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“We Want Politics Out of Furry Fandom” is a political statement, and here’s a good response.

Mon 16 Oct 2017 - 11:22

Part of furry is "If you got to choose your own body, gender, beauty standards, etc. this is exactly what the world would be like."
Politic.

— Liam Anne of Oz (@Anxiousounce) October 5, 2017

“We Want Politics Out” is politics.

It’s a popular complaint. This fan group is supposed to be for interest in anthropomorphic animal media and nothing more. That boils down to lowest-common-denominator consumerism. It’s like everyone is a bottom-feeding plecostamus in their own fish tank, and what they consume is just random scum growing on the bottom. Who cares where it comes from? Just be a dumb fish.

An unpopular fursona.

The problem is, reductionism doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s a community attached to the way members consume things. And the complaint often comes with attacking care about how things work there. (Stop asking questions about the delicious scum!)

Everyone who’s here in good faith has some kind of care beyond themselves. It can range from management of websites or cons, to health and safety, or being a loose support network. You see it whenever a member gets help with money or a place to live, or even with complaints about FA’s management. When it’s time to talk about bigger stuff, complaining against politics is half-baked activism for the status quo. Here’s why.

Furriness.

Even as a pure hobby or interest, there’s something unique about furry.  It’s one of the only crowdsourced fandoms, even when it’s inspired by central media power of others. Members build it every day. A sort-of comparison might be the Ren Faire community. Both are creatively self sustaining on their own terms.

Some people claim furry is capitalist because of art business, as if everyone’s a Monopoly man with a tail. It’s supposed to be some counterpoint about how things work.  I run a business (when I’m not being a raffish sparkledog) and I think the point sucks. It’s shallow about terms like “industrial” versus “cottage industry”.  Making bespoke art doesn’t scale, and meets and cons run on volunteerism. Fandom is less about profit than direct relationships of “furriness”. There’s numbers for it – look at labor that goes into expensive fursuits. Makers can earn under minimum wage for doing what they love doing for others.

“For others” is why calling it just a plain interest is a partial truth. In other words, an omission. More accurately, it’s part genre fandom, part DIY sub/counterculture, and part kink community. The people in it meet in real life, not just online. It brings them together for relationships and homes. It’s made of people, not anthro animals. And any community of people has politics.

Concentrated gay, tastes like a rainbow.

Not just random people.

This group isn’t just an unremarkable little slice of the mainstream. Surveys show a strong bias towards an identity for many members. Nearly 2/3 of members are LGBT. It’s a super fabulously queer number.

Skip asking why and take it for granted that many members are non-LGBT (which nobody ever debates).  It’s still impossible to call it a neutral number. It’s undisputably an association. Queerness isn’t neutral in the mainstream, and even less in a subculture where it’s so concentrated that it colors whatever is said about the group, like calling it “accepting.”

Saying it exists isn’t saying what politics should be. How you vote is up to you – when beliefs are in question, it calls for discussing issues first (especially with an international group).  Of course, some issues are no-brainers.  Some things are simply right or wrong. Not everything is a football game.

For example, in this particular community, being anti-gay is pretty close to being anti-furry. There are very few standards for being welcomed, but that’s a good one. It’s reasonable to expect every member to treat a certain 2/3 of the group as human. There isn’t middle ground or a debate about it. No hate is a basic reasonable standard. Unless you ask hate groups.

That includes their collaborators who refuse to repudiate real fascists among them, while pretending to be as neutral as the scum that bottom-feeders exist on.

The basic standard looks like this.

Dear everyone screeching about "you can't day who is and isn't allowed to be furry":

Nazis. Are. Not. Allowed. To. Be. Furry.

— Spooky Squeaky @AWU (@VictoryDanceOfc) October 4, 2017

"Furries can't say they're welcoming and be mean to nazis! Philosophical checkmate!" No, kid. That's not even chess. That's not even Go Fish

— Arilin Thorferra (@gc_arilin) June 3, 2017

They say, “You call everyone nazis and you’re hateful too!” Well if it quacks like a duck, call it a duck. (See Take Them At Face Value below). One can’t play both sides and pretend to be separate while being their support network. And calling the response “hate” is false equivalence about identifying a problem.

Some people hate crime, disease, or poverty. Others hate fascism. Nazi isn’t an identity – it’s about issues they support. Dead discredited dogma deserves zero benefit of the doubt. Rejecting it is just what normal people do.

It only barely counts as politics.

You can pick a fursona, but you can’t pick whether someone else is human. Having such a basic standard isn’t like putting on a hat for some candidate. It leaves voting issues as a whole other topic. So here’s a slightly more real example of “fandom politics”.

Furries are super-sensitive about media scapegoating, but there’s a love/hate relationship with the media. After all, it’s called a fandom. That’s why a personal motto for me is Be The Media. If you need a label for that, call it a DIY ethic. When I practice that with a site I built, it’s a statement. Furry and DIY go together. It’s part of building a whole community. Anyone can do it if they try.

For people that've taken such pains to call themselves a separate ALTERNATIVE group, AltFurry sure does whine when barred from Furry spaces.

— [No Subject] hi! (@WhiteClawE) October 4, 2017

Altfurry can’t DIY. That explains the shitty stolen memes.

There are also loose “politics” about being extremely inclusive and open to free expression. (Even physically, like Hugs are the handshake of furries” – Artists explore cultural meaning of touch.) 1960’s hippies had it as part of their politics too. It even makes furry a counterculture sometimes. DIY creativity and inclusion goes with the top quote:

“Part of furry is “If you got to choose your own body, gender, beauty standards, etc. this is exactly what the world would be like.””

OK, if it’s about power to be anything, how can there be standards? Because hate is antithetical to “furriness”, and moderating the group keeps it healthy to have that pawsitive power.

“Get Politics Out of Furry Fandom” undermines integrity.

A community has integral parts. Genre fandom, DIY sub/counterculture, and kink are glued together by acceptance to make a community.  Without them it might not be one, and definitely wouldn’t be the one you know.  The consumerist, lowest-common-denominator, Just Anthro Animal Media kind might be more of a corporate-run Mickey Mouse club. 

Integral parts doesn’t mean every part is inherent to everyone. There’s a weird duality in accepting everything from Disney to Dirty, but you don’t have to be personally involved with kink at all. It’s like how cars are integral to modern society, but not everyone drives and you don’t need a car. However, if there were no cars it would be a very different world. Get it?  

There’s a real community with parts that can’t be removed without changing everything. The Burned Furs (the previous generation’s altfurry) found out when they failed with puritanism against “perverts”. It’s part of furriness. So when there’s a complaint like “Get Politics Out of Furry Fandom”, it often means “get fandom out of furry.”

It can be a simple minded wish to boil things down to mere consumerism. Or it can be a more evil agenda to make you surrender to this toxic garbage:

A push to inject fascism into geek communities.

Nazis have learned geek communities are a super easy recruitmebt base. pic.twitter.com/wmZAkNlV0u

????Grant but Spooky???? (@GDRaycroft) October 7, 2017

Read about newly-exposed proof of white nationalists behind the alt-right. Altfurry is just one fizzled attempt among many to attack so called “SJW’s” to inject their own politics. They’ve tried with gaming, metal music, sci-fi, comics, and furry. The term is Entryism, and the same haters feed it all.

Perhaps their hate will always be around.  So will crime or cancer, but people don’t act helpless about it. Sane politics means just standing for a basic standard. That’s all it is – a line for all sides, not liberal or conservative; just the furry side. And don’t buy apathetic acceptance like this:

Two faced. Art: @Rattusdingus

But are they really nazis? Take Them At Face Value.

As a subculture, Furry shares something in common with DIY Punk. Old punks had advice about fascists worming in to their scene – Take them at face value.

That refers to acting edgy/provocative/trolly, until they flip around and excuse it. Like pretending it’s just joking or for looks.  Or denying being a member while collaborating.  Or refusing to own it, and moving goalposts to pretend like rare card-carrying “real nazis” are the only issue. There’s equivocation about how “we’re diverse”, “gays can’t be nazi” or “some of my friends are black”. They love pedantry about “it’s not illegal” and doing an endless-prove-it-loop. There’s nothing they won’t do for plausible deniability about wrongdoing and manipulating. If they can’t hide it, they deflect with Whataboutism. They love acting offended at reactions they provoke, to gaslight and project problems at you. Games Nazis Play are a form of two-faced, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too.

Whether they even understand it or not, it opens the door to the real thing, as ones waiting behind the door know very well. So is trolling like a nazi as bad as bringing real nazis in? …Does a bear shit in the woods?

When they do edgy nazi trolling, withhold benefit of the doubt and let them prove they’re not. When they flirt with fascism, don’t let them off the hook while they try to squirm away. They made their bed, so let them lie in it. It was foretold in this 2008 FurAffinity post about Furzis:

You want to call yourself a Nazi, I’ll treat you like a Nazi. And don’t gimme bullshit about how “we don’t call ourselves nazi’s” your wearing the uniform, your name is a play on “nazi” don’t give me weak excuses.

You don’t think the American Diabetes Association LIKES diabetes. The Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t like poverty. Jonas Salk hated Polio. I hate Nazis. If you have to be intolerant of something, Nazis are a great choice.

Intolerance of intolerance isn’t liberal or conservative, it’s humanist.  And fascism isn’t strictly right or left either, it’s a two faced chameleon. It incrementally worms into power through brinksmanship and playing many sides. It devours from within to destroy what lets it grow. It cons you by syncretizing elements of right and left. Their left side might be pandering to workers, nerds or people who feel powerless, and their right side is nationalism or supremacy. They say whatever sounds good to manipulate, but it’s consistent to nothing but power. That’s what makes gay nazis and non-white collaborators. It’s always two-faced.

Can confirm. Having been one and got out - white nationalists ALWAYS lie. They ALWAYS lie about what they believe.https://t.co/uLy5qutkFb

— Vex the Scarewolf (@andreuswolf) June 12, 2017

By the way, it's often tempting to point out to these absolute cretins the absurdity and hipocrisy of being a nazi furry, but don't bother. https://t.co/ZCZjU9FhuR

— Spooky Boogie (@CaseyExplosion) October 16, 2017

Some people expect to change minds with nice words. That’s fine when you aren’t talking to trolls. It helps trolls to be deliberately exhausting, it’s not the responsibility of targets to change haters, it doesn’t scale, and it legitimizes bad faith when there isn’t something at stake. For those who try, call it a matter of multiple approaches that depends on others firmly rejecting them.

But the furry fandom really is one of the most accepting places (that’s what they exploit.) Sincere change of heart is how to get acceptance back, and it’s not hard to get for those who choose to leave for real. Click through for three excellent threads:

I used to low-key subscribe to white nationalist views, back in my early 20s. Not going to make excuses for it, I should have known better.

— Vex the Scarewolf (@andreuswolf) April 20, 2017

What's important to getting people out of shitty ideologies like that is the knowledge that they CAN go back. They CAN rejoin society.

— Vex the Scarewolf (@andreuswolf) April 21, 2017

Hey furries, I've been doing a lot of serious, heavy-going takes for a while. Here's a change of pace:

THE FURRY FANDOM IS FUCKING AWESOME

— Vex the Scarewolf (@andreuswolf) May 19, 2017

When you hear a complaint about politics in fandom, point out that it is politics. It’s as likely to undermine as to reduce conflict. It’s merely a thought-terminating cliche when everyone does politics sometimes.  And you don’t have to listen to everyone because some things aren’t debatable.  Don’t waste time on bad faith and discredited falsehoods, or half-baked oppositionalism that stands for nothing but freedom to be selfish at best.  There aren’t “two sides” with parasitic, two-faced trolls who pretend to want an “alternative” without creating anything, who take advantage of the one great fandom. There already is a group for the acceptance they pretend should extend to haters; the basic entry requirement is just getting along with others. It’s something so basic you learn it in kindergarten. Or maybe as soon as people evolve beyond fish.

The best response is: Don’t look for middle ground where there is none.  Just have a spine and stand for something better.

pic.twitter.com/3MKl83ucB7

— Werewolf Chewtoy -;) (@XydexxUnicorn) April 16, 2017

Update. “check it out guys, I found a living example of why @DogpatchPress‘s article about “apolitical furry” is so accurate!”

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

Itching for a furry dance party? The first Scritch Detroit is coming on 11/11/17.

Mon 16 Oct 2017 - 09:56

Furclubbing: “A repeat/regular nightclub event by furries for furries.The concept has been spreading since the late 2000’s. It’s a dance party independent from cons. It builds on their growth but takes things farther. It’s more ambitious than informal meets and events that happen once. Those can stay inner-focused, but this brings partnership with new kinds of venues, and new support for what they host. It crosses a line to public space, so a stranger can walk in and discover their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover to other scenes. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

See the list of parties at The Furclub survey.  Any party that gives a Q&A will get a featured article. Featured here is a new event in Detroit, Michigan.  Here’s what the organizer sent:

SCRITCH DETROIT (2017)

Follow: Twitter and Facebook

The party launch: Scritch Detroit’s first event starts on 11/11, and plans to be hosted on the second Saturday of every month – as long as the turnout keeps us going. Please join us to make a big impression with our first event!

Who: Founded and organized by K-NAO (that’s me!), a DJ and amateur club promoter out of Southeast Michigan, in cooperation with management at the Menjo’s Complex. DJs will be rotated monthly, so the party won’t be stale, and to give new talent an opportunity to play — there’s a lot of talent in the midwest, and we want to showcase that!

What: This is an 18+ club event — $5 at the door, with a full bar, headless lounge, and secure parking. The DJs will be varied, and we’re expecting House, Top40, Electro, Breaks, and Trance at our first event. We’re hoping to get at least 100 people in the door for our first time!

When: We’re starting on 11/11/2017, and want Scritch Detroit to keep going on the second Saturday of every month. Please keep up-to-date with us by following on Twitter and on Facebook. (Subject to the Midwest convention scene, the event may not happen on months where it overlaps the same weekend as major furry or anime events.)

Where: Scritch Detroit happens at the Olympus Theater in Detroit, Michigan, part of the Menjo’s Complex in the Palmer Park neighborhood. The event draws from furries and fandom participants across the Midwest. We even hope to attract people in from Ohio, Indiana, and even Illinois and Ontario.

How: In 2015, I organized a series of events at the now-defunct Club Inferno dubbed “Furry Friday”, of which there were three — in 2016, I worked with Menjo’s on the Fur Ball, a one-off August event that saw good attendance. Now we have a dedicated space, and my events have received some attention, so I’m pushing for a real, high-attendance club event that will bring people together.

Vibe: Popular convention DJs and hour-set formats make this a $5, 5-hour convention dance party, but without the hassle of booking a hotel for three to five nights, paying an expensive attendance fee, or having to sneak your alcohol into the dancefloor past the Dorsai.  The party is 18+, and while it takes place at a gay club, it’s all-inclusive, much like the convention dances we seek to emulate. Costuming of all kinds (fursuiting, cosplaying, anything!) is not only allowed, but encouraged. As the event is open to the general public, anyone who pays the $5 cover is allowed to attend.  Bring your non-furry friends who like a party and want to see what the community is about!

Promotion: Right now, word of mouth is the most important way for us to succeed. Sharing our presence on social media helps immensely. Please share! The bigger we get, the more promotion we can afford in the future. A portion of the proceeds will be set aside to help the event grow. Of course, the best press of all is if you have a good time and tell others!

Reactions: I’m pleased to say the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive so far, but the real test will be the first event. We need everyone we can to make this promotion a big success!

Business: The promotion is supported almost entirely by attendees, with staff (like the bartender and security) provided by Menjo’s. Base compensation for the Menjo’s staff comes out of the cover charge, with the remainder split between the talent — this means the more people attend, the more the DJs and talent get paid; the more drinks are purchased, the happier the venue is; and the more tips are given, the happier the bartender is!

Video or pics: We’ll soon be posting more on social media.

[RT APPRECIATED!]
Our first event is on 11/11 at the Olympus Theater in Detroit, MI!
18+ // $5 at the doorhttps://t.co/aEbzvE9lWb

— Scritch Detroit (@ScritchDetroit) September 29, 2017

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

Categories: News

Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels – Book Review by Fred Patten

Fri 13 Oct 2017 - 10:00

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

Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, August 2017, trade paperback, $12.99 (178 pages).

Always Gray in Winter is one of those novels that is deliberately mysterious at first, and only gradually reveals what is going on. To avoid my own spoiler, here is the blurb on the author’s website:

“The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats is torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically-enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return [to] their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice:  preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.”

Pawly is Pawlina J. Katczynski, a mid-twenties Polish-American in love with Lennart “Lenny” Reintz, a mid-twenties German-American U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security specialist. However, Pawly has become a were-lynx vigilante superhero in combat against Mawro, another werecat who uses his shapeshifting powers for sinister and unethical purposes: he is the leader and head scientist of the North Korean “ailuranthropic” R&D program. Here is Pawly, in text and also an illustration by Amy Sun Hee “inspired by the novel”, on the author’s website:

“Her fangs bit into the fur below her lower lip. Pawly fell forward and thrust out her legs against the railing. Claws sprouted forth from the tips of her fingers with a flick of each wrist. She dove toward the car and yowled to goad the driver into turning her way. Her claws sank into the skin above the bridge of his nose as she slid across the car’s hood on her butt. With a grunt she yanked her hand free, tearing both of the man’s eyes free from their sockets. He screamed and crumpled to the pavement, cradling his ruined face, weapon all but forgotten. His partner whirled around with his shotgun in one hand, leaving his chest wide open. Before reaching the wall, Pawly raked the toe claws on both feet across the man’s abdomen. She pushed off with her legs and landed past the front bumper. When she spun around, the wide-eyed man stood before her, trembling as he stuffed his entrails back inside him with both hands. Pawly responded to his horrified whimper with but a shrug before he collapsed.” (p. 7)

In fact, Always Gray in Winter remains deliberately confusing through its first half. The first chapter introduces Mawro and his were-tigress assistant Hana, and establishes that they work for North Korea. The next chapter focuses upon Pawly, the were-lynx (that’s her on the cover), shows her fighting a lone war against white slaver thugs, hints at her having an uncontrollable bloodlust, and ends with her capture by a mysterious organization. The third and fourth chapters reveal that Pawly’s captors are her own extended family, who are affiliated with the U.S. Navy but are acting on their own in drugging Pawly in San Francisco and spiriting her away to Chicago. Barry, Dory, Alex, Tommy, Sheila, Top (also called Topper or Big Top), and Ritzi are introduced, calling each other Mom, Dad, and similar names showing a close relationship. Flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks both clarify and further confuse matters. The family members are gradually more clearly identified – Top is Christopher; Dory is Teodor; Tommy is Pawly’s crippled twin brother Tomasz. Lenny, Pawly’s fiancée, is not a werecat, and has been unwillingly assigned as an assistant to arrogant DHS agent Manuel Latharo. The evil Russian Blaznikov is dead, but has he left death traps behind him?

“‘Everyone around you will die, Pawlina,’ boomed Blaznikov’s mocking voice in her mind.” (p. 10)

Art by Amy Sun Hee

The ominous MSG (not monosodium glutamate) has been stolen and could be anywhere in the world. Some disaster has recently befallen them:

“Top himself appointed her squad leader upon their arrival in Chah Behar. Within days his reputation would be ruined. Lenny would be wounded. Tommy would be paralyzed. And the woman she loved like a sister would be dead.” (p. 52)

Could things get any worse? Well, yeah. Engels has a fondness for acronyms, from the obvious (NROTC) to the obscure (BUD/S) to the imaginary for this novel (the aforementioned MSG); and a weakness for dangling participles. “Only the soft sobbing of the terrified girls, still seated on the car’s bumper, remained once their death throes subsided.” (p. 7) The girls’ death throes? No, their captors’ in the preceding paragraph. “Lenny squinted at the man’s eyes while he showed them inside.” (p. 37) While who showed them inside; Lenny or the man with the eyes?

Always Gray in Winter (cover artist named Bone in the book; named Boneitis in the author’s webpage) is not always convincing:

“Hana spied the thick limb of a poplar tree nearby. She sank the claws on her feet into the branch beneath her and pushed off. Little bits of bark fluttered earthward behind her. High above the Forest’s floor, she leapt from treetop to treetop toward the clearing along its southern border. The moonlight shimmering off the virgin snow glowed brighter as she neared her goal. She gritted her teeth and drove herself forward through the pain. There would be ample opportunity to rest once she reached the van.” (p. 135)

Hana is a were-tiger (“our Bengal bimbo”). Tigers don’t climb trees. Also, poplar forests are popular – Thomas Jefferson planted one that is a National Historic Landmark today – but is the poplar a good tree to go leaping “from treetop to treetop” among?

But quibbles aside, Always Gray in Winter is a fast-moving thriller. You will become wrapped up in the problems of the Katczynski werecat clan, and its struggles to escape both its physical enemies and the killing madness of Werecat’s Rage. Recommended.

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

Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 10:00

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

Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback $1.95 (249 pages), e-book $12.95.

This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)

This is the sequel and conclusion to Legacy: Dawn, reviewed here last August and set in Rukis’ Red Lantern world. Rukis has said on e621, “Legacy is a story set in the Red Lantern world, and takes place roughly 20 years before the events of Red Lantern. You do not need to follow Red Lantern to understand this story, it can be read entirely independently, but if you follow the series, it will certainly enrich the world for you.”

But you do need to know Legacy: Dawn. This begins right after. Right after. Rukis serialized the complete Legacy online on Patreon, and you can’t help suspecting the two halves are meant to be republished as a single book someday soon. You should certainly read the review of Legacy: Dawn first and then this one together. That ends “Legacy: Dawn is about Kadar’s and Ahsin’s struggle for the freedom to be together, in a society where both are treated as property that can be casually separated. It is also about Kadar’s confused instinct to be a dominant personality in a society where he is of low caste, and those of higher caste do not hesitate to punish those below them who get ‘uppity’.” That’s more recapitulation than you will get in Legacy: Dusk.

Kadar (the narrator), a golden jackal, and Ahsin, a hyena, are homosexual lovers and indentured servants – read “slaves” – together. They have escaped from a plantation of the powerful Sura Clan in the desert nation of Mataa, following a slave revolt. Mataa is ruled by hyenas, but homosexuality is socially forbidden; especially for them, since the lower-caste Kadar is the dominant and the upper-caste Ahsin is the subordinate in their relationship. They can expect to be brutally tortured and then slaughtered together if they are recaptured. They and a few other Sura escapees had been taken in by a pride of free lionesses on one of Mataa’s oases, but bands of pursuers from the Sura Clan have made it too dangerous to stay there:

“We parted ways with Dela five nights ago, and we’ve been wandering ever since. She’d given us enough provisions to last at least a week, more than enough to make it out of the dunes, if we wanted to. But each time we neared a watering hole or a small town on the outskirts, we dipped our toes only to retreat back into the desert soon after. The pinpricks of civilization around the desert’s edge were bristling with hyenas from merchant caravans and plantations selling their wares, and we’re not sure how known we are to each of the clans, but we know there are hunters looking for us, and that’s reason enough to be cautious.” (p. 11)

They and the three other escapees – Raja (male cheetah), Anala (female, a non-Sura hyena), and Lavanya (lioness) – try to remain unrecaptured, and to find a Liberator who can remove their metal collars of ownership.

Kadar, Ahsin, Raja, and Lavanya are escaped indentured servants/slaves who just want to get rid of their collars and blend back into Mataa’s free citizens. Anala is a former Sura guard, working for their owners. They don’t know at first why she has joined the escaping slaves, just that she is from a warrior cult. The book is halfway over before she tells them fully. (All priestesses of their religion change their names to that of their warrior goddess, Anala.)

“‘Are we just going to… kill them?’ Ahsan asks, his tone possessing more strength than I thought it might, considering he’s speaking up to Anala. ‘Before we even know who they are?’

‘Do not insult me,’ Anala flicks her boxy ears back. ‘Do you not know by now who I am? What I stand for? The initial attack is simply intimidation. Threaten, convince them they have been caught unawares and stand no chance, and if they have weapons, seize them. We only fight these men in self-defense. They are not worthy combatants for the sake of combat. And no sneak attacks,’ she warns in Raja’s direction, narrowing her eyes. ‘Killing an opponent who has had no chance to defend themselves is just… murder. We are warriors.’ She clasps a paw over her heart, clenching it. I know it to be a clan salute, so I don’t reciprocate. No one else does, but I see Raja nodding.” (pgs. 30-31)

“‘For us,’ I point out. ‘You aren’t collared. You’ll forgive me for saying this Priestess, but you have no real investment in helping us find this man.’

‘I have seen you fight for your freedom, jackal,’ she looks around our camp. ‘All of you. Your ferocity is inspiring. There are grand battles before you, and devastation in your wake. I am absolutely certain Anala means for me to have found you, to join you, to be a part of the war to come.’

‘War?’ I narrow my eyes at her. ‘Since when is this a war? We want our freedom.’

‘How many others across Mataa share your sentiments?’ Anala asks in a low voice. ‘How many thousands… tens of thousands… perhaps hundreds of thousands? The melee at the Sura plantation was not the first of its kind, but you won. Do you know how unlikely that was?’” (pgs. 46-47)

“She knits her fingers together on the table, looking down at her rough palms. ‘The fight with the Aard—‘ She stops, looking to Ahsan’s disapproving expression, ‘with Lochan,’ she corrects quietly, ‘was the first real challenge I’d had in years. But after much soul-searching, I came to feel that while it would have been honorable to fall to a man of such skill in combat, it is not what the Goddess intended for me.   Was there as a witness to Matron Sura’s cowardice, and moreover, to see how the world as a whole is changing.’

‘That’s true,’ Raja mutters, flexing his shoulder with a wince. ‘Those weapons are fucking terrifying. Stuff of myth. It’s no wonder they’re conquering the damn world with them.’

‘Soon, there will be no place for women like me,’ Anala says, grimly. ‘Anyone with a pistol or a rifle and the will to use it can stop the greatest warrior dead in their tracks with one pull of a finger. Anala’s power will wane as the true art of warfare is lost, and our Order will fade away with her. All this knowledge, I contended with for many weeks, after the raid on the Plantation. It was hard. It was the most lost I have ever felt.’” (pgs. 161-162)

The War Priestesses of Anala (all hyenas) believe they are meant to die in battle, fighting enemy warriors one-on-one with swords and knives. But the world is changing, with the introduction of gunpowder weapons that kill at a distance (which Anala considers cowardly), such as those the Sura Clan is importing for its guards. This Anala can foresee her religion shrinking and disappearing. She hopes to join Kadar and the four others to accomplish more than a personal escape. She wants them to lead a general slave revolution so she can die in glorious battle.

Art by Rukis

It’s crazy. But – the chances of four escaped slaves hiding in a large country with all authorities and professional escaped-slave hunters searching for them are practically zero. Can four ex-slaves and a death-or-glory warrior priestess foment a full-scale slave rebellion? Can Kadar, the narrator, take part in such a revolution while he and his gay lover Ahsin conduct their personal NSFW romance, and while the group first help Kadar search for his son, who he has not seen for four years and who should be six years old now?

About page 170, their search takes them from the desert of camels and caravans to the muggy, humid coast of jungles, seas, ships, and new animals like otters, langurs, and several that are unknown to Kadar.

Legacy: Dusk (cover by Rukis, plus seven illustrations, some of which are explicitly erotic) mixes scenes of Kadar’s and Ahsin’s romantic trysts, Kadar’s musings on his past and his thoughts on his desert slave culture (what would be the 16th/17th-century Middle East in our world), and the hiding, escapes, and battles of the group’s adventures. If you haven’t read Legacy: Dawn yet, you should start there. If you have, you know you want to read this last half of Legacy.

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

Monster Island, Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar – Movie Review by Fred Patten

Wed 11 Oct 2017 - 10:00

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

Monster Island. Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar, from a script by Billy Frolick & Alicia Núñez Puerto. Sony Home Pictures Entertainment, September 12, 2017, 80 minutes, direct-to-DVD, $14.99.

Distributed in the U.S. & Canada by Vision Films (Sherman Oaks, California). Produced by Ánima Estudios (México City).

Is Monster Island worth an article for DP? How can we ignore any movie with a character like Verónica, the pig-girl?

This 80-minute CGI animated movie premiered theatrically on July 21st in the U.K. It got devastating reviews. Newspaper The Guardian said the day before, “… it’s […] dispiriting to encounter this ploddingly mediocre knockoff, with its budget effects, utterly uninspired visual design and flatlining dialogue. […] The whole forgettable movie looks as if it has been generated by ageing software.” As if that wasn’t enough, The Guardian followed it up with an even worse review three days later. “There are few things more unpleasant to look at than bad animation. And Monster Island’s Technicolor yawn of regurgitated influences is monstrous in all the wrong ways. The eyeball-melting colour palette is just the tip of the tentacle – this is a cobbled-together, plotless mess […]” It got a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s just been released theatrically in South Korea (September 7th) and China (September 9th). We get it in the U.S. as a direct-to-DVD “family entertainment” (kids’ movie) release.

Lucas Frunk (voice of Philip Adrian Vasquez) is a stereotypical 13-year-old nerd at Brown Middle School. His best pal is also-nerdish Peter Kavinsky. They are both picked on by school bully Cameron (voice of Michael Robles) and made to do his science class experiments (the frog explodes). Lucas discovers the hard way at school social queen Melanie’s (Jenifer Beth Kaplan) Halloween dance that his “asthma inhaler” actually delivers a medicine that keeps him from turning into a towering orange ogre.

Nicolas (Roger L. Jackson), Lucas’ dad, confesses that he and his whole family are monsters from Calvera Island (on the back of a giant turtle), where everyone becomes a monster (no two alike) when they reach puberty. His Grandmother Carlotta (Katie Leigh) is still there; his mother Dina died there when he was a baby. Nicolas refuses to say howhis mother died, why he took Lucas and left Monster Island, and why he has been keeping Lucas’ past a secret from him. Lucas angrily objects to not being told until “the time is right” since the “right time” never comes.

Lucas. Using his inhaler to stay human, steals the magic “carta” (map) to Calvera Island to go there alone. Nicolas finds Lucas gone the next day and rushes with Lucas’ pet lizard Watson to Shiro & Kuro, a wise, two-headed slug (Shiro is tall & thin; Kuro is short & fat) to get a new carta to follow Lucas. Shiro & Kuro tell Nicolas he doesn’t need a carta; he can just stop taking his inhaler, turn into a monster, and automatically know how to find the island. Scenes are intercut of Lucas on the island, and Shiro & Kuro humorously trying to turn Nicolas back into a monster (he’s been in his human form too long).

In Calvera City, Lucas meets his grandmother Carlotta and her shop assistant, Veronica (Fiona Hardingham), a pig-girl monster his own age. Lucas learns that he’s come to Calvera at a bad time; people have begun disappearing. Stupid police constables Fergus (the short pumpkin) and Giraldo (tall zombie) decide that since the disappearances coincide with Lucas’ arrival, he must be guilty and follow him.

Lucas learns what the audience has known since the film’s introduction: the villain is a stereotypical “BWAHAHAHA” evil Mad Scientist. We later discover that the Mad Scientist is Lucas’ uncle Norcutt (Johnny Rose), who is also Carlotta’s son. He is the only person on Calvera Island who did not become a monster at puberty. His desperate attempts to “cure his affliction” resulted in the explosion that killed Lucas’ mother. Both Nicolas (and infant Lucas) and Norcutt left the island in self-imposed exile. Now Norcutt, completely mad, has returned with monster assistants Mongo (spider-man) & Durgo (zombie). Norcutt has decided to become more than a unique monster; he will kidnap & kill all the monsters to steal their abilities and become a composite of all their monsterishness. Norcutt has his assistants kidnap Carlotta, his own mother; Lucas and Veronica go to her rescue; Veronica is captured and Lucas is defeated; Lucas discards his inhaler to become a monster to fight Norcutt’s assistants; Lucas’ dad arrives to join him; Norcutt is completely beaten, and Lucas and Nicolas, as monsters, settle down as citizens of Monster Island.

Monster Island (no relation to the Monster Island in the Godzilla movies, or to previous horror movies with the same title) is pretty lackluster, all right. You’d expect the home of monsters to look monsterish. Instead, the town on Calvera Island looks like any other seaside small city, with the monsters stuffed into ordinary clothes, living in ordinary homes, going to work in ordinary buildings, and acting more-or-less like regular people. One of the comic policemen, Fergus, looks like a Halloween pumpkin stuffed into a uniform. His jack-o-lantern head even comes off, rolls away, and has to be retrieved (several times), which may supposedly be funny (does anyone laugh?) but destroys any illusion of a live creature. (And how convincing is it that any municipality looking to create a police force would hire the stupidest, most buffoonish clods they could find?) The sets in The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Hotel Transylvania look more monstrous. Comparisons with Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University are unavoidable, and Monster Island falls short every time.

Granted, Ánima Estudios doesn’t have the CGI capability that Pixar does – look at the attractively stylized but completely unnatural ocean waves and water effects — but its imagination is much shallower, too. The monsters in Monsters, Inc. are mostly nude (except for safety helmets) because they obviously aren’t human shaped and wouldn’t fit into human clothing. The monsters in Monster Island are mostly unimaginatively conventionally dressed, even if they look more grotesque clothed than nude.

Still, the monsters are a form of anthropomorphic animals, particularly Veronica the pig-girl, so it belongs here.

Monster Island is directed by Leopoldo Aguilar and produced by Ánima Estudios in México City. Ánima advertises itself as the largest animation studio in Latin America, founded in 2002. Its theatrical features shown in the U.S. are Top Cat: The Movie (Don Gato y su Pandilla), September 16, 2011; Wicked Flying Monkeys (Guardianes de Oz), April 10, 2015; Top Cat Begins (Don Gato: El Inicio de la Pandilla), October 30, 2015; and The Legend of Chupacabras (La Leyenda del Chupacabras), October 14, 2016 limited*; all of which but the last have anthro animals in them. Ánima has also produced many TV cartoon series, of which Teenage Fairytale Dropouts and Legend Quest have been shown in the U.S.

*La Leyenda del Chupacabras is the fourth in a Halloween/Day of the Dead series, preceded by La Leyenda de la Nahuana (produced by Animex, not Ánima Estudios; November l, 2007), La Leyenda de la Llorona (October 21, 2011), and La Leyenda de las Momias de Guanajuato (October 30, 2014); to be followed by La Leyenda del Charro Negro next year. The others were never released theatrically in the U.S. but have had DVD releases; Chupacabras had a very limited U.S. theatrical release. See also the Legend Quest TV series.

Monster Island is a direct-to-DVD movie here in English and Spanish languages, and English and Spanish subtitles, released on September 12, 2017 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It is scheduled to be released theatrically in Mexico on September 15 and in Spain on November 17, under its Spanish-language title, Isla Calaca.

– 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

Furry Drama(tic Arts) – The Forgotten History of the Furry Musical, Part 2: Furry Tales

Tue 10 Oct 2017 - 10:26

Patch here, with Part 2 of the story submitted by guest writer Duncan R. Piasecki.

In Part 1, we mentioned the theatrical nature of anthropomorphism: how fursuiting is related to a world-wide love for humans performing as animals. In the mainstream, it’s in musicals like the stage version of The Lion King or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Then, as we discovered, there was even a small, overlooked chapter of fandom history with not one, but at least two musicals focusing on the furry subculture.

One of these unique projects was Yiff!/<furReality>, which was fading from memory until we rescued documentation from the director.  It can make you wonder… while the mainstream celebrates anthropomorphic performance, why haven’t such ambitions carried forward as fandom has grown?

Perhaps the ideas may get tried again, with bigger and better resources, stages and audiences this time. Looking into that may get you excited for a certain con in 2018.  More on that at the end. (-Patch)

Duncan R. Piasecki continues with the story of the other musical:

Everything awful dot com (Furry Tales)

Strangely enough at about the same time as Yiff! was happening, another musical about furries was in the works, but completely unrelated and covering slightly different ground. A lot less was done with it, though, so there’s a lot less to say about it, unfortunately. This one, however, you’ve more likely heard of – at least if you’ve gone to Anthrocon consistently for the last decade or so.

In 2007, to coincide with Anthrocon’s first day, a musical was performed in Pittsburgh, at the CLO Cabaret theatre. The musical was titled Furry Tales.  There was hope from writers Bill Medica and JC Carter to have furries around, and have them give input. (They were Pittsburgh residents themselves, and had seen many an Anthrocon come and go, though never been to one themselves).

Medica (left) and Carter (right) at the premiere.

The story of the musical was basically that a journalist for a slag rag website named “everythingawful.com” (a play on Something Awful, who are… not exactly fans of us) goes undercover at a furry convention.  His mission was to go all Vanity Fair Pleasures of the Fur on our collective tails/nubs/whatever you have attached there, and expose the weird, kinky, sordid details about our sexual deviancy. (Apparently, even if you hate us, being in the middle of it doesn’t contaminate you if you’re there ironically – once a philosofur, twice a furvert? Sorry, Voltaire). He meets three others – “Gorillanator”, “HuggyBunny” and “MisoKitty2”. Music, and stereotype-breaking-down, ensues.  By the end, our grand troll protagonist, who calls himself “BlueWolf22”, finds his people, and The Truth of the Furry Fandom™ (dun dun dunnnn)… or something to that effect.

Something sticks out to me personally as interesting: one of the characters in this musical was a gorilla.  When was the last time someone met an ape furry, or was one? I mean, there are primate ones, but even the IARP doesn’t have any apes listed in their research on fursona species. It’s an oddity that sticks out a bit. I’m sure there probably is one somewhere out there, but I think it speaks to the lack of proper research at the time about who was what species.

(Note from Patch: here’s esteemed greymuzzle superhero Ultra-Gor meeting Nichelle “Uhura” Nichols!)

Now, reaction to this musical is a lot more visible than could be found for Yiff!. Furries apparently liked it well enough, giving it a standing ovation, but Anthrocon’s board members were less convinced. Uncle Kage himself was in attendance and was… not totally happy, to put it in simplest terms. I’ll paraphrase, but the gist is that he while he felt they had good intentions, tried to be sensitive, and the performance was well done – they were misinformed.  It seemed they were relying on misinformation common in the media at the time especially, so their attempted sensitivity was a misfire due to the misinformation (as he put it, the story was about “four losers trying to get laid”). He invited them to come to Anthrocon and get a good look for themselves at what all this fuss was about.

Nothing more seemed to happen after that, as far as I can tell – nothing more seems to have ever been said or done since that performance. I can’t even tell if they took up Uncle Kage’s invitation.

Unfortunately for us, it seems that no files of this exist anywhere, unless someone somehow recorded it. As best I can tell, the creators never released anything, and the musical was never performed ever again. The writers are also quite hard to track down nowadays, which doesn’t help either (I mean, you can find people with their names, but it’s really hard to tell if they’re the right people, or someone who simply shares a name and broad location). Plus, the website was heavy on use of Flash, so it didn’t archive at all, making finding primary source information nowadays really hard.  So this one’s a bit of information and not much else, unfortunately. I wish there were more to say.

We are the fantasy generation

So there you have it: a small part of furry cultural history you might not have even known existed, represented by Yiff! and Furry Tales.  It’s a pity really, it’s quite interesting in my humble opinion just for how weird it is as a cultural artefact. Good, bad, in the middle, whatever you feel about these things, I think we can all agree: this was something unique and worth preserving at least the memory of.  More desirably, it would be helpful to archive the full content, if just for interest as an odd, short-lived, and (so far) unsuccessful sub-branch of the broader story of the Furry.

– Duncan R. Piasecki

Patch here: Are we missing anything to mention? There was a stage show (but not a musical, I don’t think, I haven’t watched it) by Chris “Sparf” Williams:

But now for that 2018 news I was teasing at the beginning.

A Furry Musical Con!

Biggest Little Fur Con has grown, in a few short years, to be one of the highest-profile cons. Their 5th annual event in 2017 shot into 3rd place among largest cons (behind Anthrocon and Midwest Furfest.) By reputation, they are supposed to be one of the most fun and most well-run of all cons for several reasons.  One is their location at the Grand Sierra resort in Reno Nevada – with Go Karting, bowling and more on site.  Another is their attention to organization and theme; their “Big Brother is watching” style dystopian theme several years ago was praised as one of the most well-done anyone had seen, with the pervasive “propaganda” and interactive element of a “resistance”.

When they announced 2018’s theme is “Furry Musical,” I heard it from a con guest of honor who is a professional in theater. I believe they are helping to produce it.  I’m going to check in for a followup article to coincide with some important BLFC news. Stay tuned for that and stay fabulous.

On behalf of any furry who likes musicals, thank you very much to Duncan for his extraordinary effort to research and present this fandom history. I hope it may inspire those excited for BLFC, and those who bring the idea back to life after years of gathering dust. (- Patch)

A MUSICAL!!!#BLFC18

Mother's Day weekend 2018

For real this time. https://t.co/IGCcCTZpe9

— BiggestLittleMusicon (@BiggestLittleFC) June 5, 2017

ANNOUNCING: OMG we are writing a musical for @BiggestLittleFC next year!!! @peppercoyote. NO PRESSURE. pic.twitter.com/1KIvh7NfxE

— Fox Amoore (@FoxAmoore) June 5, 2017
Categories: News

Support Furry Nation by Joe Strike, out October 10 – with exclusive offer here for a free comic!

Mon 9 Oct 2017 - 09:20

Previously posted – Review – Furry Nation: The true story of America’s most misunderstood subculture, by Joe Strike.

Finally, there’s a formally published book about furry fandom and its history. I think it’s overdue by a decade. It comes with excellent cred, being written by long time insider Joe Strike (who joined the fandom in 1989) and published by Cleis Press. Find out more from furrynation.com.

A book worth supporting- Joe Strike's "Furry Nation" comes out very soon. Please spread it on 10/10 via this link. https://t.co/13n3vPhdpN

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 28, 2017

To support the book: sign up to their Thunderclap campaign. Join fast, the launch is approaching!

Signing up concentrates support with one blast on social media.  Why help? Success of the book will support more and better plans. One commenter asked why the book says “America’s most misunderstood subculture.” It has to do with an American publisher focused on domestic readers, and much of the early history is tied to a few American places.  The book had to be kept inside a certain length, leaving wider topics out, but if it does well…

Altho 'Furry Nation' has emphasis on USA, any sequel -- assuming this sells! -- will be called 'Furry Planet' and be more international.

— Oliver (or 'Goldie') (@OliverGoldie1) September 28, 2017

Author Joe Strike writes in with news, and an exclusive offer of a free comic:

“The official publication date for Furry Nation is October 10 – and some interesting things are already happening.

Last week I was interviewed by The New York Post. I supplied them with an assortment of furry art and fursuit photos. It looks like they’re going to give Furry Nation a nice write-up, and possibly explain Furry a little bit better than just about everyone else has so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed – the only keywords attached to their recent story about the Connecticut councilman “exposed” as a furry were “Connecticut” and “Fetishes.”

I did my very first podcast this past weekend, appearing on Furcast.fm and it was a ton of fun. They’ve asked me to come back anytime and I can’t wait to join them again. You can download or watch it here.

I’m offering a freebie to people who purchase Furry Nation through the book’s website.

There are links on the page to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Powells.com. Click on any of those links, make your purchase, and forward purchase confirmation to me at joe@furrynation.com, together with your mailing address and an over-21 age statement. I’ll send you a free copy of Komos & Goldie Number One: the premiere adventure of that scaly ‘n shiny super-team created by myself and the British fur known as ‘Desiring Change.’” (-Joe Strike)

Categories: News

Pacific Anthropomorphics Weekend blasts off on November 3-5.

Sun 8 Oct 2017 - 22:00

EXTENDED PRE-REGISTRATION: Sign up by the end of day on October 10!

Register here to join the fun and support this young con.

San Jose, CA has two furry cons. Look at special places like that for ideas about how the fandom is growing. (See my article: One Town, Two Cons.) Do two cons show healthy demand and raise the bar for both?  Do they split the community?  Or are they just on different paths with one trying an out-of-the-box concept?  Well, it looks like win-win positivity in San Jose. The cons are so friendly that they share staff.

Pacific Anthropomorphics Weekend (PAWcon) is the upstart “relax-a-con” at the DoubleTree, previous home of Further Confusion.  400 or so furs went last year, making a just-right sized party on the shared balcony connecting the whole party floor. (You can bounce from room to room without traffic jams, and spend time with everyone – it’s the best party ever.) The con has grown by 100 furs-per-year, so expect more and better for 2017, their fourth year.

Keovi’s art

PAWcon is coming SOON, so register NOW! Here’s more info they sent:

“Pac Anthro League (PAWCon) is designed to foster co-involvement and inclusion between the intermingled groups within our shared community. We support local animal groups through charitable events, and educational outreach.

The goal is bringing together furry, pups, gaymers, and cosplay, among other groups, in a welcoming supportive environment. It enriches our community through outreach and educational inclusion of these various facets in the greater Anthropomorphic community.

Each community exists in their own right, though many members aren’t limited to just one group. Pac Anthro League believes that group co-operation and inclusion strengthens our diversity, making our community the open and welcoming place it is.

This years guests of honor Keovi and Alkali are both well known in furry community. Kevoi’s amazing artistic abilities in various mediums, from spray paint to print work, has delighted our community for years. Alkali is best known for his unique comedy style and generous heart, helping to raise money for charities around the country.”

Check out Keovi and Alkali on the GOH page.

And here’s the registration page again. Can’t wait to see you there.

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

Furry Drama(tic Arts) – The Forgotten History of the Furry Musical, Part 1: Yiff!/< furReality >

Fri 6 Oct 2017 - 10:40

Article submitted by guest writer Duncan R. Piasecki. (Part 2 is here).

Let’s face it: we furries are a pretty theatrical bunch. Fursuiting is, in itself, a form of performance art, dramatic and striking, and probably the most visible aspect of our culture to anyone looking in from the outside. (It’s certainly what is talked about the most in the media).

None of this should surprise anyone here, even those of you who stumbled into the furry internet after straying off the normal path. In fact, it’s not even that surprising to the outside world. One need only look at, say, ultra-successful Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, or the stage musical version of The Lion King, to see that the visceral drama of humans performing as animals is widely acknowledged the world over.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. No, actually, we’re going into a deeper rabbit hole (har), one that many of you probably didn’t even know about: the furry musical.

No, not the ones with furries as the characters in focus. One with furries in focus. As in, us. As in, fursuiting, going to conventions, role-play, yelling at people online, and that sort of thing. More surprising to all of you, perhaps, is that there wasn’t one, but actually at least two musicals about furries being our regular old selves… both written by people not entirely within the fandom.

In Part 1, we’ll look at a musical where our request for documentation yielded a generous response by the director.  In Part 2, we’ll look at one that seems to be a fading memory with no record to be found – as well as an exciting happening to come in 2018.

Mom isn’t home tonight – how Yiff!/<furReality> came to be.

Back in the mid-00s, a British man by the name of Tim Saward was studying a Master of Arts degree in musical theatre at Goldsmith’s College in London. As part of the requirements to complete the degree, he had to come up with a final project, a performance of an original piece of musical theatre. Inspired by some strange friends of his who were into some things he himself wasn’t, but liking the possibilities for storytelling and innovative modern theatre, he picked the subject matter: furries. With idea in mind, and after input from actual furries on the internet about what exactly the musical’s story should be, he began to write. It’d be a little while before more would come of it than simply an idea. Let’s start there.

A song called “Fursonality”, performed by “Mortimer L. Wombat” (which seems to be a screen name for our friend Tim Saward) and Stage Lion (a furry resident of Buffalo, NY) was written as a test, recorded and released in January 2007. It was meant to be part of the musical, and seems to be the first song written for it.  Later it was cut and replaced with a song called “FurReality”, which became a little more important… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There was also a quick animation by the show’s animator for the song, but we’ll also get to him and what I mean by that properly in a minute.

At some point around this time (it’s hard to pinpoint exactly), there was also a release of a song called “Wolves in the Forest”. The version was called SCV (for reasons I only found out recently – it’s short for “Sondheim Comp Version”, a reference to Stephen Sondheim, a very successful and popular writer of musicals).  The SCV version had different lyrics and dealt with finding hesitation marks, rather than a drawing of a fox, and other subtle lyrical differences (such as referring to Lee, rather than Russell). It would later be retooled and become a mainstay in the production, under the same name.

In September, with the help of Darren Wayte, and fuzzy help in the form of Vahn Fox (story consultant) and Kyle Evans (a.k.a. Edge, on animation duty), Goldsmith’s College held a 45-minute concert performance.  Songs were presented for a musical that was, at the time, called Yiff! A Furry Musical, version 0.1.

The website for the musical sold the story as thus:

Childhood fantasies sometimes last a person’s whole life. Some furries just like anthropomorphic cartoons or dressing up like tigers. Others want something a bit deeper and more adult: more sexy; more yiffy; more taboo. Russ knows he’s a furry, but is otherwise clueless. Can he come of age in the furry community, both online and in real life? Is having a second life always a good thing? And how do you deal with the world’s wolves? All the intrinsic comedy of the furry experience meets some serious questions about growing up and the fluidity of sexuality in a decade of easy fantasy in a perky new musical that is unmistakeably contemporary.

That doesn’t tell you much.  Let me fill in the exact story, at least as it stood in its most complete form:

19-year-old Russell from Whitby is heterosexual, lonely, has no friends, no job, and no real prospects.  He struggles with his interest in anthropomorphic animals, and feels it to not be normal. He lives with his conservative Christian mother, after his father left or died (it’s unclear), and feels like she doesn’t understand him. Russell finds his way into an IRC chat with furries. Realizing that these are the people he’s been looking for, he takes on the persona of RedFox (gee I wonder what species he is) and makes a few friends.  In particular, there is JadeVixen, a sexy (but rather unpopular in the chatroom) kitsune girl that he starts to fall for. As his relationship with her grows, he gets deeper into the furry fandom and lifestyle.  Russell makes art and gets a fursuit.  Relations with his mother start breaking down over her misunderstanding of it all. Drama, hilarity, and explorations of sexuality ensue.  There’s a twist and cliffhanger ending that we’re promised will be continued, and would lead to darker territory, in the finished musical.

Yes, if the title didn’t give it away, sex is a fairly large part of this. I can hear your cringing from all the way over here, but it’s not the sole focus of the story at least. It does get pretty explicit at times (the performances were all strictly 18+, partly due to profanity), so it’s not great for stereotypes. Yiff is overtly discussed a lot, as you’d expect… I mean, you don’t go to Hamilton and expect them to almost never utter the name Hamilton, right?

The performance was not acted out per se.  Mostly the characters are just singing the songs (this is true of all performances ever held of material from it), but there were animations accompanying several songs (including the title song… awkwaaaaaaard).  Animation is projected on a screen on stage, and, yes, at a few points the actors dressed in fursuits (the cheap store-bought versions, but hey, still).  That’s pretty ambitious for the time in which it was done.

The performance itself was… fine. There were some obvious flubs and I wasn’t a huge fan of this particular version of Russell, at least compared to others, but it was a start.  It gained a little attention. Things would not remain totally static. Before we discuss what changes were made, we need to talk about 2008, which was a big year for Yiff!.

The 2008 cast and crew. As you can see, most of the “costumes” for the performance were just shirts with a picture of the character they were playing, in the same style as the animations. A few of them also played several different characters at different points. Not pictured are the two fox fursuits, but they were there on stage. That’s Tim Saward in the front, wearing the glasses and striped sweater.

In 2008, a bigger, more complete version, numbered version 0.2.0, was performed at King’s Head Theatre in Islington.  It had two dates, with a mostly new cast. It ran for twenty minutes longer than the first, at 65 minutes overall, with new and retooled songs.

The story remained much the same, but more story beats were expanded on.  The sexual side you expect from the title was expanded on quite a bit too.  Now there was a song called “The Ultimate Yiff”, about “desiring cartoons”, not being sure if it’s normal or if it even exists in other people (despite knowing the common-ish word for it used by other people).  It had the lyric “animation, masturbation, these are the only reasons I have to live“.  Then there was another song in which Russell is drunk at a furmeet and frustrated he couldn’t meet a girl.  An amiable, camp raccoon named RaccoonBoy grabs him and asks if he knows what a jailhouse gay is, and he gets a little… excited by scritching.  Then there’s a song that, well… you can’t hear it in the audio, but it featured actual simulated masturbation on stage while on webcam with Jade, who is telling him that he loves her. Make what you will of that, and the fact that he’s caught doing it.  (And you thought Rocky Horror was awkward to see with your conservative parents!).

The performance was more professional.  There were less awkward bits where people flubbed their lines, so it was overall better done than the original performance. This would, ultimately, be the most complete we’d ever see the musical. It was also the most attention the musical would get.  There was even a performance of some of the songs at the Rainfurrest 2008 masquerade.

In 2009 and 2010 there were two other performances, version numbers 0.2.1 and 0.2.2.  They had only about five or six songs, and again a mostly new (albeit much smaller) cast. Another thing also changed: the name. Gone was the suggestive (well, to us) title.  In was the rather complicated new name <furReality> (and yes, the angle brackets are part of the title), meant to invoke the IRC roots and backbone of the show’s narrative. It’s actually really hard to find out anything about either of these, since they were almost never discussed.  The videos are now long gone and I can’t remember anything about them.  Nor did I personally preserve them due to feeling at the time that they added little to nothing to what was said and done in version 0.2.0 (I know one was performed at the Scenic Route theatre, just can’t remember which one).

The four performances were all filmed in full (bar an accidentally unrecorded song in one).  The videos were put up on YouTube (except for the raunchy song “Yiff!” from the second reading – YouTube removed it not long after being uploaded, for being too raunchy. Apparently lines like “the juice of my sex is flowing like the surging of a tide” were too much in 2008, even if they might not be today).  The songs from the second version were put on FurAffinity as MP3s. I personally also managed to hang on to MP3s of the first recording, ripped from the YouTube videos, but not the videos themselves (to my chagrin).  The videos were never high quality (around 240p generally).  All the audio of the musical is just ripped from those (so it’s not great, quality-wise – low quality, sometimes hard to hear what’s being sung, audience laughing, distortion, compression effects, that sort of thing).

After the fourth, there was silence, though there was talk just after that performance that most of the songs were being dumped. It seems now that the project is all but abandoned. It was due to premiere in full in 2010, but the year came and went, and nothing more was said afterwards. The websites died. Saward did graduate his degree.  After playing around with pantomime theatre based on unusual concepts (such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and some other musical projects, he wrote a few unofficial Doctor Who audio dramas, and went on to eventually become the theatre manager for the London Borough of Hillingdon. He works there today. A few years after all of these events, he rendered private almost all of the videos of the musical, for reasons we didn’t understand at the time.  That’s why you’ve probably never heard of it unless you were there.

It’s hard to really gauge now what reaction was.  Little reaction to it seems to still exist, but most seemed mixed to positive, from what I’ve seen. At least, it was good enough for the project to continue on for several years. Perhaps surprising, considering the musical clearly had a sexual angle, and that was still a major prevailing stereotype at the time. (The title song, as you can imagine, was about a role-play that went sexual… and yes, there was animation to accompany it). The musical even started off with the infamous video “Sarah discovers the truth about furries”.

There was plenty of bad reaction too.  This video urging you to boycott it will have you know that.  Part of it, for the video creator at least, evidently had to do with minor character CanusWolf.  He was never shown in any reading (just hinted at offhand in the song “FurReality”), but billed as some kind of mysterious antagonist that’d crop up at some point, possibly in the flamewar hinted at in the first reading’s bridging section.  Also, I find irony in their insisting that the musical will be bad for furries, but that it should include groups like babyfurs and mpreg fans. Yeahhhh… that wouldn’t help it be any better for us than you think it will already be. Anyway, spoiler warning:

That sounds like an end, but it’s not. Patch got hold of Tim.

The director’s response, September 2017

I was quite floored that he responded, and very happy!  But more importantly, he cleared up a few things.  For one, the videos disappeared because the performers requested it. They were unpaid, and long-term video recordings of their performances were not part of the agreement.  Plus, everyone was a bit put out by the ol’ let’s troll the furfags business that happened when Encyclopedia Dramatica caught wind of it.

Second, we found out from him that the musical’s cancellation was due to his feeling it didn’t achieve what he wanted. Ultimately, he felt it stuck a little close to the theatrical conventions he was hoping to break. He then got out of composing entirely, and that was the end of that.

Third, and most excitingly, he shared a trove of files from the development of the musical.  There’s a lot of interesting tidbits that show development over the several years it was in the works.  Actually a bit too much to look at, in some ways, if you don’t know much about music/als (as is the case with me).  I’ve downloaded and backed it all up into a Google Drive folder.

Archive.org would be ideal for this in a more permanent setting. (Does anyone want to put this stuff in a nicely-sorted collection on there?  I’ll happily link to it with proper credit). But in the mean time, I’ll just share the raw files pretty much as I got them, supplemented with my collection of files.  Leave the sorting and proper preservation to someone else with more time and understanding and patience for Archive.org’s oddities.

Development files for Yiff!/<furReality> 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0By0x9b18IXxqN29GWFJVQlF0X3c

Here’s what you’ll find in there:

  • MP3s of the first two performances.
  • A programme for the second performance in PDF format.
  • A WAV file of the SCV version of “Wolves in the Forest”.
  • A recording of one of the songs that was never performed live, called “Russ Outfoxes The Counsellor”.
  • An MP3 of the cut song “Fursonality”.
  • Sheet music of all songs performed live.
  • Scripts in various stages of development, as well as outlines that show at least two potential directions the story was set to go.
  • Documents from development, including notes that give a lot more depth to certain elements not discussed in the stage show itself, as of the last-seen drafts at least.
  • Bits of research, including chat logs with furries.
  • Various draft versions of songs, mostly in MIDI format.
  • Google Drive also saw fit, in the process of my backing the files up to my personal drive, to mess with the metadata that showed when files were last modified, so I included an HTML file in there that lists all of the files and their original dates, which should help anyone who wants to archive this stuff properly and try make heads or tails of what order various drafts were written in.

A pity we couldn’t get the animations, but oh well. Anyway, you can do almost anything you like with this. There are just a few stipulations:

  1. Credit him as Mort L. Wombat, not as Tim Saward. This was his personal preference on the matter, and so we should respect it. His actual name being known and discussed in this article is partly because it was actually common knowledge at the time, so there was no reason to not include it.
  2. Whatever you do with it, don’t make money off of it. Record it, perform it, whatever, just don’t charge. If you insist on doing something commercial with it, you’ll have to speak to him first.
  3. Not all the stuff under the “Staging and Rehearsal” folder is his work, so he can’t give permission for its direct use, obviously. You’ll see what I mean. There are snippets from other peoples’ blogs and whatnot, used for research.
  4. Tim intends for the videos to remain down, due to the aforementioned requests and drama. While I’d argue they should be kept for archival purposes, this is a point to consider before sharing them publicly. (Please do drop us an email if you have the videos, though, and we’ll discuss it.)

It would be quite fun to have better quality recorded performances.  Maybe something like a live show at a convention, followed by an analytical discussion panel about the musical, and the portrayal of fandom it presents.  But I’m just being a nerd and jumping ahead of myself. At any rate, enjoy all that stuff. I’ll leave proper analysis to someone who knows more about music(als), rather than just being a fan.

In Part 2:

We discuss the forgotten musical Furry Tales.  Then there’s an unusual and very cool happening that may bridge this middle chapter of fandom history to one of the biggest events for the furry world in 2018.  Many younger furs may not even realize this history happened.  That’s why we dug it up to help you appreciate the fandom better.

Duncan R. Piasecki and Patch O’Furr

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

Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl – book review by Fred Patten

Thu 5 Oct 2017 - 10:33

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

Seven Deadly Sins Cover

Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Joseph Chou.
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, January 2017, trade paperback $16.99 ([4 +] 411 pages).

The seven deadly sins are Lust, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Pride. This anthology presents 27 stories divided into those seven deadly sins. Each sin is introduced by an Interlude by Thurston Howl in which three punk youths, Derek (German shepherd), Zinc (tiger), and Barba (horse), tell stories about those sins in a ruined church. They suspect that one of them is a demon…

An advisory usually fits an entire book, but the stories in this anthology are so widespread from G to NSFW that I’ve put my own advisory on each story.

In “Don’t Judge Me” by Sisco Polaris (Lust), an unnamed human man goes to a mixed human-animal gym, steamhouse, and sauna that is a gay hookup spot. He spends an evening playing enthusiastic submissive slut to the male dom anthro-menagerie that passes through, to get into the mood to go home and do his sexual duty to his wife. Very NSFW.

“Down in the Valley” by Billy Leigh (Lust) is narrated by Ralph Walter Travers, a Fennec British civil servant posted in Kenya at the beginning of World War II. He is invited to a dinner party of upper-class Collies, Foxes, Cougars, and others that turns out to be a wildly degenerate orgy, with excesses of drink and sex. There is a death. The police investigate. To tell what happens would give away a spoiler. PG for the orgy and some mild gay romance in a British early-1940s setting.

In “Click” by T. Thomas Abernathy (Lust), Jack is a suppressed human supremacist working with anthro animals. He has a job at a bank, but his wife gets pregnant, so he has to take a second job moving boxes at a warehouse to support the coming baby. He can’t have any more sex with his wife, so he fantasizes about a doe co-worker at the warehouse. His lust for “just an animal” betrays him. A mild R.

In “Fun at the Mall” by Teiran (Lust), “Wildfire” Fox is unabashedly gay, shopping for every sex toy at Yiff R Us at the mall. When he meets a smug wolf who sneers at “faggots” in the mall’s restroom, he teaches him a well-deserved lesson. Even a reader who isn’t gay will be satisfied at this sneering “superior’s” comeuppance. R.

“Bones” by Searska GreyRaven (Wrath) is told from the viewpoint of a husky belonging to a Lady who encourages him to Change partway to human, Changing her partway to a dog, so they can romp together. When a Bad Man forces himself on her and tries to make her get rid of the dog, she has him Change all the way to human to solve their problem. This is such a mild horror story that I’ll rate it G. Or PG, for those who think that any story more mature than second-grade level should be PG.

“Those Three Letters” by Rayah James (Wrath) are HIV. When Orion (wolf) learns that he has HIV, he’s sure he knows who gave it to him. He’ll get revenge… That’s it? This story ends before it’s really gotten started. G (or PG for implied violence).

“For the Sins of the Father” by Sisco Polaris (Wrath) is narrated by Forrin, a wolf who is passed over for a job he deserves because he’s openly gay. He’s angry, and he decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his lion boss’ son. Things don’t turn out as he’d planned. (Well, he’d be the first to admit that he hadn’t been thinking.) This is also NSFW, but I liked it much better than “Don’t Judge Me” because it has a real beginning, middle, and end rather than being just a sweaty, sticky mood piece; and for showing intelligence once he cools down.

“I Burned the Bridges to Heaven” by Weasel (Wrath) is about Derrick (raccoon) who is in a very abusive relationship with Andre (wolf). But what it’s about is not nearly as important as how it’s written; very poetically. PG.

“The Collection” by T. Thomas Abernathy (Greed) is narrated by Coop, a tiger, but what’s important is neither his name nor his species. It’s his mania for collecting. The collector has to collect. He has to have the biggest collection; better than anyone else’s. What does he collect? Is it important? G.

“Stay” by Hypetaph (Greed) is about Cecil, her son Kal (Himalayan wolves), and Kal’s girlfriend Claire (panther). Kal is going away to college and Claire is helping him to pack. Cecil is an overprotective mother who doesn’t want her baby to leave home. How badly does she want to keep him there? Since Seven Deadly Sins is promoted as a horror anthology, “how badly” is pretty obvious. PG verging on R.

In “The Beauty Regime” by Evelyn Proctor (Envy), a nameless lynx goes through numerous self-mutilations to be as beautiful as the fashion magazines say and show what True Beauty looks like. This could be a funny-animal story, but Proctor keeps it furry by constant usage of the lynx’s fur and body shape. Gruesome, but how many real human women have hospitalized or killed themselves in their obsession to be Beautiful? PG.

“Richard Cory” by Tristan Black Wolf (Envy) is more about the narrator, Matheson Knox (rat), than about Cory (tiger), his roommate. “Somewhere, the Great Brain of the university must have thought it amusing to pair up a senior with a sophomore, or a feline with a rodent, or a jock with a nerd.” (p. 167) “He had it all, and he had it so easy. Rich family and private schools; picked for the college b-ball team in his freshman year, not a star, but a solid player; enough brains to get by, at the very least; a perfect body, perfect smile, perfect everything, and all the sex he could want.” (p. 170) Envy, for sure. So what happens to Knox and Cory? I’ll just say that this is the best story in the anthology, in so many ways that it would take too long to list them all. “Richard Cory” is worth the price of Seven Deadly Sins by itself. Read it! PG.

“Lucy” by Dax (Envy) is about an insane tigress who imagines herself to be the wife of a happily married tiger. She plots to get rid of his real wife so she can take her place. This plot is reminiscent of too many real news stories about obsessive fans, which emphasize the funny-animal nature of the story. PG.

In “Devil’s Snare” by Faolan (Envy), Savani is a beautiful black wolf in body but with unruly hair. She is envious of Amber, a vixen with perfect looks in every respect. Savani attempts to use black magic to steal Amber’s hair. The reader can guess that something will go wrong. PG.

“Black Fur” by Gullwolf (Envy) differs in detail, but it is the same plot as “Devil’s Snare”. Cherize, a jackal, is envious of Luciana, a red-furred vixen. “But when Luciana walked into the coffee shop after the fitful few weeks that Cherize had spent waiting for her, Cherize realized that this fox was the definition of perfect.” (p. 214) PG.

In “Repository” by Hypetaph (Sloth), Parks, a German Shepherd, is in bed with his lover, Simon, a coyote. At length. Reading this made me think of the nursery rhyme, “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out; the worms play pinochle on your snout”. It’s a grisly mood piece. PG.

“The Bear Necessities” by Bill Kieffer (Sloth) features Ferdinand, a black bear; Prince, a raccoon (they’re married); and Sladek, a skinny tiger and their familiar. Ferdy, a Tantric magician, discovers a dimensional portal to our Earth; a world of hairless monkeys, unevolved animals, and LOTS of untapped Tantric energy.

“The monkeys were civilized enough to have brothels. More than one of these had bear skin rugs in them. Because the portal had been open for so long, it was easy for Prince to get a fix on a suitable item to copy. The two magic users made a rotisserie out of the tiger, creating a conduit that allowed them to copy and connect with the dead thing on the other side. Even as the bear came into his mouth and triggered the spell. Sladek could feel the bear flattening.

It had worked well.

Perhaps, too well.

Before Prince had even finished on his end, the magical energies had come roaring through the connection to the bear in an overpowering onslaught. They’d not only tapped into any sex on a bear skin rug on the other side; but they’d connected with a tidal wave of power.” (p. 248)

Ferdy remains a conscious bear skin rug. How Prince and Sladek are affected, and what they do about it, is the story. I give it an A+ for imagination. R.

“Relations” by TJ Minde (Sloth) features Aaron (mongoose) and Justin (rabbit) who have been open homosexual lovers for the last five years. Aaron’s sister Shelly thinks that Justin is shallow; Aaron can do better for himself. Aaron wonders if he really loves Justin, or if it’s just too easy to continue their existing relationship. R.

“A Voice Not Spoken” by Stephen Coghlan (Sloth) is about the predators in a predator-prey civilization gradually being persecuted, as seen by Smokey, a feline who doesn’t bother to protest the increasing indignities and dangers. I was reminded of Pastor Niemöller’s “First they came for the Socialists…” long before Coghlan rephrases it in furry terms. PG.

“Listmember Lost” by Banwynn (Suta) Oakshadow (Sloth) is a 15-page story in the form of an email from a fucked-up furry fan who becomes his fursona of Flare, a 7-foot-tall muscular tiger-man, and finds that it doesn’t help his psychological hangups at all. PG.

In “Victuals” by Dwale (Gluttony), Salma (Mau cat) runs a government-approved scrapyard. Adam (Saluki), a new inspector, introduces himself, to her dismay. What is Salma hiding? PG.

“Anthropophagy” by Zarpaulus (Gluttony) asks the old question: in a joint predator-prey civilization where the predators are forbidden to eat meat, will all the predators be willing to accept “meat substitutes”? “Another perk of being thought of as myth: those paranoid enough to actually look for us end up expecting someone completely different. We’re almost always thought of as either hulking half-feral brutes bloated with prey, or suave sexual predators who seduce you and devour you after making love. With these stereotypes, who would expect a petite little fennec?” (p. 307) I rate this R for its gory explicitness.

In “The Music on the Street” by NightEyes DaySpring (Pride), Shadow the wolf… no, I can’t give a summary without revealing too much. It’s a good story, though. PG.

In “Runaway” by Banwynn (Suta) Oakshadow (Pride), Drever (human) is driving from Pennsylvania to Atlanta when he picks up Ramble, a teen red fox morph hitchhiker. Ramble is the first morph he’s ever met. What’s it like to be a morph, and why is he running away? I certainly didn’t guess where “Runaway” was going! A strong PG or a mild R.

“Shelter” by Avin Telfer (Pride) is a classic example of a funny animal story. All the characters are called otters, but they could just as easily be humans. Todd is the captain on an underwater research station when nuclear war breaks out. Only the fact that they are underwater saves them. As the months pass, the rest of the research staff switch their efforts to survival, but Todd stubbornly continues his scientific research. PG.

“Drop Tower” by Varzen (Pride) features Daani Asrighelli, a goat reigning pop star, and Alexi Rosenbath, a vampire bat “Executive Accountant of Vertilaginous Projections” – her recording company’s assigned manager/keeper to her. Her delusions of “immutable musical brilliance” and her temper tantrums make Alexi’s job a nightmare. “‘Daani,’ he said, counting on his footclaws the thousands of dollars pissed away in lost recording time, thousands more burned in the wrath of Daani’s inferno.” (p. 370) But as the story progresses, you wonder which of them is the more prideful? “Pride goeth before a fall” – literally. PG.

In “Migration Season” by J. A. Noelle (Pride), Sophie, a snow leopard, and Breezy, a sparrow, are friends in school in Berrymount. When rivalry and hatred between Berrymount’s mammals and avians starts to tear Berrymount apart, will pride in their city or pride in their taxonomic classes prevail? PG.

The anthology concludes with a final Interlude by Thurston Howl that reminds us that all of the stories are supposed to be Horror.

27 stories. This is a long review, and it’s hardly a review at all; mostly just plot synopses. Well, all 27 stories are readable, from brilliant to mediocre at worst. My favorites, in the order they appear, are “Fun at the Mall” by Teiran, “For the Sins of the Father” by Sisco Polaris, “Richard Cory” by Tristan Black Wolf, “The Bear Necessities” by Bill Kieffer, “Listmember Lost” by Banwynn Oakshadow, “Anthropophagy” by Zarpaulus, and “Runaway” by Banwynn Oakshadow again. I’ve already said that “Richard Cory” is worth the price of Seven Deadly Sins (cover by Joseph Chou) by itself. Consider the others my personal roll of honor; and there are twenty more for your pleasure. Enjoy.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

Foreign animated movies released direct-to-DVD in America – by Fred Patten

Wed 4 Oct 2017 - 10:39

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

Woody Woodpecker PosterAre you going to see Woody Woodpecker: The Movie? It’s coming out on October 5th.

In Brazil.

But it’s a Universal movie. Or at least Universal is distributing it there.

The American public may not have noticed it, but one of the cinematic trends of the 2010s has been the production or subsidizing by American movie companies of movies featuring their famous cartoon stars, for theatrical distribution worldwide by those companies – except in the U.S. We get them as direct-to-DVD children’s movies.

Examples: this Woody Woodpecker movie in Brazil, Pica Pau – O Filme. It’s distributed by Universal Pictures/Studios there. It will premiere in Brazil on October 5th, and be released in Chile as El Pájaro Loco (The Crazy Bird; woodpecker would be El Pájaro Carpintero Loco) on November 9th. It should be released in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom later in 2017 (probably as a kiddie Xmas movie) or in early 2018. And also probably as Woody Woodpecker: The Movie, a U.S. direct-to-DVD kid’s movie.

Universal has owned Woody Woodpecker ever since Walter Lantz introduced him in an Andy Panda cartoon, Knock Knock, on November 25, 1940. Lantz’s animation studio was subsidized by Universal. But the new movie is not produced by the main studio. It’s a production of Universal 1440 Entertainment, a.k.a. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal’s home video division since 1980. Besides releasing Universal’s movies on DVD for home purchase, UPHE also distributes the DVDs of, to mention just the animation companies, DreamWorks, FUNimation (anime), GKIDS, and Open Road Films (The Nut Job).

Woody Woodpecker: The Movie is a live-action/CGI animation combo. UPHE produced the live-action in British Columbia. Since it’s premiering in Brazil, the live-action features Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala. But the director is American Alex Zamm, who has specialized in direct-to-DVD children’s films such as Inspector Gadget 2 for Disney and Jingle All the Way 2 for 20th Century Fox. Woody’s voice actor is Hasbro/Nickelodeon/Warner Bros. Animation veteran Eric Bauza. Universal Pictures International is the division that handles theatrical distribution in Australia, China, Germany, Spain, the U.K., and most of those other countries where this Woody Woodpecker movie will be shown.

How about Top Cat? The TV cartoon series was created by Hanna-Barbera in 1961, and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1996. WB gave copyright permission and subsidized the production of two Top Cat animated features by Ánima Estudios in Mexico City in 2011 (Don Gato y Su Pandilla, a.k.a. Top Cat: The Movie) and 2015 (Don Gato: El Inicio de la Pandilla, a.k.a. Top Cat Begins). The first is in cartoon animation; the second is CGI. WB got theatrical distribution in Mexico and other countries; its division for that is called Worldwide Marketing and Distribution. Of course, the two movies were direct-to-DVD home video releases in the U.S.

Not a famous American cartoon, but Warner Bros. has subsidized the production costs of Happy Family, an August 24, 2017 theatrical release (for Halloween?) in Germany – by WB – that looks like a mashup of The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Hotel Transylvania. The theatrical releases include almost every country in Australia, Europe and Latin America, plus Canada – for WB. What do you bet that it will be a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release in the U.S.? The CGI production company is Rothkirch Cartoon Film in Berlin.

Tinker Bell Movie Poster

Disney is producing its own own theatrical/DVD releases, most often subcontracting to Prana Studios in Mumbai, India for the animation. The six Tinker Bell movies — Tinker Bell (2008), Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009), Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010), Secret of the Wings (2012), and The Pirate Fairy and Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast (both in 2014) – were planned, written, storyboarded, and voice-recorded by Disneytoon Studios in Hollywood, sent to Prana for animation production, then returned to Disneytoon for marrying the voice track to the animation, adding the sound effects, and the music. Taking The Pirate Fairy as an example, it was released between February 2014 in Argentina, Denmark, Ireland and the U.K., and the Baltic nations, and August 2014 in Hungary, Poland, and Portugal. The U.S. release was on April 1st, as a DVD. It was a DVD release in at least five other countries, but Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures released it theatrically in Argentina, Germany, Greece, Hungary, France, and the Netherlands.

I haven’t tracked every furry movie, but the number of them coming out as DVD originals is increasing. The Japanese invented the OAVs (Original Animation Videos) with Studio Pierrot’s s-f Dallos in December 1983. As an anime fan in the 1980s, I remember when we all wanted the American studios to make American OAVs. When we finally got them, they were called direct-to-videos. The first one was furry, too: Warner Bros. Animation’s Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, on March 11, 1992. Today, who knows how many original home videos there are, and with more and more of them made abroad and/or getting theatrical releases. (And in this case, Canada counts as “abroad”.)

– Fred Patten

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Categories: News

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press – book review by Fred Patten

Tue 3 Oct 2017 - 10:36

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

The kingdom of the Sun and Moon CoverThe Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press. Maps.

Bellevue, WA, Parkers Mill Publishing, September 2014, trade paperback $11.99 ([xv +] 297 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $0.99.

This Young Adult fantasy (winner of a 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award, for Teen Fiction (13-18 Years), of the Independent Book Publishers Association) is set in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, home of the Habsburg monarchs of Austria, about 1820. In those days almost all royal palaces had large populations of mice (so did the average citizens’ houses), so the 19th century map of the palace and its grounds is accurate as to the location of the fictional mouse Kingdom of the Double-Headed Eagle.

The König is a tyrant.

His subjects are starving.

And all-out war is fast approaching.

Will a pair of young, courageous

Brothers save their kingdom? (blurb)

The König is the monarch of the mouse kingdom within the Schönbrunn Palace and its grounds. Brothers Sommer and Nesbit live in Long Meadow, a mouse colony in the palace gardens that is far away from the König’s court in the palace itself – but not far enough away.

“It was just as Nesbit was about to set off across the grass to warn his father of the potential intruder that an old mouse – the source of the scent – appeared from under the hedgerow. The mouse spotted Lavendel [Nesbit’s father] and hobbled toward him. Nesbit immediately recognized the visitor, and became unnerved. No! Not him!, he thought, sitting back and anxiously rubbing his snout. He began to shake with apprehension. This is bad – very, very bad!

The visitor, Field Marshal Osterglocke, was no ordinary mouse. He was commander of the entire Thistle Guard, the army of mice tasked with keeping order among the dozens of colonies scattered throughout the massive garden.” (pgs. 4-5)

Winter is coming, and the colonies need all the Essen, the food they have foraged during the summer and fall, to survive. They do not want to pay it in taxes to the palace. Worse, it is expected that the forest mice under Emperor Wolfsmilch, with a Forest Army of 100,000 mice, will invade to steal their Essen. The König does not want just a tax; he wants all the Essen removed to the palace “for safekeeping”, and Osterglocke wants Sommer for the Thistle Guard. When Nesbit protests both, Osterglocke exiles him to the Forest of Lost Life, the furthest colony in the palace gardens – a death sentence — but then appears to relent and cancel his order.

“Sommer watched as the three troublemakers scurried away. He then approached his father, who was clearly disheartened.

‘Why did he suddenly change his mind about Nesbit?’ he asked.

Lavendel thought about it as he stared at the spot where Osterglocke had left the meadow.

‘I’m not sure he did,’ he replied.” (pgs. 16-17)

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon is a fast-moving adventure full of action, palace intrigue, wild predators, the König’s betrayal, hairbreadth escapes, cartloads of cats, revolution, an unexpected friend, and murine religion. Press shows an impressive vocabulary, including simplistic German. When Nesbit appears to control a predator, he becomes known as the Hexenmeister. The actual size and physique of the mice plays a large part.

“Nesbit knew that if he hesitated, he was a dead mouse. He clambered higher along the slippery bark, not looking down until he reached the top of the main trunk, where the tree split into two large boughs. Acker and Zimbel [Osterglocke’s henchmice] would be on him in no time. He gazed up, into the wind-whipped canopy. Branches smacked loudly against one another and dislodged leaves upward into a swirling vortex. Nesbit closed his eyes in an effort to regain his equilibrium and used his whiskers to process the chaos in the air, but nothing helped. He was losing all sense of up and down. He gripped the edges of the bark as firmly as he could with his claws, but still he feared being blown away at any moment.” (p. 25)

The story splits into two parts: Sommer’s adventures (pages 37 to 134) within the palace (he quickly becomes a commander of the Palace Guard), and Nesbit’s adventures (pages 137 to 188) in the garden. It seems that Emperor Wolfsmilch of the forest mice has agreed to call off his invasion if the Sacred Goldessen of the Sun and Moon (the palace’s best food) is delivered to him; so the König assigns endless squads of the Palace Guard on suicide missions to find the Sacred Goldessen (nobody knows what it is; they hope to find it by its “best scent”) in the Royal Kitchen and bring it back, despite the “cartloads of cats” within the kitchen for rodent control.

“Meir thought for a moment before deciding to endorse Edgemoor’s plan. ‘I never imagined I’d hear anyone say that too many cats was an advantage, but your plan seems the best chance we’ve got,’ he conceded. ‘I say we try it. But it’s Sommer’s decision.’

‘Yes, let’s do it,’ said Sommer. ‘Sergeant, you know the ins and outs better than anyone. Can you help us find some other ways into the kitchen?’

‘I’ll do my best, but this is the only way I know for sure,’ Taubnessel said.

‘If we search hard enough, I know we’ll find more,’ Sommer reassured him. Now fully in command, he turned to the others. ‘Once we’re all in and we’ve found our hiding places, we’ll need to move higher, away from the cats. With a good vantage, maybe we’ll be able to spot the Sacred Goldessen, if we haven’t already picked up the scent by then. I don’t know what it actually looks or smells like, but it will be unique.’” (p. 110)

Nesbit’s adventures in the palace gardens are in places named by the mice the Fountain of Certain Death (a fountain with steep slippery sides; any mouse that falls in can’t get out and drowns), the Dying Land (an open area exposed to eagles, hawks, owls, foxes, badgers, weasels, snakes, and other wild predators), the Forest of Lost Life, and so on. Nesbit quickly learns that his escapes have made him the rallying point for every garden mouse who has become opposed to the König’s rule.

“‘We’re ready to follow your every command. And there are hundreds more like us all over the garden who are sick and tired of the König taking all our Essen and letting us starve when the freeze comes. You’ve started the uprising, now tell us what to do.’” (p. 142)

The story returns to the palace on page 191, and Sommer and Nesbit are together for the final hundred pages. The very end of The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon (cover painting of Schönbrunn Palace by Bernardo Bellotto; cover elements manipulated by RD Studio) shows too clearly that Press has read Watership Down, but it is an admirably original story otherwise. “Teen Fiction” in this case means that it is an All Ages book that Furry fans will definitely enjoy.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

A furry’s brush with fascism – authorities “don’t understand the seriousness of the threat.”

Mon 2 Oct 2017 - 10:00

(Comment from blog linked below.)

Sugar-coating helps fascism worm its way inside a community. Even with cartoon animals when Altfurry brings Trojan-horse hate to furry fandom. See tagged stories here.

A regional furry organizer shared this story.  ID is withheld so their job can be discussed. They’re an airport terminal worker.

“Just encountered something that I never expected to see.

A line of badged, patched, and uniformed fascists just came through my airport. Like any other passenger group, I was assisting them. Noticing their crossed hammer imagery in red and white, I thought… maybe I was mistaken.

I asked them if they were Pink Floyd fans (imagery from The Wall). I got blank stares, followed by laughter.

“No” one of them said, “We’re humanitarians, on our way to go clean up Puerto Rico!”

Laughter from the others.

“We’re plumbers too, and carpenters, gonna rebuild this place!”

More chuckles.

Noticing the very particular tattoos a few of them bore, I knew. Still, I asked. “Oh cool, glad you’re reaching out, what organization are you with?”

One of them winked at me. Pointed at his patch. “How about you look this up. We’re doing great work”.

Fair enough. Finished helping him and the five others. And then researched the image they bore.

Hammerskins. A white supremacist group that’s been planning a rally in the area.

I just came face to face with hate. And. I still feel uneasy inside. Especially as they found it amusing that I politely pretended not to recognize what they represented.

But professional is all I can be in such scenarios . But inside. I need a shower.

And give Pink Floyd their hammers back. You missed the message.”

What did their symbols look like?

“They had pins and patches of this logo and symbol.”

Hammerskins are the most violent Skinhead Neo-Nazis in the US. What brought them to the location?

“There was a fascist/nationalist/white supremacist rally in the area, hosted by this group.  It was outside of town. I was safe. But seeing actual members coming through caught me off guard.”

Were they actually going to Puerto Rico at all? It’s a classic two-faced tactic to do nice things for people down on their luck, to sugar-coat and manipulate.

“They were flying out. I didn’t see their boarding passes to confirm. Last I heard Puerto Rico was still shut, so I think they were being sarcastic.”

“Stronger community”?

Was there followup?

“I reported this to my boss. I was laughed at. “Do you need us to send you home or something?”

One of the reasons that society isn’t improving is that a lot of people in positions of authority either don’t understand the seriousness of the threat OR are afraid to act on it because they don’t want to get involved.

I did do further followup, and could not confirm their destination but did what I could to have the situation monitored. I learned that every one of them went through additional screening and search at the airport. They had no contraband. Only hate imagery and dress. They’re being monitored.

More info

A music blog reported about their festival: “the roster also includes Definite Hate, a North Carolina RAC (rock against communism) band that was once the subject of a GQ article. Their lineup once included Wade Michael Page, the suspect in the 2012 Sihk Temple shooting in Wisconsin that killed six people.”

Final words from the furry source:

“Coming face to face with a hate group was a very unpleasant experience, that left me feeling rather ill for hours afterward. But at the same time, it gives me perspective on just how far things can go when people forget how to relate to each other.

In our fandom, we pride ourselves on how inclusive we are. We have people of all walks of life, and we love coming together to party, socialize, and express our anthropomorphic selves. That freedom and fun leaves us wanting more, and missing those experiences when they end.

Online though, large issues sometimes come up, and often, people find themselves on opposing sides. Online, it’s easy to filter out opposing views, block, unfollow, unfriend, and isolate themselves from that which challenges their point of view, and sometimes burn the bridges of understanding.

At the heart of all anger is a sense of having been disrespected. Whether its by the establishment, by each other, by how we feel at our job or in our craft. All of us are more agreeable to each other when we feel respected.

Perhaps every hate group can remind us of what we should not be. How we should strive every day to make sure that we understand that we’re all people, all fallible, but also capable of understanding if given the chance.

Building relationships and trust takes effort and time. Even if it’s hard, sometimes mutual respect alone is enough to get two people to agree to disagree. After all, you don’t always have to win the argument. If you remain friends at the end you’ve both won.

Let’s never see that kind of hate creep its way into the fandom. This is a remarkable place with so much capacity to lift each other up and make us better versions of ourselves. I suppose that’s how I feel about the world as a whole. If we foster mutual respect and communication from the start, extremists might never develop.

I spend time online trying to calm debates, encourage logic and try to reduce the anger people feel by being someone that will listen. If we all tried to do something, we could make a world of difference.  This doesn’t mean acceptance of extremism or illegal or abusive things. Just general differences. If we’re good to each other, that’s good for all of us.”

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Categories: News

The Animal Guild Series – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

Fri 29 Sep 2017 - 10:00

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

The Animal Guild Series

The Animal Guild, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 307 pages), Kindle $0.99.

Monsters in the Territory, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.99 ([5 +] 340 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Marrhob War, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.47 ([5 +] 320 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Nhorn, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 278 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Sowle’s Amazon “About the Author” says that she has been writing this Young Adult series since the age of 13. (Wikipedia says she was born in 1977.) Book 1 was published by CreateSpace on August 22, 2012, with this Second Edition on May 13, 2015. Book 2 was published on August 15, 2013 with this Second Edition on February 8, 2015. Book 3, March 6, 2014 and February 26, 2015. Book 4, June 8, 2014 and March 10, 2015. Book 5, January 26, 2015 and April 13, 2015. Further books are first editions.

What is the Animal Guild, and who is in it? The story is deliberately murky at the beginning:

“Corto dove between the mesquites and just missed the spiny cholla they cosseted under their branches. It was exactly how he’d cut his forepaw an hour ago and started the blood trail. Drok take every piece of cactus in this desert and chuck it over the white gates of Hell.

He didn’t continue the puerile curse because coyote scent wafted toward him again, stronger and closer. He hadn’t shaken his pursuers, attracted by the blood, and until he could hole up and stop the bleeding, he wouldn’t. The cairn terrier ran past the offensive cholla, which had been lurking in wait behind the mesquite, and wished again that he was a bit taller. […]” (The Animal Guild, p. 1)

In the opening pages the reader learns that Corto is a cairn terrier fleeing from coyotes through a desert. He is on a lone-dog mission, but he is resigned to being eaten by the pursuing coyotes, until he is unexpectedly saved by a fox. But wildies don’t associate with guilders like Corto, do they?

In the first chapter the reader is introduced to Corto and Reynard the fox. Conversation establishes that the animals are divided into wildies and dommies (domesticates), and that some of the dommies are guilders. Can a wildie be a guilder? Corto doesn’t think so, but read on. Corto swears by Drok Wardog and Reynard by Fenig First Fox, the gods of the dogs and foxes respectively; the two also refer to Kithis Singer, the coyote god.

Subsequent chapters are similarly mysterious. Reynard saves Corto’s life a second time, in circumstances so dramatic that Corto interrupts his mission to demand that Reynard tell him what the Hell is gong on.

“‘Speak for yourself [Reynard says]. Can you see a hog anywhere out there?’

‘Eh?’ Corto’s worries were confirmed; the head wound had addled Renard’s mind. ‘Why would a hog be out here?’

He heard something between a grunt and a snort. ‘A hawk.”

Corto blinked. ‘Same question. Why would a –’

Wind and sand swooshed over him. He looked up and saw yellow talons and dark feathers, then scrambled into a defensive crouch while a hawk landed in the creosote several feet away. He registered its slate-blue wings and white-speckled breast while it flapped debris in all directions. He swallowed his instinctive fear when its beady red eyes flicked to him, but he wouldn’t run; he wouldn’t leave –’

A dry nose poked him from behind. He nearly lost his balance and would have tumbled straight at the hawk if his nails hadn’t been gripping the earth so tightly. ‘She’s with me,’ Renard puffed, head and one foreleg sticking out of the hole. ‘She won’t attack unless you do.’

Corto had to sit down in numbed shock. With him? Birds and animals didn’t mix, and certainly not raptors who hunted animals. A low rumble vibrated beneath his pads. He stared at the hawk, his memory tweaked by something he’d heard during his months as a guilder, something about a bird who traveled with animals, but he couldn’t quite remember.

‘Corto.’ Renard said while the rumbling vibration increased. ‘I could really use some help here.’” (p. 14)

And this is only up to page 14 of Book 1. Sowle keeps up the action and tension, but only gradually expands on what’s going on. Of course, the reader can always skip to the back of the book where there is a five-page “Glossary of Concepts, Characters and Gods”. “Guild. An animal community that provides fellowship, camaraderie and safety among the dangers of the wild. Vegetarian by necessity [they eat insects, too], guilds are scattered throughout the West, but less common in the East. Usually hidden from humans in large caves or burrows, […]” (pgs. 287-288)

Corto, who has only recently joined the 235th guild, has been sent out alone to practice Training as an Officer Training School applicant:

“He needed to know what to expect even though he was technically cheating – scoping out the area before the exercise began. General Hannon hadn’t told him not to travel through the town, but it took him fifteen miles west of his destination, and trainees weren’t supposed to have foreknowledge of the physical layout of exercises. It didn’t matter; Corto had been born a domesticate, despite what he’d told the peculiar wildie Renard a month ago. He already knew cities, so it was hardly cheating to –” (p. 25)

It breaks off there for another action sequence. Who is General Hannon? Why did Corto leave his dommie home for the wild? Renard is revealed as the leader of The Fearless Four; the others are Valon, a goshawk, … never mind; you’ll meet them all eventually.

Since Sowle is so deliberately mysterious, almost any plot description is frustratingly a spoiler. Here is another early dramatic quote to whet your appetite:

“Both sloshed warily out of the current without shaking off, then stopped a few feet from Munk. The rottie’s glossy brown and black coat was marred by small scars on neck and sides, ample warning of her lifestyle if her eyes, confident and hostile, hadn’t already revealed her attitude. Her gaze moved casually from Renard to Munk, but the fox could tell this was her first wolverine. The tom’s eyes traveled down Munk’s solid body and fixed, wide and dilating, on his formidable claws.

‘Nice day,’ Renard said. He flexed his own pads, hidden in the sedge, because he knew how this meeting would end.

‘Is it?’ the rottie countered. Her rough voice oozed sarcasm.

‘Kind of far from the guild, aren’t you?’

‘Not too far.’ Renard smiled, aware that Munk was tensing, ‘I’m Renard and this is Munk. Are you from town?’

The rottie smiled back – most unpleasantly – while the tom snorted. ‘You’re in Nikki’s territory,’ he said. ‘Nobody gets through here without her permission. Even the 91st patrols stay to the south. I’m Rinker.’

‘Why do they stay south?’

‘Because they’re scared of me,’ Nikki said. Her gaze held Renard’s, challenging him. ‘If you’re headed for the 91st, you’re going the wrong way. Shall I show you what I do to people who get lost in my territory?’” (p. 43)

The Animal Guild (cover by B. Sowle & K. Womack) ends more-or-less satisfactorily, but it is followed by the first 13-page chapter of the first sequel, Monsters in the Territory. In fact, Monsters in the Territory is the first book of a trilogy within the series. It’s not much of a spoiler to quote Monsters in the Territory’s back-cover blurb:

“Two years after the adventures of The Animal Guild, Corto and Renard serve as the senior command of a new guild. [They transfer from the 235th to the 233rd guild.] But things are going wrong in the territory that Granite Council has assigned them; the guild that had lived there has mysteriously vanished, monstrous creatures abound, and most importantly, something has happened to derail the friendship between the dog and fox. Can they end their bitter feud before the monsters in the territory end it — along with them and everyone they love? Monsters in the Territory is the first of a trilogy of books within The Animal Guild Series, followed by The Marrhob War and The Nhorn (so be warned: cliff-hanger ending alerts!). By the end of the trilogy, the world of animal guilds will be changed forever.”

This trilogy can largely be described as the adventures of the 233rd guild, or that part of it that investigates what has happened to the 178th guild. To give away some spoilers in this trilogy, the monsters are the Marrhob, who consider any animals to be food. Another major danger are the Shagus, part plant and part spider (featured on the cover of Monsters in the Territory). Important characters besides Corto and Renard are guilders Morgen the vixen, Fist the kitten, Hercules the cocker spaniel puppy, and the wildie bear Rethus. Here is a quote from The Marrhob War:

“He [Renard] was well aware that he should return to his duties. The guild had to prepare for the skunk threat, while the next step in the 178th search – the exploration of Shagus lairs – had to be organized. He knew Corto depended on his help, whether or not the terrier would admit it, but Renard couldn’t focus on anyone but Hercules. So be it. He dismissed the guild and curled up against the cocker, mindful of Folroe’s [a wildie raccoon healer] instructions to keep Hercules warm. He draped his heavy brush over the dog, waiting until Hercules’ body warmed from his own. When he felt fatigue finally catch up with him, he let go and drifted into uneasy sleep. (The Marrhob War, p. 4)

Humans are introduced in the later books. The covers for Books 2 and 4 are by Shilo Quetchenbach, and for Book 3 by Quetchenbach & Jennifer Sowle. There are eight books published so far, with Book 9, Sev’s Vision – Sev the ferret is introduced in Book 1 — in progress. More are planned. They are The Animal Guild, August 2, 2012; Monsters in the Territory, August 14, 2013; The Marrhob War, March 6, 2014; The Nhorn, June 8, 2014; Outcasts, January 26, 2015; The Hikum, July 24, 2015; Seven Secrets in the Upper Attic, May 27, 2016; and The Rogan Treasures, May 9, 2017. The first five are in second revised editions (Sowle revised them all during 2015); the others are still in their first printings.

Action, action, action!, with non-stop drama and suspense. Plus a cast of anthro animals who aren’t just funny animals. And an admirably rich vocabulary. Sowle’s Animal Guild series will keep you reading for months.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

“Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing” – Comic review by Ace.

Thu 28 Sep 2017 - 10:26

Review: Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing
Guest review by Ace

Suburban Jungle was a web comic done by John “The Gneech” Robey that started on February 1, 1999. It starred a young tigress, named Tiffany, who is trying to make a career of acting and modeling while holding down numerous temp jobs. Along the way she meets the Kurt Russell-esque Leonard Lion, Leona Lioness (no relation to Leonard), and many others such as Drezzer Wolf and Conrad Tiger. It was slice of life with the characters residing in the fictional city. It was light, campy and a general good read.

It was the web comic that made me become a furry.

When Suburban Jungle ended in November 6, 2009 it felt like a giant punch to the gut. I had only been in the fandom ten years in the fandom because of Suburban Jungle. I loved the characters, especially Tiffany, Leona, as well as Leonard, Conrad and everyone’s favorite gay uncle, Drezzer. It was hard to fill those holes. I had never gotten to the opportunity to read Never, Never (which I found out actually came before SJ in terms of production) and while I liked other web comics, they didn’t hold my attention like SJ did.

So imagine my surprise when found out that The Gneech did another SJ comic starting in 2016. This one was a sequel but didn’t feature the same characters. Instead, the main character was a cheeger (the hybrid result of a tiger and a cheetah, in this case Comfort Tiger the sister of Suburban Jungle star Tiffany and her husband the code speaking Dover Cheetah), named Charity Cheeger.

The main cast consists of Charity, Langley Lupina, Roxie Fox, Rufo Redwolf, Parker Peacock and Bounce, who is an otter. All of them have different personalities and yet have enough of the old cast to make you remember the good ole days. Charity and Langley’s chemistry will remind you of Tiffany and Leona, yet Langley is also very different. She’s more a joker or a troll, not doing things out of malice at all. Roxie is more laid back and Parker is a little shy due to bullying. Bounce is the tough and silent guy. And Rufo is, as The Gneech himself puts it “flirty, pansexual, and Latino (in that order).” I didn’t bring it up but even then, the characters are also different in that they are diverse sexually too.

That’s not to say that old favorites don’t pop up. I won’t give it away but at least two characters that I personally loved make a return, briefly. It was an enjoyable stroll down memory lane without being intrusive or out of place. The Gneech really pulled it off enough that this writer has clamored for another character to return.

The basic premise is that Charity, the niece of Leonard Lion and Tiffany Tiger, takes over as manager of a hotel her uncle invested in using her aunt’s money. Along the way, she meets the rest of the crew, battles giant crabs and deals with living in a new area and new people. It’s a fun experience to both read and to experience, whether you’re a new reader or an older one. There are plenty of references, gags and thought provoking comments to make one glad to have read Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing (found at http://roughhouse.suburbanjungle.com )

All in all, it’s an exciting slice of life romp that features characters both familiar and new. I’d give it a 10 out of 10 paws, but I also admit I’m biased having been a long time fan.

– Ace

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Categories: News

The Student, Vol. 1, by Joe Sherman – Book Review by Fred Patten

Wed 27 Sep 2017 - 10:00

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

The Student, vol. 1, by Joe Sherman
Covington, OH, Joe Sherman publishing, May 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 (284 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

Readers had better consider this to have a Sex Lovers Only rating.

The date is 2290, fifteen years after the Kaspersky foundation developed the first successful human-animal person. That was a dog-man they named Furton Kaspersky. This was almost unnoticed by the public because of the simultaneous announcement that humans had been accepted into the Galactic Trade Federation. But as soon as the excitement over that died down, there was plenty of social questioning and panic over letting “animal people” into society. However, by the 23rd century there was enough acceptance of the concept of intelligent non-humans that the anthropomorphic animals couldn’t be suppressed. A compromise was reached: to construct a domed city for the scientists and the hybrids where the research could be continued “in safety”, until the general public was convinced that the animal people were safe. The scientists ensured that the steel-&-glass-domed city, also dubbed Furton, would not become a slum. Furton was built twelve years ago.

Teenager Chris Tailor is the first human to be accepted into Furton University (although its professors are humans). Chris has always been fascinated by the hybrids, and he had been sending questions to the Kaspersky foundation via computer for a decade. The foundation had usually ignored him; but apparently someone has recently decided to let a human into the animal student body as a social experiment, and Chris’ pro-hybrid interest plus his genetics major has made him stand out. Chris is incredulous but delighted to be invited inside the domed city to become a student at Furton University.

This is described in the short Introduction and first chapter. Sherman has an unusual style of huge paragraphs with justified margins, but the reader quickly gets used to them. Here he meets one of the Kaspersky professors during a subway ride inside the dome to the University:

“‘I am Professor Meyers,” The scientist introduced himself as he studied the nervous young man. ‘You’re wearing generics. New to the city I presume?’ he observed in a gravelly voice. ‘I just got into the city less than an hour ago. I’m a new student at the University,’ Chris confirmed with a nod, grinning foolishly in his excitement. ‘Ah, I’m an instructor there myself. What is your major?’ Professor Meyers inquired as he brightened up slightly. ‘Genetics… I’ve been fascinated by the hybrids ever since I watched the news feed of their first creation. I’ve been looking forward to coming here for years to learn how they are created,’ Chris answered proudly. ‘Well then, I suppose I’ll see you in my class. Genetic engineering and hybrid biology are the courses of study, which are my responsibility,’ Professor Meyers announced once he recovered from the surprising answer. He lifted and cocked his head a bit as a tone sounded down the subway tunnel. After a moment, the recorded voice signaled the arrival of the next train. Well here we are. Do you know where you’re headed? I can show you to the dormitories once we arrive at the University, if you’d like,’ he offered.” (p. 14)

This is actually less than half the paragraph, which fills the rest of page 14 and almost all of page 15. It’s all smooth writing, but its presentation is a bit startling at first.

Chris finds that his dorm roommate is Marcus, a six-foot walking, talking German shepherd. Two of the first things he observes is that all of the hybrid students show their teeth in open human smiles and grins, whether they have sharp carnivore fangs or bucktoothed rodent teeth, and the students themselves refer to each other as Furs, not hybrids. (Sherman is careless whether Furs is capitalized or lower-case. Sometimes it is both within the same sentence.) Chris’ quick following suit wins himself acceptance.

Sherman colorfully describes the Furs. They are much more than funny animals:

“As they came up on another fur walking the opposite direction Chris did his best not to stare. He had no doubt this one was a female and quite short. He didn’t believe she could be any more than four feet tall. He thought she had an interesting bounce in her step. He liked the way her long floppy ears sprouting from her head would slightly curl forward with each bounce. She was skinny, but had wide, fuzzy white cheeks separated by a pink, button nose and two oddly cute buckteeth. Chris knew this was clearly a rabbit hybrid despite the fact that he hadn’t heard of or seen any rabbit hybrids previously.” (pgs. 17-18)

Chris also discovers within the first week that the Furs, while observing human modesty in public, especially in front of their Kaspersky professors, ignore it when they are alone – and Chris is now one of them. There is almost no privacy in his & Marcus’ dorm room. “Besides, Furs aren’t as insecure as most humans seem to be. Privacy doesn’t mean a lot to us,’ he [Marcus] explained with a mischievous grin.” (p. 19) Marcus goes naked and openly masturbates to Fur pornography. He is fascinated by Chris’ “morning wood”, since the male animals don’t have that in their biology.

As soon as Marcus is convinced of Chris’ pro-Fur sincerity, he introduces him to the Club, the Furs’ private orgy room. Most of the Furs take advantage of the fact that all Furs are sterile:

“‘Unfortunately [Profssor Meyers explains], all hybrids created to date, male or female, have proven completely sterile, which readers them incapable of having children of their own. We have not been able to discover the reason for this sterility despite our greatest efforts. Therefore, we have been unable to correct it.’” (pgs. 24-25)

So all the Furs can fuck without worrying about pregnancy. This is definitely NSFW action, including attention to how the Furs are matched up by different sizes from horse to mouse, and different sexual equipment – the canines’ knots, the felines’ barbed penises, and so on. Some like it rough; others don’t. Chris has already met many of the students in his classes – Maya (rabbit), Leah (wolf), Kyra (tigress), Blake (horse) — and he is both shocked and thrilled to see them here naked and enthusiastically going at it. He can’t wait to join the fun.

Consider pages 37 to 90 all hard-core NSFW action. On page 91 the story starts moving forward again:

“‘Chris… Marcus… Could I have a moment of your time,’ Professor Meyers called as he caught the two young men nearly bolting down the hall from their class [in a hurry to get to the Club]. ‘Yeah, sure,’ Marcus replied quickly after he and Chris nearly skidded to a halt. ‘The dean of students and I would like to have a few minutes of your time,’ Professor Meyers explained awkwardly. ‘What’s up?’ Marcus questioned more suspiciously. ‘It involves the new student or special guest. That is all I can say until we reach the dean’s office,’ Professor Meyers replied nervously before he began to lead the young men to the dean’s office.” (p. 92)

The University is about to get its first extraterrestrial student:

“‘… like I was telling Blake [the equine student] here, I… or the University needs your assistance,’ the dean repeated before he returned to his seat behind his desk. ‘The new student is humanoid, but not of earth origin. He is from the Gemini solar system. He is one of the Commonwealth, as they call themselves. He will be the first alien life form to attend an earth University and it will happen right here at Furton. That is why I have asked the three of you here. I want the three of you to make sure we extend every hospitality we have to offer to ensure he is comfortable,’ the dean explained as he struggled to contain his excitement.” (p. 93)

It turns out that the Commonwealth’s and the Galactic Trade Federation’s technology far exceeds Earth’s, so it is vitally important to not only the University but to all Earth to make a good impression. The Commonwealth has been very reclusive up to now, so the University – specifically, Professor Meyers, Chris, Marcus the German shepherd, and Blake the horse – don’t even know what the new student looks like except that he can live in the University’s environment and he is “diminutive”. Aside from the Professor’s problems in making him welcome to the University, the three students wonder how he will react to the open Fur sex?

And with that, less than 100 pages into the 284-page novel, this review is ending. Anything more would be a spoiler. The Student, vol. 1 (cover by Ailie MacKenzie) is well-written, both as furry fiction and as science-fiction. It is also screamingly erotic, reveling in graphic animalistic sex and sticky bodily fluids – and by “animalistic” you’d better believe that the word is used both figuratively and literally.

This volume 1 comes to a definite conclusion, but Sherman says there will be two more volumes to make a trilogy.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

Good news from Tiny Paws con, and a look at Spalding’s furry art.

Tue 26 Sep 2017 - 10:22

Two furry things happened in Connecticut the other week. One was sad – a politician lost a job for being too open minded about furry stuff. And one was happy: Tiny Paws con happened, giving love to that very same politician and raising money for the Humane Society too.  Whenever there’s a setback, look for how this cool fandom keeps moving forward.

Tiny Paws is made by former staffers of Furfright, and you’ll definitely hear more about it here.  It’s very special to me, because oh my gosh, they invited me to be Guest of Honor in 2018!

I’ll have to work hard to earn that. Meanwhile, let me tell you about a hard working artist.  When the con started talking to me, they asked if I wanted an ad in the con book. That’s why Spalding lent a paw to draw this fabulous cartoon ad:

Spalding is a practicing Bay Area furry artist who’s been at it for a few years now. He’s contributed art to conventions such as Further Confusion, Biggest Little FurCon, and Rainfurrest. He does badge work mostly in his spare time, but strives to do more and be a better anthro artist.  You should check him out on FurAffinity and Twitter.

I have to keep this short or I’ll get distracted…

Woof! Where was I again? Oh yeah, Tiny Paws! I can’t wait – wish it was there already!  Come hang out!  Expect more when it gets closer to August 2018.

Guests of Honor at #TPC2018 @ShadraAvroArt, @BoozyBadger, and Patch O'furr of @DogpatchPress! So much excite! ❤️????????????????

— Tiny Paws (@TinyPaws_Con) September 10, 2017

GOH, welp. @BoozyBadger you're officially popufur now

— Dante The K9 (@DantePD) September 10, 2017

OMG can't wait to meet him in furson and buy him a drink!

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 11, 2017

Super hype to be GOH at a con. Looking forward to it! https://t.co/2Z55bGGGWN

— Shadra @ CDF Homecon (@ShadraAvroArt) September 11, 2017

Want to collab on GOH stuff? Or maybe a GOH club with secret decoder rings? I'm gonna help publicize the con for starters.

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 11, 2017

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Categories: News

Aquatifur is making a splash with the first waterpark furry con, October 2017.

Mon 25 Sep 2017 - 10:40

Who else loved going to Biggest Little Fur Con at a resort with go karts, mini golf, bowling and more?

For finny friends and everyone else too, here’s a new one.  A fur con at a water park is such an amazing idea, the fun is rubbing off on me vicariously.  I’m happy for everyone who gets to go. I love swimming and fursuiting – what could be better than enjoying both at the same place? Maybe not at the same time though, unless you don’t mind a little lawn sprinkler action.  Stand back!

Here’s the info for you, courtesy of con chair Treble Vandoren:

AquatiFur is a one-of-a-kind, first ever furry con to be held at a waterpark!  Join us on Oct 20-22, 2017 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI. The Kalahari has a 125,000 sq. foot indoor waterpark packed with rides and a swim up hot tub/bar!  It also features its own Indoor Theme Park filled with bowling, arcades, mini golf, laser tag, a ropes course and more!

When you book your stay at the Kalahari, the water park passes are free during the duration of your hotel stay – and through the entire day. (Meaning if you check out on Sunday, the passes are good until 10pm that day.)

Dive in and register at the Aquatifur website.

The Kalahari has excellent rooms ranging from the smallest 4 person normal double room, to the Entertainment Villas that house up to 18 people! All this info can be found on the Aquaitfur hotel page.  Info on the rooms themselves are on the hotel’s own page (just click on Rooms and Reservations to see all the types of rooms they have.)

Thanks to Treble – and anyone who makes it, have a tiki drink or three for me.

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Orcas and seadragons and otters and sharpks and fishies gon party in the seeeaaaaa

— Barely Autonomous (@Oneironott) September 23, 2017
Categories: News

French anthro comic: Solo, T. 2, by Oscar Martin – book review by Fred Patten.

Sat 23 Sep 2017 - 10:49

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

Solo. T.2, Le Coeur et le Sang, by Oscar Martin.
Paris, Delcourt, January 2016, hardcover €16,95 (109 [+ 1] pages).

Oops. This volume 2, The Heart and the Blood, almost got away from Lex Nakashima & me. Volume 3 is out already. Expect a review of it soon.

I said of volume 1, “The setting: a bleak, war-destroyed future Earth. Think MGM’s/Hugh Harman’s 1939 animated Peace on Earth, where the last humans on Earth kill each other and leave the world to the peaceful funny animals; or the similar sequence in Alexander Korda’s 1936 live-action feature Things to Come, where England (and presumably the whole human race) has been bombed and shot up back to the Stone Age. It’s Mad Max with furries.”

That’s still true of vol. 2. Quoting from my review of volume 1 again, I said, “Solo is a brawny teenaged rat-equivalent of the young Conan the Barbarian, but a lot smarter. In the first few pages, he and his warrior father are shown fighting giant, mutated monsters in a freezing winter landscape for food for their family, and killing rival mustelid warriors ready to eat them. Solo and his father win, but it is obvious to all that Solo’s family is slowly starving. Solo, a huge teenager, decides to leave so his parents and siblings won’t have to share their food with him.”

Solo spends most of volume 1 as an almost brain-dead gladiatorial warrior in a human-run arena. It’s clear that he could escape whenever he wants, but is there anyplace else in the world worth escaping to? He finally finds such a place; a new home and a wife. He finds that life is worth living again.

Of course, this now gives him responsibilities – to his wife and to his community.

The Heart and the Blood is divided into two sections; the story of 73 pages, and a mixture of “technical notes” (some of the other intelligent species of Solo’s “cannibal world”) and short independent stories.

The main story begins with a winter hunting party that includes Solo and his wife Lyra. The survivor of a two-hunter group reports that they were ambushed by a military squad of monkeys, led by a human commander, before a mutant monster killed them all. That is ominous, but more troubling for Solo is when a new party of refugees join their rat community, including Grand, an old friend of Lyra’s from her original home. Although Lyra and Grand are more of a big-brother and little-sister, Solo becomes overly jealous of him. Matters degenerate until Solo leaves on a one-rat hunting trip to get away from Lyra and Grand.

This story is intercut with that of the human and monkey soldiers’ city. They are from a new (to Solo’s village) militaristic community. Their governor says that their hunting parties have been suffering increasing casualties. He proposes to attack the nearest rat community, kill most of the males, and bring the females and children back to breed them for food. “The males, controlled by drugs, can impregnate the females. The intensive rat reproduction on our farms will guarantee us constant food without any risk.”

Solo survives alone for weeks. He’s used to being alone; he prefers it. He meets his father and his brother Bravo, and learns that the rest of his family has been killed. Solo returns home to find that his village has been wiped out by the humans and monkeys, but Grand has helped Lyra to escape with him. Solo knows that he should be grateful to Grand, but he can’t help continuing being jealous. Grand, who has his own more-than-brotherly feelings toward Lyra, nobly defuses the situation by leaving, so that Solo and Lyra can begin a new tribe.

The Heart and the Blood has a happy ending, but the “coming soon” announcement of vol. 3 means it can’t last.

Oscar Martin is a Spanish comics artist in Barcelona. According to the Internet, he and an animator friend recently tried to raise €12,000 on Indiegogo to animate Solo. They didn’t get it. Does anyone want to help them?

– Fred Patten

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Categories: News

Culturally Foxed

Fri 22 Sep 2017 - 10:30
Culturally F’d has had foxes on the brain as of late! This week we look at foxes in general for a foxy fifty fifth episode!

[The opening alliteration, captured in one take. Alliteration is always awesome.]

Fortunate for us that this fiery furred friend, furiously flounces his feast. This fuzzy fauna frolics forever in flowery fields, foliage of forests and foggy fjords. Featuring fundamental features, flaunting flawless fur. A Fabulous and fair fiery facade, feral or frocked. For from fables of our forbearers and forefathers fabricate a fabulous family fable for future friends. Famous familiar facsimiles frequented for furries.

Furry Fans foresee facts on facilitating fox fornication. Forsake that fodder for a Freudian farce forthwith. The firmament of fame fizzles for a formidable fuss. Forsooth fasten your facetious flabbergasting and facilitate a more fantastical fiasco featuring a frenetic frenzy for fiendish fantasy fey. Unfurling foreshadowing, fluent in frisky flailing. Don’t fret on this frivolous filibuster. Fantastic fluffy feisty ferocious furry foxes are Culturally F’d.

Malwave of Griffcast was our patreon sponsor in the thumbnail, which is how a griffon made it into an episode on Foxes. We’re offering YCH slots on all future thumbnails, and have already featured several patrons.

This episode was on the “to-do” list for a long time. Kitsune have such a rich mythology and there’s so much still left unexplored! It was also lot’s of fun learning about the European Reynard the Fox cycle and how foxes have changed language around the world.

Here’s that chart I made dissecting the theories on the etymology of the word “Ki Tsu Ne” based on this list of different scholars’ theories.

Ki (Yellow) Tsune (Always) Tsu (Possessive) Ne (As in “Neko” for “Cat”) Ki (Stench) Ne (As in “Inu” for “Dog) Ki (Came) Tsu (Perfective Aspect) Ne (Bedroom) (Based on Legend) Kitsu (Onomatopoeia: fox bark) Ne (Honorific for Inari Shrine Servants) Ne (Affectionate Mood)

 

But before the Fox Episode, we talked Star Fox Fanon with guest writer Tempe O’Kun and Underbite demanded to host this episode on one of our favourite Nintendo franchises:

So the metal leg theory is bust just like Krystal isn’t very Busty. But we can confirm that Wolf O’Donnel is in fact a leather daddy, so we can at least have that.

The episode talks a lot about fan remix culture, how we take our favourite elements or rumours and build on them to make our own cannon. Building on this, Underbite spent a lot of time carefully crafting the amazing Star Wars/Star Fox mashup poster so we decided to finish it and sell prints of it. Check out our official web store www.culturallyfd.com to get some posters or some shirts.

A clash of classic space operas in this epic fighter pilot adventure mash-up. Pilot the R-Wing into the Deathstar to stop Darth Andross from blowing up Cornerialderan!

 

“Fox Wars” merch at www.culturallyfd.com now on sale!

A post shared by Culturally F’d (@culturallyfd) on Sep 18, 2017 at 10:38am PDT

Ok, that’s enough blatant self-promotion. I just hope you like the videos. Don’t forget to Subscribe to Culturally F’d on YouTube. We’re almost at 10,000 subscribers which is very exciting. YouTube has a bunch of perks that are unlocked at that tier and we can’t wait to start using them. Culturally F’d has a lot more coming up, so stay tuned.

Thanks for watching,

Arrkay.

Categories: News