Even in non-writing communities in the furry fandom, many furries are aware of the Ursa Major Awards. They’ve been around for about 17 years, have presence at cons, and each year they receive many voters. However, for all their legacy, Thurston Howl – (a furry publisher who assisted with social media and marketing for the UMAs in 2017) – has come forward with concerns involving the UMAs’ recent soliciting for donations and GoFundMe campaign.
A transparency concern.
Until now, there has been no formal budget or accounting for funding. Fred Patten, Secretary of the ALAA (Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which runs the UMAs), told Howl on 5/30/17: “I cannot remember that the Treasurer for the ALAA has ever submitted a formal treasury report.” Fred confirmed there were no records for 17 years, and later added:
I don’t know how much it costs to print UMA award certificates, buy frames for them, ship them to the recipients, make and ship powerpoint presentations, etc., and I don’t know how much total in donations we’ve gotten over the years…
There have been complaints in email discussion by associates. ALAA member Bernard Doove said: “I would like a report on the finances that is more than ‘we’re broke.'” And on 5/4/17, a donor reported that they considered their donation “an unwise decision that could have been put to much better use elsewhere.” There were even fears of misappropriation, but Bernard Doove found no evidence when he looked in the bank accounts. The explanation seems to be fees of $156/year to maintain a Checking and Savings account if they have under a $300 minimum balance each.
It honestly seems like an issue of mixing small fan efforts with more formal organization, like how fandom started. ALAA Treasurer Rod O’Riley was a fandom founder who helped start Confurence in 1989. He responded to a request for comment:
The problem is not transparency — the problem is a lack of funds to be transparent about.
All donations have made their way into our bank account, and have been spent on either what they were supposed to be spent on — making and mailing out our trophies and plaques — or else were swallowed by the bank fees. ALL donations. Sometimes they took a while to get where they were going — as recently, when PayPal and our bank’s on-line system had difficulties talking to each other, for reasons I still do not understand. But eventually, they got where there were going.
Good faith is evident when many operation costs have been paid out of pocket by Rod and other ALAA members. However, when public contribution is wanted, more formal fiduciary duty should be expected. Can we see a budget for expenses? Will there be accounting for what is received and spent, and a report? Without such efforts, donations could be received under mistaken expectations. There should be clarity for donors reached by public appeals.
The understaffed committee.
When Howl consulted ALAA members in 2017, Fred Patten explained:
The ALAA has always been an understaffed volunteer organization. We have had to take who we can get. Rod is literally the only person who has shown any interest in handling the ALAA’s assets. We can’t afford to fire him; who would we replace him with?
Let me emphasize that the ALAA does have some real expenses, and with all donations going into Rod’s pockets and him paying for those expenses personally, we are basically trusting that his financial contributions outweigh the amount of the donations we get from other people.
On top of all of this, for con presentations of the UMAs, Rod apparently charges the ALAA for some services, such as assembling “and delivering” a Powerpoint presentation. Volunteering is work, but isn’t every con run without compensation? It seems that Rod puts in a great deal of work into both the ALAA and the UMAs, and the ALAA board allows respect for his long experience and devotion. A clear budget could help assure that to the public.
Here’s some steps for proper accounting to solicit more and better help:
- A finance 101 book for indie business could solve some issues such as what the IRS expects.
- Start a basic bookkeeping system – such as with Quickbooks or free Google Sheets.
- Optionally, set up a Chart of Accounts for income and spending categories.
- Make sure all income and expense transactions are tracked.
- Post a clear budget and promise annual reports.
- THEN crowdfund for expenses with full transparency.
I’m actually very appreciative of the system you laid out. Other than the paperwork to fill out for the US of A (which is new now that we have a Tax ID number), much of it is things we’ve already been doing — again, when asked. We simply have to make them habitual even even not asked. Can do.
CAN YOU HELP? PLEASE COMMENT.
Let’s solve this to raise donations and make the Ursas what they always promise to be – a fandom institution to rely on, be proud of, discover with and enjoy!
Are you willing and able to volunteer skill for the understaffed needs? How about donations to offer, contingent on progress? Specifically, there’s a wish for small, stable, solid yearly contributions out of the budgets of big cons to sustain the awards. Can any con organizers assist?
Soon, the UMA GoFundMe campaign will be reposted on Dogpatch Press and promoted with a reminder about needs that generous people can help address. Solving these problems would be a good way to help repay what Rod and associates have done for fandom since the beginning.
Additional comments from ALAA members, February 2018.
The ALAA has needed volunteers for years, but we have lost members rather than gained, and we are all doing as much as possible to keep the Ursa Major Awards running. I’ll be donating money from my personal funds once again for the 2017 Award trophies, and I will be flying up to Queensland where the awards ceremony will be held at FurDU this year in order to run the event. The cost of that comes out of my own pocket too. I’m willing to do my bit for the cause, but we desperately need more people with the skills required to improve it.
Fred Patten adds:
Often it isn’t as much the money as the time & effort to cover the bureaucratic details. Rod has also been handling all the correspondence and financing to have our trophies made and mailed to the recipients. I don’t know exactly how much labor and money is involved, but Rod has been taking care of it alone for over 15 years now.
Since 2015, we have replaced the first UMA trophies — the framed certificates — with the lucite trophies, which are more expensive.
I have told McFarland & Co., the publisher of my Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015, to donate all my royalties directly to the ALAA, but so far this has been less than $200. Something else that I have been trying to get is some of the better-established furry conventions to regularly donate $100 a year to the ALAA. Is there any way to arrange for a regular small donation from, for example, Anthrocon or Further Confusion or Midwest FurFest or Megaplex or Biggest Little Fur Con or Furry Fiesta or Anthro Weekend Atlanta? If we could get just $100 each from some conventions, we should meet our annual budget.
Visit the Ursa Major Awards site to learn more about what they do.
Atlas & Axis is a well-known and award-nominated funny-animal adventure graphic novel from Europe, written and illustrated by Pau. Now Titan Comics have brought us the first English-language edition, and they’re releasing it as a 4-issue comic miniseries through their Statix imprint. The publishers describe it like this: “In the fantastical world of Pangea, all the animals talk and walk on two paws. Warriors Atlas and Axis are mutts of very different pedigrees: Atlas is intelligent and rational, a calculating hero, while Axis is more likely to take a wild swing when his blood runs hot. When our roaming adventurers return home to find Viking raiders – brutes from the North who pillage and kill all who fall under their claws – have destroyed their village, they set off on a perilous quest across land and sea to save what remains of their friends and family!” Comicon.com have a more detailed look that includes several preview pages. And don’t be fooled: This is not a cute all-ages comic book!
Furry Ambassadors – a recognition program
“Furries ruin everything.” “F#$king Furries.” “Yiff in H$!!.” The furry community can face stigmatization from the mainstream – and for some, fursecution is real. That being said, there are good people who put a lot of effort into the furry community. Between helping people financially, educationally, or by going out of their way to help keep the peace, there are good furs out there who deserve to be recognized for their efforts.
On June 1st, 2017, the Furry Ambassadors Program was initiated on Fur Affinity: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/furryambassadors. An ambassador is someone who protects people, promotes prosperity, or works for peace. Meeting one of those three duties has become a requirement for someone to be recognized a Furry Ambassador as well, as this is not a popularity contest. Being a Furry, however, is optional.
The list of Furry Ambassadors to date are as follows.
- June 2017: The chairman of Anthrocon, Dr. Samuel Conway aka Uncle Kage aka kagemushi
- July 2017: Doctor Courtney “Nuka” Plante aka Nuka-kitty
- August 2017: Aberguine from the YouTube channel Furries in the Media
- September 2017: Arrkay and UnderbiteDragon of the YouTube Channel CulturallyFD
- October 2017: Founder of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, Dr. Kathy Gerbasi
- November 2017: Civil litigation lawyer Boozy Barrister Badger
- December 2017: DogPatch.Press, founded by Patch O’Furr/Patch_Packrat, with Furry Historian Fred Patten, and contributing editor Pup Matthias.
- January 2018: (skipped due to holidays). More is coming soon… please get in touch with them to nominate furries who deserve recognition!
Want to nominate your own FurryAmbassador or learn more?
Please visit our FurAffinity page for more info!https://t.co/vD8rwja1FS
How are they selected and what’s the goal?
Anyone can be nominated to be a Furry Ambassador. We have a list of everyone nominated, and pick someone to be reviewed. A vetting process then occurs for the nominee. We research the person to see if they have met the ambassador requirements, as well we reach out to people who have had contact with the nominee to get any additional background and or perspective. If the nominee passes the vetting process, then a recognition is written and privately provided to the nominee to review. If the nominee consents, then at the beginning of the next month, the recognition is posted on the Fur Affinity account and posted to be shared across various art blogs and social media outlets. If however the nominee does not meet the ambassador requirement upon review, then the recognition is shelved. A shelved recognition can be reviewed at a later time when evidence of the nominee’s meeting the ambassador requirements can be identified.
So what is the benefit of being recognized as a Furry Ambassador? Does it make the person into a super fur, or do they win an award? Absolutely not. Being a Furry Ambassador is just the ability to have a title, plain and simple. Obviously, a title would not change a single thing about these members of the furry community. That being said, giving someone the prestigious Furry Ambassador title is a way to give a big shout out to highlight the positive things that furries are doing to make the fandom a better place. Help is always appreciated in the way of nominations.
As far as future plans are concerned, the number 1 goal is to simply strive for consistency, plain and simple. Ideally, with enough participation, the Furry Ambassadors program will hopefully continue with minimal to no interruptions for a very long time, as we do not see an end of good furries to review any time soon! Also, we have a few ideas on how to give rewards to those recognized as Furry Ambassadors. A Ko-fi tip jar has been set up, and funds permitting, we are looking to make buttons, or if funds permit, challenge coins to give to those recognized! http://ko-fi.com/X8X17Y8J
Who is involved?
In the spring of 2017, a Texas furry artist by the name Pez Wolf got bit by the fur suiting bug, and started working on his own fursuit design. Having a shoe string budget and being in close proximity to fur bashers, Pez shelved the fur suiting and redirected his energy into researching the furry fandom. Pez repeatedly ran across furs who have been making great steps toward reducing the stigmatization of the furry fandom, and making the furry community more acceptable to the mainstream. Pez’s day job is working at a major financial institution that has a culture of recognition. Pez took the values he learned at work and applied them to the furry community by recognizing furs who have made contributions to the Furry Fandom. Thus the Furry Ambassador program was created.
Azarion has been a part of the furry fandom since 2013, where the kitsune has found the warm and fuzzy welcome of many new friends. Ever since Azarion discovered the negative press media coverage from main stream media sources, he has been determined to bust the typical myths about the furry fandom. In the fall of 2017, Azarion stumbled upon the Furry Ambassador program, and knew immediately that he wanted to be a part of the writing and administrating processes. Azarion is currently studying humanities with a focus on the European Continent, and learning about other peoples and cultures has always been a big interest. Being able to promote and give exposure to people that are making a positive impact on the fandom has provided him with a new field of research that’s also given him plenty of warmth and fuzz.
Note from Patch:
This is a great idea worth supporting! And what an awesome honor to even have them notice me before I noticed them. If you think other furries deserve it, that’s why you should send them YOUR nomination to spread the love.
It reminds me of this excellent thread I noticed, and one key point I’m highlighting that shows why I think Furry Ambassadors is a great idea.
Just realized I've seen the furry fandom go from a recreational clique to a legit counter-culture.— La Renarde Écrivaine (@threetails) February 17, 2018
Sooner or later, the furry fandom will have to show a clear preference for its own art, music, costuming, etc.— La Renarde Écrivaine (@threetails) February 17, 2018
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.
Bobby Timony (art) and his twin brother Peter Timony (writing) are the creators of Night Owls, an award-winning series from DC Comics that’s been available in print and on line since 2009. This Roaring-20’s-style adventure tells the story of two humans and a gargoyle who team up to solve supernatural mysteries. It features more than its fair share of non-human characters too, mind you. If you visit their web site (called, appropriately enough, Twin Comics) you’ll see much more of Bobby’s art and the brothers’ work on other comic series they offer on-line now. Among them Goblin Hood, Widdershins Wilderness Scouts, and (furriest of them all) McCool: Sheriff of Dogwood.
Rune’s Furry Blog showcases “people within the Furry Community… their characters, life, thoughts, and beliefs”. It also covers furry issues and media. Welcome Rune! – Patch
“We’re all mad here…”
This year at Texas Furry Fiesta, 3866 fuzzbutts fell asleep and found themselves in Wonderland! This number bumped up the convention to being on the top 5 conventions list, falling just under Furry Weekend Atlanta (FWA).
This was my 2nd time going to TFF and it has always held a special place in my heart for being my first-ever con. This year was an adventure as the convention had grown so much that it was in a new venue for a brand-new experience! Because it was so fresh and so new, I decided that a type of review was in order. So, taking from my personal experiences and the comments from others, I compiled a list of things that set the convention apart, and maybe the not-so favorable things about the convention that can hopefully be fixed in the future.
So buckle up and take this trip down the rabbit-hole with me as we explore the brand-new Texas Furry Fiesta (Lonestar Wonderland)!
(Right-Left): Radar & Owen
- Growing Numbers!
I have made a habit of reading through the con-books because they always offer the most interesting information. As someone that is still new to TFF, I could not believe how small they started in comparison to other conventions. In ten years their numbers have grown so drastically when their first con only had 542 people in attendance! Crazy, right? Now here we are in 2018 and we almost broke 4,000 people… it really just blows me away!
But a growing number means a demand for a larger space… and this year the convention took place at the Hyatt Regency, right next to the Reunion Tower in Dallas Texas. Already I noticed an improvement from last-year’s space (which I will go into detail about down below)- and it made for a much more comfortable con-experience than the previous year.Because of the larger space, I found that I had more time to actually notice what was around me. I saw a lot of familiar faces and the ‘Texas regulars’, but I also saw a lot of new faces as well. New suiters and a lot of people new to the con-scene. I saw even younger fursuiters than I witnessed last year and at ACFI and just the amount of people really shows how the fandom continues to grow, to evolve, and to include more-and-more people of varied ages, backgrounds, etc. It’s exciting. Every convention is like witnessing another moment in Furry history… and I always find myself getting excited and just feeling so humbled and honored at the thought that I get to be part of it all.
- Hyatt Regency!
The Hyatt Regency is a gorgeous hotel placed right next to the Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas. It has 28 floors, multiple rooms to rent for panel spaces (spanning across 3 floors from ground-level)- a pool, a hot tub, a bar, and even a gift shop. It conveniently attaches to the DART Train for easy travel between points, and I heard it was close to some of the most interesting neighborhoods/communities in Dallas. The layout of the hotel had mixed reviews… but I must admit that I had no trouble finding my way around. The pocket-booklet that everyone was given at registration gave an incentive to travel around the convention and locate all the most popular spots. Think of it like an interactive-tour or some sort of scavenger hunt for stamps. Upon filling your pocket-booklet with stamps from the various locations, you were given a special TFF pin at the help desk. My only complaint was that more people did not know what this part of the booklet was for, let alone that there was a prize. I found myself telling many people about it when they were wandering around lost… but again, the layout was not that bad. I feel like after wandering around for one night, I had most of the locations memorized. I did not have to refer to the map very often and only got lost one time the entire 3 days that I was there. The hotel also had various maps scattered across their walls so that people could use it for reference if they did not have their paper map (again, located in the pocket booklet).
Most panels seemed to take place on the 2nd floor and past the bar. There were multiple small rooms down a hallway located right next to a set of elevators. If anything, I could see where such a small hallway could be missed or overlooked- but at least people could go straight from the panels to their rooms. All the bigger events like the raves, concerts, and the dance competition all took place on the first floor where they could set up the stages. The Dealer’s Den was also located on the first floor.
The lobby area contained the Artist Alley as well as the Art show… and while not as convenient as other locations, at least they had a sizable space. As a fursuiter though, I will say that having the Headless Lounge in the lobby could be kind of a chore. Going up-and-down escalators when tired and/or hot… then mixing that with low-visibility seemed more like a hazard…but at least on Sunday it was moved to the 1st floor where it was more accessible. The Hyatt also had a massive outdoor area for smokers and a place where people could just cool off if they really needed to. This space was located on the first floor and conveniently placed next to the front desk.
Last year’s TFF seemed ‘cramped’ at best, with a lot of people shoving past each other and people being shoulder-to-shoulder. So, the relocation to the Hyatt really was a breath of fresh air. I found myself able to see more of the convention since I was not constantly bumping past other people, and it was a lot more comfortable walking from space-to-space. Even activities and panels were more roomy and there was barely anyone left with places not to sit. Compared to last year where people were listening to their panels out in the hallways for lack of room, this really was a treat.
As for the location of the hotel, I was not a fan. That seemed to be one of the more major complaints. While the hotel did connect directly to the DART Train, for those that were driving, getting to the hotel could be confusing. Also, there was a lack of stores and other such places around the hotel which some people heavily rely on when they travel. UberEats and other delivery services were a near necessity because the Hyatt almost seemed isolated compared to other hotels. It was also a more ‘expensive’ space… but I found that the comfort of having enough room to walk and play in suit made it worth it.
Parking for the convention was not fun and was another major complaint that I will go into detail about down below-but overall, it is something that I believe can be fixed for later cons. If I could change anything about the hotel rooms it would only be that they add in a microwave and maybe a bigger refrigerator. Overall I would say the move to the Hyatt was a smart one, and overall it was a raging success!
After the first night, the convention was being referred to as “Elevator Hell” and “Elevator Con” because with 3800 people all running around the convention, the elevators quickly became backed up. People were trying to pile in the elevators in dangerous numbers just to get up to their rooms. I was on the 11th floor, and though my wife was fit enough to take the stairs… I was not (especially while in fursuit). Unfortunately, the inability to get up the stairs applied to several furries, and hostilities quickly grew with people trying to determine who and what had priority when it came to traveling in the elevators.
Volunteers and con-staff did eventually step in and create a line system for the elevators, but this was only taking place on the floors with panel spaces (1st and 2nd floors respectively)- this grouping helped people get up to their rooms but it did nothing for the people trying to get down. I say the worst of it was on Saturday because my friends and I could not get down from our room for the longest time, and it nearly resulted in our missing the fursuit parade.
From what I heard, a lot of it boiled down to the hotel not understanding just how insane this convention was going to be. Their lack of knowledge on the fandom and how it operates made for a lot of confusion in more than just the elevators. We occupied most of the hotel for that weekend, and naturally they had other guests as well that did not know what to do when it came to furries. They did not have enough staff to have people monitoring every elevator segment on every floor, and this is understandable. Like parking and other things…I think this just means that next year there can be room for some major improvement. Also, considering this was our first year at the Hyatt, my thoughts are that it can only get better from here.
But people really should be more considerate when it comes to elevators. If they are already packed and your room is not too far away- if you are able to, please take the stairs! Also, have courtesy for those with luggage or for those wearing fursuits. Please let them in the elevator before you because chances are they are in the bigger hurry and have the most need to get somewhere.
(Left-Right): Escap’e,Thump the road kill possum, Rune
- Parking Problems:
Like the location of the hotel, the parking was really confusing. There were 3 parking lots where one could park for the convention, but there was not many indicators of which parking lot you were in when parking! The radish-lot was the main hotel parking which quickly filled up. It was the one located closest to the front of the hotel.
There was also the Reunion Tower parking which was the larger of the parking lots. It was the 2nd closest parking lot being right behind the main entrance to the hotel. Lastly, there were parking lots located far down the street called lots B-through-E where there were a lot of parking spaces available… but the location was so far and so isolated from the hotel that most people did not know those spaces even existed. While a lot of people got the con-rate parking for $5… there were those of us (like myself) that parked in the Reunion Tower parking (thinking it was the hotel parking) only to leave the convention with a $57 parking bill to pay. I do agree with others that while the Hyatt’s website had a list of parking rates… it was very unclear which lots were what and what prices people would actually be paying. So, this convention was not so kind for those of us actually staying at the hotel even though staying at the Hyatt was meant to be more convenient.
So the costs were not nice for those that could not get the con-rate, and the locations were not the best with people bringing in a lot of luggage. I found that the location of the parking was not kind to fursuiters nor was it kind to those with disabilities as the back of the hotel lacked ramps of any kind even though most of the parking was in the back of the hotel, and the doors lead directly into the lobby space.
There were those that said that using the DART Train was the best way to get around if traveling around Dallas, and while we did have experience with Uber, getting them to find your location at the hotel was not very successful unless you were willing to meet the Uber at the front doors. There were those that rented bicycles to get around but for most of us it was just too cold.
At least for next year I have learned what I can do better to cut down on costs. Getting con-rates for parking is a MUST, and getting to the con 2 days before the con is probably the way to go. My first night in Dallas (Thursday)- the parking lots were already full. We spent so much time circling the hotel to find a lot that was open and that had space that we missed pre-registration by 14-minutes. So, even though we were at the convention, we could not take part in any of the early events. But, we don’t blame the hotel or the convention, and we can only do better and plan better for next year!
- The overall cost increase:
I will say that expenses have increased since TFF last year. Even with con rates and such, a lot of people ended up spending a lot more money than they intended. The Hyatt did not provide any form of free breakfast but I found that their massive servings could work if people were splitting meals. I shared steak and eggs with my wife which cost us $18, but we easily split it and still felt full. The only downside was the coffee costing so much… the drinks were not cheap so it made up most of the bill.
Bars at a hotel are never on the cheap side, so it’s often recommended that you bring your own booze. I did like the bar’s selection but found that they added a lot more alcohol than most places, and I was not sure on the quality versus the cost. There was also a $50 holding fee for those that opened a tab… and that hurt a lot of people’s bank accounts (in which I hope they got everything sorted out).
Like mentioned before, the parking was rather costly for those that were not able to get the con-rate. For those needing to use Uber or take the Dart Train… by far the train was cheaper, with Ubers ranging anywhere from $25-$65 depending on the type of vehicle you might need. Lyft was a more expensive option, and cabs are even more expensive than that. Again, there were bikes to rent, and while cheap, the weather was really cold…so riding a bike on slick sidewalks was not at all advised.
Food ended up being the biggest cost for those going to the con. While there were microwaves downstairs, they were few in number. The shops in the hotel were overpriced with small drinks costing $3 or more. Even vending machines were $2 and did not take cards which meant a trip to an ATM and paying the ATM fee if you do not carry cash. Pizza delivery and other delivery services were available- as well as services like UberEats.
The Hyatt was not cheap. A room for 4-nights and multiple beds spiraled past $700 easily. Take that into account with registration costs of $50 and then parking, food, and spending money for souvenirs, and there were people easily going past 2k for the trip. So it was much more costly than last year and that was a problem for a lot of people. But, like with all Furry Conventions, these cons are a luxury and something you need to save and budget heavily for. My wife and I made sure we brought our own food to eat (for the most part) and next year we will bring a lot more variety as well as snacks to cut on spending.
(Left-Right): Rune & Elana
- Scheduling & Panels:
I personally thought that panels this year were a lot more varied than cons-past. I found that there were more panels and more things that I was interested in personally. I also liked that they seemed to have more ‘adult’ panels than last year. But, there was a good blend of new things and familiar favorites like the McGuyver Fursuit Challenge and the Fursuit Games. I did not hear many complaints about scheduling, and everything that I attended always started on time.
There might have been some confusion for the panels that got swapped on Sunday (to new locations), but I was not affected by this personally. As far as I know, only some game rooms had issues with what times they needed the rooms versus what times the hotel let them stay in said-rooms. Also, there was a bit of a flub when it came to the closing ceremonies not reserving the room they wanted to be in… but all-in-all, everything was very organized and went very smoothly.
I found that there really was something for everyone, and my problem this year was trying to get to everything while balancing my shopping and my suiting! By far my favorite events was the Rocky Horror Picture show performance, the Dance Competition, and learning how to brew beer. I also really liked the video game room (even though I did not play anything)- I liked how much space they had this year and variety, and my friends spent a lot of time in the tabletop gaming room which they enjoyed very much!
- Food Trucks!
A solid improvement to the convention were the food trucks. It was something that TFF had in the past but that was not available for last year’s con. They were in high demand and this year we got some down the road from the Hyatt. They had a limited window, but they offered a nice alternative to eating at the hotel restaurant or having to order another pizza. My wife bought a cuban sandwich for $10 that easily fed the both of us and it was delicious!
Some people complained about the weather and the lines, but those were minor things. For the time they were there, I found them to be really convenient and very cost-effective for those on a budget!
Picture time with Zarafa!
- The Fursuit Parade!
I loved the fursuit parade this year! Like the rest of the convention last year… the parade last year at TFF was stuffy and cramped. There was not much space between the suiters and the crowd and overall it was hot and mostly uncomfortable. But this year was such a breath of fresh air!
Not only was there enough space to where 2 suiters could easily walk side-by-side with each other, but there was space between the fursuiters and the crowd! They also placed a tape trail on the ground, marking the route for the parade, and it was super helpful! The route was short-and-sweet… but it was set up to where everyone got the chance to see all the suits in all their glory. I had no complaints about any of it, I really thought that the organization, the space, the lines, and the route were excellent. So my hat (or fursuit head) goes off to whoever set it all up because they did a fantastic job! Even the room where all the suits were waiting to leave was roomy and cool which was a real treat and made for a wonderful experience!
- Compliments to Con-staff!
I did not hear a single complaint about the con staff this year. All the volunteers and the people involved were more than helpful, and with all the chaos that a new convention brings, I really feel like they went above and beyond to help people out. I utilized the help desk often and they always had an answer for my questions. Even when it came to “elevator hell” the staff stepped in and got everything under control as best as they could.
There were reports of people in suits having trouble with people touching them without permission, suits getting damaged, and other sorts of complaints in which they said the staff went above-and-beyond to help those suiters and make them feel safe in their suits again. I can not imagine the time and energy it takes in running the con, so again, I applaud the amazing staff and volunteers at TFF and everything they do so that we can have a fun and fuzzy weekend!
Shewulf got photobombed! Please tell me who this awesome suiter is!
A new venue space (much like a new convention) is bound to be chaotic. There are going to be flaws and be hiccups, but that’s all stuff that can be fixed. For some issues, that falls on con-staff and the hotel to fix… and for others, it’s a matter of learning from experiences and making better choices the next year around. But it’s fixable.
This year I followed my con-prepping tips and really tried something different. I tried to find that balance between time spent suiting, and time just walking around and taking everything in. I took less photos and videos because I wanted to remember the convention as something I lived first-hand rather than through a phone screen or camera lens.
Naturally, there were panels I missed, plans that fell through, and things I did not get to do…but those were small things that I took as they were. I did not feel as ‘obligated’ to do certain things and I did not push myself to rush to everything that looked interesting. So, by far, this was a much more relaxed and stress-free con than the previous year’s. This was my wife’s first TFF and she said it was not as overwhelming as she thought it might be. She too was able to relax and she said that she had a blast! She saw some amazing suits, and we ran around and played, and everything about it was a good time despite the massive bill that we placed on our credit cards.
So, I still say that this was a good year for Texas Furry Fiesta… and I can not wait to see how it gets better in the years to come. I’m already looking forward to next year’s theme which was revealed to be Dungeons & Dragons (tabletop RPG). So let the hype and countdown for 2019 begin!
But let me know what YOU think. Did you attend TFF? What was your favorite thing about the convention? What was your least favorite thing? What was your favorite suit that you saw? What about your favorite panel? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment-section down below.
Thank you all so much for reading, and as always, I will see you all in the next blog!
Jessica Reilly and Patrick Reilly have both served in the U.S. military — she’s still in, while he recently left after nearly a decade of service. In their free time, they formed a company called Zonks Illustration as an outlet for their creative endeavors. Among other things they’ve been working on Five Realms, a multi-species fantasy comic adventure reminiscent of Mouse Guard. He writes it, she illustrates it. You can see examples of her works over at their Zonks Etsy store. They also have a Patreon to try and get Five Realms out to the world.
This started with a guest submission by Rama the Golden Liger, a fur in Honduras. I collaborated with a lot of editing to smooth out the language and add extra info and another point of view. Fred Patten helped connect with even more furries who sent info at his request. Thanks Rama and Fred! – Patch
The Diversity of the Latin American Furry Fandom
We know how furry fandom started in the U.S. As it grew there, the mainstream media, the internet, its memes and popular YouTubers, and other influences put the fandom within a stone’s throw for many young people. Now across borders, different cultures are experiencing a growth of furry fandom among many international influences they already have.
Latin American furries are a result of all this exposure. The internet helped many young people get interested in the art, behavior, and culture of the furry creatures they see on the screen. Many Hispanic furry fans are males mostly from around age 15 to their 20’s. They came across fandom through friends, memes, anime, manga, and fan art. There are popular YouTubers like Khazoo, who spread the term “furry” through his videos. Of course, there was also Zootopia spreading popularity of anthropomorphic animals around the world.
(Patch): International reach reminds me of studying animation under an “old master” who in 1989, helped lead a nonprofit mission to Latin American countries to reduce AIDs among street children. They traveled around to test screen educational cartoons on the side of a van. The audience was poor kids who were vulnerable to exploitation and had low access to schools. The films they were shown were life saving, and most importantly to this story, the language of cartoons was universal across borders to all levels of literacy. Of course internet users in 2018 are the main topic here.
Khazoo is an example of how furryness spreads now. This teenage Spanish-language Youtuber from Mexico may not be known to English speakers. He was born in 1999 and only uploaded his first video in 2016, but soared to 31.5K followers on Twitter and nearly 600,000 youtube subscribers so far – much more than any specifically furry internet celebrity! How did he start? According to a wiki about him (use Chrome/Google Translate), Khazoo started with general teen audience content like gaming and cartoons. While he joked about being in love with Judy Hopps, fans called him “furry” but he denied it, until finally admitting it to everyone – a story I’m sure we can all laugh about in any language!
Latin American fandom does have old school furries; those who joined the fandom in the beginning or have been there for more than 15 years. From talking with some of them, they all got into it through comics with art from – for example – Nakira, JK Willard, Kese, or K9. And of course cartoons and books. Later on, the boom of the internet brought them to a community of those who loved anthropomorphic animals.
Even if furry fandom in these regions is still following development in North America, it’s already showing exponential growth; not only in the number of people who join every day, but also in the quality of fursuiters, artists, gamers, and more that have come from it.
Some examples are:
- The amazing works of Coby Wong, the fursuit maker from Brazil. She’s considered one of the most qualified makers in Latin American fandom.
- Talented artists like GAB SHIBA, Anhes, Peritian, Señor Nutria, and more from Mexico and Argentina.
- E-sports gamers like Noah Fox from Mexico, right now living in the U.S.
Some of them answered questions for this article.
One furry who spoke was @NoahFFox. He discovered furry fandom when he was 16 years old. He’s been in the fandom for four years, and since he moved to the U.S. he’s become a big Hispanic representative on Smash. He’s recognized as the only one using the Toon link.
From the comics partnership of GAB SHIBA – Zurdo is the artist (and Cross is the writer.) Zurdo shared his story about the fandom and how things started. He joined furry fandom 13 years ago when he was 16 and a friend showed him anthropomorphic art. He sees in the Latin American furry community a big opportunity for improvement. It can get a little chaotic because it’s now populated almost entirely by youths, but as it develops you can see how much good it can do, as more join year by year. There’s fear of the young population misunderstanding what furry fandom is; what role it serves, and that it’s not only about porn or yiff art. But he hopes to see more and more mature furries in Hispanic fandom as it grows with time.
From the same who brought you UBEAR, we bring you the ubearPOOL pic.twitter.com/Q7vm3ksbxw
*otter in spanish* pic.twitter.com/xpeYJgmB3G— otter cake (@senornutria) June 9, 2017
(Patch): GAB SHIBA has a smart approach. The comics are frequently wordless, or posted with dual-language for wide appeal – but they don’t just stay G-rated. Some are mildy sexy and others are even explicitly adult.
The same for Señor Nutria’s art. Maybe in the U.S., one may think of some Latin American countries as having conservative religious traditions or maybe not being the most tolerant, but some of his art is up there with the hottest gay yiff porn – showing that wherever furries are, they may spread a certain freedom or even counterculturally unbound expression in their creativity.
At Further Confusion in January 2018, I met Señor Nutria on his first trip to a fur con outside of Mexico. He was super friendly but still a little shy of being on camera, so I got a pic of work in progress at his dealer table instead. He said his younger brother, a teenager, had recently gotten into the fandom from seeing furry art.
Let’s not forget Paco Panda, the popular Mexican artist already widely known in fandom. And – Dogpatch Press has generous website admin support from Mexican fandom.
Latin American furmeets and cons
Many countries already have active communities and cons where they gather to exchange experience and knowledge, and socialize with other furs of their region. Some Hispanic countries started to do this as recently as two years ago, some four years. They are getting bigger and bigger. As new as furry fandom is in Latin America, you will notice how the media is interested in it and seek to interview these new animals in their lands. You can also see how many of the fursuits are hand made mostly by fans for themselves. Only a few can afford to buy a professionally made suit. But that’s the lovely part. You can see the large amount of effort and love this community is putting into its hobby and fandom.
The biggest gathering right now is the Brazil FurFest. Then there’s Vidafur and Fursummer in Mexico, and furmeets in Argentina and Chile. Here’s videos, with info about the first con in Mexico below.
(2/22/18) BrasilFurfest sent appreciation and a comment: “Brazilians aren’t Hispanic. Latin America is made of countries that speak Spanish, French, Portuguese. Hispanic refers only to people who speak Spanish.” (Apart from this, many from the region probably do meet there.)
BrasilFurfest – Brazil
Vidafur – Mexico
Furmeet – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Furmeet – Santiago de Chile
(Patch): There was rare media coverage of Peruvian furries in 2015. The standard “furries 101” article added useful tidbits: It was “still somewhat unusual” to see furries in Lima because their group was little more than four years old, and “the members of this tribe in our country are no larger than 100.” It also claimed: “In Latin America, Chile is a privileged country for furry fandom.” I’d love to know more.
Mexico’s first con – info gathered by Fred Patten.
Leonardo Davalos wrote:
The fandom is growing and very quickly and expanding to other countries, for example here in Mexico, the fandom isn’t unknown like it was before, and I’m happy that I had become one of the new members of this fandom.
In Mexico, the first meet was held in Guadalajara in 2008. It was a FurMeet called VidaFur. In 2010 it was held in Mazamitla, and in 2013 it was held in Guanajuato. In 2014 there was no event. The theme in 2017 was Furs in Space. This year it became a great convention with approximately 170 attendees. The name is now changed to Confuror, to be held in November 2018.
There were 27 staff members for the 2017 event. Some of them were Hugo Nieto, Henry J. Doe, EddBear, SoraDezWolfox, Zachary Huslion, An Ju Hope, Nathan de Xolotl, Foxhell, etc.
The activities were the following:
- Dance competition
- Drawing, traditional drawing, and sock puppet workshops
- Writing, character creation and GAB SHIBA speeches
- Fursuit Parade and Photoshoot
- Relay race
- Lazer Wars
There were more than 30 fursuiters in the event. There was no donation. Here is a blog of one of the attendees, Koidel Coyote.
“8 years celebrating local furmeets in our city… We all finally evolved this event to a new level turning it in to a Convention.”
Growth of Latin American social networking and more
Mike Retriever of Furryfandom.es, in Madrid Spain, writes:
I’ve read that article in Spanish, from Furry Amino. Amino is like a ‘Facebook’ kind of website/platform. Latin Americans like to use it. I don’t know of any other furry groups using Amino, only Latin Americans. It has some kind of integration with smartphones or something. Honestly I don’t get very good vibes from it, it seems very commercially-driven, like Fandom Wikia. It’s a social network geared towards fandoms. I’m very suspicious of non-furry websites catered towards furries. Flayrah’s GreenReaper says of Amino Apps they’re doomed to fail because they don’t allow porn! That’s a funny fact!
In 2008, Greenreaper’s Wikifur site launched a Spanish project in collaboration with Latin American furs. It was one of the first on the wikifur.com domain in a foreign language (along with Russian), showing them on the edge of growth.
On Wikifur I found that in 2014, when Mexico’s Vidafur didn’t meet, the members collaborated in a different gathering of many fur groups in another city, Fursummer. It lists the groups as: Vidafur, GTFur, Enfurry, Urban Clawz, Bicifurros and Tonalli Furs.
How cool is that? Getting small groups from across a country to pitch in and make a bigger meet shows the DIY ethic of fandom around the world. I love that art doesn’t need one language, and look forward to sharing more about the diversity it brings. In a small way, this international conspiracy represents a nicer future for everyone.
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.
Another discovery from Long Beach Comic Expo was Pindabear, home for “super fresh enamel pins”. Featuring designs from anime, American cartoons, Pokemon, and other fannish pursuits. Over at their web site they have all their current designs, and they’re taking orders now for new pins as well as sold-out designs from the past they plan to re-stock real soon.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Mythic Transformations, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2017, trade paperback, $7.99 (189 pages), Kindle $2.99.
This collection of fourteen short stories by Schnee is about transformations rather than anthropomorphic characters. “In this story collection, people not only encounter these beings but become them.” (blurb)
“Guardians of Mistcrown” is set in a traditional fantasy world. Darius, a young mapmaker, is looking for a new caravan route through the Mistcrown mountains. He finds a cave guarded by Zara, a griffin, who is compelled to kill anyone who comes too close to a hidden source of magical mana. Darius and Zara trade bodies, to Darius’ dismay. But he finds that there are advantages to being a powerful, flying, ageless griffin – if he can just break the wizard’s spell that binds him to the mountain cave with the mana.
“The Petlyakov-15 Amusement Engine” is for video-game geeks.
Devjn, a hard-core video-gamer, finds an old 1980s Eastern Bloc video game in a yard sale.
“He called the saleslady over from her busy work of rearranging battered stuffed animals. ‘Is this some kind of custom case on a Nintendo?’
She shrugged. ‘It was my cousin’s, but then he moved out all of the sudden. Wasted all of his time playing video games.’” (p. 27)
Devin is intrigued by the “PE-15” Cyrillic lettering, and amused by its apparent imitation of old American/Japanese video games.
“The next day he dug up a copy of ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and blew dust out of it. He smiled at the shine of the classic golden cartridge. The PE-15 came on and showed him … ‘The Legend of Svetlana’?” (p. 28)
Devin plays deeper and deeper into the PE-15. Since Mythic Transformations is a collection of stories of “people not only encounter[ing] these beings but become[ing] them”, the only question is what will Devin turn into? Hint: it isn’t a fairy-tale princess.
“Little Grey Dragons” takes place in a classic poor Russian village. Washerwoman Alexi’s brother Petrov, the blacksmith’s assistant, finds two strange warm eggs in the forest.
“They turned at a noise from the egg that Alexi had touched. It was cracking. Alexi stared as the cracks spread for several long minutes, and finally a creature’s head emerged. Grey flesh, a grey snout, and a grey eye watching her. She stood there frightened and confused. ‘Petrov,’ she whispered, ‘what is this?’
Petrov murmured, ‘Not Firebirds. Zmei.’ He stared at the other egg, obviously willing it to crack, and it began to do so.” (p. 37)
Petrov determines to use the dragons, Washer and Cinder, to make their fortunes. Alexi becomes more fearful that he is overreaching himself. Eventually Petrov becomes Cinder:
“Alexi froze. Petrov, or the dragon, or whatever they had become, reared up on powerful hindlegs and crushed a boulder. There was no Cinder, only one being that was as large as her old cottage. She stared up into a fanged muzzle that was like an echo of her brother’s face.” (p. 58)
In “Griffin Rider Venn”, Venn is a farm boy who is drafted into the town militia and ordered to guard – something. When the militia is defeated by Imperial soldiers riding dragons, Venn flees into the forest until he comes to an overgrown ziggurat.
“The light took him through twisting halls to a room so big its upper reaches were lost in the shadows, hinting at a tangle of metal cords up there. All along the walls stood glassy jars bigger than a wagon on end and covered with frost. Venn shivered. Whatever this stuff was, it came from ancient times and might do anything at all. No two legends agreed on what the ancient world had been like, except that it had ended in collapse and the forgetting of many wonders. Some of which were dangerous to learn.” (pgs. 62-63)
One of the glassy jars decants a griffin that Venn names Nev and learns to ride as an aerial battle charger. The reader won’t be surprised when Venn becomes Nev early in the story. It’s more about how he as a flying griffin combats the Imperial human-mounted dragons to save his people.
“Kentauroi” is obviously about centaurs, if you know your Greek. Cecrops and his tribe are building a new community in ancient Greece when Athena and Poseidon appear before him.
“Cecrops stood up, shaking, and dared to speak. ‘I don’t understand, glorious ones.’
Athena sighed hard enough to rustle the trees. ‘Don’t bother with flattery. You’ve already been marked by fate. You and your clan are destined to rule this land and build a mighty city. The great wet one over there, and myself, will offer you gifts. All we want is for you to choose one of us as your patron goddess.’
‘Or god,’ Poseidon rumbled.” (p. 78)
Whichever one Cecrops chooses, he is bound to offend the other one, and the Greek gods are notorious for punishing those who offend them. The title gives away what Cecrops and his tribe are turned into. But is being a powerful horse-man really such a curse?
“Ivan and the Black Riders” (reprinted from ROAR vol. 6) is a sequel to “Little Grey Dragons”. It’s also the first story in which the protagonist gets to choose what he becomes. Petrov, now the powerful Dragonlord, offers to recruit Ivan.
“The dragoness [Alexi] held the scroll up to Petrov’s left eye. The Dragonlord rumbled, ‘As I thought. My lieutenant says you’re a former mercenary with a good head on his shoulders. You wish to be young and healthy again? Then join my Black Riders.’
Ivan straightened, feeling the weight of years seem to lift from him already. He guessed: ‘The wolves outside?’
Petrov tapped dagger-length claws on the floor. ‘Exactly. You wouldn’t cross one of them, would you? You’ll have the brains of a man, and be healthier than you ever were while killing some tribe of goat-screwing bandits or bowing to your local Tsarevich bastard. You like hounds, yes? All I ask is that you become mine.’
Ivan stood in the hot cavern, staring at the dragon. He’d come this far; he’d made a sacrifice. If the Dragonlord wanted to change him, it was worth accepting. He lowered himself to his creaking knees and said, ‘Yes, my lord.’
Petrov smiled and shrank. Ivan startled. The Dragonlord had become human, a young man in flame-colored robes. He paced around Ivan, casting shifting shadows. ‘What shall I try? I’ve been experimenting with my powers. I could make you a nice stealthy black wolf, or white with powers of healing and inquisition, or red for battle. Maybe a she-wolf? They can fight. Or even a pup that I can put through a few extra years of training.’” (pgs. 88-89)
Ivan chooses a black wolf-man, to become one of the Dragonlord’s Black Riders. Later, he comes to regret his choice. What he does about it is the story.
The remaining eight stories are short, mostly under ten pages each except the last, “The Temple Beneath the Ashes”. A couple are not transformation tales, but all are fantasies. Mythic Transformations (cover by Fotokostic) is an enjoyable collection of imaginative fantasies, almost all about men (or women) transforming into something other than human.
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.
A recent discovery from the Long Beach Comic Expo. Seung Woo Cha currently works as a director at Dreamworks TV… but he is also a fine artist, known for his imaginative depictions of wild life from around the world — especially gorillas and other apes. Often working in black ink, he paints in broad artistic strokes that nonetheless capture the essence and power of his subjects. Recently he collected several of his works together into a hardcover portfolio book, appropriately enough entitled The Art of Wild Life. You can purchase the book over at his web site, and see examples of his work as well.
We found this in a recent Previews magalog: Stabbity Bunny, written by Richard Rivera, illustrated by Dwayne Biddix, and published by Scout Comics. “Seven-year-old Grace, still clutching her adorable plush bunny, is kidnapped by supernatural forces that have been hunting her family for generations. She awakens in a shack on the outskirts of town, and for the first time in her life, the little girl can’t sense her mother’s presence. Her captor knows the family’s secrets, and that link has been severed. When her escape attempt fails, it seems there will be deadly consequences, but an unlikely protector intervenes. It’s a big mistake to kidnap a child with a plush toy named Stabbity Bunny!” Oh you just know someone is working on a movie adaptation of this, don’t you?
Yesterday we posted a sneak peek of our multi-part miniseries. It looks at animal-costume history from the basics of the mask, theatrical outfits, Hollywood rubber-suits, fandom cosplay, and our very own fuzzy army of unique performers.
Now here’s Part 1: Masks. This video explores the very idea of the mask itself and its ancient origins. Of course we focus on animal-masks, since we’re talking about Fursuit History, not just costuming in general.
This was truly a collaborative effort, so allow me to specifically point to some of the amazing furs that helped make this series not only possible, but brought the quality above and beyond just a simple YouTube blog:
- Thanks to our special guest speaker Archaesophilia for sharing some anthropological insights.
- This installment of Fursuiting: A History was co-written by show-runner Arrkay and Tempe O’Kun.
- Extra big thanks to EZ Wolf for allowing us to use some of the gorgeous convention and fursuit videography from his YouTube channel.
- Sherbert also contributed some of the Mascot footage featured.
- As always the thumbnail artwork and graphic design was handled by co-producer Underbite Dragon.
- The episode also featured music by Eluti, “Speed of Design” (youtube.com/RevamptOrchestra soundcloud.com/caero_musician) and some royalty-free Kerbal Space Program tracks.
- Our opening title animation was created by ButterscotchOtter, with theme music composed by Khord Kitty.
NEXT TIME ON FURSUITING: A HISTORY –
NEXT UP ON CULTURALLY F’d –
We aren’t just releasing Fursuiting: A History. We’re also keeping our regular programming of furry media analysis and fandom videos. We have an all new film-space to work in, so we’re itching to get back into filming on the regular.
- Tempe O’Kun has written up a romantic analysis of the 1973’s Disney’s Robin Hood.
- We animate Arrkay and Underbite’s interview on the podcast #CreatorTown.
New from Humanoids we have Dragonseed, a full-color fantasy graphic novel written by Kurt McClung (Might & Magic) and illustrated by the team of Jimenez and Mateo Guerrero (Warlands). “For centuries the men and creatures of Krath have prepared for a conflict that many hoped would never happen. A half-blood, Adam Serre Shadow, now has just two moons to find the thief of the teardrop stone, stolen from his fire-breathing father, before the Council of Elders trigger all-out war. The son of a Dragon will stop at nothing to find the magical relic and preserve the fragile peace that still exists between the two species.” It’s available now as a digital comic and as a deluxe hardcover.
Get a load of this sneak peak for this weeks long-awaited Culturally F’d Miniseries. Inspired by a series of articles right here on Dogpatch.Press, Fursuiting: A History is an expedition straight into the uncanny valley.
This multi-part miniseries will look at animal-costume history from the basics of the mask, theatrical outfits, Hollywood rubber-suits, fandom cosplay, and our very own fuzzy army of unique performers. Stay tuned this #FursuitFriday for the first installment of our 2018 series – and make sure to subscribe to Culturally F’d on YouTube to catch new videos as they come.
The music used in the trailer is “Ascendance” by Fox Amoore.
Also check out our older, concept trailer that parodies the Westworld opening titles.
Plus you can see our version side by side with the Westworld open:
We had not heard about the Hammy and Gerbee series, but now the first volume is out, and apparently more are coming soon. Written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee, the first story of this graphic novel series for young readers is called Hammy and Gerbee: Mummies at the Museum. “Things are looking up for best friends Hammy and Gerbee—a hamster and a gerbil—when they find out they’re both in Miss Capybara’s class. But it’s not long before school becomes a battle between the good (Hammy and Gerbee), the bad (spelling bees and pop quizzes), and the evil (mice twins Anna and Hanna). Can things get any worse? Or mischievous? Yep! They’re going on a field trip to the science museum. What are two rodent friends to do but find their own fun (and trouble)?” It’s available now over at Barnes & Noble, from Henry Holt.
Bear with me, I’m going to mention that old CSI episode “Fur and Loathing” again. Few media portrayals have upset furry fandom so much. A fiction show about murder should get a license to exaggerate for entertainment, but the public somehow took it as a documentary. It made impressions that a furry convention for good natured nerd stuff, like drawing cartoons and getting dinner with friends, is a weekend long furpile for sex-mad fetishists. Other sensational media was even more responsible for spreading the impression. Of course to be fair, so are some furries.
Fursuit Modded With Power To Pull Bad Dragon Products Into Tailhole From 25 Yards Away— Dogpatch Clickbait (@DogpatchNewsBot) February 12, 2018
This was on my mind when I found a thread about Fay V’s worst convention ever. It’s a wild trip with 78 tweets about eldritch horror pudding and orgies.
Alright, I'll open this up to followers in general because this is a really fun story.
My worst con experience EVER! (1) https://t.co/wVxCaGDYur
With that in mind, here are some of the more unusual kinks among furries, which I’m totally not making up at all.
- Vore and Rooting
Vorarephilia is a fantasy interest in having one character consume another. Rooting is where a character like a snake goes in one entrance and out another at the same time.
The infamous “elevator incident” at ConFurence 8 (all the way back in 1997) memorialized this scandalous behavior. A con-goer was disturbed by a mysterious ectoplasmic substance that migrated from an elevator wall to his pants leg. Witnesses who were trusted as non-gossipers swore up and down that it was exactly what you’re thinking of. It was variously explained as mayonnaise, moisture from bathing suits from a hot tub next to the elevator, or a sneeze:
Never having heard the actual complaints (despite being on staff) I suspect part of this may have been my fault. I was fighting a head cold the first day of the con. Staggering up to my room lay down for a couple hours I sneezed QUITE messily in one of the elevators. By the time I found something to clean it up with and got back to the elevator the hotel staff (?) had taken care of the mess. – Rivercoon
- Elevator hookup
Get in an elevator at a con and ask if anyone wants a hug. If a hug keeps going until it gets to your floor, ask if they wanna get off with you (wink!) It’s a way to have a contest – the fewer floors it takes, the better the score. Now you know what to blame for elevator lines.
- Davy Crockett Style
Wearing a raccoon’s ass for a hat.
- Weaseling and Double Weaseling
That’s when one furry puts on another’s fursuit for yiffing with a partner who doesn’t know. (Obviously it requires implied consent from freaky furries who will just laugh about it). A less typical situation is when a target furry catches on to the plan and secretly switches places with another, so both partners are in the wrong fursuit. That’s Double Weaseling. A Weasel Party is when a whole group of furries switch suits at the same time.
Besides being freaky deaky like you saw on the CSI documentary – and definitely not creative fans who share art and encourage each other to express playful sides of their personalities in innocent and joyful ways – furries also enjoy telling totally ridiculous stories. With that in mind, enjoy the below.
Challenging myths about furries and sex. pic.twitter.com/94e1Mxrjl2— VICE Canada (@vicecanada) February 1, 2018
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Raid on Sullin, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (233 [+ 9] pages), Kindle $4.99.
Raid on Sullin is #2 in the Packmasters series. #1, The Relics of Thiala, was reviewed here last April. I concluded that review, “But this is space opera, not hard science s-f. This review covers the first 50 pages of the 190-page novel (cover by Darbaras, a.k.a. Dávid László Tóth). What will Cat, Ferret, Bear, Wolf, and Ana find on Thiala and the sleazy Vandal space station? Since this is space opera, expect mucho dramatic action and weapons fire.”
I’m a sucker for good space opera, and The Relics of Thiala is great furry space opera. I’ve been looking forward to the sequel, and Raid on Sullin is not a disappointment. I recommend starting with The Relics of Thiala, but Raid on Sullin has a very good “What happened so far” for those who don’t want to bother. Roughly, Cat (the narrator), Ferret, Bear, and Wolf are four bestiae, bioengineered anthro-animen in a far-future interstellar community. The bestiae are considered beneath contempt by most humans, and were enslaved by a cult called the Packmasters. The Packmasters were apparently all killed by the rest of humanity in a civil war a generation ago. Ana, a mistreated young adopted orphan, escapes with the help of Cat. They gather three other bestiae and discover that Ana has Packmaster powers, but instead of using them to dominate the others, they form a pack of friends with a telempathetic bond under Ana’s leadership, Cat’s guidance, Bear’s piloting, and Wolf’s muscle. They steal a luxury space yacht, the Lollipop, belonging to a corrupt human Senator, Viscount Tomori, and flee to Vandal, a distant space station towards the Fringe of the galaxy that is (what else?) “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”. But Tomori comes after them. The book ends with Tomori and Bear dead, and the others unsure of how Vandal’s laws will treat them.
Raid on Sullin begins with such law as Vandal has ruling that Ana is the new owner of Tomori’s property. The small pack is delighted, but unsure what to do next.
“‘So what do we do, now that we are free to go?’ Ferret asked.
We hadn’t discussed the question. What little time Ana and I had spent together, we had used to prepare her testimony and we hadn’t had a meeting of the whole pack since our victory over Tomori. It hadn’t seemed necessary as long as we hadn’t won the case. We’d be staying at Vandal a little longer to pick up some supplies, but I had no plan yet where to go next.” (p. 21)
While they are discussing on the Lollipop where to go next, and how to replace the dead Bear, they are visited by one of Vandal’s small community of free bestiae.
“The insistent knocking at the main hatch sounded again, and I looked up from my reading. […] I made a quick detour back to the lounge and picked up a blaster gun from the pile of weapons we kept on one of the coffee tables. Never wrong to have plenty of guns within easy reach. While I always had a few knives somewhere on my person, a blaster might come in handy on this occasion. I shoved the gun into the back of of my pants and made it back just before the next impatient knock.” (pgs. 24-25)
“I punched in the code for the hatch and pulled it open.
And then I stared.
I hadn’t expected anything, but the creature who looked back at me was so unexpected I just couldn’t help myself. Almost as tall as Wolf, she was only half his mass at most. She was slender to the point of seeming frail, with short tan fur and intricate white markings showing on her exposed face and hands. Elegant horns rose from her brow. Some sort of deer, I thought, but none I had ever seen.
‘Well, you sure are just as pretty a kitty as I heard,’ she commented, startling me.
If I had been a human I would probably have blushed. As it was, I knew my ears were pointing in different directions most embarrassingly. It was pointless to pretend she wasn’t getting to me.
‘I have to admit I have no idea what you are,’ I answered, unable to keep my curiosity in check.
She cocked her head, showing off the long smooth line of her neck deliberately. ‘Antelope,’ she explained readily enough, ‘more specifically, a gazelle. And you are … a house cat?’” (pgs. 25-27)
The gazelle is Ten, shown on the cover (again by Darbaras). She runs a private investigator agency out of Vandal.
“‘As it happens, I find myself in need of assistance from someone who doesn’t run and hide from big bad people. So I was wondering if maybe an exchange of services might be possible. You help me with my problem and I help you with whatever you need from me.’
She was looking to hire us. After all the gossip about us taking out Tomori, she had to believe we were some sort of mercenary crew. It made sense, really. […] The thought appealed to me. No so much the misconception of us being just another bunch of hardened criminals, but the idea of helping a fellow bestia in need. Of course, it was pretty far from the vacation we had scheduled as our next ‘mission’. Still, I couldn’t resist at least asking for some more details.” (p. 29)
It’s really bad. The Core Worlds of humans, and its Core Military, are getting around to cleansing themselves of the bestiae. The Fringe is mostly still free. But:
“‘I used to be Core Military,’ she revealed, once more catching me completely off guard. ‘Part of a special experimental unit of bestiae. We didn’t exactly like the way we were treated, so when we got the chance, we ran. Once we reached the Fringe, we split up. To hide and disappear. When I came back from my last job yesterday, I had a message from one of my former comrades waiting for me. Says Core Military had found him and he is running from them again. I want to check on him and on another friend from my old unit. See if they are okay, or need any help to relocate.’” (p. 30)
Before Cat can make up his mind, Ten and Cat are attacked by the Core Military unit that has also targeted her. Defeating them leads to the pack’s agreeing to help her.
This takes the story to about page 45. The rest of the 233-page Raid on Sullin tells of the pack’s and Ten’s rescue of her former unit from the Core Military. This leads, not surprisingly to the enlargement of the pack.
The adventure will be enjoyed by furry fans. There are many nice anthro touches in it:
“‘Will you be able to deal with having a herbivore in your pack?’ My confusion must have been obvious, as she immediately elaborated. ‘Our unit was all herbivores. The trainer told us carnivore and herbivore bestiae didn’t mix well and that carnivores were much harder to manage.’ She paused thoughtfully for a moment, a grim smile on her narrow face. ‘Not so sure they still subscribe to that last bit, though.’” (p. 46)
“‘How do you all feel about skipping that vacation and rescuing a bestia from a Core Military base?’
Wolf’s ball hit him in the head and bounced off towards the kitchen. Since we were so closely connected, I intimately sensed how he went from ‘outraged no’ past ‘must be important to him if he even asks’ to ‘why the fuck not, could be fun’. Of course he knew that I knew, and it ended with him giving me a wide grin, showing off large, sharp teeth, ready to tear some poor Core soldiers to pieces.” (p. 49)
The Core Military hadn’t named its bestiae soldiers, it had numbered them. Ten’s first squad mate who needs rescuing is Four, a bison. I will give away that Two is the most gun-crazy, untrustworthy, back-stabbing rabbit you could imagine.
Be prepared for a lot of “fuck” and “shit”, some for macho humor, as when a space pirate says:
“‘Listen up, fuckers, you all get out of the way when that mother-fucking red thing flies your way, you hear me? Any of you shoot at the fucking flying cherry and I will fucking skin you and turn your hide into a fucking hat!’
I briefly wondered how she would cope if someone suddenly removed the word ‘fuck’ from her vocabulary. She didn’t bother closing the com channel and I heard various pirate pilots check in and acknowledge their orders. I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘fuck’ was an integral part of their language.” (p. 112)
Raid on Sullin ends very satisfactorily with a new member of the pack to replace Bear, but there is a brief preview of Packmasters #3, Tomori’s Legacy, out later in 2018.
Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus are two German retirees who have written several other novels, as listed on their The Adventure of Romance website. Raid on Sullin is freer of typographical errors than many books from major publishers, but it does have British spelling like armour and programme. It also has non-standard hyphenizations like dra-wings, trea-ting, me-ans, che-ap, and joi-ning, although most readers shouldn’t object to those.
You may recall that a few years ago Fred Patten wrote an article for Flayrah.com about a very, very strange Korean animated film called Satellite Girl and Milk Cow. Here, we’ll let Fred summarize the plot: It’s about “… a pianist (male), transformed into a cow (female) by Merlin the Magician in the form of an anthropomorphic roll of toilet paper, and pursued by a villainous incinerator that wants to incinerate him/her; while a communication satellite falls from space, becomes an Astro Boy-like robot girl, and saves the cow from the incinerator and its secret agents.” Got all that? No? It’s okay, we don’t either. So why bring this up now? Well thanks to Animation World Network we’ve learned that GKIDS has finally picked up the rights for the film, and they will be releasing a subtitled version to theaters and DVD later this summer.
Nearly ten thousand users last month, and rapidly approaching five thousand artist listings - looks like we're having a growth spurt!— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 8, 2018
How devoted are furries? To commission a fursuit, they tortuously wrap themselves in duct tape, pay thousands of dollars and trust a years-long wait before getting something back. Imagine if you had to do that for a new car or stove?
The upside is direct exchange for hand-made goods, but the downside is a clunky process with a lot of invested effort and risk of fraud or failure. It works because fandom is close-knit, but there’s opportunity for better platforms to help buyer and seller. (I was posting about it in 2013). Fursuit makers seem to be niche enough to handle their own business, but freelance artists handle smaller projects much more frequently. Art commissioning sites have started up to help. Achieving scale of users may be a challenge, but they’re in a growing fandom and word is getting out.
Commiss.io first caught my notice with their banner in the dealer’s den at BLFC. Now Hunter, the CEO, joins me to chat about the service.
My impression of Commiss.io is a business aimed at the freelance art marketplace. It was started by furries but it’s for any and all users. Do I have that right? Who’s on the team?
Pretty much! Though most of us have at least some involvement in the fandom, Commiss.io was created for any and all creators. Not just anthro artists, but musicians, sculptors, and more! We’ve really seen a lot of adoption within fandoms, furry and otherwise, and we’re really happy to provide a great place for that!
Right now there are four of us that work on the project. Myself, Mark, Chris, and Nate. There are, of course, all of the great artists and commissioners on the site as well! Right now we all do a little bit of everything, from outreach, marketing, customer support, and coding.
Commiss.io is described as a “place to manage your creative shop” – helping with payments, project management, licensing, asset delivery, and more. Is this improving on other services?
We saw a niche that needed filling. There are gallery sites, social networks, project management sites, and sites for very small freelance projects and very large ones. Together they all create a very disjointed experience, with little focus on projects in the range that many freelance fandom artists tend to focus on. As a result, creators end up with an uneven experience and the need to manage themselves across a number of platforms, without a central location to track their projects and ensure protection for sellers. When things are messy, it’s easy to get lost.
Our goal is to be a central hub, with the process fading into the background so creators can focus on creating, and clients can have a great experience.
Can you give a few numbers about how it’s doing so far?
Sure thing! Since we got started earlier last, we’ve helped creators raise over $100,000, quickly growing now to over $10,000 each month! We have several hundred active creators and many more active clients. We’ve also seen several folks move most, if not all, of their custom projects and digital downloads to the platform. Though we have a lot still to do, we take that as a sign we’re on the right track! We’ve got happy clients and happy creators.
Happy New Year! Some great stats from 2017: Creators earned nearly $90k on Commissio even though we're still in our early stages. Plus, there's around $25k in the earnings pipeline at any given time. Nice job creators, keep up the fantastic work!— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) January 5, 2018
If I don’t care about numbers or technical stuff, what can you say about it for an art lover?
For an art lover, I think the best part of the site is being able to find new artists doing things you might love – and being able to get yourself into the art easier. In furry culture, you often see art lovers convert that love into art for themselves – inserting their character into the art style of the artists they love. They also connect with the artists via prints, or shirts, downloads…whatever art forms, whatever mediums a particular artist makes. And that’s awesome that the community supports each other.
That’s why we’re here – making it easier for people to support their favorite creators – and helping creators manage their business so they can focus on art.
What’s the best benefit users can get, like for time or money?
From an artist’s perspective, it helps them manage all of their projects in one place. No more digging through notes, emails, and DMs to try and find all the details, and no more trying to remember in your head everything you have to do this week. All of your projects are laid out right in front of you. So you’re definitely saving time. Plus, we support instant payouts. Funds can go from a paid invoice to their bank account in a matter of minutes!
From a client perspective, there are a lot of benefits. First, it can act as a repository for your files, somewhere where can always go back and find the original files months or even years later. Another benefit is buyer security. We don’t collect payment until the artist starts on your project. And, we help oversee disputes between artists and commissioners.
For artists, that means no more “I lost my money because of a paypal chargeback”. And, clients, that means no more “I lost my money because I never got my art”. This is a big deal for direct money savings on both sides. And so far we’ve had ZERO chargebacks. For those familiar with the art industry, or even any product sales, that’s a huge deal.
We’ve also built out a marketplace to help creators connect with clients and vice versa. I think that’s going to be big business for our creators. It’s still growing, and we’re pushing really hard to get more users so that’s sustainable and it’ll make everyone’s lives even better. But in the meantime we’ve built some great tools that really help creators and commissioners alike.
Tips are also baked into the platform as well, allowing clients to give a little something extra at the end of a project, or just give their support to a creator!
New customer info summaries are live - keep track of who's buying from you! pic.twitter.com/q2ySreMXg2— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 1, 2018
I see you have thousands of creators. Is this already a primary entrance to find an artist, and help artists to promote their work? Or is it more about bringing in clients from elsewhere?
That’s the long-term vision. When people complete the entire commissioning loop – from finding an artist – we think it’ll be awesome. But we’ve still built a system that’s very helpful for our clients and artists even before then.
We also know there’s a lot of artists who may not want that at all! They may see a lot of success promoting their presence and their products on their own sites or communities. So we’ve made it so they can put their commiss.io store in a tumblr post, on their own site, wherever they want. Anywhere they can put an iFrame, they can put their store and it’ll look just like they did it themselves. And that’s already available; you can do that today.
In the future, we hope that we’ll be able to integrate directly into external sites as well. It’s a definite goal of ours!
Can you tell me more about users? Who has adopted it and how many do you think are furries? Does it affect planning, like where you might promote?
We’ve had users adopt the service ranging in volume from a couple projects a month, to hundreds over the year. Some still invoice with PayPal, others use our tools. The vast majority of projects, though, are invoiced through the site, with positive feedback from both buyers and sellers.
The furry community has definitely been one of our biggest supporters, and we’re thrilled about that. We’re always looking to expand into other communities, and hope to support a wide variety of folks moving forward. Like any business, we’ll split our promotion between communities we already support and groups we want to encourage to adopt the platform.
What portion are actively making money through you? Do you know what stuff is doing the most business?
Well, right now we’ve chosen not to make money because we want the site to grow, and people to try it out – and we recognize that we’ve got some growth to do too. We know that building this thing up is the most important thing for our users.
Long-term, we’re looking at some different options. We’ll most likely adopt a “freemium” model, where users can opt to pay for a pro membership and avoid platform fees, or pay a small platform fee on top of standard transaction fees to help us cover costs.
But regardless, we’re be committed to keeping fees low as we move forward. We’re here to help the artistic community, not weigh people down with fees.
I’ll bet furries are curious about content standards. Are there limits for adult content? How about payment handling – do you have to be cautious of what happened with other services, like rejecting clients for having tricky content?
Of course content policies are something we take very seriously. We allow NSFW content so long as it’s properly flagged, and outline what content is restricted in our Community Guidelines. We’ll make adjustments as necessary, and work with our payment partners to ensure that we can support a wide variety of content. We have a proven track record of safe and secure transactions, and this only helps to strengthen our relationship with our providers.
Has Commiss.io had adjustments or cool opportunities since launch?
We’ve made a number of changes since we started. One thing we’ve focused on since the beginning was an ability to iterate quickly and stay flexible. We generally push a few updates to the site a week. Some big, some small, but always ensuring that we’re working hard to keep the site (relatively) bug-free and reliable. We’re constantly making adjustments based on community feedback.
Probably the coolest thing has been seeing the variety of artists coming through. There’s people doing all kinds of amazing things, and I know that diversity and quality of the art on commiss.io is only going to be even more amazing as time goes on.
5 new features?! You heard us right. We've been busy busy. Check it out in our February Creators' Update! https://t.co/Uu2cH6pzf1— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 11, 2018
What’s in the future for it?
We have a lot on the roadmap at any given point. We’ve recently launched some awesome features that build into these, like customer management tools. But here’s an idea of what we’re looking at in the near future:
- Client subscriptions to their favorite artists
- Direct PayPal support
- More robust Physical item sales (so you can sell t-shirts, pins, comics, etc. – we already have digital download support)
- Phased or installation payments for larger projects and orders
Of course, we’re always listening to our community to determine what’s coming next, too.
Do you have any other words I can share for furries who might be reading?
Check it out! Make an account, try it out. Click that little button in the bottom right and hit us up with any thoughts/suggestions/feedback, anything you want. We’re always reading that and always trying to make things even better.
Tui T. Sutherland is one of the authors who created the Warriors and Seekers series of cat-fantasy novels under the collective pseudonym of Erin Hunter. You may recall we reviewed her novel series Wings of Fire previously. Well recently Scholastic requested the author to help in adapting that series into a graphic novel, which has been released by Graphix. “Not every dragonet wants a destiny . . . Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends. So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate — on their own terms.” With full-color art by Mike Holmes, Wings of Fire: The Graphic Novel is available now.