Investigation continues – October 2018
Last month, furry fandom took a very dark turn. Zoosadism leaks: possibly the worst story to ever hit fandom was a mere introduction to the exposure of hidden networks for abuse and even snuff porn of animals.
The impact of it kicked up murky clouds of misinformation. After the shock, there was the usual speculation that comes with lesser dramas that usually die out in a week or two. There was smokescreening to hide evil that shocked even the most shady corners of the internet. There was rubbernecking, shit-stirring, evidence-tainting, and penny-chasing for views. And beneath it all was natural confusion. The ongoing story still defies explanation after a month, but on the good side, there’s significant work behind the scenes. That should have been done from the start to avoid a botched mess. Most of that work is for future updates. This update is mostly about public awareness.
One thing needs saying up front: you can definitely judge before a court does. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard to constrain government, not common sense about the evidence. There’s different standards between criminal court, civil court and society. (For example you don’t get a trial about fitness for employment, election, or safety with kids or animals.) Remember names like Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, or OJ Simpson, and let a lawyer explain:
"Guilty" and "Innocent" are both legal terms and terms with common meanings outside of the law.
In the legal aspect they require proof beyond a reasonable doubt and a determination of guilt from a trier of fact.
In the common usage, they do not. /1
It’s not just about Kero, but apologism for Kero is the most obvious obstacle to progress.
If you followed so far and understand the evidence, then the name Kero may fill you with disgust and rage. Kero is a Youtuber exposed as a secret animal abuse fetishist, whose complicity got outsized notice due to his 100,000+ subscribers.
Kero had opportunity to own up or shut up. He didn’t. In the most self-serving way, he responded with cherrypicked and inconsistent denials, to brush this under the rug and keep his following, manipulate them to shield him, and even capitalize on notoriety built on puppy killing. I’ve never labeled anything obscene in my life, but making money from this is nothing less than obscene. Of course the info wasn’t leaked to target Kero and there’s a roster of worse offenders to account for. But his failure to at least relieve everyone from apologist bullshit makes him a poster guy for what’s wrong.
Kero dug a bottomless pit for himself, and the rest of fandom is on the edge. If you thought it was bad already, you haven’t seen anything yet.
This is the last word on the "is it real" nontroversy of the zoosadist ring that wormed into this community. @MythicalRedFox you deserve huge respect for this. If you see anyone post #istandwithkero just link this, it's over. And give that fox a follow.https://t.co/hHcKugGD7v— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 29, 2018
The coming challenges, what to trust, and the cost of lying:
The original article laid out the challenges: to learn the size and shape of the network, who was complicit but not inside, who did content sharing but not creation, who was directly responsible for uploading toxic files, and who committed crimes.
Higher powers than fandom are working on that now. I’m lucky to see exclusive info that’s only for their eyes. However it’s still a fandom story. Investigation is relying on a few good furries, and their work will continue when this is done. Laws don’t have absolute power to handle the extent of it. That’s obvious in the way animal cruelty content is more-or-less legal to possess (which is how networks for it wormed in to fandom).
What’s coming out is more than one network or kind of activity, but many that overlap. It starts with fetish content where sharers may consider themselves harmless, but they’ll have to disentangle themselves from those who aren’t (blame the offenders for that.) That overlaps with convicted sex offenders, multiple open crime cases, and even clues about unsolved crimes only known by a trail of victims. There’s drug trafficking, some of it used to sedate animals before doing abuse. Besides animals, this involves children. At least there’s little sign of power corruption so far, besides abusers just seeking thrills behind anonymity.
Finding the truth is the goal. Readers should beware of sources with agendas (including just trashing furries shotgun-style for fun). Beware of cooked up Pizzagate-style conspiracy theories, dismissal with the words “drama” or “mobs”, or debates in favor of Kero. (The benefit of the doubt died when he lied.) I won’t favor anyone and don’t care about personal cost like losing friends for sharing the truth.
If you watch horror movies for Halloween, could you stand seeing it for real? I was warned about the evidence: “There’s a picture in there I’d call ‘Mortal Kombat Finishing Move'”. It’s almost funny except this isn’t a movie or a game. It also isn’t about science, euthanization, hunting or butchering for meat, or only a frozen photo. It’s about the experience of sadistic fun with crying, struggle and brutal annhilation of a weaker being that could be a family member if it had the chance. A photo of that looks like animal remains, but it means more. It stands for the killing of good faith in a community based on believing and trusting that members love one thing so strongly, they even see each other being the animal. If someone does that to an animal, they’re morally doing it to you.
If people settle for apathy and lies about this, that’s how the fandom will die for real. At least the part that lets this go and accepts complicity.
Cons need to revoke membership. Builders of their suits need to disavow them. Other YouTubers need to pull collabs and use their platforms to say, hey this is not okay to do, this isn't what we are.
But they won't.
A deeper look at how this came out – Kero lied about it, and then a video of his abused dog came out.
As above videos covered, the evidence wasn’t leaked by furry-haters. Kero wasn’t the target. It’s logistically unrealistic to have faked the huge volume of chat logs. Messages from Kero match his user ID on the Telegram server (which can’t be hacked or edited on local devices in HTML or screenshots). They had unique photos found nowhere else. And multiple sources close to the story indicate that accounts weren’t hacked with messages faked, they were just exported.
There’s independent confirmation. I received a screen of text messages with the mother of chat user Levi Simmons/”SnakeThing” from the texter. They knew SnakeThing granted access to his account where existing messages were exported from. The login was given to fellow chat member EliteKnight, and gained from him by the leaker. EliteKnight posted an apology and admitted his involvement was real.
[Zoosadism leak] aren't you tired of it? Blame those who are lying to cover up.
Further confirmation there is no "hacking" or faking from one of those responsible. https://t.co/0gkhjnqdfJ
No you DON'T get to say "oops, spent years sharing puppy torture, fresh start". pic.twitter.com/F4Boe4nAKg
Another source comes from my chat with a partner of another group member, who tacitly authenticates their involvement by excusing it as a setup to get police involved. And an independent zoophile group admin confirmed they knew Kero was involved for a long time.
Now look again at a video from Kothorix about his interview with Kero and the actual interview log, where Kero switches course with multiple lies. He pretends he never spoke to SnakeThing but then admits he did. He says he was hacked but admits he misled his entire fanbase and gave them an active sessions screenshot he found on the web. He claims he only liked feral art (which was only 3 images) instead of hundreds of necro/zoo/abuse images that were shared.
Then Kero says “I have never harmed an animal or had sex with one.” A video of his dog being molested is held by investigators, with stills released for proof.September 30, 2018
It's hilarious because Kero keeps changing the story over and over again like dude! Just accept the fact that you got caught for being a zoophile!— Sliat (@yourfluffyfoxy) October 15, 2018
After all this, why is Kero trying to come back? And why is he making MORE MONEY than before?
You might be amazed to hear this. I found a conversation by the furry fandom fringe of alt-furries, that gives a pretty consistent opinion of what’s going on. (Let’s avoid asking if there will ever be such self-awareness about that source itself…)
Even a broken clock is right twice a day:
Kero’s Patreon lost users over two weeks following the original leaks. (I’m told that reaching 100,000 Youtube subscribers is about the minimal level where someone might go full-time as a video maker. He only recently hit that level, and likely depends on the income).
Then the money went up. He appears to be making private videos just for his Patrons. Is there any better example for selling your soul?
Everyone might be sick of hearing about the ring of zoosadists but stay aware that there were many not just one in the spotlight. Complicit members may want to get excused in time because awareness died down. They want it to get memory holed.
2 weeks ago vs now: pic.twitter.com/o6HSmLaR9P
@kerothewolf is making more money on Patreon now than before it came out that he was complicit in a ring of animal abusers who murdered puppies for fun. There's a video of his dog circulating. It needs attention that won't go away. That's how to make sure it can't happen again. https://t.co/to3ZnYrT19— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 15, 2018
Kero’s current Patrons
A Patreon supporter list was pulled from the unlisted video: “How to become a meme” that Kero made in the weeks after the Zoosadism leaks.
Below are some accounts matched to these names. Some may not be up to date with what’s going on. People who want to help can contact them with reasonable questions. Link this update and ask, do they support complicity with animal abuse, and could they please consider helping to fix this problem?
- Vanguard Skylar – @SkylarGrayJedi (http://archive.is/A8sBm http://archive.is/EgrDr, appears at the start of “Mini Con Weekend!”)
- xTheBladerx – @Dragoon120 (http://archive.is/BT90N)
- @zhenfur_ (Active on Instagram and YouTube as “zhenfur”)
- @ZephythePango (http://archive.is/V4DGF http://archive.is/e9gXv)
- @TylerFurlong86 (http://archive.is/A6G8g http://archive.is/zLi3d, appeared at the start of “How to become a meme”)
- Omega Iakona – @sorenjas000? (Inactive for Years)
- The funny wolf Lockhere – @Lockhere_ (http://archive.is/UeafA)
- @Meepsalot69 / @meepsfw
- Battercake Folfsky – @theBattercake (http://archive.is/TVrbe http://archive.is/oL4D3)
- @AddEFurry (http://archive.is/P3RKF)
- @blugufox (http://archive.is/CWttD)
- @WolfBrightwater (http://archive.is/9rn3d http://archive.is/HdPQW)
- Drakon-Winterheart – @DWinterheart (http://archive.is/l5D1O)
- FireTheFox – @FireTheFoxxo (Appears at the start of “BLFC 2018! The ultimate con experience!”)
- Gunmaster461 – @gunmaster46 (http://archive.is/1vnpc)
- Ivan Wolfgang – @WolfGangTheGrea (http://archive.is/9rn3d)
- TheK9dog – @theK9dog? (Inactive for Years)
- Kian Wolf Kiggles – @KigglesTheCusky?
- Phoenix.of.ice – @Phoenixofice1? (Protected account)
- Seanie Sweetfang – @SSweetfang (http://archive.is/YbnDi http://archive.is/XzVuA)
- Skittles Fox – @TheSkittlesFox?
- Tatanka Winterheart – @TWinterheart (http://archive.is/S1Bv1 http://archive.is/zEfaP)
- Tech Coyote – @Techcoyote529 (http://archive.is/Y3Nng http://archive.is/mi4GS)
- TheFoxGuardian – @GuardianTheFox? (http://archive.is/9bGpQ)
- @Kittsuera (http://archive.is/DqRJX http://archive.is/uMQz3)
- Theofilus the Folf – @_Theofilus_ (http://archive.is/hNV6E http://archive.is/n3UaO, appears at the start of “Can you be Straight?!” )
- Xeoth DaggerFox – @MChukovich (http://archive.is/ujSeY http://archive.is/Ry9yA)
More: TragicCat? ZombyWoof Mischief? Brian Murphy? DynasRa? Viktor Lozano? Nathan Camatter Adams? Christopher Cole Wuff? Casandra Wagner? Shayne Coddington? Storm the Wolf? TheVeganWerewolf? Parker Sawyer Alan? GraymuzzleWolfpaw? Cilo Fox? Cupid Fley? GoldHusky? GIBSON THE FOX? Greyson? Nobody Important? Ratchet? Biofox? Aureus Jackal? Rob B ModjaFur? Lilly Justice Fox?
Q&A with investigation team “Furvengers” about Kero’s complicity – how bad did it get?
In-progress investigation indicates that Levi Simmons/SnakeThing began forming Telegram chat groups to gather users of Animals Dark Paradise. ADP is “a hidden forum where violent and perverted people upload videos in which they rape, torture and kill animals for their sexual pleasure.” I think this was a darkweb site needing a TOR connection for access.
Reddit has a post about ADP discussing why other networks may have been wanted – perhaps to evade surveillance. But more likely it was so ADP users could meet to create new animal abuse content, consistent with videos found in the leaks. One of those relationships happened with a big user of ADP, Illone, who became Kero’s boyfriend before his death by heroin. Illone was posthumously renamed “Colwyn Collie” (a name with no history), probably so Kero could cover up his ADP history.
Levi/SnakeThing was a main connection for Telegram groups he made for this including “BBB” (Beasty Beast Beasts). It looks like Kero was a lower-level member, but aware, complicit, and concealing it while coming in from other groups. The BBB chat logs may be exclusive evidence (I’m unsure if they leaked.) I asked an investigator to supply and explain screenshots of Kero’s activity. This isn’t easy because evidence is still being traced, and the source of leaks appears to have sorted evidence to focus on some users that omits others.
Kero’s timeframe in the BBB group appears between December 2016 to 1st of February 2017. Then from 11th of February to 14th of February.
1) This screen is meant to show Kero is looking at rape content? Is there proof he knows it’s more than RP in this screen?
Date: 18th of December, 2016. This image was meant to show Kero’s earliest known joining of the group. This join was shortly after the group was nuked, thus it’s not certain whether Kero was in the group before this date. I’ve provided other files below that shows that Kero knew the others were inflicting pain, and not merely roleplaying.
2) Feb 11, 2017 – Kero is asking to be back in to the chat with rough stuff and necro. It looks like the second screen confirms he did join immediately. When did he leave?New evidence I found shows him leaving on the 14th of February, since rejoining on the 11th.
3) Crazyotter is forwarding in messages made prior to January 2018, do those show Kero is trying to win his confidence to talk about rough animal abuse, and SnakeThing is confirming he used to be in BBB and is trusted as a fellow zoosadist? Does this help bracket the time he was in the group?
These logs were from the 13th of January 2018, the same date as the forwarded messages. It falls outside the time Kero was in the group, as far as I’m aware. My original timebracket is supported by SnakeThing referring to him as an ‘old member.’
4) Is this only showing Kero knows SnakeThing is admin of the BBB chat, or something more? Kero doesn’t know what BBB means in here… does this show groups were nuked or reformed in multiple versions for same users?
Date: 17th of July, 2017. This was to show more that SnakeThing was the admin of BBB than Kero’s involvement. I think Kero doesn’t know BBB here because the group was never referenced by the acronym ‘BBB’ between Snake and Kero prior.
5) When Kero says he is “a little broken,” that’s about the death of Illone right? It shows Kero associating with people he knows are zoosadists? Why does he say no Z talk… perhaps he’s separating his regular account from it but he knows what they do and is keeping quiet?
Date: 23rd of July, 2018. This conversation was related to Illone’s death. This is meant to show that Kero and Illone knew other zoosadists in the group, eg ‘CrazyOtter’. I think the ‘No Z content’ is a combination of Kero’s security concern, and his emotional state at the time.
6) Does this show Kero has access to SnakeThings video he made of raping a drugged puppy, making it bleed and breaking its teeth? Is there proof Kero received it?
Date: 18th of March, 2017. This was meant to show the form of content shared on BBB. This was posted outside of Kero’s known timeframe within BBB.
7) This shows that RLC = Real Life Cub, AKA child pornography. Is there any proof Kero received this?
These messages fall outside Kero’s timeframe, and there’s nothing to show that he knew about the CP distribution. The timeframe, as well as his reactions to the content, shows he knew damn well about the zoosadist content shared.
8) These additional screens are included to show that Kero knew the others were inflicting pain, and not merely roleplaying. It looks like Kero was a lower-level member, but aware, complicit, and concealing this while leaving the group.
The disgrace of complicity, and what a healthy fandom does.
Watch for updates on happenings with this story outside of fandom. At some point that will end, but the question of what kind of fandom you want won’t.
Fandom is like a sandbox where you build it to be like you want. Furries build a community that brings amazing benefits to members and collects millions for charities. They’re good people, except when a few aren’t. Creativity has no limits here. Of course it’s hard to limit bad things too. When they’re uncovered, it can be like drawing a line on the beach. Apathy washes it away and the sands of forgetfulness cover up what was exposed.
There’s an ocean of difference between loving cartoon animal art, and doing cruelty to animals. If one says “well I only watched someone else’s, but that wasn’t mine”, it’s still generating demand. “Guilt by association” is only unfair to people who aren’t conscious about it. Complicity is the word for people who are. There’s no innocence for joining or supporting networks for abuse.
The abusers in this story were a tiny group that wanted to stay hidden. Transparency depends on refusing to accept excuses, giving no benefit of the doubt when it isn’t deserved, drawing a line and making it stick.
When someone has credible accusations of B and was complicit in C, you don't get to handwave their behavior as merely A.
That is disingenuous and harmful.
Kero is complicit. He denies it and even capitalizes on the attention. Paying him is part of the problem. If it continues, fandom will be a platform where abusers use it freely and even prosper. Progress depends on ending dishonesty.
74 of Kero’s Patrons haven’t understood the news yet. Give them a helping paw.
TAKE ACTION – please share this story to anyone who stands with complicity in animal abuse.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Passage series.
Rites of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2016, trade paperback, $11.00 (viii + 257 pages), Kindle $1.99.
City of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2017, trade paperback, $12.00 (v + 277 pages), Kindle $2.99.
Voices of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $14.00 (vii + 326 pages), Kindle $3.99.
The Passage trilogy is set on Earth in the far future when humanity is turning much of it over to evolved AIs and new anthropomorphic animal clans that live like the pre-industrial native Americans.
Rites of Passage begins with the Otokononeko, the clans of the evolved lions and house cats living in the Great Sequoia Forests of West Coast North America. There are several offhand references to the humans, in San Francisco, Fresno, and other West Coast North American cities, but they are mostly offstage (at first).
“She dreamed of the dancing, songs sung, and stories told around the large fire. Dohi Aleutsi told a hilarious story about a young human male whose flying car was eaten by a Giant Sequoia tree. Her father and mother had undoubtedly heard the story before. Her father at one point in the story remarked that the car was still in the tree.” (p. 68)
The opening focus is upon Kaniko of the Otokononeko’s Anitsiskwa clan. The novel relates – or bogs down, for those who are not interested in such detail – the culture of the feline civilization in the Great Sequoia Forests. There are seven clans; the Anitsiskwa, Aniwaya, Anigilahi, Anikawi, Aniwodi, Anisahoni, and Anigalogewi. The symbol of the Anitsiskwa is bird claws; that of the Anikawi is antler-adorned leather vests; and so on. Kaniko’s parents and brothers are described, and the Otokononeko game of Stick and Rabbit is both described and played. It is around page 43 before the plot starts moving. Yet the first 42 pages are not boring. They are well-written and present the feline native civilization and characters’ personalities in great detail.
“She heard his crow calls and stopped her movement to listen to the forest. Jamel called two more times and silence. Her third-born brother, Domic, was much more patient and quiet. He was the kind of cat that would lie in wait for you to walk by before he’d pounce on you. She felt the summer breeze sweep through the trees and the tops swayed making the light in the forest dance. Still she waited for the slightest sound of movement. When she left her first-born brother on the ground, she had moved a little tangent to the point where she had heard his last call. She knew he had already moved, and she predicted he would move toward the inner parts of the arena. There the trees thinned until they opened up completely to form a loose circle around a small glade. Domic had long legs and could move faster when the trees were farther apart. They both knew this, and she knew he needed to get between him and the thinning trees,” (pgs. 18-19)
Kaniko, an Anitsiskwa adolescent (lioness), and her brothers Jamel and Domic are about to undergo their separate Rites of Passage to become Otokononeko adults. Just before the Rites, Kaniko meets Mathias, a wolf-humanoid. The felines have never seen a wolf before. Mathias has been injured in escaping whatever has captured him and his people, and the injury has given him amnesia. The Anitsiskwa decide that Kaniko’s Rite of Passage should be to go, with Mathias and with her two brothers, to find out who or what has “painfully” captured all the wolves and release them. Tomiroc and Sharri, two Otokononeko cousins from the Anikawi clan, join them.
They ask at the humans’ Institute of Synthetic Research in Fresno:
“His [Doctor Quinn] smile came back, and he asked, ‘So what can I do for you, do you need enhancements or modifications?’
A little surprised, Kaniko answered and gestured to Mathias. ‘No. We were hoping you could help us locate our friend’s origins. He has no memory of where he came from, only his name. There are no others like him near our home. His arrival is a mystery, and we thought, Fresno being the closest city, to start our search here.’
He looked at Mathias and back at the lioness that stood in front of him. He asked, ‘Hybrid or gene mod?’
Kaniko shrugged, ‘I… We don’t know. My parents and Mother Lacey thought he might be like us, a new species.’” (p. 124)
They learn that Mathias is a mod-human, a human-modified into a humanoid wolf at the genetic level – so he will breed true. That is an incredibly expensive process, and something that there should be a record of – unless it’s been deliberately hidden:
“Kaniko asked, ‘Why would anyone do this?’
Doctor Quinn answered, ‘That is the million credit question here. There are several fractured pieces of broken links in his DNA. They shouldn’t cause any problems, but it suggests that whatever was being done to him was not completed.’ He looked at the wolf and asked, ‘You’re incredibly strong, aren’t you?’
‘I think Mathias was purpose built.’
With her eyebrow whiskers raised, she asked, ‘For what?’
He took on a disturbed look and said, ‘It is spoken in some darker circles that the age-old practice of pitting animal against animal for amusement and gambling has taken on a whole new level of animal cruelty. It is reflective of what Lynn Leakey discovered in her own city more than fifteen years ago.’
Kaniko’s eyes widened, ‘You mean forcing children to fight in an arena?’
He nodded.” (p. 147)
Okay, that’s a major spoiler – that these three books aren’t about rescuing a clan of wolves, but about finding who has made a single wolf morph against his will. But that has to be revealed, or this review of the rest of Passages and all of City and Voices is going to be misleading. Also, Kaniko has taken this opportunity to ask Doctor Quinn if she and Mathias are compatible; if their children would be a blend of feline and lupine, or if they would be sterile. Now it looks like their children could be anything from feline and lupine to feline and human.
This takes the plot to about halfway through Rites of Passage. There are the conclusion of Rites, and all of City and Voices to go. There are plenty more surprises in the story. The three Passage novels (covers by Leanne Roach) are a fast-paced, ever-changing drama, with far more characters than the five Otokononeko and the one Ōkaminingen who set out to find Mathias’ origins.
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.
If you visit San Francisco and you like subcultural stuff, try DNA Lounge. They’re an anchor for night life that supports unusually cool shows.
It’s Sunday night and I just got back from being on stage there with Rachel Lark. She invited me because I answered her need for a furry in her music video. Rachel’s show was advertised with stuff like “sex-positive, musical theatre, stand up comedy, politically charged rock”, and that’s not even mentioning the circus performers suspended in mid air! For the low effort of jumping around and wagging my tail, I left with an invite to be in Bawdy Storytelling, another wild happening. I love when furries get welcomed like this, and it shows how much potential there is for fandom to mingle with other crowds.
Furries vs. goths, and furries vs. drag queens are among previous DNA Lounge shows covered here. A lot of credit for a thriving scene is due to DJ Neonbunny, founder of Frolic Party, whose activity brings recognition well outside of fandom. But since furries started flocking to Frolic in 2010, Northern California has been heating up with other crews starting new events too.
Midekai, Buster, Mr. Disk0, and Cosmo Coyote are some of the crew who talked to me about Bass Totem, their furry-led crossover with local rave events. The upcoming one is part of the monthly So Stoked party:
On October 26, Bass Totem is hosting a stage at DNA Lounge. Fursuiting encouraged, bring those positive vibes. <3 Our first Bass Totem took place in Sacramento CA, back in March 2018. It was a fursuit friendly rave party, was 18+ and smack dab in the middle of downtown Sac. We have a lovely recap video from Chatah Spots.
More about Cosmo’s organizing:
Cosmo Coyote has been a staple in the Electronic music scene in Nor Cal since 2013 – having done the opposite of what most fur DJs do. Instead of playing cons, he established connections through the nightlife industry in Nor Cal and threw events for the ravers in the area, showing that what you wear doesn’t matter as much as who you are. He persisted by getting opportunities to play under known electronic music artists such as Lumberjvck, Trollphace, Billy Kenny, Will Clarke, Taiki Nulight, Christopher Lawrence, J Phlip, DJ Dan, and Dubloadz, to name a few. Bass Totem was started for the furry community to bring a fresh element to events. As many fur events are club oriented or just centered on cons, he strives to bring furries and ravers together as communities and show there is nothing to be afraid of.
I asked @mr_disk0: What’s cool about this party? What’s it like partnering with So Stoked, and what do you think of the furry scene in Nor Cal?
This party offers a unique sound coming from artists all across the West Coast, and we showcase different DJ’s every year to keep building on that vibe. We’re blown away that So Stoked gave us this opportunity to team up with them. The furry scene here on NorCal has seen quite a jump in popularity, and we love the way it’s growing. We aim to have fun and create something magical for people to remember for years to come.
All the party details:
Bass Totem is SO STOKED to host the upstairs furr stage at DNA Lounge. This is a collaboration with PLUR Alliance, who will host the main stage downstairs.
DNA Lounge is the winner of over 60 “best of awards” featuring two stages, four dance floors, seven bars and a full-service late-night restaurant.
We are providing a suit lounge to change, and cool off in between shaking your tail. We have safe bin storage available to suiters.
The Bass Totem stage boasts hundreds of dynamic LEDs custom built to morph this venue into a vibrant one of a kind light show!
Get your $15 presale tickets under the SO STOKED event page at:
FB event page:
Join Midekai’s event chat:
Doors at 7pm, Bass Totem stage 9pm – 3am
$25 at the door
Full bar for 21+
–Main Stage hosted by So Stoked!–
Eatbrain Tour ft. Jade, State of Mind, & MC Dino
Be sure to invite your furriends!
More photos from their first event in March – credit to Chatah Spots:
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Do you want something different in choosing a furry persona? Are the usual anthropomorphic wolves, foxes, cats, otters, and bears too overused in your opinion, ever with bright neon fur or wings or horns? Even dragons and unicorns are too common in furrydom for you?
There are still a number of exotic fantasy animals that you can choose among that are almost or completely ignored in furrydom. Frankly, some of these are probably unused because they look so ungainly, or are too impractical to exist. Others look too much like other animals. But they’re real in the lists of mythical animals. Some are more prevalent in heraldic art.
This is on the coat-of-arms of the municipality of Inari, Finland, in far northern Lapland. The village is on the shore of Lake Inari, the largest lake in Lapland. It is known for its salmon and trout fishing. Lapland is known for its reindeer. A salmon plus a reindeer’s antlers give us this image.
This would probably be more suitable for badge art than for a fursuit. There are not any salmon in furrydom, with or without antlers.
The chakat, a 24th-century alien feline centauroid, is the creation of Melbourne furry fan Bernard Doove. He has written several novels set in the Chakat Universe, with covers by furry artists that illustrate the four-legged cattaurs. There are also foxtaurs, skunktaurs, and others, originally created artificially but now (in the 24th-century) breeding naturally. Doove has given another fan, James R. Jordan, permission to write chakat stories. There are no chakat fursuits, but Doove’s fursona is Chakat Goldfur.
Presumably Doove, who is active in Oz fandom and usually comes to America every year for Anthrocon, will give other fans if asked to use his chakats. This is another fursona that is more practical in fan art than in fursuits. (Are there any taur fursuits?)
Wikipedia says of this heraldic animal, “The Enfield has the head of a fox, forelegs like an eagle’s talons, the chest of a greyhound , the body of a lion, and the hindquarters of a wolf.” An enfield fursuit would probably look like a badly-designed griffin with a fox’s head. Those who have used the enfield in heraldic art have shown no agreement upon color; the enfield has been shown in scarlet, green, blue, or golden.
This half-lion, half-fish may be the best-known of these, because it is a popular symbol of Singapore. It is the official mascot of Singapore, and was in fact created by Alec Fraser-Bruner for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964. Although the merlion may look ungainly, there have been merlion characters in anime and video games, and there are merlion mascot costumes in Singapore.
Our thanks to MikasiWolf, a native of Singapore, for sending us these images. (Is the merlion being cruelly used in circuses?)
The merlion is also the mascot of Svirstroy, Russia, on the Svir river; shown on its city flag.
The tikbalang is a Philippine mythological demon based upon the horse. It has been depicted as everything from a horse-headed and –hoofed man to a demonic, fanged, fire-breathing black horse. It is probably based on the first-seen horses brought to the Philippines by the Spanish in the 16th century. It is a popular monster in Filipino comic books.
The yale is a little-used heraldic animal, like the enfield. Wikipedia describes it as looking antelope- or goat-like, with exaggerated tusks like a boar or saber-toothed tiger, and large horns that it can rotate or swivel in any direction. The yale was first described by Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.), and may be based upon the ibex.
Probably the real-life markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, was too far into the East (it’s the Himalayan equivalent of the Rocky Mountains’ Big-Horned Ram) to have been an influence for the yale when it was created in Pliny the Elder’s day. Hey, there aren’t any markhors in furrydom! (Fursuits are uncomfortable enough without wearing those huge, twisty horns. But there are a few fursuits with majestic horns.)
Last month (September 2018), BBC News announced that a wild tur had escaped from an English zoo and was loose in the western English countryside (“the English Riveria”). People were warned not to get close to it, and to let the police capture it. Except it was not called a tur, doubtlessly because the English public would not know what a tur was. It was a “goat-antelope”.
And speaking of Pakistan, have you seen its Urdu-language TV cartoon masked heroine who fights crime in a burka, Burka Avenger? A burka is about as efficient a crime-fighting costume as a wedding dress would be. I give up; if people will accept burkas as crime-fighting costumes, bring on your merlion fursuits!
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.
Just popping up from the sewer to update you on local news. You might not have seen (or smelled) my rat fursona before, and my fur might need combing, but that goes with being a sneaky rat. Now I’m too excited for stealth because of this amazing flyer. It sure made my whiskers twitch when I saw it, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling about it!
Jello Biafra is the original Nazi Punks Fuck Off guy. I had some readers say “THE Jello Biafra?!!” He was the razor-witted singer for 1980’s punk legends Dead Kennedys. They mocked conservative greed, stupidity, and oppression, and faced down legal bullying from moralistic authorities when the satire struck a nerve. From then until now, Jello has been making albums full of hilarious, raw, protest-inducing rock and roll. It’s liable to give heart palpitations to uptight parents, bland media producers, Klan clowns or the powers of the status quo alike. He’s not just an artist, but a personality known for pranks, running for mayor, doing spoken word and motivating whole scenes as founder of the longest running indie record label. (Alternative Tentacles: “Tormenting the Stupid since 1979!”) His message in all of it is: screw conformity, think for yourself!
All of that is why I can’t wait to see him party with furries, the DIY-powered fandom for talking animal media. Furries breed a loveable kind of identity-play that I think vibes with the art and glam side of punk. That music and its DIY ethic has always inspired me (from the classic 1970’s roots), and this news site is a fabulous result. Another result is the massively popular message to jerks who target kids here like they tried with punk: Nazi Furs Fuck Off!
Expect a great crowd for the mutant hybrid of Frolic Party and Jello’s Incredibly Strange Dance Party. And that’s not the only upcoming event to get excited for. Here’s more news (with some credit to Frolic’s DJ Neonbunny):
Burning Man Decompression – San Francisco, Saturday, October 20th 2pm-2am
The biggest Burning Man party outside of Black Rock City! All the art, all the fun, but none of the dust or heat. Come check out this one day event happening in San Francisco.
There will be dozens of theme camps, several stages of music, more art than you can imagine, interactive play areas, fire and stage performances, DJs, music, art cars, and so much more!
And for you fursuiters out there, we will be setting up a changing area behind the Heavy Petting Zoo and Duck Pond art cars. We invite you to bring your fursuit to this event, and fursuit as you like. We’ll also have water available. And around 6:00pm, we would love to see as many fursuiters on top of the art car at once as possible to pose for photos! We highly recommend getting your ticket in advance ($30), which will be much more expensive at the gate ($50).
Potrero Power Station
420 23rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
Bass Totem – San Francisco, October 26 7pm-3am
A fursuit friendly rave party with furry DJ’s, at one of the city’s strongest night life beacons. Headline article coming.
375 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Pacific Anthro Weekend – San Jose, November 2-4
Since 2014, PAWcon has been bringing a modest-sized but super-friendly gathering. Expect 500 or more animals. San Jose is one of the few cities that has more than one furry con, which is a great clue about how devoted they are there. Don’t wait to solve the puzzle of what you’re doing that weekend!
2050 Gateway Pl
San Jose, CA 95110
Frolic – San Francisco, Saturday December 1st 8pm-2am
(There will be NO Frolic in November due to PAWcon.)
For our December Frolic, we are bringing you something very special. We have lined up one of the biggest legends of punk rock, JELLO BIAFRA, who will be playing an all vinyl set of the music that influenced him the most. That’s right, one of the biggest influencers in music playing what influenced him, at a furry party at a LGBT and Leather Bar in San Francisco.
If you aren’t familiar with Jello, he’s the front man and lead singer for the Dead Kennedys, and writer of songs such as “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “California Uber Alles”. And what was there even before punk rock? Garage rock, surf rock, 50s gospel and country, early rock and roll? Where did it all come from? Well, come to Frolic and find out!
398 12th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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.
Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine is a 2011 profile of a fandom-loved personality written by Kijani Lion. Kijani himself gets love here for bringing excellence to furry news (see his 2016 interview). By request, his Dogbomb article was reprinted with a plan for a fresh 2018 update. It was delivered with this note. (Your fluffy editor – Patch)
In my 6+ years of journalism this was the most challenging, emotional yet inspiring piece I’ve ever written and I’m very happy at how it turned out. At the bottom I added an additional Q&A with Dogbomb and his friends and also some links. I chose the headline “Last Mutt Standing” as a homage to his favorite artist Jimmy Buffett and his single “Last Man Standing,” I know Dogbomb will appreciate that. I really look forward to seeing this online and it was my honor and pleasure to share the uplifting story of a true inspiration to many in the fandom and beyond! (- Kijani)
“Last Mutt Standing”: Dogbomb inspires the world through his courageous battle against ALS
By Kijani Lion
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes you also can’t tell a mutt to lie down, even in the face of the most grim diagnosis. For Tony Barrett – affectionately known as “Dogbomb” in the furry fandom – giving up was, and never will be, an option.
After experiencing gradual loss of muscular function about two and a half years ago starting with his feet and lower legs, then progressing into his hands, neck, back and throat, Barrett was officially diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in early 2018. The disease kills motor neurons, effectively blocking the nerve path to the brain that makes muscles work, rendering them weak and eventually unresponsive.
“Walking is becoming extremely difficult, and my swallowing and speech are rapidly worsening,” Barrett said. “With ALS, each day is slightly worse, and it becomes difficult to plan for the future. What is easy today may be impossible in a week or a month, and that’s just frustrating.”
A CADILLAC AND A CRY
The reality of Barrett’s situation hit him in March earlier this year, when his doctor gave him the diagnosis that he had “one to three years to live.”
“I felt absolutely desolate,” Barrett recalled. “I remember walking to my car, sitting in the driver’s seat, and having a good cry. Once that was over, I began to focus on what I needed to do next.”
Always one to imbibe in the occasional adult beverage, particularly in needful times of intense personal reflection, Barrett walked across the street and ordered a Cadillac margarita along with a big lunch. After a second helping of liquid courage, he realized that his plan of action involved leaning, literally as well as figuratively, on the people in his life that were close to him. “I began to call friends, to tell people the news, and to hear their thoughts on the subject, Barrett said. “I owe them immense gratitude for keeping me happy and moving forward.”
One of those people is Barrett’s lifelong friend, Greg Sabala. High school buddies and water polo teammates in their freshman year of 1977, Sabala said Barrett showed a quiet confidence, and humility, that was unmatched among his peers.
“Even though he was competitive and his athleticism (earned) him a starting position on the team, he was never rude or bragged about it,” Sabala remembered. “We quickly became friends and continued to encourage each other in everything from athletics to dating.”
As positive as Barrett was after his diagnosis, it hit those close to him especially hard. Sabala’s initial reaction was shock, as Barrett is “one of the healthiest and most athletic people” he’d ever known. They had run numerous 5k and 10k races as well as half marathons together, with Barrett always emerging victorious.
The news sent shockwaves throughout the fandom, particularly among those who have been fortunate enough to get to know the easygoing and friendly ‘Dogbomb’ over the years. Zarafa Giraffe, who has been good friends with Barrett since 2011 and roomed with him at Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC) in Reno earlier this year, was devastated.
“I cried for two days,” Zarafa admitted. “To have this particular disease hit someone in such good physical shape, for someone who physical activity was important to, was awful.”
Another friend, Trip E. Collie, was “shocked and mortified” that ALS could strike someone as healthy, active and well-rounded as Barrett.
“Here was a man who had given so much to so many people,” Trip said of Barrett. “From many years of work caring for animals, to sharing his playful spirit by suiting in public just to make people smile.”
Trip, who like Barrett is a veterinary technician, knew he had to do something to make what would almost certainly be his friend’s last BLFC extra memorable. He worked with con chairman Tyco and went through great lengths to organize an unforgettable get-together in Reno, consisting of a beer-tasting and social hour, combined with a giant surprise group photo that more than 60 fursuiters attended, each signing a giant banner emblazoned with the words “WE LOVE YOU DOGBOMB.”
While hidden by fursuit masks, there were undoubtedly few dry eyes among the attendees as many warm embraces and supportive words were shared that afternoon, centered upon love and support for one of the biggest inspirations in the fandom.
“(The event) was perfect and his face spoke volumes, Trip recalled. “I was doing my best to make this con special for him and at that point I knew I had succeeded.”
Barrett, who later traveled to Anthrocon in July for his final furry convention, said that while the experience of his “farewell tour” was emotionally draining, he wouldn’t trade the experiences, and the hugs of encouragement, for anything.
“I seriously had no idea that my little contribution to this fandom had affected so many people, and I was often moved to tears at the stories of how my experience as a public fursuiter impacted so many lives,” said Barrett, humbled to his canine core. “The support that I received is something I will never forget, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the love that was showered on me.”
POWER OF POSITIVITY
When faced with what is essentially a fatal diagnosis, a common and understandable response is adopt a “woe-is-me” attitude, and in Barrett’s words, “crumble mentally.” The 55-year-old made certain that he would never give up on life, and live every day to the fullest.
“I have made a conscious decision to be happy and positive, no matter what,” said Barrett, adding that he isn’t completely immune to reality and has the occasional down day. “I made a promise to myself to always find a smile and to count my blessings at every opportunity.”
Barrett’s overwhelmingly positive attitude has been on display ever since he joined the furry fandom back in 2009, to be part of a group of people he called “neat, pleasant, exciting and creative.” Soon after, he got his original Dogbomb fursuit commissioned by Beastcub Creations and starting making the Newport Beach area of southern California just that much more fun, interesting… and fuzzy.
He captured and journaled his outings walking along the pier and the surrounding area near his hometown of Costa Mesa, making ordinary strangers smile while engaging with a walking, talking dog. Barrett’s compassionate storytelling gained a large following on FurAffinity and social media, and posts such as his emotional “Courage on Two Wheels,” where he details an encounter with a young woman named Sarah who had cerebral palsy, caused many a furry and fursuiting fan to shed a tear.
“I hope sincerely that I’ll be remembered as a nice person,” said Barrett when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave for others. “If I inspire an act of kindness, or help someone to smile in a dark time, then my mission on this earth will be accomplished.”
That inspiration has carried over into the fandom, which has rallied behind Barrett in his fight against ALS. Just in the last several months, furry artists have made stickers, T-shirts and art commissions all in an effort to raise funds to beat the disease. Fursuiters were showing up to participate in ALS walks around the nation, which traditionally take place in late summer and early fall.
By Barrett’s estimate, over $8,000 has been raised in his name to beat, in his words, the “stupid disease” that affects tens of thousands of people, with approximately 5,000 new diagnoses each year.
“That makes me feel loved in a way that’s hard to explain,” Barrett said. “The vast majority of this money has been raised by furries, further reinforcing my belief that the fandom contains the biggest hearts and the greatest folks in the world. I can’t thank everyone enough for their kindness and generosity; there are no words to describe how happy this makes me.”
A CHAMPION FOR ANIMAL CARE
While he has portrayed an anthropomorphic animal for the better part of the last decade, Barrett has dedicated his life to the care and well-being of his four-legged counterparts. He has been a registered veterinary technican for the past 23 years, and has inspired many of his co-workers as a manager of a local animal hospital for which he is still employed.
Monica Serrano, who refers to Barrett as her “work husband” at Dover Shores Pet Care Center, is one of those people. Along with being an incredible teacher, Serrano said that her mentor’s approach and demeanor has left a lasting impression on everyone at the clinic.
“His approach to veterinary medicine has always been calm and loving, he always knows how to get the job done right,” she noted. “When nobody else can work with a certain pet because they might be fearful, all it takes is for him to just be alone with the dog to get it accomplished.”
Case in point was a rescue dog named Sender, who came from a group who rehabilitates hard-case Mexican street dogs and adopts them into homes in the United States.
Sender, a dalmatian mix, had already been adopted and returned three times. Nobody wanted to give him a chance. Until Barrett got his turn, and got the opportunity to channel his inner Cesar Millan.
“He was deeply neurotic and didn’t trust anyone, including himself,” Barrett explained. “It took six months of hard work before he started to come around. Now he is the greatest source of happiness in my life… loving and funny and always surprising, and keeps me constantly entertained. I’m so lucky to have him.”
Nowadays, Sender, who somehow earned the moniker “Meatbubble” online and in social media, is always by Barrett’s side when he and his friends go on their many adventures, such as kayaking or boating in sunny Southern California. But it was another dog, Rodger, who get the credit for Barrett’s trademark character, “Dogbomb”.
The German Shepherd mix, who has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge after 14 years as Barrett’s companion, was re-created in fursuit form by Beastcub back in 2011 to commemorate his canine friend.
“We shared so many adventures, and I swear he had a sharp sense of humor,” Barrett said of Rodger. “He was there when I bought my first house, got my first real job in the veterinary field, and helped me through more than a few personal struggles.”
While Barrett is certainly appreciated and admired by everyone he comes in contact with, perhaps the best example comes from his workplace. While other vet clinics may have forced him to retire due to his ailments from ALS, he still clocks in every day at Dover Shores, and serves as inspiration for the rest of the staff. The clinic even had special handrails and other equipment installed in the clinic for Barrett to aid his mobility, making working with ALS a bit more manageable.
“I believe he is the best coworker I could have ever asked for,” Serrano praised, adding that whenever she feels tired or lazy she thinks of Barrett and ‘pushes through’. “We will all miss him tremendously once he’s no longer working with us. Our clients love him not only for his gentle and caring manner towards the animals but also because of all his knowledge which he has so graciously shared with us over the course of his career.”
FULL SPEED AHEAD
When you ask people in the furry fandom about the character they know as “Dogbomb,” the word “inspiration” often comes up. For most of the last seven years, he has been inspiring others to put on an animal costume and brighten the days of complete strangers in public. Today, he continues to motivate people by chronicling his day-to-day struggles as the disease progresses.
But one thing that Barrett absolutely will not tolerate is a pity party, because while he may have ALS, ALS does not have him. Although the last few months have consisted of practicalities such as liquidating his material possessions and getting legal affairs in order, he has decided to remain captain of his life’s vessel and go full-speed ahead for whatever time he has left.
Before ALS, he admitted he obsessed over his finances, trying to squeeze that extra half-percent of interest out of investments in order to save for retirement. Today, his priorities have greatly realigned.
“Now, those (financial) concerns have disappeared, the only thing that I want to do is spend quality time with my loved ones, and spoil the heck out of my dogs,” said Barrett, who has done a lot of both since his diagnosis. “The future has been greatly compressed for me, and my long term goals are now measured in months, not years.”
To meet some of those goals, he started knocking some things off his “bucket list.” There was the trip to Maui with his closest friends, culminated by watching the sunrise from 10,000 feet at Haleakala, of which Barrett wrote a chilling, emotional account on his FurAffinity page. Then there was what he said would be his last boating trip at Lake Havasu at the end of September, a full three months after his doctor predicted he’d be confined to a wheelchair. Instead, Barrett was speeding down the waterway with the vivid hues of the Arizona sunset as the backdrop, almost as a metaphor of Barrett’s life.
Even at home, his determination and willpower is on full display. He still does house chores, yard work, walks his dogs (albeit with the occasional fall), and maintains his independence. Sabala was recently over for a visit and saw Barrett having trouble getting a bike down off a hook in his garage, and offered to help.
“He sternly said ‘no,’ then he said, ‘I need to keep doing things on my own because if I can’t then I might as well give up,'” Sabala recalled. “Such determination and commitment to maintain a sense (of) normalcy while struggling to walk, stand, talk and drink is impressive, commendable and even heroic. It’s inspiring.”
Barrett, however, shuns the idea that anyone would even consider him to be a hero. He’s just a guy playing the cards life dealt to him, and he’s gotten very good at playing a rotten hand.
“Bad stuff happens, it just does, and that’s okay,” he said when asked what his best piece of advice for others would be. “The only thing we can truly control are our own actions and reactions. If you meet challenges with a smile and a positive attitude, you’ve just beaten the universe at its own game.”
With unwavering support and love from friends near and far, within the furry fandom and far beyond, we can rest assured that Barrett will be fighting ALS until his last breath, or much more hopefully, a cure can be found.
Until then, as the caption reads on a particular T-shirt design by an artist named Kayla and MakerFur that has raised hundreds of dollars for research to beat the disease:
“ALS can kiss my fuzzy butt!”
Kijani Lion is a freelance journalist and a former award-winning reporter and editor for a chain of community newspapers in the Seattle, Wash. area. He is also an avid fursuiter and founded a 501(c)3 nonprofit for character entertainment that attends local community and charity events, most recently attending the Seattle ALS Walk, an event that raised $160,000 for research, care and outreach, in Dogbomb’s honor. You may contact him regarding this story on Twitter or Telegram @kijani_lion.
Additional Q & A with Tony “Dogbomb” Barrett (DB) and his friends, Greg Sabala (GS), Monica Serrano (MS), Trip E. Collie (TC), and Zarafa Giraffe (ZG):
Q: The landscape of the furry fandom has changed pretty significantly since we first talked for the original article 7 years ago. What has been the biggest difference you’ve noticed and how does it bode for the future of the fandom?
DB: The fandom has become more diverse in terms of age and gender, in my opinion. When I first joined, it seemed to be skewed in favor of males in their early 20s, but now we have a bloom of different folks joining and I think that’s terrific! We have to be mindful of these changes, however, to keep viable and to retain the original spirit of inclusiveness that we all love. Also, I have seen a great increase in the number of non-profit groups doing fantastic volunteer work and that really makes my heart happy. We have been given a special gift; the ability to use our imaginations to create a better world. To share that with others, and to brighten the lives of those that are less fortunate, speaks to a higher calling. I am so proud of everyone that uses this fandom to spread love to those in need.
Q: I know you’ve mentioned taking part in clinical research studies for ALS, how has that been going?
DB: I am enrolled in a study that harvests your stem cells, does some chemical magic to them in a lab to make them behave like working motor neurons, and then sticks them back into your spinal fluid. The thought is that with enough happy stem cells, the disease can be arrested. I am in the very early stages of this study, and I don’t have the first stem cell harvest until October, with a re-implant date sometime in November (of 2018.) This is a double blind study, so 50% of the participants will get a harmless placebo, but that’s how scientific research works. I am so glad to be DOING something to fight this stupid disease, and if I’m in the placebo group that’s OK. There is no treatment and no cure for ALS at this time, so being involved in forward progress means the world to me.
Q: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to give a shout out to, who have been instrumental in their support through your ALS battle?
DB: There are a TON of folks that I’d like to mention here, but the list would stretch several pages.
Here’s a few: My lifelong friends Greg, Don, Duncan, Bill, and Mark. My boss Dr. B and my work wife Monica. My brother. The amazing Mama Ryuu for getting the ball rolling with those wonderful Dogbomb stickers. Empty Set for his art and music and love and support. Ethan Staghorn for checking in on me when I need it most. Maker Fur and KaylaMod for the T-shirts. Trip E. Collie for organizing the event at BLFC. All the wonderful folks that are planning to participate in ALS walks this fall. Every single person that took the time to say hello at my last conventions. And my silly mutts for the companionship and patience at the snail’s pace adventures to the park… There are a lot of others, and I think you know who you are and how much I appreciate and love you.
Q: As you look back on nearly a decade of fursuiting, what is your best memory from your time as a fuzzy, walking, talking mutt?
DB: As we know, furry conventions often take place in major cities, often in the downtown area. These big cities usually contain a large homeless population. A few of these folks are on the streets of their own volition, but many are there because of mental illness, or another situation beyond their control.
I enjoy fursuiting outside the convention more than I do in the controlled confines of an “expected” outcome. As you get away from the con, and out into the public, the interactions have the potential to get better and better. After three or four miles of walking, the convention is a memory and is absolutely unknown to the public at large. No one knows what the hell a giant talking dog is doing in their midst!
This is where the magic really happens for me. I went out alone 99% percent of the time, which is something I DO NOT recommend anyone else doing. I knew the risks, and they were worth taking in my situation. After venturing away from the con for the first time, I couldn’t help feeling like a hypocritical idiot as I sauntered by desperate, hungry people looking for their next meal in my $3,000 dog costume. The disparity of life was too painful to continue this kind of fursuiting. So, at the next convention, which was FWA, I armed myself with a few hundred bucks in five dollar bills, and began to give a little to people in need. Was this a wise choice? Did it do any good? Probably not, but it made me feel less guilty.
I was a talking dog giving away hugs and fives. I got very good reactions…
Anyway, one lady stands out as someone special. She was perched on a street corner, yelling at the traffic light and waving here ratty purse at passersby. I will admit I thought about crossing to the other side of the street, but plucked up my courage and sidled up to say hullo. She turned and looked at me with a horrified stare, but I wagged my butt and offered her a paw and she broke into the biggest smile.
I put both arms out and she FELL into my hug. We embraced for a long time, and when she pulled away she was crying. “You look just like a dog I had when I was a little girl,” she said. “I haven’t thought about him for years. Those are good memories. I need to think about him more often!” she giggled. There was a bench nearby and we sat and had a nice chat. Life had been cruel to her, and she suffered from delusions and voices in her head that taunted her night and day. I told her that as her dog, I wanted her to get help, get off the street, and give another deserving mutt a good home. She promised she would. I stuffed a few bucks into her hands, explained that I loved her and that I’d be watching her journey.
She said that was the first nice thing someone had done for her in years, and it made sense that it came from a dog.
I left her to find her way with tears in my eyes. Did my pep talk do any good? Did she find health and peace? I have no idea, but I tried, and that made me realize that the effort is what really matters. She probably helped me much more than I helped her! I have no delusions that I’m some sort of furry saint. I’m just a sweaty, middle aged guy who likes attention wearing a dog suit. But that suit made me want to be a better person, and that’s an amazing gift. Make the effort. Be kind to everyone you meet. It matters.
Q: If you could have dinner with any other 3 people (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
DB: I would love to have dinner with my dad, Jimmy Buffett and my lovely ALS doctor Namita Goyal. The conversation would be hilarious, interesting and educational. Three very smart people who I think could really shed some light on how to proceed given my current circumstance. We’d definitely have Mexican food. And margaritas.
Q: What is it about Tony that enables him to stay so positive in the face of such a grim diagnosis?
GS: He has a lot of close friends and tons of fans, so that helps. People are traveling from around the country to come and visit him. He hates the attention but loves the interaction. We try to keep him laughing and we are spending as much time with him as possible including group trips to Hawaii for vacation and to a Jimmy Buffet concert as bucket list items.
We listen when he wants to talk and celebrate successes when they occur. He completed a 5k on 4th of July surrounded by a dozen friends and crowds of strangers cheering him on. We shared high-fives when he got his new leg braces that greatly improve his ability to walk. Wins are few these days so we celebrate them.
I think that the main thing that keeps him positive is his willingness to fight through this disease. He wants to keep doing all the things he’s always done for as long as he can. He doesn’t sit around and cry about it (maybe on a rare occasion). I tell people that “he has ALS but ALS doesn’t have him.”
MS: Tony is an incredible human who has always looks at things in a positive manner, I believe he got this trait from his parents. If he was to sit there and feel sorry for himself that wouldn’t get him anywhere but being sad and upset when instead he could be doing what he is, which is making the best of what he has and enjoying his life as much as possible with the people that love him.
ZG: I honestly don’t know how he stays so positive. I don’t know that I would act with such dignity and equanimity. What makes it so amazing is that he doesn’t realize how special he is, and how unusual his reaction and handling of the situation has been. I think it’s just part of his core being, it’s who he is.
TC: I really believe Tony is strong both in who he is and how he approaches life. He strives to live his life to the fullest and to be a beacon of light to others. His compassion and stories have gained him many friends. When he does feel down or weak he turns to those friends both close and far to help him get back up and carry on. His common phrase these days has been “ALS can kiss my fuzzy butt” and I honestly think he takes that to heart. He fights back against it every step of the way to live life the way he wants to. He also speaks openly online about what it is like to deal with it on a daily basis. I think he does this both to collect his thoughts regarding it all as well as to make others aware. While many would have long since quit their job, he is still working at his veterinary hospital to the best of his ability and was even looking into donating a kidney to help save another life… he (is) looking to maximize what he could do now for others. That selflessness and caring is not something you will see often.
Q: What kind of legacy will Tony leave on the world around him?
ZG: That he was someone filled with essential goodness, and even in the face of one of the worst things that can happen to a person, he handled it with incredible dignity and grace. That is why he is so inspiring. All the other problems that the rest of us have in life pale in comparison to what he is dealing with. And yet he is still so positive, still trying to be kind to others, and has no idea how special any of this is. His response, when complimented, is a puzzled “I’m just a dumb dog.”
TC: I know of Tony primarily through the fandom. However, I know his impact definitely reaches beyond it. He makes people smile through public fursuiting. He has many stories singing in bars with people as well as just walking along the beach/piers and interacting with people. Even more than that, he is beloved at his veterinary hospital. Many places would have forced him to retire. Instead he is still treasured there by his boss and coworkers. He is a very giving person and a supremely positive example for others to follow. I think he will leave a strong legacy of what we should all aspire for in life: to support and help each other while making people smile along the way.
Donate to ALS research and patient care (ALS Association): http://www.alsa.org/donate/
Jack Wolfgang T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé – Book Review by Fred Patten
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Jack Wolfgang. T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé (art).
Brussels, Les Éditions du Lombard, June 2018, hardcover, €13,99 (62 [+ 2] pages), Kindle €9,99.
Here is the latest installment in the Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima service to notify you of high-quality French-language animalière bandes dessinées that are not likely to be published in English.
This is album #2 in the Jack Wolfgang series. I said of #1, “The Jack Wolfgang series looks like it’s designed for the Blacksad market. The main differences are that John Blacksad is a private investigator, and his cases are crime noir with excellently drawn anthropomorphic animals. Jack Wolfgang is a C.I.A. secret agent, and his adventures are, well, too light and too exaggerated for the James Bond market. Say they’re Kingsman clones, with a mixture of funny animal and human secret agents saving the world from megalomaniac funny animal and human villains.”
The humans and the animal-people share the same society. The carnivores have not had to eat meat since the invention of super-mega-tofu several centuries earlier. The humans and animals are supposedly equals, but in actuality, the humans look down on the animals. Jack has to fight this in his CIA human superiors as well as among the world criminals he goes after.
Jack Wolfgang’s cover identity is as the “more elegant than George Clooney, cooler than Tex Avery’s wolves” (vol. 1) leading food critic for the New York Times. This supposedly allows him to go to all the major cities of the world to check their top restaurants. In actuality, he goes to where the CIA sends him, or to where his leads take him. In vol. 1, Enter the Wolf, he met Mme. Antoinette Lavaux, a sultry panther-woman jewel thief who was not officially involved in his case then, so he did not have to bring her in. Since then, by implication, they arrange to meet in the top night spots around the world – Rome, Monte Carlo, the Côte d’Azur, Biarritz, San Francisco, etc. – when they are not “on duty”.
In vol. 2, The Pigeon’s Nobel, the villain is Lord Horace Beckett, a billionaire pigeon (“l’oiseau le plus riche au monde”) in the tradition of James Bond’s Auric Goldfinger. His riches have enabled him to rise to the top of society; to buy whatever he wants. But what he wants is respectability; to prove to everyone that he is more than just a nouveau-riche. To be given a Nobel Prize. However, the Nobel selection committees cannot be bought. So Beckett arranges for the assassination of everyone above him who is likely to be awarded the Nobel Prize. And why stop with a single prize? Economics, Physics, Mathematics… a Peace Prize wouldn’t hurt, either. If he isn’t given at least three Nobel Prizes, not only will he order the assassination of any possible competitors, and of the Nobel selection committees themselves, he will order his agents around the world in control of computers to bring civilization to a stop. Credit cards won’t work; machines at transport windows won’t issue airplane or ship or train tickets; medical prescriptions will go unfilled; BWAHAHAHA! And the omnipresent global delivery service that the CIA’s agents rely on to bring them the secret-agent gizmos that they need at a moment’s notice … well, who do you think is the owner of that company? Agents like Jack will suddenly find themselves not getting the high-tech guns and similar hardware that they’re counting on.
Before Lord Beckett becomes the obvious villain when the CIA is still trying to discover who is murdering the world’s leading economists and scientists, CIA headquarters in Virginia puts Jack in charge of the mission. But to satisfy those humans who consider the mission too important to be left in the paws of an animal, Jack will be guided to go after only the actual hitman. (Pieter-Jan Glock, a stork.) The real mission to unmask who is behind the killings will go to the CIA’s top human agent.
Every secret-agent adventure introduces a sexy woman, as either a partner or a femme fatale. In The Pigeon’s Nobel, it’s Kellyanne Bongo. (That’s her on the cover, holding a gun.) If you can imagine someone who looks like Beyoncé, is also a #1 martial artist, and is actually a bonobo with extensive plastic surgery … Mme. Lavaux has only a walk-on appearance in this volume. It’s Kellyanne Bongo and her henchmen, Jonas Swamp (alligator) and Kevin Prince (gorilla) that Jack shares this adventure with.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Purrfect Tails, edited by Tarl Hoch.
Calgary, AB, Armoured Fox Press, February 2018, trade paperback, US$11.95 (164 pages).
Tarl Hoch’s Armoured Fox Press in Calgary, Alberta, is both a furry specialty press and an anime specialty press*. Its first book, published in 2018, emphasizes both specialties: it’s an anthology of nine cat-people stories, ranging from anime “nekos” with cat ears and tails but who look human otherwise, to full anthro cat people.
“Milk and Brass” by Madison Keller is set in a steampunk Victorian London with animal-hybrids. Carla is a cat-hybrid type neko, bred for lowest-class labor. Nellie Hanson is a pampered swan-hybrid bred to her rich father’s order, with delicate feathers on her arms and decorative but useless wings on her back. When Carla flees the London slum workhouses and docks, she is found and hidden by Nellie, who faces a loveless marriage at her father’s order. Carla urges that the two girls escape together to America and the Wild West, but Nellie is reluctant to abandon her duties and responsibilities. A Dramatic Event forces their hand.
In “Following the Tail” by Dark End, Jacqyl is bored and depressed in a society where almost everyone is mind-connected to the Internet and lets their bodies go. Then she sees The Tail:
“Everyone else [on the train] was jacked in, heads forward, drooling all over themselves as their brain played in the depths of the net. A few were on private servers, and Jacqyl amused herself by guessing what type of Sense-Scape they were in by the way their puppet-like bodies twitched. By the way their hips flexed, more than half of them were in erotic ones. Even the train’s conductor appeared to be in one – not like her job was that hard anyway.
The train jerked to a stop, causing several dull thumps as a few bodies, so limp while jacked in, smacked hard against walls or railings. A few people woke from the trance of their systems and made their way out.
And that’s when Jacqyl saw him – or rather, a fragment of him: a tail, an actual goddamn tail, flitting in the air as he stepped off. She jumped out of her seat and pressed her face against the window, but whoever he was, whoever he had been, was lost in the drab gray monotony of the mingling throng on the station platform.” (pgs. 16-17)
Jacqyl seeks the man with the tail for months. Why? What does she find? The description of what Jacqyl sees of society as she goes is so zany that I’m not sure whether “Following the Tail” is a comedy or a horror story about what to expect in the future.
In “Cat Toy” by Royce Day, the Nekos are extraterrestrials who look like cat-people, on their own world:
“Okay, I’ll admit they do try to warn you about this sort of thing. My own damned fault I didn’t listen.
Felecia’s inhabitants were feline-analogs, mammalian aliens that looked for all the world like walking, talking wild cats. Xenobiologists mutter ‘Parallel Evolution’ a lot when this happens. Me? I always figured God had a sense of humor.
Anyway, my freighter had dropped off a load of machine parts at their primary space port, I had gotten my pay, and I was feeling pretty good. I was manning station at a bar stool in a downside pub when I caught sight of one of the natives entering. She was about my height, looking for all the world like an upright black panther with bright golden eyes, wearing maintenance coveralls, three golden earrings running down her right ear.” (p. 34)
She leads him to her apartment. They have much sex together. (Is this anthology Adult-rated?) That she says to call her Princess and she calls him Toy will tell you which is the dom and which is the sub. He likes it, so much that he returns to her whenever his spaceship visits Felecia.
“Schematic for a Purrfect Artefact” by Hazuko Sionnach features a fox woman and a cat boy. They are anime-type nekos, whatever animal-people species they are. Yuka, the fox woman, hires Akiko, the cat boy (19 years old), as a mechanic in her factory that repairs airships and other vehicles:
“‘I — I’m not a boy… I’m a man…’
‘Sure. We are nearly home.’ The steam-car pulls up to an asphalt driveway leading to a mansion with an adjoined airfield. The size of the mansion could easily fit a hundred of the auto-shop he used to work for, and that was just the front half of the large home. Several flying machines and a few steam-cars lined open garages, various naked mechanics tinkering on them. Several are humans and a few others have various animal parts like him. A couple women are working on a small biplane with a busted propeller and a wing with shreds torn into it.
‘Why is everyone naked? Isn’t that dangerous while working with steam?’
‘Not at all. This is home to Naked Creations. Everyone here is specially trained for safety and endurance. We have the best safety record of anyone.’
‘We’ll get you settled into your room and your training shall commence right away.’ Yuka moves aside as a human greets them. ‘This is one of our butlers. He will take care of your needs.’
Akiko glances at the human, but asks a question burning on his mind, ‘What kind of … training?’
‘Fun training. You will enjoy it very well.’” (pgs. 47-48)
Sex training. Put an easily embarrassed 19-year-old in a factory where everyone is naked and sexually uninhibited and be prepared for lots of X-rated “cute”. Akiko and Krista, a squirrel-girl, soon become an item. Then Cindy, a wolf-girl saboteur actually working for Naked Creations’ main rival, targets Akiko as an easy conquest…
“Enter the Garden” by James Pyke features two anime-style nekos, Priscille (female) and Cryo (male), who awaken without pasts or clothes in a Garden of Eden. She says “nya” a lot. They are watched over by a Goddess:
“From Her domain, she espied all that happened in the garden. Her Garden, Her land, and now … The lost one would be the salvation, the mother of Her new people, Her new worshippers who would spread Her name throughout the lands. She shook Her ethereal head at the fortune that chance had taken to bring the lost one here. From what bare glimpse She had into her mind… What darkness had befallen her? Her eyes were wet with Her pity, and Her tears filled the waterfall with Her mercy. Her image, as one could now see, was that of a great cat on two legs. A white and gold robed dress draped Her form, and an exquisite crown of gold, lapis lazuli, and silver was upon Her head. Her fur was that of a grey cat, with expressive blue eyes.
But I can change My form… Her feline mouth turned a smile as She assumed a more familiar form. Now, She was as She had once been depicted, a cat-headed humanoid. Her skin, before the fur of Her neck, was that of sun-kissed, dark bronze. The robed dress now seemed to flow and ebb around Her form, and She floated down the waterfall to examine Her Garden. She smiled, and Her feet touched the ground. Where She stepped, light shone. Her domain may have been once the moon, and indeed, She still had a fondness for it, but She could also appreciate the sun too.” (pgs. 90-91)
The world beyond the Garden is a ruined wasteland:
“A great, limitless landscape. Grey and ashen were the lands that stretched forth, and glints could be seen, here and there. The land looked… ravaged, broken, in despair. Her form shimmered, changing to look more like the nekos; a woman with a cat’s head. Those feline eyes turned toward the two, Cryo of the Garden, and Priscille the Lost, now Found.” (p. 96)
It is implied that humanity has ruined the earth, and the Goddess is replacing them with nekos. She tells Cryo and Priscille to go forth, and multiply. She doesn’t tell them how to go about it, but they sure have a lot of fun experimenting.
“Leather Boots” by Thurston Howl doesn’t have any women. Just Jonas, a drunken Canadian businessman visiting Japan, and “Puss in Boots”, a man wearing magic leather boots that turn him into a neko – a cat man with cat ears and tail and claws sharp enough to kill. Jonas doesn’t care about that, however. He’s gay, and the cat man looks hot enough to kill for …
“The Good Girl” by E. S. Lapso features two characters; Samson, a human, and Sora, a demi-human neko. Sora is a cat-boy, but Samson makes him dress as a girl – a French maid:
“Blushing scarlet red, Sora stood and undid the button above his tail on his boxers. ‘P… pervert. This is so stupid, mew.’ Sliding them down, the petite neko crossed his legs as he tried to ignore the swelling of his shaft; the slight chub reminding him just how much at least one small part of him was loving this. Hissing inwardly, he threw the boxers at his master’s face before hurrying to pull the panties up his thighs. He had to adjust his cock a bit to fit easier which left a damning bulge in the front. ‘There! Happy, mew?’” (p. 109)
Okay; this is definitely Adult. Don’t worry; Samson and Sora are both adults. They’re gay lovers who trade off.
“Lacuna Vice” by Searska GreyRaven starts with Gan, a cyberneko hedonist at the Purgatory nightclub:
“Gan examined his reflection in the mirror behind the bar for the fifth time that night, fussing with the lay of stray hairs along his bleach-blond mohawk. A trickle of light flowed down the pair of tear-streak nanotats on his face while he fidgeted. Vanity, thy name is Ganymede, he thought. He finally gave up and returned to people-watching.
Across from the hookah bar, Purgatory’s dance floor writhed with new blood. Spliced chimeras danced, raved, and dazzled under blacklight, expressing a rainbow of modification from simple fangs or pointed ears to full body morphs. Gan watched as a canine-spliced woman led a lovely young man into the fray. In another time and place, she would have been called a werewolf. Soft grey fur, digitigrade legs, and a long, sly muzzle. A fluffy tail swished from beneath a short red skirt as she bounded onto the dance floor. The human, on the other hand, looked perfectly normal. Aside from the smart-cloth shirt and pants in a garish shade of neon green, he didn’t appear to have a scrap of tech or gene mod in him.” (pgs. 118-119)
Nobody is what they seem. In more than one way. “Lacuna Vice” gets my vote as both the most spectacular and the cleverest tale in this anthology.
“Pussy Perfect” by Kandrel is spelled Pussy Purrfect in the story:
Spoken from ten smiling mouths simultaneously, the generic greeting took on a rather unsettling tone. Lee wasn’t sure what it originally meant. He wasn’t sure anyone really knew, but every asian [sic.] store had someone inside who shouted it – sometimes constantly. Even this far from Tokyo, Nestled [sic.] in between the VR Pleasure Palace and a neuropharmacy that advertised performance enhancing brainware, was a slim storefront. ‘Pussy Purrfect’ glared in garish pink script, next to a winking cat face. Just inside the door was a throng of the shop’s one and only product: cat girls. They stood alert and perfect in every way. In other stores, the goods were at least in some way obfuscated from view, so that the nervous shopper could pretend that they had found their way there by accident. ‘Oh dear! I seem to have turned into this store looking for a new pair of shoes. My mistake.’ But in Pussy Purrfect, the neko girls were blatantly naked, goods clearly on display.” (pgs. 137-138)
Lee and three friends – two English girls and two boys visiting Japan – decide to go in for a lark. They’ll be sorry — or will they?
Purrfect Tails (cover by Monori Rogue) is a fun beginning for a new furry (and anime) specialty publisher. Buy it, and help them publish more.
*Armoured Fox Press is also a bookshop at Canadian furry conventions, to import and sell the furry books of the U.S. furry publishers that don’t go into Canada. AFP has first appeared at Fur-Eh! 2018 in Edmondton, AB on 14-17 June.
World Wild Fur Camp – October 5-7, 2018
For Southwest Ohio (and everywhere) fandom
You know what’s an amazing drink? Blend watermelon chunks with tequila and lime. Nothing else! So fresh, so simple.
That’s what I brought to a visit at the fur house of Ratchet Fox, one of my closest neighbors. Ratchet directs stage events at a bunch of fur cons, including BLFC. It has one of the fandom’s highest budgets for their eye-popping setup. While I blended fresh fruit for the fabulous fox, he showed me videos of what they do with over a million dollars of equipment.
“One reason BLFC succeeds is the way they spare no expense on that main stage”, he told me. “Not every con understands how important that is. Lots of furs go to party with their friends, and might not go to the dealer’s den or panels – but the main stage is the one thing that draws everyone.”
Huge and glitzy is one way to make magic. But sometimes you need a change of pace. Something laid back, less crazy, and more personal, where you don’t just have too-short drive-by meets with friends. And I love the idea of breaking out of the comfy but predictable hotel experience. (That’s why street fursuiting is my favorite thing.) How can it be more naturally furry?
Hotel Staff Can't Wait For Furries To Come Try New Natural Habitat Rooms— Dogpatch Clickbait (@DogpatchNewsBot) September 4, 2018
Furry camping events are the answer. Big cons in news are the urban and hotel kind, but the oldest continuous furry event in North America is Camp Feral in Canada. Smaller local gatherings can have big advantages. I’ll bet cheap rental cost can make it easy to start (especially when it’s not summer break for kids.) And the activities can be more unique, the friendships more intimate, and the show is the outdoors. Nature makes the magic. Woods, stars, campfires, fresh air… so simple.
World Wild Fur Camp is the fandom’s newest:
Get ready for a brand new style of furry get-away! WWFC is taking furries to the great outdoors of Ohio for a family friendly outdoor adventure. Here at WWFC you can enjoy 3 days of fishing, archery, hiking, camp fires, ghost stories and so much more outdoor fun! You’ll be staying in a huge cabin, one of 10, that holds up to 30 people each! … Did we mention that there are meals included? Only 115$ each for the entire 3 day and 2 night stay!
Making even another difference from usual cons, this camp prefers drinking at bars nearby but not on site. That seems like the best of both worlds for welcoming families but getting to party without having to overindulge.
I chatted with the chair, The Dog Father Al CaBone. Al is a gregariously enthusiastic dog who I think got fursona inspiration from a love for pro wrestling. (I think he’d wanted to make furry wrestling for an entertaining crossover with its live, theatrical spectacle. Maybe he’ll make an outdoor show for future camps.)
The Camp is a way to bring people together to forge friendship in a family atmosphere instead of a hotel. Attendees share space in a cabin and it is called a Guild house. WWFC is the number 1 spot for furry entertainment. Not to compete with other cons or events but to be the event that attendees will not forget. They can enjoy a weekend that just may change their life.
Speaking of entertainment, would you miss the hug powered con fursuiting? Guests of Honor Marks Barks and Gerce have you covered. (Maybe literally if you ask.) There’s a lot to say about costuming and fun stuff, things you might never think of at a regular con. See the excitement it’s been making below.June 19, 2018
So, just so that you know. This year will be the first World Wild Fur Camp (@wwildfurcamp) and they will be holding some type of trick or treating activity one night. Says so on their camp schedule, see! pic.twitter.com/8YEnEm6T1H— Delta EverGreen(@WWFC) (@anno_martyrum) September 5, 2018
Here’s news from Joe Strike – you may have seen his recent piece for Flayrah about “stealth fur.” Joe’s Furry Nation book got a lot of love here. He seems to have a sequel in the works (not sure how much I’m supposed to say, but there may be a chapter from a certain dog’s paw!) Joe saw an article making fun of furs in MAD magazine, and sent this piece. With so much going on in the news, I think it’s a bit refreshing to get gentle joking. Honestly, I want outsiders to just laugh a little while we can be like this… (- Patch)
MAD Magazine and the “Lighter” (?) Side of Furries
By Joe Strike
NOTE: This article contains a spoiler, if you worry about that sort of thing…
It only took three issues, but the re-launched MAD magazine took note of us in the final chapter of “Boonies Burbs and Burgs,” a short-lived feature charting the travels of three young cousins. If you thought MTV’s Sex 2K or CSI gave us a hard time…hoo boy, you’ve got another fershlugginer thing coming!
MAD articles always begin with an imaginary department heading. If you needed a tip-off, this installment came from the “Let the Fur Fly Department.” The story begins with a mystery: why is one cousin’s surly dad so eager to take the trio to the “Pop-Con” convention? (“A dad can’t do something nice for his rotten kid and his rotten kid’s even rottener cousins?”)* At the bottom of the first page the threesome come face to face with a blobby guy wearing a cow-themed leather get-up, complete with black leather udder. (“This the line for the Leashes ‘n’ Lashes confurence?”) Sure enough, top of the next page shows a female chicken and donkey pair asking, “this the confurence?” and being told by an overweight Darth Vader “Hall F, as in furvert.”
Trouble’s afoot, judging from the animal noises (“MOO…OINK…SQUEE”) coming from Hall F. Finally the wall gives way and an avalanche of fursuiters—giraffes, dragons, kangaroos and more, oh my!—tumble into view. (“Furry orgy tsunami!” a fleeing spectator shouts.) In the final panel a rat in the middle of the furpile removes his head, revealing himself as (SPOILER DEAD AHEAD!) surly dad—the furtive furry is a grumpy greymuzzle! “Today was frickin’ awesome!” he exclaims, wrapping up the tale. Way to go, dad!
It wasn’t hard to track down Bob Fingerman, the story’s artist and writer and give him a piece of my furry mind…
On behalf of all the furries in the world…thanx a lot buddy! (As if CSI wasn’t bad enough.)
We’re coming for you with an adorable pink French poodle suit (with EXTRA sph’s) and a giant size tube of Krazy Glue. Once we suit you up and seal you in we’re gonna drop you in the middle of the skankiest furpile we can find and post all the videos on YouTube for your friends and relatives to enjoy…
Seriously, I laughed my tail off at the comic—thanx much for the “kind” attention. BTW not sure if you’re aware that ConFurence was a real thing, the very first furry convention that began in 1989 and ran for a goodly number of years. You can read the “hole” story in my book Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood [because of creeps like you] Subculture. Wish I could send you a copy but they go for $18 a pop—cheap!
Bob was cool enough to write back:
Thanks for reaching out. I definitely find humor in the Furry phenomenon, but in the MAD strip I think they come off far more lovable than the comic con attendees. They’re just trying to have a good time (and succeeding). Hell, it’s the only time the dad is happy in the strip…thanks for having a sense of humor. Those seem in shorter and shorter supply these days. When we need them most. -Best, Bob
PS: I can look forward, now, to my Facebook wall being inundated with Furry links from looking up your book on Amazon, so consider your “revenge” achieved. Ha ha.
I took another look at Bob’s website – bobfingerman.com – and saw something I’d overlooked, which necessitated a follow-up email to the guy:
I just noticed the first thing on your website is a cartoon of you…as a rat! Representing yourself as an anthropomorphic animal character makes you a furry, you do realize that? Thanks for making Dad a furry in the strip too, nice to know he and I have something in common.
Unfortunately, in my eagerness to see the world through furry-colored lenses I had misinterpreted the image…
The character on the homepage of my website isn’t me, it’s a character for a graphic novel I didn’t get to do. Probably won’t get to do anytime soon. But follow your bliss, sir.
To which I could only apply by way of apology…
Sorry ’bout that. (I guess the resemblance confused me. )
( * All words in bold type are reproduced as they appeared in the magazine.)
Like it says above, Joe Strike is the author of Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood [because of creeps like Bob Fingerman!] Subculture. Find out more about this great book at: www.furrynation.com
Content warning: extreme animal abuse
With no fanfare, public attention was riveted by a leak of private data spread by a Twitter account linking to a Telegram channel. It held compiled .rars hosted on Mega, containing chat logs, images and videos exposing years of activity. It was sourced from secretive chat groups connected to furry fandom.
The data implicated a ring of users sharing fetish material of unspeakably sadistic animal abuse. It was graphic evidence of rape, torture and murder of animals for enjoyment. The briefest skim of the Telegram channel was gut-wrenching. Among plain text chats and links, there was a thumbnail of a tied-up dog being raped with a baseball bat. The public response was tremendous shock and disgust.
There’s a list of some of those videos.
I have never once vomited from READING about something, not once has a trigger warning bothered me but this.......this has me crying and gagging among other emotions.....How can people do this and sleep at night????!!!!— Mocha Puppé (@McBittypaws) September 20, 2018
Most furry stuff is harmless creativity, and Dogpatch Press shares positive news about it. But the site also has an established presence for exposing hidden stories, so I was tagged with some highly followed furry accounts and asked to spread the leak. Essentially I was a “first responder” on the scene. Tips came in immediately before the public was even aware, and people were scared about this coming out. It was the focus of an intense smokescreen and I saw it coming from the start.
As it developed, denial and conspiracy built up a highly sensitive and conflicted story. Evidence came out in pieces, got swiss-cheesed by deletions, then pushed back by dishonesty. Of course anyone personally involved would lie their asses off. But then there were ambulance-chasers and hucksters cashing in on fake “debunking”, and deluded fools manipulated by misplaced loyalty.
The task for anyone looking at this is to try to figure out just what the heck is going on; the size and shape of the network, who was complicit but not inside, who did content sharing but not creation, who was directly responsible for uploading toxic files, and who committed crimes.
IMPORTANT PSA, PLEASE RT
If you have information on the Zoosadism Ring, please forward it to myself or @DogpatchPress. Avoid making it public. At this point, posting more leads just reveals more of what we know and gives them time to tie up loose ends! Let the FBI, etc. work!
Bullshit for views
It’s easy to expose a story when evidence is easily found, but fame and attention totally distorted it in this case. Public awareness went FUBAR when everyone focused on one implicated party, because they were the one with a huge following: Kero the Wolf, with over 100,000 Youtube subscribers. Many others in the leaks got little notice because they had few followers.
Those followers were the base for emotionally-fueled defenses and “stand with Kero” efforts. They focus on a supposed conspiracy by mystery hackers with no discernable motive and extremely convenient timing for what would take magically astronomical labor to pull off.
The most popular defense I looked at reached no insight more profound than “HTML is editable”, missing the fact that evidence of messaging exists server-side inside Telegram, not client-side. Then there was absurd garbage-takes about screenshots having usual .jpg compression as if that showed “editing”. Others tried to shoot down decontextualized fragments – such as how a single video attributed to one person wasn’t him (it actually came from sharing, but not being in all videos wouldn’t clear someone of deep complicity.) These were such reaches, they made things look worse.
There's YouTubers defending Kero who don't even know what HTML log files are...
They're analyzing screenshots of logs instead of the log files themselves.
If you see misinformation, call it out and don't let it spread confusion.
The story was muddied by defenders having just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and an audience of passionate and impressionable young people. Let’s be clear: the instant contrarian reactions are full of shit, and people are milking them for views and money. If they don’t focus on the animal victims and an undeniable ring of guilt, a decent course is to shut up and perhaps expect those accused to get lawyers instead. And definitely not gain from the attention.
A proper investigation also should avoid depicting any single participant as the number one guy, and explore the other people caught up in it to establish the existence of a network. That would build the tightest story. The bleak alternative is seeing all the bogus denial prevail, fueling fake news and slimy Youtube careerism built on sexually tortured puppies. You couldn’t write satire as pathetic as this cheap, debased idolatry.
Supposedly, someone invented a giant ring to frame one guy? Let’s cut the crap. Attempts to retcon this into a conspiracy are refuted by the breadth and depth of the evidence. The preponderance of it says there isn’t one – just people who got exposed and want it covered up. The heinous things they did must not be denied.
Vid dates PM's discussing meeting in person to 2 years/9months ago. Multiple chat relationships. Other chats line up with tweets, and the chats were made before the tweeted content (using a time machine, or just same owner using Telegram and Twitter? Those werent hacked tweets.)— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 19, 2018
Issues for investigation
The “real animal” zoophilia line has long blurred the edges of subculture. Stuff like role-play, costuming with consenting adults, rubber fantasy dongs, or enjoying plain TV documentary seem like someone else’s business. I’ve usually left it distinct and needing case-by-case pro handling. I’m not a pro, a cop, a prude, or an outsider. Being an insider to fandom is why I’ve been asked to weigh in with perspective that won’t come from pros.
I’m also not a techie, but spent years of membership with a hackerspace. I sat in the audience at a federal trial and saw how network use hidden by VPN proved a case of hacking with no direct evidence. It’s far-fetched to believe conveniently-timed hacking claims, but you don’t need direct evidence for circumstantially overwhelming proof of participation in a network.
The more time you spend online, the more familiar you may be with the catalog of Nasty Internet Shit, from shock and gore to illegal CP. I’ve previously covered animal abuse by “RL vore”, plus some meta-narrative about how this stuff circulates:
- Youtube’s popular Reptile Channel has a history of banned animal abuse by JonahVore.
- R.C. Fox arrested for child pornography, furries question fandom connections.
- Furries vs. Evil: Habits in geek social spaces
This story makes a new wrinkle. Necro-zoo and zoosadism/”hardzoo” are words I’d never imagined using in years of writing. (Yeah, it makes me barf, how about you?) I wouldn’t be surprised to see new laws made about legality of such files, like when crush fetish files were outlawed in 2010. It’s that unprecedentedly bad.
But so far sharing files that leaked appears to be legal. I’ll bet last century’s laws haven’t caught up to networks connecting individual abuse cases in scattered jurisdictions. They will get hidden. These networks might also have a lot of passive viewers who may not know of the extreme abuse, and some may be many peoples’ friends, causing conflict of interest about info sharing. So, suppose professional investigation happens, but given the nature of the material and how it came out, it gets stymied by the disinformation, geographic dislocation and inadequate laws. What should happen short of findings by cops and courts?
The prospect of all of this getting brushed under the rug is, of course, the reason why it may have been spread in public in the first place. That’s a solid reason to dismiss denials based on it not being handled by law enforcement first (it was reported) while sources duck backlash.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is a standard for court, not life. It’s a legal construct for if you’re charged with an offense by the State. Courts aren’t perfect and let people off on technicality all the time; and employment, public opinion or politics (like do you believe this candidate?) are some of many situations where judgement lands in between getting off completely unscathed, and being convicted of crime and sentenced to prison. Documenting and seeking change can help.
Ignoring the evidence is part of the story, so is the fact that laws don't cover many of the events in it as crimes, yet. That requires actively updating the laws. Until that happens it's beyond the capacity or responsibility of police. #metoo is a similar movement— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 24, 2018
This is crucial: Animals can’t talk, so their abuse may never come out (especially if evidence is disposed or untraceable). Authorities may consider this too low level for followup that would go to human abuse. But we all know this is horrible beyond words. And for people who did it, it’s part of a spectrum that can eventually lead to much worse, the “dark triad” of behavior. If that sounds like a slippery-slope or thoughtcrime type argument, ask yourself if you would let people into this stuff babysit your pet. No? Then we have an issue beyond a crime issue. It’s not a disagreement, this stuff is universally scarybad. So this isn’t just for cops. It’s a social issue.
How this fandom handles members remorselessly raping animals to death – or gives them a pass – will be a test beyond any other that has ever happened here.
I am not in the business of pulling punches, Kero the Wolf is not an isolated incident he is part of a grander problem with the image of the furry YouTube community that needs to be addressed. pic.twitter.com/wQZpDQrHv1— The Hunt for Reh October (@GrapeNutHero) September 20, 2018
Instead of the usual link to Patreon that goes at the bottom of these articles, please share the story and don’t let it die.
@LondonFurs are a large community of creative artists, costumers, and fans of anthropomorphised animals. “We host bi-annual seasonal events, too!”
If you’re anywhere near the UK, get ready for their Furry Invasion event at the Heart of Gaming, in Croydon, London. It’s an evening of tournaments, VR, arcade, and e-sports with prizes, and it’s sure to be the highlight of the LFG Online community.
“I’m super proud of the team involved in the set up and am really excited to be able to promote and support gamers in the furry community”, said Londonfurs chair Ani Boxer. The group has just bolstered its committee with new members. It’s currently run by 20 volunteers and is soon to have it’s 300th furmeet. Whatever game brings you to this meet, everyone’s a winner with dedication like that.
This was written as introduction for a planned series. I edited it to stand alone in response to recent events of bad things being exposed. Expect to see it reposted in the future to fit a series. It’s kind of a thinkpiece to provoke open ended conversation. Let’s start with a weird question… (- Patch)
Q: How are furries like Catholic Nuns?
Aside from silly headgear or being anthropomorphic penguins… this isn’t about being moralistic, but it involves contrasting black-and-white appearances.
Do nuns make you think nice thoughts about The Sound of Music or Mother Teresa, with harmless ladies playing guitar and taking care of orphans?
For a huge contrast, now think of scandals with abusive priests, where churches shift them from diocese to diocese to cover it up. It’s easy to assume nuns don’t do abuse like that. Until news comes out that they do, but the church hasn’t been accountable. This news may be loaded with a certain counterintuitiveness that increases the WTF factor. But in both cases, it’s dishonest to blame individuals for an institutional problem.
Furry fandom is made of loose federations of groups. Almost all of them are super positive and friendly and it would be gross exaggeration to suggest an institutional problem like above. It’s not a church with a pope. At worst, dramatic stories like a ring of abuse in Pennsylvania was limited to personal friendships that didn’t go as far as alleged. (Lupinefox, who was accused of hosting it at his house, was found not guilty on all charges in court.)
Like anywhere else, fandom has a section of wrongdoers. They may get away with it by moving from group to group with little documenting. Fandom has no single leaders, just volunteer organizers or mods who may passively tolerate bad members by saying: “it didn’t happen here, it’s not our problem…”
If nobody claims responsibility, is everybody blameless? You can say of course “it’s not our problem” when it’s just individuals.
But then comes a group habit of flipping blame at those who speak out (which will be a followup topic to this article.) People dismiss serious and well-founded problems as drama. That’s where “not our problem” becomes a problem itself, especially if it’s a pre-programmed habit.
Habits aren’t just for nuns. (See also):
- Geek Social Fallacies – individual principles don’t work the same on group level.
- The Missing Stair – A group may excuse an untrustworthy member by working around them, rather than dealing with them.
Complicity is a good word for a group habit of harboring dysfunction and dismissing accountability. Let me emphasize that I don’t think it’s a fandom problem (fandom has the solution too). It’s a human problem that happens with sub-groups of this subculture.
A followup article will look deep into sub-groups that aren’t just passive, but exist to manipulate these group habits. They straddle a line of individual deniability for members. To cover up complicity, they claim “guilt by association” as a two-faced tactic. They even project on others, like throwing grease on the stairs and accusing people who point out broken stairs.
More and more, fandom is no longer buying excuses for complicity.
More about truth, denial, and complicity in geek spaces.
Recently I brought some friends to the movie Blackkklansman. It was worth comparing to Sorry To Bother You (a movie recommended to furry fans for certain reasons I won’t spoil). They told stories with comic-book-lurid content but socially aware smarts. They’re fun with a point.
After the movie, we took time to digest it. I mentioned how the director of Sorry To Bother You had feedback about Blackkklansman that could change the understanding of what we saw. It’s based on some real happenings but the story uses a made-up conflict for dramatic effect. Basically it pits law and order against racists for a simple hero/villain Hollywood fairy tale. But in real life, the good guy of the movie wasn’t such a good guy. You have to read outside the movie to learn the story-behind-the-story.
- Movie story: good guys vs. the KKK.
- Criticism: Police were infiltrating and undermining activists that the KKK also hated (Martin Luther King was target of attempts to smear him.)
Our conversation jumped to Spotlight, the movie about exposing the scandal of child abuse by the Catholic Church. This powerful, conservative institution hid pedophile priests by shuffling them from diocese to diocese, concealing records and the trail of victims. Confronting the church with lawyers made victims play David vs. Goliath. The church’s defense strategy was mainly saying “it’s too old” and relying on statutory limits (because they concealed evidence beyond the limits). That isn’t a real defense, it’s a deflection – and they just couldn’t avoid stone-cold facts. Justice hadn’t happened, so whether the law accommodated it or not, the social confrontation brought out a story-behind-the-story.
My movie watching friends included someone of an older generation, who had studied to be a Catholic nun in the 1960’s in the Northeast US, the millieu of these happenings. They commented “You never hear about nuns doing that, it tells you about who should be in charge”. Sure, nuns look like harmless old ladies, but harm is contextual. I answered “you don’t hear about it because people think they aren’t capable, and that’s how they get away with it.” (My reference included the “Magdelane laundries” of Ireland, and the residential school system of Canada where horrifying abuse was covered up.)
Like a voodoo prophecy come true, a week later, a journalistic expose was published about abuse in orphanages by Catholic nuns in the northeast US. It’s extensively documented by the article, but it was harder to expose than the Spotlight story – because they didn’t just shuffle abusers around to conceal evidence, they didn’t keep records at all. The reporting relies on testimony. The institutional response was to not just rely on statutory limits, but also portray victims as old and confused despite “a vast and horrifying matrix of corroboration”. It took social confrontation to bring out a story-behind-the-story.
If you read it, you may notice this example of dishonest both-sidesing:
When the system enables this kind of institutional complicity, it changes from an equal both-sides disagreement to a David vs. Goliath battle.
Goliath straddles lines. In the first example (Blackkklansman) it looks like a good vs. evil story, but the lines become blurry when you look deeper. In the second example (Church abuse) it is a good vs. evil story, but the church wants to hide it by making blurry lines.
Sometimes truth benefits from a tug-of-war across blurry lines, but sometimes that’s dishonest. The issue is when to dismiss reactionary contrarianism and keep some basic things crystal-clear, black-and-white. It’s easy with institutional child abuse. Same for hate groups who have no legitimate reason to exist.
A productive discussion can benefit from a variety of perspectives. Not all are legitimate. They must reject bad faith and complicity with it. That’s why a supposed division about “both sides” about nazis or child abusers isn’t a legitimate disagreement, and isn’t about right vs. left. It’s about lying vs. truth.
For differing perspectives in good faith, from people who value individualism (perhaps conservative or libertarian), I’ve learned to appreciate that no individual is a statistic. That’s how you can look at nuns as responsible for abuse (no matter whether women or powerful men run the church.) From the type of person concerned with “social justice”, the kind who doesn’t excuse institutional abuse, I’ve learned that you can only bend statistics and facts so far before they break from reality.
Having a certain narrative or side isn’t a problem as long as some things are commonly held to be non-negotiable, with no “centrist” compromise or “alternative facts”, they can’t be deflected and aren’t “fake news” or “not our problem”.
A fandom has a real community, but little top-down power. It makes a group dynamic where it’s hard to get accountability and easy to fall into denial and complicity. That can be both a strength and a weakness. Abusers don’t get protection of some pope somewhere. But there’s also few watchdogs with enough vision to easily catch them manipulating it.
There’s just everyone. Each member who claims any part in the group has the power to demand better from others. When everyone expects better, there’s nothing that abusers/trolls/enablers can do to call that a division, dismiss it as drama, demand centrist compromise with bullshit, or call bad faith a matter of individual freedom. That’s when you get a united community of individuals all wanting one thing – a good place to enjoy what brought them there.
Very well said. https://t.co/Myzd7Xdkcj— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 19, 2018
Good thread linked within
TL;DR: "Fraudulent ideas" are toxic goods that destroy the "marketplace of ideas"
(and that's why you don't play the debate me game with altfurs and alt right hate groups, and it doesn't matter what convenient label they use)https://t.co/sS82ynlXwn
Hey. How are you doing? Is today treating you well? I hope so. Today I want to share something with you guys. Nothing big. Nothing crazy. Just a silly sweet thing I found and want to share if you haven’t heard of it already.
I’ve been really into the animated storyteller side of YouTube lately. You know your TheOdd1sOut, Jaiden Animations, Let Me Explain Studios, SomethingelseYT, I’m obsessed with these guys. The latest one I’ve found is Emirichu. Heard of her? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. You wouldn’t believe how many of these animated storytellers there are. But I came across one of her videoes in my recommended feed: How I Met My Favorite Animator! (and cried… a lot) Through this video, she shares an old 2004 animated web series from Korea called There She Is!! And if you need a pick me up then you need to watch There She Is!!
There She Is!! was first uploaded to Newgrounds in 2004. The show is five short episodes or steps about a young bunny girl, Doki, falling in love with a cat boy, Nabi, in a society that does not approve of their “taboo” love between the species. This flash animation was created by a three-person crew SamBakZa from 2004-2008. Anyone familiar with Newgrounds won’t be surprised by this show since it’s one of the most popular on the site.
What makes this show worth watching is how they tell their story with no dialogue. Each episode uses a different song to express the mood of the step. Whether it’s joyful, silly, or serious. They let their animation speak for itself and you will feel all the emotions. When I saw it I thought it would be cute, but by the end, I was teary eye. I have a thing about love stories fighting to be themselves in a society that doesn’t understand. I’m a romantic what can I say.
Step 4 is my personal favorite. It’s the most emotional and they make everything look like one continuous shot. It’s amazing. The good news is you don’t need to search for these five steps. The crew combined all the episodes into one twenty five minute movie for you to watch. So if you find you need a pick me up, why not give There She Is!! a shot? It’s only twenty-five minutes. Brew up some tea or hot cocoa. Maybe even treat yourself with a few marshmallows. Sit back and relax with a show I promise will brighten your day.
Till next time Fluffer Nutters. Be awesome. Be amazing. Be you. And have a nice day.
– Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Editor’s Note: Hello, Matthias here. It has been brought to my attention that some of the words Fred used are transphobic. As it is my job to format, I failed to take the time to look over the words being said nor to prepare readers for them. I apologize to the trans community for not doing better. I’ll keep a keener eye over what we print and talk to Fred over any potential issues in future reviews. CW: the following review contains examples of transphobia and homophobia. You are free to express your concerns in the comments below. Thank you. I promise to do better. – Matthias
Claw volume 1, edited by Kirisis “KC” Alpinus.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, July 2018, trade paperback, $19.95 (266 pages).
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
For the first time in eleven years, Bad Dog Books has added a new anthology series to its popular FANG and ROAR titles. FANG, beginning in 2005, is for adult M/M homosexual erotic short fiction. ROAR, beginning in 2007, is for non-erotic short fiction. Now CLAW, beginning in 2018, is for adult F/F lesbian erotic short fiction.
Bad Dog Books was started by Alex Vance in Amsterdam in September 2005, as Osfer’s Joint Publications, to publish “the finest modern homoerotica to the anthropomorphic reading public” with FANG, “The Little Black Book of Furry Fiction”. Osfer’s changed its name to Bad Dog Books the next year, and ROAR, “The Little White Book of Furry Fiction”, was added for literate furry non-erotic fantasy in July 2007. The two were marketed in the U.S., along with BDB’s novels, by FurPlanet Productions. But Alex Vance had health problems, and it was awkward running a furry specialty publisher whose sales were primarily in the U.S. from the Netherlands. On December 14, 2011, Vance sold Bad Dog Books completely to FurPlanet Productions in Dallas, Texas. The sale included a requirement that FurPlanet would continue to publish volumes of FANG and ROAR annually under the BDB imprint. In 2013, FurPlanet expanded Bad Dog Books as its imprint for all electronic book sales.
Now FurPlanet Productions feels that feminine participation in furry fandom has grown to the point that there is a viable market for adult F/F erotic fiction. CLAW is intended to be an ongoing 18+ short fiction anthology.
“Thirteen authors have come together to create this collection of hot tales that show what happens when the ladies take the center stage. They’ve come to turn a few heads while strutting their stuff and throwing caution to the wind.” (back-cover blurb)
“Contextual Intercourse” by Erin Quinn is about three girls at a rave: Blair, a raccoon with heavy eye makeup to hide her mask; Dyna, a deer with antlers (reindeer?) who constantly refers to itself as “they”; and Marcy, the rave’s DJ who goes by Crimson Fluff. At least one of the girls is transgender. The sex between two of them is consensually hot ‘n heavy. CLAW’s cover by Teagan Gavet illustrates the rave. I think the use of “they” to refer to an individual is needlessly confusing, but I recognize that some people prefer it to “it” which they consider demeaning.
“The Beating of Wild Hooves” by Dwale is set in a grimly regimented society where euthanasia is the regular fate of those deemed unproductive. When Meg, cat, becomes sure that her foreman at work plans to sexually assault her, she asks Babs, a Scottish blackface ewe, to teach her how to defend herself. Babs is an accomplished fighter in the arena of combat sports, martial arts for female ungulates. There is some sexuality between Meg and Babs, but the emphasis of the story is on Babs as a martial artist:
“She cleared the weigh-in and stepped into the scanner, a machine the size of a wardrobe. With its twin, gleaming-white panels, it looked like a cross between a refrigerator and a waffle iron. The ring lights dimmed when they switched it on.
The doctor crouched over the display, spectacles reflecting the screen through the eyeholes in his hood. He was looking for contraband, anything that might breach one of hoofbeats’ most sacred tenets: that unnatural weaponization of the limb was prohibited. Whether by the addition of studs or spikes, internal or external, or through power return in the form of motors, springs, hydraulics, artificial muscle fibers or any other such mechanism, the rule against unnatural weaponization was absolute. Violation meant a permanent ban.” (pgs. 54-55)
In “The Church Mouse” by Madison Keller, Anise Pentti, an elderly mouse, goes to church to pray for the memory of Chandra Munix, her partner of forty years, who died a year earlier. As long as she is in the church, Anise decides she may as well go to confession. She finds a dead body in the confessional.
This is a murder mystery, but much more than a murder mystery. The murdered body is Anise’s own, but from when she was much younger. Anise feels rejuvenated since discovering her own dead body. She finds Chandra alive and well at home. There are more oddities:
[Two police detectives have come to Anise’s apartment to interview her about the body.] “‘Please, have a seat.’ Anise followed this up by sinking down into her favorite spot on the loveseat.
However, rather than sitting the rats continued looming about the room. Detective Gruenhut went over and picked up one of the framed pictures from the mantle. He held it up and squinted at it, snickered, and passed it to his partner. Detective Boom laughed out loud. Anise racked her brain trying to remember what pictures were on the mantel and why they might be funny but couldn’t think of what they might be looking at. They deliberately kept the pictures in the living room bland, things like her grandpups’ school photos.
Boom grinned and shook his head. ‘Where’s this park at? I’d love to take my pups.’ He flipped the picture around to show it to Anise.
Anise had to stare at it for a lone moment. It wasn’t a picture she’d ever seen before. The picture showed her and Chadra riding a dinosaur, horns, frills and all. Chandra had a big grin on her muzzle and was holding a frilled parasol. The dino was in a running pose, their dresses were flapping, and their fur was plastered back, as if they really were moving fast.” (pgs. 66-67)
After the detectives leave, Chandra explains what’s going on. It involves deliberate time travel to commit or to stop murder, and Anise and Chandra having graphic lesbian sex. “Ewww.” It’s really complicated.
The main characters in “Tempered” by Crimson Ruari are Kahina, a hyena, and Retha, an African painted dog. Both have daughters, Kahina from a recently divorced marriage, and Retha – well, she and her grandmother have a loose lifestyle. Kahina meets Retha when she takes a class in “Chocolate 101: Chocolate for the Home Enthusiast” because her therapist recommended, “that getting out was part of learning to be single again”. Retha volunteers her home for some chocolate-making practice for the two of them. Both Kahina and Retha are bi, and do you need it spelled out for you?
In “A Simple Wager” by Holly A. Morrison, Aventine is a rabbit priestess and Cora is a skunk warrior meeting in a tavern. Despite the D&D stereotypes, it’s the priestess who’s wild and looking for fun, and the warrior who’s naïve. The simple wager is that whoever loses a game of chess has to share a drink with the winner. Cora loses (she suspects that Aventine cheats). The rabbit not only picks the drink but:
“‘We’ll have that drink in my room, if that’s alright,’ she said, giving Cora a swift pat on the shoulder as she passed.
Cora stared after the bunny, half-formed protests dying on her lips. With a grunt, the skunk pushed herself away from the table, ignoring the stares of the tavern’s patrons. She allowed herself to be shown to the small, steamy bathing room, complete with an oversized tub brimming with hot water.” (pgs. 103-104)
Cora gets a lot more than a drink. But hey! it’s consensual.
The main characters in “Support” by Kristina “Orrery” Tracer are Ndidi, an anthro impala, and Aqua, an anthro mouse, her wife, in Gujarat, northwestern India. But they are anthro animals only through months of painful surgery. Aqua is a newly-made mouse, and Ndidi, the narrator, is helping (supporting) her to adjust:
“‘It’s okay,’ I whispered as I pulled her against me. ‘It was a long time ago. I thought I was over it, but I guess I’m not.’ I hugged her carefully, mindful of her stitches, then let go. ‘I’ll let you finish.’
She kissed my muzzle, then smiled at me. ‘Would you help me with my skirt, then spot me to the mirror? I want to see how I look.’
I smiled back and nodded. ‘Can you stand?’ She raised herself onto her crutches, and I knelt to carefully work her skirt past her hips. The back of the bedroom door had a full-length mirror on it, and I escorted her over to it. An anthropomorphic mouse stood in its reflection, leaning heavily on her medical crutches. Teal-blue eyes darted about as she took in all her changes. Her light grey pelt was still awkwardly short and pink skin showed through in places, riddled with fresh, angry scars from the full-body rebuild. Her front teeth hadn’t yet fully grown in, so her muzzle looked oddly bare as she opened her jaw and studied herself. She didn’t look like the picture she’d shown me three years ago, the one that started this journey. Behind her, an impala stood, tan fur shaved oddly short, the white of her chest and black spot on her forehead pale against the skin beneath. ‘It’ll improve in time,’ I cautioned her, remembering my own shock at seeing myself the first time. In the mirror, the impala’s hoof gently gripped the mouse’s shoulder with blunt black-tipped fingers.” (pgs. 119-120)
The pain may make you wince, but the love of the two women for each other comes through more powerfully than in any other story in this anthology.
“She Who Wears the Mask” by Tenza is either Madi, a raccoon who is into cosplaying, or Annette, a cheetah that Madi is introducing to cosplaying. Their sessions at Madi’s home get increasingly personal. This story is okay, but after the others it seems pretty slight.
In “Trophy Hunting” by BlueSeiryuu, Impa (deer) and Sheera (tigress) are playing an online video game. Impa has to try to score while Sheera tries to distract her:
“Then the sound of a distant gong echoed through the desk to the tigress underneath. The deer’s game had begun.
The tiger grinned, the devilish voice in her head telling her that she needed to taste Impa. Her reward would come when she made the deer moan and a hoof would reach down to pull on one of her whiskers a little too roughly.
The tiger took a deep breath, nostrils filling with the scent of cherries from the deer’s shower gel, mixed with the earthy scent of her desire. She grinned as she pressed her nose against the top of her pussy, chilling the skin and earning a surprised gasp from the deer who yanked roughly on her chain. The tiger chuffed before licking gently, the sandpaper texture making the deer squirm once more.” (p. 146)
Impa loses her concentration and the game. She makes Sheera pay for it. Rowf!
The protagonist in “The True Villain” by Dark End is the costumed villainess Doctor Midnight (skunk), who has just been foiled again by the superheroine Stardust (coyote). DM isn’t as concerned by her defeat as she is about Stardust’s costume:
[DM is relaxing in a bar, The Hideout, after her defeat.] “Midnight gave a quick roll of her eyes and tapped a tongue impatiently on her sharp teeth. ‘Have you seen her costume?’
The mouse [the bartender, Rochelle] shook her head.
The skunk gave an even longer roll of her eyes as if accusing the mouse of not paying attention. ‘She dresses in skintight silver spandex from the neck down, covering every inch of her fur, except, of course, for a big patch right over her oh-so-fucking-perfect cleavage.’
Although Rochelle had mental barriers up, the image in Doctor Midnight’s mind was sharp enough to cut right through. ‘Really?’ Rochelle said.
The skunk took a drink and hmmmed non-commitally in her throat. ‘We were finally making progress. No more stupid mini-skirts and close-cut suits. We could finally wear more practical clothing.’ She gave a tug on her own cloak, which rattled with numerous pockets filled with everything an evil genius might need, far more useful than any utility belt. ‘Then along she comes in that tight little number as if the 90s never happened, flaunting herself all over the place like a centerfold starlet.’” (p. 158)
Rochelle decides to join DM as her minion as they go after Stardust together. They make an interesting threesome.
The protagonist of “Smoky and the Jaybird” by Slip Wolf is Smoky, a woman bear trucker; but all bear truckers are called Smoky and her real name is Lee-Anne. Other characters are Veronica, the otter manager of a Waffle Den coffee shop in West Virginia; April, the Waffle Den’s blue jay short-order cook; and Stickley, a mountain lion male sexist rival trucker. I won’t try to summarize this or quote from it because it’s one of the most complex and best stories in Claw vol. 1, with several surprises. Just read it. You won’t be disappointed.
“Frontier Living” by Jeeves Bunny is okay but too predictable. Tabitha (cougar) is panning for gold in a frontier river when two vicious robbers (Eddie and Ed, badger and rabbit) surprise her. They plan to rob her camp before her husband returns. This being Claw, you know the “husband” will be another woman (Maria, coyote), that they’ll turn the tables on the men-robbers, and that there’ll be a lot of sex afterward.
“Roses” by Searska GreyRaven is a very clever, very lyrical, and adult (but not as steamy as some of the stories in this anthology) retelling of the Beauty and the Beast legend. Again, any meaningful synopsis would give away spoilers, though I will reveal that the Beast is a mixture of wolf and stag. Again, my recommendation is to just read it.
In “The Tutor Learns” by Skunkbomb, Julia (squirrel), the narrator, has come from a Catholic high school to a secular college. She is assigned to tutor two roommates in math, Ramona (otter) and Mark (coyote). Julia understood the students at the college would not be all Catholic, but she didn’t understand what that meant. Or that it applied to her, too:
“I had a roommate my freshman year. Rosy, a mouse, was one of those girls who had strict parents and was tasting freedom for the first time. I made the mistake of letting her drag me to one of those frat parties and mixing my drink. I couldn’t taste the alcohol. It was a great night. We just chatted about how overbearing our parents could be, complained about professors, and I called her cute. She’s a little feisty mouse. Of course she was cute. But then I kissed her. I’m a girl and I kissed a girl. She laughed it off that night, but she didn’t speak to me the same way afterward. At the end of the semester, she didn’t even tell me she was moving in with some other girls.” (p. 241)
Ramona is wild and lezzy. Julia feels that God wants her to be the tutor that Ramona needs, but she learns more than she teaches, in a subject other than math.
13 stories. Only “Support” by Kristina Tracer and “Roses” by Searska GreyRaven are not funny-animal stories where the characters could be human as well as anthro animals, but I confess that some of the funny-animal stories were among my favorites. My favorite picks are “The Church Mouse” by Madison Keller, “The True Villain” by Dark End, “Smoky and the Jaybird” by Slip Wolf, and “Roses” by Searska GreyRaven; but several others are also very well-written. CLAW is a solid addition to FANG and ROAR.
Edited by K.C. Alpinus. Cover art by Teagan Gavet. 266 pages. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-61450-443-6. Released at Anthrocon 2018 in July. As with FANG and ROAR, you must state that you are of legal age to purchase CLAW.
Welcome back to Kijani Lion, who I previously interviewed in 2016. Kijani’s bio includes being a con Guest of Honor and organizer for FurLifeNW and their bowling meet that set a world record for attendance. And he’s been a journalist who contributed to Furry News Network, writing profile articles about outstanding fursuiters in 2011-2013. FNN’s articles seem to have fallen off the web in 2015, but I asked to bring this back.
FNN Fursuiter of the Month (August 2011) was Dogbomb. In 2018, Dogbomb has gotten a lot of love from the fandom with a serious story that you should know before moving on to this reprint. I asked Kijani to write a new update, and that’s in the works. Look forward to it soon. – Patch
Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine (2011)
By Kijani Lion
As long as he can remember, dogs have always been a big part of Tony Barrett’s life.
He has been a registered veterinary technician for the last 16 years, and currently manages a veterinary hospital in his hometown of Costa Mesa, Calif., helping keep local pets healthy and happy.
Barrett, better known as “Dogbomb” among furry fans, also has owned a number of dogs in his life – but one particular German shepherd mix named Rodger stood out among the rest.
“They say everyone that owns dogs has one special dog in their life, and he was the dog,” Barrett recalled. “He was the first dog I got when I bought my first house, he was just a very special dog. Very smart, he was one of those creatures that was in tune with everything that you do.”
Rodger would go on to be Barrett’s best friend for the next 14 years.
After Rodger passed away, Barrett – whose only knowledge of “furry” at the time was something that happened to bread when it was left out for too long – was at dinner with some friends dressed in his typical canine garb.
“I was wearing a shirt that said “Woof,” a hat with a greyhound on it and something else,” said Barrett, adding that his Halloween costumes always included random dog-related accessories. “The waitress comes over and says, “Why is he dressed up like a dog?” My friend turns to her and says, “Don’t worry about him, he’s just a furry.”
Having never heard that term before, he was then subjected to the dreaded “CSI” question, which he hadn’t seen either.
Until he got home that fateful night in August of 2009.
“Of course I thought it was creepy and bizarre,” said Barrett on his initial reaction to the infamous “Fur and Loathing” episode. “But I wanted to look into it more. I Googled ‘furry’ and found some websites, and the more I looked at it, the more I seemed intrigued by it. After that I jumped in with both feet, and really wanted to get involved with it… I discovered it was such a nice social group, so many neat, pleasant, exciting, creative people. It was a nice outlet.”
Needless to say, the furry fandom hasn’t been the same since.
A MAGICAL EFFECT
One of the first things that Barrett did upon joining the fandom was to get a fursuit commissioned, with a design based off of Rodger. That way, his longtime furry friend could be commemorated forever.
He first bought an pre-made head and colored it in to match a character description, and soon after decided to go the whole nine yards, choosing Beastcub Creations to create the final version of Dogbomb.
“I really liked what (Beastcub) had done with realistic suits,” Barrett noted. “She really helped me, she was very kind, and took me through the process. It was very interactive, and she made some suggestions. She was just the right person at the right moment.”
Eventually, the long-awaited package arrived at Barrett’s front door, and he was floored at the result.
“I couldn’t believe it, that she made something come alive like that,” he said. “She really seemed to capture his spirit. It wasn’t just a collection of fur, the whole thing was a very magical effect.”
While some fursuiting enthusiasts prefer to enjoy their craft mainly at conventions and house parties, Barrett admitted that once he started wearing his Dogbomb costume out on the streets of sunny Southern California, he got hooked on the positive reactions and joy he brought to everyone he came in contact with.
“It breaks down all the social barriers,” said Barrett on what he enjoys most about fursuiting in public. “You’re used to, as an adult, walking around and cavorting yourself in a certain way, and all of a sudden you meet some guy in a dog suit and he’s chatting and putting his arm around you. It opens up a whole realm of possibilities that aren’t available everyday.”
AN FA PHENOMENON
Like many enthusiastic costumers, Barrett wanted to share his experiences with the rest of the furry world.
Starting about a year and a half ago, he started posting photos from his fursuit outings on Fur Affinity, mostly at the Newport Beach pier and the surrounding bars, while writing up short, humorous anecdotes accompanying each photo.
“Someone suggested I write a little bit more with the picture, so I tried posting one and writing more of a story about what happened before, during and after the picture, and people seemed to respond to it,” Barrett recalled. “So I kept being long-winded and verbose.”
From that point on, as word spread and his gallery posts got re-linked, Dogbomb practically went viral. Comments and watchers – 2,642 as of press time – came in by the droves, humbling Barrett to his canine core.
“I can’t believe it, it seems surreal,” he said. “I can’t imagine why people would spend time looking at (my stuff).”
Among his most popular posts is the heartfelt and inspirational “Courage on Two Wheels,” during which he relives an encounter with Sarah – a young, wheelchair-bound woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. Numerous additional entries detail true fursuiting magic at work, as Dogbomb tells of his experiences with children that are fully convinced they are conversing with a real talking dog.
Whether they are four or 40, Barrett said he truly enjoys and cherishes every encounter he has with the public.
“(Children) are such wonderful sponges, they’ll just soak up anything and give back so much love,” he said. “To tell the honest truth, some of the adults that I’ve met that at first were so stone-faced and don’t want to really interact or talk – you spend a few minutes chatting with them and all of a sudden you’ve got a friend. They’re smiling, they’re happy… my favorite thing about fursuiting is that people open up, they’ll tell you things that they might not tell anybody else. It’s a really interesting social experiment.”
Up next for the 47-year-old will be attending the furry convention Rainfurrest for the first time in late September, and then he will be eventually getting Dogbomb version 2.0, as his suit has put quite a bit of mileage in just over a year and a half.
In addition, Barrett, an avid runner, hopes to get involved in charity work with the running group he participates in regularly, the Orange Country Frontrunners.
“If we can incorporate fursuiting into that in some way, that would be wonderful,” he said. “I’ve been on a public cable TV show a couple times through work, for an adoption agency that does rescue of strays.”
In 2010, he slogged through 26.2 miles and finished the Los Angeles Marathon, while raising $3,300 a local dog rescue group.
But for now, Barrett simply wants to acknowledge all of the wonderful people he’s met since joining the fandom, and keep doing what he does best – one fursuit-induced smile at a time.
“Just a huge “thank you,” expressed Barrett to all of his supportive fans and friends. “It’s really made a huge difference in my life, the wonderful people that I’ve met, both in person and online. People respond in such positive ways, I’m really gratified by it. It’s been a big positive for me.”
Additional Q & A with “Dogbomb,” Tony Barrett
Q: If you could sum up the “Dogbomb Philosophy of life,” how would it go?
A: Two words: “Have fun.” People get so worked up about doing things in a responsible manner, and living as an adult, people (don’t) let a little bit of silliness and fun into their everyday lives. I think it’s important that we not lose sight of that, and get in touch with our side that is open to having fun, being a little bit silly and a little bit out there, and to help others interact and get a smile too.
Q: What do you think is most important for those that fursuit in public areas to entertain and bring joy to people like yourself, to gain public acceptance moving forward?
A: Interact on a level that is a bit self-depreciating, not trying to put yourself in their face. Say “How are you?” and take an interest in that person. That works under any circumstances. If you want to really make a friend, give them a big smile and ask them a question about themselves, and I think that works especially well for fursuiting because people are gratified that you’re interested.
Sign up to fly: https://canisvulpes.com/furflight/
Super organizer MikeFolf/Canis Vulpes got in touch to share his project of herding an airplane full of furries all the way to Midwest Furfest, taking the good vibes of the con much farther than one city. If you want to go, don’t sleep on this, the seats are filling fast!
FurFlight is a series of group flights on existing commercial aircraft that extends the convention experience to the journey. That reduces stress of travel there, and eliminates PCD on return, with a lot of friends along for the trip.
If they're traveling by plane does that make them a flying carpet?— Zidders RooFurry (@ZiddersRoofurry) September 13, 2018 September 12, 2018
We did a test run for MFF 2017 from SFO. There were over 70 furries on a 110-seat plane, run by Virgin America. Fursuiting was cleared post-security with SFO and Virgin. That allowed for a parade of sorts from screening to gate, with plenty of eager photo ops from other passengers and gate agents.
For many of us, the flight was one of the only times they enjoyed flying. Because of the success, we’re expanding to a flight on Wednesday, as well as a Wednesday and Thursday Flight in Seattle, all operated by Alaska Airlines. They bought Virgin last year and have been bending over backwards to accommodate us, of which we’re grateful for. We’re also looking at what’s tricky about getting to cons, to see how we can smooth out the rough spots.
All FurFlight guests are guaranteed a refundable ticket and group seating, and a PAW (Prepared-Assortment of-Wellness) Pack – which contains basic toiletries, snacks, and treatments to get through the convention. In addition, we have guides – SkyCollies – who are helping guests out with tickets and preparing to fly as well as guiding them through the airports. We also bundle in foods and WiFI for higher paying guests that want a little extra.
The end goal is to make the journey as fun as the con, and we hope to bring this experience to more furries as we look at other cons to expand to.
I’ve included pics from last year and here’s a video that shows Midwest FurFlight in the first bit.
September 13, 2018
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Atlas & Axis [volume 1], by Pau. Illustrated.
London, Titan Comics, July 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (unpaged [160 pages]).
I reviewed the original French editions of Jean-Marc Pau’s four hardcover albums of 80 pages each, La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, on Flayrah and here, from 2013 to 2017. Now here is a trade paperback graphic novel in English of the first two albums combined. (There’s no translation credit. Did Pau translate it himself? See his blog Escápula News. It’s mostly in Spanish, but there’s enough in English to show that he speaks fluent English.) This was published by Titan’s Statix Press as four comic-book issues from February through May 2018. This trade paperback graphic album has followed promptly.
Atlas & Axis is described as a funny-animal Astérix & Obelix, or in the vein of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo or Jeff Smith’s Bone. I can add Carl Barks’ and Don Rosa’s best Uncle Scrooge/Donald Duck stories, and some Japanese graphic novels by Osamu Tezuka or Shotaro Ishinomori. It’s both funny and adventurous/dramatic, with rich, lush art brightly printed on glossy paper.
Atlas and Axis are two dog adventurers, an Afghan hound (Atlas) and a terrier mix (Axis), in the talking-animal world of Pangea, apparently around 1000 A.D. (But events in volume 4, not yet published in English, completely disprove this.) They live near the village of Kanina, somewhere on the coast in what might be northern France. Atlas returns from a mission for their friend Canuto (translating a parchment with a clue to a bone leading to endless food), and he & Axis go to Kanina for a festival. They find it destroyed by Viking raiders, and all their friends killed or kidnapped. Their first adventure together is for revenge against the Vikings and to find Atlas’ kidnapped sister Erika. After that, as Atlas says, “Without our FRIENDS, there’s nothing to keep us here anymore. This is no longer our HOME.”, and later, “What do we do NOW?” They still have Canuto’s parchment with the clue for Chimera’s bone. Axis says, “Oh, yeah? Well, let’s go FIND it then. We’ve got nothing better to do.” And that’s their justification for one quest after another. This volume ends with them taking part (against their wills) in a war against the pirate nation of Escapula (an ingroup reference to Pau’s blog).
One of the quests is started by two academics debating in Mrs. Honey’s Tower Bar over the origin of dogs. One argues that dogs have evolved from wolves, while the other argues for a divine creation by Toby, the dog god. Atlas and Axis go on a quest to far northeastern Sabakistan to look for a tribe of nomads who are rumored to be half dogs and half wolves; “the MISSING LINK in the evolutionary chain between wolf and dog.” They do it because they’re bored. “We’re going on another ADVENTURE!”
The translation is excellent, but there are gags about the dogs sniffing butts throughout the volume that are not in the French. One example: on page 7, panel 2 of the French edition, Axis says only, “Erika!” In the English edition, he says, “Ah, ERIKA! I’d sniff her butt anyday.” These are added about as tastefully as possible, and they do enhance the ambience that this is a canine world. There are plenty of scatological jokes in Pau’s art about Atlas and Axis marking their territory.
This is an animal world, not just a dog world. There are bears, rabbits, goats, and sheep. All can talk to each other, but the predators – including the dogs – casually kill and eat the prey animals. The sheep organize their own response to being eaten: exploding ewes.
There are anachronisms and “errors” throughout the book that look like just gags or liberties taken for dramatic license, but that turn out in the surprise conclusion to the final album (not in English yet) to show emphatically that this is not 1000 A.D. with funny animals. The name Pangea. Atlas and Axis see dinosaurs. There is a dog pastiche of Genghis Khan, who lived a couple of centuries after 1000, and his death in 1227 was nothing like the murder shown here. The exploding ewes.
If you are interested in excellent comic-book funny-animal comedy-drama in the tradition of Barks, Sakai, and Tezuka (and the recently-lamented Vicky Wyman), Atlas & Axis by Pau is a must-have. Get it while it’s available.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All, by Christopher Irvin. Illustrations by Conor Nolan.
Boston, MA, Cutlass Press, October 2017, trade paperback, $16.00 (250 [+1] pages).
“Cal sat along the riverbank atop a wind-swept pile of dry, dead leaves. Bare feet at the water’s edge, pea coat buttoned to his chin. The ancestry of his mixed breed had been lost to time, but if you’d been fortunate to be in the company of a variety of the Canis lupus familiaris, you might think his facial features resembled that of a beagle: dusty white from nose to top of skull blending with a reddish-brown along the sides of his face and lower jaw, eyes sharp with a tinge of sadness, and long ears that dangled near his shoulders, that at first glance might cause one to mistake his nature for more playful than it was. Cal would deem himself a proud mutt, but when you’re head of the sole family of dogs to make their home in the Woods, you become the dog; the definition your face, your actions. All in all, it was a mixed bag – especially considering his past. When you grow up with an exiled raccoon with a penchant for poaching for a mentor, life in the Woods is an uphill battle. Cal clutched a makeshift fishing rod loosely in his paws – a slightly gnarled branch with a bit of moss-dyed twine […]” (p. 11)
Well, this paragraph goes on for another half-page. Author Irvin describes Ragged as like “Fargo meets Wind in the Willows”. The back-cover blurb begins, “In a feral twist on crime fiction, Cal, a mutt with a criminal past, must avenge the death of his wife and protect his pups from the inherent darkness of nature and the cold cruelness of the looming winter.”
As you can tell, Irvin has a laid-back, wordy writing style. Considering the rural backwoods setting, and the animal cast – Duchess, the old hedgehog who runs the General Store, Roderick rabbit with his 26 children (he’s almost immediately killed), Gil the argumentative catfish, Maurice the sly raccoon, head of the Rubbish Heap gang, Billiam Badger the officious town bureaucrat (“I’m the elected official of the Woods […]”), Nutbrown Squirrel the matronly schoolteacher, Ted and Helen Pig, Hugo and Mol Otter, Hank and Myrtle Tortoise, and many more, Ragged at times seems more like Walt Kelly’s swamp community in Pogo. But then:
“Old Brown [a bear] burst from the river, paws outstretched for Cal, who was tense and ready this time, yet Old Brown’s reach was too long and he snatched Cal by his coat as he tried to back away, popping a button loose, wrenching him to the river’s edge, face-to-face. As Old Brown pulled him in, Cal ripped the pistol from his pocket, pulled back the hammer and pressed it into the side of the bear’s skull. The rivals snarled, bared their sharp teeth with clenched jaws.” (p. 21)
Calvin’s wife Winifred has gone away from the Woods. Cal pretends that she’s just on a trip, but he knows that she has been bitten and given an incurable and horrific disease (rabies is hinted at). She has left in secrecy to die before she can give it to anyone else, especially to Franklin and Gus, her and Cal’s rambunctious young pups. Cal is faced with having to raise them as a single father while finding out who or what bit Winifred and avenging her. Plenty of ominous things happen:
“Something round hurtled toward Cal’s left. It rebounded off the side of the house and landed on the porch with a wet thunk. He crouched down to examine the object. It appeared roughly round at first, like an under-inflated leather ball, but when he poked at it with a paw he knew otherwise, and he took a step back from the threat. A small severed head lay on its side. It had been expertly skinned, leaving it devoid of features except for the vacant eyes, which thankfully stared away from Cal at the porch floor, for he almost instantly recognized them.” (p. 56)
There is suspense:
“Cal heard a cry overhead and opened his eyes, startled to catch a glimpse of a broad-winged hawk circling nearby, its head cocked to the side, one eye on the ground. Cal quickly glanced at his surroundings – all naked trees and decaying leaves. Nothing thick enough to hide behind, or layered to burrow under. Then, up ahead he spotted a squat cluster of evergreens, improbably punching out from the base of a short cliff. Beside them, a large oak had fallen, uprooting its base of dirt and roots and creating a narrow tunnel between it, the evergreens, and the cliff face. Cal ducked to stay low and ran forward, hoping his timing was good as he slid over a floor of pine needles and took cover underneath the evergreens. He looked up through the branches and tried to get a bead on the hawk, but the view was obscured. He’d have to expose himself to the sky to see. His mouth ran dry. Trapped.” (p. 103)
“At some point, a well-intentioned animal had cut a burlap sack into a sheet and laid it over the body. Unfortunately, gore had soaked through the makeshift cover in several spots, forming a thick glue-like adhesive, and forcing Cal to place a paw on [spoiler’s] shoulder to hold the body down and peel it off. Immediately he understood why others felt ill at the sight of her. [spoiler] was a mess – her throat ravaged, small bites had torn chunks from her arms, her apron ripped away, the contents of her insides splayed about, as if something had rooted around, unable to find what they were looking for despite having full access. Whoever – whatever – had attacked her had been out of control. Or had wanted to appear that way…” (pgs. 179-180)
Ragged (cover by Matthew Revert) is compared here to the movie Fargo, to The Wind in the Willows, to Watership Down, to Pogo, to Roald Dahl/Wes Anderson, and more. It’s its own thing. Read it for a grisly murder mystery. With cute funny animals.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Dissident Signals, edited by NightEyes DaySpring and Slip Wolf.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2018, trade paperback, $19.95 (349 pages), Kindle $9.95.
“Everyone wants to create a perfect world.
Whether crafted by benevolent computers or drafted in the boardrooms of corporations that own all we ever know, shining cities and indomitable Empires have risen to reveal the very best of us. The leaders we choose, and those forced upon us, can create hell or paradise. Sometimes they create both at the same time.” (blurb)
Of course, things don’t go as intended. This anthology contains “sixteen dystopian stories about greed, power, and control from worlds like ours but not ours. Stories about hope, despair, and those willing to stand up to their oppressors to resist.” (blurb)
The frame, created by the editors and illustrated on the cover by Teagan Gavet, is of a nameless individual holed up in a ruined building, broadcasting sixteen accounts of what went wrong all over the world.
In “0.02%” by Faora Meridian, 0.02% is the amount of the world population that is immune to Core’s brainwashing additive to the air, called Whimsy, making everyone happy and peaceful and docile. Since Core can’t Whimsy-fy the entire atmosphere of Earth, people are brought inside enclosed Colonies all around the world. The 0.02% of the population who are unaffected by Whimsy are considered unmanageable and warlike, and are regretfully euthanized. Jordan Mulley and her brother Blake are freedom fighters among the 0.02%, trying to infiltrate Core Colony Sixty-Two to rescue a youth about to be tested for his susceptibility or resistance to Whimsy. The characters debate whether a world where 99.9998% of people are happy and peaceful in a idyllic setting is bad, if the other 0.02% are killed.
“Chasing the Feeling” by Mog Moogle is like the previous story, but much bleaker. Mirra is also inside an enclosed dome, but the entire world outside is uninhabitable:
“The reddened sky dissipated over the wall. Behind the emitters, the deadly cloud was repulsed and the original shades of night stretched on in its place. With a hiss, the access hatch opened and the vixen crawled in.” (p. 39)
Again, everyone is brainwashed, but the regimentation is much harsher. Mirra also fights against the system, but subconsciously rather than deliberately, and it is implied that it is too late to oppose the system if any life is to survive. “Chasing the Feeling” is better-written than “0.002%”, but more depressing. Both “0.02%” and “Chasing the Feeling” are funny-animal stories. Their characters are described as anthropomorphic animals, but they might as well be humans.
“Losing Yourself” by George Squares does feature humans, in a society where wearing fursuits is mandatory. Okay, they’re enclosed costumes including helmets with a holographic overlay. Macie Owens looks like a “graceful looking orange tabby cat with a dainty pink nose made from holographic light” (p. 57). Inside, she’s sweating to death:
“‘It’s not the fucking animal that’s the problem. I just don’t want to spend the majority of my time in a glorified football mascot.’
Jonas’ costume pupils [he’s a coyote] slit in that angry, predatory way to show that he was about to say something serious, but Macie was so used to it by now that the feature didn’t even phase her. ‘Three centuries of peace and prosperity is nothing to balk at. Especially,’ he hissed, ‘considering the era we woke you up from.’” (p. 58)
Macie has spent 400 years in medical dormant sleep, and the society into which she emerges is what she considers needlessly flamboyant:
“At the entrance of the room was a podium near a red belt fence, and Macie couldn’t help but gawk at the security guard. He stared at her and Jonas as they entered and Macie stared right back. He looked to be at least eight feet tall, and he was… mostly a zebra. He had the arms and legs and tail of a crocodile, and leathery bat-like wings that hung to his sides. They seemed stiff, so they probably weren’t functional. But most distracting were his muscles. He had so many sinews that his body reminded her of a lobster, but probably not as delicious. She looked back and forth from him to Jonas in disbelief. Jonas was ignoring her, and apparently, the security guard was too.” (p. 60)
Macie finds an uninhibited old woman who explains to her what the rules of the new society are, instead of just talking at her like Jonas did. Macie decides what she has to do.
In “The Melting Pot Has Frozen Over” by T. D. Coltraine, enthusiastic but naïve Diana Mondeline, a new Washington, D.C. bureaucrat (human) in the future, decides to visit her district and survey her constituents. She finds that the slum reality is nothing like the reports she has been getting:
“‘It was my idea. I thought it would benefit everyone if I came to Independence District personally and spoke directly with the citizens. It’s something that hasn’t happened in far too long.’
‘But there’s polling data and election results!’ She picked up her tablet again and pointed at a page of numbers, dozens of them, in tightly packed rows almost too dense to read. ‘This is from just last month. The residents approved a six percent tax on luxury items to fund air quality improvements.’” (pgs. 80-81)
Low-class rabbit factory worker Rue Nikolades shows her the reality:
‘But it ain’t what you expected, is it.’
Diana nodded with an uncharacteristic sigh. ‘Everything I’ve heard and seen today is exactly the opposite of my expectations. Worse, it’s the opposite of everything the party says.’ She ran her fingers through her hair then turned her screen towards Rue. ‘Like this. Just last calendar year, we put a full 170 million credits into transit programs. I can’t even find any sign you have the systems the money was meant to upgrade, let along the upgrades.’” (p. 91)
The factory workers are all anthro animals, the descendants of bioengineered soldiers in a war several hundred years earlier, so there is a purpose for their being furry.
“A Road of Dust and Honey” by Searska GreyRaven is set on an Earth turned into a wasteland studded with infrequent Farms under sealed domes. The remainder of this world runs on both machines and magic; a repairman of a cobbled-together rig is a magi-canic. There are a few humans left, but most of the survivors are combinations of human and an animal, called “splices” derogatorily. The stars of the story are Vex, an adult bearkin, and Kine, a juvenile foxkin; the villains are a human and assorted canidkin:
“She rolled up to the next Farm just after dawn, dust settling on her long coat and boots as she hopped from the cab and shouldered Wilson, her rifle. Frick and Frack, her pistols, hung from holsters on her wide hips, polished metal gleaming in the sun. Tucked into her belt was a Y-shaped slingshot, and next to it dangled a small leather pouch cinched shut with a drawstring. Her rig shuddered as it shut down, letting out a wheeze and a belch of blue smoke. Vex grumbled back, entirely unsurprised by her rig’s outburst. She plopped a wide-brim hat atop her head and swept the gauzy veil back out of her eyes.” (p. 105)
Vex is part trucker, part cowboy (that’s sexist, but cowwoman is misleading), and telling what her magic talent is would be a spoiler. The villains are particularly nasty and deserve what happens to them. A well-told story.
“Protecting the Code” by TJ Minde is unusual in that all the characters are a single species, pine martens, rather than the usual variety of funny-animal species. Dixion is a minor bureaucrat in a completely regimented society where doing practically anything without permission is forbidden grounds for being “disappeared”. When Dixion’s kid sister gets pregnant without being married, he helps her to escape into the next country where the people are all wildcats, even though propaganda says the wildcats eat pine martens. The story is smoothly written, but how many stories (usually not furry) are there about characters in repressive totalitarian societies who try to escape to freedom?
“Gilded Cage” by Jelliqal Belle is narrated by Meg Airedale gens, a harem breeder in a militaristic expanding canine Empire at war with the Catkin nations:
“Mother Xaviera was an upright Poodle gens who wobbled on two legs. There was no pleasing her. You were too loud, too soft, too brusque, too uninteresting, or too know-it-all. We mocked her funny walk behind her back.
Xaviera taught us the right way to howl the patriotic songs that we only half-knew from hearing the soldiers march by to fight the Catkin Celts, or the Tigris Tigers, or whomever we were battling at the time. The Empire had many enemies. That was the price of being the greatest empire in the world: everyone else was jealous of our greatness and wanted to tear us down. In those lessons, we learned my sister Tabs had a powerful voice. Who knew? Xaviera suggested that she could train for musician as her second vocation.” (p. 160)
Matriarch, a “grey-muzzled Labrador gens”, explains further:
“‘I encourage you to listen to the nurse; follow her advice on what to eat. Do the exercises you learned in training, even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll stay healthy longer.’
‘You mean have more babies,’ barked a cynic in the back.
Matriarch rose from the cushion, helped up by a nearby lute player, and leaned into her cane. ‘No, I mean it might help prevent your bones from shattering from the frequent pregnancies, or help you not bleed to death in labor. Having litter after litter takes a high toll on your body. I don’t know what your life was before you came here, but you will be dreaming of it as paradise before year’s end.’” (pgs. 164-165)
The bitches, or “chew toys”, are baby factories for the Empire, ordered to have as many litters as possible, as quickly as possible. The males are bred for cruelty and viciousness, which makes them more effective soldiers but brutal lovers in the harems on their furloughs. Meg and her twin sister Tabitha learn that Mother Xaviera walks funny because her hip was broken and her leg dislocated by Alpha Pilus Spike, a powerful Bulldog gens who likes to play rough. The females of the Empire, whether they are in harems or factories or labor farms, do not enjoy themselves.
In “The Tower” by Gullwolf, Thistle, a jackrabbit, is a messenger because he is so fast:
“Thistle’s ears shot up, knocking his hat off his head as they swiveled, straining behind him.
Thistle ducked to snatch the hat, sweeping the cap over his ears as he tucked his head underneath the door frame and dashed out, breaking one of his cardinal rules of never traveling faster than the surrounding citizens. Using the full length of his stride was always bound to cause undue attention, and as he sprinted along the edge of the sidewalk, several canines and felines were glaring at him in his wake for interrupting their meandering stroll. He didn’t stop until the shadow of the skyscraper crossed over him, and the temperature dropped several degrees. The eye was unblinking now, the slit pupil sliding to and fro to keep a watchful eye over its citizens. Thistle shifted the package under his arm and folded his ears back as he shook his identification bracelet on his wrist, reviewing the message once more.” (p. 189)
Thistle lives in a regimented city of mammals watched over by the eye of SECURNET atop the tallest skyscraper in the city. It is enclosed by a fence that everyone is forbidden to go outside, although why anyone would want to is unexplained:
“Thistle’s breath caught as he stepped back. The fence was a good thing. It kept those others away. It kept away those whose diets had razed the land to the barren wasteland it was now, it kept those away those whose needs had swallowed the precious resources for the collected whole, it kept those away who had gutted his ancestors over differences in blood and claw. It kept everyone inside safe. If he didn’t look, the others wouldn’t be there because they knew about the fence. The skyscraper watched and if anything approached from beyond, it would let the citizens know. They were safe under the skyscraper and its ever-watchful gaze.” (pgs. 190-191)
Those outside are the avians and the reptiles. “The Tower” has an eerie ambiance, and the characters are certainly more than funny-animals.
“The Preacherman” by Stephen M. Coghlan is set in Australia. The narrator, Joshua Ezekiel Thompson, is a badger imprisoned for the murder of his stoat best friend. The Preacherman is a hellfire-spouting Tasmanian Devil as the prosecutor, forcing the accused to march in chains through the desert to the next town to be tried before God and the townspeople, with his two announcers (revolvers) as the judge to deliver God’s verdict. But the Preacherman loads the announcers, one chamber to six. The cast may be funny-animals, but this is a powerful fantasy of a bleak, God-fearing frontier community where both all hope in God, and there is no hope.
“Forbidden Fruit” by Detroit follows Turner, a bobcat junk dealer specializing in electronic parts, in a decaying Memphis, TN of the future:
“Turner lived in South Memphis, and he would have to take three separate buses to reach his destination. They were rolling north now along Riverside Drive, headed towards downtown. They’d passed the old exit for the I-55 Bridge into Arkansas, which had collapsed into the Mississippi River a decade ago. The river itself had disappeared from view well before that. The lack of plant life meant hellish erosion of the river’s watershed, rapidly worsening the already notorious flooding o the Big Muddy. Now Riverside Drive traveled alongside a massive dike built of dirt and rubble. Here and there, recognizable pieces of debris poked out from its ugly sides. Memphians had been so desperate to stop the flooding that they had piled whatever could be spared into building the wall: smashed homes, old trailers, cars, and the constantly eroding, infertile dirt. Turner had traveled this way enough times that he instinctively knew where to look for the most recognizable pieces: a hunk of an airplane fuselage, half of a faded beer billboard, the burnt hulk of an old dump truck. The bus shuddered and jarred as it rattled over the long trails of eroded dirt snaking across the crumbling road. Soon the bulldozers would be back out, pushing the dirt up against the dike yet again. Massive walls of compacted earth and rubble surrounded the rest of the city, offering some protection from the hellish dust storms that regularly swept the denuded countryside. The walls allowed Memphians to cling to life, but they kept much of the city shrouded in darkness.” (p. 223)
“Forbidden Fruit” is the scariest story so far, because its leadup to this ruined future America through the consequences of climate change is so plausible — despite the unnecessary nature of its funny-animal cast.
In “Photographs” by Televassi, the protagonist is Val, a former revolutionary in his youth who is a middle-aged establishment history teacher today. Val is also a horse Chimera in the Haven, a domed society in a ruined future Earth society of humans and three Chimera breeds – horses, wolves, and fallow deer – the descendants of bioengineered soldiers:
“‘Right now [Kira says] my research focuses on Chimera’s physical imperfections. We all know wolves lack the hand structure for delicate work thanks to the dewclaws, but it’s not actually a purpose bred trait from their design. We need to stop believing our genetic engineering is so perfect. It’s a neglected interaction between the human and lupine alleles, that causes roughly two-thirds to get them instead of thumbs – in short, they were made to be the unfinished product.’” (p. 250)
Val, a horse, is married to Edna, another horse Chimera whom he does not love. He still loves Kira, who had been a fellow revolutionary in their youth; but she is a deer, and Chimeras are not supposed to marry outside their breeds. Then, after decades, the Underground contacts Val again…
“Gloves” by James L. Steele is set in a modern world of anthro lion prides. The males sit at home, nude, and spend all day fucking their factory-laborer wives (they take turns going to work, and staying home to be fucked) and taking their paychecks:
“‘Males tell us we’re living in modern times. Our factories make computer systems and automobiles. Medicine has saved countless lives. Technology eliminated the need to live in prides, where the females did all the hunting and males merely guarded their territory from intruders. Now we herd the animals we used to hunt and we have leisure time to pursue our interests. But we still live in prides. The lionesses still do all the hunting, and the males do nothing but sit at home and collect wives. They keep us in this role because they benefit from it. We have not advanced beyond our primitive nature, and things are worse than ever because now they know what they are doing. Before, it was instinct. Now it is deliberate.’” (p. 280)
Flora, the lioness narrator, is sullen but she does not know what to do about the status quo. Ant introduces her to the feminine revolution. It can get bloody.
“The Reclaimers” by Joseph Vandehey takes place in a far future where humanity has concentrated in sybaritic artificial mid-ocean cities, and the land has been abandoned to raising food to feed those cities:
“The Vermin are genetically engineered rats, ferrets, raccoons, and otters, with the occasional badger or other species thrown in. They stand a meter tall, with hunched shoulders, and brains pre-programmed with a certain task and enough intelligence to carry it out. A Vermin farmer waters a cornfield. A Vermin plumber fixes the water pipes when they leak. A Vermin picker harvests the corn. A Vermin loader monitors the corn being packed into crates. A Vermin driver takes the crates to the train. A Vermin stevedore offloads the crates onto boats. They are the new domesticates, the wheels by which humanity lives a life of luxury.
But their minds are limited. The same farmer who happily waters corn would be flummoxed by wheat. They have no inkling of the world beyond their pre-programed task, the most basic of problem solving, and the necessities for survival.” (p. 286)
The nameless narrator is a human “scientist”, really a bureaucratic “assessor” assigned to find out why the manufacturing output in what was Eastern Europe has dropped. So he ventures into the ruined towns and finds …
What he finds is described in a letter to his colleagues. It’s eerily colorful, an “unintended consequence” of the Vermin’s programming. Whether it is encouraging or horrific is up to the reader. It might be better if the letter-writing narrator was less histrionically Lovecraftian in his descriptions.
“Coffee Grounds” by Thurston Howl begins with an unforgettable brief paragraph:
“Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice. They never would have guessed it would end in coffee.” (p. 297)
That’s such a great paragraph that I won’t describe the story any further. Just read it.
“Not All Dogs” by Mary E. Lowd is set in her Otters in Space world, and is specifically a spinoff of the scene in Otters in Space III where Petra Brighton (cat) is arrested on a trumped-up charge by a dog policeman. Here her husband Lucky (terrier), one of the dogs not prejudiced against cats, is persuaded to join the protest march outside the police station. He has to bring their three kitten children (adopted) with him for lack of a babysitter:
“It wasn’t that Lucky didn’t support cats’ rights. Of course, he did. He was married to one, wasn’t he? But there’s a difference between voting for equal wage laws and standing outside [the police station] with a poster board sign. Democracy depended on voting; protests were for when democracy broke down. And as far as Lucky knew, democracy hadn’t broken down in in the Uplifted States since the Dark Times after the humans left Earth. In fact, given that they’d elected their first feline president last year, democracy and cats’ rights seemed better than ever.
‘You’re here early!’ Cassandra meowed, marching out of the crowd to meet Lucky. ‘And you’ve got all three kittens! That’ll look great on camera.’
‘You sound surprised…’ Lucky woofed. ‘Were you not expecting me this early? Or to bring the kittens?’” (p. 314)
Lucky had been naïve before the protest march about the canine establishment’s prejudice against felines. Not afterwards.
“A Better America 501(c)(3)” by NightEyes DaySpring is also about a degenerate, rundown future America. X35670, a.k.a. Hunter, is a manufactured coyote morph working for the charity A Better America in Washington, D.C. It, and the morphs working for it (technically owned by it), are constantly harassed by the authorities because their increasing charity work makes the establishment look bad. What happens can’t be easily summarized because of too many legal twists and turns, but Hunter – who prefers X35670; there are too many Hunters while he is the only X35670 – volunteers for a dangerous scam to take at least one of the corrupt government rulers down.
The sixteen stories are all powerful. They start out with the destruction of the planetary biosphere, or at least of civilization, and end with a positive note. The last two stories just feature a corrupt America which could be redeemed. The best story My favorite story is “Gilded Cage” by Jelliqal Belle, followed by “Losing Yourself” by George Squares, “A Road of Dust and Honey” by Searska GreyRaven, “Forbidden Fruit” by Detroit, and “Not All Dogs” by Mary E. Lowd. You may prefer others; I’m prejudiced against funny-animal stories where the characters could as easily be humans, while if you don’t mind them, there are some fine ones here. A technical quibble is that the front ¾ of the book is admirably proofread, while the last two or three stories don’t seem to have been proofread at all.
Dissident Signals (cover by Teagan Gavet) is overall a very good furry anthology. You’ll enjoy it.