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October 2017

Newsbytes archive for September 2017

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Contributors this month include 2cross2affliction, aquariusotter, dronon, Equivamp, Fred, GreenReaper, InkyCrow, Kakurady, RingtailedFox, and Summercat.

Retrospective review: 'The Wolf Man'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

thewolfman.jpgIt's October, and that means Halloween.

To celebrate that fact, I'd like to offer a series of reviews on various werewolf movies.

Werewolves are the closest the worlds of furry and horror brush the closest to each other, though they may have more in common than they seem.

Both furry and horror deal with things of dual natures. Furry explores the line between what we mean when we say "human", and what we mean when we say "animal". The werewolf movie, more than any other sub-type of horror movie (or horror story), explores this same trope, and not just the difference between "wolf" and "man".

Our first stop in this tour of wolf-men is the obvious one, 1941's The Wolf Man, written by Curt Siodmak and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence "Larry" Talbot, a.k.a. the Wolf Man.

"Furry Wolf Candy": neural network invents fursona names

Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (7 votes)

Cat on laptop - Just Browsing, cropped copy, photo by Wilson Afonso, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.Can a computer dream of being a human? What if it dreamed of being a human who dreamed of being a talking animal? With the help of Janelle Shane, a research scientist in photonics, we may just find out what furry aliases such a machine would create.

Janelle has achieved fame for her humorous use of artificial intelligence to generate names for things such as pubs, diseases, beers, and My Little Ponies. She's also directed neural networks to create recipes and write Harry Potter fanfiction.

With GreenReaper's help, I extracted an undifferentiated list of ~11,000 names of furries who have pages on WikiFur. Dr. Shane used these as the basis for a neural network to invent more.

An Interview with Dark Blue Comics

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (6 votes)

ABlueDeer is a gifted artist on Furaffinity, SoFurry, Inkbunny and other venues. He been a full-time anime, manga, video game, and anthro artist since 2007. Throughout his career, he has also diligently pursued a childhood dream to create his own ongoing webcomic series. With this goal in mind he created Dark Blue Comics, an illustration and writing production house a few years ago. It currently hosts The Depths, Moonlace, and Bethellium for free reading. Contributors to his Patreon page receive sneak-peeks of upcoming pages, high-quality art, pin-ups, scripts, and much more.

I have worked in the past with ABlueDeer and other professional artists as a writer and social media expert on several comic projects, including The Depths. With that I was fortunate to be able to speak to ABlueDeer recently about Dark Blue Comics, his artistic dreams, and plans for the future as an artist and a father.

Leilani: First, my thoughts and prayers to your friends and family caught in the devastating Mexico City earthquake recently. I'm relieved they're all safe and accounted for.

ABlueDeer(ABD): Thank you so much. Yes, I was able to visit mine and Shana, my wife's, families and check on them. There was another earthquake while we were there but luckily this one was minor. We also wanted to see if the houses had any cracks or anything. Apparently, most of the damage was done in the south, which is a little far from our families’ houses. Some areas had a lot of damage. Most buildings that went down were old and supposedly preserved because they were of Hispanic heritage, and they were in the very center of the city.

Book News: 'Skeleton Crew' by Gre7g Luterman - Now bigger and better

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

A mammalian humanoid stands defiantly in the hand of a giant reptilian creature.Gre7g Luterman self-published his furry science-fiction novel Skeleton Crew though Amazon's CreateSpace in August 2014. The cover art was designed by his wife, H. Kyoht Luterman, and inside were over a dozen full-page illustrations, mostly by Rick Griffin. It got excellent reviews. It's now been picked up and re-published in a new, expanded edition by Thurston Howl Publications, with a new cover by Rick Griffin (seen here, to the right) and new illustrations.

The backstory to Skeleton Crew is that four centuries earlier, the giant Krakun race came to the primitive planet of Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of the over-populated Geroo as their starship crews. The Geroo who went into space (and their descendants) would never see Gerootec again, but they would live in luxury compared to the backward conditions on their homeworld.

Game Review: 'Night in the Woods'

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (5 votes)

A wide-eyed cat stands at the edge of a dark wood as night begins to fall.Night in the Woods (trailer) is an adventure game by Infinite Fall, a joint venture between game designer Alec Holowka and animator Scott Benson. Kickstarted in October 2013 in the hopes of getting $50,000 USD, it not only reached its goal within 26 hours, it raised over $200,000 within a month!

This was probably helped by Howolka's credibility from making Aquaria in 2007 with Derek Yu. Although Night in the Woods (NITW for short) took longer to develop than initially expected, it was released in February 2017 to very positive reviews.

Featuring a cast of animal characters, it's a story-driven game with easy-going 2D platforming and exploration. It takes about 8 to 12 hours to play, and it's available on PC, Mac, Linux and PS4.

I liked this game a lot, and the tricky part with this review is that the less you know about the story, the better. It takes place in Possum Springs, a mid-sized (possibly Rust Belt) town with a struggling economy. You play a 20-year-old cat named Mae who's dropped out of college and returned home, trying to deal with (or avoid) some personal issues. Then a couple of… worrying things start to happen.

Review: 'My Little Pony: The Movie' (2017)

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (14 votes)

The poster for My Little Pony, The Movie"I guess I just sort of ... grew up."
Ask Jappleack

"Me too!"
— "What Good Will Wishing Do?", My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) (my review)

It's been seven years to the day since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was first aired, and the geek world changed that day.

So let's talk about the 2017 movie. As far as the story goes, it's pretty bog-standard at this point for MLP:FiM. Bad guy appears (the Storm King, voiced by Liev Schreiber), three of the four magical alicorn princesses prove themselves worthless by getting instantly captured, so it's up to the fourth princess and series protagonist, Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), with her six friends - Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy (voiced by Andrea Libman), Pinkie Pie (also voiced by Libman), Rainbow Dash (also voiced by Ball), Rarity (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain) and Spike (voiced by Cathy Weseluck) - to save the land of Equestria with the magic of friendship. Which they used to be able to straight-up shoot people with, but they lost that ability back in season four.

Fur 'the More staffer Cobalt the Fox passes on after heart attack

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Sad news has come to the web journal of the furry convention Fur 'the More. Their most recent announcement tells of the passing of Cobalt the Fox (David Gonce) last Friday (October 6), due to a heart attack. The fox's final tweet indicated he had felt particularly ill.

This dedicated staffer worked in the security group, known as the Rangers, for the Baltimore area furry convention. He also had the opportunity to MC for their furry dance competition.

The blessings of the staff, and their sorrow over the loss speaks volumes for Colbalt's contributions to the fandom he loved.

Griffin Ranger, the conclusion, has finally been published

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Griffon Ranger_0.jpgIn January 2015, FurPlanet Productions published the first volume of Roz Gibson’s s-f novel “Griffin Ranger”. Now, as of August 2017, the rest of the novel is now available.

Gibson has been a furry fan favorite since the 1980s, but as a comic-book artist, not a novelist. She wrote and drew “Jet: 2350” for the Rowrbrazzle in 1987, and went on to create one of his most popular characters, the antihero Jack Salem, the sable psychotic killer, in a series of comics published first by Radio Comix in the 1990s and later republished and continued by FurPlanet, notably in the “City of Ice” series.

In 2014 Gibson turned to writing. Her first Jack Salem novelette, “The Monkeytown Raid”, published in the anthology “What Happens Next” edited by Fred Patten, won that year’s Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction of the year. She has written a few more stories since then, the most recent being the time-travel thriller “Matriarch: Elephant vs. T-Rex”, published as an original Kindle novella in April 2017.

Update 10/15: A statement made about FurPlanet publication on the original article was found to be inaccurate and removed.

Retrospective review: 'The Howling'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (6 votes)

thehowling.jpgAs a kid, I was given many cheap Wal-Mart editions of the writings of children's author Thornton Burgess, including The Adventures of Old Man Coyote, which contained a back cover blurb that was given a header simply saying "The Howling".

I bring this up because the movie referenced not very appropriately by that children's novel back cover is, on one hand, overshadowed by a similar werewolf movie that came out the exact same year, but has still managed to find itself embedded into pop culture deep enough that it gets its own call outs. I'll be covering that more popular werewolf movie eventually, but of the two werewolf movies of 1981 (three if you count the sorta-werewolf movie Wolfen), The Howling is my favorite.

Of all the werewolf movies I plan on covering, it has the most obvious flaws. It, more than any other, is going to take a very forgiving attitude to dated special effects. At least The Wolf Man has its iconic status going for it. The Howling also features one really cheap jump scare early on, but, to be fair, it makes up for this with one of the most earned jump scares in horror movie history later on. And finally, one of the main reasons I really love it so much is also something people can find annoying.

It's a postmodern werewolf movie. The rules of the werewolf movie have been codified. Now it's time to start playing with them.

R.C. Fox charged with criminal possession of child pornography

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Police!.pngNews out of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania from September announced that one Carl R. Rickwood was charged with 20 counts of dissemination of child pornography. It has recently been revealed that this perpetrator was actually a furry by the fandom name of R.C. Fox. A full breakdown of the documentation can be found on a video by Ragehound.

R.C has been a prolific member of the fandom, having his own fursuit since 2014, and also attending and volunteering for multiple conventions. They were also slated to run a disc jockey session at the upcoming Furpocalypse until this news was brought to staff's attention and they indicated they would not be in attendance. They were also featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece 'Meet the Furries'.

Since the news emerged, R.C.'s social media accounts on Twitter, Fur Affinity, and even YouTube have been removed, renamed, or disabled. As of now no arrest can be confirmed.

Retrospective review: 'An American Werewolf in London'

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

anamericanwerewolfinlondon.jpgOccasionally, there comes a pair of movies that share remarkably similar themes that come out together. Sometimes, as in Antz versus A Bug's Life, there's evidence that one of the movies was designed as a direct competitor to the other. More often than not, however, there's just something in the water. Just last year, Disney went out of its way to advertise how unique a movie Zootopia was for featuring a fully anthropomorphic animal world in the one year in the history of American feature animation where that was not a unique quality. These things just happen.

1981 was one of those years, featuring not one, but two werewolf movies utilizing cutting edge (for the time) makeup effects that also happened to be horror comedies as opposed to straight horror movies. The Howling came out first, but it was the scrappy underdog that went up against the real Hollywood juggernaut, An American Werewolf in London, written and directed by John Landis, an up and coming director who hung out with the likes of Steven Spielberg.

Though An American Werewolf in London is an acknowledged classic of the horror genre and features a ghoulish sense of humor (Landis was, and still is, best known for Animal House, early poster taglines noted this movie featured "a different kind of animal"), it is, like The Wolf Man, very much a tragedy. And not all the tragedy is on screen.