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Rat.org: the original fan repository returns

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Rat.org's original 1990s logo After a 20-year hiatus, Rat.org has returned, at least as a read-only museum. Few today may remember it, but for some fans it was their first furry Web repository, and a launching point or inspiration for many other sites.

Rat.org was founded by Kilorat in the ancient stone-age year of 1994 as a combination Sonic the Hedgehog and Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron fansite. Later a Gargoyles section would be added as it grew in popularity.

This was the first home for many artists and fanfic writers, launched before Windows 95 came out (most used Mac OS 7.5.x or Windows for Workgroups 3.11 to connect with dial-up), and before giants such as Yahoo!, GeoCities, deviantART, and Fanfiction.net took over.

The website was hosted on a humble 80386DX with a "gigantic" 500 MB hard drive co-located at MV Communications – the first ISP in New Hampshire, where Kilorat was working. Despite being one of the only sources for fan materials on the Internet [compare S'A'Alis' Avatar Archive], the server was able to handle the low levels of traffic of the day.

Review: 'Ethan the Meteor Hunter' for PC

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

Ethan the Meteor HunterEthan the Meteor Hunter is an action puzzle game developed by Seaven Studios. The blurb for the game on Steam's store page is as follows:

Freeze time and manipulate the world with endless possibilities: build the solution YOU want where nothing is scripted and levels can be solved in multiple ways. When Super Meat Boy meets Braid, you may die repeatedly and enjoy it!

I'm certainly one for setting high bars and lofty goals for one's self, but the question is now installed. Did this game succeed in taking the best of Super Meat Boy and Braid and blending them together, or did it fall short? Let's dive right into it.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 30th Anniversay Special'

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TMNT 30th Anniversary SpecialIDW has put out this comic to celebrate the fact that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have turned 30 this year, an age which is not only well beyond teenaged, but also past the point where pointing that out can be considered witty, but that’s not going to stop me.

The book contains a brief history of the ninja turtles, starting with their beginnings as a self-published comic in May of 1984, with various pieces of turtle nostalgia, including the sketch of what is now considered the “first turtle,” ads, posters and press releases for the first ever issue, as well as full page tribute art by Steve Lavigne, Michael Dooney, Ken Mitchroney, Ben Bates, T-Rex, Ross Campbell, Mark Torres, David Petersen and Daniel “Pez” Lopez, with a cover by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird with a back cover by Mateus Santolouco, not to mention a variety of alternate covers.

The book covers the history of the TMNT in the comics exclusively; it features brand new stories taking place in five comic book continuities: the early Mirage years, the Archie TMNT Adventures, the Image “third volume”, the later Mirage years and the newest IDW series, with a limited cover gallery showing the first issue of each of these eras.

May 2014, IDW Publishing, San Diego, CA, trade paperback $7.99, Kindle $1.99.

Review: 'Doc Rat Vols. 11-12', by Jenner

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Doc Rat Vol. 11Doc Rat Vol. 12I reviewed volumes 8-10 here in May 2013. My review was so favorable that part of it is quoted in the back-cover blurb on volume 12. Here are volumes 11 and 12, equally enjoyable and not-to-be-missed.

These two pocket-sized books contain the Doc Rat daily Internet comic strips from #1427 to #1558 (December 13, 2011 to June 13, 2012), and #1559 to #1758 (June 14, 2012 to March 20, 2013). Volume 11 is a normal one, collecting six months of the comic strip. Volume 12 is a giant-sized one, collecting more pages to take the story to the conclusion of a long story-arc.

Dr. Craig "Jenner" Hilton has been simultaneously an active furry fan and an Australian doctor since the early 1980s. His anthropomorphic cartoons were published in the progress reports and program book of the 1985 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne.

For about twenty years after graduating from medical college, Hilton was assigned to provide medical services for a series of small towns around western Australia, from which he sent his furry cartoons to America. During a stay as the doctor for the coal-mining town of Collie, he drew an anthropomorphic comic strip, DownUnderGround, for the local newspaper. He finally settled in permanently as a GP in a suburb of Melbourne. His character of Doc Rat began appearing in individual cartoons in medical and non-medical publications during the 1990s. On June 26, 2006 he launched Doc Rat as a Monday through Friday comic strip on the Internet. Since then Doc Rat has picked up an international following, including placing as one of the five finalists in the Best Comic Strip category for the Ursa Major Awards for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 voted upon this year.

Doc Rat is a combination of stand-alone comedy strips, usually emphasizing medical humour of the groaner-pun variety, and urban drama in an anthropomorphic world where carnivores are allowed to hunt and eat the herbivores, although they have to do it legally. This involves a lot of red tape and filling-out of forms. Often the carnivores are too impatient to do this, and they hunt illegally, which provides much of the drama of the strip. The herbivores are working politically to make all predation of intelligent citizens illegal, which is also a plot point.

Doc Rat. Vol. 11, "I’m Fair Off Me Tucker, Doc", by Jenner, June 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS $16.00 or US$12.95 ([76 pgs.])
Doc Rat. Vol. 12, "It Hurts To Swallow, Doc", by Jenner, December 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS$18.00 or US$14.95 ([110 pgs.])

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Mutagen Mayhem DVD

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem DVDNow that we’ve finished up with season 1 of the NickToons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it’s time to start on season 2, the first six episodes of which are collected in the “Mutagen Mayhem” DVD.

For the first time, we meet new old characters like Casey Jones (who begins appearing in the credits from the first episode of this season) and Rahzar (who is new and old in two different ways) as well as new new characters, like the Squirrelanoids (which are seriously the greatest squirrel based mutants since Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green).

Oh, and the turtles have finished with Space Heroes and have discovered anime in the form of Super Robo Mecha Force Five!, a brutal parody of old school sentai shows like Voltron and Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman. Depending on your knowledge and nostalgia level for those old shows, these are either brilliant or just plain mean. Or both.

All in all, the second season of this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is off to a rollicking start.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #21 ('MLP' and 'TMNT')

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Alopex by Ross CampbellAnother day, another Pull List.

Today, we’ve got some IDW titles, including issues from two very different Micro-Series. One is from the My Little Pony Micro-Series, which features cute adventures, and another is from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series.

It doesn’t feature cute adventures.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is in the top five TMNT movies

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Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIf I were to rank all five TMNT movies, this movie would come in dead last.

This is not to say I did not like this newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie; I like all five of the movies just fine, thank you very much, and this one is no exception. It’s quite possible that I may not be capable of disliking a movie involving teenage mutant ninja turtles.

I’d like to point out for the record that I have put forward reviews of the two most recent incarnations of the turtles’ story; I have been overwhelmingly positive towards both of them. Heck, the IDW comics are a reboot featuring ancient aliens mucking around with Earth’s history, and if I had to pick two storytelling devices I hate most, it would probably be those reboots and ancient alien stories. And yet, I not only loved that incarnation, I especially pointed out this newest origin story as a positive.

Since my first story at Flayrah back in 2010, this is my third review of a Ninja Turtle origin story; that’s almost one per year, for those of you who don’t like math in their movie reviews. Thank God this movie is doing well at the box office and the next movie will be a direct sequel with the origin story of the turtles all taken care of. Hopefully this time it lasts a while, and we don’t get a Amazing Spider-Man type situation. Because that would suck.

I’ve already talked about positive bias in movies, and it’s not really fair to compare this movie to previous incarnations of the franchise, but like that’s going to stop any of the hundreds of other amateur fanboy reviewers (and even a few professional fanboy reviewers, I’m sure) from doing just that, so I might as well.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 2

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD back coverHere we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.

The first disc was reviewed here, and the rest of the first season can be found starting here, continuing here and here. So, let’s get to the episodes!

The Episodes

“Enemy of my Enemy”

Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.

Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 1

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD front coverThis is actually a two disc collection of the back half of season 1 of the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I’m breaking them up into to two reviews, one for each disc, so that it doesn’t break the around six-ish episode streak of each review.

If you’d like to check out reviews of the rest of the first season, you can read the first seven episodes reviewed here, and the second six reviewed here, plus an extended review of the first two episodes (or one long episode, the series still isn’t clear on that) here. In fact, you should probably read that last linked article first, seeing as how it’s both the first chronologically and it also has breakdown of what this series is about.

You know, just in case the series title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t clue you in that it’s about turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers.

The Episodes

“I, Monster”

And we start off with one of the best episodes of the series, with the weird penchant for horror tropes and allusions finally given an episode where they fit like a glove. Dr. Falco (Jeffrey Combs) continues his experiments with the mutagen, but a lab accident turns him into the Rat King, with the ability to control all rats, and the turtles come to a horrifying realization; Splinter’s been taking it easy on them in training.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Enter Shredder DVD

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TMNT Enter Shredder DVDUnlike some other animated television series that will remain unnamed in this review, the newest animated incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is releasing DVDs that feature the episodes in order at regular intervals, approximately six at a time.

The upshot is that I can review each episode in order by nominally reviewing the DVDs; at this point, I can review all the way through the approximate first quarter of the second season from Nickelodeon. So I’m going to do that. Starting right now.

The Episodes

“Monkey Brains”

It probably says something that, despite introducing a new mutant in this episode, said mutant didn’t manage to even gain his own action figure. And this is TMNT we’re talking about; in the original animated series, the action figure came first half the time, then the episode (if at all). He doesn’t even have a mutant name; he’s just his old human name, Dr. Rockwell, or “the monkey” (despite technically being an ape). Monkeys and apes just aren’t very charismatic as anthros, especially when they can’t even talk.

However, it does introduce a recurring villain, Dr. Falco (who will eventually get an action figure under a different name, and is voiced by Jeffrey The Reanimator Combs) and the idea that April will begin training as a kunoichi under Splinter. And the main “lesson” of the episode, in which overthinking Donatello must learn to fight more instinctively against a villain who can read his thoughts, is a good character-based plot engine; his flowchart for hanging out with April is an amusing subplot.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #19 ('GotG', 'MLP:FiM' and 'TMNT')

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Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (Alt Cover)I’m going to slip into a pattern here, with three titles that you’ll be seeing one each in each Pull List for a while; Guardians of the Galaxy, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I guess if you don’t care for one of those, you’ll be doing a lot of skipping. If you don’t like two of them, you’ll definitely want to skip these. And if you absolutely can’t stand any of them, that’s pretty bad. It probably means you don’t like comic books.

That’s okay. Maybe you got a really bad paper cut from one as a child. That could scar you for life, I guess. Not literally. Paper cuts don’t tend to lend scars.

Newly published: Fred Patten's 'Funny Animals and More'

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Funny Animals and More Funny Animals and More: From Anime to Zoomorphics, based on Fred Patten’s weekly columns from Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research animation website, was published March 26 by Theme Park Press. It is available in paperback and digital formats, and on Amazon.com.

The book is about animation and comic books rather than specifically anthropomorphic animals, but cartoon and CGI funny animals are a major theme. Topics include anime cat girls; Pokémon and Monster Rancher; Astro Boy and Atomcat; how a popular 1970s anime TV series led to the import of thousands of baby North American raccoons into Japan as pets, whose descendants are ruining thousand-year-old Buddhist and Shinto shrines today; animated Summer Olympics mascots like Misha the bear cub, Sam the eagle, Hodori the tiger, and Cobi the sheepdog, from 1972 to 2012; Patten’s favorite childhood comic-book funny animals like Amster the Hamster, Doodles Duck and his nephew Lemuel, Nutsy Squirrel, Dunbar Dodo, and SuperKatt, and how he would still like to see them animated; Crusader Rabbit; rats in animation; Reynard the Fox in animation; and Disney’s forthcoming 2016 Zootopia.

Review: 'Lab Rat', by B. A. Maddux

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

To jump ahead to the bottom line; Lab Rat is mysterious and full of action, and you will like it if you turn off your brain.

The narrator, Zack, is a lab rat, grown artificially in a vat. The first few pages of this novel are stream-of-consciousness; his first disjointed thoughts. Two beings look into his tank; Father and Golem.

Father was complaining recently about the limitations of Golem’s tactile sensors, which makes no sense at all to me. But I could tell that he was talking about the flat-voiced speaker.

Golem is mostly black and silver in color.

He checks on me regularly for Father, but doesn’t talk to me like Father does. (page 14)

Zack knows that he is a rat:

My fur is white and does not have any glowing symbols, just a pattern of jagged stripes of a very dark blue. [See E. T. Willoughby's cover.]

I’m not sure, but I do not think Golem has a hairless tail like I do either. Golem is definitely not a rat like me. (page 15)

Legion Publishing, Dec. 2012, hardcover $18.99 (311 pgs.), trade paperback $9.99, Kindle $2.99.

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.

A Rat, a Pig, and a Lawyer Walk Into a Space Bar…

Pearls Before Swine is a full-color on-line comic strip written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis — who was formerly a lawyer in California.  “At its heart, Pearls Before Swine is the comic strip tale of two friends: An arrogant Rat who thinks he knows it all and a slow-witted Pig who doesn’t know any better. Together, this pair offers caustic commentary on humanity’s quest for the unattainable. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams says that Pearls is ‘one of the few comics that makes me laugh out loud.’” Well there you have it. There have been several paperback book collections of Pearls Before Swine comic strips; the latest one, Rat’s Wars, is coming from Andrews McMeel Publishing this October. Check it out over at Amazon. And check out the comic itself over at GoComics.


image c. 2013 by Stephan Pastis