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Remembering Ian Curtis (1946-2021) - A founding father of the British furry fandom

Edited by dronon, Sonious
Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (11 votes)

Ian George Stuart Curtis passed away some time in May of 2021. He was one of the founding fathers of the furry fandom in the UK.

Born in December 1946 in Hull, he grew up on Disney cartoons and funny animal comics like Bonzo the Dog and Rupert Bear. By the time he was in his teens, he also developed interests in wargaming, comics, science fiction and fantasy games as well.

While working as a writer for the military press, he travelled to the USA regularly and used his leisure time to frequent the comic book and science fiction conventions there. This was how he met early furry fans like Pauli Kidd and discovered furry fandom. By the 1990s, he was in contact with fans in the US, Australia, and the UK.

In 1992, a small group of furry comic artists, writers, and fans planned a trip to the International Comics Festival in Angoulême, France. One of the artists in the group, Monika Livingstone, wrote to Ian Curtis ahead of time, to ask about visiting England and meeting British furries. Ian invited them to his house, and to bring over a few UK furry fans as well for a weekend housecon to socialize, talk and share furry comics.

Ian was experienced at planning housecons, inspired by the those organized by Diplomacy wargaming fans in the 1970s and 80s. He had also previously hosted housecons for fans of Elfquest. The furry group going to France accepted his invitation, which happened during the return leg of their journey. Online, the event was dubbed as the "UK MicroConFurence". At least six UK furries and seven US furries attended, and it proved to be a successful weekend.

Ian Curtis in 1995, wearing an Erma Felna T-Shirt.Following a further housecon in Wales, the meetups would return to Ian Curtis' home and became a quarterly event called the Yateley Housecon, coinciding with conventions like Confurence and Eurofurence. The housecons would grow in size, reaching 25-30 attendees at their peak. They remained one of the popular UK furry events throughout the 1990s. Even furries from the US and Europe would attend on occasion. These would eventually be superseded by the rising regular furmeets, beginning with one in London in March 1998, and continued to run all the way up to the end of 2019, only stopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to a few of his friends, I got a chance to talk to Ian Curtis while doing research for my book on the history of the furry fandom in the UK. He even invited me to a housecon at his home in October of 2019. He was a very friendly, open, and welcoming person, who was happy to share stories and memories of housecons in the past, as well as showing me some of his comics collection. Xanadu became a favourite of mine thanks to him.

Without Ian Curtis, the furry fandom in the UK wouldn't have grown the way it has to the scale it's at now, with furmeets and conventions throughout the country. It was an honour to speak with him, and I would like to give my condolences to his family and friends.

As a final note, while the story I've given here was based on my research and the conversations I had with him, I shouldn't take full credit. Pauli Kidd was the one who broke the news, and provided a lengthy obituary of him on their FA Journal.

Ian Curtis in November 2012.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

A deep loss for the UK furries for sure.

Losses like this remind us that life is about planting the seeds for life to grow beyond yours. Its long, and takes effort, but it is always appreciated. It doesn't take having big extravagant events, or the need to move mountains, but to maintain small gatherings to bring folks together and help inspire creativity and fertilize the essence of community.

As we continue to get bigger, it is easy to lose sight of that important foundation.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (12 votes)

Superficially this appears to have been the life and times of a sci-fi/fantasy novel writer.
So yes a loss to those communities who are into that stuff.

The sight of the foundation as it were, was lost long ago.
If yiff is "inspiring creativity" then I think you're a bit off the mark there ol chap.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

He's the UK's answer to Fred Patten.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I can't say I had heard of him but I'm sorry to hear of his death.

My interest has been piqued a bit by your statement, "my book on the history of the furry fandom in the UK." Is that something you're working on or that has been published?

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

It's something I'm working on, I mentioned it a while back in a Dogpatch Press article. The working title is Furry Kingdom, and I've been writing it since 2019. Currently, the manuscript is in a finished state and I'm looking for a publisher, so if you have any recommendations, let me know.

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(Reply posted on your article...)

+ a belated R.I.P. for Ian. :/
News travels slowly in the provinces, especially for those of us who have stepped back from the fray.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Sorry, gamepopper, that I broke the news to you so suddenly on Saturday. Kudos to you and Flayrah for this article.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (6 votes)

Unfortunately I was the one who had to break the news to everyone. A few weeks ago a friend of his contacted the usual crowd of Housecon goers (there were only half a dozen regulars by 2019, including myself) to say that he was getting worried that he hadn't heard from Ian in some months. Well it turned out that no-one else had either. I tried contacting the local Wargaming crowd but got no response, tried the local surgery but they weren't allowed to hand out any information, so in desperation I got in touch with the Hampshire police force to ask them to make a welfare check. A day later they got back with the sad news that Ian had been found dead in his house back in May. They didn't give any more details except to say that they had had great difficulty in contacting any members of Ian's family.

I started going to Housecons back in the 1990s, I think Steve Gallacci and Pauli Kidd first pointed me in his direction when I corresponded with them. I've known Ian for 25 years and always found him to be an eccentric, warm-hearted and generous individual who could converse for hours on many subjects- military, historical, space technology, wargaming, furry... You name it, Ian would always have something to say about it. We'd assemble in his cluttered house, picking our way around the piles of books, videos, wargames and furry art and comics. We'd chat, swap news, look at what was new and watch daft anime, popping out for KFC or to the local pub, laying in food and drink for the evening. It was fun, it was a laugh. I first met Martin "Ferengi" Dudman of United Publications there and his colleague John Tatman, who would usually ferry us all down to Esdevium Games in Aldershot in his Landrover. They were good times. Last I spoke to him we were negotiating a trade of some of my books on early spaceflight for a first edition of Star Fleet Battles that he had and we were both wondering when the lockdown restrictions would finally lift enough to permit another Housecon. Now alas I'll never see him again.

I contacted Pauli to let him know, knowing that he would spread the word through the wider furry fandom and I'm glad to see that so many others remember him fondly. I have sent a letter to his house, addressed to the executors of his estate, asking if they can give me some more information concerning his death and, more importantly, where his final resting place may be. I think it would give some of us here a little comfort if we could at least visit there to say our final farewells.

Terry Pratchett said "No one is truly dead while their name is still spoken". Every so often I will lift a glass, as I hope you will, to Ian George Stuart Curtis.

Andrew Tucker.

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Finally got some more news after much digging. Ian was cremated at the East Hampstead Park Crematorium, Wokingham, on the 16th of July. His ashes were scattered at the Crematorium. My thanks to the George Parker Funeral Care (Co-op) in Yateley for this information, they were the ones who arranged it. It’s about 5 miles from Ian’s house. A single relative was in attendance, don't know who it was, don't know cause of death. I could ask for a death certificate, but frankly don't see the point, it's happened, it's over.

There's not much else really to say or do now. I looked at his house at 63 Weybridge Mead, Yateley, on Google Streetview the other day. The image was taken in August of this year and the house looks desperately sad and empty, still not cleared (god help whoever has to do that). Had there been a grave I would have visited, but this is what it is. If we remaining housecon goers were to celebrate Ian's life we would do it in the places he knew (the Royal Oak in Yately springs to mind, we've sank more than a few pints there over the years) or with the people he knew. Unfortunately "The Curtis Regulars" are all so scattered it's difficult to arrange somewhere where we can all easily get to, I'd suggest meeting up, at the pub in Yateley or in London otherwise.

Farewell my friend.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Perhaps something before/after LondonFurs, so that more are around for it? The one coming this weekend might be too soon to arrange it for, but there'll probably be one three weeks after as well. Don't know how many you'd want to gather - I wasn't active in furry in the UK when he was, but probably there are a fair number of old-time furs who were.

Regarding clearing, I don't know if anyone is close enough and known enough to be able to try to salvage anything with relevance to the fandom? Not sure if that would be mentioned in his will, if he had a collection and wanted it to be displayed?

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I've sent a letter to the house addressed to the executors, in it I do extend an offer to help. They won't be furry fans, whoever they are. They may well just employ a house clearing agent to turn up and empty the place. It's what I'd do in their position. Not even sure if Ian had a will or where it would be in that house, be a huge effort to find it frankly, so they may not be able to locate it even if there is one. As long as they do "due diligence" in looking for it any relative will be granted rights to the estate, Ian's house and everything in it. Short of breaking and entering there's no way of getting access to salvage anything unless someone gets back in touch with me. We have to face the very likely probability that it will all simply be disposed of. Might already have been done. Apart from all the furry material there are so many books, games, models, videos, etc. Sad.

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About the author

gamepopper (Tim Stoddard)read storiescontact (login required)

a video games programmer and Lynx from United Kingdom, interested in video games, film, animation and history

Hey there! I'm Gamepopper, amateur anthro artist, fursuiter and indie game developer.

My main fursona is a vigilante lynx-cat known as D. You will always find him wearing his signature mask, red fedora and matching cape and wielding a rapier sword, only exceptions are for when he's in super silly and/or funny pics.