership Down and Redwall, along with forgotten gems like The Stray Lamb and Where the Blue Begins, and science fiction works like Sundiver and Decision at Doona.
Inside is a Foreword by Kyell Gold, almost 200 pages about the books, and lists of Nonfiction Works, Author and Chronological Lists, Awards, and Furry Specialty Publishers.
If you plan to get any furry gifts this season, put this on top of your list. Go get a great gift for yourself. Get one for that curious friend in your life. Get one for your mom. Get one for your dog. Get one for your bathroom. Get one for your guest room, waiting room, cloakroom, mud room, rumpus room, glove compartment, first aid kit, time capsule, library, study, conservatory, observatory, vestibule, boudoir, garret, grotto, dungeon, keep, and all the other rooms in the castle you’ll soon rule if you have the great taste to own this fine literature. Get one and hollow it out to hide contraband squirt guns or BD toys from the busybodies at church. Get 20 copies and bundle them into a festive Yule Log to spread warmth and cheer to your loved ones who are too busy to read.
Oh yeah, and read it! It has what this fandom is all about, from classic storytelling for the ages to the indie creativity of fans themselves. You’ll grow whiskers and a tail within an hour of cracking it open. (*Results may vary, if it doesn’t work try buying more.)
Fred’s sister, Sherry Patten, wrote in:
Can’t believe this Tuesday, Nov. 12th, will be the anniversary of Fred’s unexpected death. I seem to have devoted most all of 2019 to “Fred activities”… packing up all his additional books, printed reviews, DVDs, framed pictures, awards and misc… to bring it all to the UCR librarians to add to The Fred Patten Collection there, and, replying to some correspondence re Fred.
Since FURRY TALES was officially published by McFarland Books, I don’t have any idea “how well” it is selling… but… I hope fans of Fred’s… will eventually learn about the book… and, purchase a copy. A McFarland editor had told me that Furry Tales would be sold in printed book form and also in an e-book version. [Not sure if/when there will be an ebook! – Patch]
Would you like to say anything else about Fred or the book?
Fred never cared much for celebrating specific holidays…but, he did like me to drive him around neighborhoods at night to see the colorful XMAS LIGHTS each December. Per the recent email sent to me, you might want to POST the 20% book sale they are offering at Mcfarlandbooks.com.
Through Cyber Monday (December 2), use coupon code HOLIDAY19 to receive 20% off your entire purchase. Get it here.
The human species is diverse, but anywhere you go, there’s job-seekers hungry to start careers. At least one of them is a tennis-playing philosopher with a FurAffinity account, a raccoon fursona and a cool story: WildeCard. (Here’s his personal site.)
In human form, he’s a Postdoc researcher and ethics course instructor at Ohio State University’s Center for Ethics and Human Values. He’s working on a book titled The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation: The Ethics of Procreation, which explores the ethics of slowing population growth. (For humans — no word about raccoons, bunnies or others with prodigious proliferation.)
How did he get there? WildeCard writes in:
“I recently documented how my experience on the academic job market (in philosophy) overlapped with attending Furry Weekend Atlanta 2019. And by overlapped, I mean that I was literally doing job interviews from my hotel room while attending this convention. That part of the story comes near the tail-end of an 8-month search for academic employment, which was ultimately successful.
His 8 months of searching started with a Google Spreadsheet with 196 possible jobs, of which he applied to 118. His story is aimed to help other hopeful seekers, with a twist.
“There are some aspects of this story that are extremely idiosyncratic and unlikely to be a part of anyone else’s job search.”
“How could one venture into the cartoonish landscape of ludicrous photo-ops and cringe-inducing animal puns, and then later be expected to discuss population ethics or how to approach teaching non-philosophy majors?”
Juggling 118 job applications was depression-inducing, but WildeCard made time for the fluffier things in life.
At FWA 2019, he ran a panel called Discussing the Furry Fandom with Non-Furries “to give people a little advice on how they can go about discussing the furry fandom with friends, family, coworkers, and other curious acquaintances.” (It covers topics like: Reasons to Disclose Membership in the Furry Community, Handling People with Strong Negative Views of the Fandom, and Impact on One’s Career.)
I get questions about this ALL THE TIME. So I never want to hear “what can you do with a philosophy degree?” It’s almost as silly as questioning the prestige and fortune that comes with Furry Journalism.
Literally made a Furry 101 playlist with all the basics you can ask for. https://t.co/SMLvBOBZJv
— David OK Boomervich (@Bookworm_Review) November 9, 2019
WildeCard’s story is mainly for other job-seekers, but also contains a good explanation of the fandom, with a demonstration of furry power from a great ambassador. It has self-evaluation about how he handled the handfuls of job interviews that came from his applications — some with great difficulty, and some with high confidence. That makes an intriguing clue about the secret to his success.
“In my first 100 applications, I did not get a single offer. In my last 18 applications, I got 3.”
“50% of my interviews at furry conventions yielded job offers.”
They do always have lucky rabbits feet there. (Also the rest of the rabbits, otherwise this might not be such a happy story.) Thanks to WildeCard for showing that furries come from many walks (and hops and scurries) of life, with lots of talent, smarts and success.
So, you want to know what’s up in furry news. There’s that site from the dog with holographic pants, but it’s blabbing about obscure art movies and being too sexy to handle. There’s that site that smells like carrots, but their comment section is toxic waste. Maybe there’s a more respectable site ready to grow. Hmm… nothing but a merchandising front here, and a spam blog there… why hasn’t this need been solved yet?
Writers have lives, and fandom won’t pay for 1/10th of the cost for ones willing to slave over a hot keyboard all day. Social media can make reach, but has negatives like users who bite the hand that feeds. If you find anything decent, it’s like a gift given despite the costs. You won’t find it for sale in the mainstream.
When it’s a labor of love, think of this oxymoron: “unbiased fandom.” That’s self contradicting, and it’s possible there will never be a news source for furries that isn’t run by some agenda (personal passion is a fine agenda). Don’t hunt for a unicorn, just go find the ones that do it well. There’s stakes too. When “sensational media” is blamed for image problems, the solution is “Be The Media”. That’s how fandom works, so be a fan for the little ones with potential.
InFurNation — https://www.infurnation.com
Weekly posts about books, movies, TV, art, games, and anything creative curated by Rod O’Riley (co-founder of the first fur con). On paper since 1991 and the web since 2009.
Our team of researchers scour the globe looking for new things and events of interest to furry fans. And who’s on that team? Us… and you! If you know about some cool upcoming things that funny animal fanatics might want to see – and buy! – then write to us! Contact our head writer at his e-mail, email@example.com.
Rod, Mark Merlino, and Changa Lion share Southern California’s Skiltaire house. I keep nudging them to consolidate effort because they do so much for too little recognition. Imagine one content stream, backed by a Patreon to sustain all their stuff under one brand:
- The Confurence Archive — artifacts of fandom curated by Changa.
- Skiltaire Party — The twitter presence for their monthly furry house party.
- Furry.Today — Changa’s daily short videos.
- Two Old Furry Fans — Mark and Rod’s blog.
- Ursa Major Awards — The annual best of fandom.
Finding furry info there is like drinking from a firehose. R/furry is sort of a forum just for art, you can barely get to know anyone, and there’s no curation of topics. Imagine the front page of Furaffinity, minus porn which all goes to r/yiff. Then r/furry_IRL is just for memes. That covers most of furry Reddit. But there’s potential in small subreddits. These look good:
- r/WagInHeaven: Stories of the furry community at its best.
- r/Furrydiscuss: News and talk, no art or memes.
It’s hard to call this a source, and beware of falling in past the event horizon. If you wanted to find all the great accounts to follow, it could take forever. (For example: Furries Out of Context, Unintentional Furries.) Try these:
- Furry News Network: Briefly a promising blog, now a Twitter feed worth watching.
- Furry news list: aggregating a few other sources.
- [adjective][species]: Essays, issues, data.
- Culturally F’d: Not news, but more like documentary/popular education.
- Furrymedia: Livejournal petered out but news aggregation could easily happen on one of those subreddits.
- Furstarter: Furry crowdfunding was well covered there in 2016 and would be great to have as a feature here.
Got any others? Leave a tip. Or start one.
(Patch:) Hi Mag. Very nice art and it’s a pleasure to host it. The site is commissioning regular new banners and featuring the artists, with a goal to give attention to ones outside the US. The last one was Alf Doggo from Chile. Can you give a little intro about yourself, where you live, and where to find you on social media?
Hi! My name is Mag, I’m from England and I draw cartoons and make music! I’m most active on Twitter where I post a bunch of my art!
- https://twitter.com/magferret – Art Twitter
- https://skooshed.bandcamp.com/ – Music (Also on Spotify)
- https://www.skooshed.net/ – Merch Store
Do you mostly do art in furry fandom, or somewhere else like for non furries? Do you do it for a living or just sometimes for money or for fun?
I’ve been taking commissions for over 10 years now, but went full-time with my art around 2 years ago. I’ve done some art for indie game projects, but the majority of my art is commissioned from within from the fandom which has honestly been such a pleasure! The fandom has some of the kindest, most supportive people ever and I’m really lucky to have such an amazing community of followers to interact with, I’m nothing without those guys!
Can you say more about your art? I notice it all looks SFW and wholesome, and it’s multi talented even involving music. For the art you did for the site, my favorite part is the zombie possum, who might just be playing dead because that’s what possums do. And why are you so good at toony ferrets?
I mostly draw toony animals, the cuter and squisher the better! As for being good at drawing toony ferrets, I think that just comes with how long I’ve been drawing for! I started drawing back in 2003 roughly, mostly drawing video game characters I liked. I wasn’t very good at it, but I enjoyed drawing and kept at it. I started taking my art more seriously in 2007 and began posting my stuff online / drawing a lot more. It’s surprising how quickly you can improve at something if you really dedicate yourself to it!
I also make music under the name Skooshed. I released an album called “Anxious Dreamer” earlier this year. It’s a personal, downtempo / chill album. You can find it on Spotify or Bandcamp (https://skooshed.bandcamp.com/).
How did you find furry, and what’s the fandom like where you live? Do you spend time with other furries in real life?
I don’t really remember the exact moment I found the fandom. I’ve always been into toons since I was super young and spent pretty much all my free time watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, so naturally when I got on the internet I made friends with a few people on forums who were into toons and it kinda went from there.
There’s quite a few furries in the UK and I attend a bunch of cons around Europe too. I’ll have a table at Confuzzled in May 2020, so if you’re there, come say hi!
Do you have any favorite furry characters, whether in game or movies or tv — or favorite artists people should check out?
Oh man, I have way too many fav characters to list! Bonkers and Sylvester are a few of my favs. As for artists you should check out, go follow @gatorblits on Twitter – their stuff is always amazing!
Do you have one more favorite piece of art you drew that you want shared?
I’ve been playing the Links Awakening remake recently, so here some art of Mag dressed as Link!
Furry news, reviews, interviews and more will be back after a while. The site has been active since 2014 with 1115 articles published. It will be nice to get going again with cool plans in the works, and more than 100 possible story projects kept on file. Check back later and thanks for reading. – Patch
This unusual movie got 5 support articles before I was ready for a personal review. It’s hard to nail down, so the work got really labored over, but it deserves the effort. – Patch
Rukus was an artist from Florida who committed suicide in 2008 at age 23. He was a mercurial muse to his friends. Linear storytelling about him could make a sad movie, but Rukus comes from many directions. It overlaps documentary of him, with his boyfriend reflecting on their relationship, and his friendship with film maker Brett Hanover. His enigmatic presence weaves through Hanover’s personal life, which goes from trouble with OCD to finding completion in relationships and art. The life of Rukus becomes points on a trajectory of escape from pain.
The directing style frames lo-fi video with dramatized memories, daydreams and fiction from Rukus. They’re re-enacted by younger and older stand-ins for him, and voiced with animation. It’s one of those arty movies that doesn’t easily boil down to one commercial line, but it’s directed with purpose. When the pieces don’t fit together neatly, the negative space holds a chewy assortment of themes.
There’s repressed abuse, disconnection, and love outside of hetero norms. It touches on conflict with anti-gay religion in the Southern US, but it’s more involved with a setting in furry fandom. Furries have a loveably eccentric subculture of fans for talking-animal media that appears in fantasy art by Rukus, internet role-play, a hotel convention, and a stage play. Those feed the human connections in the movie. You also get to see a costumer called a “whore bear” and a moment of tender toes-in-nose contact that turns into crosswired love.
The movie is outstanding for merging fiction and documentary while drawing from a subculture rarely seen in any feature film. It premiered at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, where furries came for group fursuiting (with full body costumes that make unique “fursonas”). That’s sort of like how Comic Con cosplayers emulate Hollywood superheroes, but those don’t keep their powers when the movie ends.
Rukus casts animal shadows behind misfits who play muses for each other, and delivers bittersweet satisfaction. You can see it now on rukusmovie.com.
Just watched Rukus on Vimeo – an intersection of the furry world and the indie film circuit I never expected to witness. But I loved it! https://t.co/rKOvjsLJGv
— Apollo (@Apollo_Wolfdog) October 17, 2019
Lots to process tonight. I still miss him.
— Vulp-o-Matic 3000 (@triadfox) October 19, 2019
More reading between the lines — Figurative bridges and liminal places
There’s 6 bridges crossing the San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate is in the most movies. Outside my window, the Richmond-San Rafael bridge is glittering with traffic. In 1964, a troubled woman stopped her car in the lane there, got out, and leapt to her death. A journey cut short like that changes those left behind.
She was the wife of sociologist Erving Goffman. He focused on microsociology (personal relations between individuals) and symbolic interactionism. That’s about the theater of everyday life, and how people manage impressions they give to others. It can involve not feeling at home in your own skin, hiding insecurity or depression behind smiles, or role-play that helps make bridges to other people.
Goffman avoided publicizing his life, but the loss led him to write crypto-biographical work. He studied insane asylum inmates for a paper about stigma, mental illness, and institutionalization called The Insanity of Place:
Although the author does not make direct references to himself, he appears to be drawing on his own painful experience… It is hard to avoid the impression that we are dealing with a “message in a bottle” intimating how the author coped with a personal tragedy at a crucial junction in his life.
Brett Hanover described Rukus as happening in liminal space between people: social media and virtual worlds, punk houses in the south, and furry fandom hotel conventions. They’re temporary sanctums of liberation. Contrast with what Goffman called a total institution (a place cut off from the wider community, where people lead an enclosed, formally administered life.)
Rukus brings sanity to displacement felt by it’s subjects. Hanover gives his own biographical view that puts heart in the transitions from view to view. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rukus tells how he was found dead. It segues to a child stand-in telling his fantasy story to Hanover, which pulls out to show the movie crew. It lightens what came before, and loops back to where the movie started. Friends and animal shapes become ushers for Rukus to cross a bridge, and the hole he left is filled with elegaic spirit.
A critical look at the spirit of the movie might ask if it has to do with the zeitgeist. Maybe a little, when current news and politics has so much struggle about border walls and who belongs in places.
The insanity of place came up on Nextdoor, the neighborhood based social media platform. For the bridge outside my window, a pedestrian-bike lane was attacked as a waste, like everyone would be happy with just cars. The theme was “stay in your lane.” That drama fuels Best of Nextdoor, a misanthropic comedy channel with 8 times more followers than the company’s (and an ironic PR thorn in their side). When neighbors are jerks on social media, sometimes all you can do is laugh.
That ties to one of the year’s most talked about movies, Joker, with a sad clown who’s isolated and powerless in a degrading city. There’s a key scene with subway traffic where he violently fights bullies to gain his power, leading to media sensationalizing. The movie’s budget and PR force it to power over public notice, unlike Rukus with it’s intimate use of role-play.
The media ties to one more ingredient about the furries in Rukus. They’re shy about exposure from a history of tabloids exploiting them as freaks. It’s a small movie that dignifies with politics of caring, instead of forcing a message. We need more personal media like this about people crossing bridges together and finding their place.
In a group that loves supporting itself and its creators, funding is key. Some furry fandom activity can be a self-sustaining occupation, like creating art or fursuits. It can be nearly impossible for most fandom event organizing or writing. Corporate sponsorship is treated as toxic; crowdfunding is never a guarantee. It’s why things work the way they do, such as *ahem* the time-consuming work of news writing for nonprofit community benefit.
Awards that support furries who qualify are very rare. I’d seen flyers at cons for a furry writer’s residency program (although details aren’t turning up), and then there’s the Good Furry Award.
The Good Furry Award was established in 2018 by Grubbs Grizzly. It gives annual recognition to one winner for outstanding spirit in the furry community. The first one went to Tony “Dogbomb” Barrett. The winner gets a crystal trophy of recognition and check for $500 to use for anything they want. Grubbs says he made it because:
It seems to me that every time something negative happens in the fandom, people focus on that too much to the point of giving the entire fandom a bad reputation. Rather than paying attention to the few furries who cause trouble, I would like us all to focus on furries who do good things and are good people. Let’s give those furries some attention instead!
Nominations are open now. You can do it here: http://www.askpapabear.com/good-furry-award.html
The Cobalt The Fox Memorial Scholarship from Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, Inc.
An annual $1000 educational scholarship is coming from The Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, a Maryland nonprofit that organizes events like Fur the ‘More and Fur-b-Que. It honors Cobalt The Fox, their staffer who passed away in October 2017.
Who will it support? Details are pending for how to apply. Fur the ‘More’s chair Kit Drago told me: “it will likely be competitive. The application process is expected to have several criteria and questions as well as an essay.” (I wonder if the criteria could favor students in art or things like environmental/animal science, but wait for updates.)
The press release:
The Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, Inc. (“MidAnthro”) is pleased to announce a new program which directly contributes to the furry community.
For MidAnthro staff, volunteers, and executives, the furry fandom has been a welcoming, warm, and supportive home. Whether each of us has been here for a few weeks or for decades, we’ve gained lifelong friendships, learned valuable lessons, and experienced the positive power of a diverse, creative community.
MidAnthro’s mission is to promote charitable giving, social responsibility, and education in creative disciplines via community-driven events. We have a vested interest in making this mission a reality for our fellow fandom denizens. In the words of our flagship program event, Fur the More, we want to “Go Further and Do More”.
David Gonce, better known as Cobalt to his friends, was an inquisitive, charitable, and supportive member of the furry community. Not only was Cobalt a staff member for MidAnthro events, but they were also a volunteer at for the Community Fire Company of Perryville. Cobalt, despite his positivity, abruptly left us on October 7, 2017. His presence, positivity, and friendship have been missed by everyone in the organization since then.
In furtherance of our goals as a non-profit organization, to help the community we so love, enjoy, and embrace with open arms, and to honor someone from that community who we unexpectedly lost two years ago, we are launching the David “Cobalt the Fox” Gonce Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship program is our way of commemorating Cobalt’s charity, kindness, and inquisitive nature.
The scholarship is open to anyone in the furry community pursuing an educational program at an accredited technical school, college, university, or training program and is valued at $1000 for one recipient for the current year.
For more details on the scholarship program, requirements, and the application process as it continues to develop, please visit http://www.midanthro.org.
Thanks for talking about this. My goal is and always have been to try and help our community grow, and be a positive light in a world often living in shadows.
We will be looking for volunteers interested in serving on a scholarship committee soon. https://t.co/y2B4jc7YgT
— Kit Drago (@kitdrago) October 21, 2019
Sometimes review books come here from outside of furry fandom. ‘Murder’ is a comic about an animal-rights antihero, where “animals mysteriously begin linking telepathically” and there’s a “powerful new plant-based badass”. It’s now in issue #2. “‘Murder’ takes readers into the darkest corners of animal agriculture, as one species at a time they begin to hear each other’s thoughts. Only one human, The Butcher’s Butcher, is able to hear their thoughts. As the animals revolt and the world’s food supply comes into jeopardy, the animal-rights activist is forced to decide between his vegan ethics and a world dependent on meat.”
Thanks to Enjy for big effort as always, check out her past writing, and remember we’re fiercely independent enough to be critical sometimes, but with hugs! – Patch
Murder is a comic created by the folks at Collab Creations (https://collabcreations.bigcartel.com/) which is billed as an “animal rights antihero” work centering on a vigilante activist and his wife, who fight to inflict the same pain on food company CEOs and ranchers as they inflict on animals ready for slaughter. It is written by Matthew Loisel with art created by Emiliano Correa, who also did work on the excellent Hexes series by Blue Fox Comics. We at DPP were given the first two issues for review.
The first thing you will do, when you open page one of Murder #1, will be laying eyes upon someone gassing an entire building of innocent people because they are working at a meat plant. In the next few pages, you’ll see something that’s meant to be taken seriously, but is unintentionally hilarious to the point where you have to read it over a few times to make sure there isn’t a joke being set up. The protagonist who just committed a literal war crime brutally murders a CEO with a steer, and then we’re led to believe this is the man we should be rooting for.
Unfortunately, The Butcher’s Butcher (a name with all the intricacy of pissing on an alley wall) doesn’t have nearly the level of charisma or likability or justification needed to be a believable anti-hero, even from a suspension of disbelief. What this comic is, no matter which side of the vegan vs. non vegan debate you are on, is soulless, one-dimensional propaganda with a “hero” that is much the same. It is like some bizarro universe where a Jack Chick tract has been transformed into weird murder-porn that seems more like the author’s personal fantasy than anything that could make a statement about the industry of food processing. The road most anti-heroes follow of doing the “right thing” the “wrong way” is completely tossed to the wayside here in favor of putting a camera behind that kid you knew in high school who had a Death Note that he wrote in.
After reading the first issue, I realized that I could not tackle this comic from a serious point of view, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and take a look at it through a Silver-Age pulp lens. If you can get past the awful paneling with some of the most strangely placed speech bubbles, it almost takes on a so-bad-it’s-good quality, where you just want to see what crazy thing happens next, after you watch a dog and a cat play chess and have that “yes, but MY virtue” talk that you’ve seen in that exact setting a hundred times.
However in the second issue, it completely loses even that small bit of charm. In that issue we are introduced to The Butcher’s Butcher’s lover, who styles herself as “The Melanated Melody”.
Yeah, I know.
You are introduced to her as a person when a girl politely asks if she can sit next to her and she responds with dismissiveness, then texts her friend that “another yt girl just sat next 2 me” and “another yt girl about 2 call 911”. Why? Because the girl asked her why she was at a lecture for heat-resistant cows if she had a ranch in Wyoming as her lie stated. Yet another one-dimensional, single-issue cardboard cutout much like her lover, the Melanated Melody adds nothing to the story except for a sort of inside joke between the type of people who would enjoy these comics, yet another example of the author’s strange parading of myriad murderous fantasies and disguising it as an activism piece.
Where Murder could have succeeded was spending more time with the story of animals who can link telepathically, giving us a unique look at the meat industry that could also open the eyes of many people who are numb to its crimes. It seems the writer is building up to a story about how animals may rise up against us all. It could have shared more intricate workings of the industry instead of snippets of shock shots that would have mouths watering over at PETA. However, it is wasted away as a flimsy backdrop for the writer to task his characters with killing people he does not like, with a disturbing disregard for common sense or even the basest of justification.
What I hope Matthew Loisel realizes about the separation of villain and anti-hero is that your anti-hero needs to have a simple ingredient: personality. The characters we’re supposed to be rooting for in this comic are soulless weirdos who seem to revel more in killing others than they do in serving their cause. If you take the vegan newsletter out of the back of this comic, it turns into an issue of psychopaths on a rampage because they think they can hear animals. There’s no nuance here and no way to ascertain their goals unless you know where the writer is coming from politically and mentally.
This comic’s only saving grace is that the art and backgrounds are beautifully done, and Emiliano Correa really does the best he can with what he’s given here, showing off some interesting costume designs and great tonal work to set moods in scenes. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to bring the comic anywhere near readable, relatable, or recommendable. I know what audience this comic is being written for, and I’m sure that they will enjoy being told what they like to hear. For the rest of the comic-reading world, who like to branch out and find stories layered underneath the bloodstains and hamfisted grandstanding, I suggest you give Murder a hard pass.
I give Murder a 3/10.
(Note from Patch:) I’m not immune to enjoying bloody horror, and this reminds me of a novel I read when it was a fresh debut with high cult notice: Cows, by Matthew Stokoe. It was a gory blast of B-movie splatterpunk and surrealism, with a put-upon loner who works in a slaughterhouse, starts to hear cows talk, and joins them.