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Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Wed 20 Jun 2018 - 10:00

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

Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin. Illustrated.
Paris, Delcourt, October 2017, hardcover, €16,95 (123 [+ 5] pages).

Thanks, as always with French bandes dessinées, to Lex Nakashima for loaning this to me to review.

Or maybe not. Solo is a three-novel set, and I gave very good reviews to the first two albums. Solo is a bioengineered rat-man warrior in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to build a peaceful home for his wife Lyra and their children. It’s a Conan the Barbarian scenario, full of constant blood, ambushes, gladiatorial combats, rat-vs.-everybody-else warfare, and little else. The action and mood are violent and exhausting, but as long as each album ends with a “to be continued”, there is the hope of a happy ending.

Well, we can forget that about vol, 3, “The Cannibal World”. Solo returns home after an unsuccessful hunt to find it smashed open and Lyra and their three children kidnapped. He searches for them in the human meat farms. He always misses them by days. He’s constantly delayed by fights to the death with humans, monkeys, cats, and bloodthirsty mutants.

On page 67, Solo finds an orphaned puppy. He shifts from searching for his family to caring for the puppy, raising it to become a killer hound. When Solo is eventually killed, the dog avenges him. (But it’s only a momentary victory. We are left to hope that the dog will continue to survive as Solo had.)

Solo. Vol. 3, The Cannibal World isn’t bad, but it’s a real downer. Get it if you want to complete the trilogy, but prepare to be seriously depressed.

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

The Pearl of Animation

In-Fur-Nation - Wed 20 Jun 2018 - 01:39

There’s a lengthy article over at Animation World Network about a presentation at this year’s Annecy Festival by Pearl Studios from China. Formerly known as Oriental Dreamworks (they helped to finish the animation on Kung Fu Panda 3), the newly-christened Pearl Studios have struck out on their own with several animated feature films in production — and some of them of note to Furry Fans. First up is Abominable (formerly Everest), a co-production with Dreamworks that’s directed by Jill Culton. According to Pearl, “Abominable stars Everest, a 2,000-pound yeti who is curious and playful.” And who communicates without words, it seems. (Yes, it does sound like a more serious version of Warner Bros’ upcoming yeti film Smallfoot.) Also on board is director Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) who is hard at work on an animated feature about the legendary Monkey King — a subject that he’s visited before in live action fantasy films. And further back in the pipeline are films like Tiger Empress (“… the story of a young tigress who grows from the obedient daughter of a Tiger Mom into a transformational leader when a prophecy convinces her that she’s the only one who can save their kingdom”) and Illumikitty (“… an irreverent comedy about the ultimate cat-astrophe: A feline plot for world domination”). You heard it here first.

image c. 2018 by Mochi

Categories: News

The 2018 San Francisco Pride parade, furries and parties – what’s happening and how to join!

Dogpatch Press - Tue 19 Jun 2018 - 09:04

Before you read about fun with the SF Bay Area Furries, remember why Pride matters. A local furry posted about being a target of an unprovoked homophobic attack this week with a photo of a black eye. He got a lot of support and hundreds of comments, but preferred to keep the post friends-only. And while there was one bad thing, expect hundreds of good things for everyone involved.

Now, here’s how to join us animals for one of our biggest events of the year. Let’s prowl and howl for an all-weekend rager!

SF Pride has had rising furry attendance over several years. More than 70 furries are expected, half in fursuit (a real show-off occasion!) There will be national media coverage (a minute on TV among 280 other groups), and a crowd of over 100,000 watchers.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the hearts of the fandom, with likely the most dense furry population in the world. They have been active here since the 1980’s, and took part in Pride several times in the early 2000’s. They re-appeared (I’ve been organizing since 2012) with a float starting in 2014. Their interest starts with a hobby – but surveys find roughly 2/3 identify as LGBT.  With ultimate creativity to make your ideal identity, it’s about being as free as you can be! (See bottom for a timeline with links to their past participation.)

IMPORTANT – the float can’t happen without your help!

 

WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT VOLUNTEERS. They monitor the marchers and wheels of the vehicle, so nobody turns into road pizza. Right now we need YOU so we aren’t short. The training is easy and online: 1) Watch a short Youtube video, 2) Answer a few questions, 3) Confirm.

Read these instructions to help: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z49_DL3_3ZU-Og9VaqP_c998_5gNFLYQcCfkRn00Qxk/edit?usp=sharing

New members, be ready to march. Space to ride on the float isn’t guaranteed, it was a reward for the fundraiser (we made the goal with matching from Spottacus).

INFO TO JOIN THE PARADE:

 

GROUPS: There may be planning on the fly, so keep in touch and check for updates.

HELP: Check for answers below or in the groups before contacting.

MAP: Important locations you need to know.

Arrival on Sunday: BART riders, exit at Embarcadero.

Drivers: go to Moscone Center garage, 255 3rd Street. (That’s the middle of the route, for easiest walk to the prep area and back from the endpoint. It’s a 15 minute walk each way.) 1 day parking is $29.  BE AWARE there’s a Giants game the same day.

Marchers and volunteers: Arrive at SF Pride parade assembly point N2, at 123 Main Street. We’re Contingent #175.  Be no earlier than 10am, and no later than 1pm. Everyone should dress in animal theme, ears and tails. If you’re a volunteer, avoid head coverings to keep perfect vision.

Watchers: Be anywhere along the Market Street parade route, and the parade starts at 10:30. Remember, furries will be later in the day, possibly well after 1. If you want to attend the gated Celebration in Civic Center until 6PM, check the Pride website for details. (No bins are allowed inside.)

Fursuiters: No bins! Soft foldable bags only.  Due to space, hard bins are NOT ALLOWED on the parade float. A backpack is OK for small personal items. Consider changing on-street at the float (many do.) A van may be a base for changing or limited storage at Moscone Center garage, 255 3rd Street.

RIDING ON THE FLOAT IS NOT GUARANTEED unless you paid the GoFundMe campaign that earned a spot. Those who start on the float, stay on – it won’t stop. Everyone else be ready to walk the route. Consider outdoor footpaws and partialling.

This isn’t cushy or casual.  It’s on the street, in the sun, and on the move. Be rested and hydrated and stick together. There’s no lounge, the crowds are wild, and it’s a show that needs exertion, so be ready to work it for the crowd!

Parade details: In previous years the real start was hours after the official time.  Be patient, but don’t be late, the parade can’t wait!

Marchers, watch your spacing as a group, and where the float is. Try not to clump up, leave gaps or fall behind. The front-facing banner is where the crowds first see us, but active performing close to the barriers is good too. Use the whole street between the float and crowds on BOTH sides. Pose, give hugs and work it! Look for TV cameras on the right side after Fremont Street (a few blocks from the start.)

Parade length is around 45 minutes – 1 hour. At the drop-off on 8th Street, bags and personal items on the float will be handed back to you.

Refreshments: Bottled Water and Sports Drinks.  Please bring your own snacks or extra water.

Crash space and dinner:  Relay (@relayraccoon on Telegram or Twitter) can host overnight in SF. We can meet at his den after the parade ends to go out for dinner at Picaro, on 16th street near Valencia.

SUITERS, for another changing option consider asking Relay to assemble at his den and leave your stuff. You can wear your fursuit on BART to the parade (he’s a 10 minute walk from 16th.)

Conduct tips: San Francisco gets furries, so be fabulous! Pride was born out of protest and some will let their freak flag fly. Organizers reserve the right to deny participation to anyone (it’s never happened). Contact if your costume may be questionable but the only rule is: Be nice and safe. At large urban events there have been incidents like fursuit thefts or hostility, so stay smart and buddy up. Riding BART in fursuit can be intense with crowds, but it’s doable. They love it just like crowds on the street love fursuit photos.

A LOOK BACK:

 

Tom Howling said about 2002: “I was one of the (minor) organizers for that, and want to remind people that there was significant pushback from within the furry community — including among some who consider themselves “leaders” — to prevent us from doing this. They felt that associating with such an event would pigeonhole us as The Gay, or sex-crazed, or whatever. At times it was quite a fight. Sometimes you just have to just ignore and contradict “leaders”.”

UPDATE: the anon local fur who was attacked responded: “Hey it’s important to note that there has been an uptick in hate crimes targeting gays. Obviously since the election it’s been up in general, but in this month, pride month- I know of three other guys who got beat up in SOMA. I think it would be cool if you mention them as well. My situation is the 4th that I know of in the past week.”

Building a tighter group is a good way to help.

There’s all the info you need to be ready. Come out and bring your friends, this will be the best weekend of the year!

Categories: News

How Slow Can You Go?

In-Fur-Nation - Mon 18 Jun 2018 - 01:59

Here’s something we missed: The Giggle and Learn series, written and illustrated by Kevin McCloskey. The latest book is called Snails Are Just My Speed. Here’s what Toon Books has to say about it: “Did you know snails build roads like engineers and go undercover in camouflage like spies? Did you know they can be smaller than a seed or bigger than a grown-up’s hand? Kevin McCloskey mixes snail science, art, and hilarity for the newest book in his Giggle and Learn series, praised by The New York Times as ‘a winning combination of facts and gross-out fun.'” Looks like a little Science goes a long way… eventually…

image c. 2018 Toon Books

Categories: News

Dream Dogs

In-Fur-Nation - Sat 16 Jun 2018 - 17:32

Now here’s a really different sort of art book from Seven Seas. “Fanciful Dogs in Secret Places: A Dog Lover’s Coloring Book offers hours of coloring fun and relaxation, featuring detailed artwork of lovable dogs surrounded by enchanting scenery, eye-catching ornaments, and friendly creatures. Honoel’s vibrant illustrations reveal more surprises upon every viewing, and are just waiting to be colored, making Fanciful Dogs in Secret Places: A Dog Lover’s Coloring Book an unforgettable treat for any dog lover.” And you can find it over at Previews.

image c. 2018 Seven Seas

Categories: News

Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

Dogpatch Press - Fri 15 Jun 2018 - 08:49

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Why dial it down when you can be this fresh?

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

Hilda the Bambioid leapt forth as a very adult fawn, fully-born from the mind of a creator, like none seen before. (OK, it was a fan tribute to artist Jerry Collins, but still.) Who would dare be a sexy furry in 1988? It was a Maculate Conception for a new breed of costuming, with the face of a cute cartoon, and the legs of your most guilty fantasy. (Of course a deer fursona comes with amazing legs!)

With wiggly, jiggly tail-shaking moves, Hilda danced onto a new frontier of fandom, blazing a path to Furry Trash Mountain and it’s eye-popping 1990’s peaks, like Silfur Bunny’s show at Anthrocon 1997. (I hope this stays classic for the 2020’s. Keep Furry Weird!)

Hufff… I want cottonballs on my face:

There may have been others besides Hilda – but not many. I’m unaware of any earlier ones documented and specifically furry (not theme park mascot-style or sci-fi con cosplay). Shawn Keller is credited as one of the first fursuiters in this history vid from Culturally F’d, but in the 1990’s. This article cites Hilda and quotes a lot from me and Fred Patten (“furry’s favorite historian”) about fursuit history and industry:

At the time, most fur-meet activity involved stuff like quietly sharing sketchbooks around a table, or passing around comics. Costuming was not the photogenic face of fandom then. Fred Patten has greymuzzle criticism about how fandom has changed from a quiet mouse into the roaring party monster it is today, with fursuits on top (I’m OK with being on bottom.) But I see the rise of costuming as simply the maturation of the skills, resources, and opportunities of the industrious makers who can make your animal self as huggable and tactile as the word “furry” itself.

In the 1980’s, you had to just Figure It Out and Do It Yourself.  None of it was made-to-order and nobody could do it as a fan-to-fan career. They just didn’t have access to the fur, plans, methods, info channels and inspirations that we do now. Cottage industry develops with scale, so now fandom has grown enough to do what people wanted then. The appearance of domination is just because costuming is a live, visual media; I don’t see it as takeover, because art and writing are healthier than ever too. Don’t hate what Hilda helped start when she dared to kick a hoof through that door.

Here’s a classic photo at the crossroads of fandom old and new:

“Fred Patten becomes editor of Rowrbrazzle at the LASFS Clubhouse in January 1989. Present are former editor Marc Schirmeister, and Bob Hill as a Bambioid.” Photo from kayshapero.net

Hilda was, as the headline says, the self-made art of Robert Hill. He was a cartoonist and a professional Disney character costumer who came in at the ground floor of the 1970’s fandom.  But wait, this isn’t just ancient history – he’s around right now, and although perhaps reputed to be a bit reclusive or hard to get an interview with, I got one for you!

That comes in part 2. While you’re waiting, browse his (very adult, fetishy, and hot) Fur Affinity gallery, or his Wiki that mentions some of his successes in getting media notice. Some was for costuming, and some for art (like in the badly intentioned, but well exposed) MTV Sex2K documentary “Plushies and Furries.” This furry doesn’t just follow others as a simple fan!

Here’s a 2016 Fur Affinity gallery post from him that hints about what to expect in Part 2.

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

For Your Fashionable Feet

In-Fur-Nation - Fri 15 Jun 2018 - 01:02

Sara Varon is a comic creator whom we’ve talked about before several times as both a writer and an artist. (Seriously: Look her up!) Now she’s back as both again with her latest hardcover book, New Shoes, published by First Second. They describe it as “… a heartwarming graphic novel about a donkey on a quest to make the perfect pair of shoes.” Really now? “Francis the donkey is the best shoemaker in the village. He uses only the finest materials: coconut wood for the soles, goat’s wool for the insoles, and wild tiger grass for the uppers. One day he receives a special order from his favorite singer: Miss Manatee, the queen of calypso. But he’s all out of tiger grass! To make the perfect pair of shoes, Francis must journey deep into the jungle . . . and that means leaving his village for the first time.” Find it now over at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2018 First Second

Categories: News

“If an idea resonates with you, there’s absolutely an audience for it”- the furry world of Lobst

Dogpatch Press - Thu 14 Jun 2018 - 10:10

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

Growing up on a diet of sci-fi and fantasy, transformation stories were the ones I loved and could always rely on the writers of most shows to fall back on one of it’s most loved tropes. For me they were always the most frustrating though, as characters spent their time trying either freaking or trying to change back, usually both. Frustratingly they almost never explored a person staying that way, gaining a new perspective on the world. It’s something I’d find renewed interest in when encountering the Furry Fandom and finally found quite literally in the works of Lobst, a furry comics artist who uses their anthropomorphic characters and an individual take on magical realism to express their unique experiences as a trans person.

As with the bulk of their work two of my favourites, both adult comics, prominently feature transgender characters and story lines. A Slightly Different Role follows the exploits of two huskies, Connor and Alex, the latter of which with the aid of a suitably gothic book of curses, magically endows the other with a vagina. The second, more science-fiction orientated That Curious Sensation takes the subject in an entirely different, rarely explored direction. Distracted from work by unwanted erections red panda Clover strikes upon the idea of nullification, quickly achieving his goal with an easily obtainable injection. In both instances the initial transformation is dealt with quickly and often humorously, instead shifting the focus onto how characters react and adapt to the changes, rather than the change itself as a way to explore other parts of a trans individuals experiences and struggles beyond the post surgery aspects that a lot of mainstream representations fixate upon.

Lobst tells stories and presents her trans and gender fluid characters in an interesting and entertaining manner without the fetishization often present in a lot furry comics staring trans characters. Their artwork explores them in entirely different ways, and using the fantasy elements as a springboard to ask more intimate and rarely asked questions about individuals in the trans community through anthropomorphic characters. Despite the ears, tails and fur, her extended cast appear on the page fully rounded and human. Ultimately what sets Lobst’s work apart is the warmth and tenderness it exudes in both the ways their characters interact and the playful way they write about a complicated and multifaceted subject, tackled both playfully and honestly.

We had a chat:

Has art always been a part of you life or something picked up later? How did your art change after coming into contact with the furry fandom?

I’ve always drawn artwork, although it took quite a while for me to start developing original ideas that spread out into stories.  I was a furry-in-denial for a very long time, since the “mainstream” of it — at the time, comics like Sabrina Online and Jack — either seemed too cloying or edgy for my tastes. It took a long time for me to realise that like any other fandom, furries comprise a wide spectrum of interests, so there was a gradual shift from anthro-animal comics like Cigarro & Cerveja/Living In Greytown to Gene Catlow/Kit & Kay Boodle to Associated Student Bodies, Circles, and the webcomics by my friend Moult, after which I spent yet another very-long-time producing furry media “ironically” in groan worthy “extreme” ways. And I think it was only around 2007 or so (yes, seriously) when I started actually looking at furry art, that I learned how to successfully draw furry snouts; until that point a besnouted face was seriously just a box in front of the standard comic-artist human face shield.

When you first started out making comics did you feel there was a lack of them out there for, or about trans and non-binary genders? Do you feel there are more online webcomics than in mainstream comics?

Oh, one of my first inspirations was about the wealth of gender swap story arcs in webcomics, and how I felt they handled the subject inappropriately. Not that I considered them trans-phobic (even though many if them, in retrospect, probably were); it’s just that I was baffled at why none of the characters, at all, wanted to stay in their altered state. So I made my own story, which ended up being a total mess, but it also ended up inspiring my real-life transition in the first place, so.

When I first started my transition in 2004, I remember being severely disheartened at the apparent lack of trans voices in webcomics, considering how accessible the storytelling format is to anyone with pencil, paper, and a scanner. Thankfully, these days there are trans-assembled webcomics everywhere you look, due in no small part to how gender is discussed today compared to back then.

There are more trans-focused stories in webcomics today than there ever have been in mainstream comics. I don’t follow comics very closely, but you just have to look at the rest of media to see where depictions of trans people are at in the public consciousness. Netflix, the only major studio I’m aware of which hires trans actors to play trans people, focuses exclusively on the post-surgery experience of trans women who pass, when — compared to the rest of the trans experience — not only is it just one small part of a trans woman’s overall journey, but it’s also a situation most often occupied by trans women who can afford surgery, voice lessons, facial feminization, laser hair removal, and so on. And this isn’t to trivialise the struggles those women face, of course; it’s just one of the few pieces of transness that holds appeal for cis people. Compared to the proliferation of stories by and about trans/nonbinary people (like Drop-Out, Crossed Wires, Electricopolis, and Go Ye Dogs!), there’s really no contest.

What reaction do you get to your own comics either within the furry fandom or from readers in general?

I’d call it generally positive, with the caveat that I’ve long since stopped seeking approval from non-furry spaces, and even from furry spaces where trans-phobic language isn’t frowned upon; I essentially only post my art to my website and a few Twitter/Tumblr accounts: some private, some not. I’ve never been a popular artist, but I’ve gotten comfortable enough with occupying my specific niche that I’m fairly sure at this point I’d reject popularity if it was thrust upon me. (My chronic anxiety is a pretty big factor in this, too.)

My self-promotion skills are virtually nonexistent, but through sheer word-of-mouth I’ve gotten a couple of diehard fans, which — considering it’s been multiple years since I’ve committed to an ongoing webcomic project — is baffling to me. I was approached for the first time by one at BLFC this year; they requested an autograph, much to my surprise. I was so taken aback I responded by writing my name alongside “thanks for the company!”, which, in retrospect, is ludicrously depressing — but we laughed it off immediately afterwards, thankfully.

A few of your more recent comics, definitely “Adjustment to an Emulated Brain” have felt very personal. Do you find making these kinds of stories to be cathartic for yourself?

Oh, catharsis is the main reason I produce media these days. The inspiration for the main character of that comic — my main fursona, these days — was my persistent desire, as a heavily dysphoric genderless trans person, to find some practical way out of the ill-proportioned body I’ve been stuck occupying for my entire life. Not that I consider myself a diehard transhumanist or anything; this fantasy has also been explored (in other media I’ve privately written and not fully developed yet, all starring different self-inserts) in the forms of virtual reality, magic bodyswapping rituals, reincarnation, and good old-fashioned TF.

An aside: Since Moments From My Adjustment is one of my most viral comics to date, I think I should note what I consider one of the most important rules of storytelling: If an idea resonates with you, as a creator, there’s absolutely an audience for it. Everything I’ve written and drawn since 2010 (and there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it out) has been for one reason: “This is a neat concept, and I want to draw it.”

Although your work has strong fantasy elements such as magic and TF triggers etc, the reactions and situations your characters find themselves in are often very grounded, what appeals to you about this when you are writing?

Magical realism has always appealed to me far more than fantasy or sci-fi settings, mostly because as fictional worlds get further removed from modern society, they start feeling smaller to me. There’s also a believably factor: setting a supernatural story in a realistic world begs all sorts of questions about why/how the supernatural elements are able to remain hidden, especially in the modern world where information is so easily spread. This sounds like a drawback, but if you’re able to pull off a convincing explanation, presto: the possibilities within your fictional world have suddenly expanded dramatically!

Settings like these also allow for your characters to undergo realistic struggles. The Persona series of videogames, for instance, make it a point to keep their protagonists as ordinary as possible, in the process incorporating fantasy-scary story elements like angry gods, shadow dimensions, and arcane magic (all of which are too heavily-caricatured to take seriously), side-by-side with actually-scary situations like family drama, academic success, and financial trouble. Even non-magical sci-fi benefits heavily if it takes place in the very near future, I think.

A lot of your characters come into contact with each other in various comics or pictures, how important is world building to you in this way and how do you go about it?

It’s important for me that internal crossovers remain plausible, by which I mean that there can’t be more than one connection between previously-separate groups of people, and multiple separate connections (e.g. people getting married) cannot form between those groups afterward — otherwise you run into the small-world situation I described earlier; where everyone’s related to each other and meaningful character change is impossible.

An example: I don’t think this has been formally revealed yet, but Grace (from FoRC) lives in the house That Curious Sensation takes place in. Supernatural stuff briefly happens in what little of FoRC I produced, and TCS hinges on the existence of a unique machine which, setting aside that it’s in a silly sex-comic, harbors significant implications for the fate of gender and physical sex in human society. For Grace to be present during both events, those two situations have to be connected for a narratively consistent reason, related to her in some way; otherwise, it’d be just too much of a coincidence to take seriously.

What would be your fave TF trigger? Do you have a preference for technology or magic or does it all depend on the story and characters?

As far as TF triggers go, a couple of favorites come to mind: first, the idea of being surrounded by people with body shapes that you either explicitly or implicitly desire for yourself, having them overwhelm you, and when they pull back, you’ve somehow become one of them. Another comes from a novel I read last year, “The Showroom: Relationships and Robotics”, where no physical shapeshifting takes place; rather, the person realizes they experience life more vividly with their consciousness processed through a robotic shell, which casts doubt on their own identity as a person. That kind of character dynamic and the internal identity struggle is what I love most about TF as a concept; without it (and there’s more than plenty of TF art that assumes watching the TF sequence itself is enough), TF isn’t nearly as interesting to me.

As for my own work, I definitely prefer technology to magic or spirituality, if only because sci-fi pop culture is in the DNA of actual scientific advancement. Not that I expect my work to play any kind of role in the development of real medical techniques, but well, it couldn’t hurt for an amateur like me to put the ideas out there in a format people might want to read, could it?

A few of your comics have characters only expressing themselves in pictographs, did you find it challenging to convey a story and characters reactions using only them? Were there any first draft ideas that you decided would be too difficult to express in this way?

Pictographs are a great way to set your storytelling apart from others, and a fun challenge; primarily in how it encourages you to tell your story economically/with as few word-balloons as possible. I have an awful habit of getting wordy with my dialogue, so it’s refreshing every now and then to pull away from a panel and see a critical concept expressed in a word balloon people can process in half a second.

I will say, however, that reader feedback is essential for this. That Curious Sensation features a moment where Clover is rejecting being touched; apparently a pictograph of a stop sign comes across as more playful (which is what I was going for) than a hand miming the “stop” signal.

Beyond your Patreon comic, are there any ideas you have for the future in terms of comics? Are there any subjects or ideas you’d like to explore in the future?

Oh, plenty! The most important thing I want to do in the future, however, is give people the tools and vocabulary to deal with various kinds of dysphoria; to let people, if they feel out-of-place in uncommon ways, know that it’s OK to explore, soak into, and even publicly express those feelings; that if this world feels like it wasn’t built for you, you’re not alone; you can find friendship and comfort in the company of others who feel the same.

Lobst’s art can be found at lobstworks.com

– Bessie

Categories: News

Art for Tiny Paws con, and tail wags for graphic journalism.

Dogpatch Press - Wed 13 Jun 2018 - 10:00

What got me into furries was classic and TV cartoons and underground animation, and adventure and fantasy novels (Redwall, Spellsinger). I’d buy them by the armload at the used book store. It was all cool to me whether it came with critical approval or not. I just craved more. A good way to get more is DIY-style and from fandom. I found that in small doses with zines in the 1990’s.

Superhero comics were never my thing (I think the 90’s was a bad time for those). Then I found some indies where muscle-people were as seldom seen as they were for a real bookworm. Indies were a step closer to animation and fantasy stuff I loved. It still didn’t exactly register that there was a divide between supposed lowbrow and highbrow comics. I didn’t care that Art Spiegelman’s Maus got a Pulitzer prize and helped turn “graphic novels” into a regular section in book stores. I did get interested by their connection to that energy of zines.

Now I’d say “graphic journalism” (Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine) is a bit of an inspiration. It turned many heads this year when the New York Times got a Pulitzer for a nontraditional graphic story, instead of editorial cartooning.

Would you be into seeing illustrated stories like that here? I’d love to gradually give it a try. Not yet, but if a story really demands it. Up to now this site has been almost exclusively text writing. The visuals are really important and those usually aren’t custom made. But I have the power to give it to you!

Tiny Paws con is getting a little of it. They asked me to make some art, so here it is. If you’re near the con, you should come say hi in August!

The actual Tiny Paws mascot

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

Lonely Girl Meets Only Bird

In-Fur-Nation - Wed 13 Jun 2018 - 01:59

Dodo is a new full-color graphic novel written and illustrated by Felipe Nunes. Ostensibly for young readers, it actually has more on its mind… “Laila is six years old and she’s been taken out of school following her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t understand why she can’t go to school with the rest of her friends or why her dad never comes by anymore. Laila comes across a mysterious bird, a dodo named Ralph, and befriends the creature that has been living in the part near her house. Through her friendship with Ralph, Laila starts to notice things, things she never wanted to understand.” Check it out at Simon & Schuster.

image c. 2018 Boom! Studios

Categories: News

The Scales and the Tails

In-Fur-Nation - Mon 11 Jun 2018 - 01:37

If you haven’t found it yet, The Dragget Show is a furry fandom podcast created by Xander the Blue (dragon) and Alkali Bismuth (the ferret). Lately though, they’ve been expanding their reach beyond their original podcast.  Here, we’ll let them tell you about it: “The Dragget Show started as a furry comedy podcast with Xander the Blue & Alkali Bismuth (which we still do!), but we also do a bunch more things too, like Dungeons & Draggets, Cooking With Alkali, Dragget News Network, Xan Rants, & a monthly livestream FIRECAST. We also do live podcasts at Furry conventions!” So in other words: Look for them on line, and near you!

image c. 2018 The Dragget Show

Categories: News

Don’t Be A Lonely Hunter Anymore…

In-Fur-Nation - Sat 9 Jun 2018 - 01:59

At BLFC this year we came across an ad for The Dragon Tax, a new fantasy novel by Madison Keller. “When the King of Thima Island hires Sybil Dragonsbane, the last thing she expects is to be collecting taxes. Sybil has misgivings, but gold is gold. However, tax collecting isn’t as easy as it seems. When a defenseless and handsome dragon begs her for help, Sybil discovers there is more to the tax than simple gold. Now wanted and on the run together, she must protect the dragon while untangling the truth. Worst of all, she may be falling in love.” The book is available now at Amazon.

image c 2018 Hundeliebe Publishing

Categories: News

Start Your Kids on a Fantasy Adventure

In-Fur-Nation - Fri 8 Jun 2018 - 01:19

And speaking of the young folks… We came across this at a book store. (Remember those?) The Last Firehawk is a new illustrated fantasy series for beginning readers, written by Katrina Charman and illustrated by Jeremy Norton. Here’s what they say about the first book, The Ember Stone, over at Scholastic: “A terrible darkness is spreading across Perodia. Thorn, a powerful vulture, is using dark magic (and his dark army of spies!) to destroy the magical land. A young owl named Tag may be the only one who can save it! Tag dreams of one day becoming a brave warrior, but he is small . . . In this first book, Tag and his best friend — a squirrel named Skyla — meet the last firehawk. Together, the three friends learn about a magical stone. Could this stone be powerful enough to defeat Thorn? This action-packed series makes a great introduction to fantasy and quest stories for newly independent readers. Realistic black-and-white artwork appears on every page!” Already there are four books available in the series.

image c. 2018 Scholastic

Categories: News

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Thu 7 Jun 2018 - 10:00

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

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2018, trade paperback, $17.00 (319 pages), Kindle $4.15.

Once a Dog is told from the viewpoint of Jesse B. Collie, a young dog on the farm of Mister Overlord. He is no longer a puppy, but he is still too young to be trained to work like Mother, an experienced sheepdog, so he romps happily around the farmyard with his littermates Lil, Zac, Pixie, and Toby. Mister and Missus Overlord are too busy to play with him, but Oldmister Overlord – Mister Overlord’s father, now retired – plays fetch and other games with him.

The first chapter establishes the dogs’ vocabulary. The sun and moon are hot-ball and cold-ball; day and night are bright-light and slight-light; humans are uprights; dogs are packers; sheep are dumbfluffs; barnyard fowls are jumpfly-gabblegabbles, and so on.

One night there is a commotion in the farmhouse, and the next day Oldmister Overlord does not come out to play with Jesse. The reader can tell that he has died the night before, but Jesse only knows that he does not come out any more. Maybe he went away in the strange rolling-house (an ambulance or hearse) that came that night. When Mister and Missus Overlord soon leave in Truck, and Missus Overlord doesn’t close the farm gate tightly, Jesse sets out to follow them and find Oldmister Overlord. They lead him farther than he expects, into the nearby small town which has a bewildering confusion of uprights.

“He had made a big mistake and strayed into hostile territory. And for that, there was only one solution. He’d just have to try harder to smell his way out. So he lowered his nose to the ground, but that prompted an immediate sneeze. Just as he’d feared, the jumble of smells was awfully confusing. And he couldn’t trust his hearing all that well, either. His desperate attempts to single out the unique frequency of any one upright among the discordant sounds around him failed repeatedly, leaving him no choice but to continue down the road almost completely exposed and defenseless. Those packers who had signed at the bush [dogs that had urinated on a bush] had passed this way, too; he could still smell them sure enough.” (p. 29)

Jesse tracks Mister and Missus Overlord into the church where Oldmister Overlord’s funeral is being held. Mister Overlord leads Jesse into Truck (it’s the first time he’s ever been in Truck; he likes the wind blowing through his fur even more than playing ball with Oldmister) and drives him home. Jesse tells his siblings the exciting things that he saw and did, and when Zac doesn’t believe him, he jumps over the fence to prove it to Zac.

“With a loud sigh, Jesse turned around again and began the trek uphill to join his brother. Once at the top of the rise, he sat, dropped the ball to the ground by his paws and studied the way ahead. There it was again – that field with all those identical and evenly spaced tree stumps in the valley below.

‘Oh, that,’ Jesse said, feigning disinterest although he was in fact elated at having remembered the way after all. A shiver ran down his spine, setting his hair on end. ‘It’s nothing. There’s no one in that field. I already looked.’

‘There is!’ Zac snapped. ‘The rolling-house that just passed us went inside. It’s over there now, beside that small house at the back of the field.’” (p. 53)

Then, with the beginning of Chapter 4 on page 61, the novel takes a completely unexpected turn that I can’t reveal without giving away a gigantic spoiler! I will just say that Jesse is thrown into a very confusing situation.

“‘[…] Personally, I think you’re a fine fellow, who through no fault of your own, became caught up in an unfortunate circumstance.’

Jesse had no clue what the one-eyed packer was talking about. He pawed at the ground in frustration.

‘Let me put it to you directly, then,’ Scratcher said, rolling onto his paws. ‘Do you stand for or against the amendment?’

Jesse’s knees threatened to buckle again and something inside his stomach began to somersault. ‘I don’t even understand it.’

[…]

‘What’s happening?’ Jesse whimpered.

‘Revolution,’ the big hound replied, then jerked his head around to survey each ridge, long ears swinging unrestrained. ‘Those who support the amendment and those who oppose it are about to engage in battle. We’re better off here.’ He turned to Jesse. ‘Unless you want to take a side.’

Who, me?’ Jesse howled. ‘This is your fight,’ he said, turning to Scratcher. ‘I want nothing to do with it.’

‘Too late for that,’ Sherlock replied. We’re all in it now.’

Jesse planted his rear on the ground. ‘I have no intention of fighting for something I don’t even understand,’ he snapped.

The big hound’s brow lifted. ‘Good Havens, little fellow, did you think I meant we should get in there and scrap with the rest of them? No, no. I simply meant that we will be at the mercy of whichever side wins the day.’” (pgs. 178-181)

Once a Dog (cover by Lew Viergacht) has an ending that is impossible to guess in advance. The title is part of a phrase continuously cited: “Once a dog, always a dog”. Don’t believe it.

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

Teddies Follow the Clues

In-Fur-Nation - Wed 6 Jun 2018 - 01:56

Well look what showed up in our news-feed… Animation magazine talking about a new series for young viewers. “Upcoming Netflix Original animated series Treehouse Detectives is ready to introduce itself to worldwide viewers this year. The preschool series will debut June 8 in over 190 countries/territories… Treehouse Detectives is created by Seoul-based animation studio Enpop and co-produced with Saban Brands… Aimed at children ages 3-6, the series follows brother and sister detective team Toby and Teri as they ‘use the clues’ and ‘follow the facts’ to solve everything from backyard mysteries to the bigger puzzles of the natural world.” Looks like another season is already in the works, too.

image c. 2018 Enpop

Categories: News

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, Edited by Thurston Howl – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Tue 5 Jun 2018 - 10:00

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

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Drkchaos.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.99 (278 [+ 1] pages).

Infurno certainly looks like a descent into Furry Hell. It’s printed in white type on black paper – all 278 pages of it. The full-page illustrations by Drkchaos (identified in the blurb as Joseph Chou) add to the book’s grim aspect.

Actually, Infurno makes a good companion volume to the publisher’s Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary and also illustrated by Joseph Chou. But where that anthology was weird-horror, this one is more horror-disgusting.

Infurno presents 14 stories themed around the Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno, divided by a Prologue, eight Interludes, and an Epilogue; unsigned but presumably by the anthology’s editor, Thurston Howl. There are one each for Limbo, Lust, Heresy, and Fraud, and two for Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Violence, and Treachery.

Kyle (sub, jackal) and Terry (dom, squirrel), two gay lovers working alone at Feral Electronics at night, are summoned to the building’s ninth basement floor. (The building doesn’t have nine basements.) There Atha, a mysterious gazelle, leads them further down a staircase.

Atha, their guide into the Inferno, tells them they must witness the final memories of 14 damned souls. Some of the Interludes are more horrific than the stories:

“A three-headed dog as large as a skyscraper loomed over the ocean. The waves themselves, though high and mobile, were thick and viscous, oily yet solid. Breaking the surface all around the dog were drowning souls. When one would breach the surface right below one of the massive heads, the head would swoop down and grab the unfortunate spirit by its head, fling it around it, chew it, and swallow it.” (p. 48) {The sea is shit, not water.]

In “Blur” by Weasel (Limbo), they meet Ely, a white lab mouse who has gotten sick of always giving blow jobs for money and tries to leave that life. “But you can’t stay a whore forever. I started getting tired of sucking dick. The taste of cum started to burn my stomach each time I swallowed.” (p. 18)

In “A New Toy” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch (Lust), Anderson, a fox pornography store owner, is offered ten new Lovecraftian sex toys. “The first impression the toy gave me was of something vagina-pink that I couldn’t make heads of tails of. There were multiple holes that looked like insertion points for a penis, but their locations didn’t make any logical sense.” (p. 38) Moral: don’t stick your prick into any hole if you don’t know where it leads.

In “Down Among the Damned” by R. S. Pyne (Gluttony), Ray Drayner (fox) is a character like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, but where Monty Python played the ridiculously-obese Mr. Creosote for laughs, Ray is an overweight unfunny sadist. “At close to two hundred and eighty pounds, a beleaguered heart registered its distress with the first in a series of minor cardiac arrests. Ray ignored his doctor’s advice to cut down on rich, fatty foods and smoking, give up alcohol, and take more exercise. The glutton’s mantra ruled: life was too short to eat salad and low-fat dressing, or walk anywhere – pass the heavy cream and maple syrup glazed bacon bits.” (p. 52)

“Go Nuts for Donuts” by Jensyn Grayves (Gluttony) features Mike, a raccoon who seems more of a slob and a snob than a glutton. He won’t give any of his company’s leftover donuts to the homeless men (cats) in the company parking lot (“If Brianna wanted to give free food and coffee to these disgusting, lazy, homeless people that couldn’t be bothered to hold down a job, let her. He wouldn’t stoop so low to support their poor life choices.” –p. 68), so when they kill him for not giving them any donuts, his soul goes to the second level of Hell. (Huh?)

“The Eye of Aquana” by Faolan (Greed) features two otter thieves who, when they aren’t stealing, engage in graphic homosexual pleasures. The reader must guess which of them will come to a final memory.

In “The Cold” by Cedric Bacon (Greed), two friends, Masterson (husky) and Bones (setter) go prospecting for gold in the far North. They strike it rich, but Bones gets frostbitten and they delay leaving for town until a blizzard traps them in their cabin. As they wait, Masterson becomes greedy.

“As he looked at Bones, Masterson realized their partnership was always one with a singular purpose. And as far as he was concerned, that purpose was fulfilled when they found the gold. It was Bones who had not held up his end of the bargain, not Masterson.

He glanced down at his feet and saw the sack filled with their gold. It was no longer a matter of dividing it fifty-fifty. Masterson felt he was owed much more than just half. He had a mind to take all of Bones’ share, and he was more than tempted to wake the setter and tell him just that.” (p. 102)

What will Masterson do, and what will happen to him?

“A Cat in Hell’s Chance” by James Hudson (Wrath) cleverly presents a stereotyped animated cartoon cat-&-mouse situation in a more realistic scenario. Jim (cat), crazy with hatred, is determined to kill Terry (mouse) with stacks of dynamite:

“The thought of Terry’s face had thrown Jim into another downward spiral of despair and self-loathing. Even as he imagined his victory, he could not help but linger on the memories of his many defeats. Whether the threat made against Terry had been a legal, verbal, or physical one, he had always been able to side-step it with a grin on his face as if it had been nothing. Jim couldn’t imagine anyone sidestepping an explosion.” (p. 114)

In “Je Reviendrai” by Kirisis (Wrath), Georgia (red panda), an unpleasant woman, is determined to force her philandering stoat husband to submit to her will. This story goes on after the damned soul’s death.

“Metal Hellth” by Ferric (Heresy) features Justin, a Canadian lynx punk rock musician whose act is simulating a black mass on stage including a flaming summoning of Satan. When he dies of a heroin overdose, he finds himself on an infernal stage having to perform for a real devilish audience:

“This was his punishment. For all eternity, he’d be forced to sing the same song as he got burned alive in painful agony, barely even uttering a word as the flames surrounded him in their unforgiving heat and scorching pain. All for writing a few songs about how great this place was.” (p. 167)

“In the Name of Science” by Allison Thai (Violence) is narrated by Sorae Ishii (weasel), in Japan in 1941 who is invited to join his father’s research team in Manchukuo. The World War II German medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners is well-known (Dr. Josef Mengele was called “the Angel of Death”), but the similar Japanese medical experiments in Manchukuo are ignored by comparison. At the end of the war Ishii commits what he says is honorable suicide rather than trying to survive in disguise or in hiding. The reader is left to assume what happens to his soul.

“A Soul Removed” by Stephen Coghlan (Violence) focuses upon Seers, a teenage bull terrier. It seems at first that his sin is Lust, but this is the Circle of those who died in Violence. Guess how.

In “Waiting” by TJ Minde (Fraud), Page (mouse) and Xander (skunk) are gay lovers. Xander thinks only of having sex together, while Page would rather go out on dates and postpone the sex. Guess where the Fraud is.

In “Those Delicate Fingers” by Hypetaph (Treachery), Maverick, a werewolf, decides to make his Nora, his girlfriend, his next victim. That’s treachery. Of course, the story has a surprise.

“The Night Betrayed” by Jaden Drackus (Treachery) features Shadow, a black jaguar assassin serving in the Nightguard of a medieval Emperor. He sends Shadow and his mate, Ra’jarr (caracal) to eliminate the Countess of Tornheim (sika deer), a sadist who has been killing her subjects and may be plotting against him – treachery, for sure.

After this, Kyle’s and Terry’s tour is supposed to take them to the pleasanter realms of Purrgatorio and Pawradiso – but not unmarked.

Infurno is a furry horror anthology that really delivers.

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

Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley – Book Review by Fred Patten

Dogpatch Press - Mon 4 Jun 2018 - 10:00

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

Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley. Map.
Orlando, FL, the author, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 (338 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

“In a not too distant future, humanity is extinct. The world is now ruled by animals who wield swords, magic and technology to create and protect vast empires. As darkness grows on the horizon, an unlikely hero will be chosen to defend this new world.” (blurb)

I am immediately turned off by this. It’s the difference between the book and the movie of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH/The Secret of NIMH. In the book, things are accomplished through Science. The mice and rats have their intelligence raised through scientific experimentation, but are otherwise unchanged. The new society that the rats build is based on what they need. It doesn’t have lots of electric lights because the rats are used to living without lights. The rats don’t wear clothes because they have fur. They scurry on all fours. Nicodemus, their leader, is a wise rat who studies much. In the movie, the rats walk upright and have built a hidden imitation human town with lots of lighting. They dress in medieval clothes, and Nicodemus is a wizard who can work Magic.

Both the book and the movie have their fans. If you liked the movie, you will probably love Longtails, Book One: The Storms of Spring.

“Biological warfare and radiation during World War 4 have had surprising effects on the creatures of the world. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Raccoons scour the countryside for motorbike parts. Squirrels have taken to the sky aboard flying ships. Danger lurks around every corner.” (p. 1)

Del Hatherhorne is an average brown mouse. “He came to live in an abandoned apartment room in the northern part of the great mouse city of Verden.   His new home was on the third floor of a complex, located at the corner of 14th Street and Larimer – according to their corresponding rusted green street signs at least.” (p. 7) The World War has apparently killed all the humans but left their city intact for the mice to move into. “He’d fallen in love with the vacant studio apartment the moment he’d laid eyes on it. Shelves adorning pale blue walls were filled floor to ceiling with everything from manga (Japanese comics which read right to left), to comics (mostly published by DC but with a spattering of Marvel, Image and Darkhorse), to video games (a wide assortment with role-playing games and puzzlers making up the bulk of it) and even old movies (names like Spielberg, Lucas and Ridley Scott were embossed along the spines of the shimmering boxes).” (p. 8)

Del gets an old human computer, too. It all sounds very Mary-Sue. “From Spider-Man’s troubled youth to Kenshin’s search for redemption, to Batman’s vengeance for his parents’ death, Del was hard-pressed to ever take his furry face away from the pages of a book. But at night, he would finally take a break from reading, only to use an old fuel generator to power up the computer.” (p. 9)

It isn’t all scrounging from the civilization of the dead humans. “It wasn’t all business at the market though. Del also enjoyed overhearing stories of the brave members of the Longtails, a mouse-made military force commanded by the Council of Five. The Council was the ruling body of the Mouselands that decided all things in the way of mouse livelihood. From magic-wielding members of the Spectrum Halls, who fought off an infestation of horned beetles; to brave fighters and sharp-shots defending the Mouselands from foxes and roaming raccoons just past the borders of mouse territories; Del found these stories almost as exciting as those involving Harry, Ron and Hermione as they fought to stop the rising evil of Voldemort alongside their rising piles of Potions homework.” (p. 11)

Do you get the impression from this that Del and the other mice are mouse-sized or human-sized? It sometimes seems like one thing and sometimes like the other.

Well, let’s skip the pages and pages of background and get to the plot. Del is reading a graphic novel in his apartment when his attention is drawn to three of the Longtails in the street below (shown in a later scene on Dexter Allagahrei’s cover), who conveniently address each other by name; Denya (the ladymouse in the red cloak), Roderick (the white mouse in a red coat and feathered hat), and Arthur (in black). That’s Del in green with the navy blue & turquoise scarf on the cover. (Headley’s description is very detailed.) They are being stalked by a mink assassin. Del is suddenly compelled to warn them, at some danger to himself, and he magically defeats the mink, which reveals him as a Trelock with magic powers. The Longtails want him to join them.

“‘You can’t just leave!’ barked Arthur, finally taking Del seriously. There was no more evidence of levity in his voice or in his pale face. ‘Do you have any idea how incredible it is that we found you? Your abilities would be invaluable to the Longtails. You’d be on the shortlist for the most prestigious bands. Leave? I daresay, that would be like shutting the door on your destiny!’

‘I don’t want to join a Longtails band! I don’t want a destiny!’ squeaked Del. ‘I just want to sit on my windowsill and read my book. I just want to go home.’” (pgs. 37-38)

Mary-Sue again, or Bilbo Baggins protesting that he doesn’t want to go on an adventure. You know how well that works.

Headley’s plot is ridiculously simplistic, but his writing is quite good, and it certainly doesn’t lack action:

[Del is reading a manga in his apartment. He hears a noise in the hall outside.]

Ting. Ting. Ting. A strange sound hit his ears from the direction of the apartment door […] He rolled onto his side to face the door and listened for the source of the sound. The rhythmic metallic clink seemed to be getting faster, like the sound of a fan or engine revving up in slow motion to a steady rotation. He couldn’t quite place it though. It was a completely new noise in the typically quiet building. Sure, there were families living in other units above and below him and even some on the same floor, but he rarely heard so much as a peep from them.

The sound grew faster and closer. He could hear it zipping back and forth from one end of the door’s bottom edge to the other. Del focused his eyes on the lower portion of the door, waiting for some clue as to what was causing the noise. Suddenly, his bubble of solitude broke as loud shots of rapid gunfire filled the air. Bullets sprayed through the bottom half of the door, tearing away at the wood.

Del dove for cover, leaping behind his book as though it might actually be strong enough to protect him. He peeked out just as the bottom fourth of the door was dismantled by bullets. Dust and debris flooded the now empty space between what was left of the door and the hardwood flooring. In the aftermath cloud, Del could just make out a slender shadow stepping through the opening.

As the dust settled around him, it revealed a mink standing on its hind legs with completely jet-black fur, except for a small patch of white on its chin. Del immediately noticed the mink’s right forearm and paw were missing, and in their place was a six-barreled Gatling minigun. It attached just above where the mink’s elbow should have been. As the mink stood in the doorway, the barrels began to spin down slowly, smoke drifting up from them.” (pgs. 49-50)

It might be exciting if Del’s Trelock power didn’t make him so invulnerable. Anyhow, Del joins Roderick, Denya, and Arthur; and if the resulting adventure isn’t as exciting as The Lord of the Rings, it isn’t because Headley doesn’t try. To be continued in Longtails, Book Two: The Wildfires of Summer.

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

Is She The Last Dog?

In-Fur-Nation - Mon 4 Jun 2018 - 01:44

Now there’s a brand new fantasy series for young readers from Katherine Applegate, well-known author of the Animorphs series and books like The One And Only Ivan. Her new series is called Endling, and the first book is Endling: The Last. Here’s what the publisher says: “Byx is the youngest member of her dairne pack. Believed to possess remarkable abilities, her mythical doglike species has been hunted to near extinction in the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra. After her pack is hunted down and killed, Byx fears she may be the last of her species. The Endling. So Byx sets out to find safe haven, and to see if the legends of other hidden dairnes are true. Along the way, she meets new allies—both animals and humans alike—who each have their own motivations for joining her quest. And although they begin as strangers, they become their own kind of family—one that will ultimately uncover a secret that may threaten every creature in their world.” The Last is available now in hardcover, and the publisher’s web site features a book trailer and an interview with the author.

image c. 2018 Harper Collins

Categories: News

Werewolf Minds and Werewolf Hearts

In-Fur-Nation - Sat 2 Jun 2018 - 01:59

Interlude Press is a boutique publisher specializing in fiction geared toward the LGBT crowd and their friends and allies. While visiting their booth at the LA Times Festival of Books we came across the works of Michelle Osgood.  Her talent is dark supernatural fantasies with more than a touch of romance — and her favorite subject seems to be werewolves. Here’s the press release for The Better To Kiss You With, the first book in her series of the same name: “In the rare moments when Deanna Scott isn’t working as the moderator for Wolf’s Run, an online werewolf role-playing game, she wanders the local forest trails with her golden retriever, Arthur, and daydreams about Jaime, the attractive, enigmatic woman who lives upstairs. As Wolf Run’s “den mother,” Deanna is accustomed to petty online drama. But when threats from an antagonistic player escalate, Deanna wonders if her awesome online job could be riskier than she’d ever imagined — and if her new girlfriend knows more about this community than she had realized.”  The next two books in the series are Huntsmen and Moon Illusion.

image c. 2018 Interlude Press

Categories: News

“At least you can hiss pretty good”- Jenny Mure tackles depression in candid Possum comics

Dogpatch Press - Fri 1 Jun 2018 - 10:00

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

One thing I’ve briefly alluded to but never directly addressed is feeling ‘down’ over the course of the last three years, maybe more if I’m being brutally honest with you. It’s harder to admit even after eight months of the stabilising effects of Citalopram that it had, without me really noticing, swallowed up the largest part of these years. I struggled along from day to day and mood to mood believing I could just “shrug it off,  Stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge it for what it really was, barely even able to say the word, depression.  Admitting it to others was one of the biggest hurdles and even after finally reaching out and getting help last year I still find the hardest part is just the sheer difficulty in talking about it without truly understanding why I feel this way. Selfishly it’s  one of the reasons I’ve been attracted Jenny Mure’s possum books, the closest paper and ink, maybe any medium has come to depicting the roller coaster of emotions and the even worse bottoming out and endless emptiness that follows. I know,  I know,  “You’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing” but hear me out anyway, please.

Unlike the rest of Mure’s polished, predominantly fantasy based work her two volumes of Possum comics are undeniably rough and ready with a done in one, raw immediacy that perfectly fits a diary comic about the everyday struggles that go hand in hand with mental health and art. Sketched in black ink with unequal slanted frames (if any) and following no set format they show Mure living with the ups and crushing downs of depression over a two year period. “At times like these, Opossums talk to my soul more then any other animal” declares a sketchy inked Possum on the opening page and as suggested by the title, she discusses and explores these experiences through a Possum alter ego, perfectly capturing the feeling of not quite feeling like yourself when depression tightens it’s grip on you. Even though everyone experiences it differently and the finer details may change, I was surprised by how many I could relate too and would strike a similar chord with other readers such as peoples well meaning advice to just stop being “such a gloomy motherfucker”. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s impossible to know how hollow, annoying and  useless even a well intentioned tit-bit like that can be.

One that really struck me and stuck with me more then I’d like to admit is when Mure explores setting prohibitive standards and worry onto her possum comics. In a strikingly simplistic sketch of a possum who details the lack of possum comics and attributes it to setting unusually high standards where no one else is expecting them. Essentially stripping the comics of their cathartic purpose and deftly showing how depression and works to break down any of the flimsy coping mechanisms you might have dared built up to protect yourself.

Her second in the series, So I’m still a Possum, tackles the thorny subject of people appreciating and admiring a piece of work that might be difficult for a creator when it’s origins lie in such a dark and difficult time in their life. Mure describes her trepidation about the first volume being the most popular ‘zine in her shop and at shows whilst being “scrappy and unpolished”. It’s something that caused me to hesitate time and time again when I decided I wanted to show my appreciation for her work,not wanting to add to add anything negative to anyone else’s state of mind. Don’t come to Mure’s comics expecting any advice on how to cope with depression or tackle mental health, it’s not that kind of comic, not by a long shot.  Yet, they are all the better for realising this and not reaching out for a resolution or offering hollow advice. It’s a stark and painfully  honest account of her own experiences coping with depression and hopefully their popularity is derived from people like myself being able to hand it to others when our own words wither and  fail us and say “this”. In the very same strip, Mure succinctly sums up the dark, uncomfortable appeal of her Possum work, “All I can hope is it can do the same to other people in some small way. Something to nod and say me too” she explains through her Marsupial alter ego “To feel a little less alone, if nothing else”

Jenny’s artwork can be found at her website, littlemure.com and tweets here.

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