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Furry Movie Award Watch: November 2013

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Since this is so late, I’m going to somewhat use hindsight; however, I’m going to be honest with what I thought was going to win at the time (for instance, I would have put money on My Little Pony: Equestria Girls winning the Ursa Major right until the end). However, back in November, it became clear that Frozen was going to take the two animated awards (I don’t think anyone could have predicted how unfurry the furry award would get).

For the record, it’s a boring movie, and the fact that both the Oscar and the Ursa Major have gone to movies trying to eat their cake and have it to on the “feminist” Disney princess thing is pretty much the saddest outcome ever. At least it wasn’t an upset this year at the Oscars.

Review: 'Doc Rat Vols. 11-12', by Jenner

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Doc Rat Vol. 11Doc Rat Vol. 12I reviewed volumes 8-10 here in May 2013. My review was so favorable that part of it is quoted in the back-cover blurb on volume 12. Here are volumes 11 and 12, equally enjoyable and not-to-be-missed.

These two pocket-sized books contain the Doc Rat daily Internet comic strips from #1427 to #1558 (December 13, 2011 to June 13, 2012), and #1559 to #1758 (June 14, 2012 to March 20, 2013). Volume 11 is a normal one, collecting six months of the comic strip. Volume 12 is a giant-sized one, collecting more pages to take the story to the conclusion of a long story-arc.

Dr. Craig "Jenner" Hilton has been simultaneously an active furry fan and an Australian doctor since the early 1980s. His anthropomorphic cartoons were published in the progress reports and program book of the 1985 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne.

For about twenty years after graduating from medical college, Hilton was assigned to provide medical services for a series of small towns around western Australia, from which he sent his furry cartoons to America. During a stay as the doctor for the coal-mining town of Collie, he drew an anthropomorphic comic strip, DownUnderGround, for the local newspaper. He finally settled in permanently as a GP in a suburb of Melbourne. His character of Doc Rat began appearing in individual cartoons in medical and non-medical publications during the 1990s. On June 26, 2006 he launched Doc Rat as a Monday through Friday comic strip on the Internet. Since then Doc Rat has picked up an international following, including placing as one of the five finalists in the Best Comic Strip category for the Ursa Major Awards for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 voted upon this year.

Doc Rat is a combination of stand-alone comedy strips, usually emphasizing medical humour of the groaner-pun variety, and urban drama in an anthropomorphic world where carnivores are allowed to hunt and eat the herbivores, although they have to do it legally. This involves a lot of red tape and filling-out of forms. Often the carnivores are too impatient to do this, and they hunt illegally, which provides much of the drama of the strip. The herbivores are working politically to make all predation of intelligent citizens illegal, which is also a plot point.

Doc Rat. Vol. 11, "I’m Fair Off Me Tucker, Doc", by Jenner, June 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS $16.00 or US$12.95 ([76 pgs.])
Doc Rat. Vol. 12, "It Hurts To Swallow, Doc", by Jenner, December 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS$18.00 or US$14.95 ([110 pgs.])

Review: It’s the Muppets again in 'Muppets Most Wanted'

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Muppets Most WantedThe latest Muppet movie begins at the end. Not like in media res, I mean like the first thing you see in this movie are the giant words “THE END.” We’re back at the end of the last Muppet movie, and it slowly dawns on the Muppets that the cameras are still rolling. This could mean only one thing!
Obviously, James Bobin forgot to shout cut.

No, wait, the Muppets are doing a sequel! So, the movie begins with a meta moment when the Muppets realize they’re now in a sequel, and they sing an absolutely hilarious song about this fact entitled “We’re Doing a Sequel.” So now they’re puppets, who are actors, who are playing themselves in a movie. It’s kind of like This is The End, except I don’t think James Franco is a puppet. At least I’m pretty sure he’s not.

Anyway, the best part? This movie was going to be called The Muppets Again! Because it’s about the Muppets, again! It’s so absurdly stupid it’s kind of brilliant, which is why it was changed at the last moment to Muppets Most Wanted. They went with a more descriptive, less generic title that somehow managed to be less descriptive and more generic.

Everybody got that?

Good, now explain it to me.

Review: 'Red Devil', by Kyell Gold

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Red DevilRed Devil, a sequel to Kyell Gold's Green Fairy, is both the second volume of his Dangerous Spirits series, and part of his Forester series (Out of Position, Isolation Play, Waterways, Bridges and others), set in an alternate contemporary America inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Solomon Wrightson, the homosexual teenage wolf who was the protagonist of Green Fairy, is the best friend of Alexei Tsarev, the fox protagonist here.

Alexei, a young Siberian in the States on a student visa that expires in two months, hopes to impress the Vidalia Peaches semi-professional soccer team enough to become a member.

If they sponsored Alexei, he could apply for a visa that would allow him to stay in this country indefinitely. (p. 3)

Besides being good athletes, everyone on the Peaches is gay. Alexei has only recently come to the States from his hometown of Samorodka, Siberia, partially to play soccer but really to escape the brutal anti-gay attitude prevalent in Siberia. (Gold is clearly using Siberia to refer to all Russia in this anthropomorphic world.) Alexei misses his sister Caterina, with whom he was especially close. They were exchanging letters, but she has not answered his last few missives. Alexei is sure that their abusive parents are preventing her from writing.

Alexei is rooming with Sol at the house that Sol shares with Meg, the mannish teenage otter from Green Fairy, in Sol’s room where his portrait of Niki, the murdered 19th-century fox transvestite is hanging. Alexei, who semi-believes in ghosts, already is influenced by the spirit of his great-grandmother “Prababushka”, whom he feels may have followed him to the States to protect him. In addition to worrying about Cat back in Samorodka, and getting onto the Peaches soccer team to stay in the States, Alexei has developed a crush on one of the Vidalia amateur players, Mike, a friendly Dall sheep; but the insecure, withdrawn Siberian fox is always being shoved aside by Kendall, a more brash and self-assertive pine marten also on the local amateur team. Alexei is unsure whether Mike is just being polite to Kendall, or if he really prefers the more outgoing marten. Or whether Alexei should continue to concentrate on his feelings for Mike, rather than looking for another boyfriend in Vidalia and the States’ more open and relaxed straight and gay sexual atmosphere.

Illustrations by Rukis, St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, January 2014, trade paperback $19.95 ([iii +] 269 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $9.99.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #22 ('Howard the Duck')

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Howard the Duck #8For all the hubbub about Marvel Studios deciding to go with an obscure team featuring a talking raccoon with a machine gun for their latest movie, they’re only continuing on as they started.

Think about it; not counting serials, what was the first DC universe character to get his own movie? Batman, followed by Superman (followed by Batman, Batman again, even more Batman, Superman, Superman and next Batman and Superman together). That’s their two biggest guns, and barring that weird Ryan Reynolds thing and Vertigo adaptations, that’s about it.

What was Marvel’s first superhero to get his own theatrical movie? Howard the Duck, followed by Blade, a character who struggles to headline his own comic books, but somehow managed a trilogy of movies. Yeah, Howard the Duck was the first obvious warning sign George Lucas wasn’t perfect, but now that Guardians of the Galaxy movie doesn’t sound so weird, does it?

Anyway, this is a special edition of Pull List; we’re taking a look back at one of the odder cult characters in mainstream comics. Howard the Duck got his start in a horror comic, of all places, created by weird writer extraordinaire Steve Gerber (four words: elf with a gun). Howard would have been a nobody in his home universe, where everybody is a duck, but he got stuck in our world, “trapped in a world he never made,” as the series’ tagline goes (which kind of applies to everybody, but whatever), so he got his own comic book series here.

His comics’ introduction describes him:

From the time of his hatching, he was … different. A potentially brilliant scholar who dreaded the structured environment of school, he educated himself in the streets, taking whatever work was available, formulating his philosophy of self from what he learned of the world about him. And then the Cosmic Axis shifted … and that world changed. Suddenly, he was stranded in a universe he could not fathom. Without warning, he became a strange fowl in an even stranger land.

Review: 'Trick or Treat', edited by Ianus J. Wolf

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Trick or TreatThis is Rabbit Valley’s Halloween 2013 theme anthology, “something for the adults to enjoy”. It presents eleven new stories; five scary horror “tricks” and six “delectable romantic and erotic” “treats”. The book’s fine wraparound cover is by Stephanie "Ifus" Johnson.

Ianus J. Wolf says in his introduction that this is the first of Rabbit Valley’s planned annual Halloween anthologies, to mix furry horror and adult erotica, so there will be more to come for those who like it.

Halloween just isn’t Halloween without both the scary and the sweet.

The two sections are each introduced by the two EC Comics-style ‘horror hosts’ shown on the cover, Trick the wolf and Treat the cat. The “tricks” all come first, to leave you with a pleasant taste. They are “Hellhound” by Renee Carter Hall, “Son of the Blood Moon” by Bill “Hafoc” Rogers, “Slough” by Ray “Stormcatcher” Curtone, “Unrealty” by Rechan, and “Wild Night” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch.

Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley, September 2013, trade paperback $20.00 (313 pages).

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Mutagen Mayhem DVD

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem DVDNow that we’ve finished up with season 1 of the NickToons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it’s time to start on season 2, the first six episodes of which are collected in the “Mutagen Mayhem” DVD.

For the first time, we meet new old characters like Casey Jones (who begins appearing in the credits from the first episode of this season) and Rahzar (who is new and old in two different ways) as well as new new characters, like the Squirrelanoids (which are seriously the greatest squirrel based mutants since Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green).

Oh, and the turtles have finished with Space Heroes and have discovered anime in the form of Super Robo Mecha Force Five!, a brutal parody of old school sentai shows like Voltron and Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman. Depending on your knowledge and nostalgia level for those old shows, these are either brilliant or just plain mean. Or both.

All in all, the second season of this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is off to a rollicking start.

Review: 'Dancing in the Moonlight: RainFurrest 2013 Charity Anthology', edited by Ryan Hickey and Garret Biggerstaff

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This is the third annual RainFurrest charity anthology, published to be sold at the RainFurrest convention in Seattle in late September, following 2011’s Stories of Camp RainFurrest and 2012’s Tails of a Clockwork World. It is also for sale through the FurPlanet online catalogue.
Dancing in the Moonlight: RainFurrest 2013 Charity Anthology

The RainFurrest Annual Charity Anthology was created to celebrate and showcase the literary aspect of the anthropomorphics fandom as well as to raise funds for charity.

All of the contributing writers and artists have waived all fees so that the totality of the sales can go to the RainFurrest charity of the year.

The charity for RainFurrest 2013 is The Clouded Leopard Project, dedicated to the conservation of clouded leopards and their habitat by supporting field research, implementing education initiatives in a range countries, and bringing global awareness to clouded leopard conservation issues.

Dancing in the Moonlight, named after RainFurrest 2013’s theme, contains five short stories in teeny-tiny type, four of them illustrated. The book’s cover is by Sarah Alderete.

Illustrated, Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, September 2013, trade paperback $10.00 (77 pages).

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #21 ('MLP' and 'TMNT')

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Alopex by Ross CampbellAnother day, another Pull List.

Today, we’ve got some IDW titles, including issues from two very different Micro-Series. One is from the My Little Pony Micro-Series, which features cute adventures, and another is from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series.

It doesn’t feature cute adventures.

Review: 'Spies in Their Midst', by Alflor Aalto

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Spies in Their MidstSpies in Their Midst by Alflor Aalto is listed as the third book in The Llyrian Wars: Act One series, following The Prince of Thieves and The Streets of His City and Other Stories. The series is also referred to as "The Llyrian Wars tetralogy”, so apparently there is at least one more book to come. There is no information about what will follow Act One.

Hmmm. The Prince of Thieves includes a Rabbit Valley advisory notice that “This book deals with homoerotic themes and descriptions of erotic acts.” You had better consider that Spies in Their Midst needs one, also.

Spies in Their Midst stands well on its own. The protagonist of The Prince of Thieves and The Streets of His City and Other Stories is Prince Natier of Llyria, a red fox; the heir to the throne. The protagonist of Spies in Their Midst is Orrin, Lord Vintaa, a raccoon and Llyran nobleman. Yet he is not a new character. He was an important supporting character in “The Looking War”; a short story in The Streets of His City and Other Stories. This is his novel-length story, starting before the other two books.

Illustrated by Robbye "Quel" Nicholson, Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley, December 2013, trade paperback $20.00 (303 pages).

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is in the top five TMNT movies

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Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIf I were to rank all five TMNT movies, this movie would come in dead last.

This is not to say I did not like this newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie; I like all five of the movies just fine, thank you very much, and this one is no exception. It’s quite possible that I may not be capable of disliking a movie involving teenage mutant ninja turtles.

I’d like to point out for the record that I have put forward reviews of the two most recent incarnations of the turtles’ story; I have been overwhelmingly positive towards both of them. Heck, the IDW comics are a reboot featuring ancient aliens mucking around with Earth’s history, and if I had to pick two storytelling devices I hate most, it would probably be those reboots and ancient alien stories. And yet, I not only loved that incarnation, I especially pointed out this newest origin story as a positive.

Since my first story at Flayrah back in 2010, this is my third review of a Ninja Turtle origin story; that’s almost one per year, for those of you who don’t like math in their movie reviews. Thank God this movie is doing well at the box office and the next movie will be a direct sequel with the origin story of the turtles all taken care of. Hopefully this time it lasts a while, and we don’t get a Amazing Spider-Man type situation. Because that would suck.

I’ve already talked about positive bias in movies, and it’s not really fair to compare this movie to previous incarnations of the franchise, but like that’s going to stop any of the hundreds of other amateur fanboy reviewers (and even a few professional fanboy reviewers, I’m sure) from doing just that, so I might as well.

Review: 'The Mysterious Affair of Giles', by Kyell Gold

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

The Mysterious Affair of GilesThe Mysterious Affair of Giles is an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery and is best read with a cup of tea nearby. (publisher’s blurb)

Kyell Gold already has the reputation of being the preeminent author of high-quality erotica in Furry fandom. Now it seems that he is trying to establish a similar reputation as furry fandom’s number one mystery author, at least of what is usually called the British “cozy” mysteries, or the country-house murder mysteries of which Agatha Christie was the acknowledged mistress.

The Mysterious Affair of Giles makes no secret of this. It is advertised as an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery. It is dedicated “To Dame Agatha for all the inspiration.”

An acknowledgement thanks London furry fan Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden for “Brit-picking” the manuscript, making sure that it, and especially the dialogue, are correctly British. The furry characters are all English animals except where they are noted as coming from British India. Most tellingly, the title The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an obvious pastiche of Christie’s first novel, the 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced both her as a mystery author and her most famous private detective, Hercule Poirot.

Yet do not think that Gold’s novella is a point-by-point imitation. There is no Famous Detective in it. The year is 1951; not exactly the present, but not the old-fashioned past, either. Tremontaine is a large manor house a couple of hours’ drive from London. The cast is Mr. Giles St. Clair, an aristocrat but also an up-to-date industrialist, his wife, and their son and daughter in their early twenties, all red foxes, and Martin Trevayn, Giles’ business partner, a stoat, their guest at Tremontaine on a business visit, plus the manor staff, a deer senior housemaid, two weasel cooks, a rabbit and an Indian otter housemaid, an Indian brown rat butler and Mr. Giles’ dhole valet.

Twelve characters. One of them is murdered.

The principal investigators are a badger police Inspector and his wolf Sergeant. The mystery’s protagonist is Ellie Stone, the young weasel assistant cook, a reader of murder-mystery novels who has never wanted to live in a real one, but who can’t help comparing the actual police’s sleuthing with her fictional police’s detecting. Naturally, everyone has a secret, and during the course of the story they all come out. Some are pertinent; others are not.

Kyell Gold’s stories often come with “Adults Only” readers’ advisories. The Mysterious Affair of Giles does not need one – quite – but its cast are all adults, and some of the secrets revealed are adult ones. I do not recall Agatha Christie ever delving into this territory, but it feels natural here and it helps to keep the story from being a period-piece.

Illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles,Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, February 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (107 [+2] pages), Kindle $6.99.

'Mousenet': marketed at children, meant for everyone, reviewed by a furry

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

MousenetIt may come off as an unpleasant surprise for some of you, to see a review of something two years old submitted only now. But, as the old saying goes, better late then never!

Anyways...

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose is something of an oddity, for it is truly a book for all ages. As long as the idea of a child protagonist and cute little mice does not turn you off, you will enjoy the story, no matter your age. Actually, a good thing to compare this story to would be The Rescuers, an obscure little movie from the 70s you have probably never heard of.

The story concerns itself with mice, which is sort of obvious. But these mice are not ordinary; they have evolved. Though it is implied the computer technology of the humans (that's us, by the way) helped, the fact remains that the mice of the book have gained quite a lot of intelligence recently, to the point of creating a worldwide mouse society, with standardized sign language, culture and social order. And the mice have taken a liking to the Internet, creating the titular Mousenet in the depth of our Internet. Unfortunately, mice can only use computers while we are away or asleep, and operating huge keyboards with tiny paws is cumbersome and hilarious, as described.

On the other side of the plot, an inventor named Fred invents the world's tiniest laptop. He intends it to be a novelty, something to be put in a museum of useless but amusing things. The mice however, see it as an opportunity...

Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, Disney-Hyperion, February 2013, hardcover $12.97, paperback $7.19, Kindle $6.83, 416 pages.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 2

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD back coverHere we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.

The first disc was reviewed here, and the rest of the first season can be found starting here, continuing here and here. So, let’s get to the episodes!

The Episodes

“Enemy of my Enemy”

Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.

Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.

Review: 'The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The Sakai ProjectStan Sakai created his first Usagi Yojimbo story in Steve Gallacci’s Albedo: Anthropomorphics #2 comic book, November 1984. Only 2,000 copies were printed.

From there, Usagi Yojimbo has grown to become a very famous comic book, traveling through several publishers, the most recent being Dark Horse Comics since 1996. The comic has always been written and drawn by Stan Sakai. During that time, he has become one of the most popular artists in the professional comic-book community, for his friendliness and readiness to join in numerous benefit projects. When furry fan artist Michael-Scot McMurry was dying of cancer in 2000, he drew the cover for a benefit comic book for McMurry’s expenses for an operation, showing Usagi and McMurry’s Zonie the coyote fighting monsters.

Stan has often been an attendee of furry conventions, sometimes with his wife, Sharon, and their two daughters. I remember one convention, probably a ConFurence in the mid-1990s, where Stan’s daughter Hannah, then about 3 years old, tried to climb up Kjartan Arnörsson, a lean 6'9". Stan was a member of Rowrbrazzle, the furry amateur press association, from 1990 to 1998. He is a member of the Furry Hall of Fame. His Usagi Yojimbo won the Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Book category in every year from 2001 to 2005. He has also won non-furry awards such as the Eisners, a Parent's Choice Award, the Comic-Con's Inkpot, Spain's Haxtur Award and many others. He has been a furry convention guest-of-honor on three continents, at an Anthrocon, a EuroFurence and an Australian MiDFur.

If you have not heard – it has been widely publicized - Stan’s wife Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for the past decade. It was mild at first, but has gotten progressively worse until she is now confined to bed and in need of round-the-clock care. The Sakais have medical insurance, but their medical expenses have far exceeded the amount of the insurance. Dark Horse Comics and the Comic Art Professional Society have organized The Sakai Project, this 160-page hardcover book, to both celebrate Usagi Yojimbo’s 30th anniversary and as a benefit project for the Sakais’ medical expenses. All proceeds go to them. Dark Horse is not even reimbursing itself for the printing expenses.

By various, foreword by Mark Evanier, preface by Tone Rodriguez, Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse Books, July 2014, hardcover $29.99 (160 pages).

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