The genesis of a community is today’s furry news. TPH (TinyPrancingHorse) asked if I could cover his humorous science fiction series that features several anthropomorphic species. I sent back an offer: Let’s see your own story that covers — (1) The content that makes the community’s backbone — (2) Proof of how it gets support like money or views — (3) Nuts and bolts of how it got going — (4) Earned experience from doing it. I hope this inspires YOUR creation. (- Patch)
What’s it about?
When people think of their favorite series – be it Star Wars to Tolkien, Discworld to Dune – there’s always a sense of mystery and nobility to how those series began. It starts with Men and Women, taking their life experiences, war stories, deep thoughts and desperate hopes, and pulling from that mysterious aether of the “could be” and bringing it into the real world.
Then there’s my series, Smol.
They are Smol was not created out of the desperation of homelessness, the pain of war, the desire to preserve culture, or any other number of excellent and moving reasons. They are Smol was created during a mental breakdown at work, where the author – on a throwaway reddit account – ended up tapping into something interesting in the human psyche.
All too often, in popular media – games, movies, books – humanity is depicted as this ascendant demigod given form, and they often have a cute sidekick character to play off of and highlight these traits. Think Rocket Raccoon, or if you’re in the Monster Hunter universe, the Palicoes. Something cute to headpat, something small to protect, yet noble in their own right.
Make our species that cute.
They are Smol simply reverses roles to consistently comedic effect, putting the reader in the position of the adorable yet terrifyingly effective sidekick. The story takes place in the near future after a disastrous first contact and the subsequent accidental invasion of Earth. Humanity is on a rapid uplift schedule. Partly because our alien neighbors feel guilty, partly because having another allied species is a boon all around, and partly because it took us something like 150,000 years to learn how to plant grain.
…look, nobody ever said we were clever. Humans, as a whole, oscillate between abject fear at the otherness of our friendly (if confusing at times) alien neighbors; and the frustration that they keep putting everything way up high on the top shelf.
Show me some metrics!
- As of writing this article, They are Smol has produced 5 books ranging between 35K – 50K words each, distributed to a 20,000+ strong readership base.
- They are Smol has also expanded, grown into a horrific megacorporation that has ~150 patrons who are generously supporting the project to the tune of $730/mo.
- This has allowed the team behind They are Smol to produce a bi-monthly podcast, a visual novel, plushies (still in the works), meme artwork and many other things.
How did it start?
As a content consumer, I’m the kind of person who binges. I enjoy taking in whole series of things, and then going back and picking them apart and turning it over in my mind – honestly, I don’t know if I was hurt by an abandoned story as a child or what, but it is what it is. I do the same thing no matter the type of content, be it Chernobyl from HBO or the entire Discworld series of books by Pratchett.
So, when I was bored one day at work (in a doomed position, no less) I stumbled back across Reddit, and more specifically their /HFY/ board – shorthand for “Humanity, Fuck Yeah!” With literally nothing else to do but count down the clock, I opened up a couple of stories and began to read.
And just didn’t stop.
We are talking dozens and dozens of individual universes. Stories that – after consuming 200K words over the span of a week or two – ended up following the same tired tropes. Mankind = best. Aliens = worst. All enemies are cardboard cutouts and we can windmill through space doing nothing special or amazing in particular. It was… boring, after a while.
When I had my mental breakdown at work, I sat down at my laptop and wanted to write the anti-story to this entire genre while still staying within the genre. Humanity, people, they’re amazing not because of what they are but because of what they can do and the choices they make. So the first chapter was cranked out in a 100% stream-of-consciousness flow, submitted with absolutely no editing or re-reading, and I went on with my lunch break.
An hour later and 900+ upvotes, it looked like there was some desire for more. Another stream-of-consciousness outpouring, zero formatting, and a fight for your right to party netted roughly 750+ more upvotes. Chapter three – 820+ upvotes.
It seemed the game was afoot.
They are Smol started to get fanart, it started to get some traction on social media, and for giggles I ended up putting together a Discord server so people who liked the story could talk to me directly. At the behest of someone in the comments section, I was told to put up a Patreon – and within it’s first few days, it shot up to $150/month.
“Oh dear.” I thought. “This is now a thing, isn’t it?”
How is it managed?
One thing that comes with things being a thing is that you need to keep momentum going; communities will wither and die if there isn’t a steady stream of new coming in – be it new people, new content, or new fan works. As a creator, you have to carefully manage that universe you’re creating, both in your own mind as well as in reality – for your fanbase is the most important thing you have going for you.
Management is key, as you can’t fix what you don’t measure. This means walking down the decision funnel and figuring out what you can handle yourself, what needs to be automated, and what needs to be delegated (if you’re working with a team). The Decision Funnel for those who don’t know is pretty simple:
Take thing that needs to be done -> See if it can be automated. If not -> See if it can be delegated. If not -> do it yourself.
So in my posts, for example, I link to all my media, website and community locations. In all of those places, I try to automate as much content as I physically can. I explicitly tell my fans that they are welcome to make any art, music, writing, etc – any content at all – as long as I can share it with the world at large, and I stuff the meme pipelines full of fan-created works.
They are Smol is a community effort, and cannot sustain itself without the work and love of everyone involved, both officially and unofficially; so remove the friction between your fans and the work itself and everyone profits, everyone participates, and everyone gets to enjoy the thing that is now becoming a thing.
Social media calendar and more fan works.
What keeps members together?
One note on community building – you must be intentional while doing it. You have to have a community charter that your fans can see and abide by, and a second charter of higher standards for those you trust to staff and manage your community in your stead. It is the most important thing when it comes to building a fanbase that you have everyone who wants to participate acknowledge and agree to that charter, as it puts everyone on a level playing field, explains what behavior is acceptable, and sets the tone for the community at large. (See Culture Code Notes below.)
Even if you have a fanbase of a couple dozen people it’s important to create that living culture document. They are Smol has it as a prerequisite to join the community server, and in doing so it automatically vets out the people who are not interested in being good members of the community.
I can point to this community statement – both the actual laws and the cultural guidelines – as the sole reason why we are able to build a non-political community that (to my knowledge) has members of every single political party, both radical and centrist, without it devolving into a gigantic dumpster fire. The cultural guidelines are why we have a self-help/ask-for-help channel where people can go to work on their own selves, as well as get questions answered on anything from finances to art, writing to cooking. They are Smol’s community builds each other up and recognizes the inherent humanness of everyone, and because it’s baked into the charter of the community from the ground up it only magnifies and amplifies itself in a virtuous cycle.
We are smol, but getting bigger.
All these things build on each other and allow me – and my team – to focus on multiple projects at once.
I’ve been able to host multiple panels at various conventions (talking about storytelling and business practices) because I’ve been given the bandwidth to learn and grow and not deal with infighting or drama.
We have multiple writers working on side stories and new IP, partner-artists building a visual novel as well as various other goodies (such as finger puppets! What other series has official finger puppets, huh?!), and the community is encouraged to interact with us as they desire.
We would love to have you as well.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news, r/furrywriters, or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
remember going out to shows and having a social life? pic.twitter.com/jkuawhleoI
— SINS (new account!) (@snafuqd) November 14, 2020
In March I had tickets to see Lords of Acid. They’re the industrial-rave act known for their 90’s banger I Sit On Acid. Furries with special taste may know it from the eye-popping video “Sexy male bunny fursuit striptease” from Albany Anthrocon 1997. (Thank you Silfur Bunny for making furry weird. I love the video so much, and it deserves the fame that John Oliver gave to 90’s rat porn. r/industrialmusic thinks “it should just be the official video at this point.”)
Covid killed my plan to go fursuiting at the Lords Of Acid show. It killed the whole club. That was Slim’s in San Francisco, which hosted some of my favorite events. It was in the city’s night life hot spot with DNA Lounge, where furries, raves, drag, and goth all melted together for some of the best times I’ve had. Missing good shows is frustrating, and watching their venues die is a tragedy!
This made me think about hungry musicians needing work. I realized if you aren’t spending money on shows… you can make your own band. Yes, there are musicians who can work with you to infest other people’s eardrums. You can bring the rock like you can be your fursona. That’s how the world has this:
Press release for Glozone.bandcamp.com
GLÒZÓNE is ALGERIAN FURRY DEATH METAL. From the toxic ooze of a shattered planet crawls a hybrid creature. Redouane Aouameur is a musician from Algeria and veteran of the North African underground with his band Lelahell (Facebook.com/Lelahell). Patch O’Furr is the furry from San Francisco who runs Dogpatch.Press. Brutal yet gonzo, GLÒZÓNE will rock your face and tail.
BORN TO GLOW came from a plague ravaging the globe on Halloween in social isolation. Patch wrote lyrics in the spirit of Pungent Stench meets Ween in Dethklok’s dungeon. They appeared in an unholy dream for Redouane that compelled him to rock.
Patch says: “Furry Death Metal sounds like a shitpost, but this is a sincere tribute to the joy of being irradiated by the blasted monoliths of intersteller doom. In some conservative countries, it’s illegal and blasphemous to to be an LGBT furry. Metal and rebellion go together, and metalheads and furries are labels we use to rule our own lives. Perhaps the project is a bastard and that means we owe our dignity to nobody but ourselves. It comes from paying dues with money and flesh, from my whiskers to my tail and our mutated souls. I hope you laugh but also hear the diversity in our brutal music.”
It started with one track but there’s a batch written. It’s exciting to work with Redouane, who helped start a metal scene in North Africa. Algeria isn’t the most free country and it’s been through civil war, and he even had a manager assassinated years ago according to a band documentary. As bad as 2020 has been, things could be worse — so I say don’t wait for the world to get normal again. Lean in and make it weirder.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Use these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for anything — or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
Protests in Poland “a premonition for what will happen” if LGBT rights are lost in the USA — Q&A with furry artist Jeanwoof who does charity for rights in Poland.
The 2020 U.S. election is in progress, the future is at stake, and a tipper sent me this story. “It may be a premonition of what will happen here if abortion and LGBTQ rights are suspended by the supreme court.”
Thousands of people defied coronavirus restrictions to protest against a near-total ban on abortion in Poland in the largest show of defiance against the new law so far https://t.co/egFJz9RiCL
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) October 31, 2020
Maybe you’re sick of relentless gushing doom about politics. Sorry I can’t make it stop with the fabulous power of furry news reporting. But I can make a story for furries in and out of the U.S., and help you think about protecting rights everywhere. This won’t just tell you to vote, it’s about using fandom power!
Soatok Dhole explains why it matters.
It’d be great if we lived in a world where I could opt out of political discourse entirely, but that only exists when you have the systemic advantage in our imperfect society. And since me being LGBTQIA+ is unavoidably political, and we’re a minority, opting out of politics means submitting to whatever dark fate toxic people decide I deserve.
Soatok says “The furry fandom – which you can think of as the largely queer sector of geek culture – has a problem with negative peace”; and it’s hurt by the Trump administration’s effort to overturn marriage equality plus 33 more steps to push anti-LGBT hate worldwide.
The problem is not just about Trump — it’s about ultraconservative attacks on rights everywhere. You can’t get peace from it by turning off the news, so to make better news, let’s meet a furry who does art charity to advance people’s rights in Poland.
Hi Jeanwoof, can you give a brief bio about yourself?
Hi, I’m a 26 year old woman living in Northern Poland. I’m very active in the fandom — drawing furry art for 6 years, and for 3 years I’ve been doing a small furry convention (Kungfur) with friends. I attend local conventions and sometimes you can see me at Eurofurence in the Dealers Den or Artist Alley. I’m a fursuiter too, but I don’t wear my suit as often as I want to.
Can you talk about your art, and how to see it or reach you for commissions?
Recently I’m most known for military art, but I do simple animations and NSFW art as well. I always try to find something non-usual to do, that’s why I started to make detailed pieces and focus on guns and army-related themes, which seem to not be that popular still, ha! My style is headed more towards realism, but I’m fine with drawing some toony styled art such as Telegram stickers as well! I’m posting my art in my Telegram channel and I do have a Patreon page. You can find me on Twitter and Furaffinity as well.
Can you talk about furry subculture where you live?
Furry community here is way smaller than in western countries such as Germany or the U.S. but we are very active and social — we do lot of parties, fursuit walks and events. We have fantastic artists, joyful fursuiters and amazing conventions, even if it’s 3 per year currently. Fandom is growing every year, and many young people are joining the community! I still consider myself new to the fandom, or maybe I had so much fun over those years I didn’t realize how long I’ve been here?
Let’s talk about Poland’s Abortion Dream Team:
Poland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European union, and in practice, it’s all but banned. But four women, nicknamed the “Abortion Dream Team,” are pushing back, holding workshops around the country teaching women how to obtain and self-manage a medical abortion. With Roe v. Wade at risk of being overturned in the U.S., is their story a cautionary tale, or a possible roadmap for American women?
The ruling conservative party, Law and Justice, backed a 2016 effort to ban abortion outright (the government backtracked after millions of Polish women and men poured into the streets, in what became known as the “Black Protests.”)
What made you do a charity benefit for the Abortion Dream Team, and how did it go?
I’m against abortion restrictions and I want every woman to decide about their bodies! We want to be free, we want to be safe, especially when the government is not willing to help you much after you give birth to the child, especially a disabled one. I really wanted to do something, but I’m still not sure about going out to protests because of the Covid — I was thinking about a charity livestream, and what motivated me to do it was MissDako who texted me first about the idea! That was amazing to see that someone has similar thoughts about it — we talked to other artists and made a stream with Tevayra and Drakness as well — we had many watchers and grabbed some commissions.
Even if the situation in the world is tough, some people were kind enough to help. For the first stream we gained 460 PLN (~$116 USD) and the next (with a team of me, Tevayra, Wasylthefox and Eldritch Beast) even more – 550 PLN (~$140 USD). I didn’t expect a lot of money from it but it was so awesome when people started to sign the petition, spread the word, and stay aware about the situation in Poland. I was flattered with the amounts anyways and I’m glad we did the streams. Talking via Discord in the meantime with other people with same thoughts and fears was very calming and wholesome and I am very glad I could be part of that. We plan more streams too!
Another thing is I saw a lot of YCHs and Commissions offered by other artists who were gaining money for ADT and similar organizations and fundraisers – like CyjanekAxie or PredatoryDuck, and I’m very proud of them! Fandom is more and more educated about the situation, and we all are trying to help each other!
The protests in Poland seem like part of conflict between right-wing and progressive beliefs around the world. How much awareness of it is there in the furry fandom?
With how far I spoke with others about the situation, I think almost the whole furry fandom is against new restrictions. Most of us are pissed off at the government moves, especially when they attack LGBTQ+ community with hateful speech in media and more! More and more people unite with each other against the same enemy. We are scared but we are strong — we are the young voice against old traditionalists and we try to fight the government which contains mostly old, cis-males, very strict catholics. This years election was a blast, so many young people voted, we all want change! Protesters want better laws and more tolerance, they want to be who they want and love who they want and especially decide about their own bodies. Even if there are people who are not liking how the protests are going, we all hope for better times and try to help each other — educate our grandparents, talk to our friends to assure them they are not alone! We do charity events, peaceful marches and more! We care about each other and try to cheer ourselves up in times when it’s hard to keep jobs, earn anything or even go outside safely.
Thanks Jeanwoof for talking, and I hope this inspires furries wherever they are to vote, and use their talents and communities like you do.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Use these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for anything — or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
Welcome to Lux, with a guest post about what she does when not hosting furry movie pizza parties. – Patch
On a beautiful fall morning in Reno, the edge of sunrise starts to paint the desert mountains. The color in the sky is just right. I rush to my balcony and put on my glowing pup hood for photos, which I will share to a majority audience of people with fuzzy wolf characters. I am profoundly happy.
Electroluminescent wire is a sister material to LEDs. They look similar, but they’re functionally quite different. An LED is a diode that emits a single point of light, but EL wire works like a capacitor. Since it has no resistance within, it doesn’t heat up when lit. An exposed end might give a small shock if it touches your skin (but it won’t kill you, or I’d be dead). It’s flexible, continuously lit throughout its length, and has many applications to create an amazing glowing costume.
Like any wearable electronics, EL wire has limitations and can be finicky. Its battery packs (drivers) are each rated for a different length of wire. Knowing how to troubleshoot your costume is integral to being a fiber artist with this material. It’s easy to learn but very hard to master.
The technology has been around for some time, but it wasn’t until the late 90s and early aughts when the folks at FunHouse productions in Oakland, California decided to really develop the platform. EL wire is the unofficial signage of the Burning Man event, where you can often find people in these costumes wandering around the playa as strobing neon silhouettes in the dark.
This art was largely contained to their scene in Black Rock City until dance troupes started popping up on America’s Got Talent. For the 2012 season, Team Illuminate put together dance routines and nearly went all the way. By weaving EL wire and using the interplay of darkness to create floating shapes and coordinated blinking, they made the world aware of wearable neon, including me.
At that time, I was a cosplayer in exile after 3 years of dedicating my life to the steampunk scene. Before that I was an overweight gay woman floating through college, dissatisfied with the meager results that came from hard efforts in academia. Steampunk offered a gateway to discovering femininity, permission to love my body, and an excuse to sew as many materials into a costume as conceivably possible. Insecurity about art prowess and my body led to leaning into the Christmas tree effect: adding so many layers to a costume that it’s hard to pick out one individual flaw and everything becomes kind of cohesive.
My costume was originally made to wear at the Michigan Renaissance festival. My parents were huge Rennies and they wanted me to have my own costume to wear there. I definitely caught people’s eyes by walking down the muddy trails and tipping my top hat adorned with a pair of raver goggles. I was invited to the blossoming steampunk scene in Michigan, where we showed up at an art gallery and drank whiskey while listening to Depeche Mode and wearing a lot of leather and belt buckles. Eventually conventions grew from this. They were fun to go to, but not sustainable. People in Victorian garb would stroll around hotels, looking at merchandise without buying, and skip panels that didn’t have much to do with the event. The few talent performances were novel, but they were never really enough to keep it going.
I had another excuse to leave. Friends that I brought into the scene were the kind who never have anything nice to say. That grew clear when I put together my magnum opus: The mobile jubilation station. A mobile steampunk DJ backpack that played music and was covered with fun gizmos. I was ready to take it to TeslaCon in Madison, WI, but I was bullied to not bring it. That’s when I decided to quit my airship crew, and steampunk altogether. My costume was packed and stuffed in the furthest corner of a closet and it was time to move on.
Jumping into my studies felt fruitless, because Natural Resource Management has little opportunity to spare. One night while blowing off lab work on my computer, I stumbled across a video of Team Illuminate dancing in the dark and became obsessed. A little voice in my head whispered “I bet you could do this”.
I ordered some wire and started experimenting. I remember when I first lit up a strand and held the little piece of neon in my hand. Bending it around my finger, making it wave in the light, I wondered how far could I go? I was encouraged by my dear friend Morgan, who runs Detroit leather company (a fellow steampunk expatriate.) I vaguely mentioned experimenting with glowing wire, maybe to make a costume, but running out of money. Morgan didn’t hesitate to help me with thousands of dollars so I could afford 10 fresh spools and start my business, studio Lux Operon.
Early experimenting. This was actually the first costume that I ever threw together.
I miss those skeleton arms so gosh darn bad but they were too fragile to continue to use. I’m hoping to remake them someday with fiber optics.
It was a struggle to find a home for this studio. I remember my first convention sitting in a little corner, selling goggles and trying to push electroluminescent panels that I had woven by hand. That year was humbling. Weaving really was my passion and no one seemed interested in the pieces I put together, but I noticed that My Little pony was very popular with cosplayers. I wove up a batch of EL wire cutie marks to keep in stock. Then Morgan and some other friends invited me to a science fiction convention in Chicago. I was halfway there when I learned the name of it was Midwest Furfest.
Oh God, not furries! I’m an alumnus from the Something Awful forums, so I thought I knew what the furry fandom was and wanted nothing to do with it. Reluctantly I set up my display in the dealer’s den and prepared for a parade of weirdos.
I was not prepared for the experience. Yeah, people were weird, but also kind, generous, excited, and fully willing to support my art. I walked out with almost as much money as I had made at an anime con five times the size. I decided to do a trial by fire and walked through the artist rooms and a room party. The sense of community I felt in steampunk was there, but like a fine aged wine compared to bitter vinegar. Everyone seemed to know who they were and what they wanted. This would be my new home.
Sometimes I wonder whether I’m furry enough for the scene. It’s been 8 years and I own a fursuit, know the language, host events and have many friends, but when I think about my character, I’m a neon demon who walks on the bottom of the ocean. My other characters don’t have a tuft of hair between them. I’m a bio nerd and my inner story revolves around the idea of microbial symbiosis and bioluminescence.
My fursuit, and friends at the Frolic furry dance party in San Francisco.
The anxiety is purely internal because I’ve never felt unwelcome. This fandom lets me be who I need to be, and give my art back to the community. Sometimes I give things away for free if I can for someone who can’t afford them. Otherwise my prices range from $30 to $120, which helps me appear at conventions, develop personal costumes, and push my craft further. I recently launched woven EL wire badges, developed from t-shirt panels I used to weave. I’d like to put them in the paws of as many furries as possible.
I’ve now spent enough time paying my dues that I felt like weaving EL wire might get people’s interest, and it does. This fandom is finally giving me the excuse to do something that makes me incredibly happy.
Once in a while my parents ask if I want to get back into steampunk. We are close but I guess it’s a higher art in their minds. They mention other places I can promote my work, and I say why bother? The furry fandom has support I need and people I want to hang out with. This is a gift that I think no other scene could give, and I’m proud to walk around my with badges in non-furry spaces and represent this community.
If you like the story, please follow me on Twitter, buy something if you want to, and never stop being as bold and beautiful as you want to be. We owe our happiness to no one but ourselves, and I hope that with or without costumes and art, you discover who you were always meant to be.
You were born to glow.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Use these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for anything — or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
You’ll want to show Monster Force Zero at any furry party night if you love midnight movies. This new release went through a few years of production with crowdfunding and shooting in Colorado at Galaxyfest. Furries are included briefly, but with love. Catch it on Amazon or other services above.
The setup: a nerd convention opens with all sorts of Star Wars, comic and cosplay fandom. A team of cosplaying artists is representing their own comic at their booth with dismal results. Suddenly, they’re accosted by arrogant rivals. It turns a dealer’s den into locker room bully turf. The bullies challenge the heroes to a cosplay competition that might reward their comic with new fans. They’ll find out more if they can get into a 13th floor party suite, to which they are guided by the hotel’s wise old janitor, played by Pat Tanaka. He returns to guide them at key points but has a dilemma of his own. Behind the door, the rules are laid out by a jury with a furry and two others who may not be what they seem. Then the furry turns them loose into a deliriously raving party.
That’s where you get the most of the all-too-brief furrybait. Anyone watching for it will have a big goofy grin when the heroes are swarmed by a choreographed fursuit dance. The teams have to figure out how to find their special powers and the main stage for battle action, presided over by a loud robot MC. The good guys advance, and that’s when things get weird.
Monster Force Zero delivers exactly the fun advertised on the label. It has pew-pew action to the max with a laser-eyed dinosaur. It makes the most of a modest budget by splashing everything with glowing CG lasers and graphics, sleek costuming, and a soundtrack by 20SIX Hundred that burbles and zaps with excitement. (Synthwave acts Occam’s Laser and Bourgeoisie were already on my playlists too — good choices!)
My pick for best-looking character: the mysteriously silent Yeti. The acting varies but does the job with dialogue that won’t tax your brain. It could benefit from a few more specific character moments, like when an introvert makes a move with a love interest, or a bad-ass cosplayer confronts a touchy jerk. It’s fine for kids and the crew can be proud of making a good light-hearted party watch. Order some pizza and queue this up.
Support Monster Force Zero as an indie production:
- Watch and leave a review.
- Share with everyone, and ask friends/family to leave a review.
- Like and share on social media.
It’s uncommon to see indie movies including furries on their own terms, rather than outside takes with cheap costumes. Of course the more campy it is the less it matters, but the fandom did support this production. If you want more, try this: Furry Nights movie review – a crowd pleaser for lovers of campy indie horror.
Help vote for success for the only furry auction site!
For over 20 years, furries have had their own specialized auction sites serving the “Furry Economy”. In 1999 there was Furbid and Furbuy. In 2015 we had Furbuy and The Dealers Den. Now only the last one is standing — and thriving. It may be poised to leap ahead of big corporate sites with an ambitious plan.
The Dealers Den is a furry-owned marketplace that brings outsized benefit to sellers and users. They don’t have to use Etsy, Ebay or Amazon. They can efficiently reach each other within their own niche. It keeps things in the “fandom family” without corporate middlemen and control. Ask users what the site does for them. (“Very surprised and very grateful”: fursuit maker Beauty of the Bass talks about a $14,000 sale.) It makes big support for independent art.
But for any niche community, there are downsides. Keeping things personal and relying on trust can be risky. Anywhere in the fandom, scam sellers can come back under new names, or good sellers can be hurt by false bidding or cheating on pay. It’s hard to scale up for new features — like a verified purchase review system, payment processing, or escrow protection.
Enter the Dealers Den rebuild plan.
Sites like Ebay and Amazon can pivot as slowly as giant ships. But furry fandom is a good lab for experiments. Ask Dealer’s Den admin Vitai Slade. He’s devoted to Bitcoin and blockchain tech that allow decentralized, peer-to-peer markets. In his vision, it’s key to the site (and the fandom’s) future.
These will be features of the new plan (register an account to read the whole thing and vote for it!)
- SALES: “A peer-to-peer system for businesses and individuals to buy/sell merchandise to one another in a verifiable way.”
- CATALOGING: “Tracking ownership of one-of-a-kind costumes, artwork, and merchandise on a public blockchain.” (Like fursuit databases already in use.)
- COMMUNITY: “A social platform and phone app that rewards positive interaction with others and promotes sales.”
- ACCOUNTABILITY: “Built into the platform will be Positive/Negative incentivization… rewards for purchases, achievements for repeated good behavior/order completion, customer/business reviews, and strict penalties for non-payment that attach to each user account.”
- MEDIATION: “an honest and vibrant marketplace… at low-cost and with high security over their funds and identity, while allowing our administrative team to monitor interactions and settle disputes between parties.”
Furries who are native to the internet will probably already be familiar with virtual currency. The specific blockchain tech is on the Cardano platform (info). My browsing saw it ranked next to Bitcoin and Ethereum (I couldn’t name better names.) To my understanding, users would cash in and cash out by exchanging dollars for equivalent tokens that exist in the global blockchain. Tokens would have to use site features, so you have to play fair and can’t just run off with money. One rule is requiring 10% collateral with auction bids, so you can’t do frivolous bidding without paying.
Vote to help make the plan happen — the deadline is October 20!
VOTE HERE AND SHOW THAT FURRIES WANT A FANDOM ECONOMY WITH EXCITING NEW FEATURES. (Add a Kudos number above the title.)
The plan is on Project Catalyst — a Cardano initiative to develop their entire concept. It’s like a crowdfund except all you have to do is vote. The Dealers Den is one of many proposals and Cardano will share millions in funding for those who win approval. I think it’s a test for whether Cardano will get used. THIS IS A RACE FOR APPROVAL BY OCTOBER 20 — DON’T WAIT!
Why join a plan like this? Look at the track record of The Dealers Den. It’s the foremost furry auction site that stays as close to free as possible. And this plan comes with decades of strong fandom growth, that can meet a leading edge of tech.
I’m working with modest knowledge as a non-techie, but can share a critical opinion: I’m not very into cryptocurrency in general. It reminds me of this joke: “imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved Sudokus you could trade for heroin.” Wide adoption of Bitcoin raised a problem with excessive energy use. But Cardano uses “proof of stake” math, not “proof of work” like Bitcoin. It takes a fraction of the energy, making faster and more efficient transactions without sacrificing security. This peer-to-peer tech may just keep things in the fandom family and allow market mediation that is otherwise hard to develop.
There’s even an X-Factor on my mind; the power of adult art to help a fandom grow against mainstream judgement. There simply is demand for art that corporations won’t make, and fans serve it to each other. But it’s under threat by corporate power that serves a “war on sex” from conservative lawmakers. Payment processing is withheld, accounts are frozen, communities purged, and laws are changed to suppress it. In 2018, SESTA/FOSTA carved out an exemption to the standard of websites not being liable for adult content posted by users. Now only the biggest can afford compliance. As a result, Tumblr was purged, Craigslist killed its personals section, and furries suffered the loss of their dating site Pounced. Decentralizing could protect these things.
If blockchain tech is applied well, it has potential to raise power and freedom for the fandom.
A new netlabel for furry music has been announced! When I think of a label, especially on the small indie side, I think of curation for a certain sound or scene. (Example: a Q&A is coming soon with a fur from Sri Lanka where I asked about Goa Trance.) Here’s one I’ve been enjoying: Numero Group is a reissue label. Imagine digging through thrift store junk and finding a weird one of a kind record that sounds amazing — that’s everything they put out. They specialize in the history of unsung niches, local scenes and their heroes. It makes richer music history than the well-worn stuff on classic rock channels.
Specialty and indie labels make diversity. With that in mind I talked to Finn.
A music style for furries?
From Fuzznet Music so far, I saw lots of EDM and electronic. Finn says: “That’s just the biggest amount. But we have classic, vocal and orchestral as well.” So will support for artists always be the main purpose or could there be more curation as it grows?
(Finn:) Yeah support for the involved artists is definitely the main goal. We don’t aim for a specific style or genre, but rather take in anyone that fits streaming requirements, sounds cool and wants to join. We define “Furry music” as anything that is made by furries, although there are a few furries who make songs with lyrics specifically tailored to furries, too. The idea is, by having all under one roof, if someone finds a song by our label the chances are high that they might check out the others and make a snowball effect.
If furry became attached to a certain style, what could it be? Imagine a cartoon world where Raccooncore is music from trash instruments.
I think apart from songs featuring furry lyrics (Fox and Pepper, NIIC, Nos Hyena etc.), music is a very broad and varied concept. I mean if the album cover, title or profile picture doesn’t feature an anthro character, there’s nothing that really “makes” it furry. A specific “furry sound” doesn’t exist, which is part of the reason it’s a less popular form of media inside this community. Personally I sure would be a fan of “Raccooncore” though. ;D
A label can back a scene, for example some are attached to record stores and festivals. It would be neat to have a con attract furry musicians. (There’s already a furry film fest — put ’em together!) You have ambitions to launch music, but do you foresee anything like that coming out? Is it just a matter of “time will tell?”
I think “Time will tell” fits best here. We’re still getting comfortable just launching and promoting music (I might add we also officially curate songs and artist that aren’t in Fuzznet via Spotify Playlists consisting only of Furry Musicians of various genres that are displayed on our Profile). Although we already have one small “gig” offering a few of our tracks to an upcoming furry-themed Minecraft con/event that has DJs playing live music. Doing similar things is something I’ll keep looking into.
Music Careers, Nuts and Bolts, and the Team
Well known musicians like Fox & Pepper or NIIC Dog built names by hard work on their own. Can you say more about working with a label, what a netlabel does, how it’s set up, the potential benefits of doing it for furry talent, and how artists or writers benefit from working together? Have you noticed anthology or collab projects that made an impact for musicians (like film scoring)? Is there a team collaborating with you?
The job of a traditional label ranges from management over distribution to marketing, or securing deals with other artists and projects. Though that often comes at quite a cost and turns increasingly less popular due to price and the fact that self-distribution becomes easier and cheaper each day (with the added benefit of keeping all your revenue to yourself). Same goes for promotion via social media if you know what you’re doing. Most furry musicians I know of run things by themselves for these reasons.
In terms of collab projects there’s the The Fandom documentary that has a completely original score by Fox & Pepper. I’d love to secure gigs and opportunities like these for our label.
A Netlabel is a rather new thing in the industry (obviously growing traction by growth of the internet itself). But it’s a rather loose term. Typically a netlabel is a small record label or brand name that almost exclusively exists in digital form and is run by a considerably lower number of people compared to a traditional label. Additionally artists often retain their copyright and more control over what happens with their music and data. Netlabels are often passion projects and tend to utilize guerrilla marketing rather than traditional means of promotion.
That’s pretty much the case for us. As of now, I run this whole project by myself, artists retain all their rights, we only distribute digitally and there’s no contractual limitations or obligations to speak of. I have a job in social media and online advertising so I put my profession to work, and mostly do it simply because I enjoy doing so. As of now we have 25 artists on board, and we communicate via our own chat group and frequently exchange ideas, opinions and updates.
How to Get Involved
Fuzznet has a Patreon. How else can potential members to join or support? What do you need? Are there any tips for what to avoid or how to stand out?
For people interested to join the project:
Officially sign ups are closed (there was more interest than expected and I’m working through backlog) but I’m still on the lookout for artists that seem particularly interesting or work outside the all-encompassing EDM/Electronic genre. We also prefer people who are not yet published on Spotify and other streaming platforms other than Bandcamp or Soundcloud. So if anyone reading this happens to still be unreleased and produces any genre that isn’t EDM (and I really don’t mean this in any bad way, I LOVE electronic music) I would be delighted to have a conversation with you!
For people interested supporting the project:
The easiest way to support would sure be to simply stream, favorite or add our music to your personal playlists on any streaming platforms we publish on. You can find all our main platforms here.
Otherwise we can always use more money (haha who doesn’t) for paid promotion, paying for tools/plugins and funding our online presence. We could also always need people just sharing our posts on Twitter and Instagram, or fellow people that know their way in the marketing world.
Tell me again where to find the music?
Our main links are fuzznet.world/music (landing page) and music.fuzznet.world (streaming links). Both pages include all the information about us, release dates, artists and social media links. We focus our main efforts on Spotify, as that one is the globally biggest platform to work with. For our Furry Musician playlists (for ALL furry musicians, in or outside of Fuzznet) we have playlists.fuzznet.world.
My main homepage is fuzznet.world where you’ll find all the various other projects I have to offer.
Welcome to Alec Esther, a new media theorist and aesthetic scholar. Alec uses “affect theory” to investigate how people find belonging and becoming in group spaces. Alec’s undergraduate thesis was about Porter Robinson’s Virtual Self project. Now here’s a critical personal reflection about the furry fandom, and the feeling of distance between internal self and external fursona.
I. Pentagon Dust
“Wait a second,” my bunny-eared DJ buddy stopped us mid-walk. “You don’t actually HAVE a fursona, do you?!”
We were hopping along the San Jose Doubletree halls to find refuge in a PAWCon room party when the question arose. I’d hoped to dodge his accusations at least before a drink or five, but my neck was barren of badges sans my con admission. I guess that justified his suspicion: what kind of furry would frolic about a convention without a testament to their fuzzy side? Yet the remark only reminded me of the discomfort of human skin, the way it bumps and tingles at the first sign of trouble. My DJ name was on a flyer of his creation, advertising the very same party to which we strode. He knew who I was. Was there a part of me that mattered more?
I stashed this question in my carry-on and flew it back to my then-home in Arizona, a state in which I’d just partied the weekend prior at Arizona Fur Con 2019. I had only 48 hours before I’d be on another flight to an even greater challenge: a weekend in Florida spent with a furry mentor and his friends. Loath am I to pass up an adventure, but the thought of being surrounded by more “established” furries filled me with a hollow dread. More intimidating than the social falsehood of “popufur” status was the feeling of self-fulfillment that I knew I lacked. From the moment of my arrival in MCO, I’d be a fursona non grata in the inescapable form of isolated flesh.
It was not yet the weekend when I landed in Orlando. The others would touch down on Friday, and Thursday had yet to wreak its temporal terror. That day I took my mentor’s offer to accompany him to the UCF campus as he took his Thursday classes. I sought comfort in the arts building, just as I often did during my Midwestern education in art history, and admired the great works of UCF’s aesthetes until one peculiar project tackled my stomach to the tile floor.
Across from me hung a woodblock print of a tiger pawing a soccer ball. The slight slant of his eyebrows signaled an immeasurable depth of worry. Above his back a condor spread its wings, holding a #2 jersey with placid pride—and only a faint mountain range in the background seemed to connect this athletic accolading to a place past the hall in which I witnessed it.
Passersby warped around me as I internalized its every line. Messy graphite in the margins titled the piece El Caballero del Fútbol, a reference to the late Colombian athlete Andrés Escobar and his contemplative playstyle. But beyond the boundaries of real-world referentials I knew this tiger. I saw in him the essence of my favorite text-based roleplay character whom my mentor had met in an elsewhere long abandoned. This tiger was the reflection of countless jockish moodboards and visual collages stashed in my dusty Google Drives. And the question of his jersey-clad existence was one I’d ask myself in lieu of commissioning artist friends. Each contour of that printed tiger’s nine-shaped tail was a reminder of the striped soccer player that had existed inside of me for so long, yet could never quite come out at my call, stuffed inside the never-unpacked travel bag I called my grief. For so long I had wanted him out of me—and here he was, an omen of my current discomfort, intensifying and yet deconstructing all that I knew about my desires to become something greater than myself.
I opened Telegram. “Hey,” I texted my friend. “When you’re out of class, come to the art building. I wanna show you something.”
We beheld the image together for a millisecond upon his return, the hallway quieting as if in mourning. “It’s good,” I spoke through the silence. I knew he would understand, that his eyes would trace each pentagon and the ridges of his paws, making the connection to a self only he had seen in actio-
“Yup,” he chirped. “You ready to go?”
I blinked. “I mean, I just want a moment with this- there’s…” I forced the feeling out of me, upset that the tiger’s company couldn’t do so alone. “Just, the emotion in his face…”
My mentor squinted. “Yeah… What little there is of it, anyway. Okay; shall we go?”
Just like that we returned to the car, he from his classes and I from a funeral for my future self. I was unsure of what had just occurred, but I did know that I was still in waiting, breath bated in hopes of reconstructing the immediate intimacy I had felt with the tiger just prior—and how insidious, the following invalidation. But the invalidation of what? My friend hadn’t done me any harm. No one had. Had they? So why did I feel as heavy as wood myself, cut and spliced into plaintive shards, dripping from the eyes with painted anger?
El Caballero was an affective cataclysm whose tremors I could not quite grasp. The tiger felt as guarding as he was guarded, grounding me in his presence long enough to bring me closer to him. But I could not shake the feeling that, in that moment of reciprocity, I had confessed in no uncertain terms an inner self for which I reflexively longed. That tiger… I wanted him to pull me out of myself and thrust me back inside the person that he and I could have been, and I wanted my mentor to behold that person, too, and I did not know why I wanted any of these things at all.
This memoir-manifesto hopes to address that which has led to my personal furry friction: the problem of the fursona and its identitarian distance. I draw upon Brian Massumi’s theory of “affect,” part of the experience of feeling something, to argue that the fursona is a dysphoric object that does not constitute open identity so much as it enforces identity’s dead-end nature within the furry fandom at large. I conclusively claim that furry processes of “homecoming” all too often require displacing the same self that needs a home in which to heal. I end this manifesto with a call to foster furry belonging that pivots from the notion that we must find home in others, including the others that we make for ourselves.II. Fellow Feelings
Most of us enter the furry fandom through the funny feelings we get from those of fuzzier persuasions. We find animals evocative: their forms of play are exciting, their aesthetics sensorily appealing. Critical theorist Brian Massumi defines this fuzzy logic as “affect,” or the sense of feeling something, through which we move into a new state of being. Our becomings as furries start with a sensation — like a fursuit hug, a tear shed to a Disney film, or maybe an erotic reckoning. While these moments “move us” in the emotive sense of the phrase, Massumi argues that this “movement” is actually a literal shifting of our subjective states. If we have an affecting encounter with art or objects, then the “affect” of that encounter leads us to conceptualize new ways that we might live or be. For some, Simba’s smirks or a fursuit performance have no fundamental importance. For others, their affect is transformative, begging questions of identity, resonance, and fetish whose answers to which the affected subject feels their way.
The most important part of affect is that it doesn’t tell us what those answers are. Things that affect us open the door to new understandings of ourselves, but it’s up to us to move through that door, and there’s no one on the other side of it that defines what we’ll be when we get there. We make sense of ourselves through these encounters without conceding to a greater sense of culture nor purpose, venerating our experiences in ways entirely our own.
What does an ineffective affect look like? Consider the outrage of fans when a band presumably “sells out.” Suddenly the ways that the band shepherds us to self-understanding have been compromised. Their affect returns a new value that dominates our interpersonal contact with them, now inescapable from the green hue of major-label marketing. Massumi calls this feeling “stasis,” or the point where affect can’t move us anymore. Anyone who’s experienced the frustration of stasis knows that it’s all in their heads. It’s an affect, not a provable science. Yet our ability to intuit how outside actors “trap” affect is crucial to our becomings. Affect’s autonomy relies on its indeterminacy. If we feel that the affect guiding us has “something else” to it that’s on the tip of our tongues, affect loses its efficacy.
To move with affect again, we need to make a space in which the door is a collective gateway to our greater selves. Affect doesn’t direct us to a higher power. Affect moves us towards ourselves and others, such as those who define in their own ways what furry affect means to them. The things that activate our fuzzy feelings create points in which we find each other equally transformed—and through the mediation of these emotional charges we create our so-called culture.
In other words, furriness is a state of mind that we collectively create through our individual emergence. We enter the fold of furriness by folding into each other’s affected states.III. Static Machine
Maybe it’s no coincidence that Massumi’s best example of “becoming” starts on the soccer field. According to his theory, we become soccer players because the ball mobilizes us with its appearance. The goals catalyze our movement, sanctifying the ground on which we run. These connections mold us into players — yet we, the affected ones, are the masters of what that play looks like. Our becoming as “Soccer Players” is really just a conversation between our bodies and a polyvinyl presence whose screams of “kick me!” we are obliged to answer. Wrapped in the goals’ embrace, we translate all that we feel in the ball into an activity to which we intentionally belong.
In my mind’s eye I stand before my favorite tiger on one of those fields, guarding the goal to which the youthful feline looks for an opening. My tiger prances about the pentagons with a determined demeanor, hungry to score just as I’m hungry for his sense of self-satisfaction. His sweat-matted hair spikes in fluffy triumph as he wipes his forehead with the bottom of his shirt. His black stripes contrast not with brilliant orange but instead a purplish-white hue, as if a shadow spread across his snowy Bengal fur. And though he’s never told me his name, I know him as well as I know myself, the person staring in somber delight at his feisty, fearless form.
Any other furry would know this tiger as a “fursona,” or a character created either to manifest oneself in anthropomorphic likeness or simply as a fun exercise in animalistic design. Surely my tiger befits a bit of both descriptions. He’s the visual ideation of an alternate path of my former youth, one where I might have run my interest in soccer into the very dirt below us. Each grass stain he bears on his jersey is one I avoided on my journey to academic success. I won’t sugarcoat this part, either: he’s skinnier than I am. Plenty about him screams “self-insert,” a fetishistic wish fulfilled within the confines of my life story. But he’s his own person, too, whose individuality underlines an identity beyond mine. Just as some see their fursonas as characters with no bearing on nor stake in their creators, my tiger straddles the line between fictionalizing my reality and calling pure fiction his home.
So why can’t I call myself a part of his? Why does seeing him hurt so much?
I think of the tension between us as I gaze upon his playful posture. I want to play with him. But “wanting” is a logical term here: he would not traverse this field at all if I didn’t want him to exist. And I want my tiger to exist because he materializes for me the journey I’ve taken along my furry path. I’ve constructed him to tangibly demonstrate furriness’s impact on me, and that demonstration isn’t just for others. As long as he exists in my mind or otherwise, I can witness in the third-person my becoming in the fur. It doesn’t matter if I want to be him or not. What I want is his demarcation of my own internal transformation. So long as I behold him, I always have a reference for the continuum of sensational experience that brought me to him in the first place.
Yet witnessing my transformation through his presence defines him as an object of my desire. He’s an object that I “want” to see, to experience, to take into myself. If I can’t see him, I lose sight of my becoming. I want what he has, or at least what he means to me, because he consecrates the generative energy that created him. But my desire for him reinforces our distance. If I were living an openly affected life, I wouldn’t need a referent for that transformation in order to feel realized. I wouldn’t have to want him. His “being” is contingent on my desire to see him, but I only desire to see him because he inversely validates me, the harbinger of the affect that gave him this existence.
The tension that comes from this desire is dual-pronged. I cannot validate my becoming without his presence, but his externality increases the distance that I feel from my presumably transformed self. In other words, I can’t return the value of my becoming as a furry without my tiger’s presence, but he solidifies that value as oppositional to my own. My desire to find myself within furriness is captured in his fluffy exterior, a becoming that is always in-progress yet stuck in his place: not mine to feel, but mine to observe. Affect can’t actualize me as a furry without me staying in that state of longing. I can only affirm my affected state through my unresolvable desire to see it in action.
My tiger is static. He has unwittingly captured what I’ve wanted for myself—a way to be seen as becoming and belonging—inside of him. It’s not that he “overshadows” me, nor that my human flesh is “secondary” to him within a culture beyond this soccer field. My belonging to furriness is instead predicated on him because he is the only way I can affirm to myself the emergent powers of furriness at all. I am always staring into the abyss of a self in flux that should have been me from the start.
The soccer ball hits my leg, shaking me from my thoughts. I watch the ball slow to a gentle roll from my back-left, gliding along the grass until it plants a peck on the goal’s firm netting. My head swivels from the sign of my failure to the tiger before me. He’s cheering with his fists up. Gotcha! his body says with the faded varnish of a fever dream, his smiling eyes begging to receive my own.
I’m not sure that I can reciprocate. I pick the ball up with a weary smile and punt it towards the setting sun.IV. Shepherd (He Heals Everything?)
In 2018, the Reno-based convention Biggest Little Fur Con pulled off an impressive feat. It’s typical for American furcons to feature annually rotating “themes,” or adventurous aesthetics that dominate one’s registration badge, souvenir T-shirts, and the hotel’s hallway decor. BLFC 2018’s theme was that of the Broadway musical. In addition to the standard fare that filled the schedule, the con’s creative staff teamed up with furry rockstars Fox & Pepper to honor the theme with a live musical of their own, “BLFC: A Musical Tail.”
“A Musical Tail” follows Thistle, a starry-eyed canine who’s excited to experience a weekend of firsts: his first flight; his first furry convention; and his first love, having fallen for jaded con vet Clover with which Thistle rooms for the event. Clover attempts to control Thistle’s naivete as the dog dotes on fursuiters, misconstrues the erotic arts (“A ‘pup play’ panel? I love puppies!”), and eventually unravels at the unprecedented depths of his own sentimentality. When the two separate at a Saturday-night shindig and Clover leaves Thistle’s frantic texts on read, Thistle succumbs to his ever-growing pile of frustrations — his ruined plans, his screwed-up schedule: “Every dollar spent on this is feeling wasted!” he laments on a rooftop as the party rages on below him.
Yet through his wailing Thistle realizes how much of his frustrations rest on his unrequited feelings for the other man. “You were supposed to be my perfect iteration!” he angsts through song. “You were supposed to solve this crushing desperation!” Thistle’s mourning of what-could-have-been evolves into grief for what he wants Clover to be: the conduit for the home that unfolds around Thistle as he belts his pain and anger. Thistle’s belonging isn’t in the party nor the people at it. Thistle needs a rock, and nowhere is this need more clear than in his climactic cry: “You were supposed to be the thing to fix it all!”
Overanalysis may do a disservice to the obvious. Thistle’s got it bad, and no amount of theory can handwave his love away. But Thistle’s slip of the tongue — that Clover is the thing that was supposed to fix Thistle’s tensions — points to Thistle’s internalization of Clover as the key to a kingdom that couldn’t possibly be without a lock. Despite Thistle’s demonstrably independent identification with the furry fandom, his failure to find fulfillment in his surroundings leads him continuously back to Clover. In every word, the poor puppy becries his burgeoning sense of belonging and the limerent bind that makes its actualization impossible. Thistle’s implicit realization is that, if home is where the heart is, it can’t beat in the furry fandom proper. Thistle needs Clover to tangibly embody the ephemerality of furry homecoming so that there may be something to come home to after all.
My Floridan mentor’s TV rolled the recording of “A Musical Tail” on the final day of our weekend outing. The six of us sat on a couch as wide as I was lonely, swapping stories of the show’s production while it played. I turned to my laptop to ease the growing rift between myself and the play, ostracized by its glorification of a communal experience that I still couldn’t grok. Meanwhile, the past words of fellow furs echoed through my mind: you’ve brought this isolation upon yourself, you know. The proof of my belonging was in the pudding of our friendship. I was there, on that very couch, listening to stars of the show recall with harrowing hilarity the project’s planning process. What room did I have to speak of social discomfort when those around me had already let me in?
Thistle’s soliloquy transmitted my troubles back to me. As soon as he opened his muzzle I knew his pain. His anguish defined how it feels to be so trapped in one’s state of longing that home becomes an elsewhere of its own, just as I had to internalize my furriness to seek comfort within it. Furry affect wasn’t a limitless field of potential to me. It was a wrestling match between the unstoppable force of my desire and the immovability of myself, which unveiled the greatest paradox of all. I could only partake in the couch’s communion so long as I reconciled that the way we realized each other would ruin me. What made it feel like home was its acceptance of my displacement: I could be anything I wanted to be so long as I stared my liminality in its static face. But if I did that, then how liminal could I really be? The deposits of my desire were too deep to be contained in a singular entity that only fulfilled me through my opposition to it. Thistle’s need paralleled my longing for a home that I had to materialize away from myself, not within myself, because I could only find “home” in furriness through my own undoing. I could be blind to the home inside me or long for the mirage before me. Either way, my heart would tear in two.
Therein lay the real friction between myself and the rest of the couch: furriness couldn’t bring me towards them so long as furriness’s final frontier returned for me the same hollowness from which I supposedly emerged. Everyone else could use the fursona to make a home within themselves and each other, but I was doomed to succumb to its static shocks, desperate to verify the potency of my unfolding at the expense of setting myself truly free. And even if I rejected the fursona myself, I would always long for the evidence of my affective evolution. Just as Thistle languished in his need for another, so was I unable to escape myself without the double-bind of an existence so distant and strained.
The musical number ended. I excused myself, slipped on my shoes, and hit the pavement of the Orlando suburbs, hoping to leave my heartache behind for a moment. I only returned when the clouds began to weep with me.V. Goodbye to A World/Unison
On the penultimate evening of PAWCon 2019, I encountered a YouTube livestreamer while working at a friend’s vendor booth. It was easy to hear him coming: the giggles of his roving gang would’ve put a hyena to shame. Despite the species similarities, however, the first words I heard from him were that he didn’t belong. “I am not a furry,” he said to his virtual audience as he walked past my booth. “Fake news, I swear.”
Minutes later he returned to my table, his camera pleading for my attention. “Hi,” he waved. “You have something to say to YouTube?”
I put a hand over my heart, faux-flattered. “Wow!” I gasped. “What have I always wanted to say to an audience of people…?”
“Take your time,” he replied.
I fell back into silence as a cacophony of incoherent thoughts filled my head. There were so many things I wanted to tell him. Most important of them all was that I understood his proclamations of opposition. Yes, even as I sold furry merchandise at a furry convention, I knew how it felt to question my place within it all. After all, opposition is one of the easiest ways to occupy the space between yourself and what you love. Why bother with the pain of a broken heart when you could just break it with your own hands instead? I didn’t know if this streamer’s heart beat in time with the rhythm of my pain—nor if he even cared to investigate it—but in his vocal objections I saw the same aches that plagued me even as I sat in the booth before him.
The irony of his approach was so heavy that it robbed me of my voice. I answered with a non-committal meme, he laughed, and I watched him turn his back on our silently shared antagony.
All too often I, too, openly reject furriness—despite my ten years being in and around it—because claiming it reignites the distance that I feel from other furries. On the days that I do claim furriness, I do so in hopes that my contributions to the fandom encourage others to find themselves within my work. This manifesto isn’t a cry for pity. It’s a call for furs to reimagine how they create community and to “flesh out” what more furriness might mean to them. In what ways are we fostering creative self-expression that moves us beyond the rigidity of our desires? Does the mythological allure of home fuel our collectivization, or is the tension between our inner selves what causes us to long for it in the first place?
I’ve heard many furries argue that the fursona’s externality is what embodies them. Some of the fursona’s reconstitutive powers can be healing, especially for trans individuals, queer furs, and fellow body dysmorphics. Nothing I’ve written is meant to oppose those perspectives whatsoever, nor do I believe that affect theory is prescriptive. The fursona is so unique because it’s one of the only technologies that constructs a home that one can see for themselves. Dismantling that home altogether is fruitless. I hope, however, that this analysis has centered another kind of marginality: the ones for which the fursona is not an escape, but a sacrifice, the final nail in a boarded-up property built by dysphoria’s raking claws. Some of our paws are simply too worn to justify pulling back the planks from it any longer.
That’s why my own paws stroke these keys until I hear someone knock on the door to my dingy domain. From my window I see my tiger shivering; he’s seeking shelter from the falling snow that pushed him away from his ultimate purpose.
I can’t help but shed a tear. Each of us is a place, and yet he’s come to rest in mine. I rise from my writing desk, unlock the entrance, and warm us both by a fire that may free us from colder flames.
- Massumi, Brian. 2002. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 72-82.
- Ibid, 72-77.
- Biggest Little Fur Con. 12 May 2018. “BLFC 2018: A Musical Tail.” Youtube. Accessed 2 September 2020.
BIO: Alec Esther is a community advocate in Madison, WI who promotes civic engagement, critical inquiry, and radical social change. When he’s not cooking up a spicy Cephalid Breakfast in Magic: the Gathering, he spins all things bright and special as “DJ REDACTED” on Datafruits.fm. You can follow his local organizing and theory work on Twitter @highestwinds, contact him on Telegram @redacteds, or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beware! Get scared! There’s a Sleestak on the street tonight!
This scaly, green, bipedal creature was originally from the 1970’s TV show Land of the Lost. (A live action children’s adventure show mixed with claymation animated dinosaurs, about a family trying to get home from an alternate universe.)
Through some dimensional portal, one Sleestak recently appeared in Portland, OR. He was then discovered by the news. Read a story about him from The Oregonian: The Portland Sleestak wanders the city for scares, smiles and general weirdness. Another from King5: Brent Marr pays tribute to a 70’s classic and reminds his hometown it’s fun to be weird.
I saw the news linked by Bawdy Storytelling. (A show for kinky stand-up performers, which often has furries like me.) Sadly, I must disappoint friends at Bawdy because the Sleestak is family-friendly and can’t go on stage with spicy stories. But he did answer a Q&A.
I was curious about the Sleestak’s inspirations, and why he appears on the street where you’d never expect a scaly creature. It reminds me of street fursuiting (my favorite thing.) Enjoy our chat about it.
Hi from Dogpatch Press! I love your look and want to know how you got it. Can you talk about your background and your art influences?
(Portland Sleestak): I originally thought that I would end up being a comic book artist but never really found the motivation to pursue it seriously, so that evolved into portraits in graphite and charcoal, Primarily male nudes. I had some success with that but eventually eating became a priority and art went by the wayside.
I’ve always loved Halloween and over the years have made some great costumes. From a mash up of the twins from the Shining and Batman and Robin, to Heat Miser/Snow Miser, The Child Catcher, and Pinhead from the Puppet Master movies. Costumes have become a great outlet for creativity. (There’s a photo album for those on my personal Facebook page.)
I decided that I wanted to wear a Sleestak mask with a leisure suit as a Halloween idea but none of the masks I found were of any quality (no one was making Sleestak masks commercially).
I decided to try to make my own. I got a mannequin head and some modeling clay and began trying my hand and sculpting… the head ended up coming out so good that it stole my credit card and became something else… so I built a body too and that’s part of how I got here…
How does becoming the Sleestak feel when you’re in the moment doing a Sleestak attack?
Scaring each other was like a game in my family growing up, for me it’s fun to be startled, and it’s fun to scare people. That’s the main goal of the Sleestak Attacks, but certainly smiles, laughter, and nostalgia are great consolation prizes.
Do you have a monster family (helpers, people you will go out performing with, hosts for events, or bands you go on stage with?) What are they like?
I have a small group of mostly friends but sometimes volunteer fans of the Facebook page that help with everything from getting me into the suit, to taking photos and videos. As well as communicating via com system and providing me with security.
Beyond that, I only had just completed the second suit in January and was still doing test runs and trouble shooting when the pandemic began. We did a live appearance at a local bands Leap Day event but, clearly exploring what to do with this thing hit a snag so as you can imagine. I’m anxious to find out what we’ll do and where we’ll go.
Can you talk about the process of making him (and do you have any documenting, photo/video etc besides the short Oregonian video?) I thought it was especially creative to use security camera domes for eyes.
There are 2 photo albums on my personal Facebook profile page (Brent Marr) Sleestak Project and Sleestak Project 2.0 — I did the best I could to provide commentary and there are a few videos and tons of pictures.
I think your work could really inspire some furry fans who stick to a colorful cartoon aesthetic. Could you tell them anything about making different or more monstrous creatures than their usual kind?
Sleestak are all I have made so far, I had not used modeling clay since I was a child but had never attempted to really sculpt anything. I watched hours of mold making and countless other videos to get the end result. I traveled down several paths that had to be abandoned and rethought. And I ended up with a great suit that was very difficult to wear, so ultimately I made a second one from scratch and applied what I learned, with good success.
Are you content being the Sleestak or will you do more creatures?
I’m a fan of many things, and of course I’m tossing options around in my crazy head for future costumes, Sasquatch, Wendigo, and Murder Hornet are 3 at the top of my list.
I’m curious about your place in Portland… with the weirdness and protests in the troubled times we’re living in. How do you feel about being there?
It breaks my heart to see Portland in such turmoil. Why is working towards tolerance and coexistence so difficult? I don’t know the answer to that, but we have to push forward each day as if the earth will continue to spin.
Portland is strong. And is, by and large filled with hopeful, hard working, courageous, and good people that believe everyone should be able to live and love without fear.
So, if I can provide a moment of joyful distraction here and there until we reach the other side of this crisis, than that’s what I’ll do.
Not all media is created equal. The furry kind is best of course! But furry fandom gets damaged by protesting against “the media” every time a journalist starts on a good story that might not push good PR. PBS isn’t the National Enquirer. Sometimes knowledge is power or sometimes exploiters have less noble intentions… results vary, just be informed. Here’s Joe Strike, a journalist who is no stranger to working professionally in the media. He submitted this story based on contact he got as author of Furry Nation, the furry fandom history book. (- Patch)
September 6 2020
I received the following email last week:
My name is Joe Pinzone and I am casting a TV show for MTV called “Ghosted.”
We’re currently casting people who have been ghosted or have ghosted someone important in their lives due to people not understanding cosplaying/furries. I know that you wrote a book about it and was hoping you could spread the word by reposting the below notice. If you have questions, please let me know.
Did a friend, relative, or lover ghost you because of your love for dressing up as a furry or did you ghost someone who didn’t understand Furries?
Sharp Entertainment are now casting people 18-34 nationwide, who are ready to find or give answers, and share their story with the world.
Please send pictures, contact info & a short description of the ghosting in your life ASAP to: email@example.com
FINAL CAST APPROVED BY THE NETWORK WILL RECEIVE PAYMENT. NO TRAVEL REQUIRED. NON UNION—-
Here’s my response to Joe P:
Personally, I’ve never been ghosted or ghosted anyone. I’ll relay your message to a few furry websites & message boards – with a proviso.
Even though the media has been treating Furry better and more accurately in recent years we’ve been burned many times in the past, depicted as strictly a kink scene for weirdos and losers. MTV has been guilty of this more than once, particularly with a segment that ran on your Sex2K program.
Several years ago I was invited to appear on Oddville. Even though producer Rich Brown assured me I’d be treated with respect, it was obvious from the show’s title they were looking for “oddballs” and weirdos to mock. (I never watched the show so I have no idea if any fursuiters ever appeared.)
When I forward your message I’ll remind people of these incidents and suggest they proceed with caution; if any furs contact you, I hope you will honestly reassure them Ghosted isn’t another Oddville.
(Joe’s response to my Email:)
Thanks! I don’t think we would be going for what they did with Sex2K, that seems a long time ago. But I appreciate you spreading the word.
Okay, here’s that proviso I mentioned above:
Joe P. is an independent casting agent. Apart from helping the production company find ghosts and ghosters, as far as I know he’s not involved with the show itself or MTV. In the meantime, here’s a link to Sharp Entertainment’s IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/search/title/?companies=co0135664
You can decide for yourself if you want to be in a show produced by the creators of Marrying Millions, Love After Lockup or 90 Day Fiancé. However, Sharp Entertainment’s IMDB page has a link to already produced episodes of Ghosted: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9179640/episodes?season=1&ref_=tt_eps_sn_1 The episode descriptions don’t sound particularly exploitative, more soap-opera-ish and seemingly sympathetic to the people in the episodes. (Having never seen the show I don’t know how in fact the show actually presented the people involved.) The episode descriptions might be helpful to anyone who considers giving it a chance.
Links to Joe P’s facebook and LinkedIn pages are in his original message. Good luck – and don’t forget us little people when you’re a big-time celebrity!
James Lovell Thompson, AKA Keanu the Red Panda, was formerly known for representing the Anthro Southeast furry convention before a series of disgraces. In March 2020, Keanu spread bogus health info about the Covid-19 pandemic. He was accused of doing it with claims of a PhD. degree he doesn’t have.
Degree fraud (pretending to have credentials and authority) is often seen with professional cheating, lying on resumes, gaining licenses without merit, medical quack scams, identity theft, and other crime. It’s like stolen valor for academics. It damages trust and safety for victims, organizations and communities.
In response to the accusation, Keanu dropped out of social media activity for months, only to re-emerge with an elaborate defense. Keanu put out a video that repeats his PhD. claim while he shows off a diploma that is not genuine. Proof is in this Google doc, newly shared after months of seeking evidence.Keanu Red Panda’s “Microbiology PhD.” — 8 reasons the diploma is fake.
This is a record correction story that’s already known to many witnesses in the background, including powerful voices in the furry fandom. Along with their input, witnesses from outside the fandom reached out on their own to dispute Keanu’s story of earning a PhD. (He also claimed to be on a school board of directors or trustees, which no school has supported.) Employees were consulted at schools that he named. There is confidentiality for many sources, but the most powerful case against Keanu comes from his own response.
Keanu’s defense video decorates the fake diploma with a lot of emotional storytelling and counter-accusations. That’s a lot of effort to fool the public and grab sympathy. However, buying a fake diploma takes no effort at all.
Using a fursona name is a good courtesy for reporting furry news. So is keeping confidentiality for sources. However, when a fursona gets used to hide cheating, including with identity itself, then good reporting can’t assist the misuse of privacy. If furries want to be trusted as harmless role-players with nothing to hide, then anyone who enjoys using a fursona can ask James Lovell Thompson to correct the deceptive claims he made as Keanu.
While showing a fake diploma, Keanu has blocked or attacked people who tried to get responses. Outreach by Dogpatch Press went unanswered. He should make an updated statement about his repeated efforts to get away with deception. Until he does, can anyone trust ANYTHING he says?
1) @AnthroSouthEast, alert about a triple disaster caused by the con vice-chair @Keanu_Red_Panda. There's public safety risk of misinforming about coronavirus, misusing authority for it, and even apparent fraud claim of pretending to be a PhD. UNREAL!! (Thanks @BarleyBorks) pic.twitter.com/WEkbdk2stu
— Con Staff Watch (@ConStaffWatch) March 15, 2020
Degree fraud by a leader makes distrust in what they represent, and cheats ones with real credentials. What if @Keanu_Red_Panda lies about con security? @Unclekage@DuncanDaHusky what does the FCLR think?
— Con Staff Watch (@ConStaffWatch) March 16, 2020
(2/2) The remaining chairs, Daiba (Head Chair) and Tigsy (Vice Chair), want to make it clear that we and ASE do not share his views or condone what he has said. We're always working hard on improving our con and want to make it a safe and welcoming place for all of our attendees
— Anthro SouthEast (@AnthroSouthEast) June 18, 2020
Two stories this week are an antidote to a year full of doom, gloom, fire, fury, and not nearly enough hugs and smiles.
First: Possibly some of the peak publicity furry music has ever gotten! Then, a scaly monster stalks the streets of Portland… here’s hoping he does a Q&A for us.
As Portland cops stood around in their brawly-boy uniforms, a loudspeaker blasted them with a song about horse cock.https://t.co/DZxeeHGPJm
— The Stranger (@TheStranger) August 28, 2020
Let it be known, my song may be be blasted to support pro BLM, anti- police brutality purposes. I give permission.
Bonus points if played to cover up LRAD announcements. https://t.co/iSAUttCHdS
— PepperCoyote (@peppercoyote) August 27, 2020
Gorgeous moldmaking! @editorswindler @Oregonian @Oregonlive does the Sleestak have a Twitter? MORE MONSTERS IN FURRY FANDOM PLEASE :3 #PortlandSleestak #sleestakrocks #monsters #furries #furry #rawr https://t.co/aXHUmr20OL
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) August 29, 2020
I found the mysterious creature’s email and reached out to learn more for furry news.
If you’re interested, want to do a Q&A? You might enjoy one I did recently: “Very surprised and very grateful”: fursuit maker Beauty of the Bass talks about a $14,000 sale.
Here’s some of what I’m curious about:
- Can you talk about your background and your art influences?
- How does becoming the Sleestak feel when you’re in the moment doing a Sleestak Attack on the street?
- Do you have a monster family (like helpers, people you will go with, hosts for events, bands you go on stage with) and what are they like?
- Can you talk about the process of making him (and do you have any documenting, photo/video besides the short Oregonion video?) I thought it was especially creative to use the security camera domes for eyes.
- I have a few articles about advanced creature making. I think your work could really inspire some furry fans who stick to a colorful cartoon aesthetic. Could you say anything to them about making different or more monstrous creatures than their usual kind?
- Are you content being the Sleestak or will you do more creatures … or want to talk about other art you do for hire?
- Lastly, I’m curious about your place in Portland… the weirdness, the protests, and the troubled times we’re living in. How do you feel about being part of it?
The Sleestak’s habit of popping out in the wild reminds me of why Street Fursuiting is my favorite thing. I’ve written about it often, and hope the creature speaks out (or hisses, or whatever) to brighten up these wild times.
A creepy-cute aesthetic
Ghatz, the suit shown here, doesn’t belong to the lucky winner — theirs is waiting to start — but this completed work can show why her talent earns a price as high as $14,000.
The Krampus-like aesthetic stands out in a crowd of technicolor fluff. Imagine basking in the spookiness in person, then being chased by this creature through delightfully twisted nightmares. The maker’s vision is detailed in her FAQ that pairs her with compatible clients.
(BotB) — Things I look for in a design and application:
- A well written and thought out application form.
- A clear reference of the character in question with a strong idea of concept and direction the client wishes me to go in.
- On the other hand, I am looking for artistic liberty suits. These will be done on an ‘offer me a price’ basis.
- Interesting, scary, gory, unique, tricky and extravagant designs will have more of a chance to go through.
- I am wanting to do a belly suit, so will be looking for that opportunity!
- WEREWOLVES. MYTHICAL CREATURES. DEMONS.
- Silicone drool, skin and gore effects. This does not require lots of mold making, therefore I am more than happy to do this.
- Willingness to go the extra mile for the extra effects and will be happy to push the boat out with me, as i’m wanting to push myself.
- Unique species, uncommon species and hybrids.
- Mutations, extra parts, double jaws, double faces, scars.
- Long fur accents, manes and mohawks with the NFT fur upgrade.
It’s another example of unique vision seen in a 2017 story: Q&A with Kazul of Kazplay, first place winner for cosplay at Blizzcon. Kazul wanted to create a living illusion for her Hogger suit — to hide the human form and “look like he smelt like a wet, dirty dog” — and be more than a person wearing a rug.
(Kazul) — With all my work I strive to make convincing characters. When I hear people ask “how is it moving like that?” “How is a person inside that?” when I know that I’ve tricked their brain well enough that they can only see what is in front of them as a real creature, that’s when I win.
Vision like this inspires a comment I sent to a contributor working on an upcoming story. It’s about “the technology of the fursona”.
(Me) — I’ve noticed that fursuiting is kind of assumed to be a default for fursonas (even though only a small portion of fans use them) for how photogenic they are. Many artists seem to draw characters more as fursuiters than toons or other. Many suits are tailored to the wearer rather than the wearer adapting their performance to them… and the more they’re cranked out as a standard process, the more they share similar character. Their first material quality is being soft and tactile, above illusions with sound, light, unusual motion etc. Tech can change that. Some makers counter these trends.
Beauty of the Bass responds to a Q&A following the Dealers Den auction.
(BotB): Hey there! First of all, thank you for doing some research! It’s nice to be not asked the same questions this time.
(Dogpatch Press:) How do you feel about such a high priced auction? I see this went for around 3x the price of a usual full suit commission from you.
I’m over the moon! I got quite dizzy and overwhelmed when I saw the price rise to £6,000 within 20 mins of the auction going live. I just couldn’t believe that it was happening. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s 1000% worth it for them. I’ll be throwing in some extras too. But overall, I’m very surprised and very grateful. I wasn’t able to relax until the deposit was paid!
I really liked looking over your work… the best part is how it takes chances. Do you have a favorite costume you made, or a favorite commission? (Not necessarily the same. Being satisfying and easy could be different from best look.)
Well thank you very much! These past 3 years have been my first 3 years in business. Before that, this was all a hobby. (Not counting 2020 as I have been without a workshop so far! Long story.) So these past years have been a lot of experimenting and figuring out how to best make the costume quality and to look the way I wanted. I went through a phase of making the eyes too big and low down for my liking, the heads got a bit too big as well at some point. So there have been a lot of tweaks made during these years. However, 2019 was certainly the year where I really catapulted myself into a style I’m happy with. I really pushed myself, because of this, I’m at a level where I’m very happy with my current skill level and competence.
Consequently, my favourite projects have come from 2019. My all time fave is the one you point out, Ghatz. They were also an incredible person to work for, so enthusiastic. I felt like they were cheering me on throughout the whole thing!
Your FAQ with “Things I look for” was nicely thought out. I can really see potential for working with clients with a unique character and not just cranking out a generic fox or whatever. Can you say more about creatively collaborating, or has a commission ever gone in an unexpected direction?
Yes, this is because I’m actually looking to deviate from the ‘fursuit’. I’m looking to create costume creatures, animatronics and performance suits. Rather than a generic ‘furry’ vibe. Therefore I will be looking for designs that steer my business into that direction. Glad you like the concept behind it!
As for a commission going in a different direction… no I haven’t had one go like that. They have all been very upfront about what they wanted!
I saw you talk about “scary, creepy, odd, gory and crazy designs”, and Ghatz looks like a Freddy Krueger cartoon dream demon. It makes me ask what influences you to make designs unlike popular cute animals?
They are just what piques my interest. I have always been a scary creature fan. Always drawing dragons and werewolves growing up. Never been a fan of acting cute or drawing cute things… so it’s just my personal interest really! As for coming up with ideas… It’s just stuff from my own head. The biggest inspiration I took was certainly from ‘The Smiler‘, [a roller coaster] for Bass’s colour scheme and markings. But apart from that I tend to give it some good old fashioned thought!
You went to animation school. Is fursuit making your main job now? How does it feel compared to mainstream animation work, and is it something that you have to explain as a job to people who might not take it seriously?
This is my main job yes. I never did animation, I left university and started my own business. I would have hated being stuck behind a screen all day. It does take a loonnggg time to properly explain what I do and who I cater to. I often just say I make full body costumes, werewolves and dragons kinda thing!
Can you talk about the business (besides the craft and art)… like acquiring a workshop, what’s it like to offer your work and put yourself out there and keep on track with supplies and meeting obligations… do you have any thoughts for other artists about making it a career?
Well, the first workshop was offered to me as part of a deal that fell through. So I had it for a few months and then was recommended to the second one. It was a BEAUTIFUL old roof space on the Lincoln high street. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place.
The next one, I found by walking around Liverpool on Google street view, and finding numbers for businesses that I could see have a few floors above ground level. It took a while, but I have found myself a fantastic space above a solicitors, above a pub! So as far as finding a workshop goes… you just have to not be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people.
Being self employed will always come with it’s perks and drawbacks. Self discipline is a must have, and you have to learn a lot of lessons yourself. Instead of someone hovering over you, making sure you are doing things correctly. There is a lot to manage! I’m in charge of PR, Advertising, production, dispatch, sourcing, schedule… list goes on. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love being in control.
If I was to part with some wisdom for people looking to start on their own… make sure you have a backup plan. Make sure you have the demand, build it before you dive head first. Take risks of course, but be smart about it. Look after your name, because the reputation of your name is everything, especially in business. You must act professional with your customers, and remember to have respect for those who are interested in your work.
It’s easy to become jaded at some points with work, even with something you love doing. If that happens, try to look at why it’s happening, and try things from a new angle. Add something new into the mix, never stop trying to improve. Keep pushing, don’t get comfortable with your methods or stale.
Has the high priced auction gotten lots of attention, or hate or trolling? Do you have any thoughts about what high prices mean to the fandom?
I actually asked my friends if they had seen any bad reactions from it, as I have seen it happen to other makers. No bad reactions so far! In fact, I have been overwhelmed with the support that I have been getting from comments. A lot of them congratulating with ‘well done’ and ‘you deserve it.’ So I’ve been very very grateful to that as well.
I don’t really concern myself with other makers and their prices, apart from when I was scoping out how much I should be charging. I do struggle to price myself. But mostly, I go off what I feel is comfortable, the feedback, and the demand. Like I said, I need to pick which design will steer my business in the direction I want it to go into. Pricing is part of that. I’m thinking about this as a unique business move, not as a ‘fursuit maker’.
Here’s a few extra questions from readers.
Kattywampus (@Feanyx): I noticed a lot of times, these high-priced auctions are “anything goes”. I wonder if these artists are prepared to deal with things other artists wouldn’t deal with, and if that’s what drives the price. I.e., questionable fetish material, etc.?
It depends what they ask for. I’m open to creating fetish material, especially for the price it went for! I would feel very cheeky declining that. Plus, I’m not bothered by fetish gear in the slightest. There are a few things that I would draw the line at, but I can’t outline them all here. Normally I would most likely decline, unless I really liked the idea. But in this case I would certainly open the options up more.
Renato Santos@Dracontes): Does the amount reached by the winning bid put pressure on the costume maker to provide a service they feel is commensurate with it? How will that affect the artist’s usual commission process?
Not much will change, as I put everything into the costumes I produce. They can have just about anything they want for that price! Within reason of course. I will however be offering to make some extras from them, I will have so see what I can offer! I have already been rethinking my price list in time for reopening, so this has given me a confidence boost really!
Thanks to Beauty of the Bass for talking about her work. Coming up next is a followup with the fursuit buyer.
- “Our way of giving back”: Glitzy Fox talks about buying a gift fursuit from Beauty of the Bass.
Wow! Another high-flying auction on https://t.co/beKi9MUjvO!
10,700 GBP is nearly $14,000 USD.
— The Dealers Den (@TheDealersDen) August 7, 2020
Sweet success for MixedCandy and Beauty of the Bass
Beauty of the Bass, a Britain-based fursuit maker and performer, felt the love from fans when a commission auction sold for £10,700 this month. That’s $14,025 USD at current exchange rate, and over three times the full fursuit price quoted on her website.
There’s no suit yet. The winner gets to have it created. Her auction lists some conditions — certain tech options aren’t possible and “I prefer to work on scary, creepy, odd, gory and crazy designs” — but there’s one benefit only an auction winner can get. No denial. Direct commissioners may not be accepted depending on the maker’s discretion for what she wants to make; but this winner enters the queue unconditionally after current customers.
An auction like this makes a premium option for artists and customers who really want their work. The price proves the demand. It’s near the highest records for any fursuit auction, which was $17,017 achieved by MixedCandy in July 2018 (beating a $13,500 auction by Made Fur You in January 2018.)
MixedCandy herself received a new $15,600 price just days after this $14,000 price for Beauty of the Bass. These outstanding prices can help to show the state of the Furry Economy and its artists.
Of course this isn’t a fursuit-selling competition. It’s support that lets makers keep directly serving fans, a rare and special opportunity to go “pro fan” as a career. That’s not get-rich-quick work, and there can be a lot of turnover. (Many makers serve commissioners with smaller wallets). Fursuits aren’t really investments either — they’re functional art that adds photogenic magic to events for all furries. You can have an open fandom and well-supported artists too.
Independence of the Furry Economy
Key support for these auctions comes from The Dealers Den. It’s a premiere option for furries after the demise of Furbuy (2000-2019), which itself outlasted Furbid (1999-2014). As a service to fans, it’s run as close to free as possible and keeps control in the fandom while providing direct reach to a niche, unlike Ebay. But sites don’t run for free, so it’s worth pointing out how The Dealers Den was slow or dormant for years from its 2009 founding, and took work to raise to equal activity next to Furbuy (when it was acquired by Vitai Slade in 2018). Now fans are lucky to have it as the lone standing service of its kind.
A look at furry personal ad sites can show how a subculture’s well-being can tie to support for its independent sites. Pounced was taken down by government interference that made it too hard to operate. For many fans it was irreplaceable, and fake furry dating sites leave them with a buyer beware situation (with bans for the sites advertising on FurAffinity.)
Furries have some of the deepest roots of any internet subculture. Small, weird, independent websites used to host more communities that died with consolidation by big corporations. Social media makes us all more beholden to the algorithms and their hidden corporate profit motives (which can include depressing users and tracking if they shop more!)
This 2019 article was inspired by Tumblr’s purging, and it helps to show the stakes for independent artists who depend on communities like furry to work with full time devotion:
For fursuit makers and lovers, in a turbulent year of Covid-19 shutdowns, there’s little opportunity for live fursuiting events and a notable slowdown of media about them. Online activity connects everyone more than ever. Time will tell for how the effects may continue. That makes it interesting to see high prices and support for some makers. In the next story, maker Beauty of The Bass can tell you how The Dealers Den auction affected her.
- Next — “Very surprised and very grateful”: Fursuit maker Beauty of the Bass talks about a $14,000 auction.
- Then — “Our way of giving back”: Glitzy Fox talks about buying a gift fursuit from Beauty of the Bass.
We are the proud winners! Me and my boyfriend @azurethefoxbat who is the one getting the suit.
— Glitzy Fox blm (@Glitzy_Fox) August 11, 2020
If you’ve ever had to explain to an outsider what furries are, you might be a little weird. Or as I prefer, lovably eccentric. There’s a writer who gets the lovable part, and he wants your help to learn more about furries. You can be part of the research:
Tea Krulos is a freelance journalist and author who covers subcultures, weird news, and strange personalities. He also writes about local art and entertainment for a bunch of magazines and has his own weekly column. His books are about the Real Life Superhero Movement, monster hunters who chase Bigfoot, ghosts and UFO’s, cryptozoology and more. It makes me want to visit a whole book store just for that stuff — and help him make a new book.
Tea and I did an hour interview and he told me about his research. It was just before he led a weekly walking ghost/history tour. Last time I did one in New Orleans, I was happy to have a trusty guide to lead me on a leash. (It kept me from slipping in ectoplasm or Mardi Gras barf.) I think Tea’s research will make him a trusty guide like that. The survey is sociological and asks about a few debated topics, but I know there’s nothing wrong with writing about them from someone who is just learning and being into the same stuff as me. He says:
Hello furry friends — my name is Tea, I’m a freelance writer and author from Milwaukee, WI. As an eccentric punk rocker, I’ve always had an interest in subcultures, social movements, and fandoms and have written about them several times (including roller derby, paranormal investigators, Real-life Superheroes, music cultures and more) and I always approach the people I’m writing about in a respectful (but truthful) way.
I’m working on a future book that examines a variety of subcultures/ social movements that focuses on the years 2015-2020 under the Trump campaign/ administration. To write it I’m doing a lot of interviews and also surveys directed at different groups of people.
I’ve created a survey for the furry fandom that takes about 5 minutes to complete. Your personal info will not be shared. Surveys like this are helpful in getting some idea of who the group is and if their answers are mostly in agreement or split on issues. I hope you participate (and help share) and the last entry asks for contact info if you wish to talk further.
Thank you and a big thanks to Patch for his insight on the survey questions and for helping me spread the word. Hope you’re all well in this crazy year.
— Tea Krulos
Tea’s Wiki page is good to read. Most recently in the news, he covered the publisher of the pioneering furry comic Omaha The Cat Dancer.
People tend to know me from one thing or another. In the early 2000s I was way into underground comics, studied them, drew 'em, edited an anthology. I wrote about an upcoming exhibit with a rich local history for @milwaukeerecord. https://t.co/t3tNTwmp4K
— Tea Krulos (@TeaKrulos) August 6, 2020
Speaking of Bigfoot sightings or walking tours, there isn’t that much attention on walking talking furry animals being sighted in cities right now with Covid shutdowns. But there’s still cool stuff coming from inside the fandom. That’s what led to my second interview this weekend. I spent an hour with the hosts of Bearly Furcasting, a weekly podcast started in May 2020.
Look for the show soon and have a weird and fluffy week.
These guys just interviewed me and it was super fun! Show comes out in a few weeks. Taebyn and Mike are awesome hosts, I don't do a lot of chat format podcasts but I think they are in the groove with many good guests and solid format. Give them a follow and treat your ears. https://t.co/MBbENK05Kn
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) August 10, 2020
The Furry Music Anthology is uniting musicians, just like other furry artists, to share their music and be recognized with one collective platform. A themed series was launched with “Anthrology Vol. 1: A Song of Your Sona“. 13 musicians contributed using the Furry Musicians group on FurAffinity and Twitter. Now there’s a new edition featuring 15 musicians.
Get it here: https://furrymusicanthology.bandcamp.com/album/new-horizons (It’s all still free!)
Here’s what perked up my ears and made the music sound furry for me in this thoughtfully sequenced collection.
- Wings of a Dream – New Dawn is a percolating rock opener, like coffee for mice before they do a secret mission in Catland.
- Indy Go Rat – Maybe This Time is loopy Hüsker Dü indie rock for questioning existence.
- Skunk Surfeit – Passion has a minimal beat that flips out with angsty fuzz, for venting about feeling dogpiled.
- Jayden Raske Productions and Ikodo feat. Rye – Long for Rain is chill aquatic and jazzy, for otter floaty time.
- Byeonaraye! – Twostep is a nice little nervous instrumental with beats & piano, for sneaking down an alley in Toontown.
- RobinG – Fuzz is throbbing neon synthpop candy for dancing with your fursuit crush.
- I.S.T – Your Life Remade is moody post-breakup rock with strings for a long walk in the woods.
There’s more from What Eyleth Thee?, Edward Sebastian, Cordial, Entro-P, TELOS, Out of the Way, ✞FOX, and Tomas Walker.
Co-founder Camarón the Flamingo writes:
After many months of production, we are pleased to announce The Anthrology Vol. 2: New Horizons. What was intended to be a New Years themed album got swept away in the chaos of 2020, and it had to be moved to a Summer release once everything got into order. We return with Bob Drake mastering the tracks and Fleeks designing the beautiful cover art.
This volume managed to include a few more songs than the first, and the variety of styles is just as diverse.
Alongside the release of this second album, we have opened up a few more avenues for people to support the Furry Music Anthology moving forward.
To bring support to the artists providing the cover art for the Anthrologies, we have started a merch store with the permission of the artists so far who have been involved with us. It’s a step forward for the future of the Anthology.
Support us here: https://www.redbubble.com/people/FurMusAnthology/shop?asc=u
For now, proceeds of the merch store will go 100% towards the artists who create the art for the Anthrologies (and the merch store itself). Our plans moving forward are to eventually become an independent outlet for furry musicians to gain recognition, and, in time, income. As things stand, the Anthology is still non profit for anyone involved, management included.
The Furry Music Anthology has a Discord server that will soon be open to the public, but it is not quite ready yet. For those who wish to join, we will have that information released by the people at the Furry Musicians FurAffinity who have been the defacto hosts of the Furry Music Anthology for the time.
Thank you to all of the musicians involved in this second volume, Bob Drake for mastering, Fleeks for the art, and Kiko Picasso for helping managing.
– Camarón the Flamingo, Furry Music Anthology Founder
More about musicians in the fandom:
Months of protest and two killings
Michael Ramos was a Black and Latino man killed by Austin police in April 2020. Since April, hundreds of concerned citizens have been organizing demonstrations as the Mike Ramos Brigade to protest police brutality and call for justice.
This week, their member Garrett Foster was killed while supporting the cause. A video from the scene had a witness report of how they were attacked by a reckless driver who drove into the crowd and shot at them from inside the car. Foster’s killer drove away, but they got his license number.
Garrett Foster died on Saturday, July 25. He was a military veteran and had been pushing his disabled fiance in a wheelchair on another one of nearly 50 days of protesting together. “Garrett’s death painfully reminds us of Heather Heyer’s death in Charlottesville when a pro-Nazi white supremacist deliberately drove his car into a crowd of protesters.” – Mike Ramos Brigade
From the car plates, the killer was identified as Daniel Perry. His lawyer admitted he was the shooter.
The police handling raised a double standard about the deaths of Ramos and Foster. Police shot the unarmed Ramos in his car for supposedly endangering them while he pulled out of a parking space. But after Perry drove his car into a crowd and shot five times, the police let him go. Apparently driving was instigating a threat when an unarmed black man was at the wheel, but that wasn’t the case with a white shooter.
Thin Blue Lies
Who are the real victims here? And why was Daniel Perry released?
The Austin Chronicle reports how public outrage rose when Police Chief Brian Manley played judge and jury. Chief Manley “stated as fact that the driver had inadvertently turned into the crowd, which then began to attack the car“. Garrett Foster was carrying a gun in an open-carry state, so the violence was blamed on the victim for allegedly pointing the gun at Perry — but the Chronicle say there’s no evidence for that claim, and the story is “at odds with the statements of numerous witnesses as well as bystander video”.
It must be the story Perry told to police, who ignored certain evidence to hand him a “stand your ground” defense. It’s also the story being pushed by swarms of internet trolls. But there’s evidence of premeditated violence by Perry.
A dashcam video shows his car made a swift turn into the crowd at a red light without stopping, and he fired shots in only 6 seconds. The situation matches his right-wing pro-violence internet posting (and even allegedly taunting mourners at the vigil for the man he killed.)
As a detail of interest to furry readers, Perry has a Furaffinity account too — and his sympathizers are using Shouts to praise the violence, in a manner previously reported here about hate groups misusing the site.
A reader writes in:
“In reading your breakdowns of far-right extremism and its links to our fandom like (Terror, Teens, and Furaffinity — How a chain of violent hate incidents links to furry fandom), I had my doubts. They seemed far-fetched and outside the realm of possibility. I was wrong.
My hometown is feeling just how wrong we were now. We should’ve listened. We could’ve prevented a tragedy like this if we’d just noticed the signs sooner.
Protests and police requests are ongoing to obtain further footage from visible security cameras mounted on businesses in the area. Hopes are high, given previous incidents in the area provoked greater attention. (A gay bashing of a couple with 4 suspects arrested.)”
It’s nice to get thanks for reporting but it shouldn’t be for a story like this. Hopefully Furaffinity and other platforms inside the fandom and out are paying attention.
Perry is a right-wing extremist who killed #GarrettFoster. A witness confirms he threatened mourners at victim's vigil. Relevant to @furaffinity policy, followers used his furry profile to support violence:https://t.co/Kpx9NzGwjr
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) August 6, 2020
Hairy Horny Freedom
Media was different in the 1980’s. There was a TV channel just for music videos. Furry fans got their fix from Saturday morning cartoons or cult films on VHS. Smartphones, Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. Sharing a meme could need paper mail or a fax.
On MTV, there were lots of metal videos with men who acted macho but looked like hot women. Think: bikers in mascara who switched meth for hairspray. They sang about love over widdly-diddly guitar wizard pyrotechnics. (They were rockin’ like Dokken.) There was an arms race to be the most Glam until Grunge bands stole their place. But first, they were challenged by disco DJ music, minus the hair farming and augmented by rapping and controversy.
In Miami, a club scene rose up that thrilled crowds with rappers doing porn lyrics. Horny young people loved it. The rappers were a few young guys in the Air Force with a music hobby named 2 Live Crew. A recent rap history podcast (Mogul) tells the story of how their song “Me So Horny” went huge even without MTV. It helped rap cross from black to white people, and also pissed off a lot of them.
Think Of the Children
In a similar way, heavy metal started raising record sales with more sex and Satan. And while black music rose to share the limelight, they all had an enemy in common: fossilized moralizers who wanted to make a name for themselves. It was a little like how callouts work on social media, except for political votes instead of “likes”. Instead of mobs demanding apologies, there were powermongers using concerned parents (the Karens of their day) to keep society whiter, straighter, and more full of jesus instead of fun.
While some of the media pushed free expression, artists had fascist conformists trying to ruin their careers, and even getting people arrested for dumb reasons. 2 Live Crew faced obscenity trials. Rappers N.W.A. were targeted for their political message in “Fuck the Police”. So was punk rocker Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, who beat obscenity charges while mocking the moral manipulators. (A few years ago, Jello hung out with furries when he DJ’d their party.)
It wasn’t just about music. Government attacks on free expression hit art museums and libraries. Conservatives targeted TV shows. “Satanic Panic” lead to horribly injust prosecutions. Fans and nerds of the time were even under fire for Dungeons & Dragons and adult comics. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded to win a First Amendment fight that started with a 1986 bust for selling the erotic furry comic Omaha The Cat Dancer.
For as long as furries have been around, they’ve been derided for weird kinks even if they don’t hurt anyone. In a way they’re on the same side with rappers and rockers who opposed freedom haters. (However I doubt most of these people would have sold out for real fascism, unlike dishonest furry shock jock 2 Gryphon who would falsely claim to be like them after killing his own career.)
Even today, fandoms have occasional conformist prudes, led by grifter Gryphon types. Opposing them has worked pretty well in furry fandom — although the design of social media itself now makes a worry about going past supporting oppressed people, to supporting censorious puritanism itself.
- Dogpatch Press — Fight the Beigists! Furries defend the National Fun Reserve.
- Worst Year Ever — How The Furries Fought The Nazis and Won
- Medium — The New Moral Majority, Same As The Old Moral Majority: On the allure of censorship
The old culture war has new battlefields. When social media pits people against each other, circular firing squads raise traffic and the arms dealers profit. In other words, the owners of Twitter/Facebook/etc win even from friendly fire. It’s a sign of how much power has consolidated. That’s a topic for another time, but let’s look back at a simpler time, and a forgotten incident of 1990’s Karenism.
For the first time, you can see how a “think-of-the-children” mindset did big damage to the first furry con!
Snitch Faxes From the Moral Police
1989: 2 Live Crew was targeted by ultraconservative crusader Jack Thompson. He faxed lyrics of their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be to 67 Florida Sheriffs. (The story is at 20:00 on the Mogul podcast.) A judge ruled the music was obscene, so the musicians sued the police to have it proven free speech. In court they played hardcore porn as evidence… and then they couldn’t ask the audience to stand up. Sex won.
1999: Confurence 10 was days away when the staff got a fax preventing the con from selling anything pornographic. It caught the hotel and staff by surprise, because the hotel itself was selling Playboy magazines in the gift shop. The prohibition fell under the liquor license that covered the entire facility. But the complaint wasn’t due to drinking problems. It was against all furries.
(Record unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist at ConFurence.com):
Can’t Stop Us
Wow, that’s a find with artists who are still active and popular now, and threats to warn churches about them. (God was out of lightning bolts.) Here’s the vintage 90’s Furnation porn that shocked the poor churchmouse, by Max Blackrabbit (NSFW). Spoiler: it’s just drawings. We were promised worse. Report abuse if it does exist, but an entire adult industry with real humans makes this tame.
It made me wonder if the fax was an internal complaint or did a non-furry send it? What affect did it have?
Changa Lion said it came from an outsider close to an insider. (Details have to stay private, but there’s a reason for the history I wrote!) And:
This came in right before the con and essentially at the last minute we were not allowed to have any porn visible. The Town and Country was a resort, so the license covered the entire property. They had had problems in the past with losing their license so they were very nervous. Stuff came in for the art show that couldn’t be put up. One artist had a pair of jeans up on his panel with a note that read something like “I got here and this is all I can display”. This was the first time I ever saw very creative use of post it notes in a furry dealers room.
This was one of those problems that contributed to Mark [co-founder] to throw up his hands and walk away from the con. The loss of staff caused by moving con 100 miles south and drop in attendance from the move were the major reasons, but I expect this didn’t help.
That’s pointlessly annoying sabotage, because there’s more cons than ever now. Smart people would stop trying… wouldn’t they? But then there’s the nazifurs.
Notice that they attack people who just dress weird, because these losers don’t care about kids or improving cons. They want power and hate when gays are visible. The problem is allowing them in cons to do sabotage. But from the 1990’s to now, nobody stopped drawing, cons shot up in attendance, and consenting adults are still having sex. In the future we can just look back at them as more silly fossils, like they are right now.
Thanks to Changa Lion for his archiving and go watch The Fandom documentary for much more history.
Written by @Mac_TheWolf
There will be a live Q&A about the event on YouTube from 3 PM EST on Saturday, July 11.
In light of recent events regarding the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, activist movements have tried to raise awareness of the racial injustices which are still happening in today’s society. The issue of racial inequality has once again been brought to light by these events, and many people believe we have a long way to go until people of color feel safe in our communities.
Fandoms from science fiction to furry haven’t always been as diverse as they could be. As fandoms grow, previously overlooked members see each other and want to be seen. Now one group of furry fans from Maryland are aiming to take things into their own hands by running a convention mainly with the help of those from BIPOC communities.
Harvest Moon FurFest, which is set to take place on a 200-acre campground in Maryland, is the newest of a plethora of furry conventions that take place around the globe. However, unlike most, Harvest Moon FurFest’s main goal is to build the convention from its original foundation by people of color and of other marginalized groups. The board is mainly run by those from black communities, but the CEO of the con has assured those with concerns that people of all backgrounds are free to attend, volunteer, or apply for staff at the event.
Harvest Moon Furfest is a brand new BIPOC-led furry convention scheduled to take place in Fall 2022 on a beautiful 200 acre campground property in Maryland.
Fire Pits. S’mores. Team Games And Activities. Music. Fursuit Dances. Food Trucks. Camping. And So Much More! pic.twitter.com/2vuSKHv7Bu
— Harvest Moon Furfest (@hmfurfest) July 7, 2020
The convention, which invites con-goers to camp on private grounds used for large festivals, is set to host a variety of events. They include fursuit dances, team games, and live music. The idea came into fruition after the CEO, Chise, helped raise over $9,000 for BIPOC communities over a four hour period during a charity stream.
“The idea was tossed around in the past and after seeing how well our stream did, we thought that if the BIPOC community could come together and make such an astronomical amount in four hours, imagine what we could do at a convention,” said Chise. “Not to mention it has been long strived for to have a BIPOC-led con board to help meet the needs and wants of a diverse fandom.”
She also felt as though concerns from the community around these issues have been ignored. “I think a lot of the concerns of those in the BIPOC community have gone unheard. Whether it is them feeling uncomfortable concerning hate groups that may be attending a convention or the lack of representation on certain con boards, this con seeks to eliminate those negative feelings.”
A small group of people on Twitter voiced their concerns about the con and even tagged the developers of the Harvest Moon video game series, Natsume, in hopes to stir up disapproval. The company voiced support for the convention, but one commenter complained that it was “sad to see that Natsume supports racial segregation.” These misconceptions about the convention being only for BIPOC have been quickly quashed by the con board.
The CEO told me that they are committed to stopping the spread of these lies. “You’re hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth. Our convention is open to absolutely everyone regardless of their race. Unless you hear it from myself or my board, it isn’t valid information.”
It took approximately a week to set out the initial plans for the convention. “I am the type of person when I have an idea and a vision, I don’t stop,” said Chise.
With over 6,000 responses to the first announcement, expect a bright rise for the first Harvest Moon FurFest in Maryland in the Fall of 2022.
— @Mac_TheWolf is a first time guest writer and 15 year old furry from Barnsley, England.
The campground is indeed ADA accessible. There are permanent structures on the property. We also have an ADA Department Head that will be addressing and taking into consideration all ADA needs to ensure the comfort of our attendees.
— Harvest Moon Furfest (@hmfurfest) July 8, 2020
- Since July 3 release on Youtube, The Fandom has 160K views (on July 8.)
- Press so far is linked on the movie’s IMDB page.
- Cartoon Brew ran with a Dogpatch Press tip about it. Their animation industry news site isn’t afraid to roast sacred cows or other fandoms. They even answered the tip that their last furry story was about porn in 2016! The good review was a pleasant surprise for some fans who were bracing for judgement.
- Animators at a studio that’s not yet named saw and loved The Fandom, and will join a news story about furries in their industry.
- Options for distribution were hampered by 2020’s shutdowns, but you can help get it on Netflix now.
— Essential Fox (@chipfoxx) July 8, 2020
“The Fandom”. A quick review.
As someone who likes films and has a degree in film school, I like to be honest. This is a very quick review with my first impressions, straight out of watching it. That means these initial impressions regarding the film may change over time, and that this review may lack some polishing and in-depth detail.
The film is well shot, has good pacing and is very informative, but I must say it’s very similar to many other documentaries — and being made by people of the fandom does mean that there’s some subjectivity and it can feel like a promo/advertisement, if the informative stuff is removed. It’s a bit of a mix between a TV report, a documentary and a promo. It does feel a bit like one of those long TV current affairs programs or news magazines television programs, like BBC Panorama. I guess I kind of hoped it would try to be a bit more artistically interesting. Just a bit. Wasn’t expecting it to, and it didn’t, but I still had hope.
Am I saying it’s bad? No. Absolutely not. It is a good film. It captures feelings without being too soppy. It shows some restraint in not trying to make it feel too emotional, but emotional enough. It’s not really a documentary though. It’s not an infomercial either, though it can feel a bit like that at times. I would somewhat describe it as 2/5 informative, 2/5 documental, and 1/5 promotional (out of a total of 5/5).
The style of filming and editing is conventional (a bit conservative), but a lot of documentaries are, and I imagine this is done for the following reasons: it makes it easy to understand; and it reaches a much bigger audience through that somewhat-generic approach. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t mean a lot of effort wasn’t put into it. This is, after all, an independent production made with way less resources than a big budget production, and still feels very professionally made by a big company.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, that I can point out. It is very much SFW (Safe For Work), which is to be expected, given the wide range of audiences and ages it is intended for, much like fandom itself.
It’s a film made by people who are very much within the fandom, who try to inform but also spread a message. Perhaps it’s that last bit that doesn’t really make it fully documental in nature. An advertisement or propaganda, it most certainly isn’t, but it does feel a bit promotional. If that is its intent, then that’s ok. But it does bring just a small bit of doubt about its objectivity. Sure, it’s understandable that it’s trying to clear up some misconceptions and stereotypes. But it can feel like sometimes it’s still promoting the fandom while doing it. This is sometimes visible through the more emotional bits, even if it’s not a particularly emotionally charged film, and also through some of the informative bits.
I can also understand that many times, when an outsider tries to make a documentary about the fandom, it doesn’t turn out for the best (examples appear in the film). So, it’s perhaps better if people in the fandom portray it, rather than outsiders, because they know what it’s about and the misinformation about it. But while they can probably paint a more accurate and positive picture, I’m still not sure about how unbiased it will be. It might obscure some parts of the fandom that do need addressing.
If some rough edges and uncomfortable parts about the fandom perhaps weren’t entirely addressed, a heavy-toned film probably just wasn’t what they were aiming at. I think the whole point is to be a very lighthearted quasi-documentary for a wide range of audiences and ages. This is backed by a sometimes mellow yet nicely crafted soundtrack.
Do these faults I’ve mentioned bother me? Not really. It’s just that being a film person and having gone through film school means, inevitably, that every film I see will be subject to some criticism based on what I’ve learned. But it’s not necessarily negative. I like to always analyze and criticize film in a constructive manner, especially when I see a lot of effort was put in, or if I see that the makers did the best they could with what they had.
I guess these criticisms also come from someone who is a relative newcomer to the fandom. I’m a foot in and a foot out of it right now. I’m not saying that I would do it better, but no movie is exempt from criticism, and I try to do it constructively with the aim of improving. Like I said, these faults do not make me dislike this film nor does it make it bad, in any way.
As a side-note, in my opinion, one of the best films about the furry fandom is by Youtuber Fredrik Knudsen, in his video titled “Furry”, from his YouTube-series “Down The Rabbit Hole”. It has a very neutral approach, explaining the fandom’s beginnings, lows, and current state. It offers a very fair and objective assessment which I really enjoyed. And it was mostly done with archive footage and screen captures with voice-over, with no filming being done, but still looking very professional. From a person who is not from the fandom (as far as I know), his film is even less emotional, but not riddled with the inaccuracies or misconceptions the media have and sometimes still portray. In fact, it clearly shows he has done his research, and remains very neutral indeed. I imagine that’s why he won the Ursa Major Award for best Non-Fiction Work of 2018. It is still the best film I’ve seen about the fandom.
That said, the Ursa Major Award for this year’s Non-Fiction Work certainly deserves being awarded to “The Fandom”, unless something better comes out before the next award ceremony. It’s not mind-blowing nor a master-piece, but wasn’t meant to be, I suppose. It’s meant to be a heartwarming, sometimes informative, sometimes documental and a bit promotional film about the furry fandom. It’s very good in some bits, with a very professional look. For what it is, it’s a solid final product. And for me, that’s a very high bar already.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Share news on these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for anything — or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here.