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2016: A grueling year of growth for furry fandom

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There have been many articles speaking to the harshness and cruelty of the year 2016. This time in history has been seen in such a negative light that people have gone so far as to make horror trailer parodies of the year itself. Barring the turbulent political results in countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, many of the celebrities that brought forth stories of endearment and inspired a generation passed on this year.

But just like you this year the furry fandom has been filled with reminders of our own mortality and that while some may try and use the fandom as an escape from these very realities, death and political strife caused by general interactions have made themselves apparent this year more than any in recent memory.

Lives lost impact the fandom

As the furry community grows, and the world becomes more connected, we find that the number of times one we know in the fandom passing on becomes far more common. This year brought us the losses of the lives of furry fans before their time due to accidents and illness.

QuasiSkunk, a member of staff at Midwest Furfest, lost their life driving home from the convention they dedicated themselves to. The loss of such a wonderful volunteer had rocked the grandiose mood after another successful and bountiful year for the world’s second largest furry convention.

Silverwing, the queen of purple, died suddenly after an acute illness hit her hard in August of this year. She was a prolific artist with a distinctly punk-like style.

However, it is not only the deaths of those within the fandom that has left its mark on furries. Richard Adams, a renowned author known for his works was especially known for his novel “Watership Down”, stopped running after a long journey at the age of 96. At fifty million copies sold, his story was told from the perspective of real world rabbits with a strongly developed culture unto itself for the lapine characters. It is arguably the top selling anthropomorphic book of all time (second if you count The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

This work was so influential to those in the fandom that using the term “lapine” as a synonym for rabbit came from Adam’s book as Lapine was the neologism for the language the rabbits used. It’s not recognized in the real world as a viable substitute like the word canine for dogs, or feline for cats; however, in the furry fandom, it is. The culture of the rabbits was so real and vibrant that the terminology used within the book has spread its influence into the very fandom itself.

Even the name of this quaint little furry news site “Flayrah” is taken from Watership Down. Flayrah is a word in Lapine language used to refer to food rabbits found to be good such as lettuce or carrots. Thus, the phrase “Furry food for thought” as our sub-header.

The furry writing world certainly mourned the loss of Richard Adams. His work was certainly an inspiration to those who try to create their own believable and living worlds of intelligent animals.

However, the most infamous and tragic loss of the year 2016 happened in the regions of Southern California.

First Furry Murder rocks Southern California Community

On September 24th, 2016 the creative fandom of furry experienced something that was completely alien to the group for the many decades it has existed. While furries had been victims of the murders in the past, such as Starblade, this was the first time the perpetrator of the crime was one. The New York Daily reported that a furry whose real world name is Frank Felix, murdered two parents whom were also part of the fandom over what seemed to be a dispute over them telling him to leave their seventeen year old daughter alone.

It was a fundamentally hard hitting event that shook many in the fandom. Dogpatch Press, which usually covers fandom events particularly in the West Coast region, found it difficult to fully engage themselves into investigating the story to report on it and instead let more professional outlets do the bulk of the coverage.

Was going to write a big report. Stopped to let locals and pros process. I think it’s beyond fan level. It’s awful and sad. There hasn’t been anything this bad in fandom before. Let it process and share good words to anyone who lost friends and family.

The hardest thing to do is to be objective and tell a story when the loss hits close to home, so the best thing to do sometimes is to be open and honest with such things. Nothing like this should ever be normal, and the worse thing that can happen is to the point where we do become used to these events to such a degree that they become regular occurrences instead of tragedy.

According to the GoFundMe page put up for the children of the victims, the court dates for Felix and his accomplice are pushed into January 2017.

Growth of the Fandom - 2017 and beyond

The furry fandom continues to grow at a steady rate, a majority of current conventions across the world continue to grow in attendance, and more furry content is created on a daily basis than has ever been in the past. However, as this growth continues the consequence is that we will see more and more furries meet untimely and tragic demises from all the rounded corners of our planet.

One has to wonder if the world is actually growing worse and more depressing, or the world's wired highways have brought us into each other’s lives more personally. As the big screen brought these celebrities into our lives, the smaller ones have allowed us to connect with one another to a similar degree.

But no matter the strains that growth makes us endure, we should not fear the pains. For it is the joy of what we gain in life that makes us mourn for the inevitable loss of death. And as the ball drops this New Year’s Eve, let the hope for a better life to those of us left behind bring us to a brighter future, both to the furry and to the non-furry.

Comments

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It is certain that there are probably other furries who lost their lives during this year that went unmentioned here. Feel free to share any stories of those lost people closest to you here.

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Furry artist and writer, FelixPath, died on October 26 when he decided to take his own life. According to his mate, Destrega, he did not appear to be upset by anything, nor did he exhibit any strange or unusual behavior from days prior. He just came home from work on what it seemed to be another Wednesday, when he found him dead, as a complete shock.

http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Felixpath
https://www.furaffinity.net/journal/7887089/

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Fursuiter and con staffer JBadger lost his life to cancer on May 28.

QuasiSkunk (mentioned above) carried a sign in the ConFuzzled 2016 fursuit parade that said "We miss JBadger". JBadger had passed away earlier in the day, but the news did not arrive until after the parade.

http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/JBadger

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Bambi's artist just died, too. Admittedly, 106 is a good run, though - the film itself only gets 90 years of copyright, to 2032. So far.

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That was in 2017 though not 2016!

It starts... you think you know a year.

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No; Wong died on December 30, 2016.

Fred Patten

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You know I was going to blame myself for failing to read it in the article linked by GreenReaper, and I went to look back through it and see where I done goofed and when I did I realized something.

The article linked never says when he had died.

That's quite an omission on an obit.

All I had to go on was when the article was published.

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That was the BBC, too. You'd think that they'd know better.

Fred Patten

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Thanks for the article and mention! Theres so much to talk about I think it's too much for one article to properly appraise. Some topics could get their own articles.

For one, I feel like this little niche fan group passed some invisible tipping point of being more than a punching bag or target for cheap disposable jokes in the media. It can still happen it just doesn't have as much power now and they seem to realize furries arent going to go away like a fad. I feel like a corner was turned in december 2014 with the Midwest Furfest gas incident and gained momentum up to 2016. Example: this Vice article looking back at MFF from feb 2016. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-mystery-of-who-launched-the-chlorine-gas-... I suspect it might be showing self awareness by name checking CSI in the title but taking itself seriously.

Zootopia itself was part of that, with winking at furries in the marketing and then reaching out directly.

Movies had more than one milestone - Fursonas was a first, made from insidethe community, getting mainstream distribution, won major festival awards, and hit #2 on Google Play right below Michael Moore in documentary. And as a friend said, its legit film making about subcultures, identity policing and expression that happens to be about furries, not just a 'furry movie'.

I'll say more soon.

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2017 may become the year when we see multiple books ABOUT furry fandom by general publishers, rather than furry fiction published by furry specialty publishers.

http://dogpatch.press/2016/12/19/book-furry-nation/

Fred Patten

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Thanks for the article and mention! Theres so much to talk about I think it's too much for one article to properly appraise. Some topics could get their own articles.

I feel like this little niche fan group passed some invisible tipping point of being more than a punching bag or target for cheap disposable jokes in the media. It can still happen it just doesn't have as much power now and they treat it as a worthy community that wont just go away. I feel like a corner was turned in december 2014 with the Midwest Furfest gas incident and gained momentum up to 2016. Example: this Vice article looking back at MFF from feb 2016. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-mystery-of-who-launched-the-chlorine-gas-... I suspect it might be showing self awareness by name checking CSI in the title but taking itself seriously.

Zootopia itself was part of that, with winking at furries in the marketing and then reaching out directly.

Movies had more than one milestone - Fursonas was a first, made from inside the community, getting mainstream distribution, won major festival awards, and hit #2 on Google Play right below Michael Moore in documentary. And as a friend said, its legit film making about subcultures, identity policing and expression that happens to be about furries, not just a 'furry movie'.

The socal murder story was a little more complicated than being too difficult to emgage. That was a conscious descision. Scott Schwebke the reporter who first covered it for the OC Register was engaged with me before it was known as a murder story, and was just one missing person. I talked backchannel with some witnesses and uncovered some info about the suspects behavior and stuff like the facebook private message murder confession. That stuff I felt needed to go straight to police as tips and wasnt suitable for a mere fan blog story.

Simultaneously the murders came out and locals were devastated. Many furs who knew the family asked for respect and closed communication to stop tabloid trash talk. It was going to happen anyways so I directed Scott S to a few local speakers for carefully considered quotation. And did the same with one statement on Dogpatch that withheld sensitive details. I refused further comment to the LA Times when it grew from local to national and was picked up by NY Daily news, Rolling Stone etc. I feel like that approach minimized trashy tabloid focus on gratuitous details (like at Heavy.com who didnt seem to gain much traffic from trashing a minor who was involved, by posting the weirdest stuff they could pull off social media). And maximized sympathetic, factual reporting. I saw commenters all over the place telling each other to be respectful and leave furries alone.

It seems like win-win to gain such outside attention but have it be somewhat arms-length. Disney would be careful about openly embracing furs - mainstream media would come to us for inside info they dont have access to, letting us set some conditions on using it. They could want to be nice to gain from our success rather than lose access.

There was a spate of news stories that leveled up from single blogs to clusters of headlines. 'Tonytigergate' etc. Some bad and some good but it seemed like a real spike of interest.

There were cons imploding but record con attendance plus interest now being split between muliple choices for possible best and biggest con.

Definitely an intense year. I might say more soon.

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Thanks for talking more about the incident, and for reporting your findings to the police on this manner.

Probably wasn't the easiest thing to discover first hand.

I am glad that people showed decency for the most part this time around, because while you made reference to thinking us being gassed at MFF was the turning point where media started being a bit more respectful, I think we all remember the Morning Joe show's response to the incident (though some could argue the OC Register's cartoon came pretty close to the pale in this case as well).

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I think a difference from the past was that Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe was condemned for her off-the-cuff reaction (it's mentioned in the Vice piece.) She couldn't take it farther than that. In the past, entire news reports would aim for that tone. Now the mocking is much less acceptable and the furries get in-depth reporting instead.

That moment was as far from a considered reaction as possible - she seemed to have no idea what furries were until that moment. She embarrassed herself, so to be honest I think seeing a section of furs take that as fursecution shows them being hypersensitive. It's a bit of a weird hobby so I think it's not such a big deal for people to momentarily lose decorum.

Speaking of possible hypersensitivity, OC Weekly cartoonist Luke McGarry was surprised to get such heated comments from furries about his cartoon. He felt attacked so held back from speaking in public. Except for one comment at Dogpatch. There he explains the circumstances, and a fur close to the victims tells him it wasn't offensive. Of course Xydexx was offended enough to block me on Twitter for defending McGarry, LOL... He rests my case.

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The interesting thing I remember about the Morning Joe's response was that other news people responded to it with animosity and dislike. They felt that Morning Joe, even though it was a political shock jock style show at the time and did similar such mockery of other events, crossed over the line by mocking people who were subjected to a terrorist attack. (Albeit a terrorist attack where nobody was killed and a few were injured, and I know two who have had asthmatic effects from it but are getting better.)

I don't think we would have received such commentary multiple years earlier. We would have just been mocked by them all.

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... this little niche fan group passed some invisible tipping point of being more than a punching bag or target for cheap disposable jokes in the media. It can still happen it just doesn't have as much power now and they treat it as a worthy community that wont just go away. I feel like a corner was turned in december 2014 with the Midwest Furfest gas incident and gained momentum up to 2016.

I don't really have a specific news article (or group of them) to back me up here, but I've been getting the impression that our media treatment has been vastly improving since 2009 or so! Or maybe that's when the momentum starting ramping up. Or maybe the trolling died down (a little, anyway, it's still out there). For me, the tipping attitudes of positive coverage definitely goes back a couple more years and has been steadily building. But yeah, the post-Chlorine response has been really interesting. I got all mushy when TheMarySue website came to our defense!

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Yeah it's hard to pick any certain point in a slow turn. Some of the stories on Vice are fantastic, you can see they started to take real notice around 2013.

Why: Offbeatr showed that furries have money and aren't ashamed of supporting what they love. It seems besides the point to me that it happened to involve porn (because sex sells), except if you feel like sharing some credit where credit is due for freaks carrying independence farther than anyone.

Anyhow, I think the Vice "CSI Fur Fest" article should get a nom for the Ursa Major's fancy new nonfiction category (another effect of this.)

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Death is a expansion your reality is a 100% illusion your soul is immortal death should be celebrated not morned this makes no sense as it is a expansion into your fullest self because you leave this physical dimension. You can then go anywhere you want so how is that a bad thing? lol you pepole and your beliefs are funny.

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It's the living whom mourn, not the dead, for even if death is an escape those who are left behind are still in this physical dimension. Only with one less someone who made this limiting life all the more tolerable.

Even if they are in "a better place" we still mourn their leaving. Like a father walking their daughter down the aisle of their wedding day. What was once a part of one's life is now going to be in it less, and it can create emotions of joy for the person that they are in "a better place", but pain for the one giving their loved one up.

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Have you talked to anyone who has left this physical dimension who can back up what you say?

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For someone who says reality is "100% illusion", you seem really sure that things are as you say.

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Two other losses in 2016: Kyu Fox in California, and although I'm sure many people have lost dear pets this past year, one of the more high-profile ones was RonRon the YouTube fox.

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well your probably more so morning yourself because this reality is still fairly limiting. if anything i think it should be a party though not morning i dont want anybody to ever morn me thats just dumb. Just my thoughts tho. Besides humanity always thinks it collectively know everything then is later collectively changes and decides the old way was nonsense.

BUt sense your society love worshipiing scientists so much heres something from them.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2503370/Quantum-physics-proves-IS...

ALthough all truths are true so techincally everybody is right!

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Two other fandom losses from 2016 that I'm aware of besides those mentioned here:

Tyrel Roo, a bassoon-loving kangaroo furry from Arkansas, died in January 2016.

Lusipher, who was on Tapestries Muck, passed in October or November.

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Tyrel? Wow... I interacted with him a bit, didn't even know he passed.

Ironically probably one of the first furs I've actually interacted with that passed; despite haven written about such thing.

erph...

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a Kangaroo from Syracroose, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, philosophy and writing