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Fur Affinity announces Project Phoenix; Weasyl traffic spikes

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

On January 15, Fur Affinity made its latest announcement of its intention to revamp their site. This new effort, code named Project Pheonix, is intended to bring massive updated to the site's interface to make it more user friendly, as well as incorporate a simplification of rules and decrease response time to trouble tickets.

However, the news caused a stir as it was stated that Adam Wan, known in the fandom as Zaush, would be leading the user interface development. Major controversy has shadowed Mr. Wan following the note leaks back in late 2010 revealed a private correspondence where an individual went to Dragoneer to discuss the possibility of going public with their experiences of sexual abuses committed against them by Mr. Wan. In that correspondence Dragoneer told the alleged victim they believed taking this action was not a good idea as making such public accusations would lead to public backlash against both the accused and the accuser. The victim took that advise and did not go public. Only after the security leak did the public get a hold of these accusations.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #18 (‘Avengers Arena,’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’)

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Avengers Arena #11Like I recently went with a triple feature for My Little Pony, I decided to do a pure Marvel comics Pull List. Why should IDW get all the fun? So we’re going to pretend like this is a special Marvel edition, okay? Anyway, until Beast uses bikini wax, make mine Marvel!

I’m sorry, was that weird? I read that somewhere.

Avengers Arena #11

We get a breather issue after the horrific events of issues #9 and #10, in which we had two deaths in two issues; Juston in #9 (nooooo!) and Nico in #10 (did not see that one coming). Instead of dealing with the still rampaging Apex, we catch up with Avengers Academy alumni Hazmat and Reptil, who are hanging out on a beach while the rest of the cast are running for their lives from a crazy girl who occasionally turns into her nice twin brother (it’s complicated).

Review: 'The Cat's Eye Pub', by James Robert Jordan

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)
The Cat's Eye Pub (front cover)

3 years after the events of Bound to Play, chakats Midsnow, Blacktail, and their family have made the move and immigration to Chakona the self proclaimed home world for the chakat species.

With intentions of opening their own business they are unaware of the many obstacles and challenges they will face. All while Midsnow's troubled past atempts [sic.] to catch up to hir." (back-cover blurb)

CreateSpace, June 2013, trade paperback $19.95 (308 pages), Kindle $7.99. Illustrated.

The Cat's Eye Pub, like Bound to Play and the forthcoming A Chakat in the Alley, is set (with permission) in Bernard Doove's Chakat Universe. It features those hermaphroditic centauroid felines, along with the humans, Caitians (bipedal felines), Rakshani (bipedal like Caitians but taller and more tigerlike), skunktaurs, and other species of Doove's 24th-century interstellar civilization.

Review: 'Hot Dish'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (9 votes)

Hot Dish can be purchased at Sofawolf.com - See also: Review by Fred Patten

Review: 'Le Bois des Vierges', by Jean Dufaux and Béatrice Tillier

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Front cover of the R. Laffont edition Le Bois des Vierges (The Virgins' Woods) is a French comic set in a medieval half-human, half-anthropomorphic world. It was released in three volumes between 2008 and 2013, written by Jean Dufaux and illustrated by Béatrice Tillier. Originally published by Robert Laffont (who then dropped their comics division), it was picked up by a second publisher, Delcourt, who re-released the first volume with a different cover. I reviewed the first book for Anthrozine.

To be honest, this won't appeal to most North American furry fans, for several reasons. Not only is it in French, the wording is deliberately archaic, though not quite bordering on the Shakespearian. The human characters are the main focus, and the story isn't especially creative with the anthropomorphic ones. Oh, and good luck finding the set for under $75, not including shipping.

The main conflict in the story involves speciesism between four groups. The "tall beasts" (mainly wolves), the "short beasts" (including foxes), the humans, and the hybrids. The foxes and wolves are digitigrade and humanoid, but they consider themselves beasts. All the animal-people don't like humans very much, and the feeling is mutual. The tall beasts also hold the short beasts in contempt, and everyone hates the hybrids.

Review: 'Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism', by Carmen Dobre

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

'Furries', by CarmenDobre

Furries gives a candid commentary that reveals details about 'fursuits', 'fursonas' and the 'furry fandom'. Award winning photographer Carmen Dobre continues her examination of 'furries', who they are and how they perceive themselves. Documentary style portraits alongside one-to-one interviews reveal the intriguing passions of people whose human identity is challenged by their love of their chosen animal persona/fursona. The first colour illustrated book featuring an international cross-section of individuals who choose to dress as animals and why. (blurb)

Leave it to Academia to get it almost but not quite right. Furry fandom is about more than just the furry lifestylers, of course, but this artistic collection of photo-interviews with fifteen fursuiters (and their mates) does get all genuine furry lifestylers. Each portrait identifies the British, Dutch, French, or German lifestyler in an average of two pages of text, followed by eight pages of beautifully-posed full-colour photographs; two of the fan posed in his home or apartment, a closeup or two of his fursuit, and four or five of his messy home. Most of the fursuiters look like typical college students living in batchelor apartments, including those married and long out of college.

Plymouth, Devon, UK, University of Plymouth Press, October 2012, trade paperback £17 (150 [+ 2] pages; illustrated). Foreword by Valerie Reardon.

Review: 'Wereworld: War of the Werelords', by Curtis Jobling

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Wereworld: War of the Werelords It’s over! This is Book 6 and the conclusion of Jobling’s Wereworld series, which began with Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, and continued through Rage of Lions, Shadow of the Hawk, Nest of Serpents, and Storm of Sharks.

The Wereworld Young Adult series is set on the island-continent of Lyssia on a fantasy world, in which each of the kingdoms and their dutchies, counties, and baronies are ruled by a 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”.

It could also be called the Lyssian civil war saga. The island-continent of Lyssia is divided into seven kingdoms (see Jobling’s map), often called the Seven Realms, dominated by Westland which was ruled by the wolflords.

A generation before the series began, King Wergar of Westland was murdered and the dynasty of the wolves was overthrown by the lionlords, whose leader, Lionel, became the new King of Westland and began exterminating the wolflords. The other six realms of Lyssia, each ruled by a different werelord dynasty – bears, boars, and others – grumbled but accepted the new order.

The Penguin Group/Viking, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (xvii + 503 pages; map by the author), Kindle $9.78.

Opinion: The New Furry, much like the Old Furry

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Let's be clear about one thing from the start: furry is still a fandom. That should be a fairly uncontroversial statement, but a recent article by JM on [adjective][species] tried to put forward the case that furry can no longer be described as a fandom. I think there are a number of major errors in that essay that need to be corrected.

Fandom or not?

JM's argument against furry's status as a fandom rests on the lack of a furry canon.

Fandoms revolve around their canon. The canon provides a permanent reference point for all fandom-related activities. We furries have no such thing, and so furry is defined by whatever we, collectively, decide.

This paragraph is only partially true. He's wrong about what constitutes a fandom; there is more to it than just canon. Turning to the infallible resource of Wikipedia (that was irony, but it is pretty reliable), we learn this about fandoms:

Review: 'My Little Pony: The Magic Begins', by Lauren Faust and Justin Eisinger

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

My Little Pony: The Magic Begins I feel that reviewing this is like preaching to the converted, but here goes.

If you have somehow missed out on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic TV animation phenomenon so far, here is a good place to start. This book – and it is a cute little booklet, appropriate to the TV cartoon series; only 6.8” x 5” and brimming with color on glossy paper – is a graphic-novel adaptation of the two-part Friendship is Magic pilot episode broadcast on October 10 and 22, 2010. The story is by Lauren Faust, MLP:FIM’s creator, adapted into graphic-novel form by Justin Eisinger. Other credits are on the title page. This booklet consists of stills from the two TV cartoons with speech-balloon overlays; about as close to putting an animated cartoon onto paper as you can get. If you do not have a videotape or DVD of the first two episodes, this will enable you to have them.

IDW Publishing is the publisher of the MLP:FIM regular comic book, but this booklet is not a regular comic book. It is a cross between a standard American comic book and a Japanese tankōbon paperback, shrunk to about half-size, in glossy full-color on slick paper; more like the paperback photo-novels of Doctor Who, Star Blazers, or Star Trek episodes than a collection of comic-book issues.

“My Little Pony: The Magic Begins”, by Lauren Faust (author) and Justin Eisinger (adapter).
San Diego, CA, IDW Publishing, October 2013, trade paperback $7.99 (124 pages).

Fur Affinity bans 'Spam to Win' journals, reposted promos

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (11 votes)

Furries are pretty creative. Where conventional companies will pay advertising companies, we find new way to promote our products and selves to others. Independent artists in the fandom have to use less conventional means of promotion. Two such staples that have become popular in the fandom over the past year are "Your Character Here" auctions and "Repost a Link" schemes. However, with their increased popularity, users began to criticize abuse of these methods and expressed annoyance at their side effects.

On November 21, after a link-reposting "giveaway" promising the winner $1,111 had saturated the site, Fur Affinity staff decided that what once started as a small advertising scheme had entered the realm of the intolerable, calling the methodology "Spam to Win". They also re-addressed an issue where artists would repost YCH auction template pictures, annoying watches and browsers alike.

In this Flayrah exclusive we will focus on the new journal rules, explain their implications to average furs and furry organizations, and how these type of prize giveaways could evolve under these new regulations and maintain a level of effectiveness.

Review: 'Porcupine Passions'

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Every now and then I find a work of furry art that is amazing. Such is the two-part audio drama entitled Porcupine Passions. The story started as a spin off explaining some back-story details of The Beach Bears saga (interview), but became much more.

Porcupine Passions I (10 episodes, about 10 minutes each) tells Bobby’s story as he struggles with his feelings of deep friendship for his friend Dipper. I could feel Bobby’s genuine feelings as I listened. The Beach Bears musical group had formed, and Dipper had stumbled into some serious heartache. As loyal friends do, Bobby comes to Dipper’s aid. Sounds simple; but the story is told with such genuine emotion, it’s anything but.

Porcupine Passions II (37 episodes, about 10 minutes each) precedes The Beach Bears saga and defines the friendship between Bobby and Dipper, which is tested when Bobby must move away and both their lives change in ways neither expected. Both grow and realize how special their friendship really is, as do the listeners.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #17 ('MLP' and 'TMNT')

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It’s another IDW sweep, with two Micro-Series issues (Pinkie Pie and Old Hob are featured this time around), and another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue. Ben Bates returns; he’s the artist behind the aforementioned Pinkie Pie story, despite the fact that I pointed him out as a positive in earlier issue of TMNT. His art, however, makes a cameo in the TMNT issue; but more on that when we get to it. First, let’s see what Pinkie Pie’s up to, shall we?

My Little Pony: Micro-Series #5 featuring Pinkie Pie My Little Pony: Micro-Series #5 featuring Pinkie Pie

Normally I finish with whatever art comments I make (and I usually don’t make a lot of those), but since I’ve already talked about the artist, I might as well start there this time around. Bates is right at home in funny animal comics; besides TMNT, he’s also done Sonic the Hedgehog. Here, he’s a bit tied down by the fact that Pinkie Pie has to look like Pinkie Pie, after all; his backgrounds are also a bit simplistic, and could use more detail.

The story revolves around Pinkie Pie winning a contest by drinking 315 bottle of Colta Cola (no wonder she’s always wiggling around like she’s in desperate need of a bathroom on the show) to win a ticket with backstage passes to the great clown Ponyacci’s show. It turns out, however, Ponyacci is on the verge of retirement; Pinkie Pie is completely upset by this turn of events.

There are a couple of solid jokes in this issue; Pinkie talking to her Ponyacci doll is so in character, I can hear Andrea Libman’s voice while reading it. Twilight Sparkle plays straight mare for Pinkie; ironically, when Pinkie only wins two tickets, she doesn’t angst about it like Twilight does in a similar situation. Finally, it’s nice to see clowns and clown dolls played so straight (well, you know what I mean); we live in a world where vampires are protagonists for children’s cartoons, but there are not one, but two horror franchises based around killers who take the guise of dolls with playful catchphrases. Pinkie Pie knows what I’m talking about.

Review: 'Monster Musume', vol. 1, by OKAYADO

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (5 votes)

Monster Musame vol. 1 Oops. This manga would be a lot funnier if not for the serious news in August of a man in Idaho being arrested for having sex with a cat. Many of Flayrah’s readers wondered how that was possible, considering the size differences of a human’s and a cat’s sex apparatus.

One of the ongoing questions in Monster Musume is how Kurusu, the terrified human teenaged protagonist, is going to have sex with a snake? Well, Miia’s human above the waist. And with boobs that, like the Maryland judge said describing Jane Russell’s (in banning the movie The Outlaw), "breasts hung like a thunderstorm over a summer landscape." And Miia really, really, REALLY wants to f--- with him, despite his genteel inhibitions.

So does Papi, the harpy. Well, when she’s old enough. She’s about the equivalent of a nine- or ten-year-old human girl. And, being a bird-girl, noticeably feather-brained, too. (Kurusu isn’t into cradle-robbing, either.)

And Centorea, the centauress. No “centaurette” as in Disney’s Fantasia; this is a dignified but horny adolescent female centaur. The centaurs are supposed to be too haughty to comingle with humans, but Centorea proves the old adage that you can justify anything if you try hard enough.

Los Angeles, CA, Seven Seas Entertainment, October 2013, trade paperback $12.99 (unpaged [192 pages]). Translated by Ryan Peterson.

Review: 'Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana', by Mary E. Lowd

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Otters In Space: The Search for Cat Havana Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana by Mary E. Lowd is a short novel that received a 2010 Ursa Major Award nomination. It's a work of light science-fiction that I think might appeal to young adult readers. It's available from FurPlanet and Amazon, and in electronic format - see the author's website for details and links. I read the FurPlanet 2012 edition, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-61450-043-8.

See also: Fred Patten's earlier summary and review. (Contains spoilers.)

Mary Lowd's name really first stood out to me in the 2012 Ursa Recommended Anthropomorphics List, which included six of her short stories. It's not unusual to see authors with multiple recommendations on the list, although when they all appear at the same time, it feels like overkill. Anyway, of those six, I definitely enjoyed St. Kalwain and the Lady Uta, appearing in ROAR volume 4, so I was curious what she would do in a longer format.

Review: 'Striking the Root', by Kris Schnee

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

Striking The Root You cannot always judge whether a novel will be good or bad by its first line, but I’ve found that a story with a good first line rarely turns out to be bad. The first line of Striking the Root is, “Rowan hung upside-down from a branch and drew emerald knots in the air, hoping to please the Lord.” Yep, that’s a grabber. And Striking the Root just keeps getting better.

In an apparent dungeons-&-dragonish magical world, young Rowan Janiceson is an “awakened” gray squirrel in a joint civilization of humans and squirrelfolk. The world was originally inhabited by just humans; but several centuries ago, the human wizard Lord Veles, Great Lord of the Forest, planted the seed that grew into the massive Great Oak and awakened the first squirrels in size and intelligence. Since then, Veles has mostly withdrawn to let the squirrelfolk run their own civilization under their own Council in what has become the squirrel nation of Great Oak. Many squirrels have left Great Oak to settle among the human city-states.

Rowan is one of the squirrelfolk who worship Veles as the god of the squirrelfolk, and he is unhappy that more and more squirrels are drifting away from the True Faith, calling Veles by the disrespectful name of “Greenie” and considering him as just a human wizard, not a god. When the Council of Great Oak intends to send a representative into human lands on a trade mission, Veles arranges for Rowan to become that messenger. Rowan is both scared to venture from the squirrel nation into the human world, and proud to be the ambassador of the squirrel’s True Faith.

CreateSpace, Dec. 2012, trade paperback $7.49 ([2 +] 199 pages), Kindle $2.99. Map by Virmir.

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