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From China to the World

In-Fur-Nation - Fri 24 Nov 2017 - 02:57

Talk about International! Cloth Cat Animation in Wales and 9 Story Distribution in Canada have teamed up with Magic Mall Entertainment in China to bring Magic Mall’s new animated TV series Luo Bao Bei to the wider world. This is from Cloth Cat’s web site: “The series centres on spirited, fun-loving 7 year old Luo Bao Bei as she explores everyday life with her friends, family and animal companions, having adventures and learning that even though we seem different on the outside, the emotions we all feel make us fundamentally the same. Starting life as a popular cartoon spokesperson and community icon in Beijing, this show is created by Grace Tian.” The head writer for the new series is David Ingham, who is well-known for his work on Shaun the Sheep and The Octonauts.

image c. 2017 Cloth Cat Animation

Categories: News

The Tale of the Irish Rooster

In-Fur-Nation - Thu 23 Nov 2017 - 02:58

Speaking of MIPCOM, as usual the hey-buy-our-TV-series trade show has given us lots of anthropomorphic animation to hope might make its way to our shores. Among them is Brewster the Rooster, created by Salty Dog Pictures and distributed internationally by Monster Entertainment. According to C21 media, “The show… follows the adventures of six-year-old Maggie and her best friend Brewster as they find out the answers to questions only children could think to ask.” Animation magazine has an article from a year ago about this and other interesting projects that Monster has picked up for distribution.

image c. 2017 Monster Entertainment

Categories: News

Wild Things: Bite Club at the Citadel in San Francisco, November 25.

Dogpatch Press - Wed 22 Nov 2017 - 10:30

NOM. Got your ear! Do you like that? You do? Then bring your ears, paws, or anything else that needs nibbles to Wild Things. It’s the quarterly 18+ play party for furries, petplay, and more. (Share to invite new friends… or your next lunch!)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017 1:00 PM – 6:30 PM SF CITADEL, 181 EDDY ST., SAN FRANCISCO

wruffstuff.com

(Brief break for discussion!) This week, Furry Twitter has been howling with drama. Controversy seemed to come out of nowhere: for colorful animal-people, is it OK to have strictly PG kid-friendly events? Or are fur cons so adult that a tame option amounts to kink-shaming? And are pup hoods a fetishy toy not to wear in public, or is that an insult to the expression of inner identity?

It looked like the drama erupted from just a few negative tweets, but here’s the real reason.  A week before, Anthro Northwest had its first con with some bold surprises – like regulation on adult content. Everything afterward was a reflexive reaction. But was it deserved? There’s so many cons and meets and parties now, having one tame option might just be a narrow part of widespread growth. Like veggies on a buffet, it doesn’t stop you from picking meat if you prefer it. How about having a little of everything?

The drama is one reason why Wild Things is a special happening, and a good sign that nothing is being tamed down. This could be the only openly-advertised, furry-themed adult play party at an established club (a BDSM Dungeon) in the world. Can you imagine the howling if this existed 15 years ago at the height of the MTV/CSI/Vanity Fair inspired Yiff Panic? We’ve come a long way to turning the tables. So swallow that and consider allowing a little room for kid-friendly events. Kinky people can be as mature and responsible as anyone else, on or off leash. (Back to party info!)

Wild Things is it’s own space that strongly encourages (optional) costume like fursuits, murrsuits, petplay gear, or just anything fetishy and fun. Big Bad Wolves may eat you (with consent.) Bring someone tasty along, or just hang out in the lounge with lots of party food. That’s the chill area separate from the play dungeon, designed to be relaxed and welcoming to newcomers. Expect a diverse crowd of overlapping communities that’s LGBT friendly and on the younger energetic side. See you there.

Past parties:

Events coming soon!

Did you know there's multiple #furry parties in the SF Bay Area? Check out @Frolicparty and @partyanimalssj - they'll transform your life.

— SF Wildthings (@WildThingsSF) November 19, 2017

Our next Frolic, we've got a very special guest DJ. Don't miss it, tell all your friends to come! We're gonna be poppin that night! pic.twitter.com/Px4vRvIvqd

— FrolicParty (@FrolicParty) November 12, 2017

Tail noms are the worst kind of noms. pic.twitter.com/fNhXZiY4FO

— That Damn Kangaroo (@renegade_roo) November 20, 2017

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

What I learned from lurking the Furry Raiders chat – guest post by Aristide

Dogpatch Press - Wed 22 Nov 2017 - 10:00

What I learned from lurking the Furry Raiders chat

Hi, I’m Aristide, and I’m a narc. For the past several months, I’ve had a sockpuppet account in the Furry Raiders Telegram, Skype, and Discord groups and periodically leaked screenshots of them to @edgedestroys. I chose Edge in order to protect the credibility of my sockpuppet account, and because I work in a sensitive workplace and worry about being doxxed. Most speculation about the Raiders – that they’re Nazis, they’re Alt-Right, they’re losers – is generally correct. I want to provide a better picture of what we, as a community, are dealing with.

Same Losers, New Politics

The general population of the Raiders community is a combination of old-school 4Chan racists, conspiracy theorists, new wave white supremacists, and impressionable but misled minors. Racist memes from a long-forgotten era of /b/ populate the chat in equal measure to WorldNetDaily or YourNewsWire links. Several dozen in the chat subscribe to the Daily Stormer and similar neo-Nazi websites, while a refrain against “fake news” rings against any news source that is not part of the alt-right media ecosystem. Lost in this mix are impressionable minors, 13 to 17 year old kids that found their way to the Raiders one way or another. Some of them joined because they hated SJWs – (the GamerGate to Alt-Right pipeline is well documented) – others were actively recruited by Foxler, Kody, and other de-facto leaders in the Raiders.

The first commenter left the group with a statement at bottom of article.

It comes standard with far-right communities to use fear and in-group pressure to ‘encourage’ their members to stay, instilling a “you’re with us or you’re with them” mindset. Members who left spoke of being blacklisted from their friends that remained in and around the Raiders, others that tried to leave were warned they’d never be re-accepted. These behaviors have transcended three organizers of the Raiders – Foxler, Kody, and Dionysius – and have been adopted by the group at large. Their virtually non-existent moderation has allowed for organized harassment, most notably and consistently against Deo, as well as unfiltered discussions about whether or not the Holocaust is historical fact.

Employing childish rationalizations to protect their egos is common too – any point that goes against the Raiders’ mantra gets branded as leftist fake news, or SJW rabble, preventing any kind of critical self-reflection of individual or group behaviors. This extended to projecting about recent mass-shootings and other tragedies in the United States – two prominent white supremacist Raiders hoped that the Sutherland Springs shooter was a leftist or a Bernie Bro, with no legitimate evidence, solely to justify their biases. This is a variation of the Backfire Effect, where ingrained biases force an individual to irrationally justify their beliefs. This is an example of small-minded thinking the Raiders possess and employ to maintain ideological homogeny.

It’s not about Free Speech

Re-litigating arguments over free speech won’t work on these people. It does not matter that the government isn’t involved, or that private organizations have the right to restrict some forms or speech. The new far-right, in Europe, North America, and elsewhere, seek nothing short of dominion – they seek to legitimize their cause, which they cast as oppression and the defense of whites, as a vehicle of domination over identity and ideology. They seek a community where slurs are used freely, where callousness and animosity are driving vehicles of discourse, where unsourced wingnut conspiracy theories lay equal to well-gathered evidence. It is a prominent example of anti-intellectual populism concentrated in a fringe, and spearheaded by childish brats who can’t fathom the concept of self-reflection. These are not people with respectable ideas.  They deserve to be marginalized and silenced to the greatest reasonable extent.

There exists genuine fear of fully grown adults that are willing to commit their minds to this toxic thinking. Organized attacks against Califur, and the demise of Rocky Mountain Fur Con under well-deserved criticism, are examples of what arises when we fail to organize against the worst parts of our community. We cannot wait for their violent fantasies to reach a boiling point – we’ve seen Charlottesville and Portland – action after harm cannot be the norm. Neither can we ignore the children at risk from these communities: protecting them from sexual exploitation and far-right radicalization is an objective moral duty.

Within our community, we should be approaching these people with genuine concern over their propensity for violence, whether at conventions, meetups, or otherwise. Given the meteoric rise of public shootings in the United States, regardless if you believe it to be a firearms issue or a mental health issue, this must be addressed seriously. Healthy, well-adjusted adults do not behave like this. There is no negotiating with groups like these.

Lord of the Flies

After a few weeks of lurking, I noticed that some of the Raiders that would filter in and out were young teens, welcomed with open arms to a “real, accepting furry community” that did not persecute them like “Twitter SJWs” would. This became a genuine trend after more time passed; there was a disproportionate number of minors in this chat than in a general cross-section of other furry populations. While pornographic and other adult content was banned from these chats, mixing young teens with people like Dionysius, who once said that child pornography “[is] just 1s and 0s on a hard drive”, is cause for concern. Those sexual norms were common in the Raider’s chat – it can be said that the production or possession of child pornography was not seen as a moral crime there, and many would have it legalized if given the chance. Some Raiders did voice incredibly violent opposition to the concept of pedophiles, most of it originating over the folk conception of pedophiles violently raping children, whereas ‘boy love’ (read: molestation and less-violent coercion) was not seen as explicitly pedophilic.

Felix responded that the image is from 2016, when he cut ties with the group out of disagreement with it.

Through individual chats, it became clear that many Raiders condoned or endorsed the idea of ‘boy/girl love’ to varying degrees. Through initial discussions with individual Raiders, these revelations also branched out beyond the Raiders chat to individuals wholly unaffiliated with them who discussed the same explicit material. I will not be releasing details of who was involved in these discussions, nor to what extent these discussions crossed moral or criminal bounds. I have provided evidence of what may or may not be criminal activity to appropriate authorities, and disclosing any evidence implicitly or explicitly may negatively impact an investigation that arises from said evidence. If you or someone you know is aware of any illegal activity, related to the Raiders or otherwise, you can provide the FBI with an anonymous tip.

off and on I've spoken to a 16 year old they brought into their fold to try to coax him out and the shit they've put in his mind is scary

— Soyboy Shounen ????MFF SUN@10:30 (@edgedestroys) October 23, 2017

It started off so innocently enough. The idea of taking all furs in regardless of their background sounds good only in theory. I saw found myself with a lot of sickos

— Tea Collie (@Teawoof_Collie) November 14, 2017

Underage recruiting by Furry Raiders. Newest member on their Facebook is an apparent middle schooler added by Foxler. pic.twitter.com/o5X7p1knPm

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 20, 2017

Thank you to watchers inside Furry Raiders. When Foxler targets underage kids, watchers are tipping parents and it works. 1 less today and members list closed. But they can't avoid it until they stop recruiting. And they have to go to Russian artists now. https://t.co/GANSltkJzc pic.twitter.com/MAGGQn8gHb

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 20, 2017

Our next steps

Blocklists and blacklists are not enough. The furry intelligentsia of Twitter and elsewhere neither deserve nor are beholden to continually push back on the misaligned in our community. More must be done from higher stakeholders that have the ability and prerogative to act to make our community better, while acting within the bounds of the law. We cannot expect to continually uproot, expose, and chase out individual members while the malignant ideology remains to infect and spread anew – change must come from the top. It must be unequivocal.

FurAffinity’s September 4th Terms of Service update is a model to follow. Explicitly banning the glorification of hate groups and banning individuals from engaging in malicious speech stems the ability for Alt-Right and Raider-like groups from self-representation and recruitment (in addition to getting rid of Nazi and white nationalist garbage no self-respecting person wants to see.) Put your fears of historical representation aside – the FurAffinity TOS specifically says ‘promote hate groups and their ideologies’, so historical context can be preserved for appropriate use. Other websites ought to follow this same model and enforce it strictly – ‘content intended solely to disrupt the community’ would aptly describe the Raiders, who exist almost exclusively among themselves to troll mainstream furry for their own entertainment.

Conventions ought to follow the same model, as well as strictly vetting who is able to volunteer and work for cons. DenFur’s staffing policy is a step forward in ensuring that staff are able to help any attendee without fear of biased case management. A more aggressive approach is needed to prevent Raiders and other convention-liabilities from attending if they are likely to cause trouble – public accommodation laws are strict on protected classes, but being a racist nor being a jerk isn’t a protected class. I am not a lawyer, and nothing I say constitutes legal advice in any state, but I would strongly encourage conventions to adopt strong and clear language that bars individuals from attending if they have a history of preaching or advocating for hateful and violent acts.

It is unlikely that we will ever be fully able to rid ourselves of these unwanted individuals from our community. Private telegram chats and discord channels will always exist in the dark, as they should. Marginalizing these groups to the greatest extent under the law should be our goal, so that their art is rarely seen, their voices rarely heard, their ideas rarely considered. We cannot resort to brutish solutions that undermine our own credibility, or worse, our own moral character. There will never be a definitive solution to online hate in our community, but we can minimize their influence to the best of our abilities. There is no greater moral imperative than to safeguard freedoms to live, and freedoms from hate.

Aristide

UPDATE from the first pictured commenter. Sirop posted a followup thread about leaving the Furry Raiders: “I’d like to use my previous experiences to help people… My chance to help make the furry community better, one way or another.”

Check the Altfurry and Furry Raiders tags below for much more on this topic.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

The Art of Aardman, Foreword by David Sproxton and Peter Lord – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Wed 22 Nov 2017 - 09:15

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Art of Aardman: The Makers of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and More. Foreword by David Sproxton and Peter Lord.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, August 2017, hardcover $24.95 (128 pages), Kindle $9.99.

Aardman Animations was founded forty years ago in Bristol, England. Since then it has become one of the world’s leading stop-motion animation studios. Most of its popular films have involved anthropomorphic animals, from Gromit, the long-suffering dog in the “Wallace and Gromit” shorts and the Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit feature to the features Chicken Run (chickens), Flushed Away (rats), and Shaun the Sheep the Movie. Even The Pirates! in an Adventure With Scientists! had Mr. Bobo, Charles Darwin’s chimpanzee assistant.

This book does not focus on any of their works in particular. It is rather about the studio’s production techniques. First come the ideas for the plots and characters, then creating the worlds that go with them – the secondary and incidental characters; the backgrounds, and so on; the “Mechanical Marvels” (no Aardman production would be complete without some intricate device, often Rube-Goldbergian or steam-punk, including Wallace’s fanciful inventions; and Aardman’s attention to lighting.

These sections are filled with examples, from preliminary pencil and crayon sketches to complete stop-motion models, taken from the studio’s archives. The popular anthropomorphic characters are shown here, but it is a hit-or-miss affair; they are mixed in with Aardman’s other art. The sketches are identified by artist, primarily Nick Park; others include Sylvia Bennion, Peter de Sève, Johnny Duddle, Norman Garwood, Phil Lewis, Peter Lord, Matt Perry, Michael Salter, Matt Sanders, Christian Schellewald, Richard Starzak, Jo Symanowski, Evgeni Tomov, and more. The finished models and stills from the films are labeled Production still or Puppet.

Image provided by Chronicle Books

Whichever you like, you will find it here. This is a very enjoyable book for the fan of Aardman’s creations to just browse through.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.&

Categories: News

Kitties From Italy

In-Fur-Nation - Wed 22 Nov 2017 - 02:58

Another one we learned about from Animation magazine: Italy’s Rainbow Studio (home of Winx Club) has teamed up with Canada’s Bardel Entertainment to bring us 44 Cats, a new animated TV series. (The title is based on a very very popular song in Italy.) Here’s what the creators say: “The series centers on a group of cats who act normally when thy are around people, but act just like humans when they are on their own. Just like children, the little cats see the world of adult humans as confusing and full of strange rules. Highlighting themes of friendship and altruism, 44 Cats is driven by the main characters’ love of helping others.” Currently the show is at MIPCON, searching for distribution in the wider world.

image c. 2017 Rainbow

Categories: News

Talking Animal Films in South Africa (Part 2)

Dogpatch Press - Tue 21 Nov 2017 - 10:31

Submitted by guest writer Duncan R. Piasecki – don’t miss his article The Forgotten History of the Furry Musical – and see Talking Animal Films In South Africa (Part 1).

Previously on Dogpatch Press: Part 1 gave a look at some background information on the nature of storytelling in South Africa, and then had a look at the close contest between the first two CGI features made in the country, as well as the contest to come in first and set the mood. I really recommend you go back and read that article before this one, as this will make a lot more sense with that information in mind.

This time, we go into the third and final (to date) CGI film, and then we talk about the localization of international talking animal films, including one that pretty much every one of us crazy animal people loves.

Let’s get right to it, then.

Kumbaya my lord

Here we come to, to date at least, the last of the animated films to be made by this country: Khumba. Triggerfish obviously had more success with Zambezia than I thought, the budget seemed to be a lot bigger suddenly. It looked better, passable by international standards even. It was acted better (Liam frigging Neeson? Aslan, Alfred Kinsey, Master Qui-Gon Jinn? Sign me the hell up). There was more tonal and directional clarity. This would ultimately be both a good and a bad thing.

The story, however, was still pretty iffy. It’s sorta inevitable that movies set in Africa will be compared to The Lion King, this being no exception. A bit unfair, because it wasn’t really like it much, but it was like something else. Let me set the scene for you: a herd of zebra live near a lake of water, but there has been a massive drought. An unusual young’un is born with a socially-frowned-upon deformity (missing half of his stripes). The herd, being superstitious, rejects him and blames him for their troubles. He, therefore, sees no choice but to head out into the great wild, away from the protection of his herd, and solve the issue.

Anyone? If you said that’s basically the same plot as Happy Feet, well, I have respect for you knowing that underrated gem of a film. Yes, it’s basically a knock-off of that, through an African lens. It’s not a 1:1 copy, there are other elements (like a leopard that wants to eat Khumba, because the assumption is that his stripes indicate supernatural power or somesuch). — Trailer time:

Reception was a lot better than the previous films all-around, but still only really mixed or average. A lot more fuss was made about it, too – actual adverts on the television, merchandise, and even several mobile games, the main one of which even went so far as Steam Greenlight and was even actually greenlit… but never released on the platform. Videogame development in this country does actually also happen, but it’s quite rare, and only a handful of titles have ever actually been made, as it’s not always seen as “serious work”, despite the international gaming titles being quite successful generally. That might be a story for another time, though.

So I thought it was… fine? It was better than the other two films by a wide margin, not that the bar was set very high. I happen to really like Happy Feet, so it’s hard for me not to compare the two and see that George Miller’s work was far, far superior. Still, if this was the direction the industry was going in, it’s not something to complain about, though it still needs a lot of work. At least it tried to be clever in a lot of ways that aren’t complete nonsense – for example, half-striped zebras are (or were, rather) a real thing: they were called quagga, and were a subspecies of zebra that went extinct in the late 1800s. Khumba there is something of an inverted one – actually, there’s a recent project to breed zebras that look like Khumba as a way of sort-of reintroducing quagga-lookalikes into the wild.

A stuffed quagga at Naturkunde Museum, Berlin.  Photo from Wikipedia.

As I said before, it’s little details like that that suggest someone actually wanted to put effort in, and that often makes the difference that elevates something from passable to decent, at least to me. It doesn’t always make up for the shortcomings, but it only ever helps.

Yes, it’s also on Blu-Ray and digital platforms to own or watch in many places, you know the deal.

I need to backtrack now: I said that the clarity helped it be a better movie, but there were also issues. That clarity meant that there was an embracing of a local flavour that was a lot fresher, but it no doubt caused problems. For example, I want you to watch this clip quickly:

Did that make any sense to most of you? No? Now this wouldn’t be a problem if you weren’t trying to sell the movie overseas, but considering they were, well, there’s a problem: this relies on understanding culture and stereotypes. For starters, you’d have to know that the national rugby team is called the Springboks (which is what these things are), and then understand that these characters represent a stereotype of the type of person who watches and plays the game of rugby (Afrikaaner men, who stereotypically have those sorts of names, speak with that accent and in that manner, and with those slang terms). Plus, you’d have to know a bit about rugby to get the joke about the fact that they’re scrumming (a thing that I don’t even begin to understand about how the game works – it involves crouching down and slamming into the other team to try gain control over the ball – yeah, this game’s just uncivilized, barely-justified violence).

I’m sure there are some people who would get it, but most people outside of the country wouldn’t. Your mileage may vary on how much of a problem that is, but it could be. Then again, I read The Adventures of Asterix despite not being French and not understanding the French history jokes, and enjoy it thoroughly anyway, so perhaps it’s not all-important. Perhaps translation is key there, though, since careful work is done to make sure it still works, and there isn’t really any way to properly convey all of the humour in the above clip without significant alteration, and likely changing the joke entirely. It’s a bit of a problem when you have that problem within one language, nevermind what happens across other languages.

Which raises an interesting point: the film was also released in both Zulu and Afrikaans. The joke above would likely have translated into both because of the cultural stereotyping understood, but that’s getting a bit off the point. So, here’s the exact same trailer as above (but in Afrikaans this time), and part of the above clip (but in Zulu this time), so you have an idea of what that’s like:

There’s something more to be said about this than the logistics of joke translation across cultures and languages though: it was actually the first, last, and only animated film created in this country to date that was available in languages other than English when released at the cinema, which is actually a big deal, and pretty insane to think about, if you go back and look at the statistics above. It was not, however, the only film that would be available as such – the country caught a bit of a bug for translating animated movies.

Local(ization) is lekker

Of course, we don’t just make our own films, we at least still manage to get the good talking animal films as well, often in English as well, despite it being only the fourth-most common language in the country. Not always though.

Also before you ask about the heading of this section: “local is lekker” is one of those dumb propaganda phrases they throw at us all the time. The word “lekker” is an annoying, shallow Afrikaans word that is equivalent to “nice” – both in meaning and general vapidity.

So yeah, Khumba was the one local animated film to do it, but there were a few other odd ones. The not-much-liked 2012 Russian animated film The Snow Queen was, bafflingly enough, released in cinemas here only in Afrikaans. I believe it was mostly done because an Afrikaans TV channel bought the rights cheap, and there is some demand for Afrikaans children’s entertainment – often, Afrikaans parents take their kids to see animated movies, but if they’re young and don’t know English, they get bored easily (to my chagrin when all tensed up over the asylum scene in Zootopia, and there are kids running around the theatre). The sequel followed the pattern again a year ago. The Snow Queen and its various sequels only tangentially furry though – most of the characters are human, but there are furry, uh, troll things (or something that’s sorta maybe kinda supposed to be furry appeal???) that are, from what I can gather, the main focus of the second one, so trailer for that one, and not much more lingering:

Of all random things, Maya the Bee Movie was also released in both Afrikaans and Zulu, and bug furries (if reptiles are scalies, and birds are featheries, what do we officially call those?) are a thing, so there’s probably furry appeal in this too, at least since it’s anthropomorphization. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they decided on this film specifically. Maybe I’m just totally out of touch with what the really youngers like?

While Khumba seems to have started this new trend of having CGI films dubbed into local languages, and could be seen as a modern pioneer of it, it actually somewhat owes a debt to a far older, more famous dub… and yes, I’ve dragged this out until the end because I knew this would be the thing everyone would want to know about. A massively popular film that spawned a whole generation of furries, widely loved by all.

Yes, I’m talking about The Lion King.

Let’s get back on track: the Zulu dub was probably the first ever foreign film to be dubbed into the language, as it happened in 1994 and was mere months after the end of Apartheid, and the Apartheid-era government was not really keen on doing much for certain sectors of the populace. It was also released in cinemas, I think at the time and also definitely when the 3D cinematic re-release happened a few years ago as well.

Actually, we need to talk about something here that most foreigners wouldn’t know. The film has at least two African-language dubs: Swahili (another ethnic group and their language of the same name, located further north in Kenya and surrounds) being the other one. What makes this weird is that, actually, the English version of the film had both languages in it already. I don’t think I need to tell some of you that “hakuna matata” is a Swahili phrase, but what almost nobody knows (due to how incomprehensible it is even to many locals) is that the opening lines of Circle of Life are Zulu. Here’s the whole sequence in full Zulu so you can hear that fact for yourself:

I can’t speak for the inverse, whether the introduction was translated into Swahili, but I can guess probably not, since the phrase hakuna matata was still used untranslated in the Zulu version. Not necessarily a complaint, but one of those weird little things you’d have to be in the know to know, you know?

You’re probably tired of my blabbing about this and want more, so here’s I Just Can’t Wait to be King:

That segues nicely into something you’re probably wondering: how good or direct are the translations? Well, I have no idea about most of it, Zulu went above my head most of my time and my Afrikaans is really weak generally. I can understand snippets of both, but not much. The titles are all basically exactly identical. The Lion King was translated into Zulu as Inkosi ibhubesi, inkosi = king, ibubesi = lion, so literally king lion. Sneeukoningin: sneeu = snow; koning = king; so koningin = female version, or “queen” in other words; so that all makes snow queen. uMaya Inyosi iMovie and Maya die By, for the Zulu: inyosi = bee, the “u-” at the beginning of her name and the “i-” at the beginning of “movie” is a feature of the language that I can’t even begin to explain the reasons for; for the Afrikaans: die = the; by = bee. The snippets I can understand from the various Lion King videos above also denote fairly direct translation: for instance, in Zazu’s rant in the middle of the song I caught the word sebenzi, which means “to work” – so not absolutely the same, but with very similar meaning within the confines of what the language can reasonably express within the timeframe given (“Out of service…” etc). I haven’t seen the others, and I’ve only seen Khumba in English a really long time ago, so that’s as far as I can speak on the matter.

Conclusion

Well that got way longer and way more out of hand than I was expecting it to.

Perhaps I’m spoiled a bit here by my knowledge. I’m a bit unusually cosmopolitan as far as South Africans go (I mean, I’m a furry after all – there’s probably less than 500 of us in the whole country, and I’ve certainly never met another one in person anywhere here), but still, some of this seems inexcusable. We get American and European films down here, everyone should know better than to keep doing this, and yet they do it anyway. It’s unfortunate that some of these films have to represent the abilities of the country as a whole, as I’m sure there are a lot of talented people who could do much better.

If this country had never got any of these things, and the only way to see a Disney film was through some kind of bootlegged VHS copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy from one that someone smuggled in, I could be forgiving, because we wouldn’t know better as a public. Yet, here we are, blatant copying of things, and not in the postmodern way of understanding how to properly play with things and inverting and tweaking them to new ironic ends, oh no, just continuing the “X, but in Africa!” trend and mindset that I feel suffocates all true creative voices in the country.

At any rate, I hope you found that interesting, hearing about a piece of semi-furry culture you probably never knew about. But also, uh, sorry for some of what you just had to see.

FADE TO BLACK — “WHERE ARE THEY NOW?” MONTAGE BEGINS

Triggerfish Story Lab news

Triggerfish is still chugging along and making movies, television, short films and whatnot. They have announced two films currently in production: Seal Team, a talking animal film about the battle for survival between seals and sharks, and Sea Monster, an adventure film set off the coast of a fishing village that we know little to nothing else about. They ran a story development competition in conjunction with Disney, where people pitched ideas, got selected for a very selective exclusive story lab, and the grand prize was an option on the screenplay, but nothing more has been said since that apparently finished.

Duncan MacNeillie has not been heard from since whatever that last thing he did was. Nobody to this day knows why he decided to help adapt the same book three times, and royally screw it up the third time despite supposedly knowing better from the first or even second damn time. All we’ll ever know is: it got worse each time, somehow. He’s probably not missed.

– Duncan R. Piasecki

Categories: News

If You Give A Mouse A TV Show

In-Fur-Nation - Tue 21 Nov 2017 - 02:59

Looks like Amazon has brought us a classic children’s illustrated book series as a new animated TV series for their Amazon Prime service. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (famously written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond in 1985) was adapted for animation by Mercury Filmworks in Canada. Show-Runner Joe Scarborough has quite the animation resume’, having worked on shows like Arthur, Doug, Curious George, Pocoyo, and Martha Speaks. This new series follows a young boy named Oliver and his best friend, an adventurous mouse. Their friends are various other kids whose companion animals include a cat, a pig, and even a moose. Check out the preview video over at YouTube.

image c. 2017 Amazon Prime

Categories: News

Talking Animal Films in South Africa (Part 1)

Dogpatch Press - Mon 20 Nov 2017 - 10:15

Submitted by guest writer Duncan R. Piasecki – don’t miss his amazing previous article, The Forgotten History of the Furry Musical.

South Afrifur logo – see a con report.

Of all the things you’d expect a country in Africa to have in common with whatever first-world place you’re reading this in, I bet nowhere on that list was CGI animation studios. But it’s true, for better or for worse, and (un?)luckily for all of us, all the major CGI films produced by this country fall into the talking animal genre. Furry appeal, it’s an international thing!

Preface: important things that will colour how you understand the rest of the article

Before we get too deep into this, some context is important to understand the nature of this country.

First and foremost, you need to understand something of the way that stories are told here. This is mostly about books, but it speaks to the way film and television are made here as well. We like to fool ourselves into thinking we’re cosmopolitan, but we’re really, really not. We’ve fallen a long way since JRR Tolkien moved away from here. Fictive literature here can be mostly divided into two categories: classic and modern. Classics are largely about sociopolitical concerns (most famous is probably Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton – most likely you’d know it from the 1995 film adaptation starring James Earl Jones, if you knew it at all). Modern however… well. Publishers down here tend to want you to write stories with an African bent all the time. In theory, it leads to more Afrocentric storytelling, but in practice, if you go look under general fiction, everything is either just described as “X, but in Africa!” or just a rip-off of whatever the Americans are doing. Not all books, of course, but certainly enough that you wouldn’t even be able to find the local fiction that’s not like this in most stores. For example, a big hit here a few years ago was Spud by John van de Ruit, which is basically “Adrian Mole, but in Africa!“. On the other side of the coin are writers like Wilbur Smith, who writes what look like fairly cheesy adventure/thrillers generally. As a writer myself, who falls under the oft-confusing literary movement of postmodernism, it is beyond frustrating and annoying to see, and there is no way I’d ever be published by anyone down here as a result of these weird stipulations (hooray for self-publishing).

Second, there’s actually a big deal made about local things. Like, it’s pushed on us all the time. We have government-funded branding about promoting locally-produced items. It’s your patriotic duty to support local things, or something. It’s not always a mindset, but it’s something you do see a lot, where people pour money into rubbish just because it’s made by some local hack, rather than a foreign import of better quality or whatever.

Third, you must understand that I… don’t usually have the highest regard or opinion of this country or what it does, having lived here for my whole life to date, so there is a bit of potential bias in my opinions, but I’m trying to approach all of this objectively from an international perspective.

Finally, two languages are mentioned in the article: Afrikaans and Zulu. Afrikaans is a local offshoot of Dutch, with elements of other languages, and is spoken by about 13-14% of the population, and is the country’s third most widely spoken language at a native level. It’s fairly similar to Dutch, bar a few vocabulary differences, and if you can speak one, you can understand a lot of the other, and could communicate with each other. Zulu, on the other hand, is a native African language, the most common in the country, spoken by 22% of the population, mostly by the ethnic group of the same name. They were formed by King Shaka in the early 1800s, and are a very large group across the Southern African region today, with about 11 million people. The language is… really dense and hard to describe, based around a lot of contextual conjugation of words – there are at least 15 rules per each type of conjugation – be it pluralization, diminutization, or whatever, and they’re all based around the letters that start a word off. It’s not an easy language to wrap your head around, and it’s quite busy, as you’ll hear later on. English, on the other hand, is spoken as a first language by less than 10% of the population, and is fourth (second, for those keeping count, is Xhosa, another ethnic group and language, and about 16% spread). The country has 12 official languages, including newly-officialized South African Sign Language.

Well, enough of that. Let’s get to the fuzzy part of the discussion.

Joke of the bushveld

The country has a few classic pieces of literature, most of them of a sociopolitical nature, but undoubtedly one of the books that is most loved by almost everyone here is Jock of the Bushveld, a biographical novel by Sir Percy FitzPatrick, about his travels around the northern part of the country in the 1880s, with his Staffordshire cross dog (bushveld, for those asking, is basically a type of scrubland found in various southern areas on the continent). The book was initially published in 1907, and has never been out of print (though modern editions are slightly abridged, omitting at least one chapter of background information deemed unnecessary by today’s standards). It’s the source of a lot of tourist attractions and whatnot. As you can tell, there are no major anthropomorphic elements per se (i.e. it’s not a talking animal novel), but we’ll get to the connection in a bit. It’s basically an adventure slash dead dog book, so you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. There isn’t really a cohesive storyline to the book, it’s episodic tales of adventures on hunts and whatnot.

Naturally, something as popular as that, especially since it’s appealing to the children (the stories were originally told by FitzPatrick to his children, who insisted he wrote them down), but that’s getting ahead of ourselves a little. The book was actually adapted twice as a live-action film: once in 1986, considered the better adaptation for being more accurate, and again in 1995, albeit more thematically toned-down and less well-regarded as a result. There was also a musical. But no, none of that is what we’re here to talk about. Ho boy, unfortunately for us, the furry element is where it starts to get bad (furries make everything worse, amirite?).

Back in 2007, director Duncan MacNeillie (unfortunately named, ugh) had a vision: South Africa, despite having a long-running and quite successful film industry (albeit a bloody awful one, if I have to be honest – mostly painful adaptations of even more painful classic local books, or yet another film by Leon Schuster, our equivalent of Adam Sandler – ’nuff said), and having done animation in the past, though never CGI. MacNeillie wanted to change that. So the race was on! He acquired the rights to Jock of the Bushveld, his first choice after he produced the first and also wrote and co-directed the second live-action adaptation. He set about with a small team of twenty-five, and got to adapting the novel as something even more palatable and safe than the last times he did it – a talking animal story along the lines of what the Americans were doing all the time. This would be a serious statement for local talent, and set the standard against which everything else would be measured, he hoped.

It took about three years to produce, and they found themselves going up against a bigger group, Triggerfish Animation, who were also determined to make local CGI animation (we’ll get to them in a bit). MacNeillie wanted to be first, and, by all accounts, it would seem his focus shifted, production rushed forward while the director set about focusing on branding deals and whatnot. Some of the production team felt that this shift in focus had a negative impact. He managed to sell the whole thing to the international markets by getting Western star power (Bryan Adams, Donald Sutherland, Ted Danson, Helen Hunt, one of the Baldwins… Tim frigging Rice penning some songs). Branding flew left and right, and halfway through production there was a decision to release it in 3D as well, which I’m sure had an impact that you’ll discover soon enough.

The people of South Africa waited, seemingly excited at the prospect. The foreigners working on it were too, because they could have an opportunity to have an in on an African first (and I believe Tim Rice was just in because he was related to someone working on the project, and partly because he probably figured it’d be another Lion King, albeit by actual Africans this time).

Well, that excitement lasted until the movie hit in 2011. Without further comment, here’s the trailer:

Yes, it was bloody awful. The local reviews ravaged it, calling it a massive desecration of a classic text that totally missed the point by Disney-ifying it all up, and the 3D was apparently eye-bleeding (and, as I’m sure we can all guess, probably negatively impacted everything else by adding unnecessary production time that took away from time to do other things), but the public still poured money into it… you know, typical lowest common denominator movie stuff.

But I don’t think this trailer captures it well enough. It was bad. I mean bad. Like, I’ve probably seen several hundred animated films, and I watched Foodfight! despite being warned several times not to, and that only marginally beat this as being the worst animated film I’ve watched bad (though I suspect if I ever lose my mind for the 40 minutes required that Ratatoing would beat that). Uncanny valley, unfinished looking, absolutely terrible songs I can’t believe Tim Rice penned, phoned-in performances, a plot that’s barely there (I don’t think I can really tell you what happened in it, honestly – something about gambling and a conflict with a baboon, sorta an “and then” story, if you will), you name it, it had it.

Maybe I’m just being harsh, and nobody knew how to make a movie or animate properly, but a lot of it just feels like a soulless cash and fame grab, especially with the rush to be first and all the marketing deals. You couldn’t move for merchandising for about a month before and after it came out. Everyone had their own cheap tie-in to sell to the kiddies (I cringe every time I go into a DVD shop down here and see that word plastered above the animated film section).

I guess that rushing to be the first really paid off, eh guys? But hey, at least you won the race and came first. Congratulations, it was worth it.

The film later got sold to foreigners as Jock the Hero Dog (because who the hell out there knows what bushveld is, or even how to pronounce it?) where it enjoyed slightly more critical success, but wasn’t exactly a hit from what I can tell. You can buy it on Blu-Ray in the USA though (only DVD here as far as I know)… if you’re brave. Or on iTunes, Google Play and/or Netflix in some regions.

There was also apparently a sequel or something by the same director, called Little Jock’s African Adventures, but I’ve only seen it on DVD, doubt it was ever broadcast anywhere, can’t find out anything about it really (I think we all just want to forget any of this happened), and am not wasting the dollar or two it’d take to buy and find out more. All I can say for sure is: it’s cheap cell-shaded stuff. It’s actually amazing that I can’t find out more than that… though I guess that speaks to the quality.

Literally all I can find about that is this:

The text on the back says this:

The classic book, Jock of the Bushveld, written by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick is the inspiration behind MacNeillie’s follow up to the animated feature. This is Little Jock’s adventures, a children’s story focussing on the puppy and the animals he meets.

Harry, Jock’s sidekick, has magical qualities which get them out of trouble as they venture through the wilds. Martha, the baboon, is set on stealing whatever ideas she can to assist in her mission to rule the world.

But everyone will soon know that our hero, little Jock, is brave, loyal and adventurous.

Are we totally sure this wasn’t all just a money laundering or Ponzi scheme like Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return was?

Victoria Falls (on her face)

Triggerfish was up next, and they were a real genuine bona fide animation studio this time, we promise, and one that didn’t go boom after their first film was done. They lost out being the first by nearly a year, with their first feature Zambezia (or Adventures in Zambezia, as it was called in some places) releasing in 2012.

The story follows Kai, a falcon who decides that he wants to live in the Great Tree- er, I mean, the bird-city of Zambezia, sitting atop Victoria Falls, where he wants to join the guard and protect them against threats and whatnot, and deal with a lizard that kidnapped his father. If that sounds pretty much exactly like Legend of the Guardians, you’re right, though I also found it copied quite liberally from Valiant (holy crap, does anyone else remember that movie?), what with the comic relief character Eezee being pretty much exactly the same as Bugsy. Plus, this came out merely a year after Rio, which would lead to comparisons between the two. It’s like how Surf’s Up was always compared to Happy Feet, because both are about penguins and came out within a year of each other, despite them not really having a lot in common beyond that. Here’s the trailer.

So… my opinion is: it’s absolutely pedestrian, as animated films go, even with people like Leonard Nimoy(!) and Samuel L. Jackson in the cast. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a stereotypical animated film more than it perhaps should be enjoyed, if it does a damn fine job of being absolutely charming, but I was bored throughout this – the story was just going through the paces, checking all the boxes, and never particularly exciting or interesting. Plus the animation is bad by 2012 standards, which isn’t always a problem for me, but compare the flying scenes of this to, say, the flight in the storm or the flight through the flames in Legend of the Guardians, and you’ll see why it’s a problem, especially since the ripping off is pretty blatant.

Reception all around was mixed-to-negative. What’s interesting to me is that, as a local, I didn’t even notice when it got released. I think almost no fuss was made about it being released, just a few reviews here and there saying it’s not that bad, but no Pixar. Is it possible that people were burned after how bad Jock was? Hard to say, but I think I only heard about it in 2013, when trailers for Khumba were touting “from the makers of Zambezia” (more on that one in a bit). It would seem nobody really cared, but it still made a profit, mostly because the budget is quite low ($20m) and nobody in the country has anywhere near as much money as the big American studios.

There was one actually great thing about it though: the birds themselves. Sure, they weren’t particularly well-animated, but, from what I can tell, all of them are actual, real species of birds found in Africa, and a lot more accurate than other animated films (Zazu, for example, looks nothing like a real red-billed hornbill, but these birds actually look pretty much exactly like their real counterparts). The villains are marabou storks, for example, and it’s actually a clever choice that showed a flash of insight, when you read about how foul they actually are, plus I’m a bit biased against them after having been chased by one at a game reserve once – thing’s damn near as tall as I am.

Look at this ugly thing. THAT is a marabou stork. It’s also about 153cm/60 inches tall. They eat meat too rancid even for vultures, and have the temperament of the crusty old men that they look like. Photo from Wikipedia.

Seeing them, knowing that there would be no other animated film that would have such species, kept me from passing out completely. Details like that show care and interest in putting something good out, I just wish the rest of it had as much passion. Still, that’s why I have great respect for animators and artists specifically on any CGI projects – even if they’re doing something awful, most of them at least try to make visual appeal with what they’ve got.

Again, you can apparently get it on Blu-Ray, iTunes and Google Play in the USA under the Adventures in Zambezia international title, or just watch it on Netflix.

To be continued…

So nice, you’ll come back twice? I hope so. The story’s only half-finished now, and I decided to split this in half for the sake of ease of writing, otherwise you’d have about 5500 words to deal with all at once.

Next time on Dogpatch Press: we go into the third and final (to date) CGI film, and then we talk about the localization of international talking animal films, including one that pretty much every one of us crazy animal people loves.

See you all again soon. – Duncan R. Piasecki

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Categories: News

Step into the World of Crow

In-Fur-Nation - Sat 18 Nov 2017 - 21:49

Recently, we learned about a new 3D virtual reality film in the works called Rainbow Crow from Baobab Studios. The idea is to make a short film where the viewer can step into a different world and interact with animal characters as they tell you a story. In this case, it’s a Native American legend about how the crow saved his fellow animals from a harsh winter frost — and in so doing, gained his famously black feathers. Directed by Eric Darnell from Dreamworks (Antz, Madagascar), Rainbow Crow stars the voices of singer John Legend, Diego Luna, Constance Wu, and Randy Edmonds. A short preview film (about 4 minutes of the final 40) made the rounds recently at Tribeca and other film festivals. Road To VR has an article about the production of the film.

image c. 2017 Baobab Studios

Categories: News

ROAR Vol. 8, Paradise, Edited by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Fri 17 Nov 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

ROAR volume 8, Paradise, edited by Mary E. Lowd.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, June 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (284 pages), Kindle $9.95.

ROAR volume 8, Bad Dog Books’ annual anthology of non-erotic furry adventure short fiction, is the third edited by Mary E. Lowd. It follows last year’s vol. 7 devoted to Legends, and continues the reductions in page count (394 pages two years ago, 377 pages last year, and 284 pages this year) to return the volumes to the earlier size edited by Buck C. Turner. This year’s theme is Paradise; “eighteen different visions of paradise”. Lowd says in her Foreword that, “This volume of ROAR received fewer submissions than the last two, but the average quality of those submissions was extremely high.”

It certainly is. Get ready for a long review.

The protagonist of “Northern Delights” by Madison Keller is Rafael Ferreira, a Chihuahua detective from the Phoenix, Arizona police department who goes to the start of the Idatarod sled race in Anchorage, Alaska to warn a Chow informant participating in the race of a plot to kill him. He involuntarily takes part in the race as the partner of Mae, a husky.

“Other than the crunching of snow under Mae’s paws and the shushing of the surrounding pine trees in the wind the night was silent. He’d grown up in the big city, and night to him meant the pounding thunder of a gunning motorcycle, the conversing of passing dogs, and the rumbling base leaking from a passing car.

Even the sky was unfamiliar. When Rafael craned his head back, he could see hundreds of stars twinkling brightly overhead. The sight awed and humbled him. When he was a puppy, his father had taken him up to the mountains to star gaze, but even there the lights of the city had hidden all but the brightest stars. He began to pick out constellations he’d learned about in grade school. There was Orion, te Hunter. Usually depicted in mythological art as an English Setter. Mae turned a corner and his view shifted, revealing Leo, the roaring lion. Rafael bared his teeth menacingly at the sky.” (p. 23)

Rafael discovers that Alaska is his paradise – especially if Mae is there.

The heroine of “Flying Back to Paradise” by Jelliqal Belle is Princess Dee Anna of Paradise Archipelago, a very young wombat who comes to New York – a very unanthropomorphized New York – on her flying eagle, dressed as Wonder Wombat, to join all the famous superheroes that she reads about in the comic books and sees on TV. The jaded human New Yorkers ignore her, and an old street musician named Trevor gently breaks it to her that the superheroes are all make-believe.

“The dejected wombat looked down at the sidewalk as she wiggled her stubby toes in relief. ‘Cause I never get to do the adult stuff. Everyone is always protecting me cause I am a princess. I wanted to prove I could do something that matters. I saw all that stuff on TV so I hopped on my eagle and flew here. I wanted to help and to show I could do it too.’” (p. 42)

She does stop a street thief, and flies back to Paradise Archipelago after the old musician convinces her that –

“‘Anywhere can be paradise, you just have to have the right frame of mind.’” (p. 45)

“Personal History” by Tim Susman is divided into two parts. In Boston in 2012, a raccoon appraiser is trying to set a value on a Revolutionary War-era British crimson military jacket that a coyote has brought in. In 1777 the story behind that jacket is told, involving John Martingale, a British red fox soldier and Nathaniel Braxton, a Colonial coyote, who are gay lovers. The story is well-written, although I don’t see what it has to do with “paradise” except for Nathaniel’s comments that he “can’t get into paradise without” John. ROAR vol. 8’s cover illustrates this.

In “The Lion Sleeps” by Frances Pauli, Stanley (a lion) in the big city is exhausted by the daily commute, traffic jams, too much coffee, working all night on presentations, office politics, and never having time for his family. Paradise for him may not be what you’d expect.

The question for much of “Tucked Away” by E. S. Lapso is whether the young rabbit protagonist is Bella, a girl, or Baxter, a boy. She/he is going home to see his/her parents for a weekend, and has to keep up a disguise. His/her stern father has barely accepted that “he’s” gay; it would be too much to admit to being transgender and becoming a girl as well. Nikki, a younger sister, is much more supportive. I suppose the “paradise” here is leaving the warm relationship she/he is in now to become who she/he used to be to go back to visit what used to be home.

“When Pigs Fly” by Amy Fontaine features Portia, a farm pig who wants to be able to sing and fly like the birds instead of to grunt and wallow in the mud like the other pigs. She reluctantly learns that she cannot, but her cheerful attitude makes the other animals happy.

“In Portia’s mind, she grew long, downy wings. The wings were a patchy white and chocolate-brown, just like her coat, with feathers soft enough to soothe her once-despairing heart. The other pigs in the pigpen all grew wings too. Together, the glorious flock of pigs soared over the fence on the other side of the barn and fluttered through the forest, singing exultantly as they did. The forest was full of rich new scents and vibrant new colors, as well as strange creatures Portia had never seen before: a horse with a glistening golden horn, a beast like a cross between a bird and a cat, and more. All of the creatures the pigs met were friendly and beautiful, and they shouted greetings to the pigs as the pigs passed overhead.” (p. 91)

Portia’s dreams and imagination are enough to put her into paradise.

“Funnel Dresses” by Priya Sridhar features spiders in a forest community. Camisole Topstitch is an insecure young seamstress asked to make an old-fashioned funnel dress. She is mocked by haughty Miss Chemise for being so old-fashioned when that was what she was asked for. Veteran seamstress Miss Raglan convinces Camisole to make what she’s asked to, and not try to force her customers to accept what is stylish:

“‘You find out who will want your best. But even if that fails, sewing is your paradise. That’s why we sew, for that happy feeling. Don’t let anyone ever take that away from you.’” (p. 102)

Sridhar does an exemplary job of making the cast feel like Victorian women at the same time she describes their curved fangs and eight legs.

“A Christmas Tale for the Disenchanted” by Mark Blickley is barely in an anthropomorphic setting. Moira, a young blind woman in Jersey City, NJ, has a loyal guide dog, Joad, a Labrador Retriever. But Joad is 14 years old, and aware that he will soon no longer be able to help her. As Christmas Eve turns into Christmas, the Miracle of the Animals briefly allows Joad to speak to Moira. Paradise must be in there somewhere; in any case, this is a heartwarming Christmas fantasy.

“Bite the Apple” by Christopher Shaffer is set in a future Earth that has been totally modified. Kate Kipling has been Converted into an anthro cheetah; Nikolas has been only partly Converted into a half-goat satyr for his job at Las Vegas’ brand-new Arcadia Casino and Hotel, the latest and most advanced pleasure palace:

“Without another word she ducked into her room. A features and amenities flier on the desk told her to be ready to experience ‘paradise at the Arcadia,’ and that her environment would ‘automatically adjust’ to provide a ‘perfect stay.’ The room itself was dimly lit, at just about the right balance of visibility versus feline comfort. If she strained, she could pick up the hints of a scent-neutralizer often used to accommodate morphs’ senses, so she wouldn’t have to smell the previous occupants or the cleaning products used by housekeeping. The temperature, she had to admit, was just right for someone with both fur and the casual suit she wore. And all this with no preparation, as she’d deliberately showed up without a reservation just to test how fast the system worked.” (pgs. 119-120)

Kate is there officially as a travel writer to review the hotel for Modern Vistas magazine. Unofficially she is also a freelance tech writer whose suitcase contains hidden equipment “to figure out just how this technological paradise worked. More than a few people had tried to figure out how the hotel worked, and she planned to be the first to get the truth without being caught and thrown out first.” (p. 120) How can the building be perfectly adjusted to each of the thousands of human and Converted guests, staff, and walk-in casino players? Advanced AI? Alien technology? Special pheromones? Is the military involved? The more Kate investigates, the more sinister it gets …

“Lonesome Peak” by John Giezentanner asks if you could live in paradise, be anything you wanted to be, have any experience you wanted, how would you like it? Jeremy, currently an anthro white-tailed deer who snags his antlers too much, and Keros, currently an anthro gray fox, are bored.

“‘OK. That’s a good point. Those are all good points,’ Keros reached up to poke the tips of his antlers. Jeremy batted his hand away.

‘You don’t have to change your skin if that’s where you’re at. We’ve just got to do something so that you’re not all Mr. Sad Antlers anymore. What if we go somewhere?’

‘I don’t know, the Black Death was kind of a mistake.’

‘It was a terrible mistake. Never again. I meant, what if we go somewhere offline? Physically go to a place on earth. A vacation!’” (p. 139)

They go with two pals who are a red panda and a theriopod dinosaur to Lonesome Peak; a well-marked 8-mile trail for beginning hikers. It’s easy. What could go wrong?

“When the Milk Men Come” by Searska Greyraven is a parable that we should all be familiar with, with anthropomorphic animals. The Milk Men, salt-white bulls, say that they will enforce equality to make a paradise. Who isn’t for equality?

“First, the [sic.] came for the birds, because they said it was unfair that they could fly while many good mammals could not. Birds had no place in a city, where all were on equal footing! (I wondered, what did being a mammal have to do with it? Many things flew that were not birds.) But I stayed quiet. I watched them take away my bat neighbors, who insisted they were really mammals all the way to the big white van.” (p. 154)

What species is the narrator? Does it matter?

“Nor’Killik” by Matt Doyle is set unimaginably far in the future. In the 26th century mankind discovered the ancient Glaxiarch bioengineering technology, and went on an orgy of combining lifeforms and creating new lifeforms, which eventually replaced mankind. Corvin is something that is mostly a reptilian bearded dragon, hardwired into a spaceship to answer emergency calls. He finds a lost research vessel of the Glaxiarch, the Nor’Killick, that is apparently inhabited by one of them named Dahl Mód:

“It was a quadruped, and built a little like the historical animal [a greyhound] in his memories, but the front legs were over long and a bit thicker. Its head was curved on top and angled down into a rounded muzzle of sorts. Even looking as disproportionate as it did, the lifeform was clearly built to move quickly. Its colouring was pitch black, and it appeared to be covered in smooth scales, a little like an Earth snake. It had no visible eyes, but a purple strip that glowed with an eerie phosphorescence ran up either side of its head, starting where it’s [sic.] eyes should be and stopping at the tips of its ears. Around its neck, it wore a metallic collar that shone under the ship’s lighting, and on its back it carried another of its kind. This one, Corvin noted, had no purple strips on its head, and did not appear to be breathing.” (pgs. 163-164)

Corvin is asked a puzzling but enormously meaningful question:

“‘Tell me, Corvin, what is paradise to you?’” (p. 168)

“We Are One” by Thurston Howl is “a piece of classic science-fiction horror.” (Lowd’s introduction, p. 172) Three space pirates, CervoSap Captain Neas of flame-red fur and eyes, LupoSap first mate Tipp (or Tripp), a scrawny female with a thick tail, and ReptoSap gunner Drag, huge with artificial wings, search for Olym-Pass, the fabled paradise planet. You know from the first page that any s-f story about discovering an apparent paradise planet will have something deadly about it.

This is also a fitting place to talk about ROAR vol. 8’s lack of proofreading. The LupoSap is called Tipp 4 times before being called Tripp 17 times. “[…] get them out of the area before the other ship, the Whitefeather, could sneak on board.” (p. 173) Since it’s silly to imagine one spaceship sneaking aboard another, this must mean someone from the Whitefeather sneaking on board the pirates’ ship. “The water was trickled past […]” (p. 177) The “was” is out of place. There are errors like this throughout ROAR vol. 8, although my favorite is in “Nor’Killik”: “Corvin dropped his rifle to his sighed […]” (p. 163)

In “Lucid” by Nicholas Hardin, Erica Lancaster takes part in a group test of FluxTech’s Halcyon device, an improved virtual reality world. She becomes Lyric, an anthro otter:

“Lyric could not remember living anywhere else her entire life, yet every day there was always something new to explore here.

A slender form darted through sunbeams piercing the ocean’s surface. Far below, Lyric could barely make out the constantly-shifting webs of light that the beams cast on the colorful reefs. She dove deeper and twisted her body to bask in daylight’s glow. Her light brown, otter-like body shimmered under the waves, delicately curved and completely unclad, leaving only bare fur to be caressed by the surrounding water as she swam.” (p. 181)

Aquatica is paradise to Erica. But it’s only a virtual world. As she becomes more addicted and tries to spend more time in it, she withdraws more and more from reality:

“She made her way over teeming sidewalks, past numerous people sporting ear buds or virtual interface spectacles, and silently wondered if she might be able to afford a set of her own someday after the Halcyon experiment ended. She dreaded the inevitable day when FluxTech would announce the servers shutting down and recall all active units.” (p. 186)

How far will she go to live full-time in Aquatica?

“Castle Phoenix” by Bill Kieffer could be an anthro fantasy; it could be a dying woman’s hallucination; it could be magic realism. Mrs. Terri Winkle, an elderly widow dying of brain cancer, visits with her daughter Michele’s help the places of her past. At a vacant lot that was the site of the Club Phoenix in the 1970s (they called it Club Paradise), she finds a children’s picture book of animal stories. In the evenings she reads the stories to her granddaughter Amitola, seven years old. Terri is a bisexual who had a full life with Gary, her husband, and Diane, her best friend, both of whom she outlived, in a joyous love triangle relationship. Gary and Diane come alive again as picture-book animal characters; Gary as Barry the Bear and Diane as the Hyena Warrior. They gently guide her to join them, as Princess Puss-Puss in Castle Phoenix, with the necessary help of Amitola’s innocence:

“‘This was a place I could bring you to {says Gary/Barry]. This was a place that Diane could meet you again. Most importantly, it was a place Amitola the Unicorn could understand and believe in,’ The bear took her hand and pulled her towards the red metal drawbridge that crossed the moat. ‘To a child, Paradise is an adventure land where the best of all impossible things happen. It’s that simple. It’s that complicated.’” (p. 234)

Kieffer writes really good schmaltz.

“Kypris’ Kiss” by Slip Wolf is narrated by a nameless cat:

“I’m in a small part of heaven. My delicate nose picks apart what my eyes already feast on; the glinting glass hull of the French press, coiled filter carrying grounds from the toasted gold above, descends. A caramel head of froth crowns the results. I pick up the press by its warm stem, pour with care so no drops escape the bone-white mug with its silver-leaf logo reading Kypris on its flank. Steam rises as I set the press down and stir the cream upward. I delay the moment with baited breath, then another. In heaven there’s no need but I do this because savoring is no less wondrous than having. Then a Moroccan kiss touches my lips and passes. I love this place. I savor my solitude amidst kindred but separate souls and feel the sands of time settle as they always do here. This is a small part of heaven.” (p. 237)

“I love this place,” the cat says. Of course you do, says the coyote, and Kypris loves you back. You are married. The cat is incredulous. Can you love a building as you would a woman? Why not? Everything has its Kami, its soul, and the coffee shop is soulmate to the cat. Over the course of “Kypris’ Kiss”, the coyote proves it. A cute story.

“Behesht” by Dwale is the surrealistic tale of a caravan:

“I ran into the caravan mere hours after my journey started, a handful [of] individuals whose appearance reflected an assortment of cultures and phenotypes. Their leader, a short man of vole genetic stock, offered that I should join them before he even asked my name.

‘Peace, my brother,’ he said. ‘Come with us, and leave these wretched places behind. Where we are going is far better.’

When I inquired as to where that might be, he smiled and sais a single word: ‘Behesht.’ Their destination was nothing less than Heaven itself, the hidden garden which is the reward of believers.” (p. 252)

The caravan is a landbound Ship of Fools. There are The Clergyman, Shapur, their vole leader; The Newlyweds, two rabbits “draped head to toe in bright clothes”; The Beekeeper, “a chimera with a reptilian phenotype. We shall assume his gender as male for the purposes of this story, but I couldn’t be certain.” (p. 255); The Djinn; The Nomad; The Executioner; and more. A truly wondrous tale.

“Hope for the Harbingers” by Allison Thai is also a surrealistic tale. The Lamb of God summons the Four Horsemen (without their riders) – Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence – from Hell to end the world, because it is time for the Last Judgment. All on Earth meet the Apocalypse with fear and despair, until Death encounters Viktor, a young Russian rabbit. Paradise can come in unexpected ways and places.

ROAR volume 8 (cover by Teagan Gavet) consists of 18 very different stories. There are none that I did not enjoy (except for having to wade through poor proofreading, and my usual kvech that several are funny-animal stories whose characters could just as easily have been humans). They are all so good and so different that it is hard to name favorites. For diversity, I will pick “The Lion Sleeps” by Frances Pauli, “Lonesome Peak” by John Giezentanner, “Castle Phoenix” by Bill Kieffer, “Behesht” by Dwale, and “Hope for the Harbingers” by Allison Thai.

ROAR volume 8 is not an anthology to be read at one sitting, but relax with a few stories at a time. It should entertain you for a week or more.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

When Animation Got Cool Again

In-Fur-Nation - Fri 17 Nov 2017 - 02:03

Quick bit of history: Things were looking kind of bleak for American animation in the late 1970’s. It took a while to shake off the blues and get things going in the 1980’s, but when they finally did, animation came back with a bang. And now there’s a new book about it — with an appropriate title. “Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the Eighties is the ultimate guide to ’80s cartoon nostalgia, featuring the art, toys, and inside story behind icons like He-Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and the Thundercats. For an entire generation of kids weaned on the intoxicating excitement of eighties cartoons, the decade can be summed up with two words: Totally Awesome! With a thriving Saturday morning network schedule, a full complement of weekday syndicated programming, and the removal of guidelines that prevented cartoons from being based on toys, the 1980s enjoyed an unprecedented TV animation boom that made household names of a host of colorful characters. From He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to The Transformers, G.I. Joe, and The Muppet Babies, eighties cartoons would have such a huge impact on an entire generation that decades later they have become pop culture touchstones, revered by fans whose young minds were blown by their vivid visuals and snappy storytelling. In this deluxe book, Andrew Farago, a respected cartoon historian and child of the eighties, provides an inside look at the history of the most popular cartoons of the decade, as told by the writers, animators, voice actors, and other creative talents who brought life to some of the era’s most enduring animated shows.” Hey, a decade that brought us Gummi Bears and The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse? We’re there! Totally Awesome is coming in hardcover from Insight Editions at the end of November.

image c. 2017 Insight Editions

Categories: News

Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, Edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Thu 16 Nov 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard.
London, Titan Books, January 2017, paperback, $14.95 (421 pages), Kindle $9.99.

“The 1968 Planet of the Apes film has inspired generations of authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers produces sixteen all-new tales, exclusive to this volume, set in the world of the original films and television series.” (blurb)

Plus an Introduction by co-editor Rich Handley and an Afterword by co-editor Jim Beard. Handley explains that, while there have been Planet of the Apes movies, TV series, script novelizations, original novels, comic books, and so on, there have not been any Apes short stories before. Hence this book.

Seventeen authors (one story is a collaboration), most of whom are veteran s-f novelists or comic-book writers who have written some form of Apes fiction before, were invited to contribute a story to this anthology. All have had the creative freedom to explore their own ideas, without any editorial attempt to make the stories consistent. Since the first five Apes films established the concept that time travel is “a highway with infinite lanes leading from the past to the future” (p. 12), all stories are equally valid.

“Unfired” by Dan Abnett is set in the nuclear wasteland in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. A group of seven mutated, telepathic humans is making a pilgrimage through the Forbidden Zone to the subterranean city:

“They spent two weeks following the track through the craterland. By night, wild dogs barked in the distance, and Taul kept his rifle close. They skirted the rims of wide craters in the heat. The sun made the air buzz and click. Chemical lakes had formed in the basins of the craters, some vivid turquoise or blood-red. The wind stank of sulfur. Occasionally, they could see shapes down in the lakes: rusted, twisted, blackened masses half submerged, buckled metal leering at the sky, vague in the mists that lay across the toxic pools.” (p. 20)

Four turn back, or die, or are killed by the Third Race (the apes), one by one. The survivors’ goal is the the city under New York; the holy city of God — the doomsday bomb.

“More Than Human, Less Than Ape” by Nancy A. Collins features Cornelius, the chimpanzee from the first movie, in a prequel adventure from his first archaeological expedition. It explains why there are chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas, but no baboons.

“Blood Brothers” by Will Murray takes place in the setting of the 1974 Planet of the Apes live-action TV series, which has several differences from the movies; the largest being that ANSA (American National Space Administration) astronauts Alan Virdon and Peter Burke find themselves in a 3085 where talking apes and talking humans coexist. Virdon, Burke, and chimpanzee Galen from the apes’ Central City are escaping from the ruthless gorilla army of Security Chief Urko, looking for a remnant of human civilization.

“They had been pushing north for days, toward the Napa Valley. Village humans had told them that the apes avoided the Napa Valley. No one knew why. But it was a good place to find respite, and a steady supply of food, if the abundant vineyards still survived after generations.” (p. 66)

Urko’s troops are about to capture them in the Valley of Grapes when they are rescued by humans dressed like stereotypical Native American warriors.

“‘I see Sioux, Hopi, Navajo, Cheyenne, Yurok, and other costumes [Burke says]. The faces that go with them seem authentic. Everybody looks like a full-blooded brave of one tribe or another.’” (p. 72)

The humans of the Tribe of the Last from the Rez are led by gorilla Chief Apex in a full war bonnet of eagle feathers. Apex has been raised by the humans and has become “‘Kind of like Tarzan of the Apes, but in reverse.’” The three are forced to join Apex’s war party, and to witness a personal battle between Apex and Urko before continuing on their journey.

“The Pacing Place” by Bob Mayer is a sequel to the first movie. Astronaut George Taylor and speechless human Nova cross the desert of the Forbidden Zone and gradually collect more wild humans. Taylor creates Fort Wayne. Three years later, Taylor’s and Nova’s son Adam is born, who can talk. Over many years, Taylor passes on civilization to Adam and his later children.

“Murderers’ Row” by John Jackson Miller is in the Escape from the Planet of the Apes setting. In that movie, chimpanzees Cornelius, Zira, and Dr. Milo time-travel into the past, to 1973, and become celebrities. The movie covers the next few months; a year or so. This story takes place seventeen years in the future, in 1990, and recounts how all human civilization – especially the Hollywood TV industry — has been changed.

“Endangered Species” by Greg Cox is set in the world of the first movie, but several generations earlier. The chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans of Ape City have only recently crossed the desolation of the Forbidden Zone and begun to spread out. Janae, a young chimpanzee, is on a scientific expedition to study a colony of feral humans, but she is constantly thwarted by Captain Atlas and his gorillas who consider humans to be only fodder for hunting parties.

“Dangerous Imaginings” by Paul Kupperberg imagines that the world is not destroyed at the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Young chimp scientists Darius, Kya, and Sidd find proof of ancient man’s technology. But it goes against the Academy’s religious doctrines that man was never intelligent. They learn more about their Academy than they suspect.

“Of Monsters and Men” by Kevin J. Anderson and Sam Knight is another prequel to the first movie, but featuring Zaius in his youth rather than Cornelius. Zaius, an Academy apprentice, has been put in charge of an expedition to explore the Forbidden Zone surrounding Ape City. The expedition’s other chimp and orangutan scientists follow his orders, but arrogant gorilla Captain Caetus feels he should be the leader. What they discover threatens to destroy them all.

“The Unknown Ape” by Andrew E. C. Gaska covers the Return to the Planet of the Apes 1975 animated TV series. General Urko, who has been exiled, has his gorilla troops raise a nuclear bomb from the psionic Underdwellers’ subterranean city. It is not clear whether he intends to destroy the humans’ Hidden Valley, or Ape City in revenge – but it is really an Alpha-Omega doomsday bomb that will destroy the whole Earth. He is foiled by a human army including apes Cornelius, Dr. Zaius, Virgil, and others, led by the prophesized Unknown Ape (Caesar, son of Cornelius and Zira); but not before the unstoppable bomb has been launched. Caesar, Virgil, Krador (the Underdwellers’ leader), and the Travelers (time-traveling astronauts Alan Virdon, Jeff Allen, and Judy Franklin) argue nobly over who among them will take the Probe Nine on a suicide mission to destroy it in orbit before it returns to Earth.

“Silenced” by Jim Beard covers generations, centuries, beginning with George Taylor in the present and returning to him in the future, telling in between of he gradual devolution of humanity into the feral humans that Taylor finds in the future.

“Who is This Man? What Sort of Devil is He?” by Robert Greenberger is a second tale in the setting of the 1974 live-action TV series. It gives an unexpectedly sympathetic portrayal of the gorilla Urko as he pursues Virdon and Burke.

“Stone Monkey” by Greg Keyes does not fit into any of the movies or TV series. Sun the siamang gibbon, a wily trickster, is captured by gorilla warlord Shor Telag. He demands Sun help him to live forever, as the legendary Stone Monkey does. Sun leads Shor and his gorilla troops into the Forbidden Zone …

“Milo’s Tale” by Ty Templeton is the personal tale of Dr. Milo, the chimpanzee scientist who accompanies Cornelius and Zira, just before the three travel into the past in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

“Message in a Bottle” by Dayton Ward returns to the 1975 TV animated series. Astronauts Virdon and Burke, and the chimpanzee Galen, fleeing gorilla security chief Urko and his troops, venture into the Paola Wasteland, rumored to hold unknown ruins. What the three find is, naturally, extraordinary and incredible, and they have to keep it from falling into Urko’s control.

“The King is Dead – Long Live the King” by Rich Handley is a sequel to Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the final feature of the original series. Twenty years after its conclusion, Caesar is the leader of the new peaceful joint society of apes and humans in Ape City. He wants to forge a peace with the mutants of the subterranean Forbidden City (the Underdwellers). The leaders from Ape City and the Forbidden City meet, but a traitor sabotages everything.

“Banana Republic” by Jonathan Maberry is about the discovery of something that proves all the apes of the future are wrong in what they believe. It is also ape politics, and the strange alliance between orangutan priest Dante and gorilla military Captain Maximus.

These sixteen tales are all by professional authors, and are all well-written. But unless you are a really big fan of the first five Planet of the Apes movies and the two 1974-1975 television series, this is probably too specialized for you. This is a good anthology to be read gradually, a story or two at a time over a couple of weeks.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

How furry conventions fail (or please) their vendors – Critical discussion.

Dogpatch Press - Wed 15 Nov 2017 - 10:43

Crazdude looks like one of those multi-talented artists that are one of the secret weapons of furry subculture – bright and devoted people with a buffet of skills like making art, writing, or performing all at once.  For the blog she started in 2016, I got a professional impression from a first glance. (I look out for blogs that seem to vibe with Dogpatch, so I liked finding this.)

The Crazblog bears out a good impression by sharing her selection as Guest of Honor at Fur-Xoticon. It lets you in on a personal detail:“As just a first-year newbie to the Artist Alley and Dealer’s Den experience at furry conventions, this came as quite an exciting surprise!”  Highlighting the newbie disclosure and small/local con size isn’t too critical, if you take it for granted that Furry is full of DIY power – it’s just good to keep in mind while reading the below post with an open mind. It mentions 3 years of experience at other cons.

Here is my breakdown of some of the aspects of vending at a furry con AA/DD that do more harm than good (+ possible solutions!) PLUS a bonus section of things that make vendors & artists happy! ????

It's a slog of a read so bring coffee. Feel free to RT!https://t.co/khnquy97XX

— draw softly and carry a big blog (@Crazdude) November 13, 2017

Crazdude’s post – “Top 5 ways conventions let their vendors down (+ Cons doing things that artists love!)” – led me to a point/counterpoint peer discussion that I wanted to share in response. I considered breaking down salient points for a formal article, but I liked the natural flow of a casual chat here. The chat is between me (plus a few stray watcher comments) and ScalieStaffer (name redacted to keep opinions apart from their position). They’re a fur with 8 years of con staffing experience in multiple departments, with roles both minor and major.

This is unfiltered chat (lazy spelling and all), so please be tolerant about critical opinion, which would be expressed with diplomatic respect if written up formally. Hopefully Craz finds her writing dignified by all the attention here.

ScalieStaffer:

Man, I support artists and vendors, but I REALLY hate this post.

Patch:

What do you hate about it? Are you reading stuff between the lines from experience I don’t have? I was a dealer just a couple of times, was too much effort for money i could have made in a much shorter time staying home and I’d rather enjoy the con.

Lay some knowledge on me ????

ScalieStaffer:

So the whole article is skewed towards the view that the dealers and artist alley are the centerpiece of a convention.

They are absolutely not.

Conventions cannot cater the entire convention experience around their vendors/artists

in fact, the cost of having the space for vendors is usually so high, that conventions see it as offering dealers space as a convenience towards attendees, not towards the dealers.

Like, just one fuckup in the cost of the dealers den spaces at most big cons could bankrupt them.

ESPECIALLY AC, that convention center is EXPENSIVE.

Randomfur Reader:

It certainly is.

Anthrocon 2006 Dealer’s Den. Photo by GreenReaper.

ScalieStaffer:

Also if conventions were to actually charge table costs to fully cover the space rented with all the other costs involved… no furry would buy a table.

They usually offer space at a loss that will be partially covered by table costs and partially by registrations.

Randomfur Reader:

When I’m elected I promise to introduce the Fursonas for Americans Act, with fully subsidizes furry cons and provides tax incentives to fursuit makers

ScalieStaffer:

haha, i mean its a niche industry in the country now. there is over $1 million worth of fursuits in the world now.

Randomfur Reader:

Provision everyone a Social Security Fursona

Managed by Equifur

Patch:

Haha, not just $1 million of fursuits in the US, over $3 million at AC alone, and that was when i did math on attendance and ballpark prices a few years ago

And yeah fantastic comment about cons subsidizing dealers

So the “dealers are supersponsors” approach deserves a definite counterpoint

However, from the standpoint of “well managed con is good for everyone” I found the article to be really valuable

Particularly stuff like the letter from someone talking about the awful experience of a musician who was stoked to put on a great show, and got burned by the con’s awfulness

ScalieStaffer:

Thing is they are implying that not getting the things they want means a con is poorly managed, when that is hardly the case

Patch:

I dunno, it seems to make a lot of logistical sense to combine dealer applications and hotel room access. It sounds majorly counterproductive to the whole cons purpose to get an expensive dealer room but have roadblocks to access. Like, dealers who wheel stuff back and forth really need close access, their working hours are important too

So opening limited room booking for dealers then doing “release the hounds” sounds spot on to me.  (Nobody who wants a shortcut is going to be a dealer just to get a room.)

ScalieStaffer:

The thing is, there is no shortage of dealers. If those were true roadblocks, cons wouldnt have long waitlists for dealer dropouts

Like I said to a friend, if someone didnt like a con’s dealer policies for whatever reason, they are free to not deal at that con, and there will be someone out of the many waitlisted people jumping at the chance.

Patch:

Yeah, there is no shortage, but that’s quantity instead of quality. Theres something to be said for partially making “community access” but also a lot going for curation. If a mainstay-of-cons, full-time-pro type dealer cant get in, thats pretty counterproductive to what the entire fandom is about (building things from personal commitment)

Conroomies.com

ScalieStaffer:

The thing is, thats not been a problem so far, there are plenty of ways for dealers to get in the “main hotel” of an event. Most connected dealers have many MANY friends and can find roomspace, not only that there are sites like ConRoomies as well that cater to hooking up people with rooms to those without.

Patch:

Cons do charity and are functionally not-for-profit but are still businesses, its simply poor and inefficient business to have a clusterfuck about room booking out of sync with dealer access.

ScalieStaffer:

If you take part of the room block and reserve it for vendors when there are so many now, on top of the ones being held for staff, there will be very little left over for attendees.

Not to mention the very specific problem to our little group, fursuiters.

So I do agree that rooms should be booked before dealer openings, but they shouldnt have their own block, which is what is suggested.

Patch:

And oh man, that is absolutely what i mean. Having full time pro dealers have to scrape crumbs by looking on ConRoomies? Many of them need a close, fully private room for a very good reason

I also really doubt that the proportion of dealers vs general attendees poses a threat like that about taking all the rooms

Correct me if theres math about number of rooms vs number of dealers

ScalieStaffer:

But Like I said, a convention is under no obligation to even provide space to those full time pro dealers, there are SO MANY people that want in now that literally anyone who can pay the table fee can get in.

Patch:

Of course there’s no obligation, but that doesnt excuse poor logistics… having a better experience for dealers is good for the whole con. People don’t go to buy from “just any” dealers (if the shoe fits, wear it style)

ScalieStaffer:

Yes but I think that the grand majority of con goers arent going to change their convention attendance if a dealer they want to see isnt there.

Buylagarto.com

Patch:

Take a dealer like Lagarto Leather, he seems ubiquitous all over, with a popular product, and i dont know anyone else doing it on his level. Leathercraft takes investment into materials apart from just offering art commissions. What you’re proposing puts any random artist in his place if his application is a gamble influenced by whether room access sucks. I’ve also heard serious complaints from 1980’s “fandom founders” about being left in the dust of others with what they feel is no justification or explanation, making them upset about how the fandom is being diluted with people who dont care about it. Not saying it’s 100% right but its a perspective worth hearing

So no, people may not make decision for attending based on what dealer is there, but quality gets noticed and so does poor selection

ScalieStaffer:

Its a perspective worth hearing sure, but also a convention has to tailor to its attendees as well, and as the majority of major cons skew towards the 18-24 set as their highest demo, having a dealers space that has alot of Jim Groats and such would not work at all.

Patch:

And people who dont travel and love their home cons may really want to see a guy like Lagarto coming to them even if he goes to many

There’s Jim Groats, but hearing the complaint from a Lagarto would get my attention, and I think the article does a good job of spelling it out persuasively. Even with the counter point about subsidized costs taken for granted.

ScalieStaffer:

And I get that, but like I said, there are plenty of people who dont go to the con with the dealer space as their focus. My main complaint is that certain artists like this one think they are the lifeblood of the convention being able to operate, when that is absolutely not true.

Patch:

I thought the article seemed pretty clear about its bias, not like trying to trick anyone into ignoring others interest. I’m a small business guy and do some tight organized events and love hearing about logistics, and would recommend this article for event organizing, although i havent done any on con scale.

I’m interested in resharing this as critical comment, especially about the subsidizing. Interested in picking anything else apart in it?

ScalieStaffer:

I mean I could pick the whole thing apart but I just dont have the time. In all honesty, this would make a great podcast or something. many of these points are easier to make with voice

Patch:

Yup agree.

There you go. Anyone with a podcast could run with that, and for anyone else (especially those who pay a lot of attention to how dealer rooms are run), please leave comments down below! — More feedback of interest:

Juried DD is hard to pull off well. It leads to form letters telling long-time pro artists to "improve your art and try again next year!" Or "you got 0 points." Requires really clueful staff or it generates even more bad feeling than the drag races.

— Jarlidium Press (@jarlidium) November 14, 2017

I like juried DD so there ideally isn’t too much repeat/overlap of a particular thing or art style! I remember one year at Bronycon, I was bored as a shopper because it was licensed merch, custom plushes, and the 2D artists. Not enough variety of products had me spending zilch.

— Irime (@IrimeZane) November 14, 2017

Pulling stock for Anthro NW next weekend. Nice thing about hometown con: I can pack for one day's sales & bring in more as actually needed.

— Jarlidium Press (@jarlidium) November 4, 2017

We had a good time in the @anthronw dealer's room. Faustorian did a great job running it, he was visible, available, and responsive! And thanks to everyone who stopped by our table!

— Jarlidium Press (@jarlidium) November 14, 2017

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.

Categories: News

Florida furry dead, police hunt serial killer.

Dogpatch Press - Wed 15 Nov 2017 - 10:06

Anthony, AKA James Firefox, was age 20. As a furry fan, he shared fandom creativity through music.  As a person, media reports say he was autistic, but reaching for independence. Public buses in his neighborhood in Tampa, Florida took him to his job where he was packaging hurricane relief supplies.  A light glance at his online profiles shows that he expressed frustration about social difficulties, but seemed to find a lot of happiness with music, cartoons and furry art.  Sometimes it was edgy but other parts showed self awareness like criticizing memes about the las vegas shooting out of sensitivity for others.

On October 19, he got on an unfamiliar bus line when his usual one was shut down. He ended up in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time and became an unlucky statistic. He was the third victim of a series of shootings in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood that appear to be done by a serial killer.

Ever since that time, his family has been actively speaking out for justice.  His father said he had been assaulted and robbed earlier in 2017 in a different neighborhood and that his son’s special needs made him an easy target. Media says his father and stepmother have “remained heavily involved in the community since his death” and been “walking the streets, talking to people, desperately looking for answers.”

A puzzling part of the story is lack of motive, spreading fear in the community that has affected businesses and led Tampa’s mayor to be unusually outspoken about stopping the crimes. There’s currently a $41,000 reward for helping to close the case.

On November 14th, a fourth victim was reported. This time there’s a witness description resembling an earlier person of interest seen on security video.

The serial killer who shot @divinefirefox on October 19 just killed a fourth victim. https://t.co/yFTYazEF1D

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 15, 2017

Anyone who knew him is encouraged to help fill in the story.  It gives me a feeling that you may never realize what’s going on behind someone’s fursona you see online, when they’re around or after they’re not.

Categories: News

The Ape You Fear The Most

In-Fur-Nation - Wed 15 Nov 2017 - 02:59

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the original Planet of the Apes movie. (“You blew it up!”) You can bet there will be plenty of media celebrating that milestone. Possibly first out of the gate, BOOM! Studios has a new full-color series: “BOOM! Studios and Twentieth Century Consumer Products are excited to announce Planet of the Apes: Ursus, a comic book series launching in January 2018 about the classic franchise’s most notorious villain. Written by David F. Walker (Power Man & Iron Fist, War for the Planet of the Apes) and illustrated by Christopher Mooneyham (Five Ghosts) — both longtime fans of the franchise — the series will follow the rise through the ranks of the ape who has hated (and feared) mankind the most, including what first brought him to the Forbidden Zone. This is the first project from BOOM! Studios in 2018 as part of their yearlong celebration of the franchise’s 50th anniversary.” Previews has an extensive interview with Mr. Walker about bringing the series to life.

image c. 2017 BOOM! Studios

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Categories: News

Q&A with Kazul of Kazplay, first place winner for cosplay at Blizzcon.

Dogpatch Press - Tue 14 Nov 2017 - 10:01

Kazul G. Fox on Twitter – on WikifurOther social media links

Congrats on the win, Kazul! Who is Hogger, and how did the concept happen?

The Story of Hogger [Hearthstone Lore]

Hogger is an NPC from the World of Warcraft. He is the first elite mob that human characters encounter in Southern Elwynn Forest. Hogger has the reputation for being particularly dangerous and deadly because new players aren’t expecting him to be so strong. I chose this character because the unique body shape offered a good challenge, it was my goal to make this a very animated, highly mobile costume so that I could put on a good performance. I documented my process using #WantedHogger so people could catch up and see my progress quickly, anyone who stumbled upon one WIP, could quickly get caught up on the story of what was going on. I also have a few youtube videos that go into depth about the whole concept, design and build. I have plenty more footage and more parts to cover, more videos will be coming very soon.

Youtube channel: Kazplay Videos

I started building in April 2017, through some life challenges and an across the state move I was able to finish and attend Blizzcon 2017 and take first place in the costume contest.

Thank you Hogger for being a good boy ❤️#WantedHogger pic.twitter.com/Wjzu5XJvt2

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) November 5, 2017

Can you talk a little about what Blizzcon is, and was was it like to win there?

Blizzcon is my favorite convention of all time! It’s like a big family reunion of people who love Blizzard games, the passion and excitement in the air is palpable. I would say the cosplay community at Blizzcon especially feels like family. Everyone chats with each other over the year, encouraging and offering advice. The competition is top notch, everyone brings their A game, but it remains friendly. I love the cosplayers at Blizzcon, I have mad respect for them all. Winning there was incredible, it had been a goal of mine for so long and then it finally happened, I feel like I am on top of the world!

Can you talk about your ambitions with Hogger, cosplay, or anything else you do?

My goal when building Hogger was two fold: Movement and Finish. I wanted to make sure he was very flexible and mobile so that I could put on an unrestricted performance. I also wanted to have lots of sympathetic movement, things that moved without my input directly (like the flowing tail and mane, the bouncing ear) to give the illusion that he was more alive. Then on the finish, I wanted to focus on doing plenty of weathering. I wanted hogger to look like he smelt like a wet, dirty dog and I wanted all his clothes/armor to look beat up, worn and dirty to match him. Gnolls aren’t known for cleanliness.

With all my work I strive to make convincing characters. When I hear people ask “how is it moving like that?” “How is a person inside that?” when I know that I’ve tricked their brain well enough that they can only see what is in front of them as a real creature, that’s when I win.

How about yourself… how did you get into doing this, and what do you do in animation?

I have been creative my whole life, I always have a sketchbook with me and I can get rather grumpy if I don’t have a project to work on. My mother was a seamstress and taught me sewing, my grandmother was a sculptor and painter and taught me a few things as well. I have always had a high drive to accomplish things, my parents noticed from a young age that I could and would do anything I set my mind to. When I was 6 years old the movie Toy Story came out, it was the first 3D animated feature film. It was so incredible to me at a young age that I decided that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I worked hard all through school, got a BFA in Animation, and I worked as an animator in the video game industry for 5 years.

With Blizzcon, ever since my first time competing in the cosplay contest in 2013, it has been my goal to win 1st prize. Each year I pushed myself with more complicated designs and challenged myself to learn the techniques I needed so that I could win.

How is the cosplay world different from what furry readers may be familiar with? Is this inspired by furry stuff or adjacent to it, and do any parts show your own unique creativity that furries don’t ordinarily do? Do you have any good words for creative furries?

I did start my costume making career in the furry fandom. There was a lot of tutorials and resources out there that helped make it approachable. The skills I learned and the connections I’ve made with other fursuit makers and artist in the fandom are very valuable to me, but I felt at one point that the fandom was holding me back as an artist. I didn’t think I could make anything more than the cartoony suits that I had built, and I thought no one would appreciate my work if I tried something else. I finally let myself take that step outside the fandom and my work has greatly benefited.

My work is far more influenced by sources outside the furry fandom. I love the cosplay community in particular because there are so many varied sources of inspiration, so many different techniques and materials. I love movie monsters, and practical effects have been a strong influence on my life. Finding the Stan Winston School of Character Arts was a game changer for me and how I build. I love video games, especially Blizzard’s games. I have been playing Blizzard games since I can remember, so I absolutely love the designs in their games.

With Hogger I brought in a lot of my love and admiration of puppetry into the design. If I had any advice for creative furries it would be pursue the things you love, let yourself admire and pursue things that aren’t in the ‘furry aesthetic’. Open yourself to a broader sphere of designs, aesthetic and techniques, and you’ll find you can do more than you thought. Also if you put real passion and effort into your work, that will resonate with an audience. I love creatures and animals, that’s what brought me to the furry fandom in the first place.  But now I’m not so concerned about trying to fit in to a particular ‘furry’ label, and I find myself more free to pursue exactly what I love, and that has opened a lot of doors.

Thanks Kazul – hope to see much more good work from you. (Here’s some more fun stuff for readers).

Got some time to write out more thoughts about this incredible weekend ❤️ #WantedHogger pic.twitter.com/R0D61qAnpi

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) November 5, 2017

Tanking a few moments to appreciate the 7 month long process of creating #wantedHogger

Thank you so much for following along! pic.twitter.com/NrFxA3oIXe

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) October 31, 2017

We're all smiles as we head off to #Blizzcon! #wantedHogger is especially smiley pic.twitter.com/Vkc7WQ95ga

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) November 1, 2017

Hogger is on the prowl! #wantedHogger pic.twitter.com/Orpr3Rgc0s

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) October 31, 2017

*Yawn*#wantedHogger pic.twitter.com/oJZ5L3CqdN

— Kazul Cosplay (@KazulGFox) October 31, 2017

Thank you #Blizzcon2017!! It was an honor to host community night! And congratulations to @KazulGFox & all the amazing artists & cosplayers! pic.twitter.com/NqWQIxIf7q

— Chris Hardwick (@hardwick) November 4, 2017

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Categories: News

10th Kingdom Interview at FurryFandom.es

Dogpatch Press - Mon 13 Nov 2017 - 10:02

It has over 950 Amazon reviews.

The 10th Kingdom was a 10-hour miniseries from 2000 about a young woman and her father who were transported from New York City into the magical fairytale lands of the 9 Kingdoms. The 10th Kingdom was well received and won an Emmy when it was released. It has an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Mike Retriever, admin of Spanish (and international) furry news site furryfandom.es, has an interview up with actor Scott Cohen, who played the character of Wolf in The 10th Kingdom. Mike’s article is worth checking out:

This miniseries is simply phenomenal. Award-winning screenplay writer Simon Moore, who also wrote Gulliver’s Travels (1996) and co-wrote Traffic (2000), wondered what may have happened after the ‘Happily Ever After’ of old fairytales, and his vision became the screenplay to this miniseries. But it isn’t just greatly written. It’s also endearing, funny, entertaining for both kids and adults, and, it’s immensely furry!

It comes with a plea to sign the change.org petition asking for a sequel to the show that has 3300 signatures at time of posting. From Change.org:

The 10th Kingdom has a thriving fan base that continues to grow steadily attracting new viewers. This is evident by the increasing sales, including the 15th Year Anniversary Edition, which is currently ranked among Amazon’s top Best Sellers of Fantasy Blu-rays.

The 10th Kingdom: Sign the petition for a sequel! https://t.co/qlKQvqsnu2
Read our interview with actor Scott Cohen! https://t.co/XMRkh9EX79 pic.twitter.com/Liogf5szA6

— Mike Retriever (@MikeRetriever) October 13, 2017
Categories: News

Animals to Cuddle

In-Fur-Nation - Sun 12 Nov 2017 - 02:40

As we’ve noted, if you’re talking about Furry Fandom the word “cute” is never far away. And if you’re talking about cute, plush animals are probably going to come up too. Well at the L.A. Comic Con we came across an artist called Bellzi, who specializes in cute plush animals. In literally dozens of designs in fact. “Anything and Everything Cute” their web site says, and they live up to that ideal!

image c. 2017 by Bellzi

Categories: News

Rabbit, Take Me Home!

In-Fur-Nation - Sat 11 Nov 2017 - 02:59

An interesting project we stumbled across at the LA. Comic Con, with the deceptively simple title of Bun. Brought to us by the writing and illustration team of Brian Silveira and Lisa Nguyen, Bun is a graphic novel fantasy/horror series the couple created and published themselves. Their web page describes it like this: “A boy. A girl. An unspeakable evil. A rabbit.” An interview in a local newspaper gave us a bit more description: Bun is “…an intricate tale that follows a young boy and his pet rabbit, the titular Bun. The book picks up after the boy, Milo, loses his mother to cancer. In the wake of her death, his father retreats into alcoholism and depression, essentially making the boy an orphan, alone and struggling with his grief. Milo suddenly disappears, transported to another world where his rabbit Bun serves as the only bridge back home.” The first and second installments of this black & white series are available now.

image c. 2017 by Silveira/Nguyen

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Categories: News