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Review: 'Wereworld: Nest of Serpents' [and] 'Wereworld: Storm of Sharks', by Curtis Jobling

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

These are Books 4 and 5 in Jobling’s Wereworld saga. Book 1, Rise of the Wolf, was reviewed here in May 2012, and Books 2 and 3, Rage of Lions and Shadow of the Hawk, were reviewed in January 2013. The final volume, War of the Werelords, will be published on October 8.

The Wereworld Young Adult series is set on the island-continent of Lyssia on a fantasy world, in which each of the kingdoms is ruled by a therian Werelord who can transform into an animal, including birds and fish. School Library Journal has called the series “Game of Thrones for the tween set”. In Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, teen farmboy Drew Ferran learns that he is adopted and is really the werewolf son of the murdered Wolf King Wergar of Westland, Lyssia’s most powerful nation, which has been usurped by Lion King Leopold who has replaced the old wolf aristocracy with his own lion nobility.

In Rage of Lions and Shadow of the Hawk, the animal nations of Lyssia fall into civil war over whether to acknowledge Drew’s claim to the Westland throne, or whether they should acknowledge any ruling nation rather than declaring their independence; while the supporters of the Lions try to reconquer the whole island-continent. Drew gains allies, but he is betrayed several times, and loses his left hand.

How complex the series has become is shown by Nest of Serpents beginning with a Cast of Characters that takes four pages. Wolflords, Lionlords, Catlords, Staglords, Hawklords, Ratlords, Crowlords, Jackallords, Bearlords, Foxlords, Horselords – you name the animal, and there is probably a werelord for it. (I don’t think there are any Skunklords or Raccoonlords – but those are North American animals, and these are American editions of British books.) And lots of human commoners.

“Wereworld: Nest of Serpents”, Jan. 2013, hardcover $16.99 ([xiv] + 494 + [4] pgs.), Kindle $9.78.
“Wereworld: Storm of Sharks”, May 2013, hardcover $16.99 ([xvi] + 454 + [10] pgs.), Kindle $9.78.
Both by Curtis Jobling, published by The Penguin Group/Viking, with a map by the author.

"Pseudo-furry" videos raise questions about pop culture and Furry fandom

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

What's with music videos and fursuit parties?

Have you noticed a trend of mainstream music videos that some call "pseudo-furry"? It might be a stretch to connect every video that has animal mascot costumes, but their frequency seems like no coincidence. They've been around for years but I seem to notice more and more. Newsbytes posted by GreenReaper and Sonious sparked my notice, and Flayrah's music tag has many more examples. What does this say about marketing? What does "pseudo-furry" imply?

What does the Fox Say?

Anthropomorphic art has been around for much longer than a dedicated fandom for it. Furry fandom didn't spring from an original concept in the 1980's- it's specific inspirations include golden age post-WWII animation, Disney movies and much more. Popular culture and it's gateways are an undeniably important influence. But identifying a trend for pop culture to re-absorb the Furry subculture that it helped spin off could make a good discussion about interplay. Is this happening because Furry is being accepted as a legitimate subculture, beyond a bastard child of the movies, shows, games and comics that furries enjoy?

Anime: 'Space Dandy' to blast onto Japanese TV in 2014

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Space Dandy poster Space Dandy is cuming (pun deliberate) in January 2014 – but not to America.

The news is spreading that it was announced at guest Shinichirō Watanabe’s panel at Otakon 2013, August 9-11 in Baltimore, that he is directing Studio Bones’ new TV anime space comedy, Space Dandy, scheduled for broadcast next January in Japan.

This is exciting news because Watanabe is the brilliant director of Cowboy Bebop, and two of the sequences in The Animatrix, among others. Though Dandy may be human, there are plenty of anthropomorphic aliens in it, starting with Meow, his partner.

Watanabe said that this will be "not an anime to be taken seriously." Oh, you think!?

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #16 ('Guardians of the Galaxy', 'TMNT' and 'Wolverine and the X-Men')

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Welcome back to another exciting issue of Pull List! This time, we’re starting off with a review of a comic with a raccoon wielding a sci-fi gun on the cover, followed by the beginning of the “Cityfall” arc in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Finally, I decided to revisit Wolverine and the X-Men because some furry things are happening in it, and also it’s a lot of fun.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' logo Back in the day, growing up in a lower middle class family, I didn’t have access to many games. Luckily, those that I did have a chance to play were enough to keep me entertained for many hours. Of the eight Nintendo games we owned, TMNT III: The Manhattan Project was one of the most played. Not only was it fun to play, but it was one of the few where a sibling could join in on the fun – well, ‘fun’ as long as you didn’t choose the game option where you could damage one another.

Since this was a staple of my childhood, and I hadn’t been exposed to many of the TMNT games since then, I had many expectations for this game. Could it keep the solid combat, the engaging environments, and yes even the comedic charm of that old classic had while bringing it’s own mark to the table? Or would it be closer to (shudder), that first infuriating Turtles NES game? I was about to find out.

Review: 'Housepets! Are Gonna Sniff Everybody' (Book 4), by Rick Griffin

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Housepets! Are Gonna Sniff Everybody Housepets! Are Gonna Sniff Everybody is the fourth annual collection of Rick Griffin’s award-winning (Ursa Major Awards, Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip, 2009 to 2012) Internet full-color comic strip, following Housepets! Are Naked All the Time, Housepets! Hope They Don’t Get Eaten, and Housepets! Can Be Real Ladykillers. Book 4 collects the strips from June 6, 2011 to June 4, 2012. These are the story-arcs #43, “The Great Water Balloon War” to #55, “The Trial in Heaven”, plus all the one-off gag strips between those.

Book 4 is back to lacking a real title page. Boo, hiss!

North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, August 2013, trade paperback $13.95 (53 pages).

Online security in furry fandom

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Hopefully, all Internet users have, by now, heard about the United State's widespread spying programme which has recorded huge volumes of data passing through America. Just as concerning is the looming, default porn block in the UK which will not only block porn by default but also violence, alcohol, smoking and Internet forums, among other things. These programmes should be of major concern to all Internet users. They are also a perfect opportunity to talk about online security.

Furry Movie Award Watch: August 2013

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Hey, it’s the two year anniversary edition of Furry Movie Award Watch!

However, I don’t feel much like celebrating; this wasn’t exactly a banner year for the column. Let’s see; I was late November, February, April and May. [This time, it was the editor's fault.] Oh, and there was the part where I only got one out of three awards I was supposed to guess right. And the movie that beat me was terrible; not even a fun terrible, like Avatar or Prometheus, but a boring terrible. I can’t even find myself really mad at the choice; I mean, it was a nice, safe pick, after all. Nothing interesting at all going on here.

So, anyway, no funny pictures of animals with party hats this year.

Review: 'Mindtouch', by M. C. A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Mindtouch It is unfair to compare Hogarth’s novel set at a university in her Paradox universe with Pixar’s recently-released Monsters University, but the superficial parallels are obvious. Instead of the no-two-are-the-same monsters, there are the seeming-dozens of different species of the Pelted, and some humans, wandering about prestigious Seersana University. Instead of a big green eyeball and a blue-lavender furry monster as main characters, there are a pale, tall humanoid Eldritch and a short, furry centauroid winged Glaseah.

The big difference is that in Monsters University, the cast all look different but are all from the same culture. In Mindtouch, the different species are from different societies. The students may know intellectually that they are in for some “different” experiences at S.U., but it is still a shock when they happen.

Orientation began, as he had half expected, with a speech by the associate dean of the College of Medicine, of which the xenopsychology school was a part. He was one of the Seersa, the foxine Pelted who’d given the world its name, a lean and grizzled elder with salt-and-pepper fur and the intensity of a medic. Jahir listened to his monologue while marveling that he was actually here … sitting in a chair in an auditorium filled with aliens. The woman in front of him had silk-furred ears that were trembling from the effort of catching every word. The ends of the rows had spaces for centauroids to recline, or the more avian aliens to perch. He was, very definitely, no longer home, and if the stress of his danger at being so crowded was giving him a headache, well … it was worth it, for the newness of it. (pgs. 28-29)

Studio MCAH, July 2013, trade paperback $16.99 ([3 +] 408 [+ 7] pages), Kindle $5.99.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #15 ('MLP')

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Like a Rainbow in the dark, whoops, that's not Pink Floyd song ...I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”
- Pink Floyd, “Brain Damage

Wait, oops. Sorry about that.

The song quote is my My Little Pony DVD review shtick, not my comic book review shtick. I got confused for a moment because, for this set, I decided to review three My Little Pony issues. That way, all you pony fans can get excited, while all you non-pony fans have one convenient place for all your one-stars! Everybody wins! Yay!

Furries share worries about pay-dating fraud: spotlight on FurFling.com

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (15 votes)

A Flayrah exclusive investigation for Furry public interest
Pounced
Josh is a 22-year old single wolf looking for a mate on Pounced.org. He describes himself as "friendly, honest, caring, and fun." He warns other hopeful romantics about another dating site, that he says overcharged him after he canceled service: "Save your money, and avoid frustration."

FurFling.com will turn one year old in late 2013. After nine months of activity, it boasts 21,000 users in posts to Twitter- an amount called into question by evidence later in this article. It's by no means the first dating site that targets furries. Others, like Pounced (established in 2003) offer free service by and for fans. But FurFling differs by bringing new methods to entice payments, usually seen on commercial sites like Adult Friend Finder that attract allegations of fraud.

Review: 'The City of Ice', chapters 1-8, by Roz Gibson

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Fourteen years ago, comic artist and animator Roz Gibson published the first chapter of The City of Ice. At Anthrocon 2013 she brought the series to a close with The City of Ice #8.
The City of Ice #8
Roz Gibson’s background is in classical sequential and animation art, and her major influences are classic science fiction and the political realism found in works like Frank Herbert’s Dune. Graphic novel and science fiction aficionados should find her work especially appealing, as will anyone intrigued by a hard-edged, politically and economically credible world inhabited by both humans and sapient animal-based non-humans.

The events in The City of Ice take place immediately after those of Gibson’s early novel Jet, 2350, and fifty years prior to Jack Salem’s career. Fans of the Jack Salem series will learn how Jack’s world came into being, and even meet a familiar character.

Review: 'Endtown 3' [and] 'Endtown 4', by Aaron Neathery

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)
'Endtown' volume 3
'Endtown' volume 4

Endtown has been a black-&-white Monday-Friday webcomic since January 18, 2009. Its popularity has grown fast, and it was shortlisted for the 2011 Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story category. A rave review by Bill Sherman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (June 24, 2011) [originally on Blogcritics] began:

A snappy blend of Boy and His Dog sci-fi plus funny animal comics, Aaron Neathery's Endtown is one of the underseen gems in web comics. Originally debuting on the Modern Tales site - and more recently migrated to GoComics - the weekday series charts the travails of the beleaguered underground survivors of a mutant spawning radiation plague.

Endtown is set six years after a cataclysmic war has destroyed almost all life on Earth, leaving only a lifeless, desertlike surface and a few subterranean towns. The survivors are divided between the airtight-suited Topsiders, ruthless 100% human purists who kill other survivors on sight because they may be mutants, and the mutants and “impure” humans who try to survive in the underground enclaves. The “mutagenic plague” transformed its human victims into horrific monsters or, what makes this strip of Furry interest, anthropomorphic animals.

“Endtown 3”, by Aaron Neathery. [Introduction by Chad Rocco.] Bellevue, WA, Jarlidium Press, July 2013, trade paperback $15.00 (131 [+3] pages).

“Endtown 4”, by Aaron Neathery. [Introduction by Steve Gallacci.] Bellevue, WA, Jarlidium Press, July 2013, trade paperback $15.00 (131 [+3] pages).

Are we scaring away potential furry fans? Google says yes.

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Google suggestions: Furries are ... sick, weird and creepyI detest unnecessary wordiness, but keeping it short just doesn't work.

Before I begin, I would like to present an apology of sorts to Patch Packrat. I very much dislike to be misunderstood, but also cannot stand to be the source of said misunderstanding. I guess I should have been more clear with my choice of words.

Now, with that out of the way, today's topic.

Throughout the years, I have been around the various reaches of the web, and met a ton of really good artists. Many really liked to draw humanized animals (for fun and profit). For some, the subject made up most of their galleries; some drew furries exclusively. As we conversed, the topic of furries inevitably arose. Aside from the occasional "yep, I'm a furry", most replies went something like this:

  1. I like drawing talking animals, but I don't have a fursona/fursuit, so I'm not a furry.
  2. I like drawing talking animals, but to me it's not a "lifestyle", so I'm not a furry.
  3. Furries are creepy, and I don't want to be associated with them.

Answer #3 was the most prevalent.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #14 ('Avengers Arena,' 'MLP' and 'TMNT')

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Art by kunaikeI recently learned that Marvel’s superhero MMO Marvel Heroes will feature a playable Squirrel Girl (as well as Rocket Raccoon), voiced by Tara Strong. That means that Doreen Green and Twilight Sparkle have the same voice, and that’s awesome. So, since I’ve got a Marvel title and a My Little Pony title this time around, I decided to share that tidbit, and dig up some ”Squirrel Girl as a pony” art to go with it.

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