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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.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (16 votes)

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.

GaymerX convention a hit for furries, gamers, gay and "geek culture"

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (9 votes)
Fursuiters with 'free hugs' signs at GaymerX
Corron, Patch, Harley, Fry, and Gravy take a furry message to the street

Acceptance between cultures makes them thrive. At the GaymerX convention on August 3-4, acceptance was a basic idea for a popular panel- "Natural Allies: Gaymers and Furries".

GaymerX, the first gaming convention focused on LGBT themes, won media buzz and crowds through active inclusion. Inviting allies in "geek culture" to an "arms-open party for anyone who wants to join", it drew over 2,000 to San Francisco's Japantown (a heavy turnout for a first con, compared to established furry conventions.) Founder Matt Conn called it "just the start".

A fringefur's review of Anthrocon 2013

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Time for another fringefurry report on Anthrocon. Yes, rather belated. The intended audience includes both furries and National Puzzlers' League members, if you wonder about the choice of content.

The last time I did a report for Flayrah, someone complained that being mostly interested in furry comics and webcomics doesn't make one a 'fringe' furry. Well, there wasn't a single comic-related event in over 160 program items. A couple of panels on making cartoons, and two or three categories in the Ursa Major awards for 2012, which were announced at the con, but that's it. Still plenty for me to enjoy, though.

Review: 'The Darkness', by Eddie Drueding

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Cover to 'Arraborough: The Darkness'The Darkness, a.k.a. “Arraborough, Book 2”, has a two-page “The Story So Far” synopsis of Book 1, The Unimaginable Road, but it seems more confusing than enlightening. Basically, The Darkness jumps right into the story in progress. If you have not read The Unimaginable Road, you should start there. If you have, even when Book 1 was first published over a year ago, the events will swiftly come back to you.

The Darkness is a darker story, no joke intended. In Book 1, the community of Arraborough is created with high hopes for its success. Unknown forces are clearly working against it, but there is a feeling that if the animal community will continue to trust each other and work together, they will prevail against the shadowy obstacles. In Book 2, that unity is broken. Deaths occur, some possibly natural but ominous, and others definitely murder. The Arraboroughans now wonder who is the murderer in their midst; which of their close friends is secretly working to sabotage their community. And the agencies opposed to Arraborough seem stronger.

Tust and Kelly are in earnest discussion with Slither. Fespin, Hillany, and Inkwell are playing with Taj as Arlafette looks on proudly. Albin is sharing some opinion with Mander. Breth and Barelle are setting out plates and cutlery. From the kitchen, Hylan is bringing out a large garden salad. Dhenzi and Brady are whispering to themselves, glancing covertly at Spiny, who sits off by himself. Slick’s face hardens as he realizes that one of these people is a traitor and a murderer. (p. 37)

Melange Books, June 2013, trade paperback $13.95 (203 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $5.99.

Review: 'Tails from the Upper Kingdom', by H. Leighton Dickson

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

To Journey in the Year of the Tiger

It was hard to believe that a man could see twenty-three winters before he began to live. It is harder even to believe that his life began all at once, on one night, with the occurring of three obscure and apparently random things; the death of a bird, the flash of golden eyes and the first of One Hundred Steps. But for Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, it did happen, just this way. His life began, as all great and terrible things do, in the Year of the Tiger. (p. 1)

And that, boys and girls, is how to begin a novel!

It is the reader’s option whether to take Dickson’s Tails from the Upper Kingdom series, of which these are Books 1 and 2, as science-fiction, set about 5,000 years in the future, or as high fantasy.

This is a powerful, post-apocalyptic story of lions and tigers, wolves and dragons, embracing and blending the cultures of Dynastic China, Ancient India and Feudal Japan. Half feline, half human, this genetically altered world has evolved in the wake of the fall of human civilization. (blurb)

Kirin Wynegarde-Grey is a genetic lion-man, and there are plenty of other half-feline men and women – leopards, tigers, ocelots, cheetahs, jaguars, lynx -- in these two books to please the reader.

“To Journey in the Year of the Tiger”, by H. Leighton Dickson. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, September 2012, trade paperback $14.99 (i + 343 pages), Kindle $2.99. 2nd printing, May 2013.

“To Walk in the Way of Lions”, by H. Leighton Dickson. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, October 2012, trade paperback $14.99 (i + 347 pages), Kindle $2.99. 2nd printing, May 2013.

Review: 'Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! A Puzzling Novel', by C. Casey Gardiner

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! This brick of a novel – 4¼” wide x 6 7/8” high x 2” thick – says on its cover that it is “metafiction”. That is apparently a synonym for bizarre. Gardiner has made it as bizarre as he could. For starters, the cover (I assume that Gardiner did it himself) appears to be from a very shabby, used copy, with several crease lines. But they are drawn into the new cover art; they are part of its design. The colophon says that this book is “written, designed, and illustrated by C. Casey Gardiner”, but his idea of illustrations are the graphics that appear frequently, rather than pictures.

This novel was successfully funded on Kickstarter during August-October 2012. Gardiner says, “There are many pictures, riddles, poems, songs and puzzles in its pages,” among more surrealistic statements such as, “It is not ergodic literature, nor is it transgressive.” (This is not the first printing; it is the אst printing.)

The bottom line: will you enjoy Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!? Yes. It is very well written, and bizarre in a good way, although you will have to work at getting it. Gardiner deliberately does not make it easy.

Detroit, MI, Blue Rabbit Fictions, July 2013, paperback $20 (752 [+ 22] pgs.). Illustrated by the author.

Furry Movie Award Watch: July 2013

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Annie Award trophyI love you, Annies. Never change.

Well, now Generic Rebellious Princess Syndrome: The Movie has beaten me twice. Hey, at least it wasn’t the worst possible nominee this time. Way to represent, Rise of the Guardians! I guess Brave does have its positive qualities; it had really nice hair and … uh … yeah … well, it had really nice hair!

Anyway, read on for my tentative stabs at this year’s Ursa Major nominees, and another trip into an alternate dimension which always had an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Not just another fangame; 'Sonic After the Sequel' takes it to the tenth degree

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Sonic After the SequelA fan game review? That’s not something you see every day. It’s not something I write every day, either. Let’s face it, our society likes canon. There isn’t much money in derivative fan-works; and since they’re free, there’s little need for good reviewers. Besides, fan games are typically hit and miss— well, okay, mostly miss.

Only a completely hard-up fan with nothing better to do will constantly look for fan content to play. When they do, they’re mostly disappointed. As a result, more moderate fans may miss some really cool content; some of which proves far superior to its inspiration.

To say Sonic AtS is one such superior work would be one of the greatest understatements one could possible utter. As a youth who was more fond of the hedgehog than the plumber, this work did something no recent official Sonic title has been able to do: surprise me.

Review: 'Turbo' goes nowhere, fast

Your rating: None Average: 5 (5 votes)

TurboTurbo is a movie about a snail who dreams of racing in the Indianapolis 500, and that totally works out for him.

Technically, there is not any rule that says a snail cannot race in the Indianapolis 500, just like there are, technically, no rules saying that a dog can’t play basketball, or that your sheepdog in the sheepdog competition has to be an actual dog (at least that one turned out pretty good), but there probably are rules stating that your race between race car drivers has to involve driving race cars. As the end of Talladega Nights pointed out, you can’t just run across the finish line and have that count; I’m sure this applies equally to whatever the technical term for snail locomotion is. [Adhesive locomotion, apparently.]

But, hey, a snail racing in the Indianapolis 500 is the premise, and this is an animated movie, so whatever. Unfortunately, the wonky premise is actually one of the better parts.

Review: 'Claws and Starships', by M.C.A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

'Claws and Starships' front coverClaws and Starships: A Collection of Pelted Short Fiction by M.C.A. Hogarth is a selection of six short stories that I enjoyed reading just recently. Set in her Paradox universe, the Pelted consist of many races of anthros created by humans in the distant past through bio-engineering. (Read more about them.) Since then, they've grown, diversified, colonized worlds and reconciled with their creators. This particular collection shows a cross-section of several different Pelted cultures, ranging from the technologically advanced to more primitive societies.

Originally published in electronic format in December 2011 (at US$4.99), online sales proved so successful that in June 2013, paperback and Kindle versions became available. That's a good sign! The whole thing is just shy of 50,000 words and over 200 pages long. (ISBN: 9781466035553, 1490427228 and 9781490427225.)

Furries at San Francisco Pride 2013

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (10 votes)

A historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage created intense emotions and record crowds at San Francisco's 2013 Pride celebration. I was informally told the parade drew 1.5 million. Imagine pushing through them in the hot sun with inch thick fur on!

Video by Mallius
For dozens of local furs, the great fun and positive vibes of Pride 2012 were small compared to this year's enthusiastic turnout. If it grows as much in 2014, it'll be awesome to see.

Review: 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Adventures in the Crystal Empire' DVD (with bonus Season 1 DVD review)

Your rating: None Average: 3 (7 votes)

Adventures in the Crystal EmpireI can see every part, nothing hides in the heart to hurt me.”
- Shirley Bassey, “Diamonds Are Forever

I think I need to be clear if I am going to continue reviewing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; I do not watch this show for the plot.

I don’t mean I don’t find the various ponies sexually attractive, though that’s also true. I know, it surprised me too. I’m not much of a butt guy, for one thing (you poop with those, that’s not sexy), and I have a strict “two legs good, four legs bad” policy about cartoon animals, Nala from The Lion King being the only exception, of course (though I guess kangaroos could be problematic).

Not only is the plot of the show not altogether very interesting, plots in general aren’t very interesting. To bring this review’s song quote into the mix, plot is what Bond villains do; the interesting thing is what happens when a character such as Bond stumbles into this plot and starts shooting the villain’s henchmen in the face.

That’s why I watch this show; characters and gratuitous violence. Allow me to explain in this DVD’s episode breakdown.

Review: 'Remedy', 'Ravel', and 'Render', by Heidi C. Vlach

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

This story takes place on another world, among people who are not humans. The three peoplekinds live together in varied mixtures, with no history of war or racial strife. They work together and still have troubles to face.

All three books have this preface. The three peoplekinds are the tall dragonlike korvi (they are called dragons because of the similarity, though they have feathers instead of scales), the small weasel-like ferrin (they can ride on their korvi friends’ shoulders), and the green-skinned insect/humanlike aemet (with prominent antennae) who have the talent of making plants grow. Further descriptions are brought out in the stories.

“Remedy: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, February 2011
Trade paperback $13.00 (5 + 439 pages), Kindle $2.99.

“Ravel: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, December 2011
Trade paperback $4.00 (91 pages), Kindle 99¢.

“Render: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, May 2013
Trade paperback $13.00 (703 pages), Kindle $2.99.

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