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Origin and significance of the term "yiff"

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This article is a collaboration between Rakuen Growlithe and Christiaan Ferret.

When it comes to the furry fandom, we have many unique neologisms, including words such as fursona and the phrase pawing off, which have varying levels of acceptance in the fandom. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the term yiff, which is even understood by some non-furs. Generally accepted as a substitute for sexual activity, and able to be used as a verb, noun or adjective, it is now less accepted than in the past.

Commenting on the closure of ychan, Yiffy International and 420furs.org, Flayrah contributor Sonious remarked that yiff had not aged well. Shortly afterwards, Christiaan Ferret's defence of the word as a part of furry culture brought forth comments such as...

Though to me "yiff" will always just be a corny slang term that makes me cringe slightly everytime I hear it spoken aloud haha.

And...

I find the word annoying and needlessly cutesy, and I don't have the respect for it to study its etymology. It's just a really dumb word to me, and I'm afraid I can't say anything more about it. =/

However, we believe yiff has significance to the furry fandom as part of our shared culture and history. While we understand that not everyone will care for it, we do think it important to at least understand where the term came from.

Newly published: Fred Patten's 'Funny Animals and More'

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Funny Animals and More Funny Animals and More: From Anime to Zoomorphics, based on Fred Patten’s weekly columns from Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research animation website, was published March 26 by Theme Park Press. It is available in paperback and digital formats, and on Amazon.com.

The book is about animation and comic books rather than specifically anthropomorphic animals, but cartoon and CGI funny animals are a major theme. Topics include anime cat girls; Pokémon and Monster Rancher; Astro Boy and Atomcat; how a popular 1970s anime TV series led to the import of thousands of baby North American raccoons into Japan as pets, whose descendants are ruining thousand-year-old Buddhist and Shinto shrines today; animated Summer Olympics mascots like Misha the bear cub, Sam the eagle, Hodori the tiger, and Cobi the sheepdog, from 1972 to 2012; Patten’s favorite childhood comic-book funny animals like Amster the Hamster, Doodles Duck and his nephew Lemuel, Nutsy Squirrel, Dunbar Dodo, and SuperKatt, and how he would still like to see them animated; Crusader Rabbit; rats in animation; Reynard the Fox in animation; and Disney’s forthcoming 2016 Zootopia.

Furry convention history project - can you help?

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Anthrocon 2007 Fred Patten says,

I am writing a history of all Furry conventions from the first, in January 1989, to the end of 2010, when there were 42 of them around the world. This is 182 pages; almost 45,000 words. Most fans think that it is already too long, so I have stopped with 2010. There were 43 in 2011, and over 60 today.

Here are some sample entries and illustrations:

Albany AnthroCon 1998 – Here Be Dragons The Omni Albany Hotel, Albany, New York July 3-5, 1998 (Attendance: 600)
GoH: Jeffrey A. Carver (s-f author), Jim Groat (Furry cartoonist); Fandom GoH: Dr. Samuel Conway
Charity: Whiskers, a cat rescue group ($3,092) Chair: Roger Wilbur (Aloyen Youngblood)

The activities of the first AnthroCon were repeated and expanded upon. There were special interest group meetings; panels on such subjects as anthropomorphic-animal advertising mascots and “Cleaning Up Our Past”; a puppet show by Steve Plunkett and a Story Hour by Uncle Kage; and a Saturday-night performance by Purple Nurple Live! The previous year’s Moreau Awards were not repeated; the committee considered them a failure since only about twenty members out of 500 had bothered to attend and vote. The 44-page Program Book had a cover by Jim Groat. The AnthroCon had over forty staff members; Roger Wilbur was the official Chairman (CEO), but most of the convention was coordinated by Jonah E. Safar as Organizational Director. The T-shirt was by Jim Groat. There was general agreement that a larger hotel was needed for next year.

We Should Not Forget the Elephant

Straight from the folks at Animation Scoop: “Gnosis Moving Pictures CEO Darius A. Kamali and Whisper Pictures CEO George Merkert announced today that the companies are partnering on the animated feature film Tusk: Hannibal’s Favorite Elephant. The project, which was co-written and will be directed by Whisper Pictures’ Oscar-winning Chief Creative Officer Tim McGovern (Tron, Total Recall, As Good as it Gets and currently, Sin City 2), is a family-friendly epic adventure that tells the story of legendary military strategist Hannibal and his favorite elephant Surus, as they seek justice from the Romans. The project, set in 218 B.C., follows Surus and Hannibal as they lead an army of men and 37 African elephants over the Alps, and the deep connection that develops between a man and animal bound by shared hope and common loss. ” Really now. No word yet on a projected release date, but keep your ears spread.


image c. 2013 Gnosis Moving Pictures

Flayrah from 2001 to 2012 - a statistical perspective

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Graph of Flayrah stories published by yearFlayrah has been around since 2001. It has had three editors-in-chief (Aureth, Frysco and GreenReaper) who between them have published 3529 stories from 279 unique contributors (plus another 341 anonymous contributors), including both news and opinion pieces. What follows is a statistical breakdown of Flayrah in various ways.

All the Mightiest Pets

After a successful run of the DC Super Pets comic book series, now DC comics bring us the DC Super Pets Character Encyclopedia, coming later this month as a full-color trade paperback.  This is from the pre-order page at Amazon: “Every super hero needs a Super-Pet! This illustrated encyclopedia features in-depth profiles, stats, and history about the DC Super-Pets and their owners. From Superman’s loyal dog, Krypto, to Batman’s heroic hound, Ace the Bat-Dog, this guide to the Worlds Greatest Pets has more than 200 DC characters, including many never-before-seen pets, all illustrated in Art Baltazar’s Eisner Award-winning style! With an introduction by legendary creator Geoff Johns, the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia is sure to please comic book lovers young and old.” Not to forget, the text is written by Steve Korte. Take a closer look at the cover and you get an idea just how many animal characters are included here! [And with that, we'll see you all after San Diego Comic Con!]


image c. 2013 DC Comics

Fred Patten's CaliFur IX con report

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Califur IX intro screenSorry, but my CaliFur report this year is even skimpier than last year’s. That’s just the way it is.

Like every year since CaliFur V, CaliFur IX took place at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California, on May 31–June 2, 2013. This year’s theme was “FURtual Reality”. There were two guests-of-honor: Maxwell Alexander Drake, the Author GoH, author of the Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award-winning novels in 2009 and 2011 (the first two novels in his Genesis of Oblivion Saga), and their publisher, Imagined Interprises, Inc. in Las Vegas; and NecroDrone, the Artist GoH, “BDSM Illustrator and Dominatrix extradiordinaire!” Official attendance was 1,178; an increase of over two hundred. Due to my continuing poor health, I was in a wheelchair, with my sister Sherrill pushing me. We could only attend for Saturday the 2nd.

Video: Sci-Fi Channel visits ConFurence 4 (1993)

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What happens when the Sci-Fi Channel visited ConFurence 4 in 1993? Some surprisingly positive media coverage. Archive copy provided by the household of the Prancing Skiltaire.

Animation: 'Pups of Liberty'

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Pups of Liberty: The Boston Tea-Bone Party, an educational animated short film by Bert and Jennifer Klein’s Picnic Pictures – available on DVD from Amazon.com for $15 (or from izzit.org); 18 minutes -- about the outbreak of the American Revolution, featuring dogs as the American colonists and cats as the British oppressors, has been referenced on the Internet since 2009; but I do not believe that it has been reported on Flayrah.

This new Cartoon Brew post reveals that it was made by moonlighting Disney animators, including many top names.

Of more anthropomorphic interest, however, is the commentary on this article, arguing whether it is “natural” to portray cats oppressing dogs. Why not dogs oppressing cats? Or cats oppressing mice? Or mice oppressing cats? Or any animals oppressing any other animals, because this is a humanocentric concept that animals do not really share?

Do any Furry fans have any comments on this? The Cartoon Brew’s website is open.

Review: 'The Chronicles of Loquacious, Centaur, of Rhodes', by Rob S. Rice

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The Chronicles of LoquaciousIf werewolves are Furry, then so are centaurs, satyrs, fauns, silenoi, and the other human/animal hybrids of Greek mythology.

Aside from the fantasy of all the mythologicals and humans living together, this is a good historical tale of life in Greece at the time of Philip II and his son, Alexander III the Great of Macedonia. Alexander is offstage conquering the world, and there is peace in the interior of his empire. Aristotle, Alexander’s tutor, has his Lyceum in Athens, but in this year he has been summoned back to Macedonia for the summer. Without him, the other teachers at the Lyceum suggest that the students spend a few months wandering through Greece to collect odd plants and local tales, to bring back when Aristotle will return in the winter.

This book contains eight tales, the first five told by the student Loquacious, a centaur from the island city-state of Rhodes, to the peasants and villagers who give him hospitality, or told to him by them; and the last three later in Loquacious’ life.

Esterhazy Press/Lulu.com, October 2012, trade paperback $14.95 (177 [+ 2] pages; on Amazon).

Retrospective: Seymour Eaton's 'The Roosevelt Bears'

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The Roosevelt Bears adFrom 1905 for about the next twenty years, Seymour Eaton's anthropomorphic bears were the subject of some of the most popular children’s books in America. Their topical popularity was due to the tie-in between the bears and Teddy Roosevelt during the 1900s when TR was President of the U.S., and the 1910s when there was widespread speculation whether he would try to run for a third term.

But Eaton died in 1916 and Roosevelt died just two months after World War I ended. The publisher tried to keep the series alive with reprints in 1921, but by the Roaring ‘20s American pop culture had moved on, and TR and the Roosevelt Bears became quickly passé.

Retrospective: An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996

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Yarf #1: Ace of SpadesThis article is enlarged from a chronology originally printed for an exhibition at L.A.con III, the fifty-fourth annual World Science Fiction Convention, 29 August–2 September 1996, at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California. It was originally published in Yarf! #46, January 1997. Yarf! published it separately online, where it has been a valuable Furry historical reference for fifteen years, with links to it from Wikipedia, WikiFur, the Furry News Network, and many other websites.

In February 2012, Yarf! disappeared without warning from the Internet, and all the links to this chronology stopped working. To restore it to the Internet, Flayrah has agreed to reprint it, slightly revised and with illustrations.

There is no single specific date or event that can lay claim to being the birth of furry fandom. However, there is general agreement that it was around late 1983 or early 1984 that furry fans coalesced out of SF fandom and comics fandom and began an independent identity.

My CaliFur VIII con report

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Califur VIII: It's startingCrossaffliction is working on a sort into categories of all Flayrah’s posts. He has started at the beginning in January 2001, and is so far through September 2004. He notes that as of that date, there are only seven Furry convention reports. “[T]hey seem to have fallen out of fashion as of late. In case you hadn't noticed.”

He is right. I have complained about the difficulty that this makes in writing a history of Furry fandom. Early s-f fans wrote convention reports of five to ten pages in their fanzines. When Sam Moskowitz wrote his history of s-f fandom in the 1930s, and Harry Warner, Jr. wrote his of s-f fandom in the 1940s, and I wrote a history of the World S-F Convention from 1939 through 1948 in 1976, we had no trouble getting information on the conventions because of the long, detailed con reports in the fanzines. But there has been little of this in Furry fandom. A Furry con report tends to be little more than, “I went to the con and I had a good time”, or, “A lot of people caught the con crud”, or posting a half dozen or so photos of unidentified Fursuiters.

To do something about this, here is my very incomplete report of CaliFur VIII just past. I hope that other attendees can add to it.

Archaeologists reappraise ancient Lion Man (or Woman)

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Lion man, by GauraThe Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel is a 32,000-year-old sculpture which depicts a humanoid figure with the head of a lion. Fragments of it were first discovered in 1939 by archaeologist Otto Völzing, in a cave named Stadel-Höhle im Hohlenstein (Stadel cave in Hohlenstein Mountain), in the Lonetal (Lone valley) in the Swabian Alps, Germany.

The figure, pieced together over many years as fragments were found, stands around 30cm tall, and was carved from mammoth ivory using a flint knife. It may represent a mythical creature, or possibly a shaman hiding under an animal hide.

Debate has raged over whether the figure is male or female, and the discovery of approximately 1,000 new fragments may help resolve the issue. The sculpture will be disassembled and rebuilt to include the new fragments.

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