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Three comic book reviews: Pull List #11 ('Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'MLP:FiM' and 'TMNT')

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Guardians of the Galaxy #1 Young VariantFor this edition of Pull List, we’ve got a brand new Marvel series featuring the spacefaring adventures of a raccoon and his friend the tree (they have other friends, but they aren’t important), the beginning of a new arc with a new creative team for IDW’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the final issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan.

An interview with the casting V.P. for MTV's 'True Life'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (6 votes)

There's been much discussion and speculation about a casting call for Furries to appear on MTV's reality show, True Life. Erika Dobrin, casting VP at the show's producer Asylum Entertainment, was nice enough to give me 30 minutes to answer questions about it.

The phone app I used didn't record (I blame an app update), so this is paraphrased from notes and approved by Erika. I would say that the answers were very, very on-message. I did ask personal stuff to make it relatable - perhaps some responses would boil down to "just doing a job", or it might have caused shyness about getting personal. (Understandable, considering that the casting call has gotten hate mail.)

I aimed to ask tough questions, balancing sympathy towards the challenge of putting out professional media with being a Furry fan who's shamelessly obsessed with fursuiting.

Review: 'Epic' is about as inspired as its title

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

EpicThis should come as no surprise, but Roger Ebert was a personal hero of mine. The man lost his voice years ago, but he was still able to speak clearly as ever in his writing, especially the movie reviews that were his main job. He died earlier this year.

I was reminded of a line he occasionally used during Blue Sky StudiosEpic during a scene where the villain has captured the comedy relief sidekicks and is telling them stories of his son. One of them exclaims, “Your stories are boring and torturous!” As Ebert would point out (as he did for Jason X), the movie just reviewed itself. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Epic features some really wonderful animation, great special effects and what I’m sure would have been remarkable use of 3D technology if I’d bothered to watch the movie that way, but none of it really matters, because the story is, well, boring and torturous.

Review: 'Ernest et Célestine' ['Ernest & Celestine']

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

French DVD cover of 'Ernest & Celestine'Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine) is a 2012 children's animated film from Europe about a friendship between a mouse and a bear. It hasn't had a widespread English-language release in North America yet, but when it does, I recommend it. It's charming! (Trailer, with English subtitles.)

The two main characters exist in different worlds, and are both victims of circumstance. Ernest, the bear, is a musician who lives alone in a cabin in the forest outside a large town, an outsider. If not for the cabin, he'd be homeless; he runs out of food during the winter and must resort to busking and begging, and eventually theft, because busking is forbidden and his musical instruments are taken away.

The weird crossover of furries and industrial music: Part 2

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There's a new blog about music by furries, that follows an ongoing podcast: Fuzzy Notes, run by Potoroo. This article led to an invite to contribute, so expect more there soon. (Can anyone suggest fun puns that cross furry animals and music? - like "fuzzbox".)

Part 1 talks about crossover between an odd pair. To continue, here's some chatting with Furry industrial music DJ's: 5arah and Quell Ironheart.

Review: 'Unico', by Osamu Tezuka

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Unico (paperback)Unico, the talking baby unicorn, was the last major character created by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989). He was inspired to design an adorably cute character by Sanrio Ltd, the merchandiser of girl’s products, in 1976. Sanrio had just created “Hello Kitty” in 1974 as an idol to sell handbags, earrings, etc. to young girls. Unico was to be a companion to appear in serialized adventures in Lyrica, Sanrio’s monthly girl’s manga magazine, as well as a series of animated theatrical features that Sanrio was planning at the time. Even minor Tezuka is worth reading, and Unico is full of the magic and color of the world of the imagination, with enough talking animals to please any Furry fan.

Unico was conceived in the U.S.; Tezuka was visiting Sanrio’s Los Angeles animation studio in 1976, where the animated feature Metamorphoses (Hoshi no Orufeusu) was in production. Metamorphoses was designed to look “cute” (if you never heard of it, it’s because the feature bombed so badly that it was pulled from theaters one day after its release), and Tezuka was inspired to draw a cute baby unicorn. Sanrio was planning to publish Lyrica, and the company quickly commissioned him to write and draw Unico’s adventures for serialization. This became a typical example of Tezuka’s prolific output; Unico appeared in chapters of over 30 pages per monthly issue for most issues of Lyrica, from its first issue in November 1976 to its final issue in March 1979.

Digital Manga Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $34.95 (410 pages; on Overstock).

Fine art: The sculpture of Beth Cavener Stichter

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

RunMy brother (an artist himself) texted me a while back: “Hey! I think the fandom should have a dose of fine art maybe? Check out Beth Cavener Stichter. Art reviews may not be your thing, but art exposure could be fun.”

He’s right; art reviews are not (usually) my thing, but art exposure can be fun. Especially when the art in question features anthropomorphism of this quality. As my brother’s follow up text put it, “And she is just that @#$%ing good.”

According to quotes from Stichter’s Wikipedia article (I told you I was bad at art reviews), her sculptures:

… are simply feral animals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface, they embody the consequences of human fear, apathy, aggression, and misunderstanding.

Basically, she is using the term “feral” in exactly the same way furries use it, though completely incidentally. Probably. However, her sculptures are made in such a way that we can’t help but anthropomorphize them – just like “feral” characters drawn by furries.

Interview: Polish con-runner and forum admin Lemurr

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (9 votes)

Pablo Lemurr, by Maciej 'Agent'WeFurries interviews furry convention-runner and administrator Pablo Lemurr. Transcription: Solovari.

Nickson: Soo, Lemurr, hi!

Lemurr: Hi-hi, hello.

Nickson: OK, so, who wants to start?

Pillgrim: Lemurr, please, introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us what you do in normal life. When did you become a furry, how did you get to know about this sub-culture and so on?

Lemurr: I am a professional web designer and a programmer. I've been furry for, like, five years. I came upon the fandom from browsing some YouTube channels; then I saw the keyword, googled it and came up with some Polish forums. Nothing really special, I guess.

Nickson: Can you tell us more about your fursona?

Lemurr: I don't think it will be a surprise. My fursona is an anthro lemur. Nothing special or fancy like colored fur, just a plain lemur.

Nickson: It's interesting that you are a lemur because sometimes people choose different species.

Hi-jera: What's more interesting is that he pronounces it like l'amour.

Lemurr: I am sorry about the pronunciation, I just pronounce it this way - lee-murr. What's pretty annoying is that everyone thinks I chose this fursona because of Madagascar, but it's not so. I just like the stripy tail and stuff.

Reviews: 'Critter Costuming: Making Mascots and Fabricating Fursuits', by Adam Riggs

Your rating: None Average: 2 (5 votes)

Critter CostumingVirtual Costumer magazine, published for members of The Silicon Web Costumers' Guild (SiW), has reviews of the fursuit-making manual Critter Costuming in its May 2013 issue. Latest issues are members-only, but editor Phil Gust gave me permission to re-post the article here.

Phil found me as a professional dealer who helps distribute the book, and asked me to review it. I don't make costumes, just wear them, so I put out a request to the Furry community for their reviews. I selected two to share, by Schrix and Kellan Meig’h.

Critter Costuming: Making Mascots and Fabricating Fursuits, by Adam Riggs (Nicodemus), is the first published book about fursuit making. Shameless plug: I sell it at the lowest cost on the net to help spread the hobby ($32 with free U.S. shipping). You can buy it via Furbuy, or with payment by Paypal to patch.ofurr(at)gmail.com.

R is for Review: 'The ABCs of Death'

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (6 votes)

The ABCs of DeathAnybody can die, evidently.”
-“ABC”, Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate

Necrophilia is more erotic than that [censored!].”
-SWfan, Flayrah commenter

The ABCs of Death is the brainchild of producer Ant Timpson (an end credit suggests the whole thing was inspired by a nightmare of his): take 26 horror directors from around the world and give them a letter of the alphabet. They then pick a word with that letter, and direct a short film for $5,000 that depicts a death involving that word.

Pretty simple, and a great concept for a horror anthology, but why the review on a furry site? Well, there’s Thomas Malling’s “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion,” which is basically a live action Tex Avery cartoon. And there are plenty of animal-related shorts available, as well; some of the best shorts on the roster, including “D is for Dogfight,” “N is for Nuptials,” “P is for Pressure” and “Q is for Quack,” involve animals, if not always anthropomorphic.

But are these highlights worth the time for furries?

Review: 'The Iron Breed', by Andre Norton

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

The Iron BreedAndre Norton (Alice Mary Norton, 1912-2005), “the Grand Dame of science-fiction”, was one of the first authors of Young Adult s-f, and of anthro s-f. At a time when most s-f featured teenage or adult human heroes fighting alien adversaries, her novels often starred humans working with sympathetic anthro aliens against human villains, anthro protagonists, or humans transformed into anthro aliens.

Today, Baen Books is reprinting many of her out-of-print s-f titles, two novels in each book. The Iron Breed reprints two of her anthro classics together for the first time: Iron Cage (Viking Press, September 1974; original cover by Bruce Waldman) and Breed to Come (Viking Press, June 1972; original cover by László Gál). If you have not read them before, read them now.

Baen Books, January 2013, trade paperback $12 (448 pages), Kindle $8.99 (preview).

The weird crossover of furries and industrial music: Part 1

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Industrial music is aggressive, exciting and ominous, with futuristic themes of dystopia and urban decay. As art, you might call it the cold, metal shadow to the light side of nature, animals and furry things. It's a big contrast to the sunny electronic pop that furry con-goers may expect. (Does music have anything to do with animals, anyways? Well, heavy metal gets associated with Wolves...)

It's a challenge to make this weird connection and wonder who wants to read about it. (Not coming soon: my article about Furries and Juggalos.) It might be oil and water to many, but let's shake it up and see if anything mixes. In Part 2, I'll be posting interviews with DJs.

Review: 'Sandeagozu', by Janann V. Jenner

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

'Sandeagozu' front coverThis unique and imaginative animal fantasy, set during 1932, features five cagemates from a large New York City pet shop specializing in exotic animals, who plan to escape and set out across Depression-era America for that legendary animals’ paradise, Sandeagozu – the San Diego Zoo. Led by Sherahi (“tiger killer”), the giant pythoness, the band of odd fellows consists of her, Manu the langur, Dervish the coatimundi, Dutchess the scarlet macaw, and Junior the venomous cascabel (a South American rattlesnake).

Virtually all the reviews summarize the plot as that: five exotic animals escape from a New York City pet shop to journey across America to the San Diego Zoo. Yet Sandeagozu is not exactly that, and very much more than that. That event, the meeting of the animals in the pet shop and their decision to escape together, does not begin until page 103. Jenner first builds a leisurely but fascinating backstory, rich in detail and characterization. The reader barely notices, and does not care, that the main story has yet to begin.

Illustrated by Robert Crawford. Harper & Row, October 1986, 442 pages, $18.95; ISBN: 0-06-015633-3

What is Flayrah's future?

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

Once, Flayrah was the the only place to find information on the Furry fandom. You might see a comment on a board or on IRC, perhaps LiveJournal, but there were not a lot of options. The few conventions out there would make a post here, perhaps some themed newsletter, but that was about it. You knew you could find Flayrah with news on it.

Now, over the years the fandom has developed, but the news mediums really have not. There are more diverse sources out there, but many are self-seeking. I won't go into that. More power to them is all. Yes, you can say Furry News Network, but it never really got going. A year? Maybe two. It copied a lot of the stories here, and occasionally something new would pop up. But that died out soon enough.

The fandom is constantly growing and furries want news, but do they know where to find it? I don't think so. I looked at the visitor stats below. They represent what a meet might have, and are not a good representation of the fandom's numbers.

Review: 'DreamKeepers, volume 3, Intentions Entwined', by Dave & Liz Lillie

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

DreamKeepers vol. 3 coverThe last time I reviewed DreamKeepers, with vol. 2, Flight to Starfall back in Anthro #18, July-August 2008, it was by David Lillie & Liz Thomas who had just gotten married. Now it’s by Dave & Liz Lillie. The marriage seems to be working out.

Volume 1, Awakenings (Anthro review), was published in December 2006. There was a less than two-year wait for volume 2 in April 2008, then a five-year gap to volume 3. But it is 144 pages, as opposed to the 98 and 102 pages of volumes 1 & 2. Nevertheless, let’s hope that the wait for volume 4, chapters 10-12, is not as long.

“The Dreamworld is a mysterious reality that parallels our own,” begins the introduction in volume 1:

Humans cannot enter this reality – we can only catch fleeting glimpses of it through our dreaming, unconscious minds. […] Every last person has a DreamKeeper, an embodiment in the Dream World. So long as your DreamKeeper lives, the nightmare hordes cannot enter your mind through your dreams. Everyone’s DreamKeeper is completely unique – your personality and subconscious influence your DreamKeeper’s appearance and abilities.

Vivid Independent Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $24.99 (133 [+ 11] pgs.), Kindle $4.20

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