Welcome back, my shopping friends. Let me tell you a story! I almost missed this first entry because I don’t usually sift through the music section of KickStarter for projects to share. Imagine the egg on my face had I not found it. People don’t tell me these things! I have to find out on my own! I’m here to tell YOU about these things!! So these things, here they are!
I shouldn’t need to introduce Pepper Coyote. This is for his new album, along with Fox Amoore, Runtt and Koro. You can also get it on Vinyl!
This is Book 2 of an amazing looking graphic novel. You can also get Book 1 if you’re new to the series.
(A preview for Scurry) >>>
Another comic I am new to and it being it’s next set of issues. Again you can get caught up with the whole series if this one interests you. You can also get Text-less covers if you like the cover art.
This is a 35 page digital only PDF comic of cats with super powers. The KS says it is already done and you’ll get the PDF as soon as the campaign ends. It’s only live for 3 more days and the only pledge is for $5.
This is a retelling of an old Samurai legend, but with Furries! Based on historical events, this comic is in color and is 28 pages long. Only 1 issue.
An interesting new take on the Social Deduction genre. Players auction for Were-creatures to collect the ones they want, and others they don’t, so as to throw off the other players who can knock you out if they correctly guess which beast you’re going for. You can also get, as an add-on, this group’s last game, also Were-related Social Deduction game, but which is that of a Word Game; Were-Words.
I’ll let the graphic for this one do the talking for me.
This is the 2nd time I’ve seen Griff come to KickStarter, the first time it failed, and this time it’s not doing too well either. It wants to be a modern classic like that of Spyro from the PSX Era.
The last board game this week is full of garden critters and cards. It is a game of exploring and collecting objectives on a changing, modular board.
Claws is a side-scrolling character action beat em up with skills to unlock and level up. This one is also not doing too well with less than 2 weeks remaining and less than 20% funding.
ARTS & CRAFTS:
Finally we have one set of Pins this week. Not a half dozen! Just 1. Of Cats. For Halloween. Halloween Cats. 3 days remain!
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(Thanks for tip from Tinkafur)
Not all heroes wear capes https://t.co/rFGiQ57Rms— Bristol Post (@BristolPost) September 17, 2017
On Saturday, September 16, a highway accident killed four and hospitalized three in South Gloucestershire, in the south west of England. A truck suffered a tire blowout and lost control. It crossed into the oncoming lane, demolishing cars and a motorbike before landing in a ditch.
Three witnesses were in a car 30 seconds behind the crash. They rushed to help at a traumatic scene. Kids were pulled from a car on fire, while rescue crews were stuck in traffic. Eyewitness Katie Sultana says:
“Everyone ran out of their cars and the public were incredible, they managed to help many casualties out of the accident.
There were many people with blood on their bodies and then the car that had been forced down into the ditch with the lorry was surrounded by many men who were trying their hardest to get out the people inside… the emergency services were incredible, but honestly it was the worst crash I’ve ever seen.”
Those three men are being called heroes by British media for going to the aid of strangers. But there hasn’t been recognition for another special quality they share. Not all heroes wear capes, but some wear fursuits. They are Jasper Foxx , Dodger (Daniel Stevenson) and Ash.
Jasper’s Facebook is filling up with thank-you’s.
Dodger is posting about having a hard time dealing with the aftermath, so send him a hug:
Dodger mentions sharing a furry house with Jasper and others. Here’s more of Dodger (right) and Jasper below.August 25, 2017 May 7, 2017
These furries are no strangers to doing charity. In May 2017, “Walk the Track for Billy” was a fundraiser for teenage racing driver Billy Monger, who lost his legs in a crash. Dodger and Jasper brought friends to walk in fursuits, raising over $300 and making it fun and positive.Whether it’s fundraising or an urgent emergency, helping people is a furry thing. That’s the good part of a sad story. Thanks to Dodger, Jasper and Ash for showing what the community is made of and being the best kind of people, with or without fursonas.
Another item we somehow passed over — and it’s been around a while! According to Wikipedia, The Jungle Bunch is a French / American / British animated TV series developed by David Alaux and Eric Tosti in 2013. It’s been airing in North America on the Universal Kids network. More recently a selection of episodes were edited together into a DVD release: The Jungle Bunch — The Movie, featuring the voice of John Lithgow. “The Jungle Bunch is the exciting tale of Maurice, a penguin who was raised in the jungle and thinks he’s a tiger! When two penguins from his Antarctic homeland come in search of ‘The Great Tiger Warrior’ to defend their colony from an invading herd of walruses, Maurice assembles a misfit team of jungle friends to save the day!” It’s available now at Amazon, and the trailer is up on YouTube.
“If an idea resonates with you, as a creator, there’s absolutely an audience for it” -The world of furry cartoonist Lobst
Growing up on a diet of sci-fi and fantasy, transformation stories were the ones I loved and could always rely on the writers of most shows to fall back on one of it’s most loved tropes. For me they were always the most frustrating though, as characters spent their time trying either freaking or trying to change back, usually both. Frustratingly they almost never explored a person staying that way, gaining a new perspective on the world. It’s something I’d find renewed interest in when encountering the Furry Fandom and finally found quite literally in the works of Lobst, a furry comics artist who uses their anthropomorphic characters and an individual take on magical realism to express their unique experiences as a trans person.
As with the bulk of their work two of my favourites, both adult comics, prominently feature transgender characters and story lines. A Slightly Different Role follows the exploits of two huskies, Connor and Alex, the latter of which with the aid of a suitably gothic book of curses, magically endows the other with a vagina. The second, more science-fiction orientated That Curious Sensation takes the subject in an entirely different, rarely explored direction. Distracted from work by unwanted erections red panda Clover strikes upon the idea of nullification, quickly achieving his goal with an easily obtainable injection. In both instances the initial transformation is dealt with quickly and often humorously, instead shifting the focus onto how characters react and adapt to the changes, rather than the change itself as a way to explore other parts of a trans individuals experiences and struggles beyond the post surgery aspects that a lot of mainstream representations fixate upon.
Lobst tells stories and presents her trans and gender fluid characters in an interesting and entertaining manner without the fetishization often present in a lot furry comics staring trans characters. Their artwork explores them in entirely different ways ,and using the fantasy elements as a springboard to ask more intimate and rarely asked questions about individuals in the trans community through anthropomorphic characters. Despite the ears, tails and fur, her extended cast appear on the page fully rounded and human. Ultimately what sets Lobst’s work apart is the warmth and tenderness it exudes in both the ways their characters interact and the playful way they write about a complicated and multifaceted subject, tackled both playfully and honestly.
When you first started out making comics did you feel there was a lack of them out there for, or about trans and non-binary genders? Do you feel there are more online webcomics than in mainstream comics?
Oh, one of my first inspirations was about the wealth of gender swap story arcs in webcomics, and how I felt they handled the subject inappropriately. Not that I considered them trans-phobic (even though many if them, in retrospect, probably were); it’s just that I was baffled at why none of the characters, at all, wanted to stay in their altered state. So I made my own story, which ended up being a total mess, but it also ended up inspiring my real-life transition in the first place, so.
When I first started my transition in 2004, I remember being severely disheartened at the apparent lack of trans voices in webcomics, considering how accessible the storytelling format is to anyone with pencil, paper, and a scanner. Thankfully, these days there are trans-assembled webcomics everywhere you look, due in no small part to how gender is discussed today compared to back then.
There are more trans-focused stories in webcomics today than there ever have been in mainstream comics. I don’t follow comics very closely, but you just have to look at the rest of media to see where depictions of trans people are at in the public consciousness. Netflix, the only major studio I’m aware of which hires trans actors to play trans people, focuses exclusively on the post-surgery experience of trans women who pass, when — compared to the rest of the trans experience — not only is it just one small part of a trans woman’s overall journey, but it’s also a situation most often occupied by trans women who can afford surgery, voice lessons, facial feminization, laser hair removal, and so on. And this isn’t to trivialise the struggles those women face, of course; it’s just one of the few pieces of transness that holds appeal for cis people. Compared to the proliferation of stories by and about trans/nonbinary people (like Drop-Out, Crossed Wires, Electricopolis, and Go Ye Dogs!), there’s really no contest.
What reaction do you get to your own comics either within the furry fandom or from readers in general?
I’d call it generally positive, with the caveat that I’ve long since stopped seeking approval from non-furry spaces, and even from furry spaces where trans-phobic language isn’t frowned upon; I essentially only post my art to my website and a few Twitter/Tumblr accounts: some private, some not. I’ve never been a popular artist, but I’ve gotten comfortable enough with occupying my specific niche that I’m fairly sure at this point I’d reject popularity if it was thrust upon me. (My chronic anxiety is a pretty big factor in this, too.)
My self-promotion skills are virtually nonexistent, but through sheer word-of-mouth I’ve gotten a couple of diehard fans, which — considering it’s been multiple years since I’ve committed to an ongoing webcomic project — is baffling to me. I was approached for the first time by one at BLFC this year; they requested an autograph, much to my surprise. I was so taken aback I responded by writing my name alongside “thanks for the company!”, which, in retrospect, is ludicrously depressing — but we laughed it off immediately afterwards, thankfully.
A few of your more recent comics, definitely “Adjustment to an Emulated Brain” have felt very personal. Do you find making these kinds of stories to be cathartic for yourself?
Oh, catharsis is the main reason I produce media these days. The inspiration for the main character of that comic — my main fursona, these days — was my persistent desire, as a heavily dysphoric genderless trans person, to find some practical way out of the ill-proportioned body I’ve been stuck occupying for my entire life. Not that I consider myself a diehard transhumanist or anything; this fantasy has also been explored (in other media I’ve privately written and not fully developed yet, all starring different self-inserts) in the forms of virtual reality, magic bodyswapping rituals, reincarnation, and good old-fashioned TF.
An aside: Since Moments From My Adjustment is one of my most viral comics to date, I think I should note what I consider one of the most important rules of storytelling: If an idea resonates with you, as a creator, there’s absolutely an audience for it. Everything I’ve written and drawn since 2010 (and there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it out) has been for one reason: “This is a neat concept, and I want to draw it.”Although your work has strong fantasy elements such as magic and TF triggers etc, the reactions and situations your characters find themselves in are often very grounded, what appeals to you about this when you are writing?
Magical realism has always appealed to me far more than fantasy or sci-fi settings, mostly because as fictional worlds get further removed from modern society, they start feeling smaller to me. There’s also a believably factor: setting a supernatural story in a realistic world begs all sorts of questions about why/how the supernatural elements are able to remain hidden, especially in the modern world where information is so easily spread. This sounds like a drawback, but if you’re able to pull off a convincing explanation, presto: the possibilities within your fictional world have suddenly expanded dramatically!
Settings like these also allow for your characters to undergo realistic struggles. The Persona series of videogames, for instance, make it a point to keep their protagonists as ordinary as possible, in the process incorporating fantasy-scary story elements like angry gods, shadow dimensions, and arcane magic (all of which are too heavily-caricatured to take seriously), side-by-side with actually-scary situations like family drama, academic success, and financial trouble. Even non-magical sci-fi benefits heavily if it takes place in the very near future, I think.A lot of your characters come into contact with each other in various comics or pictures, how important is world building to you in this way and how do you go about it?
It’s important for me that internal crossovers remain plausible, by which I mean that there can’t be more than one connection between previously-separate groups of people, and multiple separate connections (e.g. people getting married) cannot form between those groups afterward — otherwise you run into the small-world situation I described earlier; where everyone’s related to each other and meaningful character change is impossible.
An example: I don’t think this has been formally revealed yet, but Grace (from FoRC) lives in the house That Curious Sensation takes place in. Supernatural stuff briefly happens in what little of FoRC I produced, and TCS hinges on the existence of a unique machine which, setting aside that it’s in a silly sex-comic, harbors significant implications for the fate of gender and physical sex in human society. For Grace to be present during both events, those two situations have to be connected for a narratively consistent reason, related to her in some way; otherwise, it’d be just too much of a coincidence to take seriously.
What would be your fave TF trigger? Do you have a preference for technology or magic or does it all depend on the story and characters?
What would be your fave TF trigger? Do you have a preference for technology or magic or does it all depend on the story and characters?
Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.
Intimate Little Secrets by Rechan
March 2017, Furplanet and Bad Dog Books
Intimate Little Secrets is a collection of 9 short stories by Rechan. After randomly encountering him in a non-Furry location I promised to review his latest work. I went into reading this book expecting a collection of erotica and was blind-sided by well written stories that I connected with emotionally, if not erotically.
Fanservice – Robin, frustrated with her coworker Dean’s missing of her signals, decides to seduce him by cosplaying as a character from a show he likes. The quick pace from flirting to office sex raised an eyebrow. One issue I noticed is that while Robin’s species is put in early enough, Dean’s is not mentioned until after he is first mentioned and we are brought down Robin’s memory lane. However, even when one character is indistinct, I was still able to get a sense of the action playing out. The emotions and reactions of the characters are fairly real and relatable, alternating between awkward inexperience and passionate confidence when they forget to be worried.
Strange on a Train – Marjani, a serval, reads some erotic fiction on a train and enlists another passenger to assist with her arousal. This story is very well written, we’re given imagery exactly where we need it and when we need it. Marjani’s actions are not out of character for her established personality. We’re given only information about the other passenger, a skunk, that Marjani notices on her own; the name used for him is a nickname she mentally calls him. The sex itself has multiple stages; the skill with which Rechan shows rather than tells is apparent throughout. Setting aside the smut, this is a well constructed story with good progression and even a Chekov’s Gun. Despite the lack of time to develop the skunk character, he’s still given enough personality that he’s more than a two-dimensional cardboard extra. This was a fun and engaging read that I’ll be thinking back to in the future.
Missed – Janine Pendigrass is a collie school librarian in a BDSM relationship with teacher Beth, a mink. While in a lunch-break session, a complication in their relationship arises when Beth asks permission to date a man. Though BDSM is not my cup of tea, I’m still able to mentally see how the scene is playing out. Both characters are displayed with emotion. Despite my initial dislike for Pendigrass, the end of the story has me sympathetic towards her.
Fireworks – A first person story told from the viewpoint of a gazelle, Desiree, an escort hired by Jacob, a deer, to pretend to be his girlfriend for a family gathering. This isn’t exactly ‘guy gains confidence after night with a hooker’ because these characters come across as people and not tropes. The sex scene was well constructed and showed rather than told how the movements went. It also easily explained some items that would have tripped my suspension of disbelief. However, I feel it was overshadowed by the rest of the story. As a piece of erotica, Fireworks does not do well; as a story with an erotic scene, it does.
Teeth – Another first person story, this one is a sex scene between the lioness Carli and an unnamed female wolf. This story is very short, and has some structural issues that give it some flaws. We’re not told what species the POV character is for almost the first third, and we don’t get a clear answer for what gender she is until halfway through. This makes the mental imagery hard to form. Though the action is still well put together, the details and context clues needed are buried too deep in the text. Of course, this is a 750-word story, so “too deep” isn’t that far in page-wise.
When The Paint Dries – Luis the cacomistle gets a surprise call from his remarried ex-wife asking for a major favor. This is not erotica. But it is a good story, and I cannot give an explanation as to why without spoiling it.
Rickety V – A follow-up to Missed, where Conner, a golden retriever, is a spanner in the works in Beth and Janine’s relationship. There is a sex scene that fits and works with the story, driving the plot forward, but a majority of the story covers the relationship between the three characters. Conner’s character is delightfully wholesome and innocent, forcing the issues at hand to be confronted. Rickety V resolves a lot of my concerns with Beth and Janine’s relationship as shown in Missed. I am glad that a follow-up was written.
Three to Tango – A follow-up to Strange on a Train, featuring Marjani’s husband Amadi. Still at her family’s house, the serval woman wants to make up to her husband about bending their rules on the train by hiring chipmunk Kahlua to entertain Amadi while Marjani is on the phone. There’s not much character development here, but there doesn’t need to be. There’s also no real plot or story; the text is nearly all erotic action. While not nearly as engaging as “Train”, Three to Tango has a decent pacing and evokes a good mental image of the action.
TLC – Margaret and Henry, an elderly fox couple, deal with how Henry’s illness has impacted their lives and lovemaking. This is a heavy story, and I found it difficult to read it the multiple times needed for the review. It is a good story, and we feel a strong connection with the two characters, both in their despair and pain, and in the mutual joy they feel. It ends on a somewhat happy note.
I have to say I enjoyed Intimate Little Secrets. “Fanservice” and “Strange on a Train” mislead my assumption of what to expect but I guess you could say that I “Missed” the mark. This is not a collection of erotica so much a collection of stories about people and relationships, with erotica in them. In that sense I feel that “Strange on a Train” and “Three to Tango” don’t quite fit with the others, as they are pure sexual romps rather than stories with plot development. Thematically speaking, I would have preferred to see a follow-up to “Fanservice” and “Fireworks” in this volume, but I don’t feel this disqualifies the book as a whole (especially as I was engaged by “Strange on a Train”).
This anthology is a slice-of-life selection of stories, giving the reader an intimate glimpse into the lives of characters that feel real. The plot flows nicely, and Rechan has a mastery of imagery, giving a clear picture of the action going on, be it sitting in a Chinese restaurant or having raunchy sex in the living room. What weaknesses he has is often not putting important descriptors before said imagery, but this is only an issue in two of the stories and may be me being picky.
If slice of life stories that contain erotic M/F or F/F sex scenes something you enjoy, I would recommend giving Intimate Little Secrets a read.
Have you ever hung up the phone on a jerk? Frozen out a bully who acted like a wasp in your hair? Rejected a stalker who can’t stop asking to sniff your socks? Shut the door on a creep who wants to get you into a crackpot religion, or to sign a petition to legalize hunting at zoos? Blocked spam to sell you a miracle cure for crotch rot, made from the powdered toenails of a peruvian jungle sloth?
Good. You stood up for yourself like an adult and moderated a nuisance. And now the power is yours to do it better than before. At least with one hate group.The Altfurry Twitter blocklist (last update 9/15/2017 – new list coming)
- Download the file. Go to Twitter: Settings > Blocked Accounts > Advanced > Import.
- Preview allows screening by eye. It’s your choice to verify each block.
- The blocklist is often updated. Check this page for fresh info.
Oh no, blocklist sounds like “blacklist.” At least if you don’t think too hard about simply separating signal from noise. But blocking is a self-defense against nuisance. A list empowers you with crowdsourced support to moderate your boundaries. And if you’ve been ganged up on, it can handle aggression like jiu-jitsu, especially the more widely it’s used.
Right off the bat, expect predictable complaints. It’s as if standards which everyone uses (like spam filtering, or SFW limits for a group) are somehow antithetical to a free-floating ideal of universal “free speech.” It’s as if there’s no community attached, everyone is for themselves, and consequences don’t exist. Supposed enemies of free speech might point to the National Communication Association and the difference between censorship and moderation. (Paraphrasing added):
Moderation is the practice of prohibiting speech in a particular virtual community by authorities within that community. (Crowdsourced in this case, the authority is you.) A topic that is moderated on one virtual community can be communicated elsewhere, so those who wish to discuss it can migrate.
When there is no moderation, the effect of a large number of irrelevant or hurtful messages can be the same as censorship; that is, a group’s ability to discuss a particular topic is curtailed and members leave.
There is one circumstance where community migration is not feasible- when the community is opposed by an adversarial group. An adversarial group defines itself as the opponent of another group. Nazis and creationists, for example, are opposed to Jews and evolutionists. And any group that exists online must communicate its beliefs, as there is no online presence without communication. To assert their identity as an adversarial group, the adversarial group argues with the opposed group. The relationship between the adversarial and opposed group is inherently parasitical.
Conversely, the opposed group does not necessarily define itself in relationship to the adversarial group. Jews and evolutionists would generally prefer that Nazis and creationists leave them alone.
Without moderation, when a member of the adversarial group communicates belief to the opposed group, the value of the virtual community decreases for every member of the opposed group. For opposed groups, adversarial group messages have properties identical to censorship.
So “free speech” isn’t a consequence-free ideal. Freedom can be self-negating without a sense of community. What does this say about the altfurry blocklist?
- Alt-furry (alt-right or “alternative furry”) behaves like an adversarial, parasitical group to furry fandom. Notice there’s no “fandom” in altfurry. They act like the only thing in common is selfish media consumption. But there is a community. Moderation supports it.
- This applies to Twitter, not between government and public. And online filtering and moderation goes back to the days of Usenet. However this kind of social media eliminates the cost of it to benefit the company. Moderation is left to your personal work.
- When you have free speech, that doesn’t mean a right to scream in someone’s ear when they walk away. Blocking is freedom of association. Don’t let anyone tell you not to use your freedom or expect you to be a pushover about it.
What are the sources for the list? The team that assembled it (which doesn’t include me, I’m a messenger) used this criteria:
- Much of the list is Altfurry Discord users, seen in the logs that you can verify.
- Several lists were merged that include observed supporters for altfurry.
- Hundreds of accounts were checked individually.
Communication makes a better solution:
- To make a case for not being on the list, comment here. (Again, I don’t add anyone and will pass messages.)
- @AltFurryBlocker on Twitter is another source.
How to use it actively and why it matters:
- No tool is perfect. It calls for being part of an active solution and being informed (it’s better than complaining but doing nothing right?)
- Altfurry is a tiny splinter group, so the list isn’t an unmanageable mass of thousands without transparency. You can judge it by eye.
- There will always be way more members needing this than wanting it gone. Each supporter makes it stronger for everyone.
- Nazism has nothing to say. It was killed and discredited generations ago and isn’t up for debate. But some would welcome it back if they could.
- Forgiving is easy and requires honest change. Instead Altfurry chose to obscure their most racist elements from public view but not repudiate it internally. They work to provoke reaction to falsely depict opponents as aggressors and milk it for attention. Being on the list is avoidable by not wedging open a door for nazism, and just owning their shit. When that doesn’t happen the community has a right to moderate itself.
- If they want to use this to find others to follow, they can out themselves and make the list easier to manage.
- Honestly changing is how people who landed on the list can make it unnecessary. Until then nothing is stopping them from enjoying an alt-fandom without trashing this one.
Coming soon: FurAffinity blocklist and Do Not Commission list.
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And speaking of crossovers (when will they stop?), Dynamite Entertainment and Boom! Studios’ Kaboom! imprint have joined forces to join up a classic well-known sassy cat with a currently well-known sassy cat. Yes, it’s the Grumpy Cat / Garfield 3-issue miniseries. There’s a preview over at Previews: “It’s the inevitable meeting of the sourpusses! Garfield, the reigning cynical cat of newspapers and TV crosses paths with Grumpy Cat, the internet sensation whose scowl endeared herself to the world. Who’s the most sarcastic? Well, he likes lasagna and not much else… and she doesn’t even like lasagna. Can these two inhabit the same comic book mini-series, let alone the same planet? You’ll find out in a trio of issues written by Mark Evanier and illustrated by Steve Uy. We’d say it’s the cat’s meow but neither of these cats meow.” The second issue of this full-color series is already out in stores.
It’s fun to go to themed places that make you feel like you’re in a movie. There’s Speakeasy and Tiki bars, or even Horror and Clown themed bars. For a spooky time, try The Jeckyl and Hyde Club in NYC, Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den in Minneapolis, or Lovecraft Bar in Portland, Oregon. How about a visit to Toontown?
For some people, it’s more than fun. Night life is real life. Some places support subculture or identity like Gay and Leather bars.
Why not a furry bar? It’s a half-joke/half-suggestion I’ve been making for years. One night a month, you can do dances like Frolic in San Francisco, Foxtrot in Denver, Tail! Party in Long Beach, or Howl Toronto. But what if there was a place to be your furry self almost any night?
There have been a lot of “fandom firsts” in a short while – some good, some bad. There was the first mainstream-accessible furry movie and the first Furry political scandal. Now, new ground has been broken by a permanent establishment with a furry theme. It’s an idea that could go much farther, but take a look.
Sometimes I joke "there should be a Furry Bar." Then I heard about a furry-themed cafe opening in Japan. Open now: https://t.co/o4nb83h9Dr— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 12, 2017
Hello! We are now open for business! Please come when you can. We're on the 8th floor opposite Gachapon Kaikan, Akihabara. Last order is 6PM pic.twitter.com/OgFpa8QBlo— MONSTER PARTY (@MonsterPartyJP) September 12, 2017
Tsukiyo here! In anticipation of the new Monster Party cafe opening soon in Akihabara, we want to hold a furry themed party! pic.twitter.com/ULLVT3WzPR
Thank you everyone for a wonderful evening! It made all the hard work worthwhile! すばらしい夕方に皆さんありがとう！それはすべての勤勉を価値あるものにしました！ pic.twitter.com/TCQP9uyj5j— Tsukiyo@MonsterParty (@tsukiyo_fur) September 10, 2017
I asked Tsukiyo to help with questions about the cafe and furry stuff in Japan, but they were busy. Maybe someone else can help?
This reminds me of what FuzzWolf of Furplanet says he’ll do if he wins the lottery – open a permanent furry book store. Germany’s Fusselschwarm is an LGBT bookstore with a furry curator and furry section (or was, may be all-online now).
I’d become an angel investor in the fandom. Funding artists, open a brick and mortar furry store. Who cares if it loses money.— Uncle Fuzz️ (@FuzzWolf) June 30, 2017
How about a furry-themed community center, maybe powered by a cafe/gallery to host art shows, movie screenings, and fursuit dances and classes? Like the furry-themed Artsplosion event at an LGBT community center in San Jose CA, but all the time. At some point, I’ll follow up with a post about “What would a fantasy furry store look like?”
This kind of stuff inspired my “Furry Good Ideas” article. I can’t wait to see some of these come true one day. Be ambitious, you loveable animals.
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Crossovers are all the rage these days, of course — so why not combine two cult favorite cartoon shows? That’s the thought behind the Adventure Time / Regular Show comic mini-series, recently unleashed by Boom! Studios. Here’s what they said: “It’s a crossover for the ages in this mash-up of two of our favorite Cartoon Network shows! When a powerful new villain threatens to conquer Adventure Time’s Ooo, Princess Bubblegum sends Finn and Jake on a desperate quest to find The Power that can save the land – a power that Skips from Regular Show just happens to be hiding! Finn and Jake’s arrival only exacerbates an existing tension between Mordecai and Rigby, and the trip back to Ooo threatens to tear two sets of bros apart … forever.” Written by Conor McCreery and illustrated by Mattia Di Meo, the first issue is out now.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Pride of Parahumans, by Joel Kreissman
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, December 2016, trade paperback $11.99 (161 pages), Kindle $2.99.
The Pride of Parahumans starts with a small, cramped prospecting spaceship in the Asteroid Belt in the late 2100s or early 2200s, crewed by four parahumans (bioengineered anthro animals); Argentum, the black fox mineral analyst (and narrator); Cole, the raven pilot, Denal, the red panda mechanic, and Aniya, a human-wolf-possum mix taur rescue/medic. They’re exploring asteroids, looking for a big strike. They may have just discovered one when they’re attacked by an unknown pirate spaceship. They shoot back and destroy it, killing its one-parahuman crew.
Unfortunately, they (and probably the pirate) are from the Ceres Directorate, the major Asteroid Belt and parahuman government. And the Ceres Directorate has a draconian law against killing. Self-defense is no excuse. Anyone (and in this case the whole crew) who kills has all assets seized and is sentenced to fifty years at hard labor. They agree to keep everything secret and return to Ceres.
“Naturally, we got the first indication that things on Ceres were about to go wrong just as we were leaving the cavern.” (p. 24)
The Pride of Parahumans begins as an okay space opera, full of action and suspense. Unfortunately, it seems very similar to Kismet by Watts Martin, which is also about an anthro space pilot involved in action and suspense in an asteroid belt full of furry characters and space governments, published at almost the same time. And Kismet is MUCH better written.
There are differences. Argentum is a bioengineered experiment, designed to be without genitals and androgynous. (The pronoun zie is used.) The other furries have genitals but they were made sterile (they reproduce by cloning), so they can indulge in lots of sex without worrying about getting pregnant. (Argen qveches that zie’s missing out on the fun.) The Asteroid Belt governments are more chaotic and dictatorial – they all seem like wretched hives of scum and villainy — which increases the suspense, but are less logical.
In almost every respect in which The Pride of Parahumans can be compared with Kismet, it comes off second. Pride begins with huge expository lumps to describe the parahumans and their Asteroid Belt culture:
“Anyways, that brief history of Ceres does not do justice to the wonder that is the market caverns. As the corps mined out the dwarf planet they dug huge holes miles beneath the surface in order to get to the largest concentrations of mass in the asteroid. These tunnels were a minimum of two meters tall to accommodate the miners and their equipment, but the caves that had held the most valuable minerals often reached five meters in height and a football field or two in length or width. Since there was plenty of pre-existing living space in the worker barracks and tunnels, many of these caverns had been reinforced with long titanium columns and filled with multiple levels of storefronts. The .028 gravities made it easy for most people to simply jump from one level to another through holes in the rickety paneling placed in front of shops so the customers had something to window browse from. It’s rather incredible, in a ramshackle slum kind of way.” (p. 21)
Kismet blends the setting into the action smoothly. Kismet’s third-person narration is more natural to a novel, while Pride is narrated by Argen in a conversational style that makes you constantly wonder who zie’s supposed to be talking to.
In Pride, the parahumans were bioengineered by human corporations to explore and mine the Asteroid Belt. They successfully revolted and set up their own Asteroid Belt nations. Kismet also has furry nations in the Asteroid Belt, but the animal types seem more reasonable for space exploration and exploitation. Rats, wolves, foxes, large dogs, the big felines. In Pride there are those, but also enlarged ravens and others such as “a heavy set spider monkey”, parrots, and octopi, that do not seem to be logical for space mining. The ravens have sort-of hands:
“His [Cole’s] wings were also modified with small claws at the ends, apparently a small atavism the bioengineers found that dated back to the earliest birds from the time of the dinosaurs. They enabled him to hang onto an overhead handlebar while his feet manipulated the flight controls. Apparently there was a prevailing theory among some of the corps that created us that creatures that evolved in a three dimensional environment would be better suited to navigating the depths of space than us terrestrials. So rather than adding some animal genes to a human baseline genome like most did for their deep space workforce, they took the genomes of dolphins, parrots, octopi, corvids, and seals – basically any aquatic or flying animal that showed a decent level of intelligence – and boosted their brainpower until they could operate a spaceship. I don’t know how well it worked but I do know that for all his annoying quirks, Cole was a great pilot.” (pgs. 4-5)
This is imaginative and more colorful – birds or octopi piloting spaceships? — but is less plausible than the big mammals of Kismet.
Another imaginative bit is the culture of cloning. Parahumans buy their “children”. Here the four protagonists have moved from Ceres to Vesta. They find that the manufacture of clones there is controlled by the Society for the Preservation of Parahuman Species.
“Then he [Denal] paused as if in contemplation. ‘Hey, maybe we should all get clones. We can be like one of those human families. Me and Cole can be the dads, Aniya can be the mom, but what would that make you?’
I snorted derisively. ‘Save it until we have enough money to actually buy clones. I doubt they would charge a bunch of prospectors fresh from Ceres anything less than full price. And last I checked, clones were expensive.’” (p. 53)
And then, slightly less than halfway through, The Pride of Parahumans swings in a completely new direction! The quality of the writing improves (the expository lump is over), and the plot becomes entirely original – not just in comparison to Kismet but to other s-f. What had seemed like a pale imitation of Kismet becomes impossible to guess at – and very worth reading.
The Pride of Parahumans (cover by Donryu) is still not as good as Kismet, but you wouldn’t believe how two novels that begin so similarly can become so different. Read both, and if the beginning of Pride seems too similar to Kismet at first, stick with it. You’ll be glad that you did.
Getting in on the ground floor here… At Long Beach Comic Con we came across Not Teddy Bears, a new art project created by Robert Ly. Is it a line of toys? A new on-line comic? A graphic novel? We don’t know! And the official web site isn’t very clear about that. But still, there is a story to be told here: It seems that teddy bears as we know them are not just cuddly little fuzzy friends for children, but physical representations we have created from our memory of small bear-like creatures who defend us from monsters. When our world is invaded by violent, evil forces, those creatures suddenly become very, very important once again.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm, by Greg Keyes. Based on the screenplay written by Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver.
London, Titan Books, May 2014, paperback $ and £7.99 (304 pages), Kindle $7.99 and £3.99.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, by Alex Irvine.
London, Titan Books, July 2014, paperback $ and £7.99 (313 pages), Kindle $7.99 and £3.79.
La Planète des Singes, the original novel, was written by Pierre Boule in France and published in January 1963. Forget about it. It has almost nothing to do with the movies except inspiring the first of them.
Planet of the Apes, the first movie, was produced by 20th Century Fox and released in April 1968. Boulle’s novel was so extensively rewritten by numerous hands as to create an original plot. It was mega-popular, launching numerous theatrical sequels, TV spinoffs, novels and novelizations, and comic books. The comic books have arguably birthed the most bizarre variations in the form of authorized teamups. Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes. Green Lantern on the Planet of the Apes.
But we digress. All (with one exception) of the movies and TV series have had paperback novelizations and authorized prequels or sequels. Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the first movie sequel, was novelized by Michael Avallone. Most of the other books have been by different authors. Here are the two written for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next to last movie.
The Planet of the Apes movies can be roughly divided into two groups. The first includes the first movie in 1968 and its four sequels through 1973, plus two TV series. They are set in 3978 A.D. and the next few years, when time-traveling American astronauts find that intelligent chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas have replaced humanity. The first movie was remade in 2001. Not only did that have a novelization by William T. Quick, he wrote two paperback sequels. The second group, telling how the apes replaced humanity, began in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the only movie that did not have a book, only a six-issue comic book prequel. In the near future Will Rodman is a scientist at Gen Sys, a San Francisco biotech company testing ALZ112, a viral-based drug designed to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The drug is tested on chimpanzees and unexpectedly greatly increases their intelligence. Rodman’s superior has the chimps killed, but Will and his assistant discover that a female had just had a baby. Will names the infant chimp Caesar and raises him as his own son. Events result in Caesar being taken from Will and imprisoned in the San Bruno Primate Shelter, where he learns to distrust humanity except Will. Gen Sys experiments with ALZ113, a more powerful aerosol drug. Caesar escapes, steals the ALZ113 from Will’s house, and returns to the shelter to raise the intelligence of all the apes there. They all escape under Caesar’s leadership, add apes from Gen Sys and the San Francisco Zoo, and form an army to battle the humans as they cross the Golden Gate Bridge into nearby Muir Woods. Will goes after them and begs Caesar to surrender since the apes cannot defeat all humanity, but Caesar’s loyalty is now with the other apes. However, mixed with a few earlier scenes and the movie’s closing credits is a foretelling that while the ALZ113 increases apes’ intelligence, it creates an Ebola-like lightning fatal pandemic in humans.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm is “The Official PREQUEL to the Dramatic New Film from 20th Century Fox”. It was “The all-new bridge between Rise of the Planet of the Apes [released August 5, 2011] and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” published two months before Dawn was released on July 11, 2014.
Firestorm tells several stories simultaneously. It begins less than a week after Rise. San Francisco is calming down after “Monkeygate”, the strange simian escape across the Golden Gate Bridge, and focusing on the coming mayoral election between incumbent Mayor House and ex-police chief Dreyfus. The news is claiming that only ten or twenty apes have escaped, not hundreds. And the first deaths come from the new disease.
The interlocked stories, all sympathetic, are those of the apes under Caesar to reach a place of safety; a team sent to catch them, including primatologist Clancy Stoppard and a Congo expert ape tracker, Malakai Youmans; Dr. Natalia Kosar of one of San Francisco’s major hospitals, who is the first to get patients of the new plague; Dreyfus, the mayoral challenger; and the biography of the chimpanzee Koba, one of Caesar’s lieutenants.
Clancy and the older Malakai, who become friends, become aware that all the others on the team sent after the apes are not police or animal experts but professional hunters employed by Anvil, a private paramilitary contractor. Anvil’s team leader, Corbin, is impatient with the two “civilians”, and there are doubts that their rifles are only tranquilizer-dart guns. Caesar and his closest newly-intelligent lieutenants, the chimpanzees Koba and Rocket and Maurice, an orangutan, try to escape without harming any humans, but as they become increasingly desperate, the risk of deadly violence increases. The apes cannot talk in speech; they use sign language. Talia Kosar, an ER doctor, sees her accident and crime patients replaced by the new plague patients, who quickly overwhelm the hospital. In less than two weeks, San Francisco has over ten thousand fatalities, and there is widespread panicking. Dreyfus, the mayoral candidate, uses the plague in his campaign but he is genuinely concerned for the city’s welfare, and he provides the leadership that the incumbent mayor doesn’t. Koba’s life story before Caesar frees the apes and they become intelligent is full of human mistreatment and brutality. This justifies the apes’ escape, and also explains Koba’s hatred of all humans.
The apes’ stories are outnumbered by the multiple human’s stories, but they are all fast-moving and dramatic:
“Then she [Talia] turned toward him. ‘What’s up?’
‘You went to that symposium on respiratory infection last month.’
‘Mm-hmm,’ she said. ‘Sexiest symposium ever. Better than that rectal bleeding thing, even.’
‘I’ve got a woman I’d like you to take a look at.’
‘What are her symptoms?’
‘She’s sneezing up blood,’ he said.
‘She says she never has trouble with allergies – I had a look, and didn’t see anything,’ he said. ‘I’ve ordered a CT scan, but they’re backed up. Plus, she has a temperature of a hundred and four. She’s also showing some signs of subcutaneous bleeding.’
Talia was about to take another grudging drink, but stopped with the coffee cup halfway to her mouth.
‘How old is she?’ she asked.
‘Let me see her,’ she said.” (p. 20)
They are well blended so the reader does not know what is coming next.
The scenes with the apes will be of most interest. They do not have human vocal chords, but Caesar has learned human sign language from Will Rodman and he teaches it to what he thinks are the brightest of the apes that he gives “Will’s mist” to:
“Rocket spotted the helicopter first, and a moment’s observation showed the machine coming straight for them.
Find this many, he [Caesar] signed to Rocket, holding up six fingers. Go, and be quick. Then he raced back down, leaping from tree to tree, toward the main body of his troop. Most were in the middle canopy, and he searched through them, making low calming noises, until he found one [of] the orangutans, Maurice. Maurice knew the hand language that Caesar had been taught.
Calm them, he told Maurice. Make them quiet, and lead them in that direction. He pointed off toward a thicker region of the woods, away from the approaching helicopter.” (p. 30)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm is both suspenseful and fatalistic. The reader knows that whatever happens in the story, the Simian Flu will ultimately kill almost all humans and destroy civilization. Greg Keyes is a New York Times bestselling author of both original s-f/fantasy novels and many novels set in movie & TV s-f franchises.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization is set ten years later. It is quickly obvious that Alex Irvine’s writing style is much wordier and more leisurely than Greg Keyes; filled with more description than dialogue.
The first chapters establish the apes’ village, in a rainy forest near San Francisco:
“Their home, which lay behind a wall of timbers and a heavy gate, spiraled around the flanks of the mountain. It was a place made for them.
Apes looked over the walls and hung from the timbers higher up the mountain, hooting out excited welcomes as they watched the troop approach. The noise increased as news of the hunting party’s return spread.
[…] There was a central open area anchored by a large fire pit. Around it scattered clusters of huts and lean-tos followed the natural shape of the mountain’s slopes, continuing along the edge of a steep canyon bridged by fallen trees. The sound of the river rushing through the bottom of the canyon rose and fell with the seasons. […]
The village was united by a network of paths along the ground and timbers in the air, running from higher slopes to the branches of larger trees that grew within the walls. These trees, which served as lookout posts and homes, were connected to each other by woven grass ropes and swinging bridges.” (pgs. 16-17)
The apes are still led by Caesar and his lieutenants, Koba and Rocket, and their almost-adolescent sons, Caesar’s Blue Eyes and Rocket’s Ash. The apes ride horses, and hunt the elk and bears that have multiplied since man’s disappearance. Maurice has become a teacher in their village. It is close enough to San Francisco that the human city can be seen in the distance:
“Caesar had gotten them off to a good start. He would lead the apes until he was no longer able, and then his children and their children would spread over the world.
Perhaps someday they would return to the city where they had come from. He looked over it now from the upper part of his house, the side that faced away from the canyon and toward the jumbled hills and the ocean, far away, gleaming orange under the setting sun. Caesar remembered the first time he climbed one of the great redwoods and looked at the city, back when Will was alive. There had been so much motion then […]
Now he saw the city from much farther away. The air was clear and nothing moved. In the shadows among the buildings, no lights came on as the sun sank into the ocean.” (pgs. 29-30)
“I wonder if they really are all gone, he signed.
Ten winters now, Maurice signed. And for the last two, no sign of them. He shrugged. They must be.
Caesar wasn’t so sure. Humans had been strong enough and smart enough to create great cities. They had made roads across the world. They had built machines that could fly. Will had told him once that humans had even walked on the moon. If they could do that, what could kill all of them off? He knew some of them had been sick when the apes had escaped after becoming smarter, but apes got sick sometimes, too.
Yet no sickness killed them all.” (p. 31)
The humans are not all dead, of course, but they don’t appear until page 39, in Chapter 9 that establishes that Blue Eyes and Ash are best friends, but Blue Eyes resents that Ash is allowed more freedom than Caesar gives him.
The few human survivors have coalesced in San Francisco and are just beginning, with their children, to spread out again. Their group consists of five adult men led by Malcolm, his wife Ellie, and his son Alex. Malcolm is a reasonable man, but one of the others, Carver, is trigger-happy. He wounds Ash and almost starts a new ape-human war. Caesar lets the human leave, but everything is new from there. The apes, with spears and clubs, have to prepare for a new confrontation with humans with guns and worse.
Caesar sends Koba and his lieutenants, Grey and Stone, to follow the humans and report back. In this movie and novelization, Koba’s hatred of humans is intensified to fanatacism. Koba at first considers himself a loyal follower of Caesar, but that Caesar is too peaceful and the humans too aggressive. Koba is determined to kill all the humans this time, if he has to kill Carsar, blame it on the humans, and take over leadership of the apes.
The human Colony, in an unfinished skyscraper in downtown San Francisco, is led by Dreyfus.
“The lower twenty floors or so had flooring, and had been turned into housing for the few thousand people who, for all they knew, were the last surviving humans on earth. The bottom six floors occupied the entire block, and enclosed what had been envisioned as an upscale mall and luxury office complex.
Dreyfus had chosen the location carefully. The triple arch of the building’s main gateway was easily defended, and other entrances had been blocked for years. At first they had built defenses against gangs and loose militias that had ravaged the city during the plague’s first years. As time went on and more and more people died, however, many of those marauders ‘came in from the cold,’ as it were, joining what came to be called the Colony.” (p. 62)
Under other circumstances Dreyfus would have been happy to ignore the apes, but the apes’ village is near a dam that the Colony needs for hydroelectric power. Also, if the apes have spears and clubs, now that they know there are human survivors, will they attack? Dreyfus and Malcolm want to prepare for defense of the human Colony if necessary, while Carver and his followers want to take warfare to the apes.
Malcolm gets Dreyfus to put him in charge of a peaceful mission to get the apes to let them restart the hydroelectric dam. Carver sabotages that, which is what Koba needs to shoot Caesar with a stolen human gun and lead the apes to attack the Colony. Read the novelization or see the movie for the details of what happens; but to summarize, Malcolm and his family nurse Caesar back to health, Caesar realizes that apes can be as corrupt and untrustworthy as humans, Caesar takes back leadership of the apes after a fight to the death with Koba, and the apes prepare to defend themselves against another group of humans from a military base with advanced weapons.
See War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) for the sequel. Its book prequel and movie novelization will be reviewed in the future. These two Dawn books are well-written and worth reading, especially Firestorm. The movie novelization, which is a bit slow, may be skippable for those who are familiar with the movie.
- Buy Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm on Amazon
- Buy the Novelization of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Amazon
This one passed beneath our radar (perhaps naturally!) but we managed to catch it at Long Beach Comic Con. Nathaniel Osollo is an underground cartoonist who specializes in black & white… and funny animal noir. His most famous creation is Dark Mouse, “a disgruntled mouse with drinking and violence problems and a penchant for lady mice”. Whew. His first collection on paper is called I Used To Know Dark Mouse, but you can read it entirely on line at issuu.com. His web site, Eye Draugh (get it?) has more of Dark Mouse and other creations.
Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.
The Tower and the Fox is the Kyell Gold novel I’ve been waiting for him to write for years, and it has been worth the wait.
Like many people, I was entranced with The Prisoner’s Release and the rest of the Volle stories, but most of Kyell Gold’s work did not resonate with me, as he primarily wrote for the genre of “Coming of Age Gay Romance”. There’s nothing wrong with the genre, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world in the context of romance (and lots of gay sex) certainly can speak to multiple generations of furries.
Only, I never had those struggles and I tend to skip sex scenes in my furry novels. The prevalent nature of the genre has turned me off to a lot of written Furry fiction, even to the point I hesitate to read what I know would be clean. Yet even then, I enjoyed Kyell’s worldbuilding and storytelling. I felt Shadow of the Father was a fine novel that would have been improved by the removal of the sexual content, and had hoped to one day see Kyell’s skill turned towards a more traditional fantasy.
There’s not even a romance subplot in The Tower and The Fox, and the story is stronger for it.
The Tower and The Fox takes place in an alternate and magical history, set sometime after the Napoleonic Wars have ended. The North American colonies remain part of the Empire, with the only mention of a historical figure being John Adams. However, this is a world of humans, and the Calatians – magically-created animal-human hybrids – are a minority, and an ill-treated one at that, for many humans see them as naught but beasts, with many rights denied to them.
The story’s narration follows Kip, a fox Calatian, as he enters the Prince George’s College of Sorcery to be the first Calatian sorcerer. He is eventually joined by his otter friend Coppy, and makes friends with other students, including Emily, who wishes to be the first female sorcerer.
The book covers the time between the student’s admission and the selection of the Masters for their apprentices. We see Kip and his friends have to deal with challenges from other students, their teachers, and their own personal issues, with the selection of students near the end.
The construction of the plot was nothing new or unexpected, yet Kyell’s work on polishing makes it seem fresh. In addition, the different struggles and prejudices the characters each face are displayed wonderfully without being preachy. The novel ends in a set up for a sequel while still tying many loose ends. There are unanswered questions remaining, but I was left knowing that the characters would get to them in time rather than wonder if they had forgotten.
In the end, I lost track of time while reading The Tower and The Fox, and didn’t put the book down until I finished it. If you are a fan of Kyell Gold’s work or interested in a Furry Colonial Fantasy, I definitely suggest picking up a copy.
Shreya Shetty (try saying that three times fast!) is an illustrator and concept artist with a history in Hollywood productions. She has worked for companies like Rhythm & Hues, Wizards of the Coast, and Toon Studios on projects as diverse as Life of Pi, Dreamworks’ Home, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. At her web site you’ll see many of her finished paintings of magical monsters and some cute familiar creatures, many of which she also sells as prints.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Tower and the Fox, by Tim Susman. Illustrated by Laura Garabedian.
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, June 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (265 pages, ebook $9.95.
Grump! This begins in media res, with 19-year-old fox-Calatian Kip Penfold grasping the locked gate of Prince George’s College of Sorcery in New Cambridge, Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Anything further that I say about it would be a spoiler.
Well, if the book’s blurb can give away several spoilers, so can I. The setting is a world like ours, but with magic. Think Harry Potter. Magic has apparently always existed. There were Sumerian and Akkadian sorcerers. The first Calatians (anthropomorphic animals) were created by magic in 1402. Magic helped win the War of the Roses in 1480. There has not yet been an American Revolution, and the British North American Colonies are still loyal to the Crown, although some people are restive about that. Others are unhappy with the social order of the times: Europeans › Colonists › Irish › slaves/Negroes › women › Calatians. The social order of the last four is uncertain; maybe females rank slightly higher than male Irish or Negroes, or Calatians are higher than them. But all four are definitely inferior to human Caucasian menfolk, Continental or Colonial. (Where the American Indians stand in this is uncertain.)
“He turned on his heel. Emily shouted after him, ‘Why do we have to prove ourselves?’ but he did not respond, nor turn, and this time she did not pursue him.
Kip felt a sinking feeling in his chest, watching the sorcerer walk away. ‘Because we always have to prove ourselves,’ he said. ‘Because of how we look.’
‘Rubbish,’ Emily said. ‘We’re living in the age of enlightenment, for God’s sake. There’s no reason a woman can’t be a sorcerer. Nor a Calatian, for that matter.’
‘I hope not.’ Kip rubbed his paws together. ‘But none has, not ever.’
Because of people like him.’ She didn’t have to specify whom she meant. ‘Because of people who think men are the only capable creatures God made. Only men can own property or have a voice in government. Can you own property?’” (p. 11)
In a sense, this is a typical British schoolboy novel in a fantasy setting. The main characters are the four “unnatural” applicants to the College: Philip “Kip” Penfold, a fox-Calatian; his friend Copper “Coppey” Lutris, an otter-Calatian; Emily Carswell, a human woman; and Malcolm O’Brien, an Irishman*. There have never been any but White (Caucasian) male sorcerers before, but an emergency situation has forced the College to open itself to a wider call for applicants – “any Colonist of magical inclination and ability may apply” – and the four take advantage of it.
Despite the official call for applicants, there are those among both the college faculty and the other students who consider it disgraceful that non-Whites (including Irish), animals/Calatians, and women are allowed to become students. They are determined to make them fail.
“The rest of the exam proceeded much like that; when Kip gave the correct answer, Patris said nothing. When he gave a correct answer that could be better worded, or was slightly incomplete, Patris corrected him with a slight sneer of condescension.
Forty-five minutes into the examination, Patris said curtly, ‘You are done.’ He made two more marks on Kip’s paper and then shuffled it aside. He didn’t even look up to meet Kip’s eyes.
Kip walked out the back without a word, but had to walk back and forth to work off his anger before he could sit down with the others. Coppy had been treated much the same, but it didn’t bother him. ‘Least he listened to me,’ he said.
Emily, though, was still furious. ‘Whenever I didn’t know something, he would say, ‘as I expected,’ or he would just smile, and once I was so angry that I said. ‘If people would take the time to teach mathematics to women, they would find many willing to learn,’ and he said, ‘women do not have the proper parts of their brains to learn mathematics.’ Aren’t they supposed to be intelligent here? I expected him to start measuring my skull with calipers to see how in balance my humors were! It’s completely laughable.’” (pgs. 65-66)
The Tower and the Fox covers the first semester of the College of Sorcery’s new class. In addition to internal dissention, Kip has to face disapproval among his own Calatians in New Cambridge– some feel that he is putting himself above the place of Calatians by trying to learn magic at the College, and that social retribution will fall on all Calatians – and some in the government oppose letting any Calatians learn magic for fear they will join the growing revolutionary movement seeking independence for the Colonies from the British Empire. Kip just wants to learn magic for his own sake, but each of his friends and enemies have their own motives – and magic ensures that the College’s Masters do not know as much as they believe they do.
Tim Susman wrote or edited his first three books (Breaking the Ice, Shadows in Snow, and Common and Precious) under his own name from 2002 to 2007. In 2005 he began using the pseudonym of Kyell Gold, and has written two dozen books under that name, including many award-winners. Now he is returning to his own name with The Calatians, of which this is Book One. The Tower and the Fox has a cover and nineteen chapter-heading drawings by Laura Garabedian. It comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but the adventures of Kip Penfold and his human and Calatian friends and enemies – not to mention demons and elementals – are just beginning.
*If you think the Irish were considered White men by the British upper classes before World War I, I have some old British racist jokes for you. One stuffy British colonel to another: “I say, who do you consider the most reliable Colonial troops to be? The Gurkhas? The West Africans?” “Oh, the Irish, definitely. When led by White officers.”
This year at the Long Beach Comic Con we found a crafter named Dana Duncan who creates and sells art under the name The Pink Owlette. Yes, owls figure prominently in her designs, but so do cats (in space, or in cactus — go figure!) and foxes and unicorns, among other animals. She works those designs into enamel pinks, iron-on patches, and various fashion items and accessories. Check out her web site to see the latest of what she’s been up to.
We’re through being cool
We’re through being cool
Eliminate the ninnies and the twits
Going to bang some heads
Going to beat some butts
Time to show those evil spuds what’s what
If you live in a small town
You might meet a dozen or two
Young alien types who step out
And dare to declare
We’re through being cool
In three stories I’m sharing today, look for small-town closed-mindedness. It’s a force that propels many furries. If you’re young, have a big imagination and live in a place that can’t contain it, what do you do? Make friends out there in the furry world. That was me in the mid-to-late 90’s (Woof! It sure wasn’t a phase), so there’s no lack of personal experience for the connections I’m making.
These stories happened in smallish cities near New England: West Windsor NJ (population 27,000), Burlington VT (population 42,000), and – in this week’s news – New Milford CT (population 28,000). They show a bit of political fursecution, honest-to-dog.
OK, they aren’t black and white. They have issues for debate like 1) throwing an overstuffed party, 2) regulating hate groups, or 3) representing political constituents with an acceptable image. But then there’s freedom to have fun and hobbies (or even express private, consenting kink), instead of being forced into a closet made of overbearing judgement. Who was really harmed in these stories – judgers, or furries themselves?
While you read, stay positive. New Milford is the closest location to the new Tiny Paws con, this weekend. They can’t hold furries down!
The town council of West Windsor wanted to shut down volunteer emergency services based at a community center. Meanwhile, the community center was being used by the community; one of the volunteers organized a popular furry party there. It had fun and fursuiting, DJ’s and almost 200 adults enjoying beer and being boisterous (shock, horror.) What happened next resembled Mayberry in the 1950’s, if you switched Red Scare with Yiff Panic. A town council member claimed to have photos of fursuiters humping on a car. News media piled on with their best stab at smearing adults for legal drinking and saying a swear word or two. The scapegoat was set up, and the council knocked it down with a vote to remove the community center funding and emergency service with it.
It was a perfect hit, except… the photos didn’t exist, and the council member hadn’t been there. The details only came out after online confusion where many furries bought the “fursuit sex” story, and rushed to blame each other for bad behavior that never happened.
Although the party was on Memorial Day in May, suspiciously, the news was released to exactly coincide with the spike of Anthrocon promotion in July. The volunteer service and $45,000 of funding were replaced with six figures worth of paid service (hmm, I wonder what crony got paid?) There was also an election for a mayor (who just finished his fifth and final term in 2017). Furries were used as a big fluffy doormat for political gain.
Burlington had a public Mardi Gras event attended by costumers including the Vermont Furs. They were active organizers of charity events and had recently been invited to liven up an official Christmas tree lighting in a nearby town. But an official told them that fursuiting wasn’t allowed in the town commons. Others wore masks for the event, so why stop fursuiters? They were told it was “just different”. A 1960’s-era law intended to stop masked KKK activity was cited. The furries applied for an entertainer’s permit (for buskers who made money) but the city gave them a paperwork runaround.
As a common theme in these stories, this one also hinted about sensational furry fear. The town mentioned a Times Square incident where a “bootleg Elmo” mascot hassled someone. I commented that it was hundreds of miles away and involved panhandling for money, not fursuiting. And comments on my article reached for stereotype about a “babyfur” with no evidence. No harm mentioned, just labels. Again furries were bashing each other.
Eventually, the ACLU stepped in and backed the Vermont Furries. They tied the issue to political protests attended by masked Anonymous protesters. Furries went in front of the town council and got the law amended to only apply to masked crime. This time, being engaged with the lawmakers gained a positive resolution through nonjudgemental listening to others.
New Milford residents were upset to see Rick Agee‘s post on the town’s Facebook group. It smeared a Democrat town councilman elected in 2015. In the google cache and a screenshot, it got 68 comments and was a gallery revealing a private Sofurry profile that’s now gone.
- There was weak separation of life and hobby. Their twitter has pics of their political role mixed with their fursuit by Sarahcat. He might as well have doxed himself. Not that you should have to worry if you’re a good person; but sadly others took the choice away.
- The closed SoFurry profile shows F-List-like topics. The info suggests this was written fiction and RP – for reading or writing with consenting adults – but no implication of practicing stuff that shouldn’t be. Furries are typically gentle and tolerant about such expression, but it’s liable to shock a small-town Facebook audience when it’s yanked out of private context.
- FA has yiff art from a comic. It’s labeled a soap opera, and does looks like very emotionally-focused narrative, something furries excel at – using cartoons to depict more humanity than ‘regular’ porn. It’s a shame that outsiders don’t understand how that’s positive, but they didn’t and it wasn’t hidden.
Here’s what followed the unwilling exposure:
On Thursday night, as town Democrats held a previously scheduled opening ceremony of party headquarters on Bank Street, a small group of protesters gathered outside. Among them was Rick Agee, the resident who had made the original Facebook post. He carried a sign saying, “No perverts running our town!” – ”I have kids and grandkids in this town, and I don’t want him representing us,” Agee said.
@kt_domino noticed: “Rick Agee uses his company’s twitter to support the GOP.”
Wait, how did barging onto someone else’s private page involve kids? Was there a reason someone HAD to? That’s the entire issue from this side; why don’t people just ask, or talk and listen about this stuff if it’s necessary? Wouldn’t society be better with appreciation of healthy sexuality in all it’s permutations (even harmless “age play”, to some extent)? Well, that isn’t the world we live in. Understanding gets stomped by judgement and power. There’s more in a followup post on the town page that’s still live. Facebook reaction post – Mayor’s post. It ties to an upcoming reelection campaign.
Politics is ugly. Anyone in it has to lock down their private life extra hard. Anything will be used against them.— Wuff-in-Disguise Ren (@RenDireWolf) September 8, 2017
This guy didn’t hurt anyone for real. The concerns these people are giving go far beyond the mayor’s careful wording about “higher standard”; they are trashing him for things that most fellow furries know he probably isn’t doing – in the balance of things, fears should be outweighed by knowing that expressing kink is mentally healthy and it’s his private business.
But mistakes were made. Not every place can be like it is near my den in San Francisco. The world crushes idealism, but it grows in the furry community anyways. Wherever you are, try to support each other, don’t fall for fearmongering, and stay safe and happy, furry friends.
Let me give the last word to the former councilman, as he wrote in 2014: “Our most enduring value as furs is the right to be who and what we want.”
1. I HAVE MET THIS MAN.
2. HE IS AMAZINGLY GENEROUS TO CHARITIES.
3. THESE PEOPLE ARE MORONS. https://t.co/EmilAcSa3X
Perhaps he should take up residence in Pittsburgh.— Uncle Kage (@Unclekage) September 8, 2017
This article characterizes furry as just an animal costume fetish, but parts of this story make no sense unless you know about furry fiction— Boxer Bunny (@BoxerBunny_) September 8, 2017
It's not sensible... There is a line between fantasy and reality. Rape in fantasy is not a crime and not comparable to the real thing.— Just Khaz (@KhazWolf) September 8, 2017
This is NOT OKAY. It's sad this is what America has come to. Getting shamed for being unique. This is why I hate incompetent human beings!— Sheptember Link! (@LinkThePup) September 9, 2017
Also from Silver Sprocket… The (human) star of Benji Nate’s web comic CatBoy says this about herself: “Hi, I’m Olive. My cat Henry is my best friend. I saw a shooting star and wished he could hang out with me like a person. I think I should have been more careful with my wording.” Now Silver Sprocket have assembled a 140-page trade paperback of CatBoy that includes the comics from Vice.com as well as unreleased new material and bonus artwork.
Ask a Cat, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, June 2017, trade paperback $9.99 (127 pages).
The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 1, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, July 2017, trade paperback $10.99 (184 pages).
Charles Brubaker is a fan and expert of comic strips and Japanese TV anime. He has been drawing his own comics for several years. Both The Fuzzy Princess and Ask a Cat currently appear on the internet, the former in color and the latter in black-&-white. Now he is producing collections of them through his own Smallbug Press.
Brubaker says in his Introduction to Ask a Cat that it began as a minor throwaway panel within a comic strip about a little witch that he was preparing to submit to a syndicate. It was a parody of the “ask a character” fillers in other strips where readers can send in questions about the strip. Since Brubaker’s strip about the witch hadn’t come out yet, he filled the “ask” panel with a cat, and asked on a message board for silly questions about cats for him to answer. He got more questions about cats than he expected, and the syndicate liked his throwaway panel better than his strip about the witch. Ask a Cat began on June 22, 2015. The solicited message board questions were soon replaced by genuine questions submitted by his readers. Now, after two years, here is a collection of his panels.
Although Ask a Cat is designed as a weekly gag strip, many of the questions are semi-serious, such as “Why do you absolutely have to catch that mysterious red dot?” and “What’s in the box?” Others are nonsensical, like “What actually happened to Schrodinger’s cat?” and “Did you file your taxes this year?” Brubaker answers them all in the proper spirit of feline condescending arrogance. “Do you like vacuum cleaners?” “You’re kidding, right? Those tech-demons can go back to wherever they came from. The only acceptable vacuum cleaners are the Roombas. It’s basically a glorified cat lift, perfect for us lazy furballs. I should go on a road trip with this thing.”
The Fuzzy Princess (since October 17, 2016; published two or three times a week) presents the adventures on Earth of Princess Katrina of St. Paws, her royal escorts Chiro (a bat) and Kuma (a bear) who have been sent by her father to watch over her while on Earth, and those they meet there, mainly the young wizard Jackson (that’s Kat and Jackson on the cover of vol. 1), his sister Jordan, their human friends (Gladdie, Tara, Rick) and enemies (Bloated Whale and Max), and Krisa, a rat spy from Mousechester who is usually locked inside a birdcage.
The Fuzzy Princess (in black-&-white in this book) has a stronger story line than Ask a Cat. It is harder to tell who is weirder; Princess Kat and her bat and bear escorts, or the humans and Krisa. Kat and her companions come to Earth in a flying box (cats love boxes) that has her large interdimensional room inside it. Kat has a detachable tail that can be magically turned into anything. This vol. 1 has an introduction by Bill Holbrook of Kevin & Kell fame.
The best way to review a collection of gag-a-day cartoons is to just show them. If you like them, here are two whole books of them.
– Fred Patten