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Review: 'The Fortune Teller's Poem', edited by Andres Cyanni Halden

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

The Fortune Teller's Poem Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Wikipedia says that this nursery rhyme dates back to at least the 1570s, and that, before it was printed and ‘fixed’ in the 19th century, there were many variations.

Andres Cyanni Halden uses this standardized version. He has gotten seven authors – six plus himself – to each write a Furry story around one of these ‘days’. Most are erotic gay stories. Each story has a small frontispiece illustration by Amaze.

The Fortune Teller's Poem is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)

FurPlanet Productions, June 2011, trade paperback $19.95 (237 pages), Kindle $9.95. Illustrated by Amaze, cover by Horrorshow.

Opinion: Street fursuiting is the most fun furry experience

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (8 votes)

San Francisco hosted the 14th annual How Weird Street Faire last weekend, with the theme "WEIRDI GRAS: Carnival of Peace." An informal fursuiter outing was organized through Meetup.com and its active Bay Area Furries group (independent from the mailing list), which runs many local events each month. I offered changing space at a nearby apartment, and scored a pair of "Disco Pants" for costuming, direct from the office of local web-based fashion startup company Betabrand. Afterwards, Betabrand was cool enough to post photos of modeling the pants on their "Model Citizen" section. (There's more photos on Reddit.)


Left to right: Kitten, Meerk, Patch. Background: Ty Cougar.

Any news media story that covers furries is likely to focus heavily on fursuiters, and their striking visual appeal and fuzzy glamor. Fursuiters can't represent the whole of furry fandom, when "furry" is a vague and broadly defined umbrella over anything related to anthropomorphic animals- but I think it's OK to consider fursuiters the expressive, theatrical soul of furrydom. There is an element of "ambassador" role to their hobby. Without the 15-20% of furries who wear fursuits and costumes for role-playing, you'd just have regular unglamorous nerds saying "meow! I'm a cat". That's what crazy people do.

Review: 'Where the Blue Begins', by Christopher Morley

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Where the Blue Begins

Each in turn may call this a fairy story, a dog story, an allegory or a satire, but all will be moved by the beauty and the meaning--a beauty and a meaning that seems to live within the realm of those books that go on and on making friends and spreading enchantment.

 Gissing, its hero, is a dog who searches the world for an ideal, and then finds in the smoke of his own furnace fire a hint of the heavenly blue that he had been seeking. (blurb, slightly edited)

It is difficult to tell after ninety years just what an author was thinking, but I believe that Christopher Morley, a popular literary essayist and novelist, just wanted to have fun writing about a world of talking dogs. His last message to the public, written when he knew that he was dying in 1957, was, “Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”

Mr. Gissing, a gentledog of leisure contentedly residing in Canine Estates with Fuji, his butler (a Japanese pug), on an income of 1,000 bones a year, becomes dissatisfied and leaves home to search for where the blue begins (a purpose to life).

Garden City, NY, Doubleday, Page & Co., October 1922, [10] + 215 [+ 1] pages, $1.75.

Review: 'A Monster in Paris'

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

A Monster in ParisRecently released on DVD in North America, A Monster in Paris (trailer) is a CGI-animated kids' film that originally came out in France in October 2011 as Un monstre à Paris.

Taking place during the Parisian flood of 1910, the two main characters are Emile, a shy film projectionist and amateur cinematographer, and his friend Raoul, a tinkerer who likes to invent gadgets and operates a delivery service out of the back of his truck. During a late-night delivery to an absent scientist's laboratory, Raoul plays with chemicals, unaware that his tampering accidentally creates a giant flea with a beautiful singing voice.

The "monster" is quickly targeted by Maynot, the Commissioner of police, who becomes obsessed with capturing and killing it as part of his campaign to become mayor. He's also taken an interest in a cabaret singer named Lucille, who disguises and hides the flea after recognizing its musical talents.

Raoul is an old friend/enemy of Lucille's, and soon he and Emile are in on her secret, trying to find a way to protect the flea from the Commissioner.

Review: 'L’Épée d'Ardenois', t. 1 & 2, by Étienne Willem

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

'L'Épée d'Ardenois', tome 1, 'Garen'Lex Nakashima & I have started a project to inform YOU of the best untranslated French-language funny-animal adventure cartoon albums. The Blacksad series by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido has found a good American home at Dark Horse, but there are others that Americans are not being informed of.

'L'Épée d'Ardenois', tome 2, 'La Prophétie'Lex & I recently brought you a review of the first two The Saga of Atlas & Axis albums by Jean-Marc Pau. Next up is The Sword of Ardenois by Étienne Willem, to be completed in four albums, the first two of which are now available.

Author/artist Willem has said in interviews that The Sword of Ardenois is his homage to all of the Medieval-setting talking-animal fantasies that have influenced him; notably the medieval Roman de Renard, the Disney 1973 anthropomorphic-animal Robin Hood animated film, and Brian Jacques’ Redwall novels.

Willem’s first volume, Garen, won a BD Gest’ Art 2010 award (in 2011, for the best bande dessinée of the previous year) for the Best Youth Album of 2010.

“L’Épée d'Ardenois. T.1/4, Garen”, by Étienne Willem. Preface by Pierre Dubois.
February 2010, hardbound €13.50 (48 pages).

“L’Épée d'Ardenois. T2/4, La Prophétie”, by Étienne Willem.
May 2011, hardbound €13.50 (48 pages).

Both published in Geneva, Switzerland by Éditions Paquet

Fur the 'More: Baltimore's first furry convention a success

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Fur the 'More logoFur the 'More, Baltimore’s first furry convention, took place on the first week of April. April is known for its rain, and whenever it rains, it pours. It was to be my first small convention, but it was certainly not as small as many other new conventions.

My own experience, compared to other furs, is limited: Anthrocon 2011 & 2012, and MFF 2011. Today I review this hatchling. I’ve included some personal stories – the greatest convention stories are personal. Besides, if you don’t have stories to tell, than what was the point of going on the adventure?

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #9 ('MLP:FiM' and 'TMNT')

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #4 (A cover)For this set of reviews, I didn’t deviate much from last month; I just swapped out one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan issues for a plain old issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #4

If you were to chart the highs and lows of this first arc of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the trajectory would look like a single beat of a normal heart on one of those heart monitors. Issue #1 would be right down the middle, nothing too special, nothing too bad, then issue #2 spiking to grand heights of funny animal comics, before an equal spike in the opposite direction following issue #3’s needlessly dark depths. Finally, this issue comes and, well, it’s nothing too special, nor too bad.

Review: 'The Cats of Tanglewood Forest', by Charles de Lint & Charles Vess

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Boston & NYC, Little, Brown & Co., March 2013 Hardcover $17.99 ([6 +] 285 [+ 7] pages)
Kindle $8.89. Illustrated by Charles Vess.

The age rating on this is “8 and up”. This is one of those “all ages” books like The Wind in the Willows that you will not want to miss just because it may be in the children’s section of your bookshop or public library. Seek it out! It is worth it.

Lillian Kindred is a little girl whose parents are dead and who lives with her Aunt on a farm at the edge of Tanglewood Forest. The book doesn’t say how old she is, so that’s probably not important. What is important is that she’s established as old enough to be allowed by other people to play in the forest alone, and young enough to look for fairies. One of the things that she sees is lots of cats wandering freely – feral cats and farm cats. She does not bother them, but she does put out dishes of fresh milk for them.

One day she falls asleep in the forest, and is bitten by a venomous snake. Vess’ illustration shows a coral snake; the worst kind. Wikipedia says that, “Coral snakes have a powerful neurotoxin that paralyzes the breathing muscles; mechanical or artificial respiration, along with large doses of antivenom, are often required to save a victim's life.” Lillian does not have any of that. She is alone at the foot of a tree, dying.

Review: 'A Town Called Panic'

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

A Town Called PanicAs the Franco-Belgian animated film Ernest & Celestine should soon be released on DVD, I thought this would be a good time to review A Town Called Panic (trailer), a movie produced by some of the same animators in 2009.

Actually, let's go further back to 2002, when Belgian animators Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier created a series of twenty shorts for TV called Panique au village (Panic in the village). Each was about five minutes long, and like Robot Chicken (2005), employed stop-motion animation with plastic figurines, clay and other objects.

Otherwise the two shows are pretty different. Robot Chicken enjoys mangling pop culture and doing random sketches; while Panique au village focuses on the bizarre daily adventures of a small, constant cast of characters. Something they both have in common is a joy of the absurd, and Panique is often more manic in this respect.

Review: 'Fire and Fur: The Last Sorcerer Dragon', by Roger C. Schlobin

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Fire and Fur: The Last Sorcerer DragonWhat do university professors do after they retire? If they are like Dr. Roger C. Schlobin, Ph.D., they write a fantasy novel based upon Chinese mythology, self-publish it (in an unusual size; 9” x 6”), and try to get it sold to be made into an animated feature film.

Good luck. It seems too far outside the mainstream of animated fantasy cinema to obtain the backing necessary to become an animated movie. Those have production budgets averaging $50 million dollars and up today. As a fantasy novel, however …

CreateSpace, December 2012, trade paperback $6.63 (149 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Review: 'The King of the Cats', by P. T. Cooper

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
The King of the CatsONE winter's evening the sexton's wife was sitting by the fireside with her big black cat, Old Tom, on the other side, both half asleep and waiting for the master to come home. They waited and they waited, but still he didn't come, till at last he came rushing in, calling out, 'Who's Tommy Tildrum?' in such a wild way that both his wife and his cat stared at him to know what was the matter.
'Why, what's the matter?' said his wife, 'and why do you want to know who Tommy Tildrum is?'
'Oh, I've had such an adventure. I was digging away at old Mr Fordyce's grave when I suppose I must have dropped asleep, and only woke up by hearing a cat's Miaou.'
'Miaou!' said Old Tom in answer.
'Yes, just like that! So I looked over the edge of the grave, and what do you think I saw?'
'Now, how can I tell?' said the sexton's wife.
'Why, nine black cats all like our friend Tom here, all with a white spot on their chestesses. And what do you think they were carrying? Why, a small coffin covered with a black velvet pall, and on the pall was a small coronet all of gold, and at every third step they took they cried all together, Miaou -- '
'Miaou!' said Old Tom again.
'Yes, just like that!' said the sexton; 'and as they came nearer and nearer to me I could see them more distinctly; because their eyes shone out with a sort of green light. Well, they all came towards me, eight of them carrying the coffin, and the biggest cat of all walking in front for all the world like -- but look at our Tom, how he's looking at me. You'd think he knew all I was saying.'

Review: 'Jolly Rover' for PC and Mac

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Jolly RoverThere aren't too many anthropomorphic computer adventure games out there, so I thought I'd review Jolly Rover, a swashbuckling scenario by an Australian company called Brawsome (aka Andrew Goulding). This game is aimed at the casual market, so it's pretty easy-going, taking about 5-8 hours. It's available for less than $9 for PC, Mac, and on Steam. (Watch the trailer.)

The story is populated by anthropomorphic dogs, and the protagonist is Gaius James Rover, a dachshund who dreams of eventually starting his own circus. Hoping to earn money towards this project, he invests his life savings in a cargo delivery of rum - which goes horribly wrong, thanks to a corrupt governor and a band of mercenary pirates. His only hope of financial salvation lies in joining the pirates and locating a long-lost treasure before they do.

Review: ‘Hank the Cowdog and the Case of the Dinosaur Birds’, by John R. Erickson

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Hank the Cowdog and the Case of the Dinosaur BirdsHank the Cowdog and the Case of the Dinosaur Birds is number 54 in John R. Erickson’s long running series of short novels for children featuring the misadventures of Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security.

The books are published by Erickson’s own Maverick Books, based out of his hometown of Perryton, Texas. The books are not unknown outside the area; but in the surrounding region, very few children grow up without encountering Hank and his humorous stories. The realistic depiction of life on a Texas cattle ranch as seen through the eyes of a vainglorious but not particularly bright ranch dog has also garnered many adult fans in the region.

The books feature illustrations by Gerald R. Holmes. However, this review is based on the audiobook version of the story, featuring Erickson’s reading. Erickson is a talented voice actor; the story is presented more like a radio play than a straight recitation, with Erickson playing all parts: human and animal, male and female, each distinctive and memorable. Quite a few fans, and this reviewer, feel that you haven’t experienced Hank the Cowdog until you have heard one of the audiobooks.

“Hank the Cowdog and the Case of the Dinosaur Birds”, by John R. Erickson. Illustrated by Gerald R. Holmes. Maverick Books Inc., 2009, paperback $4.99, CD audio book $17.99, paperback/CD combo pack $19.99, online audio $9.95.

Review: 'The Goldenlea', by Rose LaCroix

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The GoldenleaFaol Carric[k] was born to rule, inheriting the dukedom upon the passing of his father. Immediately tested by the conspiracy of the usurper Virgil Dol, Faol will need to prove his worth as a leader, a fighter, and a strategist if he is to survive—much less regain his place as the rightful ruler of the Goldenlea. (publisher’s blurb)

Faol Carrick is a wolf, Duke Ignis was a wolf, Balthasar Viverra is a genet; and we are off and running in a Medievalish anthropomorphic adventure of treachery and redemption among the nobility.

This title is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)

FurPlanet Productions, January 2013, trade paperback $19.95 (335 pages; on Amazon).
Illustrated by Kobi LaCroix.

Review: 'An Army of Frogs: A Kulipari Novel', by Trevor Pryce

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

An Army of FrogsThis is one of those officially-Young Adult books (recommended age: 10 to 18) that adults should enjoy equally. Advance reviews are comparing it favorably with Jacques’ Redwall books and “Hunter’s” Warriors books about the talking cat clans.

With the stealth of a warrior, Darrel hopped along a wide branch, tracking the two scouts below. A waterfall roared in the distance, and a tasty-looking fig wasp flitted past.
Darrel ignored a pang of hunger, resisting the urge to shoot his tongue at the wasp for a quick snack.
Dinner could wait until he’d dealt with the enemy. (p. 1)

An Army of Frogs gets off to a rousing start. The back-cover blurb is a good summary:

Darrel, a young frog, dreams of joining the Kulipari, an elite squad of poisonous frog warriors sworn to defend the Amphibilands. Unfortunately, Darrel’s dream is impossible, because he isn’t a poisonous frog and no one’s seen the Kulipari since the last scorpion war, long ago. Anyway, now the frogs’ homeland is protected by the turtle king’s magic. So it no longer needs defending – or does it?

Enter the spider queen, a powerful dreamcaster capable of destroying the turtle king’s protective spell. She and her ally Lord Marmoo, leader of a vicious army of scorpions, are bent on conquering the frogs’ lush homeland. The frogs have never been more vulnerable. Can Daryl save the day and become the warrior of his dreams?

“An Army of Frogs: A Kulipari Novel”, by Trevor Pryce with Joel Naftali. Illustrated by Sanford Greene. NYC, Abrams/Amulet Books, May 2013, hardcover $15.95 ([6+] 272 [+6] pages).

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