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Peace On Earth

In an interesting article over at Cartoon Brew, writer Scott Thill discusses a notable animated cartoon short — which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The amazing thing is that it was made at all. Peace on Earth was created at MGM Animation (the home of Tom & Jerry) and directed by Hugh Harman. Despite the objections of MGM executive Fred Quimby, the film was finished: And for a cartoon finished right before the outbreak of World War II, it’s quite surprising. An elderly squirrel (voiced by an un-credited Mel Blanc) tells his young grand-kids the story of the end of human-kind in a terrible war… and how the animals, directed by the Bible, re-built the world and declared an end to conflicts and fighting of all kinds. An end which they celebrate and renew every year at Christmas. Seriously, go check it out at the bottom of the article. This film is very hard to find — but likely, it should be seen a lot more.

image c. 2014 Cartoon Brew

image c. 2014 Cartoon Brew

Simians, Leather, and Chrome

It’s time we caught up with The Humans. Which is to say Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely’s new full-color comic book series from Image. Take the violent biker culture of the early 1970′s. Set it in dusty Bakersfield, California. And make the protagonists all walking, talking, humanoid apes. In leather. On big bikes. There you go. “The Humans is one long and twisted ride through biker gang warfare, drug running, corrupt cops, semi-truck hijackings, Vietnam flashbacks, Skin Fights (homosapien cockfighting), major ultra-violence, a strip club called The Forbidden Zone, and bloody vengeance.” Sounds like quite a party. Check out theinterview with the creators over at The Nerdist, and look for the first issue to come out this November.

Image c. 2014 Image Comics

Image c. 2014 Image Comics

Review: 'Evolutionary Action', by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Evolutionary Action by Phil GeuszPhil Geusz is famous in furry fandom for his fiction featuring genengineered anthro-rabbits. They are usually highly intellectual and non-violent. This makes the beginning of Evolutionary Action rather startling: Dr. Rusty Harrison, a professor of “the University” and a personal friend of the dean, is complaining about the mess in his brown fur that killing two assassins at close range has made.

I wrung out my sponge. There was a nasty bit of scalp lodged in it, and I didn’t want to get hair all over the place. I used hollowpoints in my .357, and the explosive effect tended toward the spectacular at close range. The least I could do for poor Alice was stick around and help with the cleanup. Even if I was working nasty little balls of coagulating blood so deep into my pelt that I’d have to soak for hours to get them out. I counted Alice as a friend, after all. (p. 5)

This is one of those novels that is difficult to summarize without giving away spoilers. Over 99% of mankind has died in the catastrophe known as the Breakdown, the Plague, the Collapse or the Outbreak, and the survivors are struggling to keep up some form of civilization. There are not enough to maintain the United States of America, and it has broken apart into many tiny independent state-based countries like the West Coast Confederation, the Sooner Republic, the Colorado Republic, Iowssouri, the Arkansas Free State, the Lone Star Republic and so on. Most of them are friendly and trying to maintain good relations with each other, but at least one is out for a war of conquest against the others, executing the governments of the conquered states.

The University, which was experimenting with genengineering before the Breakdown, has all of the intelligent Rabbits left in the world, and is one of the remaining practitioners of research. It is a politically independent enclave located in the Sooner Republic, which supports it. However, the armies of one of the aggressors are approaching the Sooners and neighboring Texas, and both the Sooner and Lone Star governments and the University administration are wondering what to do.

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (187 pages).

Review: 'Rise of the Penguins' and 'The Warlord, the Warrior, the War', by Steven Hammond

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Rise of the Penguins The War of the Species has begun. An ancient race of penguin has reemerged. From this race a powerful leader declares himself Overlord and unites the penguin clans of the world. His goal: to drive the human presence away from Antarctica and to exact revenge for the atrocities of the past against penguinkind. (Rise of the Penguins blurb)

Killer penguins are rising up in a war against humans for world domination! Is Steven Hammond serious? Judging by his hilarious Facebook page, hell, no! But his Rise of the Penguins series (published through CreateSpace, no matter what he says about Rockhopper Books), is so straight-faced that it is a good example of Rambo-type take-no-prisoners military fiction. With spear-carrying penguins.

Rise of the Penguins, December 2012, trade paperback $19.99 (8 + 722 pages), Kindle $3.99.
The Warlord, The Warrior, The War, September 2013, trade paperback $6.99 (6 + 112 pages), Kindle $1.99. Both by Steven Hammond, Clovis, CA, Rockhopper Books.

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

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (6 votes)

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.

Barking and Bravery in Battle

Now and then we like to spotlight something involving real-world animals — especially when they’re doing something that, while maybe not anthropomorphic, definitely feels like something you wouldn’t expect animals to do. Dogs of War is a new full-color graphic novel, coming very soon from Graphix Press in softcover and hardcover editions. From Mile High Comics, here’s the blurb: “Dogs of War is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice, and each story tells the heroic adventures of a soldier and his service dog. Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, search-and-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, Dogs of War captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs.” Dogs of War was written by Sheila Keenan and illustrated by Nathan Fox.


image c. 2013 Graphix Press

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).

Review: 'Iron: or, The War After', by Shane-Michael Vidaurri

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Iron: or, The War AfterThis anthropomorphic graphic novel requires going back and forth several times to understand the complex and incomplete story. In a bleak landscape of perpetual winter, a civil war has ended but the losing revolutionaries are continuing a guerrilla warfare. James Hardin (rabbit), a secret agent of the Resistance, has stolen a top-secret document to distract the N.P.O. (National People’s Organization; roughly the militaristic government) from a planned sabotage of a train over a strategic bridge. General Hanslowe (lion) assigns Officer Pavel (crow) and Captain Engel (tiger) to track him down and get the document back. Engel berates Pavel as a coward for allowing Hardin to escape in the first place. During the search, the N.P.O. team does not realize that Pavel accidentally kills Hardin.

The surviving rebels (Giles, a goat; Timothy, a frog, and Charlotte, a fox) plan to carry through Hardin’s real plan. Hardin’s orphaned children, James Jr. and Patricia, trying to help, sneak away and board the train. James triggers the detonator prematurely, destroying the train but not the bridge.

The rabbit children are taken to a military orphanage for rebel children; Engel plans to use them to find their father, who he believes is still alive. Subsequent events show which of the children, and of the adults, is the stronger.

Los Angeles, Archaia Entertainment, January 2013, hardcover $24.95 (152 [+ 8] pages).

Poster gallery: 'Cartoon Funny Animals Won the War'

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Daffy Duck and Goofy with USA flagJerry Beck at the Cartoon Brew has posted this gallery of sixteen World War II-related funny animal comic book covers.

This goes nicely with my retrospective, “Talking Animals in World War II Propaganda”, published here last January 5th.

Review: 'The Chronicles of Loquacious, Centaur, of Rhodes', by Rob S. Rice

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The Chronicles of LoquaciousIf werewolves are Furry, then so are centaurs, satyrs, fauns, silenoi, and the other human/animal hybrids of Greek mythology.

Aside from the fantasy of all the mythologicals and humans living together, this is a good historical tale of life in Greece at the time of Philip II and his son, Alexander III the Great of Macedonia. Alexander is offstage conquering the world, and there is peace in the interior of his empire. Aristotle, Alexander’s tutor, has his Lyceum in Athens, but in this year he has been summoned back to Macedonia for the summer. Without him, the other teachers at the Lyceum suggest that the students spend a few months wandering through Greece to collect odd plants and local tales, to bring back when Aristotle will return in the winter.

This book contains eight tales, the first five told by the student Loquacious, a centaur from the island city-state of Rhodes, to the peasants and villagers who give him hospitality, or told to him by them; and the last three later in Loquacious’ life.

Esterhazy Press/Lulu.com, October 2012, trade paperback $14.95 (177 [+ 2] pages; on Amazon).

Review: The David Birkenhead series, by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)

Ship's Boy - art by Tavi MunkFlash! Phil Geusz abandons writing anthropomorphic fiction; switches to military s-f to dramatically increase sales.

Featuring genengineered rabbit- and dog-morph soldiers.

Phil Geusz and Legion Publishing have chosen an unusual format in which to publish the adventures of David Birkenhead. Instead of publishing them together as three or more novels, they are putting out a set of seven booklets of roughly 150 pages to 200 pages each. Although most are available in trade paperback editions (and there was a 106-page trade paperback booklet edition of Ship’s Boy as a promotional giveaway at Anthrocon), Geusz and Legion expect virtually all sales to be of the Kindle e-books, to Amazon.com readers who cannot pass up the bargain of a “whole book” for only 1¢ or 99¢ or $2.99 in these days when an ordinary paperback is $8.

They are being marketed as military s-f, not Furry fiction. Amazon.com’s advertising targeted to its customers who buy military s-f is, “Are you looking for something in our Science Fiction & Fantasy books department? If so, you might be interested in these items,” with a list that includes the David Birkenhead books among ten or twelve other military s-f titles.

And it’s paying off. Geusz reports that:

[…] earlier today I had two books ranked in Amazon's top 100 for SF. […] Both were in the 90's, but they were there. […] There are almost never any furry books listed in connection with the Birkenhead buyers -- it's all either military SF or straight action-adventure stuff. So it's fair to guess that only a tiny proportion of my buyers are furs.

Will Geusz and the David Birkenhead series bring new readers to Furry fandom?

Battle Bears Coming to a Bigger Screen

We’ve mentioned before about Battle Bears, the popular mobile-device video game created by Ben Vu of Sky Vu Entertainment. In case you need a refresher from the source: “Battle Bears is a tongue-and-cheek action comedy featuring Oliver Bear and his friends who are charged with saving the world from the Huggables, a possessed horde of enemy pink bears out to hug you to death, unless you fend them off with an arsenal of unusual artillery that includes anything from the Unicorn Horn Crossbow to the BearZooka.” Well now Sky Vu Entertainment have inked a deal with Wildbrain Entertainment to create a Battle Bears TV series as well as an extensive consumer product line. Wildbrain is a division of DHX Media Ltd, which is not only the home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic but also “one of the world’s foremost producers of animation and family entertainment”. Read all about it at Cartoon Brew.


image c. 2012 Sky Vu Entertainment

Cages Will Not Hold Them

James Patterson is a world-famous thriller and mystery novelist, well-known for such best-selling book lines as the Alex Cross Series (including Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider, both of which have been adapted into movies). Now his latest work, Zoo, has been adapted before it even comes out… this time, as a graphic novel! Written by Mr. Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, Zoo has been adapted and illustrated by Andy McDonald. The hardcover black & white book will be released by Yen Press in November.  So what’s it about, and why are we telling you here?  Check it: “All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear. With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it’s too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide. ”


image c. Yen Press

Rat-themed role-playing game seeks funding

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Rats RPG logo"RATS!", a satirical rat-themed role-playing game, is seeking sponsorship on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. In the game, players will take on the roles of intelligent rats who are engaged in a holy war against modern humanity, other animals, each other, and "numerous inanimate objects".

RATS! will be based on the third-edition d20 system. Rat characters advance by spending experience points to gain new abilities and mutations, and by growing in size. The rules are being developed by Uri Kurlianchik and Stan Levi. Kurlianchik is a game writer and storyteller from Israel, whose works have been published by Wizards of the Coast, Paizo Publishing, Mongoose, Bull Spec, and Brain Harvest. Levi is an artist, illustrator, and animator.

Review: 'Spur', by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

SpurIt is not easy to tell the setting of Spur at first. It seems to be our world, but Merle Castison, the first-person narrator, is a talking Andalusian stallion which nobody seems to consider strange. Disreputable, maybe, but not strange. Merle has agreed to accept the curse to be turned into a horse of rich industrialist Arthur Beckmann, for $10,000 a month, upkeep in a palatial stable with phone, TV, and computer on Beckmann’s luxurious horse-farm, his oldest and best friend Cole as his personal groom, a customized spell to allow him to keep human vision and speech, and frequent visits from his human RPG-playing friends.

Merle’s workaholic father disowns him for choosing Easy Money over Hard Work, but Merle doesn’t see what’s wrong with taking advantage of a cushy offer that is honest, although he privately agrees with his father that he has not accomplished anything notable in his thirty-eight-year life. Nobody would want to become a horse permanently, but this is just until Beckmann dies; then Merle will revert to human with all the $10,000 monthly payments he’s saved.

Except that Beckmann dies and Merle stays a horse.

Melange Books, May 2012, trade paperback $14.95 (209 pages; Amazon), PDF or HTML $5.99.