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Fluff Pieces Every Week Day
Updated: 5 hours 10 min ago

Tiny Paws Con is coming to Connecticut and I’m so excited to be there!

Sat 14 Jul 2018 - 08:19

REGISTER NOW AND THROUGH THE WEEKEND!

Please join our family!https://t.co/J4AOGGw47v

Pre-reg for our campers is open until 11:59pm Sunday, July 15th.

Pre-reg campers have a chance to be selected as Attendee Guest of Honor and be bumped up to Wolf camper! (The winner will be notified Monday, July 16th.)

10/

— Camp Tiny Paws (@TinyPaws_Con) July 13, 2018

 

I’ve enjoyed many kinds of furry conventions with different themes, size, and pacing.

There’s the small local relax-a-con near me, Pacific Anthropomorphics Weekend (November 2018) – an underrated gem in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the party floor is one long open balcony and the whole con can be friends at the same time.  Then there’s the extravagance of Anthrocon, where it feels like a whole neighborhood of Pittsburgh gets in theme without being asked. The playful storefronts and sidewalk signs make it feel like Furry Christmas, and there’s nothing like it anywhere else I’ve been. When the fursuit parade fills the city street, and you’re there with thousands of ordinary citizens cheering for it, it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the Furry World. (Mine, anyways. Make your own list – that’s the beauty of what furries do.)

But I’ve always gone as an ordinary fan like any other. Tiny Paws changed that by inviting me to be a Guest of Honor. Wow! I don’t care whether they stuff 7 hotels like that thing in that other place (who needs elevator lines?) – it makes me wag my tail like a propeller.

Guess what… it’s amazing and special and cool, but it’s also hard work!  Every con depends on volunteers to make it happen (give a special shout out to con staff whenever you can). It’s no different for a GOH.  They’re supposed to be part of the attraction, and that means helping to promote, entertain and provide whatever talent got the invitation.

In this case, it’s being a GOH who isn’t known as an artist. How often do cons recognize non-artists who contribute to the fandom? I don’t know, but it would be a nice topic for a chat.

As for what I can contribute… that means running a panel which I tentatively summarized like this:

DIY Furry Power: Self Employment and what fandom is all about.

“Furry fandom is: Creativity and Doing It Yourself. It’s a dog eat dog world, but self employed people can thrive here – that’s the challenge every artist faces. It’s a sandbox where you build what you want. It’s also about direct exchange of skills, working together, and strength in numbers. In this panel, we’ll look at ways to get into building projects or offering services, what kinds succeed and why, and the state of “the furry economy”. There will be practical discussion for artists and freelancers, but also a fun look at furry creativity for anyone who loves what fandom is about. And maybe some shared spirit of DIY Punk. This panel draws from deep research and experience that Patch writes about at Dogpatch.press, the most active furry news site – and his 14 years of making a living boss-free as a dog on the loose.”

There’s helping to judge the Talent Show, which I think means just sticking a marker in my paws and holding up one of those number cards, and looking fluffy!

There’s having a table in the Expo (Dealer’s Den), where I might put out some silly-headline graphic prints? And maybe some furry soap and stickers?

And showing up all bleary-eyed but ready to snarfle a dog bowl at the Breakfast Buffet for special Wolf level friends of the con.

Some of this is going to involve fellow guests; artist Shadra, Uncle Kage, Boozy Badger, and even his badg-lets(?) Badgotts. I’m not worthy!

Our Wolf campers will also enjoy two exclusive events:

Saturday morning breakfast buffet with our GOHs (@BoozyBadger, @ShadraAvroArt, and @DogpatchPress)

and for our 21+ year old Wolves...
a sake tasting with our GOHs and led by @Unclekage

7/

— Camp Tiny Paws (@TinyPaws_Con) July 13, 2018

This says I’m a non-artist GOH… that’s a bit of a fib. (Fake news!!) I very rarely do any drawing specifically for fandom, and have never been free for commissions, but Tiny Paws is just so special I made an exception. Here’s one I did for promotion (others here.)

Get a gander at this laser-engraved pint glass! Only available as a special gift for our Wolf campers!

Pre-register for Camp Tiny Paws 2018 today! Only FOUR more days left!

(Thank you @DogpatchPress and @ToyPonyStudios who made this beautiful gift possible!) pic.twitter.com/h7pzJXAARx

— Camp Tiny Paws (@TinyPaws_Con) July 11, 2018

If you go, expect this stuff and more (and this is a family-friendly con.)

  • Expo
  • Large tabletop gaming room
  • Charity raffle
  • Photo studio
  • Open crafting room
  • Numerous panels and fun events, three days of fursuit events, and a happy birthday celebration with cake!

Dealers:

  • Art By Mitsene
  • AshWolves5
  • BeanMews
  • Cadmiumtea and Tenza
  • Copper Centipede
  • Crazdude Art & Design
  • Dogpatch Press (GOH)
  • The Dragon’s Lair
  • Fur The More
  • gBlazeWear, LLC
  • Grandpaw Joe’s Defaced Vinyls And More!
  • Hopeful Monster Studio
  • How Bout Meow
  • JenKiwi
  • KatUsedCharm
  • K Brand Art
  • Lawyers & Liquor (GOH)
  • LittlePawzfursuits
  • M&T Comics and Cards
  • Mad Tea Kreations
  • Magical Girl Soap Company
  • Magic Foxy Artworks
  • Makoto’s Creations
  • The Manic Macaw
  • Name Tags By Nyght
  • NightlineZ
  • Open Wing Studio
  • Owl’s Mirror Studio
  • RCSI Publishing
  • Rylucius
  • Saba illustration
  • Sam Neukirch
  • Scents Fur All
  • Shadra Avro Art (GOH)
  • Star Sweets
  • Static Claws
  • Stormslegacy Designs
  • Technicolour Costumes
  • Trot L’Oeil Artistry
  • Vulturesong
  • Wingtip Designs

Whether you live near or far, hope to see you there. Be fabulous and frisky until it’s time for fun!

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

The Adventures of Peter Gray, by Nathan Hopp – Book Review by Fred Patten

Fri 13 Jul 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Adventures of Peter Gray, by Nathan Hopp.
Green Bay, WI, Written Dreams Publishing, April 2018, hardcover, $25.50 (248 pages), trade paperback $16.99.

The Adventures of Peter Gray is told as an autobiography, being written by an elderly Peter Gray, a wolf Furren, in a retirement home in New York City, presumably in the 1960s or later. (The Epilogue gives a specific date.) There is a reference to watching I Love Lucy on a color TV. He seems to be strongly religious:

“No one stops playing their fancy radios, singing ‘Top of the World’ or watching I Love Lucy on their colored televisions to ever be thankful for what’s been given. Or is to be given. Nobody kneels down and thanks the Lord for how much a single year can impact who you are, who you have become, and who you love. No one even thanks Him that much anymore.” (p. 8)

The autobiography begins on New Year’s Day, 1899, when Peter is a homeless 12-year-old street orphan freezing in the alleys of lower Manhattan. His descriptions make it clear that this is a funny-animal world. There are humans, but they are rare compared to the Furren, who seem almost exactly like the humans:

“A Catholic raccoon, Lance Turner was no taller or older than me, but he was more dedicated to his faith. He was also one of my best friends. We’d known each other for nearly five years, and the raccoon and I had gotten some real bruises from our meets. He was a funny guy when not quoting scripture, though I couldn’t say the same about his older twin brothers.” (p. 15)

“As the she-wolves gathered the items they needed, I glanced at the Furren helping them. It was Alan himself, a six-foot mouse with black fur, an unpleasant face, and covered in burly muscles. I knew the guy, and had once stolen a package of cheese from him earlier in my youth. I prayed the mouse didn’t recognize me.” (p. 16)

“‘Hey, cub. Would ya’ like a new pair of boots?’ a raccoon vendor asked me after he’d crossed the road. He had a single tooth and his musky stench made me gag. I didn’t try hiding my distance. ‘These are made of the finest leather in all of the East Coast, and I’ll give half –’

‘—and I’m a Crown Prince of England. Not interested,’ I mumbled, passing by. ‘We can’t even wear boots.’” (p. 19)

So the Furren don’t wear footwear, at least. The humans are roughly analogous to the African-Americans:

“‘Gosh…’ Lance gasped. ‘Are those…?’

‘Humans?’ I nodded, still staring. I’d heard of them, but had never seen two this close. ‘What else could they be?’

Humans were a very strange species, having no fur or tail as a distinct feature to the bodies, nor any claws or large fangs to hunt. Their short, angular noses didn’t smell as good compared to wolves or bloodhounds. I remember once reading in a newspaper that humans were scattered across the planet and often thrived in bands like packs, keeping together. Others preferred the cities over countryside, but humans were kept far below the Furren in the food chain everywhere. Always under the Furren, especially the carnivores.

It wasn’t until decades ago that they were freed from the chains of slavery in America, thanks to a powerful wolf in the White House. Some, mainly canines, still look down on them as dirtier than sooty snow, but I chose not to. As long as they had a stove and coal, any human was a friend of mine.” (pgs. 21-22)

Peter and Lance make the acquaintance of the Lawtons, who have just moved to NYC from Buffalo for Mr. Lawton to take a better job. James, who is Peter’s and Lance’s age, becomes their friend. James joins Lance in the next to last year of the local elementary school. Peter, as an orphan, isn’t welcome.

Aside from the anthropomorphic animals, it’s a good historical description of the lower classes of New York in 1899. Some of the “facts” might be quibbled with; there weren’t any automobiles in 1899 except rich men’s toys, and I’m pretty sure there were no radios except experimental sets. Peter, wandering homeless, meets a Furren youth selling newspapers:

“A mixed breed of raccoon and whitish fox, maybe some wolfish blood in there, too. […]

The mixed breed wore a black pirate’s patch on his left eye, but his right met mine.

‘Louis Ballat.’ He offered a friendly paw.

Hearing him speak as he set a newspaper beside his ankles, I couldn’t miss his heavy Brooklyn accent. ‘But me friens call me Kid Blink.’” (p. 54)

For those who don’t get the historical reference, it’s to the NYC newsboys’ strike of July 1899. Read the Wikipedia article on it: “The newsboys’ strike of 1899 was a U.S. youth-led campaign to force change in the way that Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers compensated their child labor force of newspaper hawkers. The strike lasted two weeks, causing Pulitzer’s New York World to decrease its circulation from 360,000 to 125,000.” Kid Blink (Wikipedia spells Ballatt with two t’s), a one-eyed 13- or 14-year-old newsboy, was a leader of the strike. Disney made a cleaned-up live-action musical of it, Newsies, in 1992, and of course there is the 2012 Broadway musical, currently touring.

But for most of The Adventures of Peter Gray, it’s the fictional biography of an almost-adolescent cocky homeless orphan and his tenement-dwelling pals of lower Manhattan during 1899, playing kick-the-can in the streets, getting involved in juvenile gang fights, trying to stay cool in the summer – Hopp refers to the problems of Furren with thick fur in a NYC summer — and the like. On page 120, Peter runs into Kid Blink again and he recruits Peter as a newsboy:

“As I walked away, I spotted a certain fox-raccoon hybrid a few yards to my right.

‘Petuh Gray!’ Kid Blink lunged at me for a hug. Standing back, he adjusted his eyepatch and flashed a toothy grin. ‘Great tuh see yuh today.’

‘Blink, it’s good to see ya’!’ I laughed, wagging my tail and perking up my ears. ‘I haven’t seen ya’ in months. How have ya’ been?’” (p. 120)

All the articles on the newsboys’ strike say that Kid Blink was a colorful newsboy strike leader, and the other NYC newspapers that quoted him emphasized his thick Brooklyn accent.

So the last half of The Adventures of Peter Gray (cover by Mark Shamlian) is a historical novel about the strike, with most of the characters being Furren. There are constant mentions of wagging tails, perked or lowered ears, thick fur (and the humans not having any) and the problems of having fleas, and so on to keep you thinking of what a furry novel this is, but it’s really just stage costuming. Read it for a snapshot of 1899 lower Manhattan – with Furren.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Endling: [Book One] The Last, by Katharine Applegate – Book Review by Fred Patten

Thu 12 Jul 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Endling: [Book One] The Last, by Katharine Applegate. Illustrated by Max Kostenko. Map,
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2018, hardcover, $17.99 ([vi +] 383 pages), Kindle $10.99.

This first book in a Young Adult fantasy series, recommended for 8 to 12-year-olds, is narrated by Byx, a young dairne; apparently the last of the dairnes – the endling.

“My parents feared I would be the first among us to die when trouble came, and trouble, they knew, was fast approaching.

I was small. And sometimes disappointing.

But I knew I could be brave as well. I was not afraid to be the first to die.

I just did not want to be the last to live.

I did not want to be the endling.” (p. 5)

Dairnes are a golden-furred doglike people with marsupial-like pouches and arm membranes (glissaires) that can glide, like flying squirrels.

“Dairnes were often mistaken for dogs. We share many physical similarities.

Dogs, however, lack opposable thumbs. They can’t walk upright. They aren’t able to glide from tree to tree. They can’t speak to humans.

And dogs aren’t – forgive me – the sharpest claws in the hunt, if you take my meaning.” (p. 4)

Byx lives in the Kingdom of Nedarra, a large land shown on endpaper maps. Nedarra has nine talking animal species including six primary species:

“That was the closest I had ever come to humans, one of the six great governing species. Those six – humans, dairnes, felivets, natites, terramants, and raptidons – had once been considered the most powerful in our land. But now all of them – even the humans – were controlled by the despotic Murdano.” (pgs. 7-8)

Other talking animals of Nedarra include the wobbyks, the starlons, and the gorellis. Below those are the non-talking animals like chimps, whales, horses, crows, crickets, and so on. That’s Byx and Tobble, a wobbyk, on the cover by Max Kostenko. The wobbyks have three tails and are fierce fighters – according to Tobble:

“‘It’s only fair to warn you,’ said Tobble. ‘You do not want to see an angry wobbyk. We are fearsome to behold. I in particular am known for my fierce temper.’

‘Thank you, Tobble,’ I said. ‘But –’

‘Back home they called me Tobble the Terrible.’” (p. 93)

Byx has never seen a human, but they have been described to her.

“And I learned, most importantly, that humans were never to be trusted, and always to be feared.” (p. 8)

But now most are gone, and those left are enslaved by the Murdano. Byx’s pack of dairnes lived in hiding, only 29 left. They are about to migrate to the north searching for other dairne survivors. Byx is away from her home when the Murdano’s human soldiers attack, slaughtering her family and all the remaining dairnes, leaving her as the last of the dairnes – unless she can find any others in hiding.

Byx, alone, comes together with the equally alone Tobble, a wobbyk, and Khara, a 14-year-old renegade human girl. They set out all through Neddara – see the map – for a place where they can be safe and, maybe, find more dairnes. But they are an Odd Threesome, and Byx has been brought up to believe that humans can never be trusted:

“‘We’re going to Cora di Schola.’

I exchanged a look with Tobble. No, he didn’t know what that meant, either.

‘And that is …?’ I asked.

‘It’s an island city. Its real name is the Isle of Ursina. But everyone calls it ‘Cora di Schola.’ It means ‘Heart of the Scholars.’’

‘Why do they call it that?’ Tobble asked.

‘It’s shaped roughly like a human heart. And it’s home to scholars and students. The Imperial Academy of Alchemy, Astronomy, Theurgy, and Science is housed there.’

I had to digest each word separately.

‘Alchemy,’ I’d learned from Dalyntor, was the art of blending substances to create new substances, like medicines. ‘Astronomy,’ I thought, had something to do with stars. ‘Theurgy’ was the study of spells and incantations. And ‘Science’? I was not quite certain what that was, but it sounded impressive.

‘Imperial’ sounded impressive, too, until I remembered –

‘Imperial? I cried. ‘As in the Murdano?’

‘His Imperial Highness, the Murdano of Nedarra, Defender of Truth, Guardian of the Righteous, Peacemaker of the People, and so on and so on and so forth,’ Khara said, waving her hand.” (pgs. 90-91)

Byx and Tobble see amazing sights. Khara is familiar with them, although not entirely:

“Tobble hissed. ‘Pirate ship!’ he said, pointing at a boat slightly smaller than the freighters. It had two raked masts and shining brass cannons arrayed down each side.

‘Don’t worry.   We have no business with pirates,’ Khara assured him. ‘We’re looking for a ferry to the isle.

I looked around and risked a whispered question. ‘If the natites rule the seas, why do they allow pirates?’

‘That’s a very good question,’ Khara said. ‘They allow fishing boats and freighters but will not allow the Murdano to build a navy. No one knows for certain why the natites do anything, but most people believe they tolerate the pirates in exchange for information about the world of the land.   I doubt that’s the only reason, though.’” (p. 129)

Applegate first came to prominence as the author of record of the Animorphs fantasy series, 54 monthly Young Adult novels and ten spinoffs from June 1996 to May 2001. She has since revealed that she was helped by her husband and several editors and friends to produce a novel a month for five years. Since then Applegate has written several Young Adult novels on her own, many of which have been award-winning or –nominated; notably the 2012 The One and Only Ivan, which won the 2013 Newbery Medal. It contains talking animals including Ivan, a caged silverback gorilla. Her Crenshaw is about a boy who has an imaginary giant anthropomorphic cat friend.

With Endling, Applegate has begun a new series full of action, suspense, drama, magic, humor, and taking animals. This first book ends with two humans, a dairne, a wobbyk, a felivet, a horse, and a dog setting out for the north and Byx’s quest for other dairnes, in the hope that she is not an endling, after all.

Endling: The Last was just published in May 2018. I got it almost immediately from the Los Angeles Public Library. Try your local public library.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

ArtworkTee issues and the heart of the furry economy

Wed 11 Jul 2018 - 08:56

There was a lot of recent drama about Artworktee, an indie operation catering to furries. This video covers how it started, but there’s a lot more to say.

I had mixed feelings on watching it unfold on social media. “But Patch, isn’t reporting not supposed to have feelings?” I’m a fan like any other, and “objective fan” is an oxymoron.  I couldn’t pretend not to be one, or miss the point of having an independent subculture by fans, for fans that’s best written about from inside. For this story, I dug deeper into some of the issues involved:

  • Complaints about underpaid artists.
  • Questionable practices for the business of art.
  • The mission and allegiance involved in profiting from fandom.
  • The stakes of overlooking problems and calling it “just business”, vs. how formal business can solve problems too.

Let me try to bring understanding from several perspectives, including the travails of small-business, and the devotion of grassroots fans. This is a great case for that stuff, because it’s not every day that a business comes from this niche fandom that kind of resembles mainstream startup companies. Until now, the most successful commercial enterprise like that is probably Bad Dragon.

Pro-fans and profiteering

Say you’re a devoted furry, maybe even the kind with art prints on your wall, decals on your car and a paw print tattoo. You want to commission quality providers who make you feel good about your hobby and won’t underperform. You can pick one who does a 9-5 job, comes home tired and can’t put their entire soul into what they do.  Or maybe there’s a full-time “pro fan”… one of a special class that has risen up to making a living with direct support from individuals, who can buckle down and deliver without distraction.

There aren’t a lot of people like that, and few of them make big money (most deserve more.) Furry is full of young people, but it’s been going since the 1980’s and there are older ones with kids here. Keeping people at least comfortable matters. Making a living with decent pay isn’t a bad thing.

“The furry economy” is a place where consciously or not, there’s a lot of subsidizing.  Look at how artists work in the zone between hobbyist and freelancer, and fans come to expect low fandom pricing. Cons are run by volunteers and donors, and it’s generally a DIY effort by everyone with little if any outside corporate investment. They largely control the Means of Production. It’s more than business – it’s for love as much as money.

That’s why saying “sellout,” “hack”, “huckster” or “scammer” can strike a nerve, and motive deserves scrutiny. There’s a lot of trust in the love of it, but we all know why there’s a need for Artist Beware type efforts, (and one or two news sites, hopefully) and people resort to callouts. It’s an ad-hoc, organic substitute for formal ratings, mediation or consumer protection. Fans who do that are saying “hey, we built this platform… be accountable to us!”

There’s a concept for mainstream startup business called “growth hacking”. It involves cutting corners, overselling, or taking advantage to outcompete others in the market. A touch of cleverness is supposed to be grease for the wheels of commerce, but isn’t it Machiavellian, the more it’s taken for granted (or lets crime pay and predators win?) And is growth the point here? Fans certainly shouldn’t welcome attempts to squeeze maximum profit from a grassroots art community with minimal care for its noncommercial heart.

Or maybe it’s not always that simple.  America can make independent business operation a matter of blind luck, with brutal problems like lack of access to health care. Imagine having carpal tunnel and depending on furry commissions with no choice about persisting. Like that. Sometimes being caught in such a bind is inevitable. Then cutting corners is an escape tactic. Maybe money earmarked for some other purpose pays off a debt. Or someone resorts to tracing to dial up delivery with an overcommitted queue.

There are highly demanded fursuit makers whose commission queues stretch back 10 years. (Think of all that deposit money as a pile of personal debt, like other households owe to banks… but loaned interest-free by trusting fans). Their rate of accepting new commissions doesn’t show a rosy outlook on fixing that. I could name multiple makers like that I’ve been asked to do stories on (perhaps a list and their cases are needed.) People love their art anyways.

This is why businesses are accommodated to fail and go bankrupt and absolve debt, to encourage starting them. (If only people and families had a better safety net in the USA). Some people are good creators but bad with numbers. Others are full of excuses or malice. The by-fans-for-fans way isn’t necessarily pure. We don’t know every deeper story, so judge carefully case by case. Is the appearance of greed actually evil, or a byproduct of circumstance and risk taking?

Things really get sketchy if there’s a history of bad credibility and failures, intentional deceptive practices, or ducking accountability and rebranding to hide it. Fursonas make that easy. Those might be mitigated by something closer to a mainstream marketplace. That’s where it’s crucial to ask, can it keep the heart?

Scandal: Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Lets dig deeper into what you saw in the top video, where fans discovered past problems and took the news badly.

In 2015, MLP/Brony fandom site Horse News exposed bad practices by artist Drawponies. He was tracing TV show animation and selling it as custom commissions. The MLP fandom took him to task for being “he’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry he got caught” and displacing honest hard working artists with aggressive growth methods.

“He’s one of the most successful and well-traveled vendors in the fandom, with plans for over 20 pony, comic, and anime conventions in 2015 alone, and makes enough money off his business, he makes a fulltime income off of it. Drawponies also has turned his artist name into a company of sorts; he needs an artist team to complete all his commissions and help him trace all his artwork.”

  • A 2015 public statement/apology from Drawponies was posted to an Artworktee account on Deviantart. In 2018, Artworktee retroactively explained it was one of their manager’s social media presences that got folded into a group company, while citing his efforts to be professional and not repeat mistakes.

That past was rediscovered in a new 2018 complaint about Artworktee underpaying artists. It seemed like Drawponies was part of rebranding for furries with Artworktee calling themselves a new company. Their new concept involved strategically approaching highly-followed popufurs to ride their tails for exposure with an “insert-name fan club” line of shirts. There were even reports of people feeling hassled by aggressive marketing to join. But it worked to sell many shirts of popufur designs by other artists, who may have been commissioned for a mere $50. The price was slammed by critics as vastly undervalued (while citing the 2015 story).

  • The 2018 apology from Artworktee offered much better pay to solve the problem – even retroactively. They explained that they previously accepted what artists set as their own rates. However, as professional as the response was, critics made their own conclusions about the history. Had underpaid artists been kept in the dark and was the apology just because of being caught? A number of partners parted ways. One of the biggest may be Majira Strawberry.  However, then he posted an update that was friendly about the separation. Many others posted support for their own good relationships with Artworktee, who said the shirt sales included paying highest commissions compared to other companies for selling their likeness that way.

My impression: Artworktee makes big effort to be responsive to their user base and the fandom that built it… with one Big Caveat we’ll get into below.

For comparison, the business of selling shirts can be a pit of exploitation against indie artists by overseas thieves out of legal reach. They rip off designs with no credit, and would let artists go homeless if they can make a single penny. It’s a small part of counterfeiting abetted by the biggest companies on the internet. A personal, responsive company is miles above others.

Sometimes it’s better to have the devil you know, especially when that devil has shown it’s willing to do better.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) June 18, 2018

Remember: nobody is infallible because of their follower count. People fuck up all the time, even giant animal people. How someone responds to their fuck ups is what shows you whether they’re someone worth your time or not.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) June 25, 2018

Looking for the heart

My nose for commercializing got started around 2012, when curiosity and love led me to the Furry News biz (and a hundredaire fortune that should get me a title like Magnate, Mogul, or Maven by now.) In 2013 I covered pay-dating services targeting furries with deceptive business practices. The bottom line of that story: “one case of scam worries may not be that prominent, but it seems to be slowly growing above the level of personal fan activity. Be vigilant for the future.”

Like I said above, fans can look much deeper than just for good service. What I saw here made me very curious: Artworktee isn’t a scam operation, and their marketing towards popufurs is methodical and smart. But is the PR just hollow outer packaging?

To follow up, I sent a list of questions to Artworktee with a compliment for their effort with relationships, and an open invite to hear them out. It included asking about how they relate to the community, how they support artists, and questions about a Big Caveat.

Their answer was very comprehensive, with details about their team, company and values.

Around 2 weeks ago, I sent some questions to @artworktee and asked for comments. They responded well about getting them, and just posted a long post with an impressive amount of effort to answer what was coming in from that and elsewhere.https://t.co/kWukl85pat

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) July 2, 2018

But it dodged direct questions about how they make money from people that fandom platforms have stopped supporting for being malicious and toxic. Instead they gave a general non-answer answer. If furries have any reservations about commercializing fandom, consider this as a dividing line.

Question: “I heard that (fill in the blank) sells with you – do you support them?”

Answer: No. As is clearly stated in our terms of service: “ArtworkTee is a marketplace, not a consultancy or agent. ArtworkTee does not endorse any actions or statements by any artist or creator. Compensation, product samples, discounts, promotions, etc do not constitute endorsement.” In the same way that other platforms like Twitter and Facebook don’t endorse content creators, neither does ArtworkTee. Like other marketplace websites, including Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay, we do not judge our vendors based on their actions off of our platform, especially not messages sent in private. This would be an unfair breach of privacy, not to mention impossible to maintain for 400+ vendors. As long as a person complies with our terms of service, they are welcome to sell with us. The exceptions to this include criminal behavior, abusive behavior, or threats of violence against another person. Because our content is uploaded by and created by users, it’s our job to moderate the designs and make sure they don’t violate our terms of service, just like any other user-generated content website. We check every design as it is posted, and also rely on our users as a secondary check to let us know if a design that infringes our terms is posted. We are dedicated to making ArtworkTee the best marketplace for furries and other fandoms to sell shirts, regardless of their religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, heritage, disability, or any other factor.

Agree on both, feels like have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) July 3, 2018

Big Caveat: “Have-Your-Cake-And-Eat-It-Too” ethics.

This isn’t just about general policy. When we’re talking about malicious behavior, you might guess where this is going. Furry Raiders, Alt-furries, and Nazi Furs.

Artworktee has acted on this issue when it involved harming their business or brand. It started with managing PR when Furry Raider/Nazifur Foxler was called out by the “Insert Name Fan Club” shirt designer for stealing their design to troll people.

Yikes. Let me be extremely clear - we did not make this shirt design, and we want nothing to do with it. This is a poor copy of our "fan club" design style and nothing more.

— ArtworkTee (@artworktee) June 19, 2018

Wow. Okay, let me go through these lies one by one. I didn't want to give Foxler any attention, but these lies have to be corrected. pic.twitter.com/GgoYnL7uEX

— ArtworkTee (@artworktee) June 19, 2018

2. “AWT wanted to … listen to all furries bitch about the Raiders.” I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but let me be completely, 100% clear. We do not support or endorse Nazis. People with racist views, including Nazis, are not welcome to sell on ArtworkTee, as they ...

— ArtworkTee (@artworktee) June 19, 2018

Artworktee said they don’t support or endorse Nazis, and racists aren’t welcome… in that one case where they might lose money.

What about working with 2 Gryphon, who is currently using Artworktee and making them money after falling into disgrace and being dropped by cons that used to give him stages? He’s now representing the Altfurry “PR Department”, and spreads hate in ways that harm the fandom itself.

In March, before the underpaid artist issue came up, we’d traded messages about 2 Gryphon selling on their site. It was brought up by furries noticing his later-severed relationship with Eurofurence.

Public criticism led Artworktee to label his merchandise with a nonsupport message. They were obviously aware that he was causing a problem.

I mean if we're talking about supporting toxic people, I never understood why he got to be on T shirts of a rather well known website like a lot of other furry content creators as part of their "Anatomy of __" and "___ fan club" series

— Foster (@Foster_Purrnin) March 8, 2018

I had no idea of this, so I decided to take a look. It's interesting that they include this blurb, yet continue to sell the product.https://t.co/1eyqTHvVwu pic.twitter.com/EhKRe9tbP0

— Kaelis @ KiTX & EVO (@KaelisMirage) March 8, 2018

If there's a message of nonsupport, doesn't "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" apply?

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 8, 2018

My questions about alt-furry representatives using their site got non-answers. Read their terms again. If they don’t want to commit to a stand about it, that’s not considered “support” despite profiting from it.  Apparently, if bad things happen off their site then it’s just business as long as the stuff on the site is in compliance with the terms of the site.

The PR highlights what you might call a double standard in taking a stand or making excuses, depending on who makes them money. Keeping 2 Gryphon could involve a pre-existing contract. Except it gets even more slippery.

After using the nonsupport message to pacify a public problem, they apparently removed it. I can’t find it on his merchandise being sold on the site now.

How can you be a Switzerland-neutral marketplace, comparing it to Ebay or Amazon, but be by fans, for fans at the same time? How can you use fandom and it’s subsidizing and volunteer benefit, but not be accountable to the fans who built it? They can say they have a broader mission – but they’re leveraging furries. The majority don’t want Nazi Furs to use fandom to spread hate and troll their cons to death.  What’s better than a neutral market is being truly responsive.

A contact who runs a pretty high profile operation told me:

If it’s a truly automated upload system and they have a shitload of people creating accounts to upload designs then I don’t expect them to do a ton of research on every user. I’d say they should remain open to community feedback on their users, and also implement a “report this design” function if they don’t have one already.  For shitty people they are supporting, I’d like to see them have some kind of community manager that would look into concerns the community raises and not pull any punches when it comes to excluding problematic people.

Short-term profit at the cost of integrity

Even with the inertia of 2’s following staying in place, he has stopped getting shows at cons because he unambiguously, emphatically sides with hateful trolls.

From what I've heard, he has enough supporters that would want his merchandise to be put *back* on our website. Either way, it's sadly a PR disaster, with both those for and against him fighting about his merch on our site. >~<

— ArtworkTee (@artworktee) March 8, 2018

Opportunistic merchandising might bring money from any kind of customer, but this also isn’t about one bad actor in fandom, it’s an invitation for trouble from more, like these altfurries. Compare it to an arms dealer who sells to both sides to double sales – except “both sides” here means the majority of fandom who wants to minimize trolling vs. a declining fringe of trolls.

And they’re yesterday’s news, not the future, just like Burned Furs before them.

See a lot of "Nazi Furs F*ck Off" ribbons this weekend at con? I hear something else wasn't seen. "2 Gryphon Fan Club" shirts.

Furry fandom is on fire... with the power of being better and better ???? pic.twitter.com/EQHXCsmsic

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) July 9, 2018

Is it worth it to make a few bucks? Is it better to keep dealing with problems when people notice slippery dealing and a double standard, or really make an effort? When Fur Affinity finally banned alt-right trolls, there was brief uproar but it proved hugely popular.

It has something to do with the entire internet culture and how change isn’t likely to come from the top without active attention from the bottom. (See this thread and comments about stock prices, from Seth Rogen about chatting with the CEO of Twitter. This is beyond “politics” because nazis don’t deserve a seat at the table for any reason, and that hasn’t been controversial since 1945.)

I’ve been DMing with @jack about his bizarre need to verify white supremacists on his platform for the last 8 months or so, and after all the exchanges, I’ve reached a conclusion: the dude simply does not seem to give a fuck.

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) July 3, 2018

I like what ArtworkTee has built. They were extra cool to put in so much effort for talking about it. I truly admire their hard work which is why I put so much effort into this article. I wish them well for considering if they have the right long term strategy for that one Big Caveat, and showing where their heart is.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson – Book Review by Fred Patten, who was born in the Year of the Dragon

Mon 9 Jul 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (i + 335 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon is dedicated “To Readers of Infinite Patience”. I assume that’s because this is Book 4 of Dickson’s The Rise of the Upper Kingdom series; and it’s been five years since Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat.

Has it been worth the wait? YES!!

To summarize, it’s 5,000 years in the future. Civilization has disappeared. In the Far East a new Oriental culture is forming, the Upper Kingdom, a blend of ancient Chinese and Japanese customs with bioengineered animal peoples. To quote the blurb for Book 1, To Journey in the Year of the Tiger:

“This is a powerful, post-apocalyptic story of lions and tigers, wolves and dragons, embracing and blending the cultures of Dynastic China, Ancient India and Feudal Japan. Half feline, half human, this genetically altered world has evolved in the wake of the fall of human civilization.”

In Book 1, Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, a genetic lion-man (yes, he has a tail) is the young Captain of the Empress’ personal guard. While the rest of the great Palace is preparing the celebrations to mark the turning of the Year of the Ox into the Year of the Tiger, he is assigned to leave on a long mission with four others (and several guardsmen). The Upper Kingdom is guided by a Council of Seven, revered Seers whose visions have infallibly led the Empire in wisdom and peace for centuries. Now something, or someone, is killing the Seers, one by one, by unknown means, always in their beds at the close of the Second Watch of the night. Kirin and his companions must discover the cause and stop it.

The four others are Kirin’s adjutant, an aggressive snow leopard woman; the Empire’s Scholar, a young and naïve tigress; the Empire’s Alchemist, an older cheetah-woman of dubious loyalty; and Kerris Wynegarde-Grey, Kirin’s twin but silver-gray where Kirin is golden, the Empire’s Geomancer but a drunken ladies’ man. They have more adventures than they expect, and are led outside the Empire’s borders, into the unknown West (Europe) where they awaken surviving scientists of the forgotten human civilization from suspended cold-sleep. In Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat, Kirin and the others return to the Upper Kingdom, and Kirin becomes the Empire’s Shogun-General to mobilize a defense against the awakened Ancestors and their weapons of mass destruction.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon contains action scenes, but it is worth reading for all of Dickson’s writing:

“Dragons are the divine protectors of the Upper Kingdom and the ultimate symbol of Life and Fortune. Their celestial breath, or sheng chi, wards off evil spirits, protects the innocent and bestows safety to all. They show their power in the form of the seasons, bringing water from rain, warmth from sunshine, wind from the seas and soil from the Earth.

Kerris Wynegarde-Grey knows this. Like him, dragons are elemental.

There are wind dragons and water dragons, dragons of fire and dragons of ice. There are dragons that live deep n the earth, crush stone with their teeth and breathe sand like incense. According to Kerris, there are even metal dragons, although these are considerably more rare and are usually closely tied to Ancestors. That makes them dangerous, best to be avoided at all costs.

Perhaps the most dangerous dragon, however, is not really a dragon at all. It is the Year of the Dragon. In a Dragon year there is no peace, said the Chi’Chen Emperor in a previous life, only fire. Dragon years are like the sea – violent and unpredictable with incessant waves of calamity, upheaval and change. Men may make their fortunes in the Year of the Dragon, and just as quickly lose them. And for those born in the Year of the Dragon (called Dragonborn), dragon years are often bad luck.

Empress Thothloryn Parilland Markova Wu was dragonborn,” (pgs. 1-2)

The threat is not from only the reawakened Ancestors. In fact, Jeffery Solomon, in an Ancestor-crewed helijet zeppelin high over the coast of what was once Australia, is one o the “good guys”:

“‘Oh look,’ said Sengupta. ‘Pelicans.’

They all pressed their noses to the glass.

Below them were pelicans, flying low to the water in a perfect V. The birds had changed little despite the wars, plagues and mutations of centuries past. They were familiar, they were natural and to the scientists, they were a comforting sight.

‘I’ll get closer,’ said Ward. She angled the stick and the Griffen dipped a wing. It was a quiet, solar-powered vehicle and soon, they were soaring alongside the flock. Solomon could almost feel the ocean spray on his face.

‘These ae nice,’ said Sengupta. ‘Pelicans are not terribly wild birds.’

‘I love to watch their wings,’ said Dell. ‘Pure biomechanics in motion.

Solomon grinned again, remembering the time a young tigress drove a Humlander along the ruined roads of Turkey. That was not so much biomechanics in motion as an accident waiting to happen.

‘Is that our shadow?’ asked Sengupta and she pointed. There was a dark shape under the water, moving as fast and mirroring the trajectory of the flock.

‘I don’t think so,’ said Solomon. ‘Damaris…’

‘A whale!’ Dell shouted. ‘It’s a whale! I’m sure of it!’

Sengupta turned to look at him.

‘They still have whales?’

‘It’s all worth it then,’ said Dell. ‘Some of us hoped that whales would survive, even if we didn’t.’

The shape grew darker as if rising to the surface. Solomon frowned.

‘Damaris…’

‘Yuh, I’m going to get some altitude,’ she said. ‘I don’t want to be knocked out of the sky by a breaching humpback.’

‘Wait, I want to see it,’ said Dell.

‘I don’t,’ said Sengupta. ‘He can stay in the water where he belongs.’

Solomon leaned forward, pressed his forehead against the glass when suddenly, the shadow burst upward with a great spray of water. Ward threw her weight onto the stick and the helijet banked steeply, sending both men out of their seats to the cabin deck. Solomon scrambled to his feet and, through the window he caught a glimpse of white water and grey skin, a huge gaping mouth and rows of dagger teeth. The body of a pelican struck the glass and the Griffen bucked again before the great creature crashed back to the water to disappear beneath the waves.

‘That was no whale,’ muttered Ward.

‘What was it?’ Sengupta cried. ‘What was it?’

Physeter macrocephalus?’ Dell now. ‘Carcharodon carcharias? Both? Neither? An entirely new species? New Genus? New Family? New Order? I have no clue, Jian. It’s blown all my learning out the door.’

Solomon peered at the skies above, the water below.

‘So… where are the pelicans?’ he asked.” (pgs. 5-6)

This isn’t even to page 10 yet. To quote the back-cover blurb: “Meanwhile, Kirin, Kerris and the others journey to the mysterious city of Shin Sekai under the ‘protection’ of the Snow Guard [simian soldiers]. Here, they discover a gruesome secret at the heart of the Capuchin Council and the Court of the Rising Suns. With snow and Snow thwarting their every move, will the leaders of the Nine Thousand Dragons get out of this New World alive?”

The uncredited cover shows Major Ursa Laenskaya, Kirin’s former adjutant, now guardian of the Empress’ Seers and protector of Sha’Hadin; a snow leopardess.

Just read it. Snow in the Year of the Dragon comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but there will be a Book 5.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara – Book Review by Fred Patten

Tue 3 Jul 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Illustrated by the author.
London, Ontario, Common Deer Press, August 2017, hardcover, $31.99 (287 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Don’t be scared off by the price. There is also a trade paperback for $14.99. And most of you will get the Kindle edition, anyway.

The Great & the Small begins with a bustling marketplace scene:

“… in the weak December sun, the harbour city’s popular market was bustling with people looking for last minute presents. Middle-Gate Market was festive with its potted evergreen trees and strands of blinking coloured lights. Shiny red balls trembled on the boughs of the tinsel-dressed pinks as salt air gusted up the hill from the sea below and rattled the lights against the rafters where they were strung.

Watching over all of this, under the faux Gothic clock, stood Middle-Gate’s most famous tourist attraction: a brass statue modeled after the gargoyles of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. The monster stood on guard, a five-foot winged beast that stood meekly by while tourists thronged around it, snapped selfies, and rubbed the creature’s flared nostrils for luck.” (p. 9)

Then dips beneath it:

“That was the side of the market the tourists saw and the locals loved. They had no idea of the other side, the one that lay below. A distinct world, with its own ways, its own rules: a colony of rats.

Tunnels wound underneath the hill, tooth-carved thoroughfares, veiled from the eyes of humans. There were tunnels high up and tunnels below that snaked deep into the hill’s belly.

The Uppers were dug alongside the city’s swanky cafés and eateries, and food was never far away. But lower down the hill, below the heart of the market, it was different. Tangles of narrow tunnels limped through broken pipes, leaking sewers, and sodden earth, connecting scores of foul smelling, crumbling burrows.

No rat lived in the Lowers by choice. Except one, that is.” (ibid.)

This novel tells two connecting stories; that of the subterranean rats, focusing upon Fin, the young cousin of the rat community’s Beloved Chairman; and that of the aboveground humans, focusing upon young Ananda Blake, a schoolgirl who happens to be the daughter of Thomas Blake, a cancer researcher who experiments on rats.

The Great & the Small appears to be a macabre tale of naïveté leading inexorably to tragedy. It consists of many short chapters of four to a dozen pages, each introduced by a quotation from one of the journals of the Black Death:

“And now disaster is at hand…”

Gabriele de’ Mussis, lawyer, Italy, 1348

“A staggering number of people died…

In many towns only two people out of twenty survived.”

Jean de Venette, Carmelite friar, 1359-60

The implication is that modern civilization will be wiped out by a new Black Death, and that the rats will spread it deliberately; not knowing – or not caring – that it will wipe them out, too.

This germ warfare seems almost to be justified at first, through numerous examples of the humans’ mistreatment of the rats:

“Fin hunched, quaking in the corner of the box. Fish heads cascaded onto him as the box flaps were torn back. The two-leg was monstrous. It spied Fin, and its mouth gaped open in a roar, teeth bared. Its eyes bulged, red-veined and popping. It swung its arm down hard. Fin dived to one side. A knife whooshed over his head.

Again, the knife swung down. Fin leaped out of the box, onto the two-leg’s bare arm. He vaulted of, soaring through the air, and landed on the pavement. His lame paw bent under his weight. He fell, sprawling.” (p. 16)

Ananda, who seems to be a junior-high student, is having an equally hard time:

The bell rang, bringing Ananda back into the present moment. Looking down at her notebook, she saw that she had doodled the rat at the market. She ripped the paper off and bunched it up, gathered her books and, head down, beelined out the door.

Chris was waiting for her. He bumped her arm and scattered her books. ‘Hey, Rat-Girl!’ he said. His cronies snickered behind her.” (pgs. 44-45)

When the novel isn’t quoting journals of the Black Death, it is quoting Josef Stalin, identified as one of the biggest mass-murderers in history. Fin’s uncle being identified as the Beloved Chairman of the rats gives away that he, like Stalin, is not the kindly leader that he pretends to be. Fin discovers rats being experimented upon by Ananda’s father and wants to help them, but his uncle uses their suffering for his own plans:

“Fin said, ‘Papa! Please! I need to speak!’

Bothwell whirled around, his cheeks puffed out. ‘Oi! I am your superior, my lad!’

Fin pushed by him. ‘Oh shut up!   Papa! Rats are dying! They’re dying while we sit around scratching our fleas and talking about… about nothing!’ He burst into tears. ‘They can’t escape. They’ve tried and they can’t. A two-leg has them trapped, and –’

‘Silence!’ said Papa again.

Fin looked up, startled. His uncle gazed down at him from the carved platform.

‘Lesson Number One: ‘There will always be those who die. For the Common Good, we who lead must rise above emotion.’” (pgs. 89-90)

The Great & the Small (cover by the author) is a Young Adult novel. It is a grim novel, full of suffering and death. Will anyone survive, human or rat? Read it to find out.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Exploring New Places – Fred Patten’s New Anthology (Press Release)

Tue 26 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Exploring New Places, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Anthrocon 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA over the July 4th holiday weekend (July 5-8). The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Exploring New Places is an all-original anthology of 19 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals venturing into unfamiliar places, in their own city, on their own world, in space, or in a different dimension. This anthology is designed to appeal to fans of science-fiction and fantasy.

Whether by the power of music to “send you right out of this world”, or a rabbit spaceship captain searching for the creators of her species; a galactic police agent called to a new planet to solve murders, or alien furries who enter a human university; a gorilla student wandering off in a museum, or two-tailed squirrels confronting interstellar explorers; these are stories for your imagination and entertainment.

Contents:

To Drive the Cold Winter Away, by Michael H. Payne
In Search of the Creators, by Alan Loewen
The Rocky Spires of Planet 227, by Mary E. Lowd
Defiant, by Joshua Carpman
Why Indeed, by Pepper Hume
Come to Todor!, by Fred Patten
You Are Our Lifeboat, by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
The Animal Game, by Vixyy Fox
Ashland’s Fury, by MikasiWolf
Legacy, by M. R. Anglin
Umbra’s Legion: Shamblers of Woe, by Adam Baker
Umbra’s Legion: Where Pride Planted, by Geoff Galt
Beyond Acacia Ridge, by Amy Fontaine
One Day in Hanoi, by Thomas “Faux” Steele
Welcome, Furries, by Cathy Smith
Back Then, by Frank LeRenard
Tortoise Who, by Mary E. Lowd
I Am the Jaguar, by Cairyn
The Promise of New Heffe, by Kary M. Jomb

Price: $19.95. 401 pages. Wraparound cover by Demicoeur.   ISBN 978-1-61450-421-4.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin – Book Review by Fred Patten

Wed 20 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin. Illustrated.
Paris, Delcourt, October 2017, hardcover, €16,95 (123 [+ 5] pages).

Thanks, as always with French bandes dessinées, to Lex Nakashima for loaning this to me to review.

Or maybe not. Solo is a three-novel set, and I gave very good reviews to the first two albums. Solo is a bioengineered rat-man warrior in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to build a peaceful home for his wife Lyra and their children. It’s a Conan the Barbarian scenario, full of constant blood, ambushes, gladiatorial combats, rat-vs.-everybody-else warfare, and little else. The action and mood are violent and exhausting, but as long as each album ends with a “to be continued”, there is the hope of a happy ending.

Well, we can forget that about vol, 3, “The Cannibal World”. Solo returns home after an unsuccessful hunt to find it smashed open and Lyra and their three children kidnapped. He searches for them in the human meat farms. He always misses them by days. He’s constantly delayed by fights to the death with humans, monkeys, cats, and bloodthirsty mutants.

On page 67, Solo finds an orphaned puppy. He shifts from searching for his family to caring for the puppy, raising it to become a killer hound. When Solo is eventually killed, the dog avenges him. (But it’s only a momentary victory. We are left to hope that the dog will continue to survive as Solo had.)

Solo. Vol. 3, The Cannibal World isn’t bad, but it’s a real downer. Get it if you want to complete the trilogy, but prepare to be seriously depressed.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

The 2018 San Francisco Pride parade, furries and parties – what’s happening and how to join!

Tue 19 Jun 2018 - 09:04

Before you read about fun with the SF Bay Area Furries, remember why Pride matters. A local furry posted about being a target of an unprovoked homophobic attack this week with a photo of a black eye. He got a lot of support and hundreds of comments, but preferred to keep the post friends-only. And while there was one bad thing, expect hundreds of good things for everyone involved.

Now, here’s how to join us animals for one of our biggest events of the year. Let’s prowl and howl for an all-weekend rager!

SF Pride has had rising furry attendance over several years. More than 70 furries are expected, half in fursuit (a real show-off occasion!) There will be national media coverage (a minute on TV among 280 other groups), and a crowd of over 100,000 watchers.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the hearts of the fandom, with likely the most dense furry population in the world. They have been active here since the 1980’s, and took part in Pride several times in the early 2000’s. They re-appeared (I’ve been organizing since 2012) with a float starting in 2014. Their interest starts with a hobby – but surveys find roughly 2/3 identify as LGBT.  With ultimate creativity to make your ideal identity, it’s about being as free as you can be! (See bottom for a timeline with links to their past participation.)

IMPORTANT – the float can’t happen without your help!

 

WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT VOLUNTEERS. They monitor the marchers and wheels of the vehicle, so nobody turns into road pizza. Right now we need YOU so we aren’t short. The training is easy and online: 1) Watch a short Youtube video, 2) Answer a few questions, 3) Confirm.

Read these instructions to help: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z49_DL3_3ZU-Og9VaqP_c998_5gNFLYQcCfkRn00Qxk/edit?usp=sharing

New members, be ready to march. Space to ride on the float isn’t guaranteed, it was a reward for the fundraiser (we made the goal with matching from Spottacus).

INFO TO JOIN THE PARADE:

 

GROUPS: There may be planning on the fly, so keep in touch and check for updates.

HELP: Check for answers below or in the groups before contacting.

MAP: Important locations you need to know.

Arrival on Sunday: BART riders, exit at Embarcadero.

Drivers: go to Moscone Center garage, 255 3rd Street. (That’s the middle of the route, for easiest walk to the prep area and back from the endpoint. It’s a 15 minute walk each way.) 1 day parking is $29.  BE AWARE there’s a Giants game the same day.

Marchers and volunteers: Arrive at SF Pride parade assembly point N2, at 123 Main Street. We’re Contingent #175.  Be no earlier than 10am, and no later than 1pm. Everyone should dress in animal theme, ears and tails. If you’re a volunteer, avoid head coverings to keep perfect vision.

Watchers: Be anywhere along the Market Street parade route, and the parade starts at 10:30. Remember, furries will be later in the day, possibly well after 1. If you want to attend the gated Celebration in Civic Center until 6PM, check the Pride website for details. (No bins are allowed inside.)

Fursuiters: No bins! Soft foldable bags only.  Due to space, hard bins are NOT ALLOWED on the parade float. A backpack is OK for small personal items. Consider changing on-street at the float (many do.) A van may be a base for changing or limited storage at Moscone Center garage, 255 3rd Street.

RIDING ON THE FLOAT IS NOT GUARANTEED unless you paid the GoFundMe campaign that earned a spot. Those who start on the float, stay on – it won’t stop. Everyone else be ready to walk the route. Consider outdoor footpaws and partialling.

This isn’t cushy or casual.  It’s on the street, in the sun, and on the move. Be rested and hydrated and stick together. There’s no lounge, the crowds are wild, and it’s a show that needs exertion, so be ready to work it for the crowd!

Parade details: In previous years the real start was hours after the official time.  Be patient, but don’t be late, the parade can’t wait!

Marchers, watch your spacing as a group, and where the float is. Try not to clump up, leave gaps or fall behind. The front-facing banner is where the crowds first see us, but active performing close to the barriers is good too. Use the whole street between the float and crowds on BOTH sides. Pose, give hugs and work it! Look for TV cameras on the right side after Fremont Street (a few blocks from the start.)

Parade length is around 45 minutes – 1 hour. At the drop-off on 8th Street, bags and personal items on the float will be handed back to you.

Refreshments: Bottled Water and Sports Drinks.  Please bring your own snacks or extra water.

Crash space and dinner:  Relay (@relayraccoon on Telegram or Twitter) can host overnight in SF. We can meet at his den after the parade ends to go out for dinner at Picaro, on 16th street near Valencia.

SUITERS, for another changing option consider asking Relay to assemble at his den and leave your stuff. You can wear your fursuit on BART to the parade (he’s a 10 minute walk from 16th.)

Conduct tips: San Francisco gets furries, so be fabulous! Pride was born out of protest and some will let their freak flag fly. Organizers reserve the right to deny participation to anyone (it’s never happened). Contact if your costume may be questionable but the only rule is: Be nice and safe. At large urban events there have been incidents like fursuit thefts or hostility, so stay smart and buddy up. Riding BART in fursuit can be intense with crowds, but it’s doable. They love it just like crowds on the street love fursuit photos.

A LOOK BACK:

 

Tom Howling said about 2002: “I was one of the (minor) organizers for that, and want to remind people that there was significant pushback from within the furry community — including among some who consider themselves “leaders” — to prevent us from doing this. They felt that associating with such an event would pigeonhole us as The Gay, or sex-crazed, or whatever. At times it was quite a fight. Sometimes you just have to just ignore and contradict “leaders”.”

UPDATE: the anon local fur who was attacked responded: “Hey it’s important to note that there has been an uptick in hate crimes targeting gays. Obviously since the election it’s been up in general, but in this month, pride month- I know of three other guys who got beat up in SOMA. I think it would be cool if you mention them as well. My situation is the 4th that I know of in the past week.”

Building a tighter group is a good way to help.

There’s all the info you need to be ready. Come out and bring your friends, this will be the best weekend of the year!

Categories: News

Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

Fri 15 Jun 2018 - 08:49

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Why dial it down when you can be this fresh?

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

Hilda the Bambioid leapt forth as a very adult fawn, fully-born from the mind of a creator, like none seen before. (OK, it was a fan tribute to artist Jerry Collins, but still.) Who would dare be a sexy furry in 1988? It was a Maculate Conception for a new breed of costuming, with the face of a cute cartoon, and the legs of your most guilty fantasy. (Of course a deer fursona comes with amazing legs!)

With wiggly, jiggly tail-shaking moves, Hilda danced onto a new frontier of fandom, blazing a path to Furry Trash Mountain and it’s eye-popping 1990’s peaks, like Silfur Bunny’s show at Anthrocon 1997. (I hope this stays classic for the 2020’s. Keep Furry Weird!)

Hufff… I want cottonballs on my face:

There may have been others besides Hilda – but not many. I’m unaware of any earlier ones documented and specifically furry (not theme park mascot-style or sci-fi con cosplay). Shawn Keller is credited as one of the first fursuiters in this history vid from Culturally F’d, but in the 1990’s. This article cites Hilda and quotes a lot from me and Fred Patten (“furry’s favorite historian”) about fursuit history and industry:

At the time, most fur-meet activity involved stuff like quietly sharing sketchbooks around a table, or passing around comics. Costuming was not the photogenic face of fandom then. Fred Patten has greymuzzle criticism about how fandom has changed from a quiet mouse into the roaring party monster it is today, with fursuits on top (I’m OK with being on bottom.) But I see the rise of costuming as simply the maturation of the skills, resources, and opportunities of the industrious makers who can make your animal self as huggable and tactile as the word “furry” itself.

In the 1980’s, you had to just Figure It Out and Do It Yourself.  None of it was made-to-order and nobody could do it as a fan-to-fan career. They just didn’t have access to the fur, plans, methods, info channels and inspirations that we do now. Cottage industry develops with scale, so now fandom has grown enough to do what people wanted then. The appearance of domination is just because costuming is a live, visual media; I don’t see it as takeover, because art and writing are healthier than ever too. Don’t hate what Hilda helped start when she dared to kick a hoof through that door.

Here’s a classic photo at the crossroads of fandom old and new:

“Fred Patten becomes editor of Rowrbrazzle at the LASFS Clubhouse in January 1989. Present are former editor Marc Schirmeister, and Bob Hill as a Bambioid.” Photo from kayshapero.net

Hilda was, as the headline says, the self-made art of Robert Hill. He was a cartoonist and a professional Disney character costumer who came in at the ground floor of the 1970’s fandom.  But wait, this isn’t just ancient history – he’s around right now, and although perhaps reputed to be a bit reclusive or hard to get an interview with, I got one for you!

That comes in part 2. While you’re waiting, browse his (very adult, fetishy, and hot) Fur Affinity gallery, or his Wiki that mentions some of his successes in getting media notice. Some was for costuming, and some for art (like in the badly intentioned, but well exposed) MTV Sex2K documentary “Plushies and Furries.” This furry doesn’t just follow others as a simple fan!

Here’s a 2016 Fur Affinity gallery post from him that hints about what to expect in Part 2.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

“If an idea resonates with you, there’s absolutely an audience for it”- the furry world of Lobst

Thu 14 Jun 2018 - 10:10

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

Growing up on a diet of sci-fi and fantasy, transformation stories were the ones I loved and could always rely on the writers of most shows to fall back on one of it’s most loved tropes. For me they were always the most frustrating though, as characters spent their time trying either freaking or trying to change back, usually both. Frustratingly they almost never explored a person staying that way, gaining a new perspective on the world. It’s something I’d find renewed interest in when encountering the Furry Fandom and finally found quite literally in the works of Lobst, a furry comics artist who uses their anthropomorphic characters and an individual take on magical realism to express their unique experiences as a trans person.

As with the bulk of their work two of my favourites, both adult comics, prominently feature transgender characters and story lines. A Slightly Different Role follows the exploits of two huskies, Connor and Alex, the latter of which with the aid of a suitably gothic book of curses, magically endows the other with a vagina. The second, more science-fiction orientated That Curious Sensation takes the subject in an entirely different, rarely explored direction. Distracted from work by unwanted erections red panda Clover strikes upon the idea of nullification, quickly achieving his goal with an easily obtainable injection. In both instances the initial transformation is dealt with quickly and often humorously, instead shifting the focus onto how characters react and adapt to the changes, rather than the change itself as a way to explore other parts of a trans individuals experiences and struggles beyond the post surgery aspects that a lot of mainstream representations fixate upon.

Lobst tells stories and presents their trans and gender fluid characters in an interesting and entertaining manner without the fetishization often present in a lot furry comics staring trans characters. Their artwork explores them in entirely different ways, and using the fantasy elements as a springboard to ask more intimate and rarely asked questions about individuals in the trans community through anthropomorphic characters. Despite the ears, tails and fur, the extended cast appears on the page fully rounded and human. Ultimately what sets Lobst’s work apart is the warmth and tenderness it exudes in both the ways their characters interact and the playful way they write about a complicated and multifaceted subject, tackled both playfully and honestly.

We had a chat:

Has art always been a part of you life or something picked up later? How did your art change after coming into contact with the furry fandom?

I’ve always drawn artwork, although it took quite a while for me to start developing original ideas that spread out into stories.  I was a furry-in-denial for a very long time, since the “mainstream” of it — at the time, comics like Sabrina Online and Jack — either seemed too cloying or edgy for my tastes. It took a long time for me to realise that like any other fandom, furries comprise a wide spectrum of interests, so there was a gradual shift from anthro-animal comics like Cigarro & Cerveja/Living In Greytown to Gene Catlow/Kit & Kay Boodle to Associated Student Bodies, Circles, and the webcomics by my friend Moult, after which I spent yet another very-long-time producing furry media “ironically” in groan worthy “extreme” ways. And I think it was only around 2007 or so (yes, seriously) when I started actually looking at furry art, that I learned how to successfully draw furry snouts; until that point a besnouted face was seriously just a box in front of the standard comic-artist human face shield.

When you first started out making comics did you feel there was a lack of them out there for, or about trans and non-binary genders? Do you feel there are more online webcomics than in mainstream comics?

Oh, one of my first inspirations was about the wealth of gender swap story arcs in webcomics, and how I felt they handled the subject inappropriately. Not that I considered them trans-phobic (even though many if them, in retrospect, probably were); it’s just that I was baffled at why none of the characters, at all, wanted to stay in their altered state. So I made my own story, which ended up being a total mess, but it also ended up inspiring my real-life transition in the first place, so.

When I first started my transition in 2004, I remember being severely disheartened at the apparent lack of trans voices in webcomics, considering how accessible the storytelling format is to anyone with pencil, paper, and a scanner. Thankfully, these days there are trans-assembled webcomics everywhere you look, due in no small part to how gender is discussed today compared to back then.

There are more trans-focused stories in webcomics today than there ever have been in mainstream comics. I don’t follow comics very closely, but you just have to look at the rest of media to see where depictions of trans people are at in the public consciousness. Netflix, the only major studio I’m aware of which hires trans actors to play trans people, focuses exclusively on the post-surgery experience of trans women who pass, when — compared to the rest of the trans experience — not only is it just one small part of a trans woman’s overall journey, but it’s also a situation most often occupied by trans women who can afford surgery, voice lessons, facial feminization, laser hair removal, and so on. And this isn’t to trivialise the struggles those women face, of course; it’s just one of the few pieces of transness that holds appeal for cis people. Compared to the proliferation of stories by and about trans/nonbinary people (like Drop-Out, Crossed Wires, Electricopolis, and Go Ye Dogs!), there’s really no contest.

What reaction do you get to your own comics either within the furry fandom or from readers in general?

I’d call it generally positive, with the caveat that I’ve long since stopped seeking approval from non-furry spaces, and even from furry spaces where trans-phobic language isn’t frowned upon; I essentially only post my art to my website and a few Twitter/Tumblr accounts: some private, some not. I’ve never been a popular artist, but I’ve gotten comfortable enough with occupying my specific niche that I’m fairly sure at this point I’d reject popularity if it was thrust upon me. (My chronic anxiety is a pretty big factor in this, too.)

My self-promotion skills are virtually nonexistent, but through sheer word-of-mouth I’ve gotten a couple of diehard fans, which — considering it’s been multiple years since I’ve committed to an ongoing webcomic project — is baffling to me. I was approached for the first time by one at BLFC this year; they requested an autograph, much to my surprise. I was so taken aback I responded by writing my name alongside “thanks for the company!”, which, in retrospect, is ludicrously depressing — but we laughed it off immediately afterwards, thankfully.

A few of your more recent comics, definitely “Adjustment to an Emulated Brain” have felt very personal. Do you find making these kinds of stories to be cathartic for yourself?

Oh, catharsis is the main reason I produce media these days. The inspiration for the main character of that comic — my main fursona, these days — was my persistent desire, as a heavily dysphoric genderless trans person, to find some practical way out of the ill-proportioned body I’ve been stuck occupying for my entire life. Not that I consider myself a diehard transhumanist or anything; this fantasy has also been explored (in other media I’ve privately written and not fully developed yet, all starring different self-inserts) in the forms of virtual reality, magic bodyswapping rituals, reincarnation, and good old-fashioned TF.

An aside: Since Moments From My Adjustment is one of my most viral comics to date, I think I should note what I consider one of the most important rules of storytelling: If an idea resonates with you, as a creator, there’s absolutely an audience for it. Everything I’ve written and drawn since 2010 (and there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it out) has been for one reason: “This is a neat concept, and I want to draw it.”

Although your work has strong fantasy elements such as magic and TF triggers etc, the reactions and situations your characters find themselves in are often very grounded, what appeals to you about this when you are writing?

Magical realism has always appealed to me far more than fantasy or sci-fi settings, mostly because as fictional worlds get further removed from modern society, they start feeling smaller to me. There’s also a believably factor: setting a supernatural story in a realistic world begs all sorts of questions about why/how the supernatural elements are able to remain hidden, especially in the modern world where information is so easily spread. This sounds like a drawback, but if you’re able to pull off a convincing explanation, presto: the possibilities within your fictional world have suddenly expanded dramatically!

Settings like these also allow for your characters to undergo realistic struggles. The Persona series of videogames, for instance, make it a point to keep their protagonists as ordinary as possible, in the process incorporating fantasy-scary story elements like angry gods, shadow dimensions, and arcane magic (all of which are too heavily-caricatured to take seriously), side-by-side with actually-scary situations like family drama, academic success, and financial trouble. Even non-magical sci-fi benefits heavily if it takes place in the very near future, I think.

A lot of your characters come into contact with each other in various comics or pictures, how important is world building to you in this way and how do you go about it?

It’s important for me that internal crossovers remain plausible, by which I mean that there can’t be more than one connection between previously-separate groups of people, and multiple separate connections (e.g. people getting married) cannot form between those groups afterward — otherwise you run into the small-world situation I described earlier; where everyone’s related to each other and meaningful character change is impossible.

An example: I don’t think this has been formally revealed yet, but Grace (from FoRC) lives in the house That Curious Sensation takes place in. Supernatural stuff briefly happens in what little of FoRC I produced, and TCS hinges on the existence of a unique machine which, setting aside that it’s in a silly sex-comic, harbors significant implications for the fate of gender and physical sex in human society. For Grace to be present during both events, those two situations have to be connected for a narratively consistent reason, related to her in some way; otherwise, it’d be just too much of a coincidence to take seriously.

What would be your fave TF trigger? Do you have a preference for technology or magic or does it all depend on the story and characters?

As far as TF triggers go, a couple of favorites come to mind: first, the idea of being surrounded by people with body shapes that you either explicitly or implicitly desire for yourself, having them overwhelm you, and when they pull back, you’ve somehow become one of them. Another comes from a novel I read last year, “The Showroom: Relationships and Robotics”, where no physical shapeshifting takes place; rather, the person realizes they experience life more vividly with their consciousness processed through a robotic shell, which casts doubt on their own identity as a person. That kind of character dynamic and the internal identity struggle is what I love most about TF as a concept; without it (and there’s more than plenty of TF art that assumes watching the TF sequence itself is enough), TF isn’t nearly as interesting to me.

As for my own work, I definitely prefer technology to magic or spirituality, if only because sci-fi pop culture is in the DNA of actual scientific advancement. Not that I expect my work to play any kind of role in the development of real medical techniques, but well, it couldn’t hurt for an amateur like me to put the ideas out there in a format people might want to read, could it?

A few of your comics have characters only expressing themselves in pictographs, did you find it challenging to convey a story and characters reactions using only them? Were there any first draft ideas that you decided would be too difficult to express in this way?

Pictographs are a great way to set your storytelling apart from others, and a fun challenge; primarily in how it encourages you to tell your story economically/with as few word-balloons as possible. I have an awful habit of getting wordy with my dialogue, so it’s refreshing every now and then to pull away from a panel and see a critical concept expressed in a word balloon people can process in half a second.

I will say, however, that reader feedback is essential for this. That Curious Sensation features a moment where Clover is rejecting being touched; apparently a pictograph of a stop sign comes across as more playful (which is what I was going for) than a hand miming the “stop” signal.

Beyond your Patreon comic, are there any ideas you have for the future in terms of comics? Are there any subjects or ideas you’d like to explore in the future?

Oh, plenty! The most important thing I want to do in the future, however, is give people the tools and vocabulary to deal with various kinds of dysphoria; to let people, if they feel out-of-place in uncommon ways, know that it’s OK to explore, soak into, and even publicly express those feelings; that if this world feels like it wasn’t built for you, you’re not alone; you can find friendship and comfort in the company of others who feel the same.

Lobst’s art can be found at lobstworks.com

– Bessie

Categories: News

Art for Tiny Paws con, and tail wags for graphic journalism.

Wed 13 Jun 2018 - 10:00

What got me into furries was classic and TV cartoons and underground animation, and adventure and fantasy novels (Redwall, Spellsinger). I’d buy them by the armload at the used book store. It was all cool to me whether it came with critical approval or not. I just craved more. A good way to get more is DIY-style and from fandom. I found that in small doses with zines in the 1990’s.

Superhero comics were never my thing (I think the 90’s was a bad time for those). Then I found some indies where muscle-people were as seldom seen as they were for a real bookworm. Indies were a step closer to animation and fantasy stuff I loved. It still didn’t exactly register that there was a divide between supposed lowbrow and highbrow comics. I didn’t care that Art Spiegelman’s Maus got a Pulitzer prize and helped turn “graphic novels” into a regular section in book stores. I did get interested by their connection to that energy of zines.

Now I’d say “graphic journalism” (Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine) is a bit of an inspiration. It turned many heads this year when the New York Times got a Pulitzer for a nontraditional graphic story, instead of editorial cartooning.

Would you be into seeing illustrated stories like that here? I’d love to gradually give it a try. Not yet, but if a story really demands it. Up to now this site has been almost exclusively text writing. The visuals are really important and those usually aren’t custom made. But I have the power to give it to you!

Tiny Paws con is getting a little of it. They asked me to make some art, so here it is. If you’re near the con, you should come say hi in August!

The actual Tiny Paws mascot

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb – Book Review by Fred Patten

Thu 7 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2018, trade paperback, $17.00 (319 pages), Kindle $4.15.

Once a Dog is told from the viewpoint of Jesse B. Collie, a young dog on the farm of Mister Overlord. He is no longer a puppy, but he is still too young to be trained to work like Mother, an experienced sheepdog, so he romps happily around the farmyard with his littermates Lil, Zac, Pixie, and Toby. Mister and Missus Overlord are too busy to play with him, but Oldmister Overlord – Mister Overlord’s father, now retired – plays fetch and other games with him.

The first chapter establishes the dogs’ vocabulary. The sun and moon are hot-ball and cold-ball; day and night are bright-light and slight-light; humans are uprights; dogs are packers; sheep are dumbfluffs; barnyard fowls are jumpfly-gabblegabbles, and so on.

One night there is a commotion in the farmhouse, and the next day Oldmister Overlord does not come out to play with Jesse. The reader can tell that he has died the night before, but Jesse only knows that he does not come out any more. Maybe he went away in the strange rolling-house (an ambulance or hearse) that came that night. When Mister and Missus Overlord soon leave in Truck, and Missus Overlord doesn’t close the farm gate tightly, Jesse sets out to follow them and find Oldmister Overlord. They lead him farther than he expects, into the nearby small town which has a bewildering confusion of uprights.

“He had made a big mistake and strayed into hostile territory. And for that, there was only one solution. He’d just have to try harder to smell his way out. So he lowered his nose to the ground, but that prompted an immediate sneeze. Just as he’d feared, the jumble of smells was awfully confusing. And he couldn’t trust his hearing all that well, either. His desperate attempts to single out the unique frequency of any one upright among the discordant sounds around him failed repeatedly, leaving him no choice but to continue down the road almost completely exposed and defenseless. Those packers who had signed at the bush [dogs that had urinated on a bush] had passed this way, too; he could still smell them sure enough.” (p. 29)

Jesse tracks Mister and Missus Overlord into the church where Oldmister Overlord’s funeral is being held. Mister Overlord leads Jesse into Truck (it’s the first time he’s ever been in Truck; he likes the wind blowing through his fur even more than playing ball with Oldmister) and drives him home. Jesse tells his siblings the exciting things that he saw and did, and when Zac doesn’t believe him, he jumps over the fence to prove it to Zac.

“With a loud sigh, Jesse turned around again and began the trek uphill to join his brother. Once at the top of the rise, he sat, dropped the ball to the ground by his paws and studied the way ahead. There it was again – that field with all those identical and evenly spaced tree stumps in the valley below.

‘Oh, that,’ Jesse said, feigning disinterest although he was in fact elated at having remembered the way after all. A shiver ran down his spine, setting his hair on end. ‘It’s nothing. There’s no one in that field. I already looked.’

‘There is!’ Zac snapped. ‘The rolling-house that just passed us went inside. It’s over there now, beside that small house at the back of the field.’” (p. 53)

Then, with the beginning of Chapter 4 on page 61, the novel takes a completely unexpected turn that I can’t reveal without giving away a gigantic spoiler! I will just say that Jesse is thrown into a very confusing situation.

“‘[…] Personally, I think you’re a fine fellow, who through no fault of your own, became caught up in an unfortunate circumstance.’

Jesse had no clue what the one-eyed packer was talking about. He pawed at the ground in frustration.

‘Let me put it to you directly, then,’ Scratcher said, rolling onto his paws. ‘Do you stand for or against the amendment?’

Jesse’s knees threatened to buckle again and something inside his stomach began to somersault. ‘I don’t even understand it.’

[…]

‘What’s happening?’ Jesse whimpered.

‘Revolution,’ the big hound replied, then jerked his head around to survey each ridge, long ears swinging unrestrained. ‘Those who support the amendment and those who oppose it are about to engage in battle. We’re better off here.’ He turned to Jesse. ‘Unless you want to take a side.’

Who, me?’ Jesse howled. ‘This is your fight,’ he said, turning to Scratcher. ‘I want nothing to do with it.’

‘Too late for that,’ Sherlock replied. We’re all in it now.’

Jesse planted his rear on the ground. ‘I have no intention of fighting for something I don’t even understand,’ he snapped.

The big hound’s brow lifted. ‘Good Havens, little fellow, did you think I meant we should get in there and scrap with the rest of them? No, no. I simply meant that we will be at the mercy of whichever side wins the day.’” (pgs. 178-181)

Once a Dog (cover by Lew Viergacht) has an ending that is impossible to guess in advance. The title is part of a phrase continuously cited: “Once a dog, always a dog”. Don’t believe it.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, Edited by Thurston Howl – Book Review by Fred Patten

Tue 5 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Drkchaos.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.99 (278 [+ 1] pages).

Infurno certainly looks like a descent into Furry Hell. It’s printed in white type on black paper – all 278 pages of it. The full-page illustrations by Drkchaos (identified in the blurb as Joseph Chou) add to the book’s grim aspect.

Actually, Infurno makes a good companion volume to the publisher’s Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary and also illustrated by Joseph Chou. But where that anthology was weird-horror, this one is more horror-disgusting.

Infurno presents 14 stories themed around the Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno, divided by a Prologue, eight Interludes, and an Epilogue; unsigned but presumably by the anthology’s editor, Thurston Howl. There are one each for Limbo, Lust, Heresy, and Fraud, and two for Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Violence, and Treachery.

Kyle (sub, jackal) and Terry (dom, squirrel), two gay lovers working alone at Feral Electronics at night, are summoned to the building’s ninth basement floor. (The building doesn’t have nine basements.) There Atha, a mysterious gazelle, leads them further down a staircase.

Atha, their guide into the Inferno, tells them they must witness the final memories of 14 damned souls. Some of the Interludes are more horrific than the stories:

“A three-headed dog as large as a skyscraper loomed over the ocean. The waves themselves, though high and mobile, were thick and viscous, oily yet solid. Breaking the surface all around the dog were drowning souls. When one would breach the surface right below one of the massive heads, the head would swoop down and grab the unfortunate spirit by its head, fling it around it, chew it, and swallow it.” (p. 48) {The sea is shit, not water.]

In “Blur” by Weasel (Limbo), they meet Ely, a white lab mouse who has gotten sick of always giving blow jobs for money and tries to leave that life. “But you can’t stay a whore forever. I started getting tired of sucking dick. The taste of cum started to burn my stomach each time I swallowed.” (p. 18)

In “A New Toy” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch (Lust), Anderson, a fox pornography store owner, is offered ten new Lovecraftian sex toys. “The first impression the toy gave me was of something vagina-pink that I couldn’t make heads of tails of. There were multiple holes that looked like insertion points for a penis, but their locations didn’t make any logical sense.” (p. 38) Moral: don’t stick your prick into any hole if you don’t know where it leads.

In “Down Among the Damned” by R. S. Pyne (Gluttony), Ray Drayner (fox) is a character like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, but where Monty Python played the ridiculously-obese Mr. Creosote for laughs, Ray is an overweight unfunny sadist. “At close to two hundred and eighty pounds, a beleaguered heart registered its distress with the first in a series of minor cardiac arrests. Ray ignored his doctor’s advice to cut down on rich, fatty foods and smoking, give up alcohol, and take more exercise. The glutton’s mantra ruled: life was too short to eat salad and low-fat dressing, or walk anywhere – pass the heavy cream and maple syrup glazed bacon bits.” (p. 52)

“Go Nuts for Donuts” by Jensyn Grayves (Gluttony) features Mike, a raccoon who seems more of a slob and a snob than a glutton. He won’t give any of his company’s leftover donuts to the homeless men (cats) in the company parking lot (“If Brianna wanted to give free food and coffee to these disgusting, lazy, homeless people that couldn’t be bothered to hold down a job, let her. He wouldn’t stoop so low to support their poor life choices.” –p. 68), so when they kill him for not giving them any donuts, his soul goes to the second level of Hell. (Huh?)

“The Eye of Aquana” by Faolan (Greed) features two otter thieves who, when they aren’t stealing, engage in graphic homosexual pleasures. The reader must guess which of them will come to a final memory.

In “The Cold” by Cedric Bacon (Greed), two friends, Masterson (husky) and Bones (setter) go prospecting for gold in the far North. They strike it rich, but Bones gets frostbitten and they delay leaving for town until a blizzard traps them in their cabin. As they wait, Masterson becomes greedy.

“As he looked at Bones, Masterson realized their partnership was always one with a singular purpose. And as far as he was concerned, that purpose was fulfilled when they found the gold. It was Bones who had not held up his end of the bargain, not Masterson.

He glanced down at his feet and saw the sack filled with their gold. It was no longer a matter of dividing it fifty-fifty. Masterson felt he was owed much more than just half. He had a mind to take all of Bones’ share, and he was more than tempted to wake the setter and tell him just that.” (p. 102)

What will Masterson do, and what will happen to him?

“A Cat in Hell’s Chance” by James Hudson (Wrath) cleverly presents a stereotyped animated cartoon cat-&-mouse situation in a more realistic scenario. Jim (cat), crazy with hatred, is determined to kill Terry (mouse) with stacks of dynamite:

“The thought of Terry’s face had thrown Jim into another downward spiral of despair and self-loathing. Even as he imagined his victory, he could not help but linger on the memories of his many defeats. Whether the threat made against Terry had been a legal, verbal, or physical one, he had always been able to side-step it with a grin on his face as if it had been nothing. Jim couldn’t imagine anyone sidestepping an explosion.” (p. 114)

In “Je Reviendrai” by Kirisis (Wrath), Georgia (red panda), an unpleasant woman, is determined to force her philandering stoat husband to submit to her will. This story goes on after the damned soul’s death.

“Metal Hellth” by Ferric (Heresy) features Justin, a Canadian lynx punk rock musician whose act is simulating a black mass on stage including a flaming summoning of Satan. When he dies of a heroin overdose, he finds himself on an infernal stage having to perform for a real devilish audience:

“This was his punishment. For all eternity, he’d be forced to sing the same song as he got burned alive in painful agony, barely even uttering a word as the flames surrounded him in their unforgiving heat and scorching pain. All for writing a few songs about how great this place was.” (p. 167)

“In the Name of Science” by Allison Thai (Violence) is narrated by Sorae Ishii (weasel), in Japan in 1941 who is invited to join his father’s research team in Manchukuo. The World War II German medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners is well-known (Dr. Josef Mengele was called “the Angel of Death”), but the similar Japanese medical experiments in Manchukuo are ignored by comparison. At the end of the war Ishii commits what he says is honorable suicide rather than trying to survive in disguise or in hiding. The reader is left to assume what happens to his soul.

“A Soul Removed” by Stephen Coghlan (Violence) focuses upon Seers, a teenage bull terrier. It seems at first that his sin is Lust, but this is the Circle of those who died in Violence. Guess how.

In “Waiting” by TJ Minde (Fraud), Page (mouse) and Xander (skunk) are gay lovers. Xander thinks only of having sex together, while Page would rather go out on dates and postpone the sex. Guess where the Fraud is.

In “Those Delicate Fingers” by Hypetaph (Treachery), Maverick, a werewolf, decides to make his Nora, his girlfriend, his next victim. That’s treachery. Of course, the story has a surprise.

“The Night Betrayed” by Jaden Drackus (Treachery) features Shadow, a black jaguar assassin serving in the Nightguard of a medieval Emperor. He sends Shadow and his mate, Ra’jarr (caracal) to eliminate the Countess of Tornheim (sika deer), a sadist who has been killing her subjects and may be plotting against him – treachery, for sure.

After this, Kyle’s and Terry’s tour is supposed to take them to the pleasanter realms of Purrgatorio and Pawradiso – but not unmarked.

Infurno is a furry horror anthology that really delivers.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley – Book Review by Fred Patten

Mon 4 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley. Map.
Orlando, FL, the author, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 (338 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

“In a not too distant future, humanity is extinct. The world is now ruled by animals who wield swords, magic and technology to create and protect vast empires. As darkness grows on the horizon, an unlikely hero will be chosen to defend this new world.” (blurb)

I am immediately turned off by this. It’s the difference between the book and the movie of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH/The Secret of NIMH. In the book, things are accomplished through Science. The mice and rats have their intelligence raised through scientific experimentation, but are otherwise unchanged. The new society that the rats build is based on what they need. It doesn’t have lots of electric lights because the rats are used to living without lights. The rats don’t wear clothes because they have fur. They scurry on all fours. Nicodemus, their leader, is a wise rat who studies much. In the movie, the rats walk upright and have built a hidden imitation human town with lots of lighting. They dress in medieval clothes, and Nicodemus is a wizard who can work Magic.

Both the book and the movie have their fans. If you liked the movie, you will probably love Longtails, Book One: The Storms of Spring.

“Biological warfare and radiation during World War 4 have had surprising effects on the creatures of the world. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Raccoons scour the countryside for motorbike parts. Squirrels have taken to the sky aboard flying ships. Danger lurks around every corner.” (p. 1)

Del Hatherhorne is an average brown mouse. “He came to live in an abandoned apartment room in the northern part of the great mouse city of Verden.   His new home was on the third floor of a complex, located at the corner of 14th Street and Larimer – according to their corresponding rusted green street signs at least.” (p. 7) The World War has apparently killed all the humans but left their city intact for the mice to move into. “He’d fallen in love with the vacant studio apartment the moment he’d laid eyes on it. Shelves adorning pale blue walls were filled floor to ceiling with everything from manga (Japanese comics which read right to left), to comics (mostly published by DC but with a spattering of Marvel, Image and Darkhorse), to video games (a wide assortment with role-playing games and puzzlers making up the bulk of it) and even old movies (names like Spielberg, Lucas and Ridley Scott were embossed along the spines of the shimmering boxes).” (p. 8)

Del gets an old human computer, too. It all sounds very Mary-Sue. “From Spider-Man’s troubled youth to Kenshin’s search for redemption, to Batman’s vengeance for his parents’ death, Del was hard-pressed to ever take his furry face away from the pages of a book. But at night, he would finally take a break from reading, only to use an old fuel generator to power up the computer.” (p. 9)

It isn’t all scrounging from the civilization of the dead humans. “It wasn’t all business at the market though. Del also enjoyed overhearing stories of the brave members of the Longtails, a mouse-made military force commanded by the Council of Five. The Council was the ruling body of the Mouselands that decided all things in the way of mouse livelihood. From magic-wielding members of the Spectrum Halls, who fought off an infestation of horned beetles; to brave fighters and sharp-shots defending the Mouselands from foxes and roaming raccoons just past the borders of mouse territories; Del found these stories almost as exciting as those involving Harry, Ron and Hermione as they fought to stop the rising evil of Voldemort alongside their rising piles of Potions homework.” (p. 11)

Do you get the impression from this that Del and the other mice are mouse-sized or human-sized? It sometimes seems like one thing and sometimes like the other.

Well, let’s skip the pages and pages of background and get to the plot. Del is reading a graphic novel in his apartment when his attention is drawn to three of the Longtails in the street below (shown in a later scene on Dexter Allagahrei’s cover), who conveniently address each other by name; Denya (the ladymouse in the red cloak), Roderick (the white mouse in a red coat and feathered hat), and Arthur (in black). That’s Del in green with the navy blue & turquoise scarf on the cover. (Headley’s description is very detailed.) They are being stalked by a mink assassin. Del is suddenly compelled to warn them, at some danger to himself, and he magically defeats the mink, which reveals him as a Trelock with magic powers. The Longtails want him to join them.

“‘You can’t just leave!’ barked Arthur, finally taking Del seriously. There was no more evidence of levity in his voice or in his pale face. ‘Do you have any idea how incredible it is that we found you? Your abilities would be invaluable to the Longtails. You’d be on the shortlist for the most prestigious bands. Leave? I daresay, that would be like shutting the door on your destiny!’

‘I don’t want to join a Longtails band! I don’t want a destiny!’ squeaked Del. ‘I just want to sit on my windowsill and read my book. I just want to go home.’” (pgs. 37-38)

Mary-Sue again, or Bilbo Baggins protesting that he doesn’t want to go on an adventure. You know how well that works.

Headley’s plot is ridiculously simplistic, but his writing is quite good, and it certainly doesn’t lack action:

[Del is reading a manga in his apartment. He hears a noise in the hall outside.]

Ting. Ting. Ting. A strange sound hit his ears from the direction of the apartment door […] He rolled onto his side to face the door and listened for the source of the sound. The rhythmic metallic clink seemed to be getting faster, like the sound of a fan or engine revving up in slow motion to a steady rotation. He couldn’t quite place it though. It was a completely new noise in the typically quiet building. Sure, there were families living in other units above and below him and even some on the same floor, but he rarely heard so much as a peep from them.

The sound grew faster and closer. He could hear it zipping back and forth from one end of the door’s bottom edge to the other. Del focused his eyes on the lower portion of the door, waiting for some clue as to what was causing the noise. Suddenly, his bubble of solitude broke as loud shots of rapid gunfire filled the air. Bullets sprayed through the bottom half of the door, tearing away at the wood.

Del dove for cover, leaping behind his book as though it might actually be strong enough to protect him. He peeked out just as the bottom fourth of the door was dismantled by bullets. Dust and debris flooded the now empty space between what was left of the door and the hardwood flooring. In the aftermath cloud, Del could just make out a slender shadow stepping through the opening.

As the dust settled around him, it revealed a mink standing on its hind legs with completely jet-black fur, except for a small patch of white on its chin. Del immediately noticed the mink’s right forearm and paw were missing, and in their place was a six-barreled Gatling minigun. It attached just above where the mink’s elbow should have been. As the mink stood in the doorway, the barrels began to spin down slowly, smoke drifting up from them.” (pgs. 49-50)

It might be exciting if Del’s Trelock power didn’t make him so invulnerable. Anyhow, Del joins Roderick, Denya, and Arthur; and if the resulting adventure isn’t as exciting as The Lord of the Rings, it isn’t because Headley doesn’t try. To be continued in Longtails, Book Two: The Wildfires of Summer.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

“At least you can hiss pretty good”- Jenny Mure tackles depression in candid Possum comics

Fri 1 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

One thing I’ve briefly alluded to but never directly addressed is feeling ‘down’ over the course of the last three years, maybe more if I’m being brutally honest with you. It’s harder to admit even after eight months of the stabilising effects of Citalopram that it had, without me really noticing, swallowed up the largest part of these years. I struggled along from day to day and mood to mood believing I could just “shrug it off,  Stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge it for what it really was, barely even able to say the word, depression.  Admitting it to others was one of the biggest hurdles and even after finally reaching out and getting help last year I still find the hardest part is just the sheer difficulty in talking about it without truly understanding why I feel this way. Selfishly it’s  one of the reasons I’ve been attracted Jenny Mure’s possum books, the closest paper and ink, maybe any medium has come to depicting the roller coaster of emotions and the even worse bottoming out and endless emptiness that follows. I know,  I know,  “You’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing” but hear me out anyway, please.

Unlike the rest of Mure’s polished, predominantly fantasy based work her two volumes of Possum comics are undeniably rough and ready with a done in one, raw immediacy that perfectly fits a diary comic about the everyday struggles that go hand in hand with mental health and art. Sketched in black ink with unequal slanted frames (if any) and following no set format they show Mure living with the ups and crushing downs of depression over a two year period. “At times like these, Opossums talk to my soul more then any other animal” declares a sketchy inked Possum on the opening page and as suggested by the title, she discusses and explores these experiences through a Possum alter ego, perfectly capturing the feeling of not quite feeling like yourself when depression tightens it’s grip on you. Even though everyone experiences it differently and the finer details may change, I was surprised by how many I could relate too and would strike a similar chord with other readers such as peoples well meaning advice to just stop being “such a gloomy motherfucker”. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s impossible to know how hollow, annoying and  useless even a well intentioned tit-bit like that can be.

One that really struck me and stuck with me more then I’d like to admit is when Mure explores setting prohibitive standards and worry onto her possum comics. In a strikingly simplistic sketch of a possum who details the lack of possum comics and attributes it to setting unusually high standards where no one else is expecting them. Essentially stripping the comics of their cathartic purpose and deftly showing how depression and works to break down any of the flimsy coping mechanisms you might have dared built up to protect yourself.

Her second in the series, So I’m still a Possum, tackles the thorny subject of people appreciating and admiring a piece of work that might be difficult for a creator when it’s origins lie in such a dark and difficult time in their life. Mure describes her trepidation about the first volume being the most popular ‘zine in her shop and at shows whilst being “scrappy and unpolished”. It’s something that caused me to hesitate time and time again when I decided I wanted to show my appreciation for her work,not wanting to add to add anything negative to anyone else’s state of mind. Don’t come to Mure’s comics expecting any advice on how to cope with depression or tackle mental health, it’s not that kind of comic, not by a long shot.  Yet, they are all the better for realising this and not reaching out for a resolution or offering hollow advice. It’s a stark and painfully  honest account of her own experiences coping with depression and hopefully their popularity is derived from people like myself being able to hand it to others when our own words wither and  fail us and say “this”. In the very same strip, Mure succinctly sums up the dark, uncomfortable appeal of her Possum work, “All I can hope is it can do the same to other people in some small way. Something to nod and say me too” she explains through her Marsupial alter ego “To feel a little less alone, if nothing else”

Jenny’s artwork can be found at her website, littlemure.com and tweets here.

Categories: News

The Complexities of Problematic Kinks – guest post by Maybelle Redmond

Thu 31 May 2018 - 10:00

This extra long article is published whole instead of by parts to preserve context. Quoted people were anonymized to protect sensitive personal info. Their ID was provided privately so I could verify it. Thanks to Maybelle for submitting this. – Patch

Full size

Maybelle Redmond’s content warning and disclaimer about The Complexities of Problematic Kinks

Before we even begin to touch on these things, we must first and foremost consider the victims, and ardent defenders of the victims, who have been susceptible to abuse that problematic kinks tend to surround or be on the border of. If you are a victim of, are close to a victim of, or feel passionately for victims of abuse, you are the people being considered up front. While we will discuss some details of some problematic kinks, you are being warned in advance with the opportunity to skip or avoid the provided details, and you are perfectly justified to close this article and not consume what you may feel is a potential excuse for abuse. It’s valid to ignore details of why others consume and perform problematic kinks, for the sake of your psychological safety or if you feel that it could legitimize them. Don’t engage in something you feel uncomfortable with. It’s not fair that it can be difficult to avoid abusive triggers within a community you enjoy. Your needs need to come first in this discussion. One of these needs may be to shield yourself. If you wish to do that, please close the article now.

Introduction

While attempting to Google exactly what is considered a problematic kink, a lot of its definition appears to be based in open-ended discourse.[1] Nonetheless, a very common theme arises: a “problematic kink” can be defined as “a kink derived from some kind of abuse or potential abuse situation.” While feminist-detractors may tell you that the concept of problematic kinks simply means “every kink is problematic,”[2] that’s absolutely not how it’s being used in common discourse. Multiple discussions regarding problematic kinks revolve around abuse and potential abuse situations, particularly these specific themes:

  • Bestiality
  • Incest
  • Pedophilia
  • Rape

There are many more potentially abusive and problematic kink scenarios, such as authoritarian coercion and human trafficking, but this brief list tends to be the hot button issues when it comes to problematic kinks. For good reason– these tend to be the abuse issues that enter people’s lives most frequently.

Furries can have a tendency to come from some kind of coercive environment. Some were bullied at school. Some had paternal abuse, neglect, or zero paternal support in our lives. Some were just so socially awkward they had no choice but to evolve online due to rejection felt by society. Nonetheless, regardless of why we came here, we have the freedom to explore our fantasies and minds in amazingly constructive ways that most other humans never get to experience. But of course, because these problematic fantasies aren’t always just fantasies, and ambiguity can only be clearly seen in hindsight as crossing a line — we do need a means of protecting the victims of said abusive scenarios, for the sake of maintaining a sense of protection often sought as part of this fandom.

That’s because abusers exist here too. And abusers consume problematic kinks as well. We’ve seen high profile abusers over and over again, from the graymuzzle memory of William Shaw (aka “DiveFox”) being publicly condemned for his child chasing and grooming patterns on Judge Mathis[3], to Frank Gembeck‘s arrest and conviction over extreme child pornography[4] and as recent as the revelations that Adam Wan (aka “Zaush”) is willing to accept the razor-thin legality of using legally-evasive photography of sexualized children as reference material.[5] This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of abusers in this community. In fact, these are merely the abusers that have been proven to demonstrate some sort of abusive behavior. More lurk in the community because they are extremely effective at silencing their victims– one of which we’ll be naming later on. To reassure the reader, their abuse will neither be excused nor glorified in this article.

Thus, we will first discuss the positives of problematic kinks; from how they relate to healing abuse victims, to how they relate to sexuality with abuse aspects abstracted, outright removed or controlled. To separate the positive aspects from potentially abusive or murky situations which could also be positive, there will also be a discussion of gray areas in problematic kinks; discussing how they can sometimes both be a therapeutic tool, a justification of one’s abusive tendencies, or a means of reinforcing one’s victimization.

Then finally, we will also discuss the negatives of problematic kinks, from how they enable abusers to justify their behavior, to how they use the content produced for their kink as a means of potentially grooming new victims. We will also discuss what can be done to protect victims, safe play of these problematic kinks and consumption of the content, while simultaneously attempting to discourage the real-world abuse situations these problematic kinks revolve around.

First, though, we need some primer before we begin: a clarification of terminology.

Terminology

When I say “kink,” and you hear me say “kink,” there might be some cross-talk occurring. Particularly in how this kink is assumed to be expressed.

Even when I abstractly say “kink,” you may or may not be interpreting the word “kink” to actually mean some form of pornography, namely animated or video content; artistic or photographic content; or written content. So, from here on out in this article, when I say “kink,” I want to make it clear that I’m referring specifically to the mental arousal which occurs, and not the expression of said arousal, such as performing intimate acts with a partner related to said kink, or even creating erotic content that induces arousal with this kink to share with others. When I wish to abstractly refer to the kink’s expression, such as in sexual acts and erotic content, I will use the word “expression” or refer to the type of expression explicitly, such as “literature” or “video content.”

Let’s now begin to explain why problematic kinks are actually much more complex than their abuse-triggering surface makes them appear, starting with the positives.

Positive Aspects of Problematic Kinks Exploring as Therapy for Abuse and Trauma

The following section will discuss rape and potentially traumatizing revelations of what rape victims may experience in the aftermath. We will also be interviewing a rape survivor, who will be detailing potentially upsetting revelations as to how they cope with their trauma.

I mentioned earlier in this article that some victims will use the exploration of a problematic kink as a means of erasing or controlling said aspects of their victimization. An ex-partner of mine was raped by fellow furries. (Thankfully the abusers wound up serving jail-time for what they did– which can’t be said for most rape situations, sadly. It was relatively high profile in the community, to the point that one of the abusers is, for the most part, still ostracized from social interaction nowadays, with the occasional defender who props him up as having learned, despite him being observed to continue performing abusive behaviors.) Yet in the time I’ve known this ex-partner, I’ve observed something interesting: they have a kink for non-consensual fantasies.

They agreed to talk with me about why. Because they’re a relatively high-visibility member of the furry community, they chose to speak on condition of anonymity. This is also why I have not named their abusers in particular, regardless of the prison convictions they faced for doing this. Here’s the conversation:

Q: So you survived a pretty upsetting rape scenario a few years ago. And I know in my personal interactions with you, and seeing the way you describe your fantasies on social media, you likely still have non-consensual fantasies. Do these fantasies help you deal with your trauma in any way, and if so, how?

I’ve had an internal conversation about that with myself for several years, considering the irony of someone who had gone through all that suddenly turning around and finding sexual excitement in the concept. Ultimately, I can say it’s a contributing factor; I get to make the scenario mine, and I have control over it. It ends if I want it to, it goes as far as I want, and it even trivializes what happened to me in my mind. It makes the scenario hurt less in the present.

This is an important distinction: In the present. I’ll never forget the pain I went through, I’ll never forget the breakdowns I’d have for years to come remembering it. But it no longer hurts me now like it did back then, and that’s to my benefit.

Q: It sounds like this means of sexual exploration has been useful to you in moving on from the trauma of what you experienced. Am I reading that right?

I believe so. While it was never my intention, it was obvious to me upon reflection that it helps with a couple of different issues. Non-consensual sexual fantasies arise from the need for control, or sometimes, a surrender of it. To have one’s urgency taken away, their control suspended, allows a person to escape their anxieties. It’s a big part of why submission is a huge kink for people who are consistently busy or stressed, especially those who are involved in a lot of management and decision making. With role playing a rape victim, there’s even this underlying feeling of being so desired that consent is no longer a factor. On the opposite end, domination and role-playing the rapist is about having control and losing one’s self to urges, and working out the stress of one’s lack of control.

Q: You mentioned roleplay right there specifically. Does this also extend into consuming other kinds of erotic content of the variety, such as visual or written pornography of these kinds? And do these mediums additionally have the same sort of therapeutic effect, or do they tend to trigger your past experiences?

There’s no trigger. I dealt with that trauma rather effectively, to where simulated versions of it (specifically in fictional media with the intent of drama) don’t quite affect me on that level. My enjoyment and use of it as a coping mechanism, as well as sexual fulfillment, most certainly extends to Pornography of that nature in all it’s different means of consumption. It’s not just fantasy, it’s not just role-playing, but it’s also videos and stories. But the fact that they are simulated is the most important part, because I know that, deep inside, nobody is being legitimately hurt. That when I close the story, those “people” cease to exist; that when a video is done playing, the people within will be okay, even if there’s a power dynamic that is almost violently one-sided… because there’s a mutual consent, and a need that’s being met by both people involved. One that I’ve tried to meet several times with real life partners, regularly on the submissive end.

I want to put focus on one thing in particular with this interview: the rape survivor, here, is attempting to take back control. And in the end, enacting these scenarios, for various reasons, empowers them to move on from their intensely traumatic event. This is not the way all rape victims heal, nor should it be a process forced upon them, for not everyone can process their trauma in this fashion. And yet, for some people, roleplaying or even consuming “consensual non-consent”[6] productions of this kind of media is a therapeutic tool.

This is just one experience, however. I wanted to make sure that this was shared among many victims. And it turns out, it is. My psychologist chose to anonymously comment on this article in the interest of protecting my personal identity. Here’s what they had to say:

I have worked with a number of individuals who participated in kink role-play that others may have considered problematic, such as acting out rape fantasies or race play. In the cases I encountered, each patient had played the role of victim in these scenarios. These individuals also reported a history of trauma directly related to their particular kink, and expressed a belief that these role-plays could act as healthy re-enactments, almost like do-overs of the original traumatic experiences – the main difference being that in these role-plays, they ultimately had control (i.e. safeword) and were consenting, rather than experiencing yet another trauma. In this way, the acting out of these so-called problematic kinks may work in a similar manner to exposure treatment for PTSD such as EMDR, where the patient is asked to repeatedly describe the traumatic event while watching a rhythmic movement, the idea being that the formerly traumatizing data is being re-associated on a physiological and neurological level with a neutral stimulus and state. Perhaps with these type of kinks, the trauma can be re-aligned with a pleasurable stimulus and positive state of interpersonal connection and energy exchange. Of course, this type of play, like most any intimate activity, comes with its risks as one navigates the sometimes treacherous waters of the psyche. Vulnerability, shame, arousal and intense emotionality can all arise during these encounters. After care, as always, can be an important step to help contain and resolves feelings of chaos or liability. And the dynamic between those involved most certainly needs to be underpinned by honest communication and genuine regard. 

At the very core of many of these personal abuse scenarios– particularly rape, incest, and pedophilia– is a feeling of a loss of control. When an incest victim is sexually abused by a sibling, parent or relative, they have lost control, because the abuser in the scenario has taken it away from them by coercing them into a sexual situation they did not want. The same goes for rape and child molestation. While the article cited in the introduction seems to get the concept of problematic kinks incorrect, it is correct regarding power dynamics: coercive sex is a power dynamic, of which the abuser takes away power from the victim or abuses their power over the victim for their own sexual gratification.

What kink does in this scenario is provide that sense of control that was taken away. And naturally, because you have control over the scenario, you can do things to the scenario which will help heal or erase your memories by rewriting the traumatic memory with controlled fantasy and a partner you strongly trust. If replaying a rape scenario triggers a fierce memory in your mind, you can stop the scenario at any time and request after-care. If you experienced intense shame from the feeling that, for some reason, your body enjoyed the rape– and this is a significant, unspoken sense of shame in some rape victims[7]— you can rewrite that feeling of shame in a much more controlled, structured environment, exploring what made it pleasing to you and erasing what made it unsatisfying at best and horrifically traumatizing at worst.

This ultimately rewrites the experience in your mind, little by little, scene by scene. While the survivor will never forget what happened to them, consistently replaying the scenario in a controlled environment in such a way that the negatives of their victimization are erased, while the extremely rare positives remain, is an incredibly therapeutic exercise. The result is a relative emotional rewrite of an overwhelming feeling of being a victim, taking back control from the abuser and placing it in the survivor’s hands as a tool of healing.

And… unfortunately, that’s the only thing that’s really explicitly positive. The rest of the reasons one might be interested in these kinks pretty much fall into two categories: gray-areas (meaning they have the potential to enable abuse or rewrite abuse, depending on how they’re used) and negatives (meaning they merely enable or perpetuate abuse, no matter how they’re used). Nonetheless it was important we put the victims first in this discussion, and additionally, that we put their tool of healing out on the table for everyone to see. But as you’ll soon understand in these following paragraphs, even though these tools can be used for the victim to heal, they can also be taken advantage of to either put an abuse victim deeper into their victimized state of mind or justify one’s abusive behavior.

Let’s explore the gray areas.

Gray Areas of Problematic Kinks

Because problematic kinks primarily touch on abusive scenarios, it can be incredibly difficult to decouple the abusive nature from the kink, if not impossible. Even with creating a “perfect world,” as it were, there is still a strong connection of abuse to the kink, even if it’s turned up on its head by turning it positive and non-abusive because of its nature in the real world.

Walk with caution when playing out problematic kinks in the following manners. Make absolutely sure that there aren’t any abuse triggers that occur. And if there are unknown abuse triggers– and this does happen– make sure you’re aware and have negotiated some kind of safeword beforehand.

What we will be discussing in this section involves arousal toward abusive situations. If as a victim this thought disturbs you– and there are many reasons for it to do so– I would strongly suggest you skip this section in its entirety. You may ultimately find solace in having your negative experiences justified as negative, but if you don’t even wish to read the details of what makes them negative due to potential triggering, I would recommend you close the article now and perhaps let a close friend summarize the article for you.

Indulgence in Fantasies of a Non-Abusive World

This section will be discussing problematic kinks as they relate to fantasies of what a non-abusive world might look like. To the victim, this may appear as a tacit justification of their abuse, creating and potentially perpetuating a fantasy world which does not align with the reality of their victimization as well as the victimization of others.

As a word of warning: some hypothetical scenarios will be thrown out which, in a non-fantasy world, are absurd at best or supportive of abusive dynamics at worst. This dysphoria between fantasy and reality, interestingly, is what tends to fuel the kink for some, typically because a horrific characteristic of humanity has been instead twisted and contained to mutate it into a positive environment. Experiencing this knee-jerk feeling of disgust is absolutely okay– you should feel as though these questions are morally bankrupt as they apply to reality. But nonetheless, in this context, this kink can be seen as a corruption kink: instead of turning something from good to evil, you’re corrupting something from evil to good. In a sense, some practitioners of problematic kinks are actually erasing the abusive nature of these coercive power dynamics through the way they choose to express them.

So let’s break down some potential scenarios of this kind of kink exploration:

  • What if consent wasn’t necessary and everyone enjoyed the casualness of sex with strangers?
  • What if incest wasn’t an explicitly abusive dynamic by parents, siblings or relatives, but rather a consensual, careful application of love for the family?
  • What if instead of taking advantage of animals for their inability to communicate consent, not only could they talk, but also explicitly agree to having sex with you?
  • Perhaps most triggering of these kinds of abuse-erasure fantasies, what if children– sexually developed or otherwise– were allowed to not only engage other children and adults in sexual fantasies, but were empowered by strong consent education and a social expectation of their individual personhood to do so?

Every single one of these scenarios, when applied to the real world, is intensely dangerous. If we forewent consent, rape would be rampant. If we allowed incest without any repercussions whatsoever, the dark side of society would go so far as to start treating their children as sex slaves. If we allowed bestiality to flourish, animals of all sorts would be treated like unwitting sex workers, rounded up like some sort of sexual cattle for consumers to peruse. And finally, giving children the power of consent does not take into account their sense of naivete as they grow, which leads them to potential abuse situations. If children are already being preyed upon because of their sexual naivete, why on earth should they be given the power of sexual consent?

But as much disgust as these kinky questions rightfully inspire in us when applied to reality, some performers of these problematic kinks fantasize about the world in a way where its abuses frankly just don’t exist. They fantasize about an ideal utopia where the horrors of these problematic kinks are entirely erased, leaving nothing but a fascinating and pleasurable contradiction: the fantasy– loving and consensual and non-abusive– simply just does not match the reality, which is rife for abusive situations.

Indulging in kinks this way is shared by victims and kinksters alike. Many people indulge in these problematic fantasies simply for the fact of trying to craft a world in their mind where these horrors don’t exist, erasing the existential anxiety the utterly frightening reality presents. Whether or not they are a victim of the subject, it creates a kind of escape from the oppressive horrors of the world, a satisfying situation where a taboo scenario is removed of its highly toxic actions, creating a safe environment of exploration in an otherwise impossible world.

And yet this isn’t entirely positive– in the other direction, what this erasure can do is fundamentally different from the way victims erase their trauma. Erasing the reality of the situation in a kink may very well also be because either the top or bottom may be wishing to find a means of justifying this fantasy as a kind of reality for their future abuses, either as an active or passive participant in said abuses.

Now, this in particular simply relates to fantasy in general– there are vast reasons for us to indulge in any kind of fantasy. And for the most part, this erasure of the victim’s reality can be ultimately positive, turning something wicked into something consensual. But what this has the potential to do is to continue to trivialize the victim’s trauma, reinforcing to them that their trauma is worth trivializing. Trivializing their own trauma is a serious problem in abuse victims.[8] “But he didn’t hit me.” “I was scared to say no, so it wasn’t rape.” “Even though I was underage, I still agreed to do it.” Take caution if you wish to indulge in this fashion– not everyone trivializes things in the same way as the rape victim we interviewed earlier.

Indulgence in Unique Power Dynamics

We will use this section to discuss the power dynamics these problematic kinks present, which involves indulging in parts of the realities which lead to abusive situations in the real world. We will also be explaining the trivialization of abuse as it relates to these dynamics.

As sex is inherently a power dynamic of sorts, sexual scenarios evolve out into this kind of arena. Boss and subordinate. Cop and citizen. Predator and prey. To touch on our problematic kinks: rapist and victim. Father and daughter. Unthinking beast and human. Adult and child.

The common BDSM fantasy power dynamic of “master and slave” comes to mind here. In reality, it is very unlikely you would enjoy being someone’s slave. As humans, for the most part, we want a sense of independence. We want to be able to choose whether or not we do something: whether or not we wish to have this partner or that partner, whether we want to have this job or that job, whether we want to do this or that. In a master and slave relationship, looking to the past, more often than not it was outright human abuse. Yes, stories arose of “positive” slave owners, but nonetheless, they still ultimately controlled the lives of the people they owned. They were just nice. Dogs have the same amount of freedom that slaves did to nice slave owners– which is to say not much at all.

Similar to indulging in abuse-erasure fantasies, what occurs here is an abstraction of the abusive dynamics into a power structure. Instead of living the horror that would be an only daughter living with her abusive, incestuous single father, partners indulging in this sort of power dynamic can use the metaphors of what that abusive power dynamic truly means. For the scenario just mentioned: the daughter is unable to escape her father, for he is her father, making her a kind of “slave” in the end.

The ability to fantasize about a given scenario allows you to cherry-pick the individual pieces of what you wish to play out. And, ultimately, what these power dynamics reduce to– no matter if they’re problematic or just plain kinky– are varying levels of lost control.

Your boss is coercing you into sex or you’re fired. You lost control. The cop will frame you for a horrible crime if you don’t strip down for them. You lost control. You’re being blackmailed into sex. You lost control.

As our anonymous survivor commented, they enjoy getting the control back from their trauma in the form of having the ability to stop the roleplay at any time. Here, there is a desire for a loss of control on the part of the submissive, and a desire for the dominant to take that control from the submissive. As much it would pain the victim of an abuse scenario being fantasized about, all the concepts of abuse and threats of violence from someone you have no control over? Frankly, they’re just window dressing in these kinds of sexual scenarios. While most folks just enjoy calling someone “daddy” and don’t go further than that, some folks like the aspects of realism as it relates to these dynamics, and sort of flirt with the idea of sprinkling in a little abuse here and there– an alcoholic father here, a groping palm there, and pretty soon you have yourself a rather lewd and kinky fantasy.

But the central theme here, just as above, is a trivialization of victimization. Our anonymous survivor even said themselves, one reason they like to indulge in the scenarios which are similar to their trauma is to trivialize what the trauma was. And this trivialization, as we touched on earlier, is a double-edged sword. It is extremely important that this double edge is taken into account when playing out kinks or consuming media for this reason.

Indulgence in the Taboo

As this section discusses taboos, it will evaluate both positive and negative uses of such indulgences. Naturally, this will touch on abusive topics which may trigger the victim frequently.

Another way of looking at the kinks detailed earlier is the sense of these ideas being taboo. It’s never really socially explained why you shouldn’t have sex with your family members (despite the problems we’ve presented numerous times already), you’re just not supposed to. It’s forbidden. Don’t do it. No explanation necessary. It’s “gross,” as it were. Taboo kinks specifically touch on the social boundaries of which we’re not allowed to cross. The dictionary defines a “taboo” as the following:

A social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

Of course, taboo kinks are taboo for some reason or another. Nonetheless, for many folks, indulgence in this mere idea of doing something you’re not supposed to is surprisingly satisfying to some people. That carnal sensation of breaking the rules, of getting away with something you’re not allowed to, despite what sort of consequences may occur.

The problem here isn’t necessarily that the social expectations are being breached to indulge in the kink. Rather, what makes this a gray area is that indulgence in the taboo could mean multiple things. So if one wishes to indulge in the taboo, it’s entirely contextual to ask why one wishes to do so:

  • From the submissive perspective, do you wish to indulge in an incestuous fantasy for the feeling of lost power, or is there an unaddressed sense of having been taken advantage of you may be reliving? From the dominant perspective, do you wish to indulge in an incestuous fantasy for the power dynamics it presents, or do you wish to indulge in taking advantage of a family member?
  • From the submissive perspective, do you wish to indulge in a bestiality fantasy for the loss of control being taken advantage of by an animal represents, or are you wishing to indulge in the fantasy due to a sense of wanting to take advantage of an aroused animal? From the dominant perspective (typically either someone controlling the animal or the animal itself), do you wish to play out the degradation fantasy this entails, or do you too also potentially wish to abuse an animal’s instincts merely for masturbatory purposes?

Of course, the trivialization of abuse in this scenario is rather clear at this point– most of these reasons for indulgence come down to some means of trivialization. But notice how there’s a potential for both abuse victims as well as potential abusers to have pitfalls here. Because these taboos still fall into abusive power dynamics, which is ultimately what makes them problematic, there’s not really any way to decouple their taboo nature from society, not to mention why they’re taboo in the first place. Typically these kinks are illegal to factually perform in the real world because they’re so abusive.

This concludes the gray areas. Be warned. In the next section, there be dragons. I would advise you that if you haven’t come to terms with your trauma and abuse, turn back now.

Negatives of Problematic Kinks

If you’ve gotten this far without getting horrified, I’m delighted. If you’ve simply scrolled down here to provide yourself “more ammo” as it were, I would like to kindly ask you to close this article and rethink what you’re doing. More likely than not, if you came to this section without the intent of understanding the positives or gray areas, you’re likely perpetuating a kind of verbal abuse that can harm victims: kink shaming.[9] This has been happening frequently, and was the entire point of me writing up this article. So if you sincerely don’t wish to do this, you need to scroll right back up to the beginning right this instant to understand why this is harmful.

But regardless of why you’re here, we’re now going to discuss some of the disgusting, downright horrifying aspects of these kinks that more often than not perpetuate abusive dynamics. Buckle up and bring a torch, we’re about to venture into the darkness– starting with the hot-button topic that brought out all this discussion to begin with: cub porn.

Perpetuating and Normalizing Child Sexual Abuse via Media

I’m going to be curt here: this section in particular discusses, sometimes in detail, child sexual abuse. Prepare yourself.

I want to make something extremely clear: I’m making a distinction between roleplay and media as it relates to ageplay and what’s colloquially known as “cub art.” Roleplay is typically between two adults playing out some kind of fantasy. And as we’ve discussed above, perhaps it could be indulging in abusive dynamics, or perhaps it could be simply attempts on the adults’ parts to heal. When it comes to child sexual abuse situations (typically shortened to CSA), media is the ultimate negative. Not the gray area that roleplay represents. But because of the concepts mentioned above, in tandem with its potential for perpetuating abuse, not only does its content need to be contained, but its consumers policed as well. And the problem is that, for the most part, it’s just not fully contained, nor are its potential abusers policed properly. Cub art, in the furry community, ultimately has too much freedom to spread with the potential to simultaneously enable the abusers that come with the content as well as the potential victims hiding in the shadows.

Though before we get into the nitty-gritty of why cub porn perpetuates and normalizes child sexual abuse, we need to address one very, very important aspect: what about the people who are into cub porn for the innocent reasons we discussed before this section? Namely, what about the people who simply appreciate it for its perceived cuteness, for its consensual and overall non-abusive visuals? It may surprise you to understand that, for the most part, people who are into cub porn aren’t always into it for its coercive and abusive dynamics. Some simply like loli and shota, for example, for how adorable the participants appear, regardless of whether or not they’re children in the end. As discussed above, for some consumers of this kind of media, the fact that they’re ultimately children is effectively erased in their mind, making this more of a gray area than anything.

And what about the victims of CSA? Shouldn’t they have some kind of outlet to heal themselves from their abuse in forms other than roleplay? If consuming erotic rape media is helpful to the rape victim we interviewed above, wouldn’t it then follow that a CSA victim would potentially enjoy placing themselves in the same sort of scenario through fictional (and I want to heavily stress here: fictional) media sometimes?

And finally, what of children who grew up healthy and sexual? We define “healthy” in this context as understanding consent issues in a thorough fashion. (This does not mean they can legally consent, which is an extremely important distinction to make in these discussions.) We typically refuse to acknowledge that these situations happen– such as children exploring safely with other children– and thus perhaps they wish to replay some kind of fantasy from those days, wanting to remember fondly on those early days of exploration. This is of course not to say that abuse can’t happen in child-to-child dynamics– they do. Young teenagers sometimes rape younger children.[10]

The unfortunate situation is that, for the most part(?) The consumers of cub porn are innocent. Without the context of the positives and gray-areas mentioned above, this seems absurd and down-right abusive to even state that people who enjoy this content are anything but innocent. But the truth of the matter is that a good majority of the cub community doesn’t want abusers. In fact, did you know that in the cub community there’s been significant push-back toward abusers who exist within their community for a rather long time? I interviewed a major player in the cub community who’s been around a while– you could essentially call them a graymuzzle. On condition of anonymity, they chose to speak to me. Here’s our interview:

Q: So you’ve been involved with major parts of the cub art community for a long time now. This kind of artwork in particular of course has the potential to draw in abusers of all kinds. But I know too that the cub community wants it to be some sort of safe-haven. Can you tell me some of the struggles that arise from trying to keep out abuse?

It tends to mostly come in the form of forum moderation; strong guidelines about content and conversation topics. One thing I’ve noticed dealing with the handful of genuinely abusive people is that sooner or later they tend to out themselves in the hopes of finding more like-minded individuals. When that happens, if it’s discovered, they get shown the door. Zero tolerance for felonious behavior or conversation is pretty typical.

Of course, it can sometimes get a little muddy because a lot of cub art forums and chat groups are also very roleplay heavy, so sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference. While the vast majority of people in the groups that I manage or participate in tend to place themselves in the cub position, there’s always those who want to be the ‘adult’ or ‘older cub’. But even that isn’t indicative of one’s predilections; usually they’re just there because they like looking at cute things.

Q: Right, because there could be a multitude of other reasons to take on that role that aren’t inherently abusive. Does this sort of “hunting” as I suppose you could characterize it come in the form of trying to find other abusive individuals, does it tend to come in the form of fishing for potential victims such as users on the forums who may be misrepresenting their age, or does it come in other forms entirely?

Yeah. They want to roleplay parent, babysitter, whatever, with the understanding that the person on the other side of that screen is also a real adult with adult judgement.

Every forum I’ve ever seen or been a part of, had very strict rules that members be over the age of 18. And not just ‘oh, well, we say it for the look of things’. Every time, if there was any sort of suggestion that a member might be actually underaged, they were k-lined with extreme prejudice. And this was something that was not only policed by moderators; large chunks of the community were also on the lookout, and would be VERY quick to flag them. But this is the risk of adult-oriented internet forums on the whole, really, and anybody who’s run an adult site of any size or form has had to deal with these, along with the users who zeroed in on them.

So I guess it’s a mix. But the handful of times I’ve seen any sort of predatory behavior in public, it’s been fishing for like-minded individuals.

Q: That’s really fascinating. So not only is there a policing aspect to the leadership of the community, but also a sort of self-policing aspect too, wherein members of the community are on the lookout for abusers to oust as well?

Absolutely. Certain people like to poo-poo the idea of a ‘safe space’, but that’s exactly what these are. Predators and minors are both basically threats to the safety of these communities and disrupt the vibe.

But this is the leadership perspective. On the ground, things might look different. So what about the consumers of this content that I was discussing, the innocent ones who simply wish to consume it for, as our interviewee put, “looking at cute content,” as much as the reader may find this kind of content the absolute opposite of cute? I eventually came across someone who rather publicly proclaimed on an After Dark account that they were into cub porn and ageplay.

But before I show you the interview, I need to mention: I went into this interview wary. The entire time I was writing this article, in my head, I could find nothing but negatives about cub porn in general. Ageplay as a kink was totally fine– that’s just a kink. But cub porn? I simply just couldn’t see positives. I just didn’t understand why.

I had been objective about all the other kink expressions prior to this, but for some reason, I simply couldn’t be objective about this in particular. I had an opinion that, no matter how I tried to shape it in my head? I could not be objective. I had nothing but negative things to say– this contrasts greatly from what I eventually wrote down for all this so far, of course. With that in mind, I actually wanted to seek out someone who was into it in some way or another, just to understand: why would someone enjoy something that’s particularly related to such an abusive dynamic?

And again before I show you this interview, you’ll notice that pretty much everyone here is anonymous to protect them. This isn’t to shield people from illegal activity. Rather, this is to shield victims and potential victims. This sort of topic has resulted in so much hateful vitriol that I simply don’t want these people who’ve come forward and trusted me with their stories to receive harassment for coming forward.

So, with that, this interviewee likes cub porn. I asked them why:

Q: What draws you into cub art in general? Is it the taboo nature of it all? Is it the potential for inversion of an abusive dynamic into something affectionate and consensual? Or is it something else entirely?

I’d say it’s a combination of “the potential for inversion of an abusive dynamic into something affectionate and consensual,” and the generally child-like innocence of furry children.

Q: Yeah, understandable, there’s something wholesomely appealing about that sort of innocence. I’m assuming, too, that you probably roleplay these scenarios too, correct? And I know from experience, every ageplayer has their range— that is, there is an age range which they will play, in which going any lower than the lower limit is just not permitted period. This can frankly go all over the place, from refusing to go younger than a mid-teen to even permitting toddlers and infancy. Do you have any particular opinions about specific age ranges? And do you feel there is a certain age you would refuse to play as a child in the dynamic?

I do indeed roleplay some of these scenarios.

My general age range is from six to nine, but it can go higher or lower.

I personally prefer to not go higher than 22 or so, or lower than four, but I am open to most age ranges.

Q: So that comment actually brings up an interesting question. I have never heard ageplay being used in the context of playing of age individuals, even though it completely makes sense. May I ask how old you are?

I’m 25 in real life, soon to be 26, and I reserve my older self for playing certain scenarios where an adult is necessary.

Q: As do I! Sometimes I play the two side-by-side, as a parent/daughter combo. So would you say your childhood was positive, or negative? Age regression is an incredibly useful tool in psychology, and I was wondering if it was here for you too?

I’d say my childhood was fairly positive, with some splashes of negativity here and there, as is the case for many people.

I like to use age regression to relive the days of youthful innocence and occasional youthful naughtiness.

Q: Yeah, I assumed as much! I didn’t want to be too leading, though. So I want to talk about a darker aspect of cub art with you. Not necessarily the rare nonconsensual stuff that does come out, but rather its usage. I’m not being accusatory here, and I cast no judgment if you’re unaware of this, as you seem to prefer a much more positive perspective of the kink, but how do you feel about the potential of cub porn being used to groom potential child sexual abuse victims?

I’ll be honest about this one.

I honestly believe the potential is there, especially with certain pieces and images for pieces and images to be used in this manner.

I do find it abominably disgusting and offensive to the artists of the drawings, but I have not seen or heard of any examples of this happening.

The interview actually kept going, but… it fell apart. Not because I got angry. Not because of some flying emotions going back and forth between me and the interviewee, but… his last comment caused a light bulb to go off in my head: “I have not seen or heard of any examples of this happening.”

Where did I first hear about cub porn? It led me back to a site long before FurAffinity was even a twinkle in Jheryn’s eye. It led me back to my early days in the fandom, when I was young and fresh and had quite literally just attended my first furry conference– the final ConFurence, the ConFurence which the Jimmy Kimmel show decided to crash, since, well, I’m sure we were right down the street from their studios in Burbank.

This question and response made me realize: oh my god, I heard about cub porn years before I turned 18. This led me back to the sexual encounters I had when I was underage, when I was desperately trying to seek out some kind of confirmation that I wasn’t just some ugly kid, that I was deserving of intimacy, that the isolation I experienced from my peers was something I could grow out of, despite the fact that just two years prior I had finally gotten out of eight years of social abuse from my peers at school, but still just couldn’t connect with others for intimate purposes. For the sake of not allowing potential low-key predators to take advantage of these mindsets, I will not go into more details as to what led to my abuse.

That’s when I met someone. Someone who, in private messages after the conference, told me that the man who would eventually be an accomplice to a very vivid abuse event in my life was simply not interested in young girls like I was at the time.

“But that won’t stop me. ;)” he told me over chat. At the time, these words sounded inviting and freeing. Like someone finally saw me, and wanted to be intimate with me. Now these words are forever seared into my mind.

Remember when I said this earlier?

In fact, these are merely the abusers that have been proven to demonstrate some sort of abusive behavior.

I want you to understand something about this. If you don’t have evidence, you cannot, cannot just arbitrarily call someone out based on some sort of hearsay. However, the nature of these situations is that, every so often, an abuser knows how to hide their trail of evidence, and the result is victim-blaming from the community, for there’s no evidence to prove their case. This is how abusers win. This is why victims like myself rarely come out about their abuse.

In fact, this lack of evidence on my part? This lack of evidence on my part is what caused 16 years of questioning myself, 16 years of going absolutely insane trying to deal with my abuses, 16 years of on-and-off suicide attempts over the feeling that this man had turned me, too, into a perpetrator of abuse, particularly fueled by the intense and ignorant condemnation of ageplay and cub porn as kinks. All because I was convinced that what we were doing was not only consensual but also completely okay. This is why women tell you: believe rape victims. If someone comes out as a victim, they’re more often than not coming out about actual abuse. Rarely do false victims come out maliciously against someone– though it does happen.

But I want to reiterate: rarely. People perpetuating false rape accusations are just as abusive as the fantasy rapists they create in their heads to blame and shame some arbitrary victim. Like child abusers, they take advantage of a specific kind of darkness. Namely, the darkness of evidence presented from an abusive situation. Both child molesters and false rape accusers take advantage of the darkness presented by evidence being mostly concentrated in the victim, creating a he-said-she-said scenario. Both abusers take advantage of the scenario in different ways– the child abuser takes advantage of a culture who refuses to acknowledge victimization and educate its children in sexual conduct; the false rape accuser takes advantage of a culture who always believes the victim. When someone comes out as a rape victim, it’s extremely important that you default to believing them, but do proceed with reservation. How and why they come out about their victimization is contextual. Don’t attempt to disprove their accusations, but speak to them like a trauma victim. Because if they are a victim, that’s how they’ll act. I would encourage you to read up on how to speak to a trauma victim.[11]

With that in mind, the reason I’m coming out about my abuse and am going to name my abuser is because of that evidence situation. You may not believe that I have evidence. You may not believe that I can prove my case– and frankly I really can’t, due to all the time that’s passed. But I am now speaking up as a victim, and as someone who also knows other victims of my abuser, and also knows in full detail a series of abuses this man perpetuated in this community and others, under the primary cover of selective victimization.

He has a reputation in Southern California for his propensity for youth– to the point that he apparently moved out of the state. He also had his own trophy page on a site called Perverted Justice. While my abuse was more psychologically coercive rather than physically coercive– a particular favorite of abusers like mine since it helps them not only reduce potential feelings of guilt for their abuse, but additionally creates a victim-guilt scenario that prevents repercussions– my abuser has, in fact, raped other girls like me. And may I mention? The rape victim I interviewed above? They have an entirely different set of abusers than I do, who were also furries. This problem is pervasive in our community, and I can say has been definitively for well over 15 years. We are, in effect, carrying the burden of our paternal society, who experience the same abusive tendencies for the same reasons.

His name is Damien Cole.[12] Southern California graymuzzles will fill in the blanks for you. He has a reputation. Allegedly, he’s still here in the furry community, according to folks I’ve been talking to in the wake of finally unveiling the intense guilt I felt about engaging him to begin with. I told myself it was my fault, over and over again, for 16 years after all this happened. And may I remind you, 16 years was longer than I was even old at the time. And it took me interviewing someone for this article to finally, finally come to terms with my abuse, 16 years later.

If you’ve never heard of cub porn being used to help groom a child into sexual abuse? You do now. I was publishing cub porn stories well before I was legally allowed to consent. It felt bizarrely normal to me, in hindsight. Way too normal, to the point that I just didn’t see how the content was considered abusive period, because hey, I was a sexually active child who had sex with adults, and it seemed fine at the time, surely it’s merely the prudish nature of society and not an abusive dynamic? That’s what I had been taught, after all, by the only person who feigned teaching me anything about sex: a pedophile.

I had absolutely zero context of how those dynamics could be abusive at the time, due to the clever deception by my abusers. It was not until I was well into my 20s before I realized how abusive those dynamics truly were. And it took even longer for me to realize that what I was doing was actually reinforcing my abuse in the way I was playing. This only came to light when I met my kinky mother, who over the span of a year since I met her at Biggest Little FurCon, has been helping me evict my abusive programming from my head. That problematic dynamic that we share is what healed me from my abuse, and gave me the confidence to come forward today, after all these years, about what happened.

While Damien was by no means Patient Zero of my abuses– the Internet helped groom me in ways I am absolutely not comfortable detailing here– he did help fully reinforce in me that all of this was okay, that it was normal, and that all those folks who don’t like us for what we do? Well… they’re just prudes who don’t understand our “special love.”

And like I mentioned, the Internet had primed me well before I ran into Damien. This isn’t just a cub porn issue. There is a sincere reason that child porn is relegated to absolute darkness with intense social and legal repercussions. There is a sincere reason going to prison for child abuse offenses is more often than not a social death sentence. It belongs there for its potential to perpetuate child abuse and normalize it as a kind of “love.”

I can tell you from experience, it is by no means “love,” as much as pedophiles use this argument to convince you to be on their side. They cite examples like myself about how these relationships are actually consensual. When Damien and his partner at the time– an individual distinct from the scout I mentioned earlier, who “wasn’t interested”– had their way with me, the way I was used had very clear masturbatory elements to it. My body was merely a fleshlight for their desires, my mind able to be manipulated and cajoled in such a way that they wouldn’t have to physically coerce me like they did their other victims.

This content is absolutely deserving of the scarlet letter it has received from society, due to its extremely high frequency for child abuse. Whereas cub porn can effectively downplay the abusive dynamics due to it being a fantasy, typically coercing an actual child into these kinds of scenarios for pornographic purposes explicitly takes advantage of the child. With cub porn, there’s technically no victim– until that picture is used to groom a victim like myself.

And that priming of a naive child just trying to explore an aspect of life that absolutely no one in this country wanted to teach me– not my mother, not my father, not my friends, not my peers, and certainly not my educators– eventually led me to one abusive situation after another from being banished by the culture. I was essentially abused by a variety of people in my life for six or seven years after this interaction with this infamous pedophile. I was a stray lamb who was shunned by the flock for years and years of my upbringing, only to eventually stumble across a wolf in the forest who, due to my naivete and isolation, seemed quite friendly. Then after the wolf was done playing with my mind (read: I turned 18), the damage was done, and the feeling of no one wanting me around once more took hold, it put me right back where I started: abused and alone.

This is how the interview wound up ending. I want to note: while I mentioned I was “kind of upset”? I was actually hysterically crying in my office, to the point that my head was throbbing and I had to take a full sedative that I use for anxiety attacks like this, where I normally only take half:

Q: So the reason I bring this up is because it actually does happen as it relates to actual child pornorgaphy.[13] If you read a few paragraphs in on page 108, it cites a study regarding this as early as 1990, and also demonstrates why actually artistic content could potentially be more potent for this sort of abuse than other such things. Having been groomed for this before, and recalling details of my abuse, you may be too young to remember this site, but one of my abusers introduced me to a site called [redacted]. I’m… actually kind of upset that I recall this fact now, but it’s not your fault. I knew I was groomed, but now I know why I was having such a difficult time reasoning with it, because I was additionally groomed with the artwork. Guh. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to ruin your kink or anything, I’m just being honest here.

Ah, I understand.

I admit, [redacted] might be before my time as a Furry, and I have never heard of that site until just now.

While I’m not surprised that it has happened, I believe it’s an unavoidable notion that an artist’s work can be misappropriated in this manner.

I’m sorry that this happened to you, and I’m also sorry if this is bringing up bad memories of your past.

Q: It’s not so bad? I’ve gotten enough therapy over it that it’s not a big deal. And yeah, ultimately, it is unavoidable. Even with as relegated to the darkness as child pornography is, dedicated abusers will hunt it down and weaponize it. So I’m very torn on what to do. Because on the one hand, it’s really useful as a kink device, providing a sense of reliving youth and whatnot, even through the projection of artwork. And yet on the other hand, it can be used as a grooming device. So I’m very torn on what to do about it.

I understand that it is a tough choice on how to handle this type of artwork.

However, I believe that if you are viewing and/or enjoying it on your own terms by yourself or with consenting friends or partners, then nothing bad should come of it.

Q: Sure, I agree.

And I believe this is implied, but these “friends” I mentioned are adults of age.

If that “friend” is underage, then there is a problem.

Note how even in the wake of my discovery, I’m frequently downplaying my victimization? “It’s not a big deal”? Losing 16 years of my life to depression and self-hatred isn’t a big deal? Re-reading this in hindsight of everything, with a clearer head… it’s really impressive how a victim mentality is pervasive in everything you do when you have it.

The conclusion that I ultimately came to in this research– culling from my own abusive experiences, having it come to light that this content was used to groom me in both artwork and writing (no, writing is not safer than artwork, do not believe that fallacy), and interviewing people from all parts of this kind of community– is that, as it exists right now, cub porn has too much freedom in our community. This is why I’ve ultimately declared this situation primarily negative. Walled gardens like InkBunny, with as much of a reputation they tend to receive for essentially being “the cub porn site,” are absolutely the means by which this kink can be created and consumed safely, because the people of the ageplay and cub art community are extremely aware of the kinds of abuse that can persist in their community. And as we demonstrated, there’s active policing in their community for evicting those abusers. Damien Cole was one of those abusers who’s been evicted numerous times from their communities.[14]

This can’t be said of sites like E621, which is simply moderated for their community aspects. They don’t take this abuse dynamic into account when allowing cub porn. I’m unsure if the furry image board lulz.net even outright bans cub art, but due to its propensity for perpetuating abuse in general– and a cub thread that’s currently on the front page– I really doubt it. F-Chan, however, does refuse to permit cub art on even its /ah (alt-hard) board.

The ultimate thing is that people really, really need to be educated on cub porn’s ability to perpetuate abuse in children. Even though the community was split at the time– and because of my grooming, I was not on the administration’s side regarding this issue– I would have to ultimately agree with FurAffinity banning cub porn outright to some degree. While we’ve layed out it’s not the best method, it is an important step in the right direction. As a general furry art community, they need the resources to patrol the whole community, and as a result, can’t dedicate resources to policing something that requires the extremely precise lighting of experienced individuals to patrol properly.

What we need to do for this particular expression of this problematic kink is reduce it to a darkness of people who are extremely experienced with these abusive dynamics. Thus, if we leave this situation up to the cub community at large, I have full confidence that they’ll continue to patrol their community for the abusers which intoxicate their environment. But as it exists right now? Cub porn is much too free in this community. And that freedom allows people like Damien to prey on young children, to feed them little bits and pieces of data that remind them that either their ongoing abuse or their future abuse is absolutely normal.

You may be asking yourself: if this content in particular has been weaponized to victimize me, why am I not arguing for its outright banishment? Because it has its utility to assist victims like myself, even if I realized what happened to me was wrong and stopped consuming it for those reasons. Not to mention, regardless of how not-innocent the reality of the kink is, a good majority of the artists and consumers of this content are innocent in one way or another. Rarely, cub artists get caught either referencing actual child porn or even outright tracing child porn, but it does happen, and as our cub community interviewee said, when this is discovered, they are immediately shown the door.

This is what makes Adam Wan’s situation so incredibly troublesome– were he a more active member of the cub art community, it’s very likely that he would have been shown the door for his behavior with using sexualized “safe-for-work” photos of children, because as we demonstrated, that kind of behavior is a major threat to the cub community. If you recall how my abuser has been skirting the law for a significant time, it may send chills down your spine to understand that Adam Wan was accused of coercive sex with a woman a long time ago, thanks to the whole “YiffyLeaks” hooplah. It is not cited here to protect Adam Wan’s victim. Needless to say, FurAffinity leadership was pretty dismissive, saying that naming her abuser would “start drama,” essentially.

If we leave the management of cub art up to the cub art community, rather than allowing it to flourish merely because “it’s just another kink,” we can protect our vulnerable budding cubs from these vicious predators that exist all throughout the community, all the way from leadership (the accomplice I mentioned helped start CaliFur, not to mention the prior abuse-accepting behavior of leadership mentioned in the citation above) to artists (Adam Wan and Frank Gembeck) to its general members (William Shaw).

The truth of the matter is cub art is not just another kink. Ageplay is, certainly, with regards to its roleplay, but cub art in particular is a very special case. It is fraught with abuse merely by its media’s existence in combination with the lack of sexual education our society provides its children. This is not a characteristic shared by other problematic kinks.

But another truth to the matter is that just merely hiding this content in the darkness won’t fully protect children, either. A much larger fight– namely, educating children about sex when they’re old enough to understand– needs to be performed. As furries, we’re a small enough community that we can do this with the children we’re raising here. Nonetheless, if a refusal to sexually educate me coupled with an intense desire to learn about sex is what led to my abuse, with as intelligent as I am, then certainly there are other children out there who are potential victims for this sort of behavior. Please educate your children regarding sexual conduct. Please don’t fear the “awkwardness” of the conversation. What you teach your children about sex today could very well save them pain, anguish and even suicide if they make a mistake in trusting someone who takes advantage of their ignorance later on in life.

Frankly, though? This content in particular, because of its ability to be used as an abuse tool– unlike rape and bestiality, which merely trivialize the abuse dynamics, making them more a gray area that potentially lead to abuse– is really the only thing explicitly negative about these expressions of these kinks, because the content has the capability of being used to tell children that it’s perfectly okay for them to engage in sexual relations with an adult who’s likely well aware of their ignorance toward sexual power dynamics.

Arguably one could make the same kind of argument for incestuous artwork, but really only if it involves children. While there’s certainly a potential abuse dynamic for incestuous artwork, if the content explicitly depicts adults, there isn’t that potential for projection on the child’s part to see themselves in the content. If the content contains children, however, it needs to be relegated to the darkness. I would essentially argue that for all other types of content, some kind of opt-in barrier should be implemented to prevent retriggering of abuses by victims known or unknown.

Cub art should not have this opt-in barrier– it absolutely needs to be controlled, maintained and policed by its own community in particular due to its propensity for attracting abusive individuals to the kink. It cannot be publicly accessible. And since incestuous artwork has a tendency to sometimes pair hand-in-hand with cub artwork, the same rules should apply when children are involved.

Conclusions

We’ve ultimately broken down what makes these kinks appealing– from the positives of victimization rewriting in the mind to the strange gray-areas that make the abusive control dynamics not only appealing but additionally potentially fueling further abuses. We also broke down what can be done with regards to detecting potential abuses in either yourself or within your partner– namely in how one plays out these kinks. We ultimately concluded with the hot-button issue of cub porn, putting into great detail how the various players of the community function, how its consumers are for the most part innocents, and additionally how its abusers are both rare and evicted from those communities in general for their predilections for predatory behavior.

With the exception of outright rape, which can be applied to any scenario, people need to be educated in particular with regards to how consent works– especially from an early age. As much as parts of our community wishes it were true, animals can not consent to sex.[15] Body language, as much as it may appear as consent, is not explicit consent from an animal, making any act of bestiality regardless of body-language a technical act of rape. It is additionally not consent from a person.

And believe me, while I didn’t reach out to any zoophiles for this article in particular, I have spoken to zoophiles who for example have horse ranches. They’ve told me how explicitly sexual their animals can be. Nonetheless, because animals can’t communicate with us verbally– and I know how much some zoophiles will get upset with this comment– they cannot consent. And if they cannot consent, like children technically can’t due to their lack of education on the matter, then what they’re doing is explicitly nonconsensual.

One may potentially be able to argue that maybe bestiality content like writing and artwork has the same kind of negativity associated with cub art, but this sort of falls apart when one understands that the grooming process for children involves psychologically manipulating them with that content. The same can’t really be said of animals, meaning all the influence for playing out these abusive dynamics lies entirely within the potential abuser who may find themselves inspired by the victimless fantasy.

This lack of consent education is what fuels many of these coercive scenarios: incest, bestiality and CSA victims alike. With consent education regarding sexual encounters, many potential victims can be given tools to identify predatory behavior and avoid it where they can. Of course, this is not the only stop-gap measure– because of the simultaneous utility of cub porn, for example, as a grooming tool for CSA as well as a victim’s healing tool, it absolutely needs to be policed in a community that understands it best. Perhaps this would be useful, for example, for other types of content of this variety, such as rape, incest and bestiality, since they trivialize the abusive nature of the kinks they represent.

Either way, a walled garden approach to problematic kinks is a step in the right direction. It allows for safe discussions of these kinks in environments policed by personalities who know it best– so long as those policing the communities aren’t abusers themselves. It also allows the people who enjoy these kinks to indulge in safe ways, to communicate and discuss with others what makes their problematic kinks so enjoyable.

The ultimate issue is a need for education within our community to properly understand just what drives people to do what they do, and what drives people to enjoy the things they do as well. Some folks just simply enjoy the controlled fantasy of being abused temporarily. But some folks live it and can’t escape that reality.

And then there are the people we’re all trying to evict in this article: the abusers. Hopefully I’ve given you the tools you need to help us all effectively remove them from our community.

Maybelle Redmond has been in the furry community for somewhere between 15 and 20 years. She speaks primarily from the perspective of having experienced child sexual abuse within the furry community.

[1]      https://www.google.com/search?q=problematic+kinks Note how the absolute majority of a simple search for “problematic kinks” primarily brings up discussions of whether they’re good or bad, rather than a definition.

[2]      https://medium.com/@jettarae/the-feminists-guide-to-why-every-kink-is-bad-3b0773e041a8

[3]      http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/DiveFox#Judge_Mathis

[4]      http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Frank_Gembeck#Controversy

[5]      http://dogpatch.press/2018/03/09/the-zaush-issue/

[6]      http://kinkipedia.wikidot.com/wiki:consensual-non-consent

[7]      https://drmargaretrutherford.com/the-shame-no-one-talks-about-in-sexual-abuse/

[8]      http://nordic.businessinsider.com/this-phrase-downplays-abuse-in-relationships-heres-why-its-so-damaging-2017-10/

[9]      https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=kinkshaming

[10]     http://www.fox19.com/story/16981231/teen-who-raped-5-year-old-girl-sentenced-to-in-patient-program

[11]      http://phoenixaustralia.org/recovery/helping-others/

[12]      https://www.dailynews.com/2007/09/30/outed-pedophile-leaves-mt-sac/

[13]      https://books.google.com/books?id=uL2sAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA108#v=onepage&q&f=false

[14]      http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/The_Astonishing_Treehouse_of_the_Secret_Moon#Disputed_changes_of_ownership

[15]      https://naturallifemanship.com/can-animals-consent/

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Categories: News

FurAffinity updates Code of Conduct, backlash by hate groups promoted by 2 Gryphon

Tue 29 May 2018 - 10:00

IN THIS ARTICLE: FurAffinity bans hate groups – click through the Twitter threads to see many screenshots of what they were promoting. 

The true story of FurAffinity account bans

Furry art is full of cute, cuddly cartoons. Many FurAffinity users wanted to know – why was the site being used for hate imagery? If the art has to be edgy, couldn’t they just stick to good old-fashioned Hyper Diaper Pokemon Porn or whatever? At least sex is positive and life-affirming.

On the site and on Twitter, protest rose against activity that seemed to violate the Code of Conduct, while complaints were being dismissed by site staff. The CoC looked toothless because promotion of hate groups was excused with an exception for “fictional” activity.

What furry stuff ISN’T fictional? And depicting hate imagery in a positive light IS promotion. That’s part of the history of propaganda. And making excuses that it’s just historical interest reminds me of when I used to sell rare books at an antique mall; let’s be honest here, that chicken-necked skinhead with a swastika on his elbow wasn’t visiting that creepy dealer down the lane just for memorabilia. (His money was no good to me.)

During the protesting, FurAffinity users openly claiming to be alt-right trolls were gloating about driving traffic from the site and taunting those who left. That’s like getting acquitted for a hate crime and then mooning the judge. Sometimes nazis dress to impress, but nobody ever accuses them of being smart.

The dumpster fire kept burning until the complaints started tagging FurAffinity’s corporate owner IMVU. Perhaps they got worried about their anime-eyed avatars being the lesser evil on the site.

Soon the Code of Conduct was updated, and dozens of accounts went dark. It seemed to follow a precedent set a few months earlier when Discord Inc. flushed many of the same assholes and their alt-right servers down the drain.

Reactions included anger about indiscriminate punishment. But trolls never take their medicine, and evidence was less than compelling in some cases. I was asked to help a user who posted screenshots of accounts that they claimed were unfairly banned, but I recognized one as a troll for the Furry Raiders who may have been an admin for a group page that was also taken down. Bans for linked IP’s or plain bad behavior are nonpolitical too. Since appeals go through a closed process (which isn’t surprising for security concerns,) a handful of exceptions is hard to call a trend.

Bans of known assholes won community support with thousands of likes. Each like was a richly deserved spanking for the trolls who earned it.

We have updated Fur Affinity's Code of Conduct policy regarding hate hroups. For more information on the change please see our announcement here:https://t.co/0WeAKXSyN2

— Fur Affinity (@furaffinity) May 15, 2018

FUCK YEAH
GO FURAFFINITY !!!

THEY'RE BANNING THE NAZIFURS!!! pic.twitter.com/S5HrVB3MeM

— Deo (@DeoTasDevil) May 15, 2018

Hey guys, I'm excited about this positive action. 2.7 of the CoC is a great way for Fur Affinity to protect our community and grow as a social media and art site.

— Deo (@DeoTasDevil) May 15, 2018

TIL being against people who are racist, sexist, against LGBT, promote hate makes me a tyrant. To that, I say nay nay! Free speech is a wonderful thing and I fully respect it... but hate speech has no place in our community. It doesn't deserve to be heard. https://t.co/FsWmY9ql3r

— Dragoneer (@Dragoneer) May 20, 2018

I fully expected I might be doxed before I took the action we did. And you know what? I don't regret it. =3 Thanks for showing me I wasn't wrong about you, Alt-Furry. pic.twitter.com/wISNCk8Vlt

— Dragoneer (@Dragoneer) May 20, 2018

They sure are Not Mad at me for reporting this! 

Regular readers know that I’ve been outspoken for a long time about hate groups trying to invade fandom.  It started before Rocky Mountain Fur Con closed in 2017, because the Furry Raiders exploited favor with the CEO to abuse hospitality, and the con wouldn’t listen to community protest.  Threatening a critic is how they made more people speak up louder.

But if Furaffinity was just throwing a bone to a few yappy dogs, that would have happened ages ago. The community spoke and they didn’t ignore it this time.

MURRhurrhurr! #dogpatchruinseverything pic.twitter.com/CkOoWj8KAL

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 17, 2018

Me and @dragoneer are also building a treehouse together #dogpatchruinseverything pic.twitter.com/HLLPHT4mSE

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 18, 2018

I can confirm with this very legit photo that is totally not a drawing that I think is hanging on the fridge worthy pic.twitter.com/TaO7cyVQgG

— 4ever tired (@Sivi_Rabbynx) May 18, 2018

Alt-furry backlash (by less than 1% of the fandom)

Never ones to quit while they’re ahead, alt-furries have been trying to inflate their small following into a sham “half the fandom” backlash. (I’m not kinkshaming inflation, just the genocide and stupidity.) Why it’s a sham: 1) Fandom population is probably a million and growing, but alt-furries hit a ceiling of a few hundred. 2) They can’t hide the hate.

One tactic they’re now using is distancing themselves from the racist “alt-right” label, to rebrand as regular conservatives, sham centrists or “diverse”. Of course if you’re a regular conservative, or have enough intelligence to tie your own shoes, you probably don’t want that kind of stink near your fursona.

Another tactic is to turn up the volume, and ride the tails of “popufurs”. Only one was that desperate for attention: a has-been comedian whose shock routine went stale long ago. (That’s the unbiased truth because 2 Gryphon’s disgraced career was already reported that way long before he had the brilliant idea to join a hate group, instead of working on better jokes to get ahead.)

And that game is to make people in the fandom think that the net is being cast too wide and that people who don't "deserve" to be pushed out of the fandom are suffering.

QuQu and everyone else in that chatroom knows "the truth" is that altfurry IS a paraiah group.

????️‍???? VƎX is a Satyr ????️‍???? (@andreuswolf) May 21, 2018

2 Gryphon tries to raise his fallen star

Couldn’t he have just turned into a Juggalo or something? He could have hung out with Vanilla Ice and recuperated his career for a whole new fandom. Of course, the Juggalos’ underground energy made them the second most surprising subculture beside furries to rise against racism. Imagine him getting run off the stage in a cartoon whirlwind of Faygo-powered clown rage. But more likely he’d just get shot out of a cannon for being too boring, flaming out like a racist comet with a tail of broken dreams and inadequacy.

2 Gryphon joined the alt-furry chat and promised to promote them, after months of marinating in their hate speech like a duck in water. (A milkshake duck). He excused it as curiosity. Of course the Nazi-Curious Investigative Comedian was already a member of the Nazifurs livejournal for about 15 years. How long could it take to find out what they are? (These ones can’t stay unracist for 15 consecutive posts.)

In his resulting promotion for alt-furry, he lied to the face of the entire fandom about what was in the chat. If it looks like a duck… Just ignore all those quacking noises.

Below are Twitter threads full of screencaps from his goose-stepping pals. You can clearly see everything he denies in them, like over 1,000 hits for the n-word:

2 Gryphon is specifically and of his own volition actively promoting white supremacists now.https://t.co/71tWMzsX3z

????️‍???? VƎX is a Satyr ????️‍???? (@andreuswolf) May 17, 2018

@2_gryphon in the altfurry Telegram chat, notice dates and amount of search hits pic.twitter.com/kkoLWtXgbe

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 17, 2018

Lol 2 said he was going to "make a video" about the group he's in that's run by the guy that literally made the Furred Reich and so to get more content he's lowballing questions to them that they can easily deflect and they can't even not be racist long enough to do that much. pic.twitter.com/l0FpiFSVbf

— bad syndrome (@nuII_dog) May 18, 2018

Update: here's how 2 will excuse this in his upcoming video. "See, I told them I don't like potty words, after legitimizing and enabling the hate for months. I lent them my fading fanbase and literally became their PR department in their own words, it was investigative 'comedy'" pic.twitter.com/1BYaY6MfGf

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 17, 2018

????
"(2Gryphon)... is literally running our PR department right now" - TheFurredReich, the guy that said this stuff https://t.co/4wfEXo1td3

— Ed "Tedious" Bear (@That_Edward) May 17, 2018

Tripling down

More chat screens: (Thread 1) Alt-furries treat themselves to a triple fudge sundae of Gamergate, pedophilia and doxing.

(Thread 2) Complaints about being “dehumanized” – because rejecting people for saying the Holocaust never happened makes YOU the real nazi!

(Thread 3) If someone should challenge one of the most documented events in history like the Holocaust, ask the edgy teens in a fringe chat room, right?

(UPDATE) adding two threads of anti-gay hate and more duplicity from 2 Gryphon, showing that if you can think of something civil people don’t do, they’ll do it. Maybe someone should announce a ban on punching yourself in the face.

Altfurry deserves less and less attention with Discord, FA, and cons taking real action about hate groups.

But it's wonderfully absurd to see them pose as "real" fandom for g@mergater doxers, while they sell out the fake concern for kids they claimed while attacking Califur. pic.twitter.com/SkZasntkta

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 21, 2018

I love the talking animal fandom. It's tiresome to keep exposing nasty things from the shadows of it, but it's good to seal in action against hate groups by Discord, FurAffinity and more.

Everything bad you hear about them is true. Let me show you their chat today. (Thread)

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 23, 2018

"Hey watcha talkin' about in the altfurry chat?"

"Oh nothing, just a little Holocaust denial"

Sorry guys, so sorry for putting this slime in your feed instead of happy animal friends. But can't let them deny this too. Right @2_gryphon? (Thread for article) pic.twitter.com/aLU5cjbjeZ

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 26, 2018

Two-faced hate groups (like altfurry) make a game of playing bullies and victims at the same time. It's a line-straddling, now-you-see-it, now-you-don't peekaboo game. If everything is "true" nothing can be a lie.

When they show the hate, hold them to it the first time. (Thread) pic.twitter.com/S1TfMtUuro

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 25, 2018

"Hi, I'm @2_Gryphon. Rejecting people who compare black people to inhuman criminals makes YOU the real nazi!"

When they play 2-faced victims and bullies at the same time, always point at the other face and hold them to it.

What real furry scapegoats an entire dog breed? pic.twitter.com/7FfzxoSsl6

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 30, 2018

Up Shit Creek

There’s a cost to proving that they’ll go any distance to be assholes. After a while, there’s no turning back, because everyone’s seen it and nobody’s buying the excuses. Then they’re stuck in the routine.

That leads them to blame you for making them that way, instead of their own deficit of self-reflection, foresight, vision, panache, or ability to even order a pizza without making it racist somehow. And they want payback, but it only costs them more.

Will they ever get out of this cycle of failure? It’s like they chose that one cart at the grocery store with a wheel jammed up with gummy bears (Jews did it, of course) and they refuse to pick another. Speaking of failure to learn, alt-furries got kicked off of Discord – again!

How about leeching on to other popufurs for help, or getting outside mercenaries? They wanted Dreamkeepers to do trolling for them, and rang Breitbart’s bell:

Nice big update on here, @XydexxUnicorn @ionotter @andreuswolf @ReadingRidley @pyrostinger @FuzzWolf @SYXG98 @Inkblitzer @EbonyGorilla@ArcticFletcher @Selenethoa https://t.co/mIgjxgwmyA

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 22, 2018

Altfurries are now reduced to sniveling for attention outside of fandom to Breitbart, who mocks them as crazy lonely perverts (and not the good kind, LOL): https://t.co/7v2XrFaoMY Let there be no doubt they were always here to cause grief with bad media. https://t.co/UvcTN92CVv

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 20, 2018

2 Gryphon’s propaganda video – the joke is that he’s serious

Below is a small sample of lengthy apologism for worthless hate speech. You can look it up for the rest. But do you hate yourself enough to hear more than that quavery Eric Cartman voice at the end? This stuff is to an informed mind like used gum is to a shoe.

Notice how he acts wounded about a totally unexpected disinvitation to Eurofurence. It reminds me of a cartoon character trying to light dynamite and holding it up to his face to see why it didn’t go off. BOOM! Who could have guessed that a mouthpiece for Holocaust deniers might be unwelcome in Germany?

Speaking of worthless hate speech, the truth is that arguing about “free speech” is beside the point. It’s not about can you, it’s about should you. What’s the content? They act like just because their lips are moving, something worthy must be coming out – but when it’s willfully toxic, it’s like saying that since we all need to relieve ourselves sometimes, they can go right in the middle of the floor. Grown-ups can be expected to mind their poo-poo or go elsewhere if they don’t. And that’s not tyranny of a nanny state (which they seem to be thirsty for at this point.)

Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance is about freedom that enables it’s own ruin, whether it’s for a society, a fandom, or just a stage show at Eurofurence. [Insert the “You Played Yourself” meme.] Behold – here’s the living, mouth-breathing, hurf-durfing personification of the paradox:

Analysis of @2_gryphon 's Alt-Right defence video.

TL;DR:
"Alt-furries exist because of lefties"
"Muh free speech"
"How dare you deplatform me at PRIVATE events"
"Alt-furries are actually left-wing (wut?)"
"Alt-furs are basiclaly jewish people during the holocaust" https://t.co/J5rtCdUy9b

????️‍???? That Pink Snep ????️‍???? (@HugoThePinkCat) May 23, 2018

Check the ratio. Good decision @eurofurence pic.twitter.com/2urY47l7AU

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 19, 2018

pic.twitter.com/Ltwck6lwBH

— Archantael ????️‍???? Author ????????????golin-Fox (@phoenixtheblade) May 17, 2018

Stop the hate, spread the love

People claim that this kind of drama is dragging down furry fandom. It’s not. Whenever media presents furries opposing hate, it’s bringing good attention about cleaning house and being a leading example for other fandoms for how to handle their Least Valuable Players.

And despite a few bad apples and the worms who enable them, furries are good-natured to begin with.

Meet Emma the Tiger – A Showcase of Fandom Love from BLFC 2018 https://t.co/MeYXNgZFiQ pic.twitter.com/30h0dQMrOh

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 16, 2018

Sure.@FoxAmoore and @peppercoyote are doing awesome music. @BoozyBadger and @QuotationMarkBB are examplea of people drawn into Furry because of our positive traits. @DogpatchPress does good fandom journalism. @FurryPinas just got like 1.8k attendees in the Philippines.

— Summercat the Furry Librarian (@Bengaley) May 24, 2018

Just because you’re noticing drama, that doesn’t mean it’s bad or unproductive. It’s clearly setting forth challenges while fandom gets better and better, with rising con attendance, high profile members winning awards in Esports, increasingly friendly mainstream news and much more.

If you ever hear "the fandom is dead/torn apart/on fire/full of plague and evil" check this out. It's better than ever.https://t.co/dYK9QbJqxl

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 22, 2018

Don’t just reject haters, support good examples too and welcome nice newcomers who are finding fandom and trying things for the first time.

@DeoTasDevil @DogpatchPress Question. In light of everything that's been going on, do you guys know of any funny fur comedians? I feel like just taking them and promoting the hell out of so we can put a spotlight on some good potential

— TheHoodedDragon (@TheHoodedDraco) May 18, 2018

Hi! Sorry to burst in here but @isaacapandogist and I are non-racist, non-sexist, and perhaps most importantly, actively anti-nazi professional comedians working here in Chicago!https://t.co/HLAE2GmN3c :3

— Tiller, but very queer (@_thp) May 18, 2018

See also @Poker_Wolf1 @CitrineHusky @PandezPanda and Chris the comedy bunny! We all tour most of the Midwest cons! There are lots of good friendly funny furs out there!

— Jakebunny (@jakebunny) May 18, 2018

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Discover the best of furry fandom with the 2017 Ursa Major awards, and 2017 Cóyotl Awards.

Mon 28 May 2018 - 10:20
Thank you for helping Dogpatch Press to win the Ursa Major Award for Best Magazine of 2017!

 

Ever have a hard time knowing where to start with furry media? Does the horizon get lost in the digital sands?

Look no further than the Ursa Major Awards.  That’s the Furry equivalent of science fiction fandom’s Hugo Awards, mystery fandom’s Anthony Awards, or horror fandom’s Bram Stoker Awards. The Hugos also have the Nebulas to  complement them – and Furry has the Coyotl Awards for literature, as voted by the Furry Writers’ Guild. That’s not all – furry literature will also soon have the first Leo Awards, to be announced at AC 2018. (What’s the difference? The Leos are fandom-specific and voted on by a panel of judges.) The Ursa and Coyotl winners were both announced this month, so they’re all listed below to encourage you to check out some cool stuff you might not have seen.

URSA MAJOR NEWS

The winners for 2017 were announced at a presentation ceremony at the Furry Down-Under 2018 convention in Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday May 5.  FurDu posted a video of the ceremony including a slide show created by Ed Otter:

There was a lot of talk about it here before they were announced. Fred Patten saw growth in activities like fursuiting competing for attention with fan media, while maybe the awards could use a boost for reach after lower voting this year than in the past. A lack of staffing and funding led to appeals for help, while Anthrocon began offering matching donation to support writers. For 2019, the Awards will be presented at AnthrOhio.

Here’s a few things that stood out about the winners:

I am actively amazed that Bojack Horseman did not get nominated. Critics have been going bananas for it — and, from what I’ve seen, they really did have one heck of a season. – Rod O’Riley (Awards co founder)

The nonfiction category had a strong list. Congrats to Joe Strike for winning for Furry Nation, the first published history of fandom. And the Best Dramatic Series or Short category had a mainstream production made by furries (it’s a story behind the scenes I can’t tell!)

Dogpatch Press won Best Magazine with a voting score of 450 in comparison to Flayrah’s 301, according to Dronon. It shouldn’t be that hard to muster up a few hundred votes with all the furries in the world needing news. If I had a few extra paws to type with, I’d even help post guest articles over there.

Winners are on the Ursa Majors site: http://www.ursamajorawards.org/UMA_2017.htm 

Best Motion Picture

Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

Best Dramatic Series or Short Work

TV series or one-shots, advertisements or short videos.

Best Novel

Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

Best Short Fiction

Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short written works.

Best Non-Fiction Work

Includes art books, documentaries, opinion pieces, and news articles.

Best Other Literary Work

Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, and serialized online stories.

Best Graphic Story

Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

Best Comic Strip

Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

  • WON: Housepets!, by Rick Griffin (Internet; January 2 to December 29)
  • DreamKeepers Prelude, by David & Liz Lillie (Internet; January 6 [#350] to December 28 [#393])
  • Freefall, by Mark Stanley (Internet; January 2 to December 29)
  • Carry On, by Kathy Garrison Kellogg (Internet; January 1 to December 29)
  • Doc Rat, by Jenner (Internet; January 4 to December 29)
Best Magazine

Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

Best Published Illustration

Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

Best Game

Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

  • WON: Night in the Woods (Developer: Infinite Fall, Publisher: Finji; February 21)
  • Cuphead (Developer and Publisher: StudioMDHR Entertainment; September 29)
  • Star Fox 2 (Developer: Nintendo and Argonaut Games, Publisher: Nintendo; September 29)
  • Sonic Mania (Developer: PagodaWest Games and Headcannon, Publisher: Sega; August 15)
  • Yooka-Laylee (Developers: Playtonic Games; April 11)
Best Website

Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

The Cóyotl Awards for excellence in anthropomorphic literature are voted on by members of the Furry Writers’ Guild. On May 25, the 2017 winners were announced at Furlandia 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

Best Novel Best Novella Best Short Story Best Anthology

If you’re looking for something good to read or watch, why not try out one of these right now? And let the creator know you just bought checked out their work (and mention this article.) Thanks to everyone who votes and makes furry the fandom that makes it’s own media, and congratulations to all the winners!

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

Fri 25 May 2018 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $11.99 (301 [+ 1] pages).

Small World is Luterman’s The Kanti Cycle, Book 2. Book 1 is Skeleton Crew. Luterman says here that The Kanti Cycle is a trilogy, to be completed in Book 3, Fair Trade.

Skeleton Crew seemed to end with a definite conclusion, but Small World continues the plot in a new direction.

Skeleton Crew is set on the generation exploratory starship White Flower II, populated entirely by 10,000 furry geroo and one giant dragonlike krakun, Commissioner Sarsuk. The protagonist is Kanti, one of the geroo.

400 years ago, the krakun came to the overpopulated primitive world Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of geroo as their starship crews. The geroo who went into space and their descendants would never see Gerootec again, but they would live in luxury compared to the backward geroo on their homeworld. After 400 years, the geroo are asking if the krakun are their employers or their slavemasters. The White Flower II would be a paradise for the geroo, if it weren’t for the krakun’s cruelly arbitrary representative, Commissioner Sarsuk. It doesn’t help that Commissioner Sarsuk openly refers to them as slaves. In Skeleton Crew, matters build to a flash point, but Kanti, a lowly deckhand, maneuvers Sarsuk into seriously injuring himself before he can slaughter any geroo. The Kanti Cycle, Book 1 ends with Sarsuk returning to the krakun homeworld to recuperate, leaving the geroo on the White Flower II in peace — for awhile.

Small World begins with Sarsuk returning to the starship. He’s not happy, and he’s going to make as many people suffer as he can.

“‘On my shuttle you will find a cage. Fill it.’ Commissioner Sarsuk clipped his strand back onto his necklace. ‘I know that you love to agonize over choices, trying to make the perfect decision. So in the infinite compassion that I have for you –’ He rolled his eyes. ‘—I am giving you some extra time.’

‘Fill … a cage …’ the captain said quietly. ‘With?’

Sarsuk crossed his arms and leaned on his elbows so he could comfortably lower his face down to Ateri’s level. ‘You’re smart. At least you always act that way. What do you think? What’s the one thing on board this ship that has any utility at all?’

[…]

‘My crew?’

‘Fifty slaves should do, Ateri,’ Sarsuk said. ‘I had a ringel cleaning crew previously, but I can’t see any reason to buy more of them. Fifty geroo would be a nice perk considering how much I’ve had to endure for the company recently,’ he added, his eyes filling with self-pity.” (pgs. 4-5)

The blurb summarizes the setup: “The commissioner accidentally let his last cleaning crew starve to death, so now Kanti and forty-nine of his teammates will have to spend the rest of their lives living in a one room barracks with only a single airlock protecting them all from the planet’s poisonous atmosphere.”

Kanti and forty-nine fellow geroo are taken from their vast starship and brought to Commissioner Sarsuk’s home on Krakuntec to become the permanent cleaning crew for his apartment. The huge krakuns’ planet has a corrosively sulfurous atmosphere that would be instantly fatal to other species, so they are given one room of the apartment with their own atmosphere to live in. Theoretically, anyhow.

“Kanti studied the display next to the airlock. ‘The interior status is in the blue,’ he said.

‘So it’s safe for us to go in,’ Saquel proclaimed.

‘Not so fast,’ Kanti said, grabbing Saquel’s arm. ‘The air is safe for someone to breathe, but not necessarily geroo.’

The big male turned to face him, looming over the scruffy, junior engineer. ‘What are you saying?’

‘Well, what species did the commissioner use as his last cleaning crew?’ The other three shrugged. ‘We should presume that the systems haven’t been configured for geroo yet. Just look at the text on this display – it’s not geroo or krakun.   I can’t read any of this. This blue indicator means that it’s safe for them to breathe, but what about us?’” (p. 75)

They are expected to emerge in sealed environment suits at night when the Commissioner is asleep, to clean his huge home – for the rest of their lives.

“‘Practicality is important,’ said Kanti. ‘It’s not hard to imagine what would happen fifty years from now if the air processor breaks down and no one knows how to fix it. But I think we need to preserve our culture too. What if, in a few generations, no one even remembers that we used to live on a star ship? That we still have cousins out there, somewhere, traveling between the stars? What’s the value in our continued existence, if we lose everything we once had?’” (p. 255)

Of course, things get more complicated than that. But as with Skeleton Crew, it’s impossible to go into more detail without giving away major spoilers. Life for Kanti becomes even more dangerous than he expects, with an unexpected menace within the geroo crew itself, and unknown allies – maybe – that nobody knows about.

“He closed his eyes, his head drooping. ‘Tasty Frooties, Tasty Frooties,’ he whispered idly. It sounded so familiar, like something that the commissioner bought.

His eyes popped open, as the realization hit him. He was inside a plastic bag. He had dragged giant, discarded bags like this one to the recycler chute – clear, plastic bags that Sarsuk had tossed to the floor after he had eaten all of his Tasty Frooties.

‘Hello?’ Kanti rasped again. ‘Why am I in a plastic bag?’” (p. 282)

Unlike Skeleton Crew, Small World does end on a cliffhanger. It is actually the first half of a single novel. The last half is The Kanti Cycle, Book 3, Fair Trade, coming soon.

Cover Art by Rick Griffin

Small World (cover by Rick Griffin) is hard-science s-f; it’s a tense mystery; and it’s furry and scaly — and more. It has unexpected surprises every few pages. Get it.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News