Early next month, Americans will vote for various political offices, including President of the United States, the U.S.'s head of state. This is usually considered a pretty big deal in America, and even the world in general, as America still manages to wield a lot of political, economic and even cultural power on the world stage, despite itself. Some of the idiosyncrasies of the American political system may be a bit opaque to non-Americans (no, we don't really understand what the Electoral College is supposed to accomplish anymore, either). One aspect that seems to be uniquely American is the strong identification of American political parties with certain animals.
Fred Patten was born in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 1940. By the time he was ten years old, he'd become interested in science fiction and had started to collect SF books and magazines. From 1958 to 1963 he attended UCLA, where he graduated with a master's degree in Library Science. During his university years, he discovered science fiction fandom, joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), and started to write for fanzines.
In the 1970s, Fred became a partner in a bookstore in Long Beach, and also developed an interest in manga and anime from Japan. In 1977, along with Mark Merlino and others, Fred was one of the founding members of North America's first anime fan club, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization. Partially through the C/FO, he and Mark expanded their mutual interest in animals in cartoons and science-fiction, which was a major step in the early evolution of furry fandom. A lot people aren't aware that in North America, both anime and furry fandoms share an originating root!
There is a balding man with glasses, standing in the corner, cradling a book against his stomach, reading. You saw him a lot. At the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting hall, the APA collation room, in the library, at science fiction conventions in function rooms and room parties, at San Diego Comic Con in the Rowrbrazzle contributor parties, at furry parties.
His name is Fred Patten, and was in no way the passive participant he seemed. With a partner he opened a book shop in Long Beach, California that not only carried SF and Fantasy books, but comics from all over the world. He reviewed SF and Fantasy literature for fan and professional publications. His apartment was literally wall-to-wall books. He collected SF/F art, storing paintings in his bed frame. I don't think anyone knew where he slept... or if he did.
If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.
I am probably not wrong in my belief that many furs have little idea of how the fandom got started. The furry fandom is based around the appreciation of, and I'll simplify here, anthropomorphic characters. Furs find their way here through that appreciation and are able to join in immediately. This is not a bad thing but it is sad that many of us are unaware of our shared history. As we learned above, if we don't know where we come from then we are lost.
It's not that there has been no attempt to describe the origins of the furry fandom; aside from the crowdsourced wikis (e.g. WikiFur), we had Fred Patten's Retrospective: An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996 and Perri Rhoades' The Furry History Project. The first is not necessarily in the most easy to use form and both of the latter entries are chronological lists of major influences. Joe Strike's book departs from this format employing a mix of personal anecdotes, extensive research and several interviews with prominent furs to build a far more flowing, narrative history of the furry fandom.
Philly Metro's "Inside Philly's first furries convention" offers a compelling summary of our fandom's latest (and quite successful) convention. But its title betrays a lack of research. While Drayne and his team are to be congratulated for bringing a new furry convention to the City of Brotherly Love, it is by no means the first… nor even the largest furry con held there.
The first honour belongs to Furtasticon, chaired in November 1994 by Trish Ny – which was also furry fandom's second convention, spun up in the space of a few months, allegedly after perceived
After a 20-year hiatus, Rat.org has returned, at least as a read-only museum. Few today may remember it, but for some fans it was their first furry Web repository, and a launching point or inspiration for many other sites.
Rat.org was founded by Kilorat in the ancient stone-age year of 1994 as a combination Sonic the Hedgehog and Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron fansite. Later a Gargoyles section would be added as it grew in popularity.
This was the first home for many artists and fanfic writers, launched before Windows 95 came out (most used Mac OS 7.5.x or Windows for Workgroups 3.11 to connect with dial-up), and before giants such as Yahoo!, GeoCities, deviantART, and Fanfiction.net took over.
The website was hosted on a humble 80386DX with a "gigantic" 500 MB hard drive co-located at MV Communications – the first ISP in New Hampshire, where Kilorat was working. Despite being one of the only sources for fan materials on the Internet [compare S'A'Alis' Avatar Archive], the server was able to handle the low levels of traffic of the day.
Update (August 2018): The domain name has been sold, and all links updated to kilorat.com.
With $40 that I sent to a collector, I dove into the interesting pool of furry fanzines. Anyone can publish furry art and comics online these days, but back when the Internet was more BBS than WWW, it seems like any artist who wanted to get their name out there did a fanzine. There are an incredible number of them, and that's why in my opinion it's impossible to list them all. I know some have tried and failed.
"Bestiary", "Scrap", "Karno's Klassics", "Furplay" and "PentMouse" are just a very small number of what was out there. The quality of the art ranges widely, and so far I've come across more than one comic that makes absolutely no sense at all. But those are exceptions; most of what I've seen has been quite good.
For the most part, furry fanzines were published with anywhere between 8 to 50 pages. They're a really interesting view of the early days of the fandom. One thing I noticed - the style of art hasn't changed that much. But what has definitely changed is how furry fans have viewed their fandom.
Potoroo, host of the Fuzzy Notes podcast, is developing a new podcast that models itself after NPR's This American Life with a focus on the stories of the furry fandom. Like the popular program, it will choose a theme and tell several stories based on that theme, but focused on the furry community – its people, history and culture.
Currently in its early stages, Potoroo is seeking interested furs who may want to contribute. The goal would be to create a monthly show using segments produced by members of a collective through research, interviews, and narrative audio storytelling. He is also interested in including short stories, poetry and music by members of fandom as suits the theme.
There are at least five title pages and subtitles, all different, plus a foreword by Craig Yoe and short essays or tributes by comic book and animation experts, historians and, in the book’s term, aficionados Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, David Gerstein and Paul Castiglia. The most important subtitles are A collection of paintings from the prolific imagination of the Felix the Cat guy and Curated, designed and edited by Rod Ollerenshaw. Another is The Felix the Cat Paintings of Don Oriolo.
Included are full-page photographs of Don Oriolo with Craig Yoe, two of the essayists, actor-artist Tony Curtis and some of his paintings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flayrah 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.
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!]