2016: A grueling year of growth for furry fandom
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 celebrities who 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 our 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 his 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 known as the "queen of purple" – a prolific artist with a punk-like style – died suddenly after an acute illness hit her hard in August this year. [See sidebar below-right, contributed by Banrai.]
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 – or 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 into our community.
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 24, 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 in the U.S. West Coast – found it difficult to fully engage themselves into investigating the story to report on it and instead let 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 have been pushed to January 2017.
Growth of the fandom - 2017 and beyond
The furry fandom continues to grow at a steady rate, most 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.