The Ursa Major Awards (UMAs) are the furry fandom’s awards for outstanding achievement in animal-anthropomorphic literature and arts, similar in spirit to the Hugo Awards from the science fiction fandom. Their first iteration was in 2001 at ConFurence 12, California. Since then, they have been presented yearly at several different furry conventions. The awards are run by the ALAA (Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association), a group of experienced furries; however, the winners are decided not by a committee, but by fans all around the globe.
Each year the ALAA invites people to nominate and vote for what they may consider the best furry works that have been published or released the previous year, fitting a number of categories. Any furry who wishes to vote can easily register at their website, UrsaMajorAwards.org , and follow their simple steps. Alternatively, you can also vote by e-mail or snail mail. Votes can be made for any, or all, categories; so make sure to vote yearly for the candidates you consider the best!
Up until the 2014 awards, the UMAs consisted of a framed certificate with an illustration of the award logo by Heather Bruton. Last year, they changed to an acrylic glass trophy that stands upright.Rod O’Riley (editor of InFurNation.com), and Sam Kirkpatrick (co-creator of ‘Furry Force’, College Humor), with their UMA 2014 plaques, at CaliFur 11 (California). The UMA 2015 for Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip awarded to Housepets!. The illustration by Heather Bruton has a timeless and elegant artistry.
This year, the Ursa Major Awards for 2016 were granted. The ceremony took place at the Anthrocon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (North-East USA), the 30th of June. There were 1,446 votes (by comparison, the Hugo Awards have had, the last years, between 3,000 and 6,000 votes.) There are five nominees for each category, one of which gets the rank of winner. There are a total of 12 categories. Congratulations to the winners!
Beginning next year, a thirteenth category will be added for Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit, to be awarded to the fursuit maker (not the wearer), with a number of additional rules that can be checked at the ALAA’s website.
Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
Ursa Major Awards 2016
Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush; February 11
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Finding Dory (Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane; June 17)
- Sing (Directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet; December 21)
- Kung Fu Panda 3 (Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni; January 29)
- The Secret Life of Pets (Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney; July 8)
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Directed by James Thiessen, Jim Miller, Tim Stuby, and Denny Lu; Season 6 episodes 1 to 143 [TV]
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- The Lion Guard (Directed by Howy Parkins; Season 1 episodes 1 to 22 [TV])
- Bunnicula (Directed by Jessica Borutski, Maxwell Atoms, Robert F. Hughes, Matthew Whitlock, and Ian Wasseluk; Season 1 episodes 1 to 8 [TV])
- Littlest Pet Shop (Directed by Joel Dickie, Steven Garcia, and Mike Myhre; Season 4 episode 10 to Season 4 episode 26 [TV])
- Petals (Directed by Andrea Gallo and Alvaro Dominguez; November 29 [student film])
My Diary, by Fredrick Usiku Kruger, Lieutenant of the Rackenroon Hyena Brigade
By Kathy Garrison Kellog (The Cross Time Cafe; April 2)
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Sixes Wild: Echoes, by Tempe O’Kun (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)
- Dog Country, by Malcolm F. Cross (Amazon Digital Services; March 28)
- Fracture, by Hugo Jackson (Inspired Quill; September 1)
- The Origin Chronicles: Mineau, by Justin Swatsworth (Dolphyn Visions; June 14)
By Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden, in Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- A Gentleman of Strength, by Dwale, in Claw the Way to Victory (Jaffa Books; January 24)
- Questor’s Gambit, by Mary E. Lowd, in Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)
- Marge the Barge, by Mary E. Lowd, in Claw the Way to Victory (Jaffa Books; January 24)
- Sheeperfly’s Lullaby, by Mary E. Lowd, in GoAL #2 (Goal Publications; March 27)
Gods With Fur
Edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Productions; June 30 [anthology])
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Claw the Way to Victory, ed. by AnthroAquatic (Jaffa Books; January 24 [anthology])
- ROAR volume 7, ed. by Mary E. Lowd (Bad Dog Books; June 30 [anthology])
- The Muse, by Alex Cockburn (Rabbit Valley Publishing; March [background booklet for Lucid’s Dream])
- Hot Dish #2, ed. by Dark End (Sofawolf Press; December 1 [anthology])
The Art of Zootopia
By Jessica Julius (Chronicle Books; March 8 [book; making of feature film])
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Fursonas (Directed by Dominic Rodriguez; May 10 [documentary film])
- 17 Misconceptions About Furries and the Furry Fandom (Culturally F’d #23; February 11 [podcast])
- CSI: Fur Fest; The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention, by Jennifer Swann (VICE Media; February 10 [Internet])
- Burned Furs and How You Perceive Porn (Culturally F’d: After Dark; October 6 [podcast])
By Tom Fischbach (Internet; January 6 to December 25)
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Swords and Sausages, by Jan (Internet; January 10 to December 25)
- Lackadaisy, by Tracy J. Butler (Internet; Lackadaisy Sabbatical to Lackadaisy Headlong)
- Lucid’s Dream, by Alex Cockburn (Rabbit Valley Publishing; March)
- Endtown, by Aaron Neathery (Internet; January 1 to December 30)
By Rick Griffin (Internet; January 1 to December 30)
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Savestate, by Tim Weeks (Internet; January 6 to December 28)
- Carry On, by Kathy Garrison (Internet; January 1 to December 30)
- Kevin & Kell, by Bill Holbrook (Internet; January 1 to December 31)
- Doc Rat, by Jenner (Internet; January 1 to December 29)
Edited by Patch Packrat (Internet, January 4 to December 20)
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Fur What It’s Worth (Podcast; Season 5 episode #8 to Season 6 episode #8)
- InFurNation, ed. by Rod O’Riley (Internet; January 1 to December 31)
- Flayrah, ed. by crossaffliction and GreenReaper (Internet; January 1 to December 29)
- Fangs and Fonts (Podcast; episodes #57 to #72)
Cover of Anthrocon 2016 Souvenir Book
By Tracy J. Butler
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Cover of Gods With Fur, by Teagan Gavet, ed. by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Productions, June 30)
- Autumn, by Iskra, FurAffinity, October 22
- Cover of Claw the Way to Victory, by Jenn ‘Pac’ Rodriguez, ed. by AnthroAquatic (Jaffa Books, January 24)
- Hey Baby, You’re the Cat’s Meow!, by Dolphyn, in Anthrocon 2016 Souvenir Book
Major / Minor
Developer: Klace; Publisher: Steam; October 11
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- Pokémon Sun & Moon (Developer: Game Freak; Publishers: Nintendo and The Pokémon Company; November 18)
- Overwatch (Developer and Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment; May 24)
- Stories: The Path of Destinies (Developer and Publisher: Spearhead Games; April 12)
- Bear Simulator (Developer and Publisher: Farjay Studios; February 26)
(Internet, [furry art & discussion])
Runners-Up (in descending number of votes)
- E621 (Internet [furry art & discussion])
- WikiFur (Internet [furry wiki])
- The Furry Writers’ Guild (Internet [FWG news & discussion])
- Culturally F’d, ed. by Arrkay and Underbite (YouTube [furry history & sociology])
Fred Patten’s latest book, which we reviewed in our previous article, begins with a dedication to Mark Merlino and Rod O’Riley for their involvement in the furry fandom. They’re two furries from South California, who are now 64 and 52 years of age respectively. They would host furry parties at sci-fi conventions in the 80s. But once it became clear that furries needed their own separate convention, they were up to the task. And so, they went ahead and organized the first furry convention, ‘ConFurence 0’, in 1989! It was a success, and they stayed in charge of further runs until ConFurence 10 in 1999, at a point when many other cons had sprung as well.
Mark and Rod live in a furry house, a private residence where a large number of furries live or gather, with furry decorations, furry media, and furry-related activities. Their house is called The Prancing Skiltaire, after Mark Merlino’s original fictional species the Skiltaire: an intelligent weasel-like alien race he came up with in the 70s. After so many decades of actively taking part in the fandom, The Prancing Skiltaire isn’t just a home, but a library / archive of particularly valuable pre-internet era documents, some not found anywhere else. Encouraged by public interest in the history of furry, Changa Lion, another furry living at The Prancing Skiltaire, has selected and scanned almost 2000 pages (so far) of these historical documents, now open to the public at The ConFurence Archive (ConFurence.com). The digital online archive will continue to grow as he scans & uploads more interesting documents. Great news for anyone interested in the history of our community!
Mark & Rod also host the audio series Two Old Furry Fans, where they speak about their personal experiences as growing furry fans since childhood.Mark Merlino, at the ConFurence 0 conbook, from The ConFurence Archive
Sonic Team announces a striking feature to their upcoming game Sonic Forces, to be released the last quarter of 2017.
How many times have you seen fanmade OCs (original characters) drawn with Sonic-like features on art websites? Maybe you’ve drawn your own! Well, next Sonic’s adventure allows you to customize the main character of the game to your liking, effectively making original characters canon within the Sonic universe!
This is the customization shown so far on media released to the press, the species and traits selectable:
- Bear, blows away enemies with a homing attack.
- Bird, flies high with double jump abilities.
- Cat, keeps one ring after being hit.
- Dog, restarts with five rings after the player dies.
- Hedgehog, collects rings when getting damaged.
- Rabbit, has longer invincible time after receiving damage.
- Wolf, automatically draws in rings when near them.
- Upper headgear, which includes various hats.
- Middle headgear, which includes various styles of glasses.
- Lower headgear, with bandanas, mouthpieces, and mustaches.
- Gloves, there’ll be fingerless, knuckled and plain.
- Footwear, with option for boots, and sneakers.
- Custom body clothing, which includes various jackets, bow ties, backpacks, chains, and other items.
- Custom body suit (options not shown in trailer).
- Custom skin color (options not shown in trailer).
Sonic Forces will be multiplatform, available for Windows PC, and also PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Gameplay-wise, it’ll be most similar to Sonic Generations: players will run at high speeds in levels with elements such as spring boards, boost pads, and robots and other hazards, in a 3D back view and also in 2.5D side-scrolling fashion.
Joe Strike, a first-wave furry greymuzzle (in the fandom since 1989), has taken on the mission of writing the first in-depth insider book about the fandom, to be published October this year: Furry Nation. The book will include profiles of furry artists, published authors, and craftspeople. It’s a journey through the birth of animal anthropomorphism, from prehistoric cave paintings to the modern day; a very human story that takes many forms, from the joyfully public to the deeply personal. His writing style shows to be promising so far, and in his research he’s collaborated with many furs for a quality retrospective and present view. The publisher is Cleis Press, and it’ll be available on Amazon among other book stores. At FurryFandom.es we’ll be keeping a close eye on the work, and tell you all about it when it comes out!
And soon to be announced are the winners of the Ursa Major Awards 2016. We’ll be covering the event with an article very soon. Stay furry-tuned!
Main sources: Dogpatch Press, Flayrah.
I’ve never gotten to interview Fred Patten personally, though he’s very amicable and we’ve exchanged letters. The reason is simple. Before I interview someone, I research who they are, what they do and what they’ve done. The research allows me not only to write better interviews and articles, but also, I believe, it gives me the privilege of finding out new things about the inhabitants of our shared furry society, our culture, our stories. I haven’t been able to interview Fred Patten to my liking because, as it stands now, while I’m being constrained by normal every day life as both a worker and a self-sustained college student, Fred’s background as a fandom member is absolutely overwhelming. I don’t think I can do him justice, though I can try to introduce him.
A 76-year-old furry from Southern California (Western US coast), Fred is a retired librarian and documenter, with a Master’s Degree in Library Science. It comes as no surprise that, as such, he’s an avid reader, an industrious book reviewer, and a writer. After becoming greatly involved in the Sci-Fi fandom in the 60s, he found out about anime & manga, and became a co-founder of the first American anime fan club in 1977. He partnered with Richard Kyle (creator of the term “graphic novel”) to open a bookshop in California, and wrote to Japanese publishers to import their manga overseas, to the US, for the first time. He’s interacted with Osamu Tezuka, Ray Bradbury, and other sci-fi & manga authors. Considered one of the leading Japanese cartoons experts and promoters up to the 90s, he started becoming involved with the Furry fandom as it diverted from the Sci-Fi fandom, in the 1980s.Fred cosplaying as The Flash in 1962, at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, (C) William Schelly. Takaji Kusonoki and Fred Patten looking at a pressbook for the animated feature Phoenix 2772, in 1980.
He became editor of Rowrbrazzle, one of the first furry magazines, from 1989 to 2005. ConFurence 0: Yep, he was there too! As a furry book reviewer, he’s worked with magazines Yarf! (1990-2003), Claw & Quill (2004-2005), Anthro (2005-2008), and Renard’s Menagerie (2008). As a furry literature promoter, he’s edited a number of furry anthologies, the latest of which are ‘Gods with Fur’ (2016) and ‘Dogs of War’ (2017), a collection of 23 short stories each, from different writers, about historic and original furry gods, and furry stories set in military scenarios. But he’s got many other books too! He is the co-founder and corresponding secretary of the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association (ALAA), the organization responsible for the Ursa Major Awards, since 2001. He’s also a member of the Furry Writers’ Guild. His compilation of furry stories ‘Best In Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction’ won two 2003 Ursa Major Awards. He was inducted into the Furry Hall of Fame, of MiDFur (Melbourne, Australia), in 2011, an annual award that honors contributing members of the fandom for their loyalty and undying commitment to furthering the fandom’s culture worldwide.
A group discussion on the history of the Furry fandom feat. Fred Patten, Mel White, Drew Maxwell, Mark Merlino, and others. Recorded in 1998 at ConFurence 9. Video edited and uploaded by Rivercoon.
The 2011 induction into the Furry Hall of Fame, at MiDFur.Friends visit Fred in June 2015. Fred in front, left to right behind are Bernard Doove (furry author), Carol Alves, Roy D. Pounds II (furry artist), James Alves.
Fred has made a number of praiseworthy efforts to keep historic records of furry happenings throughout the years. As a current collaborator of furry news sites Flayrah and Dogpatch Press, he is still very active on the internet. He writes and comments with great insight based on his knowledge, experience, and research. You can read one of his many articles here (link⇒), an illustrated retrospective on the furry fandom. He also currently writes on animation and manga for the website Cartoon Research.
Fred’s latest published book is “Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 – 2015”, a copy of which he kindly sent me for reviewing purposes. This book is a reasonably complete recollection of information and curiosities of all the furry conventions that have happened, since the first in 1989, up to two years ago. And boy, let me tell you, have there been many! The time and dedication put into this book are representative of Fred’s general disposition. Methodical and observant, some have described Fred as a “walking compendium of information”. But of course, all Fred could have written about, is events arranged and orchestrated by contributing members of the fandom, whether attendees or organizers. So there’s a bit of many many people in this book. Taking into account that to a great extent these massive gatherings are not-for-profit or non-profit, such a publication highlights and reinforces the sense of community that, to me, is embedded as a core value of the fandom.
The ‘furword’ (wordplay on ‘foreword’) is written by Kathy Gerbasi, Ph.D. in Social Psychology and co-founder of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP). She’s a lovely cheerful woman, last seen as a spokesperson in the documentary ‘Furries’ by Eric Risher (2016) (link⇒). She very well points out that the book is an invaluable source as a historic archive, and one of its uses is documenting how some cons achieved success, while others did not, and why it actually happened. The change of date of ConFurence 10 (1999) from January to April, and its change of location from Buena Park to San Diego, was met with disapproval, and so was the amount of problems and unresolved complaints that the convention had. Its directors stepped down to pass on the duty to a different furry for ConFurence 11 (2000), but by that year, there were already other furry conventions in the US that had had better runnings, with which they competed in the area. Hence the progressive decline in attendance that resulted in the closure of the convention in 2003. It was not an advertisement for the con at a ‘queer lifestyle’ magazine which lowered its popularity, a false rumor that furry journalist Patch O’ Furr has repeatedly denounced (link⇒). Similarly, the book files the ending of the RainFurrest convention in 2015. Unresolved severe hotel vandalism worsened the relationship of the con organizers with its hotel, which resulted in revoking further hostings. This shows how important it is for con staff to stay on good terms with the venue owners, and for them to remind attendants that they can’t just do whatever they want but must remain respectful.
It’s not all saddening incidents though; in fact most of the conventions reported have stories of shared joyful activities and overall normalcy. There are curious, sometimes funny, tidbits, sprinkled throughout. One of these was CaliFur 4 (2008) being hosted at a hotel which also hosted a Japanese wedding party and a heavily drunken high-schoolers party. Attendees conflated the two, calling it the “drunken wedding of doom”. On another case, at RusCon 2000, attendees rented, from a circus, a tame lioness and a leopard, and took pictures with them.
The overall writing style of the tome is concise and informative, such that it reads more like an encyclopedia or a reference textbook rather than a novel, with entries dedicated to each different convention, ordered alphabetically. It includes a short intro on the fandom’s history, centered mostly on furry conventions. It also includes some illustrations pertaining to cons, such as logos, conbook covers or posters, mostly in black and white, and some in color. It always feels special to see someone made a beautiful furry drawing, with noticeable enthusiasm, for a gathering of furry friends, at some point in the past. This is our history, and I wish furries will admire it, some remember it, for as long as the fandom stays alive.
If there is something I would change to this first edition of the book, is adding some kind of map, or several maps, to have an idea of how conventions have multiplied and where they’re located. Maybe another possible arrangement of the entries would be by continent, in which case an appendix listing them alphabetically would be needed anyhow. One way or another it should be easier to search for conventions by country or state. This information is easily found out using a search engine on the internet, but it would be fitting to include it in the book in some form. The book has a link to a short video / GIF Huscoon made with the time-lapsed growth of furry conventions in North America (link⇒).
On the whole, “Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 – 2015” is a must have for scholars either amateur or professional, who wish to have a record of our furry conventions, in a single convenient printed volume. It’s also the kind of book that greymuzzles who’ve visited conventions, and have some attachment to the fandom, will enjoy having in their collection.
The entry Fred Patten: A Lifetime of Dedication; “Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 – 2015” appears first in FurryFandom.es.Fred Patten: A Lifetime of Dedication; “Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 – 2015”
Furrnion 2017 is the first furry fandom convention in Spain. Conceived as such since 2015, it was officially announced in February last year (link⇒), opening its registration in May. From then until its opening, a total of 155 furry fans signed up for the convention; with another 60 to 70 visitors attending the ‘doors open’ day (both children and adults), to greet and meet the fans and their artists. It was held from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th of January, in the municipality of Fuenlabrada (30 minutes by train from the center of Madrid), at the hotel MC Las Provincias. The official languages of the convention were both Spanish and English. It was an event of special significance for the Spanish fandom, as it establishes it as a non-fleeting enthusiastic community, with the capacity to organize, and with the desire, above all else, to have fun together.
The event featured a dealer’s den, an art exhibit and art auction, tabletop / card games, talent show, furryoke (karaoke), disco nights, furrylympics (a competition of activities while in fursuit), educational panels, and the traditional fursuit parade (around the building). 54 of 155 attendees were from abroad (35%), another 101 were Spanish (65%). The average age of the attendees (and the median) was around 25.
If there’s a trait that’s certain about the fandom, is that it’s a diverse group; and nothing shows it better than attending an event of this type, where you meet old acquaintances, and also many other previously unknown people, with all their different personalities and talents. Most of the activity took place on the ground floor where people gathered; artists from the dealer’s den, and almost always some fursuiter. Quite rightly, the schedule included a few hours of rest after lunch (the advertised ‘siesta’), which would be especially beneficial to those who went to bed late at night. On the ‘doors open’ day there were children who came deliberately from far away with their parents to immerse themselves in the atmosphere. The high presence of foreigners incited Spanish furries to practice their English, and more than one will exercise it in advance for the next convention; though barking / meowing works as a last resort. There was also a snack exchange, where every person brought typical foods from their land; and on Saturday a big table with paella and sangria.
The opening and closing ceremonies were hosted by Ritsukaxan the panther (Spanish) and Saberhagen the gryphon (English)
There were several visitors on ‘doors open’ day, at the fursuit parade
Everyone commented on the good quality of the art available at the dealer’s den
Coming across fursuiters and artists drawing was a regular occurrence
The karaoke and the disco nights were memorable moments for those who like partying
Having fun was inevitable!
Fursuits, fursuits, and more fursuits!
The charity for the event was the Madrid Felina Association (link⇒), with a stand at the dealer’s den. It raised a total of 780 € (link⇒), which went to the eye surgery of a severely abused kitten, and to shelter two kitten brothers. In honor of the event administrators, these two kittens were given the names of Salmy and Tronchy at the closing ceremony. The disclosure of the news was a very emotional moment!
The board of directors of the Furrnion consists of Tronchy the gray fox, S (Sierra) the cheetah, and Salmy also the cheetah. A majority of cheetahs at management give name to the last disco night, which instead of being called the Dead Dog Party (as usual), is called the Dead Cheetah Party. With us today in this article is Salmy Cheetah, the de facto chairman of the convention.
Salmy is a furry born in ’73, from the province of Lugo, who’s been settled in Madrid for years. Self-employed computer services provider (competent in other skills too), he’s been known for his hosting and management, for some time now (before the rise of smartphones), of the phpBB forum Furry Madrid, and more recently as an administrator of Inkbunny. His fursona is a perennial 16-years-old anthro cheetah with green eyes.
MR: Hello Salmy! Tell us, how, when, did you find out about the fandom?
S: I met the fandom itself mid-1997. I went online on the Internet for the first time in September 1996. I was a staunch fan of The Lion King, and through that fandom I got to the furry fandom. But it still took me a while to go deep into it, to get involved; I thought there weren’t others in Spain and I didn’t take it as a fandom itself. So I was into it, but not really a part of it.
Back then my thing was role-playing, and Salmy was my first bipedal animal anthropomorphic character. Up until that point I only played characters from The Lion King universe, so I had been feral up until then. It wasn’t till 2006 that I considered that anthro cheetah my ‘fursona’. I’m not quite sure there was such a thing as ‘fursonas’ before that.
MR: You used the nickname ‘KDJ The Net Surfer’, was this one of several others? Does it have any significance?
S: It did back then, yes. In my adolescence and first years of adulthood, I did many things, one of which was learning to be a DJ with the best, at Lugo, and I also loved rap. I even composed songs, and my ‘artistic nickname’ was KDJ, which comes from Kant DJ. I liked Kant, though I don’t exactly remember why!
When I entered the Internet, the most logical nickname was my older one, to which I added ‘The Net Surfer’, because that was the role of KDJ at that time. The silliness of youth I suppose. I’ve never really given much thought about what nicknames to use on the Internet, it’s always been whatever came to my mind first.
MR: How did the name ‘Salmy’ come about?
S: ‘Salmy’ was the first thing I came up with when I had to choose a name; my boss’ surname at the time was Salmerón, and he was walking around at the office. It’s not an epic tale by any means, but it’s the truth.
MR: Damn Salmy, you have to come up with better stories Nobody will blame you if in a fandom filled with role-play you add some ornaments. “I happened to be fighting at the War for the Retrieval of Gibraltar when…”
S: But then it wouldn’t be true. I never say that which is not
MR: Do you still use MUCKs? (text-based online role-playing games)
S: Nah, maybe once a year or two years I get nostalgic and go back to Tapestries or The Lion King MUCK, which were my first ones, but that time is long gone. I no longer do role-play.
MR: Some say you’re the Spanish furry that’s been active for the longest time. How did you start going to furmeets, to meet with people.
S: I think there’s still a few of us from the generation of 2006, and there are some who’ve been relating with other Spanish furries for even longer. Those were the ones I met back in the day, in the spring / summer of 2006, when I went into Andalfur, which was the first Spanish furry forum I found, and went into its MSN group.
The first furmeet was in September 2006, if I remember correctly, on Wolfyote’s birthday. Later named Kennet Brent, he was originally Naraki when I met him at The Lion King MUCK and in person in ’98.
MR: Nowadays called ‘Mankeulv’.
S: Really I started looking for furries after trying to get into more conventional groups / fandoms without success, such as anime otakus and the like. It was hard to find my place in the cycle of life!
MR: Before using FurAffinity (2005), where did you look up the art, on VCL?
S: Yes, wherever we could… I mostly checked TLKIAA (http://fanart.lionking.org/), the pages of FurNation, at alt.fan.furry (Usenet), on cubcentral…
MR: How many fursonas have you had, is Salmy Cheetah the only one? What relationship do you have with your fursona?
S: Fursona as such, only Salmy, yes. The relationship I have with him is very close. It represents, on one hand, the strange fascination I feel for cheetahs, and on the other, the time of my life that I remember most fondly, adolescence. That period when you’re old enough to do anything, and life is full of possibilities, and everything excites you and at the same time you enjoy everything like a child. As I said earlier, in my youth and as a young adult I did many different things, I was very active and restless. Later in life you adjust to a more narrow path and focus and specialize on something, becoming more ‘closed’ in every way. I’ve never wanted to be fully this way, so thanks to my fursona I think I can still keep some of that wonderment.
MR: Talking now about Furrnion, I suppose you had expected for long we’d have a convention in our country. How did the idea of Furrnion come about, as it is now?
S: Since late 2007, when we did our first ‘mega furmeet’ in Madrid, I wanted to do something bigger and more important, but I never knew how I wanted it to be, nor could I have an overall view of it in my head until I started going to other conventions (ConFuzzled [CFZ], Midwest FurFest [MFF], NordicFuzzCon [NFC] and Anthrocon). It was having visited those, and having the support of young active people like Tronchy, and older and experienced people like Sierra (who managed Ibercamp 2), which made me decide to undertake the project at this moment in time.
I did make a previous attempt a couple of years ago, which I started in Furry Madrid, but that only stayed as an idea. It was much more ‘democratic’, and as it often happens with these things, democracy wasn’t invented for it There had to be a leader, or a couple of leaders, with a clear wholesome view to be able to do something that works.
MR: You’re the chairman of the convention. It doesn’t say it anywhere, but everyone says you are. I guess you’ll eventually accept it?
S: We really don’t have officially divided roles within con-ops or management… basically all three of us are equal in regards to responsibilities and assignments, and each one’s opinion weights the same when taking decisions. We are precisely 3 to that end, and all decisions are taken in agreement or by majority of 2 against 1.
[Enterprise-wise it is common for management members to be an odd number, or if they’re an even number or only 2, more decisive power is given to one of the two, to avoid opposing directions]
So no, I’m not the ‘boss’. If Tronchy and Sierra say the opposite of what I say, I have to put up with it Although it can be said that I’ve been the one who led the way and chose the style of the convention, the original idea was mine; but it wouldn’t be fair to say that Furrnion is my doing. It has lots from many different people.
MR: (quoting Sierra’s intro from the con book):
Mayhem is looming:attendees are coming!And if chaos runs amuckremember: for Salmy’s fault we all got f*ed
S: That’s Sierra being Sierra
MR: How did you choose the hotel or venue?
The final decision was, like everything else, based on quality / price ratio, and our estimates for room bookings. Attendance doubled our initial estimates, but we were still within range.
MR: The Furrnion logo is a chimera. How, when, why? Did you create it before, or after Doña Ana and Bertín (official mascots)?
S: Furrnion comes from ‘furry reunion’, and we didn’t want the logo to be the typical wolf or fox or the typical paw. We wanted the logo to represent a reunion of different types of furries (mammals, dragons, avian), so that’s the origin of the chimera. I don’t know if we designed it before, or after, our mascots, because they were different sub-projects. They’ve coexisted. One thing was the logo, and another was the mascots.
MR: How were the convention activities proposed? The ones that appear in the con book.
S: There’s an activities department within staff. Most of them were conceived there. Others were proposed by attendees.
MR: What was your favourite con activity, in which you took part?
S: My favourite activity in all cons is the dealer’s den, seeing and meeting the artists and buying art I also love the furryoke, because I like to sing. Even if I’m ill, with a sore throat and a sinister voice, I’m going to sing
MR: An important difference between Furrnion and other similar conventions (58 attendees in Italy, 37 attendees in France), something which has undoubtedly boosted attendance over the 100 people mark in this first iteration, is the promotional work you’ve done abroad, in foreign conventions. Do you intend to continue with the same dynamic?
S: Since there were no previous references for a new con, and what we had in mind was to make something big & good from the get-go, we had to promote it a lot. Publicity is the way in which, by definition, something is made ‘public’. This year we aren’t going to need as much promotion as last year, because our best advertising will be made by the attendees of the first con, so it’ll be a mere reinforcement, and we’ll probably rely on numbers and facts, not just promises.
The best feedback we’ve received, and it has been practically the same coming from all attendees we asked, is that the con was ‘much better than expected’. That was the goal. There was much disbelief and skepticism about the Furrnion, reasonably so, because everything we’d done in Spain so far didn’t reach this level, nor did it so in any other country from Latin Europe. We are notorious for being lousy, sub-par, and that’s really what we usually do, ‘whatever, anything goes’. I don’t know if it’s in my nature, or if it was my upbringing, but I’ve always thought that if you want to do something, you have to do your best, strive to surpass yourself and others. It’s senseless to make an effort to do always the same, or something that people will forget in two days.
MR: Give me the names of the non-believers, so that I may write them on my Death Note.
S: Hahahaha There were more skeptics than trusting people, Mike. This is Spain, people here are most likely to think ‘I’m sure it’ll be trashy’ than ‘It’s gonna be awesome’.
MR: What about getting a fursuit. Is it clear to you now? A group of people has now formed, they say they want a fursuit of their own.
S: It’s a normal thing, meeting fursuiters and interacting with them at conventions generates that feeling of ‘I want that too’. It’s a very fun experience. You don’t realize how much you want one until you’re with them, or surrounded by them. It’s the typical ‘you can’t miss what you’re not aware of’. I’ve been considering getting a fursuit since my first convention. It used to feel creepy. Now I want to have one, but I haven’t yet decided what style I’d prefer or who I’d like to commission.
MR: You probably wouldn’t be able to wear it for long being the boss, but you don’t have any kind of responsibility at other cons.
S: Exactly In any case, the amount of work in future events has to be more balanced than in our first year.
MR: Do you mean, delegating? Surely the titanic effort of the board members has inspired the rest of the staff to improve in any way possible. There was also staff who would do their tasks without having to be told twice.
S: Yes, delegating. Our job as managers must also be as hosts, not so much being ‘in the heat of the battle’ doing particular tasks (selling, filling up registrations), but rather we should be solving problems or making sure everything’s going as planned.
The problem we had this year was that hardly anyone knew what they would have to do or why. That’s not going to happen next year. Everyone will know what has to be done and what’s expected of them. We’ve all learned many things this first year. It has been a real field test. The goal of Furrnion 2 is to make it as it is, but better. Or rather, do it right.
MR: Anyone who’s seen it from a non-staff point of view will say it has been good.
S: Next year people will be more demanding, rightly so.
MR: A piece of information, that spread previously, was that the net profits of the convention would entirely go to the charity. From a business standpoint, having no funds for the next con is very risky. Are you going to keep any funds? Is it important for you to make a good impression on the charity?
S: As it is for any not-for-profit association, the first thing is always to achieve self-sufficiency, of course. What we’ve donated to Madrid Felina has been what was planned from the art show / auction, plus what they’ve been able to collect from what they sold and from donations. We still have to do some accounting post-con, and see if after recovering our investment and keeping a financial buffer for expenses for both this year and next year (consultancy, taxes, storehouse…) we can donate some more, but it’s probably going to be difficult.
For me it was just as important to be in good terms with the charity as it was for anything else to go as planned, I didn’t give more importance to one thing or to another. In any case, we were very clear with them from the start: it’s our first convention, not many people are going to come, don’t expect to collect much. That’s why we agreed they’d be present in our first two editions, not just in one. Still, it seems they too have exceeded their expectations! We’re also very happy with that
MR: I don’t have any more questions so far. Would you like to add a final comment?
S: I’d just like to mention that I’m really very proud of what we’ve managed to do. We had a great response from everyone: staff, attendees, artists, the hotel, the charity. The common denominator has been good vibes everywhere. Everyone wants a Furrnion 2. I still don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like to repeat if their circumstances allow it. It’s the best reward you can have as a manager of something that’s not for monetary gain. I can only say that for our second edition we’ll do our best once more to make it better, more organized, more balanced, so that everyone can enjoy the experience just as much if not more. And I’m sure we’ll achieve it, because everyone’s very motivated, and things that we had against us this year won’t be there anymore. All the work we had to do because it was the first one won’t need to be done again, so we’ll be able to focus on the convention itself 100%. Furrnion 2 will be our consolidation.
MR: Furrnion will hit strong in Spring 2018, with a medieval theme (knights in armor, damsels, and dragons). You can check its progress in some months at Furrnion.org, or follow their Twitter @Furrnion . See you next year!
The entry Furrnion 2017: The Spanish Furry Convention; Interview with Salmy Cheetah appears first in FurryFandom.es.
The Saga of Atlas & Axis is a very special collection of comic books that chronicles the adventures of these two anthropomorphic dogs, Atlas (Afghan hound) and Axis (Terrier mutt). Friends and neighbours in a settlement in the early middle ages, they’re forced to undertake a new life of adventures when a tribe of violent canines from the north devastate their village and enslave the few survivors, all in their absence. They travel to rescue those alive, they meet other characters in their path, and beyond their initial mission, they devote themselves to finding new discoveries in their notably animal-anthropomorphic universe.
The saga as conceived by Pau, its artist and scriptwriter, consists of four volumes with a story with continuity. Created almost simultaneously in Spanish and French, the publishing of the fourth volume will be in the coming months, which concludes its story (at least for the moment).
Its style is very furry. This means that it makes use of an animal anthropomorphism which, some say, is the most common in the fandom, the closest to trends within the fandom or in current media. The characters are humanoid animals (mostly dogs) who, while they have a similar cognition to our own, and they’re bipedal and use clothing and tools, they also have particular traits and habits specific to their own species. They mark their territory by peeing, they follow trails with their sense of smell, and they easily fall for a lady dog, to then fall in love with a different one after a short while.
This gives the comic and its characters an adorable charm, which contrasts with the harshness of violent scenes, not especially bloody but clearly explicit. The world of Atlas and Axis is one where neither well-being nor survival is assured (rather the reverse), but every little achievement is a reason for joy and celebration. Although they don’t always make the best decisions, whatever the situation, the two doggies try to keep going as best as they can.
The Saga of Atlas & Axis reminds of other European comics, such as the adventures of Astérix and Obélix. Nevertheless, the comic from the canine duo is full of small funny gags that give it its own identity, and give context to its universe. Such is the case, for example, with the poor sheep, who for some reason sometimes explode.
Pau, its author, is a Spanish illustrator native from Majorca. Active since the mid 90s, besides publishing his own comics, he’s published cartoons in newspapers and magazines, including the Belgian magazine Spirou. Also stands out for furry his collaboration with the French publishing house Delcourt (2006), illustrating the fable of ‘Les Deux Chèvres’ (‘The Two Goats’) in a compilation of fables by Jean de la Fontaine, whom we spoke about in our previous report on fables.
MR: Hello Pau! The Saga of Atlas & Axis is a very personal comic, isn’t it so? It has been a passion project for many years. You are the sole author of the script and the drawings. Were you inspired by personal events? Why did you want to tell this story?
P: That’s right. Initially it was my bet for becoming a professional comic author. I wanted to make a comic with international success, and I studied what makes good comics good. For many years I’ve been doing newspaper jokes on current affairs and politics. Most “adult” themes can also be told to children in a subliminal way, disguised within stories. I think they’re more effective. On one hand I wanted to show my point of view on significant topics, some a bit philosophical… and on the other, I made use of my personal experiences of course. My experiences with my dogs, my excursions and trips, which is where we learn, and reflect on, the most.
MR: A subject that’s always present throughout the comic is violence. This clashes, as it happens in other instances with animal-anthropomorphic material, with a universe where things are pretty, cute, ‘everything’s so adorable’… then bam! An arm’s cut off! It reminds me of Game of Thrones in a way (without the court intrigue). Where does this animosity stem from?
P: Yup. We currently slightly trivialize violence, because we see it so much on television. With “cute” animals violence is really violent, it’s more impactful. Violence exists in the animal world, I try to address it like they do in animal documentaries, as something inevitable, not cruel but normal. In documentaries, lions eat gazelles, and they’re for all audiences. And I also like stories to thrill, I think excitement is one of the strengths of The Saga of Atlas & Axis.
MR: In this more civilized world (though every different society in the comic thinks they’re the most ‘civilized’, and something similar may happen to us), it makes us question our belief that being alive is a right; in the universe of the comic it is a privilege. So was the case not long ago among humans some centuries ago, and such may be the case in other countries (in those where they’re at war, for sure). But, this fits well with the rest of animal behaviour of the characters.
P: Well, we’re still animals. And war is not something that happens in other countries and not our own. Look at Ukraine for example, a country in our vicinity, just about to enter the EU, and without realizing it they’ve started a war. Our stability is very fragile, as History shows. Sometimes we believe we’re superior to animals, or different from them; in the Saga the ridiculousness of that attitude is exposed. They too believe themselves to be superior to other animals…
MR: Why, specifically, did you choose animal characters, or anthropomorphic animals, instead of people?
P: Mainly for three reasons. One, because I think it’s easier for the reader to identify themselves with the characters, since we’ve all been pups and many we’ve had doggies. Another one, because through animals I can better show emotions and attitudes that we consider human. All emotions are shown in a stronger manner, I aim to the most primitive side of the reader’s heart. And another reason, is because I enjoy drawing animals more
MR: The inking is flawless. The color contrast is highly distinguishable. The shading is subtle or non-existent, typical ‘cartoon shading’, which gives it a distinctly comic look. There are really beautiful vignettes, especially when there are water reflections or landscape panoramas. Is it digital art? Was it drawn by hand? How did you draw it?
P: Thank you! The color is digital, the drawing and inking were done on paper. I don’t like being in front of a screen for long, burning my eyes, but digital color lets you rectify easily and prints almost exactly like you choose to, unlike color on paper, which often changes too much. The drawing and the inking I can do on paper, in a traditional way. I uploaded some videos on YouTube on the process of creating the comic pages, the videos can be seen at my channel “Pau cartoonist” (link⇒).
MR: Aaah, I see there you’re using Adobe Photoshop, is that your digital tool of choice? And a tablet, of course.
P: Well, it’s the only one I know how to use a bit!
MR: It says in your blog that the fourth volume of The Saga of Atlas & Axis is already published (in French). How do you usually write, in French first? In both languages and you publish the French one first? Do they translate it for you?
P: After several years it’s mixed in my head, sometimes Axis surprises me saying something in French that doesn’t fit so well in Spanish, other times they use expressions in Spanish that can’t be translated… a funny thing I wanted to do throughout the Saga was using animal phrases and idioms, such as “putting one’s head in the wolf’s mouth” or “it’s raining cats and dogs”, and it turns out many of them exist in several languages. Unfortunately, some are lost in translation, but luckily, I’ve had very good translators for the different languages, who follow the spirit of the work and sometimes find phrases in their language, related to animals, that are super fun and don’t exist in Spanish. Yes, the fourth volume was published in French in September, and in Spain we’re waiting for the comic book convention of Barcelona (March 2017).
MR: The fact that it’s published first in French, does it have anything to do with the French / Belgians reading more comics?
P: Yes. And also, the French / Belgian publishers usually pay authors sufficient royalties in advance to allow them to draw the comics.
MR: About the translation into English, is it definitely going to be published?
P: The publishing company Titan Comics bought the rights, and will be publishing it in May of 2017, in the US and UK.
MR: When you started the comic, did you intend to finish the saga at some specific moment? Is the fourth volume the last volume? Might there be more?
P: I had an ending thought out, but I could have delayed it indefinitely. The publisher preferred that I keep it to four volumes, so I used that ending. It concludes the story well. But, you know, Star Wars were only 3 movies and look at what happened later…
MR: Oooh so it ends there… I was going to suggest that you put a Golden Retriever in the story, but okay…
P: Hehe, many friends asked me to include their dogs Atlas and Axis themselves are based on real dogs, one mine and the other from a friend.
MR: What comics would you say had the most influence on you? Which comics do you like the most?
P: I could make a very long list of comics and authors I like that influenced me greatly, and I’d still leave many unnamed. But I like to mention them, because I might uncover them to some readers. I value them when they’re well drawn, and that they tell interesting or amusing stories, well-told stories: Tezuka, Corben, Moebius, Segar, Will Eisner, Disney, Toriyama, Munuera, Uderzo, Goscinny, Rosinski, Van Hamme, Bryan Talbot, Otomo, Sakai, Mordillo, Quino, Blain… Max… Jan…
MR: Ah you name big ones. And others I don’t know.
P: Franquin, Hermann, McCay… They’re also great, I recommend them!
MR: You’ve also published other comics, and you’ve worked with the publishers of Spirou. Is there any other project you’d like to highlight?
P: I made short stories for Spirou, and two small comics, many of them with animals. As far as more ambitious projects go, I have some with animals like Atlas & Axis, but set in different times. I plan to make a whole collection. (Shows the image)
MR: Oh how cute! What animal is Curtiss Hill?
P: He’s a dog. He’s the famous pilot doggie*
*(translator’s note: ‘And another pilot doggie!’ is a common shout at fairs where stuffed animals are used as a prize.)
MR: Besides what we’ve talked about so far, would you like to add something?
P: I could say that I’m probably the only one who instead of walking his dogs, my dogs walk me, because Atlas & Axis have taken me to comic conventions and fairs from different cities in Europe. And I’ve learned to bark in different languages thanks to their foreign editions. Seems true that animal language has no frontiers!
MR: Oh how cuuute
MR: Thank you very much for answering my questions, Pau. And a hug!
P: You’re welcome, thank you for your interest in the Saga! Likewise!
‘The Saga of Atlas & Axis’ is available for sale in Spanish through Dibbuks (link⇒), volumes with approx. 80 pages in color, at 16 € per volume. They’re also available for sale in French through the publishing company Ankama (link⇒). Pau has his own blog at Blogspot (link⇒), where you can follow his ventures.
The entry ‘The Saga of Atlas & Axis’: Review and Interview with Pau its Artist appears first in FurryFandom.es.
The fable is probably the oldest literary form of animal anthropomorphism that exists, present in writings, but also of immense oral tradition. It appears in all cultures and societies, old and new, with a universal appeal and usefulness that never goes out of style.
The fable is a narrative composition, which may be in prose or verse, the main trait of which is that it has animal characters (or, less frequently, objects) with human attributes, such as the ability to speak or reason. Animal anthropomorphic stories.
The earliest written fables we have proof of date back to ancient history, to the Mesopotamian cultures of the 23rd to the 6th century B.C. (on the Middle East), written in the ancient and extinct Akkadian language of Assyrians and Babylonians. We have fragments of these because they used cuneiform writing: on clay tablets they would leave wedge-shaped marks done with a blunt weed, hence the name cuneiform (wedge shaped). The fable of the serpent and the eagle, included in the Legend of Etana, dates back to at least the 17th century B.C. It can be seen thus that long before the furry fandom existed as we know it, and long before any generation close to us, there was a clear interest in stories and adventures starring ‘funny’ animals.
The reason why the fable has fascinated, for centuries, adults and children alike, is its allegorical quality. An allegory is a literally false description. A made-up story that is fictional, but that metaphorically represents a real situation that feels close, in which people can see themselves. Therefore, the fable creates a parallelism between our daily real lives, and that fantastic world of animals, being able to marvel or learn from them, to empathize with their situation or with their decisions.
Apollonius of Tyana, a Greek philosopher from the 1st century, said to his peers talking about the fabulist Aesop:
“Fables, I believe, are more conducive to wisdom than other myths. Those who so much love poetry, that talk about heroes, outlandish passions, conflicts and crimes […] destroy the soul of those who listen; the pretense of reality leads jealous and ambitious people to imitate those stories. Aesop, on the other hand, had the wisdom, like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, to make use of humble incidents to teach great truths. […] The epic poets add violence to their false stories to make them more probable. On the other hand, Aesop, publicly recounting a story that everyone knew not to be true, told the truth. The purpose of fiction in his stories was none other than to make them useful; thereby offering teachings to its audience.” (Life of Apollonius of Tyana, by Philostratus of Athens, 2nd or 3rd century)
This is, amongst others, a reason why many writers and cartoonists, completely oblivious to trends somehow supportive of the furry fandom, have used animal anthropomorphism allegorically, as a tool to tell a story that would otherwise not have been as beautiful, or entertaining, or shocking or educational. The best known and most obvious modern work that mirrors this trend is Animal Farm, by George Orwell (1945), a political allegory written as a fable.
The fable thus has an appeal beyond literary aesthetics; also in pedagogy, ethics and rhetoric. And, it’s inevitable, following this stream of thought, to speak more in depth about the Greek Aesop, founding father and promoter of the fable in our Western culture.
Aesop was an ancient Greek from the 6th century B.C. who was captured and made a slave. Despite his acquired status as servant, as merchandise, he had the life of a scribe, a personal assistant to his owners. He had the reputation of being witty, ingenious, and telling animal stories in the process of negotiations and discussions, so as to ‘score points’ in a smart devastating manner that left his contemporaries impressed and astonished. He obtained his freedom, and later became part of the Assembly of the island of Samos, where he worked as a public speaker and lawyer, using his own fables for that purpose. He became famous to such a degree that anyone who wanted to make a good impression as a witty joker in banquets and symposiums of Athens in the 5th century had to have studied his work, or memorized those stories they were lucky enough to hear. They speak of him with respect and admiration the comic playwright Aristophanes, the philosophers Plato and Socrates, and Aristotle and his school. Some of his most well-known fables are The Fox and the Grapes (Perry Index 15), The Tortoise and the Hare (226), and The Fox and the Crow (124). Some sources cite his work being used as a textbook in ancient Greece.
Aesop’s name was so linked to ingenious animal fables, that hundreds of fables that are known or suspected to not be his, were attributed to him. The fable invariably became associated with Aesop, and he became a mythological character bigger than he was in life. To say that a story was originally told by Aesop meant receiving the immediate attention from the audience, and in some fables he appears as a character of the story. There is also a made up biography of Aesop called The Aesop Romance, an anonymous dramatized telling of his life, popular among ancient Greeks, in the same way other epic poems were at the time.
Nowadays, going to the children’s literature section at any contemporary bookshop, means finding the influence of Aesop everywhere. Most of his fables as we’ve received them finish with a moral, a lesson or teaching that is concluded from the story. However, these were added later on by their editors and collectors, and thus traditionally are printed separately from the story, or in italics. Some morals are absurd or stupid, others are educated and valuable. But we probably owe to these, the morals, that we’ve kept Aesopic fables in our popular culture.
Long before they were stories for children, fables had a rhetorical and argumentative use. Public speakers would leaf through the fables in search of anecdotes to defend their positions. For example, the Aesopic fable The Pigeon and the Painting (Perry Index 201), finishes with the sentence:
“Like the pigeon, some men, because of their strong desires, get into matters they know nothing about, falling into ruin.”
The moral could be used to deter those who, without ability nor competence, advocate their importance in matters of public interest. As in this example, fables were for many a useful tool for public speaking.
In fact, many of Aesop’s fables that are in accordance with their times, are cruel, scathing, have treachery and deceit, mockery and disdain, and show death and suffering without compassion. This is the case, among others, of The Ant and the Grasshopper (Perry Index 373). In the old version, the ant laughs at the hungry grasshopper, without pity nor remorse. Fables didn’t turn into mostly children’s literature until the 19th century. The Aesopic stories aimed at children are carefully selected, elongated and softened, so the mentioned fable doesn’t usually end up with the corpse of a grasshopper, but with an ant that’s ultimately merciful.
The use of allegories in literature had its peak in the Middle Ages, times during which Christian monks made interpretations of texts on various levels: literally, morally and spiritually. A famous rewrite of Aesop’s fables from the 12th century are the Ysopets by Marie de France, a retelling that reflects the feudal reality of the period, as well as the critical judgments of the author. The medieval fable gave rise to the Animal Epics, narrative written in verses with the adventures and misadventures of anthropomorphic animals. They’re more mischievous in nature, and satirize the weaknesses and absurdities of society. The most famous ones are from the cycle of Reynard the Fox.
Mainly from the 12th and 13th century, the cycle of Reynard the Fox (Renart, Reinhard, or equivalents), are a set of European works, from different places and in different languages (German, English, Dutch, French…), that have as their main character this anthropomorphic fox. Reynard is a witty and deceitful anti-hero whose public is nonetheless sympathetic to. His most regular enemy is his uncle Isengrim, a crude cleric wolf. These works were most famous and prolific in France, where to this day the word for “fox” is “renard”. Notably, they were a vehicle for social criticism and entertainment, not particularly aimed at children, but aimed at society in general, especially from those who were bourgeoisie. The Spanish Majorcan religious philosopher Ramon Llull included Reynard in several of his animal-anthropomorphic stories, also allegoric, in his book Llibre de les Bèsties (The Book of the Beasts) (1289). Reynard was, therefore, the furry superstar of the Middle Ages. It’s no coincidence that the movie Robin Hood by Walt Disney (1973), with a main character that’s a fox and an evil character that’s a wolf, has a resemblance to the adventures of Reynard the Fox – this medieval work was the initial inspiration for the art and the story of the film.
In the 17th century, the French Jean de La Fontaine tore the old prominence of Aesop by publishing many fables of his own and from assorted origins; twelve books in total, of increasing quality, for more than 25 years. Considered some of the best works of French literature (before Victor Hugo), he brought a renewed interest in fables to the rest of Europe as well, where compilations of fables included versions of La Fontaine, since then and until now. In Spain, in the 18th century, the writers Félix María Samaniego and Tomás de Iriarte followed suit. In later decades, other writers would use the literary structure of the fable, and animal anthropomorphism in their works, such as the famous Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, Rudyard Kipling, Hilaire Belloc, Joel Chandler Harris, and Beatrix Potter, among others.
Throughout all these works, the stereotypical personality of each anthropomorphic animal hasn’t always remained the same. Sometimes it’s even absurd compared to real documented habits we know nowadays for every species. However, this does nothing but reinforce the anthropomorphic nature of these works, since they were always meant to be a reflection of our humanity, of our customs, our passions, interactions and contradictions. As Uncle Kage says, we see in animals a reflection of ourselves. The furry is not only an aesthetic for entertainment, it’s a way to make introspection easier, to improve as human beings, and to enjoy learning.
- Encyclopædia Britannica (2013)
- The Literary History of a Mesopotamian Fable, by Ronald J. Williams; Phoenix Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer, 1956)
- The Complete Fables (Aesop), introduction by Robert Temple, translation by Olivia Temple; Penguin Classics (1998)
- Aesopica: A Series of Texts Relating to Aesop or Ascribed to Him, by B. E. Perry (1952)
- Aesopica: Aesop’s Fables in English, Latin & Greek, by Laura Gibbs (2002) (link⇒)
- Disney’s Robin Hood: A Bit More Medieval Than You Might Think, by Andrew E. Larsen (2014) (link⇒)
- “Reynard the Fox” in Animation, by Fred Patten (2013) (link⇒)
- Drawings by Olven (link⇒), Janet Skiles, and Corgidoodle (link⇒)
- Cuneiform tablet of the Legend of Etana with the fable of the serpent and the eagle, British Museum K. 19530 (link 01⇒) (link 02⇒)
- Bust of Aesop, engraving from 1885 (link⇒)
- The Ant and the Grasshopper, illustration by Milo Winter (1919) (link⇒)
- Illustration of Renart le nouvel, from the 13th century (link⇒)
- Reynard the Fox, drawing by Ernest Griset (1869) (link⇒)
- Reynard the Fox, illustration on a manuscript from the 15th – 16th century, British Library, Royal 10 E IV f. 49v (link⇒)
This is an article written by Kyell Gold about the furry fandom, published on March 2016 at Uncanny Magazine. It presents the fandom in an inspiring way, encouraging others to get involved in it, and to enjoy its welcoming and creative environment, its people, and many furry activities.
We host on this website the Spanish translation of the original text with the approval of the author and editors for non-profit purposes, without extending rights to other websites or endeavors. The original English article can be found here (link⇒).
FurAffinity, the fandom’s biggest social website & art gallery, has once again had computer-related problems, being unavailable for several days, and later reverting back to older backups. With ever-delayed upgrades and occasional server issues, FurAffinity is famous for both its questionable stability, and its non-relenting established dominance over other similar websites.
A vulnerability in the widely-used library ImageMagick was exploited to obtain the full source code of FurAffinity, code that was later distributed anonymously on a handful of USB pen drives located throughout the Biggest Little Fur Con (Nevada, US). A later attack deleted user profiles, submissions, and others (source⇒).
FurAffinity community manager Dragoneer, as well as its staff, responded to worrisome statements by explaining the issue, and later restoring the website. The site remains until Monday 23rd in read-only mode while they continue their security audit. At the same time, traffic on Inkbunny and Weasyl has spiked considerably (source⇒). The more recent Furry Network website (link⇒) asks no invitation now to register, so anyone can make an account. It also has an extremely easy-to-use tool to migrate art & watches from FurAffinity.
In the short amount of time FurAffinity was fully functional after the attack, some users published journals on how to reach them or their art through other different websites. Some (source⇒) consider FurAffinity the “Microsoft Windows” of furry websites: while it’s not the best, it established itself at a key moment in time, so pretty much everyone uses it now either way. Except Microsoft Windows has never gone 10 years without a code rewrite.
If you continue to use FurAffinity, it’s strongly advised that you change your password to a unique string of characters, as there has been some attempts at compromising external e-mail accounts. This can only be done once the website stops being in read-only mode. Also, remember that all messages on the website, either private or public, are stored in plain text format (not encrypted). Artists should not rely on FA’s private message system to handle commissions.
Furry animator Fredryk Phox / Matthew Gafford has released A Fox in Space, an episodic show of Star Fox fan-inspired adventures. Star Fox is Nintendo’s main character from the videogame series Star Fox. Some call the character Fox McCloud (not anyone else but himself, see episode.) The show is a funny and authentic take on its universe, and it’s a surprisingly high-quality production despite the limited budget & staff involved. The first episode is close to reaching a million views on YouTube.
Spanish furry audiovisual communications guy & announcer Ribbs (link⇒) has professionally dubbed the original English voices to Spanish (so now ‘Pew Pew’ sounds like ‘Pñao Pñao’, amongst other improvements.)
Furrnion registration is now open! (link⇒) The Spanish furry convention will be held through the 27th to the 29th January 2017. Registration opened on May 1st at a discounted price (the discount will continue for an unspecified amount of time.) The convention will soon have a promotional video of fursuiters doing silly fursuiter things at the venue.
And now for something completely different! Korean furry blogger Basdog, at blog.naver.com/fueholic (link⇒), contacted FurryFandom.Es, interested in translating many of our articles to Korean! He runs a blog which is meant to give an inside view into the world of furry to those Koreans unfortunate enough to not understand English. Thus we are united in our wish to spread furry culture all over the world! We are adding Basdog’s website to our ‘Partners in Press’ section on the top right menu, along other furry news websites we use to document our own. To those interviewed here at FF.es, do not feel surprised to be sent fan comments in Engrish!
‘Fursonas’ is the 2016 documentary by furry filmmaker and director Dominic Rodriguez, whose furry nickname is Video. Released for the whole world to see on May 10th through video on demand (VOD), it has a running time of 81 minutes, and it depicts the deeply personal views on furry identity, acceptance, and interaction with the media, of several people interviewed within the furry fandom (including the views of the author himself.) While some of the viewpoints expressed can be considered provocative, they are in no way stated in a bold manner by the willing interviewees, but rather wishing to encourage discussion within the fandom: What’s our next step with the media? How should we apply tolerance or acceptance? What really is ‘furry’?
The movie is a different kind of feature film, unlike cartoon furry movies. It’s not about cute cheerful anthropomorphic animals. It’s not a movie you show to your friends to tell them what furry’s about. It’s a discussion about the fandom itself. It bears more resemblance to a recorded open dialog on the fandom by intensely involved members.
Is it worth watching? Yes. Every single adult who has some kind of emotional attachment to our fandom should watch this movie. The movie is in English, but Vimeo’s VOD service (link⇒) also offers subtitles in German, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Latin American Spanish. You can get the full list of video services that offer the movie at Fursonas’ website (link⇒). Herein follow some ponderings about the movie’s themes.
The Adult Content in the Documentary
The reasons why I recommend it to all adults taking part in the fandom, but not minors, are, I believe, in order of importance, three:
- The documentary overtly shows smoking in a joyful setting, as something that is fun and even a good thing. It is shown this way because of the realistic portrayal of the interviewed furries, and some of them like to smoke while they discuss in a relaxed manner. The fact of the matter is:
– Smoking tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States (CDC)
– 1 of every 4 deaths from cancer in the European Union are caused by smoking (EPHA)
– Smoking is a leading factor in developed countries for overall loss of quality of life and lower lifespan
– Long-term exposal to marijuana affects brain development and reduces cognitive abilities (NIH/NIDA)
– Etc. etc.
These and other facts remain in the pool of popular knowledge, and adults may consciously choose whether to take them into account or not, but there should be no encouragement given to minors to smoke. People who personally know me know my firm stance on this. It’s the first time I post such a disclaimer in the website and maybe I won’t mention it again. But. Smoking is a serious health risk that should not be trivialized.
- The documentary talks about serious subjects that children will not understand. Older teenagers might. If seen by older teenagers, it should be in a setting where calm discussion about the fandom is encouraged; otherwise they’ll lose interest.
- There are sex toys in the movie. They are not glamourized, they are shown as is. They purposefully appear to incite discussion about whether sex-related material or themes should be openly talked about or displayed to the media or to con-goers. The sex toys might not be something adequate to show to children. However, sex toys don’t kill people. Smoking does.
What It Is to Be Furry
Video chooses to interview only (willing) furries that are fursuiters. It could be considered a mistaken decision; the great majority of furries are not fursuiters. Video explains this decision in a Glamour interview: “Not everyone has a fursuit, so it was important to talk to people with fursuits — that showed dedication to the community.” (link⇒) Arguably, there are people even more dedicated to the fandom than any of his interviewees, that have never had or used a fursuit. We could start by naming major website administrators, and then continue the list with writers, artists, convention managers, and so on. This is, however, a minor complain that I wish does not derail the discussion of the movie’s themes themselves. Fursuiting as a ‘thing’ is mostly shown in the first half hour of the documentary, giving way to more important subjects.
And a subject that’s addressed, is the statements of belonging to the fandom made by some of the interviewees. Boomer the Dog is the biggest contender to the common definition of furry. As we all know, the furry fandom is most commonly defined as a subculture / group / cultural movement centered on animal anthropomorphics, be it cultural depictions that are imagery, literature, song lyrics, movies, role-play, and so on.
Boomer is a person who fell in love with a live-action TV series from the early 80s called ‘Here’s Boomer’, where a stray dog travels across the country helping people. From then on, he started collecting pictures of real dogs, barking like a dog, and dressing like a dog. He feels like a real dog inside. Personally, what I believe is his most striking achievement, is having a ‘fursuit’ that barely costs over 7 US dollars; that has to be the best ratio price-performance for a ‘fursuit’ I’ve ever seen (maybe only competing with ConFuzzled’s ‘frankensuits’). Anyhow, pretty much anything shown about Boomer has him closely identifying with actual dogs, not fictional anthropomorphic dogs. And this is me talking: that’s not what the furry fandom’s about, in general. Therefore, to have Boomer on TV talking about himself being a furry, as it happened (gaining some hatred in the fandom for it,) is a misrepresentation of what the furry fandom’s about. Furry is not about feeling like a dog, or loving real-life dogs. Several statistics collected by furries on general practices and beliefs can prove this.
But, should this be the case? From a descriptive standpoint, Boomer’s overall preferences are not furry, they are animalistic. From a prescriptive standpoint, I don’t know whether I should categorically say they should not be furry. Furry has evolved throughout the decades. As noted by interviewees, some furries believe the fandom should be about expressing yourself, being who you want to be and doing what you want to do, beyond common staples or boundaries. The furry fandom prides itself in being more welcoming to widely diverse people (while still, at some point, criticizing some members.)
To me, the clearest manifestation of the genuinely well-intended desire of the fandom to be inclusive and accepting, is Dr. Courtney Plante / Nuka’s struggle to objectively define furry from a sociological standpoint. He and his team at the IARP have had difficulties defining what a furry (person) is for their scientific studies (in order to then point out what furry fans do or like or how they behave.) There are many different people that take part in the fandom! Thus what they ultimately chose as a definition is: a furry is anyone who identifies themselves as such!
At a Texas Furry Fiesta talk, Nuka mentions that, amongst the hundreds of different fursonas he’s registered in his studies, there are some who identify as the species pastry. How is that even remotely furry? PRGuitarMan, the creator of Nyan Cat (a mix between a cat and a pop tart) and probably the most known pastry-related furry-like person, has a FurAffinity profile. And yet most of his art or interests aren’t really animal anthropomorphic. The editors at WikiFur describe him as a pseudofur, “someone who is in the furry fandom, but doesn’t quite fully consider themselves ‘furry'”. If he did happen to consider himself furry, and decided to appear on national television to talk about his likes as is (calling them furry,) would there be the same outrage that came out against Boomer the Dog when he did so? I don’t think so! Because PRGuitarMan’s stuff & memes are cool, popular, and hardly dislikable, I don’t think there would be an outrage. Whether his likes were an accurate representation of the fandom, or whether he’s really a furry or not, would not be a startling issue.
So if the real issue is not whether people are accurately representing the fandom when speaking to the media claiming this or that trait of theirs is furry, what is the issue? What do furries have against someone like Boomer the Dog, or Chew Fox? The issue is whether they’re disturbing. Creepy. Don’t cause sympathy. And who gets to decide that? One thing would be that they act in morally objectionable ways. But sex is not morally objectionable, whether in fursuit, out of fursuit, or chimpanzee style on a sex swing. Having an enormously ingrained passion for dogs and a dog identity is not morally objectionable either. It’s just unusual.
So why should we censor ourselves? Or censor others that wish to belong to our fandom, since we don’t share their particular preferences or tastes or take on life? The answer is, we should do this because the furry fandom is a stigmatized fandom in popular culture. There are visible repercussions to this fact in the movie: a furry interviewee, Diezel, lost his job because his employer didn’t like what he heard or read on the internet about furries. We furries don’t have it as easy as sports fans, or other fans, who can show to the whole world how passionate they are about what they like, without disapproval or scorn from the rest of society. And yet we yearn for approval and understanding. Just like any other social group! People feel happy and good when they don’t have to be secretive about their passions in life. So when we show ourselves as furries, we try to show the side of the fandom that’s most pleasant or agreeable. And that unavoidably means excluding others, marginalizing them. Against something that’s almost as important to the fandom, or sometimes even more important to the fandom, than animal anthropomorphism: the patently strong sense of friendship and community that makes us be the fandom we are.
Exclusion, censorship, or bitterness, are not a burden we’ve forced on ourselves through our own will. It is largely through the will of general society and media, that unnecessarily stigmatizes the furry fandom, that we feel we must exclude or control ourselves. By exerting this control, we’re undermining core values of the fandom; doing to other members, or to ourselves, what we don’t want society to do, to us.
The Media, Uncle Kage, and Anthrocon Policies
Furry fandom is still not a mainstream fandom, but it has grown large in the last two decades. Something that happened to me last week, that was absolutely unexpected, was meeting someone (who is a furry fan) that I had actually met almost a year ago at an event totally unrelated to furry. Just so you understand the chances of that happening, I’ll say Spain has a population of about 46.5 million people, of which around 510 are openly self-recognized furries. So whenever you meet someone here, there’d be approximately a 1 in 100,000 chance they’re a furry fan. That’s about a 0.001% chance. I was kind of amazed it happened, but it did! What would have the chances been 15 or 20 years ago? Probably not even a quarter of that.
There are more people than ever joining our fandom, even against the stigmatization we might suffer or have suffered. To the point that you will certainly find many people who do things you’re not into, or things you even somewhat dislike.
Uncle Kage’s stance and the Anthrocon’s policy is to strongly restrict the media from documenting their convention as the media sees fit, and to even mock and despise furries who give fodder to them for us to be stigmatized further. After many years of taking this approach, they’ve gained respect and love from Pittsburgh’s locals & media. What they don’t seem to realize, or don’t wish to take into account as much, is that they’re also excluding increasingly larger numbers of people.
Journalism and media is also a passion for some furries. Flayrah’s editor-in-chief GreenReaper, who is also a main administrator of Inkbunny and WikiFur, tried a couple of years ago to set a stand at the Anthrocon to advertise his furry journalistic website. His petition for a stand was denied, allegedly because a news report they’d done in the past only questioned whether it’s a good thing the Anthrocon board is strict in their approach to allowing attendance. GreenReaper makes no money from maintaining Flayrah or writing news, it’s a passion project. And neither do I. I created this open website, FurryFandom.Es, because I love the fandom, its culture and its people, and I wish for everyone who might be mildly interested in it to have the chance to learn about it and join in. I am now a furry journalist. It is at this point that I’m afraid that by questioning Uncle Kage’s actions, even though he’s someone I greatly admire and respect, I could be somehow excluded from taking part in Anthrocon as I most desire, maybe by reporting about it to Spanish furs and the world, if I ever get the chance. Dominic / Video is now banned from Anthrocon 2016, probably for not agreeing to its policy in regards to media.
Maybe they should be cautious with the general media. But to apply strict rules to furry media, like to Video / Dominic, to GreenReaper, or to maybe myself, is hurting a legitimate take on the furry life, on contributing to the community.
Uncle Kage claims to be a pillar of his local community, and acts as ambassador of the furry fandom. I don’t question any of that. He’s a doctorate scientist and a researcher. He’s worked for the FDA amongst other institutions, and has published several peer-reviewed studies. If you haven’t noticed in my previous interview with Nuka, if there’s something I love almost as much as furry, is science. And, he’s also the CEO of the world’s largest furry convention, that’s been celebrated annually for 18 years. 18 years! Certainly he must be doing something right!
But also, he feels it’s appropriate to publicly call, using a microphone, another furry, “a fuckin’ bitch”. And he states, scornfully on camera, that Boomer the Dog is a crazy person. Though these or other similar comments are something I could do in the privacy of my home (about people I don’t like,) to be purposefully caught on camera saying these things to others who amicably wish to be part of our fandom, is disheartening. It doesn’t show in a good light the furry fandom.
Also, he drinks too much alcohol. Admittedly it’s not distilled drinks, it’s wine, which is somewhat better because it’s fermented grape. But ethanol is nonetheless toxic; alcohol intake is the leading cause of morbility across many countries, and one of the most commonly abused drugs in the world, causing many more deaths and personal suffering than marijuana smoking. He likes getting inebriated. He often makes his speeches with a glass of wine, or a bottle or two, in his hands. That is something I respect, he still is a very functioning person; this is what he likes, he’s an adult and he can choose. Whatever. Still, it’s not a trait of someone I’d call morally above most people, or morally above most furries. It’s not a behaviour I’d happily show to my kids, if I ever have kids. In fact I’d be more concerned with showing alcohol abuse to kids more so than sex toys. Sex toys don’t kill people. Alcohol does.
So, as a fandom, what should we do about all this? I wish I had a firm answer. I wish I had as much clarity of mind about my approach as Uncle Kage has in the documentary. “Use chloroform on dislikable people when cameras go rolling.” But I don’t think the question “How should we approach tolerance in the fandom?” has an easy answer, or that this is an easy problem to solve. Welcoming anyone and everyone maybe isn’t the best thing to do. Consciously ostracizing others I don’t think is a good approach either, unless they have criminal intent (or something to that degree.)
I do know something that will improve the community, though. And that is, treating others who wish to take part in our fandom with respect. To strengthen the sense of community in our fandom not through angry mobs, or scornful attitude to other furries, but through genuinely well-intended exchange. Dominic’s documentary is not about us versus them. The documentary is about us versus us.
I want to personally thank Dominic for his documentary; and thank every furry who was interviewed in it, for their contribution to the project.
The entry ‘Fursonas’ (The Documentary): Review and Reflections on Dominic Rodriguez’s Magnum Opus appears first in FurryFandom.es.
Last April Norwegian fursuiter Lumo registered for the contest ‘Garantert Oppgradert’ (Guaranteed Upgrade) on the radio channel Radio Metro, which offered as a winning prize the refurbishment of a house room, valued in 90,000 Norwegian Crowns (11,000 US Dollars). The people wishing to take part in the contest were to send an SMS. A selected few would then receive a call from radio host Hege Tepstad, so they could detail their messed-up appliances. Lumo was chosen as one of 20 finalists, and subsequently had to gain enough votes through Facebook to win over the other 19 contestants. He pleaded for votes in FurAffinity and other social networks, and friends, in the best way a fursuiter can – by being all cutesy!
Lumo won by 25% of the votes, and his campaign didn’t go unnoticed to the radio host, who was previously unfamiliar with the furry fandom, and pleasantly surprised by the funny tactics.
“Dan Rogers’ hobby has helped him well on his way for votes, both home and abroad. He dresses up in a blue fur costume as a hobby called furry (you can read more about it on Wikipedia.) Through the weekend he shared several funny images in social media asking for votes.” (link⇒)
That same morning, Monday 25th April, Lumo got a call from the radio host announcing the achievement. Lumo’s voice was snoozy, admittedly because he was tired from traveling abroad that same weekend. He’s been tremendously happy after winning, as shown on his FA journals! (link⇒)
The entry Fursuiter Lumo Wins $11,000 Bathroom Refurbishment Thanks to Furry appears first in FurryFandom.es.
(This is the original interview conducted in English with Nuka, by Mike Retriever. If you wish to read the Spanish translation, you can do so here.)
Nuka (full name Dr. Courtney Plante) is a 29-year-old furry born in Canada who lives part-time in Iowa (Midwest USA), where he works as a post-doctoral researcher. Besides previous studies, he holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology. He’s co-founder and member of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP), through which, with a team of highly qualified colleagues, has researched & published over 15 peer-reviewed papers about the furry fandom and related fandoms. Through this project he’s kept making, for years, scientifically sound psychological survey-studies, aiming to understand the demographic landscape, social connections, and behaviour, of individual furries and the fandom as a whole.
MR: First of all Nuka, you look really cute in your fursuit with the doctoral garb! What was the reaction amongst university colleagues?
Nu: Aww, thank you! Well, it didn’t really surprise any of my grad school colleagues – they’d all known me for a number of years, and I imagine they were pretty sure I’d throw on the suit for convocation. The much more interesting part was walking around campus with the suit and graduation garb on – I think I wound up on about 1,000 people’s Facebook pages the next day, because all the other graduating students wanted pictures with the Doctor Cat – I think a bunch of them figured I was a mascot or something.
MR: You should have been! Nuka for mascot!
MR: I’ve seen some evolving in your FA gallery, do you now identify yourself more with a pony rather than a cat?
Nu: Nope, Nuka’s always been, and will always be, a cat. About the only evolving he’s done over the years has been to go from his original puke-green to Kool-aid blue (since I’m color-blind, I decided to make him blue, since I can actually see it!) The pony artwork on my FA gallery has more to do with my learning to doodle in recent years. I enjoy My Little Pony, and the style is relatively simple to pick up, so I figured it would be as good a place as any for me to learn to draw!
MR: Oooohh! Well yes, the artwork of MLP is simple. Just out of curiosity, do you know what kind of color blindness do you have? Protanopia / Deuteranopia? [the most common]
Nu: As a matter of fact, I do! Deuteranopia – it’s when the “red” and “green” cones in your eye are a bit warped, and have overlapping ranges of light wavelengths that they respond to. Sorry – I’ve taught courses in perceptual psychology, so I’m used to teaching / explaining color-blindness like this!
MR: Foremost, I want to begin by talking about your current research, so furries get to know what it is and how they can contribute. It’s a longitudinal study. What does this mean? How is it different from previous surveys?
Nu: Well, at any given time, we’ve got several different studies in preparation or on the go. But yes, our longest and still-ongoing study is the longitudinal study, and you can compare it to some of our previous studies, which are called cross-sectional studies. In a cross-sectional study, you take a “snapshot” of the fandom, so to speak. Basically, give a survey to a bunch of furries to get an idea what the fandom is like right now. The problem with cross-sectional studies, however, is that they can’t answer questions that have a “time” element to them. So, if we ask furries “how do you feel about animal rights?” and “do you identify with your fursona species?”, we may find that those two variables are correlated. However, we can’t say, in a cross-sectional study, which one came first: does the person’s caring about animal rights cause them to identify more with their fursona, or the other way around? A longitudinal study lets us do that: we survey the same people over and over again, once a year, giving them the same questions (and some different ones), to see how their answers change over time. This lets us figure out “oh, variable X changed and then, a year later, variable Y changed, so X must have caused Y!”
As for how to contribute – any furry over the age of 18 is welcome to participate! [Please, underage furries, don’t falsify scientific studies.] The easiest way is to send me an e-mail ( cplante (at) iastate.edu ) and let me know that you’re interested in participating. All we need is an e-mail address where you can be reached, and then, once a year, for the foreseeable future, we will send you a link to that year’s survey.
MR: One of the things you want to research further through the longitudinal study is, from a general perspective, why do people leave the fandom. You’ve stated that furries, for the most part, don’t leave the fandom because of some sudden event, but they lose interest gradually. Also, we are bad at predicting when this might happen. What do you know so far?
Nu: Funny enough, we still know very little about folks leaving the fandom as of yet! It may take another few years of the longitudinal study before we have enough people who leave to be able to provide some illuminating responses. At this point, all we’ve really got are theories. That said, they’re not theories we pulled out of nothing – many of them are based on well-established psychological principles. I, personally, believe that the biggest source of furries leaving the fandom is a combination of “the fandom isn’t what it used to be” (changing norms, shows, artists, etc… over time make it less familiar) and the fact that most furries end up developing a group of friends through the community and, over time, they can hang out with those friends without “needing” the furry side of things. They can just hang out outside of a convention or meet-up. But yes, that last point is true – people are notoriously bad at predicting their future feelings – there have been a number of psychological studies about that very thing, showing that we’re supremely confident that we know how we’ll feel about something… until it happens. And the evidence is there – the vast majority of furries believe that they’ll still be in the fandom 10 years from now [see graph]. But the data suggests otherwise!
"I wasn't a furry 10 years ago... I've gotten more furry since then.. and I will stay this furry for at least 10 more years."-->
MR: You have, what I believe is, one of the coolest jobs on the planet. In your daily workplace & research, you get to do science, mixed with furry. You sometimes lecture students on what the furry fandom is, and they have to endure it. How has this made you who you are, or changed your life?
Nu: Oooh, great question! I would definitely agree that I’m lucky enough to have one of the coolest jobs on the planet. I get to study furries, and video games – two of my favorite hobbies. And I get to do science, on top of it all, which is always mind-blowing to me. I can sit down, analyze some data, and say, at the end of the day, “I learned something today that, in all of the history of mankind, no one has ever known.” That’s really humbling, and it definitely beats the day-to-day grind of an office or routine job. And actually, I wouldn’t say that my students “endure” my lectures on furries at all – it’s almost always the lecture everyone talks about and looks forward to – so much so that the attendance in those classes shoots up dramatically, and other professors ask me to give the “furry lecture” to their classes!
As for how it’s affected or changed me, well, I would say that it’s helped me to feel like I fit in someplace, both academically and in the fandom. When I first joined the fandom, I was nervous and overwhelmed – there were so many amazing artists, writers, performers, musicians, organizers, and very social people, and all I could think about was how I wanted to contribute to it somehow – I wanted to give something to the community! But I’m not much of an artist, or a musician, and I’m pretty shy! But I like science, and I’m pretty good with stats, so I found my own way to give something to the community that’s given me so much! And it’s helped me find my way in academia – I no longer feel that sense of floundering, of wondering “what can I study that’s new, that hasn’t been done before?”
MR: It’s a very unique, useful and notable way to contribute!
MR: In 2012 you were featured on a National Geographic episode of the series “Taboo”, Season 8, Episode 2: “Secret Lives” (link 01 ⇒) (link 02 ⇒). The furry section of the documentary was concise, not really very informative [they confuse furry fandom with therianthropy e.g.], but actually not unpleasant to watch. You appear calm, explaining your interest for furry as a means of self-expression. Also, you looked quite more hairy than nowadays. Was the experience of being filmed / interviewed satisfying?
Nu: Ugh… To be honest, I was actually pretty unhappy with the whole thing. The whole experience was incredibly stressful. I’m a pretty shy and private person, so having video cameras around me for 8-10 hours a day for a few days at a time was a bit overwhelming. I don’t think the piece was in any way “bad”, but it was very disappointing, when I consider what it “could” have been. I was really hoping that my role on the show would be as an expert – as a person who could give statistics and numbers and really teach people “hey, here’s what furries are.” And in fact, there was over an hour of footage shot where I was giving all sorts of facts and figures about furries. Of course, none of that got used! Instead, they focused on the fact that I was a furry, which is a bit silly to me. I would consider myself interesting as an expert on furries, but as a furry myself, I’m actually pretty boring! I don’t really have any exciting stories to tell about myself, my fursona is pretty typical as far as furries go… I honestly suggested that they use me for the “boring data stuff”, and go out to find really interesting furries – furries who are amazing fursuit performers or who have really cool stories about things they’ve done or how they got into the fandom. But, instead, they focused on me – arguably one of the most boring furries on the planet! Like I said, it wasn’t bad or insulting or anything like that to the fandom. But it was a missed opportunity, I think.
MR: This is a sentiment many other furries can agree with. No matter how much research and passion and cool stuff they put into giving to the media, ultimately they cut off anything that might be culturally significant, profound or interesting. In the best case scenario, it becomes watered down to the point of boring.
Nu: And it goes beyond that too… You could tell that they had misconceptions about furries from the get-go. When they arrived, it was clear that we were not what they were expecting. They showed up, and a bunch of us were at my house, playing cards. They were like “okay… so when do you put on the suits and run around?” We were like “we don’t really do that outside of conventions or furry gatherings.” They honestly thought that I spent the day lying around the house in my fursuit or walking around everywhere in the suit. And, when they realized that wasn’t the case, it became clear to them that, as a group, furries don’t live up to all the hype we get from the media. We’re not really as “out there”, “wild”, and “freaky” when you get to know us. Of course, you can’t do a show about that, so they wheel out a bunch of fursuiters to catch everyone’s eye.
MR: Last year a group of journalists contacted the furries here [Madrid], to record for one of their programmes about stuff that goes on in people’s lives. They had a set number of things they wanted to record with furries, including, in fursuit, going to a bowling alley, and eating at a restaurant. The people here said “We don’t do bowling, that’s something they sometimes do in America but not here. And why would we want to have dinner with the fursuit on, it’s impractical, and you might stain the fur.” “We just hang out & do regular stuff mostly.” So they looked for fursuiters somewhere else in another city. And what do you guess, some months later those show up on TV, bowling, and eating clumsily at a restaurant in their fursuits.
Nu: And they can’t fathom it! They can’t imagine that, yeah, we don’t go out and do crazy stuff in the fursuits everyday (or, even more amazing to them- we don’t all have fursuits!). Eeeyup. All the footage they got of me in the fursuit was literally from my first week of ever wearing my fursuit (I’d happened to get it that week). I was trying to explain to them that I didn’t know what I was doing, that they were really better off finding a person with a professionally-made suit, and with a lot of experience suiting
MR: Those furry fingers wiggling in the ‘documentary’ were super cute though.
MR: The large majority of furries have a fursona that’s relatively fixed, and also personal. You’ve found that most of our fursonas are animal versions of ourselves, not designed on a whim but carefully chosen by what we feel represents us best: our personality, our passions, or other traits. But also, they reflect “better” versions of ourselves. You say we give our fursonas qualities we’d personally like to have: more friendliness, more optimism, extroversion, attractiveness, confidence… Would you say, therefore, that by acting through our fursonas (be it fursuiting, role-playing, interacting with the community…) we can improve ourselves, therapeutically?
Nu: Hmm, I’d be a bit hesitant to use the word “therapeutically” there, but otherwise, you’ve got it right! There’s a body of research in psychology which suggests that we have multiple “selves” – two of which are our “ideal” selves – who we would be if we had the choice, and our “actual” selves – who we actually are. In general, this research shows that the closer our actual selves are to our ideal selves, the happier we tend to be. And I think, and have been working to try to test the hypothesis that, fursonas represent this “ideal” self for many furries. And, as an added bonus, we not only get to think about these ideal selves, but we get to actually spend time interacting with others as our ideal selves. In other words, if you’re a shy, quiet person, but would, ideally, be more outgoing and confident, spending time as an outgoing, confident version of yourself may actually change how you see yourself. Others will treat you as that outgoing, confident self, and, over time, you may realize that you’ve internalized, or become, that idealized version of you!
MR: In the past you’ve encountered furries who went through psychologically troubling times, and their therapist / counselor advised them to forget the furry fandom. How do you feel about that?
Nu: One of the most troubling things we were hearing from furries when we started doing one-on-one interviews was, as you said, that there were furries who weren’t getting the therapy that they needed because the therapist / counselor had no idea what a furry was. Furries, like anyone else, can suffer from psychological conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. But, where a non-furry would go in and receive help for the condition they’re suffering from, many furries would go into a psychologist’s office only to be told, after the first interview, that being a furry was the problem, not depression or anxiety. This is a real problem, because, for many furries, the fandom is a source of a lot of support – comfort, friendship, and even income in some cases. To be told that the fandom was the problem was not only heartbreaking, but incredibly frustrating for many furries, especially when the fandom was the only thing helping to keep them together. Thankfully, we’ve since published an article on this very subject which will hopefully reduce the problem, and give furries something they can show their therapist / counselor to explain that furry is, in most cases, probably not the problem.
MR: Can you say which article it is, where was it published?
Nu: Sure! The article is entitled “Clinical Interaction with Anthropomorphic Phenomenon: Notes for Health Professionals about Interacting with Clients Who Possess This Unusual Identity”, and it’s published in the journal ‘Health & Social Work’. The article’s abstract can be found here: (link⇒), and if you [the reader] want a full version of it, you can e-mail me ( cplante (at) iastate.edu ) to get a copy for yourself!
MR: The playful way in which we ascribe common traits to certain animal species is one of the appeals of animal-anthropomorphic culture. So, going to some data you’ve collected, for example, we find that fursonas who are a wolf or a dog, are believed to be loyal. Dragons are believed to be strong. Cats, lazy. Foxes, sly, intelligent. Otters, very much fun. And rabbits shy, but also, very much sex-driven! In what ways have you studied how this may relate to actual personal traits?
Nu: Aha! You’re thinking exactly like a scientist! Because that’s exactly one of the things we’ll be studying at Anthrocon this year! That’s actually what I wanted to study last year – to test whether certain personalities matched up with certain stereotypical fursona species traits (because we’ve been asked about that in the past – are all people who choose species X like this or that?) I wanted to test it, but the first step was to figure out what the stereotypes were in the first place. Now that we know what the stereotypes are, we can test to see whether people who identify as wolves or cats or foxes would actually use those terms to describe themselves! So, I’ll have an answer to that question in a few months!
MR: However, in the questionnaire, you have to ask in a way that’s not obvious to the reader so they don’t answer what they think they’re expected to answer.
Nu: Oh yeah – we take that into account. We have a lot of practice doing this.
MR: How much work is actually put in validating a questionnaire before printing?
Nu: Well, it typically takes us about two to three months, start to finish, to go from our initial design to printing for a convention. Usually we start off with a big brainstorming session a few months in advance. We talk about past projects and how we’d like to advance them, and we also talk about new projects or collaborators we want to bring on board. Then, we have to go out and see whether anyone’s measured what we’re interested in measuring – it saves us a lot of time to be able to use a previously-validated scale, rather than re-inventing the wheel. If not, we have to invent a new scale. Everyone on the team puts together a big list of questions they want to ask, and they send it to me. It’s my job to take this list of 300-500 questions and chop it down to less than 200 questions. This can take a surprising amount of time to do, and usually involves considering trade-offs – where can we get the most bang for our buck, since we only have so much space on the survey. Once that’s done and gets a final review from our team, it goes off to ethics, who has to review it, recommend changes to it, and finally approve it. It can take a surprising amount of time, and constructing good questions is an art – it’s not as easy as just throwing some words on a page!
MR: But if done right, it remains in the collective pool of useful human knowledge forever!
Nu: That’s the hope!
MR: You’ve delved a bit into therianthropy / otherkins. Furries are often misunderstood for therians; in media, or by people who are unfamiliar with the fandom. Therians are people who identify, intrinsically, as an animal; they believe they have the soul or spirit of a real animal, or identify strongly as one in some other way. The furry fandom isn’t therian, but a sizeable amount of furries are also therians, more so than in the general population. Would you say being therian (having a species identity different from one’s actual species) can be compared to being transgender (having a gender identity different from one’s sex)?
Nu: This is a surprisingly tough question to answer. In a way, my colleague Dr. Kathy Gerbasi made this analogy a few years go, and ruffled a few feathers for it. I would agree that you could use a transgender identity as an analogue for what therians describe their experience as being like, but I would definitely say that the phenomena are not the same thing – they likely have different underlying mechanisms, manifest in different ways, and I certainly don’t want to say that they’re the same thing – I imagine there are plenty of therians and transgender people alike who would take issue with the suggestion that these phenomena are the same. Interestingly, however, we do find that, compared to furries, therians are more likely to identify as transgender.
MR: This is one of the questions you ask in your surveys. Given the opportunity, through some mystical process, to become a real animal, would you choose to stop being human?
Nu: I’m rather fond of being human, to be honest! While I think cats are absolutely adorable, and I definitely admire their ability to be so content with a simple life of eating and napping in a sunbeam, I’m pretty happy as a person, and wouldn’t want to change it!
MR: In regards to sex and gender, why do you think the fandom is, compared to the general population, distinctly non-heterosexual and diverse? There’s more of everything: more homosexuals, more bisexuals, more gender bending, more transgender people, more polyamorous and open relationships, and more asexuals.
Nu: I think the fandom’s more diverse with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity for three reasons.
1) Historically, the fandom has many of its roots in such communities – San Francisco and Toronto are home to some of the first furry groups, both of which have a fairly prominent gay population.
2) The fandom is an open and accepting place, where people are invited to come as they are – something that’s particularly inviting, I would imagine, for people who belong to stigmatized minority groups.
3) The fandom provides a safe and comfortable place for people to explore aspects of themselves. It may be the case, for example, that rates of homosexuality would be much higher if the stigma were removed from it and people were given the opportunity / encouraged to explore their sexuality more openly. In that regard, the furry fandom may help people who are questioning, curious, or who have been thinking about these aspects of themselves to “try it on” and see how it fits.
MR: A graph by [adjective][species] shows furries being increasingly homosexual as they stay in the fandom. Without questioning their methodology, would you be surprised if that was the case?
Nu: Actually, I know the folks over at [a][s] quite well, and am well aware of that particular finding (though, I’ve lost track, at this point, of whether the hypothesis was first put forward by them or by myself!) This question is a fantastic example of the type of question that requires a longitudinal study to answer! Because, at the moment, with cross-sectional data, the only way to infer that homosexuality increases with time in the fandom is to ask people how long they’ve been in the fandom and to ask them about their sexual orientation. But there’s no way to know which caused which to happen. However, our longitudinal study will hopefully answer this exact question by looking at the same furries over time and seeing how their sexual orientation may change as they spend time in the fandom! I would certainly not be surprised to see that this is the case, as it’s been my hypothesis for a number of years now!
MR: Well it’s always been a popular thought here… Furry’s a field of turnips. Whoever comes straight turns into ‘fabulous’. (Turnips being a phallic reference.)
Nu: I’ve never heard that expression before!
MR: It’s probably a Spanish idiom.
MR: Where would you put yourself in the Kinsey scale? [A scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual.]
Nu: I’d actually prefer to play that one close to the chest I’ve found, in the past, that people find it relatively hard to gauge where I stand in that regard, and I suppose I’d prefer to keep it that way
(Though you’re welcome to guess )
MR: I have no clue! I mean, you look in some way effeminate, but that’s not necessarily a homosexual trait. More and more people in the media appear effeminate, but also they’re straight. [“Being campy / mannered is not only an asset for the queer” – Mario Vaquerizo.] In a couple of decades I don’t think behaving effeminately and being actually gay will even be thought of as related.
Nu: It always surprises me to see that I give off mixed signals!
MR: You are also a brony, a fan of My Little Pony (MLP). There is some overlap between furry fandom and brony fandom, but you’ve found there isn’t a consensus on how to approach this. Different people feel differently about MLP fans. What can you say about this?
Nu: When it comes to bronies, the fandom’s pretty mixed in how they feel: about 1/3 of the fandom really hates them, 1/3 of the fandom likes them, and 1/3 of the fandom is ambivalent about them. In general, it’s the furries who are bronies (about 25% of furries self-identify as a brony) who tend to feel positively about bronies. As for the ones who are vehemently opposed to bronies, I suspect it stems, in part, from a belief that bronies are “invading the fandom” – that is, many artists have taken to drawing pony-themed art, and it was a major topic of conversation in the fandom for quite some time (though, it seems that in recent years it’s begun to decline in popularity). I would argue that these feelings are certainly not unique to bronies as a subculture within the furry fandom – similar observations can be found in peoples’ comments about Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokémon, and Disney movies like The Lion King in the past decade or two. And, with the popularity of Zootopia and the influx of furries it may yield, I imagine we’ll be having this same conversation about Zootopia in a year or two!
MR: Except Zootopia is awesome so everyone will love it just as much as I do!
Nu: It’s always amusing to me, that people who are fans of Pokémon or Sonic can say “ugh, bronies”, without realizing that, a decade earlier, furries were saying “ugh, Pokémon fans”. The times, they are a-changin’!
MR: You’ve recently discovered that furries are much more likely to be the older child of the family, and this is also my case. Do you dare speculate why this is so?
Nu: I wish I had a better answer for you – but, to be honest, that’s one of the weird quirks that we have absolutely no answer for! There’s been a little bit of research in psychology looking at birth order and the things that it predicts, but nothing, as far as I’m aware of, would predict the numbers that we found. Of course, it’s entirely possible that it was a statistical fluke, and in a future survey I definitely want to test it again, to see whether that was the case. However, if it’s not, and it really is the case that furries are far more likely to be the older sibling (as it is in my case as well), we’ll be scratching our heads to figure out why, that’s for sure! But that’s what makes science so much fun! Mysteries like this!
MR: May I hypothesize? The older child usually has more responsibility, or has a more rough terrain to go through in life than a younger child. So furry fandom might be a way to channel the desire for a world of fluffy bunnies and cutsie stuff.
Nu: It’s entirely possible! But here’s the problem with what’s called “armchair”, or “speculative” psychology. I could come up with an equally plausible alternative explanation: Research has shown that younger children are more likely to be “the artistic ones”, in rebellion of older children (who, because of stricter parents or more attention given to them when it was just them, may do better in school). So, because of this preference for “artistic” endeavours, they may be more drawn to the furry fandom!
Ultimately, as I always say, “it’s an empirical question” – they’re both plausible explanations, so we’d have to test it with a study to see which of our explanations is wrong, right, better, or worse! Let the data do the talking!
MR: Anyhow, your data shows the number one reason why people become furries is because of the internet. Doesn’t it prove this other hypothesis?
Nu: That picture is absolutely fantastic, and I think I may have to use it in an upcoming presentation. And yes, it would certainly provide evidence in support of that particular model!
MR: Amongst the things furries really like there’s sci-fi, videogames, cartoons, webcomics, and artwork. Amongst the things they’re more or less into there’s anime, MUCKs / role-playing, and tabletop gaming. A thing furries hate is sports. Why do you think furries don’t like local teams moving a ball to some place in a field, in order to score more points against rival teams?
Nu: I don’t think furries have an intrinsic hate of the idea of spherical projectiles on athletic fields, in and of itself! I think many furries are averse to sports for two reasons.
1) Sports represent an accepted, mainstream fandom. It’s socially acceptable for a person to be a sport fan, and there are many sport fans. In contrast, many furries are forced, because of stigma and other factors, to keep their interests relatively secret or, at very least, to not be as brazen and outgoing about them. It could certainly create some animosity toward sport fans, especially if you consider that many furries also identify as geeks, which are a relatively well-known counter-culture.
2) Many furries also report a history of having been bullied in their childhood / formative years. As such, they may develop a bit of dislike toward those who are more popular (e.g., preps, jocks), who may well have been the ones doing the bullying.
These explanations, as well as others, make more sense, especially when you consider how many furries have fursona species that like to chase balls (dogs, cats, etc…)!
MR: I recall a recording of a group of greymuzzles [including Fred Patten] discussing the furry fandom in a convention in the 90s. One of the things they talked about, was “Do you think furry fandom will keep its appeal if it becomes popular?” And they answered, no. They thought many people would leave the fandom if it becomes mainstream one day. We aren’t mainstream yet, but the fandom has grown a lot since then.
Nu: True! But we’re still a long way from “mainstream!” Although, it raises another interesting possibility: Groups don’t really “disintegrate”, especially not groups as cohesive as the furry fandom is. Instead, as they grow, they tend to “fragment”, so to speak. In fact, in a way, that’s how the furry fandom came into existence! As a group grows larger and more unwieldy, people begin to split off and specialize. As the science fiction fandom grew and grew, it allowed for more people interested in stories about “funny animals”, about planets of walking, talking cat-people together. Eventually, a critical mass of them grew and decided that there were enough of them to split off and have their own con. I suspect, if the fandom continues to grow, that sort of fragmentation and splitting off will happen.
It may well be the case that, as furry conventions and furry art websites continue to grow, more meaningful subgroups will form and split off from the group. Perhaps, in ten years, fursuiters will form their own community. Or perhaps there will be enough furry writers to form their own fandom specific to writing stories about furries, without any interest in fursuiting, music, or graphical arts. Or it may split based on content – perhaps furries interested in more feral style content will split off from furries who prefer more anthro content!
But it wouldn’t have to be a bad thing, of course! Not like a furry civil war or anything like that. More of a “specialization”. You can see something similar happen in regional furry groups. If there’s only, say, 10 furries in an area, they’ll all hang out together, despite likely having very different interests. Two of them may be artists, three of them may be gamers, one may be a writer, and so on. But, in a large regional group of, say, 300 furries, the furry writers will tend to congregate together, because they have more in common, and the furry gamers will do the same thing. They become their own subgroup within the larger, broader group.
MR: Another aspect you’ve studied within the fandom is the relationship between artists and commissioners. Artists believe commissioners are very demanding and self-entitled, meanwhile commissioners believe they’re patient and flexible. What would you say to each group?
Nu: I’ve been interested in this topic for a few years now, with the hope of being able to do exactly as you’re suggesting: to be able to give advice to both artists and commissioners.
To artists, I would recommend gently reminding them that for every bad customer or horrible review they get, there are dozens of people out there who love their work and will happily commission them. To recognize that they are biased to remember the bad ones, and to practice letting go of those bad commissioners. I’d also recommend to artists that they take time to work on pieces that they want to work on every so often, to make sure that they rejuvenate their passion for their craft, so it doesn’t become “just a job” for them.
As for commissioners, I’d recommend that they keep in mind that artists are people. They often have school or work outside of the commission work that they do, and they’re also people, just like anyone else, who get tired, need a break, stress out, and have personal problems that can interfere with their work.
I think both sides would also benefit from clear expectations that are agreed upon from the get-go, and from clear lines of communication – letting artists know what’s expected and that you’re able to pay on-time, and letting commissioners have an honest estimate regarding timelines and progress, and being honest about the ability to deliver on expectations. That would get rid of 80% of the problems that artists and commissioners frequently encounter.
MR: Are you aware of monetary issues that come up now and then? Like artists wanting the money upfront but then not delivering. Or someone wanting a refund when the money has been spent already. Or having a commission drawn but the artist not actually getting paid. I don’t think it happens very often but sometimes it does. Do you know anything about this?
Nu: Hmm, we’re only just getting started in our research on artists / commissioners, so, at the moment, no, I can’t say we have any data specifically about these sorts of issues. I am planning, sometime in the next year, to do an artists / commissioner specific survey though, which will hopefully address these very issues!
MR: You’ve found that, in comparison to other fandoms, furries are the least likely to tell others about their interest for animal-anthropomorphic culture, not unlike homosexuals “staying in the closet”. People are generally multifaceted, have different interests. While I may have an interest in bioethics, it’s not something I would talk about generally with furries, nor would I talk about furry with co-workers unless prompted. Though, in an ideal world, we’d like to talk to anyone about our passions in life. How important for our well-being is it to be open about furry?
Nu: We’ve actually published an article in the journal Leisure/Loisir a few years ago on this very topic, entitled “Deeper leisure involvement as a coping resource in a stigmatized leisure context”. The gist of the paper is that it’s not so important that furries be able to be outgoing about being furry so much as it’s important that furries not have to “keep it to themselves” or “hide it”. In other words, parading the fact that you’re a furry doesn’t really do much for your well-being one way or another. But being forced to conceal or hide the fact that you’re furry is actually really bad for you – because a similar thing has been found in gay people. When people have to hide their identity, it’s stressful – you have to be constantly vigilant about what you say to other people, and self-monitor to make sure you don’t accidentally “give it way” or “out yourself”. It also causes constant anxiety – what if your parents found out? Your partner? Your boss? That sort of stress is really bad for a person, especially when it’s chronic. Humans aren’t designed to be constantly under stress, and it takes a toll on your immune system and your physical health, in addition to your psychological well-being.
So, I wouldn’t say that furries should go to the rooftops and yell out that they’re a furry for all to hear. But yes, in general, it’s better for furries if they’re in a situation where they have people they can confide in and where they don’t have to constantly stress about what would happen if people found out they were a furry.
MR: There are many variables that can predict the level of well-being of a person: physical activity, sleep quality, healthy / non-healthy diet, smoking / non-smoking, employment, education… One of the best predictors of well-being you describe is having a social support network, friends, relationships. “Having people who are there for you when life gets hard, is one of the best predictors of well-being, and the fandom provides that for people.” How can the furry fandom make someone’s life more fulfilling?
Nu: Well, the furry fandom does provide a lot of people with a sense of identity and a sense of purpose – both things that can help make people’s lives more meaningful and fulfilling. When you feel like you’re part of something bigger than you, and when you feel like you’ve got a distinct identity, it’s good for self-esteem and overall life satisfaction. And, perhaps most important, the fandom provides people with that social support you mentioned. Social support is resilience – it’s resources that you can draw upon when life gets hard – whether it’s trying to cope with psychological trauma or loss, or simply with practical issues, like being short on rent or needing a place to sleep for a few days. The fandom provides people with that social support, which can, in some cases, even be life-saving. So, insofar as the fandom provides people with an identity, with a group to belong to, with a sense of meaning, and helps bolster their resilience against the struggles and hardships in life, it can absolutely improve the quality of life for furries.
MR: Taking into account everything you’ve learned from the furry fandom through the years, how would you describe it? How would you describe the furry community?
Nu: The fandom is a community, first and foremost. It’s more than just people sharing a common interest occupying the same spaces online or in-person. It’s people with a passion, with creativity and openness to new ideas sharing those ideas and openly seeking out new experiences and new friendships with others. And it’s genuine friendships and relationships that are formed through the fandom – people who may start to interact with one another because of a shared interest, but who form deep and meaningful bonds with one another over time. I think that’s the structure that underlies the fandom, when you strip away all the furry content. It’s relationships and community.
“Furries are people. They’re people who share an interest,
an interest that’s central to who they are and the group that they belong to.”
“This is what the media gets wrong about the furry fandom.
They show pictures like this, hundreds of fursuits.”
“That’s wrong, that’s not how furries look like. This is what furries look like.”
“Furries are people, hanging out with other furries.
And that’s what makes this fandom so special.
That’s why we love to study this fandom. Because of these relationships.”
MR: Picking up and finishing the interview, I only have two small questions. First, have you finally seen Zootopia? Or do I have to call the furry police?
Nu: I have seen Zootopia, and I absolutely adored it! Funny enough, my favorite scene, the scene I could watch over and over again, is when Judy is on the train, arriving in Zootopia for the very first time. The animation, the music, the sense of wonder it created. If the film doesn’t receive a ton of Academy Awards next year for that scene alone, it will be a travesty!
MR: Yeeeeeeey! Another convinced Zootopian!!
MR: And, can we expect to see you in this year’s Eurofurence (August 2016)?
Nu: As much as I would absolutely love the chance to, I don’t think it’s in the cards this year – I’ve already added two new cons to my regular circulation – Further Confusion and Midwest Furfest. However… I’ve not ruled out the possibility of Eurofurence next year
MR: Yeeey! Funded by the Government of Canada? For science?!
Nu: We’re currently not funded right now (we ran out); so we’re applying for more, at the moment. So, at the moment, I have to make it out to cons out of my own pocket! But I love what I do, and I don’t mind paying for my own science.
MR: It’s been a real pleasure talking to you Nuka. And it’s been a long interview. Thanks for bearing with me!
Nu: Oh, not a problem! Thank you for taking the time to be well-informed beforehand
MR: You can find Nuka at FurAffinity (Nuka-Kitty), and at the IARP website (link⇒). He remains approachable and is happy to assist in anything regarding his studies. Please consider taking part in his online surveys, or filling his questionnaires whenever you get the chance to see him at a convention.
The entry Interview with Nuka, the Furry Social Psychologist appears first in FurryFandom.es.
This year 2016 is, what some call in the fandom, the Year of the Furry. Disney aims, covertly, their film Zootopia / Zootropolis to the furries demographic (link⇒). And why not? After about eighty years of what is almost a monopoly in the world of Western animation on the big screen (until computer animation revolutionized the sector), they have the sales from children and families assured. So, without leaving them aside, making an attempt to increase its audience is an economically sound idea. Not to say, an awesome one!
Disney’s creative staff is familiar with furry, or even furries themselves (link⇒), although that’s probably not something they want to discuss openly, at least not using the word “furry”. Byron Howard (co-director of Zootopia) is an unconditional fan of Robin Hood (1973), a character in which he based Nick Wilde (fox co-star of Zootopia). When he pitched the idea of the film in 2013 to Disney’s chief of creative staff John Lasseter, John was so excited, he enthusiastically hugged him, and lifted him into the air Simba-style (link 01 ⇒) (link 02 ⇒). It has also shown to be immensely loved by furries, who organized events to watch it together in groups in movie theaters around the world. Up to this day, Zootopia is the third film with more submissions on FurAffinity, above Balto (1995), How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and Kung Fu Panda (2008).
But the list goes on. The Jungle Book, released April 15th, receives overwhelmingly good reviews. Critics and fans call it “The best adaptation of the book that has been done to date” (link⇒). Dreamwork’s Kung Fu Panda 3 also gets good reviews, which is unusual for a sequel. And there are still more: Finding Dory; a sequel to the recent adaptation of the Ninja Turtles; another Ice Age film; The Secret Life of Pets; another adaptation of Disney similar to the Mowgli one called Pete’s Dragon (remake of the animated original from 1977); Storks, produced by Warner Bros.; and more (link⇒).
It’s also worth mentioning, this same year, what for many Spanish furries is a major event. The first Spanish fully-fledged furry convention is announced, Furrnion (link⇒), to be held in Madrid in January 2017. Attendee registration / ticket sales are estimated to begin next month (May). There will be international attendees, and the official languages of the convention will be both English and Spanish. The board of the convention is headed by greymuzzle Salmy, the technophile Tronchy, and artist Sierra the Cheetah (which Google’s search leads inexplicably to aircraft models (link⇒)) (hint: he’s a pilot).
On another subject, the group of furries from Vermont, USA (VermontFurs), protest in fursuit against a local law imposed in the 60s forbidding being masked on the streets. The law originally was intended to deter demonstrations from the masked racist organization KKK. After discussions with the media and local councilors, they managed to change the law to forbid only being masked with criminal intent, thus allowing fursuiting. They announced their victory on FA (link⇒) and Twitter (link⇒), and they celebrated with a furmeet.
Meanwhile, last March, Canadians celebrate their VancouFur convention. At the same time, a group of Syrian refugees were staying in their same hotel. Although, initially, the organizers suggested being cautious and distant, Syrian children and families loved the cultural exchange, and the hotel was filled with hugs from children and fursuiters, news that filled newspapers around the world (link 01 ⇒) (link 02 ⇒).
In February, Sarah Dee, fursuit creator from Menagerie Workshops (link⇒), is interviewed in the British national newspaper The Guardian (link⇒). In the interview she explains she’s been working on the craft for years, having created more than 300 fursuits.
And we receive a movie from the fandom itself. The furry filmmaker Dominic Rodriguez, whose nickname is Video, directs a very special documentary called Fursonas, which focuses on the personal lives of some members of the fandom in his hometown, Pittsburgh. The documentary is projected at the Sundance Film Festival (Salt Lake City, Utah, US). It will be distributed later, on video-on-demand (movie streaming services) (link 01 ⇒) (link 02 ⇒).
With all these good news, we celebrate our website is finally 100% Spanish-English bilingual, and will remain so in the foreseeable future, to ease cultural exchange with the furry fandom world wide. We have juicy articles scheduled! Stay tuned to the first Spanish furry news website!
(This is the original interview conducted in English with Keenora, by Mike Retriever. If you wish to read the Spanish translation, you can do so here.)
Keenora Fluffball is a 29-year-old furry from Germany. Best known in Spain for his latest appearance in Cuatro (Spanish TV channel) (link⇒), he’s a cheerful extrovert fursuiter, famous for his extreme sports & stunts in fursuit: bungee jumping, skydiving, or walking down a building wall Jackie Chan style! (‘House Running’.) He happily agrees to be interviewed.
MR: Born in ’86, when did you start identifying as a furry, and why?
KF: Basically I found the furry fandom back in 1996, during my first days on the internet. I was using the IRC network for chatting, and ended up in a channel where they talked about some videos. I wasn’t sure what it actually was, but as I saw photos of it, I was very interested. It was someone wearing a fursuit, dancing on a stage. I really liked it and searched around the net some more. I found some websites with drawn pictures of werewolves and got into the whole topic.
Back in those days I also created the name “Keenora”, and thought about my appearance, how I look like, and so on. But I have to admit, till around 2001 I lost track a bit and didn’t do much. Around 2001 I got really into the topic, visiting my first convention in 2004, which was Eurofurence 10, and learned a lot about it.
The question why I’m a furry, or better said, why I identify myself as a furry, is a very good one. For me, the anthropomorphic world is really interesting. Mixing that up with my thirst for creativity, and of course its community and its strong connections to people from all around the world, pretty much describes me as a furry. The most important thing for me, is that I identify myself with Keenora. There is no Kee and Not-Kee in my life. Nothing I could just “throw away”, or so. For me, it’s important to be myself, and I think, as a furry, I am myself as much as possible
MR: What’s the origin of your fursona? How did you come up with your fursona?
KF: Well, a wolf was pretty much clear for me. We used to have, and still have, a dog at home, for as long as I can remember. And the “wilder” version is a wolf. So that was clear for me They’ve always fascinated me
His colours are my favourite colours. And the stripes, which all have a specific position, length and size, just add the personal touch to me The funny fact behind it is, that afterwards, I’ve noticed my idea with the stripes very often somewhere else. In my favourite anime, Digimon, Garurumon is a wolf with blue stripes It’s coincidence, but I found my favourite character very quickly, in the show
The name Keenora has no special meaning. But the way I came up with it is funny. Back in the ’90s I wanted to develop software very much. I started with QBasic and I built a program which could create random names, based on rules like… no “k” after a “v”, and so on. When I browsed through the results, I found “nora” and I liked the name. “Kee” just came up to me, and suddenly “Keenora” was born My English wasn’t that good back then, but later on I figured out what “keen” means
MR: So you would say your fursona, personality-wise, is like yourself?
KF: Pretty much, yes. For me there is no difference between Keenora and me. It’s actually weird to talk from a third person perspective about myself Kee is me, and me is Kee
MR: Would you say you’re a popufur?
KF: Short answer, no. I think there is a difference between the term “popufur” and “popular furry”. It might be, that my videos and my appearances in many conventions and gatherings, added the label “popufur” on me. But I think it’s nonsense. I think I have a lot of followers and subscribers because they like what I do. That’s it. I am just a normal furry as you and others and there is nothing “special” or “popular” about me.
Other than that, what would you call me?
MR: I don’t know? Each person might have different “popufurs” or “popular furs”, each person values different things. But it’s a good thing that whether you are popular or not, you keep being yourself.
MR: What are the furry-related activities you enjoy doing the most, or that you do more often?
KF: Fursuiting, which is pretty obvious I love to be in fursuit and that is “my thing”, if you want to call it that. I don’t care if I’m home alone, or in a group or at a convention. Without fursuiting everything is a bit boring That’s why my fursuit is always with me, no matter where I am.
Besides the obvious thing, I love to just hang around with other furries. Visiting some regular meetings or such stuff. Actually, my whole life is “furry-related”, so no matter what I do, I’m always a furry
MR: With all the exercise you do in fursuit, how do you keep your fursuit clean from sweat?
KF: Oh that is a good one! Well, first, I should say, everyone is different. Each person can handle some things better than others. That said, I can say, for sure, I do sweat. But I do many things to prevent it as much as possible.
I used to be way heavier in the past, and started doing workout only for fursuiting. So I am kind of trained Since I got my suit, I spend a lot of time in it. For example, I was in suit every day, at least once, throughout 2013. Taking selfies / photos all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for an hour or for the whole day and night. You get used to it. Staying in suit for 24 hours is not a problem at all, and even twice as much is not a big deal. It’s just a bit difficult for me, due to my insulin pump, because I am diabetic. So when I am that long in suit, I need to drink enough and keep my blood sugar checked from time to time. The pump has a remote control, but I need to know how much insulin to push in The reservoir only lasts for about 2 or 3 days. I need a solution for that!
I tried those cooling vests once, but for me those don’t work at all. I was super freezing when the vest was cool, and when it got warm I began to sweat like a fountain. So yeah, the only thing under my fur is a Lycra suit, which keeps the temperature a bit lower when I am standing in the wind or in front of a fan. To all the people having problems with sweating in suit, I say: It’s just a matter of time. Don’t step back just because you sweat, everyone does. I figured out, the Asian fursuiters don’t sweat as much in general. Sadly, I’m European.
Keeping my fursuit clean is a very very important thing for me. After some suiting action I always wash him, when I’ve been sweating. I wash the feetpaws, handpaws, and the body. The head I wash in the bathtub with towels. I use a bit of detergent and softener. Not too much detergent, because small dirt runs off with just water already. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting stuff out of the fur. After concerts, when the feetpaws are almost fully soaked in beer and dirt, I get them super clean every time And I’ve had weird stuff on the fur, and in the fur: oil, make-up, food, blood, brake dust… [from cars, like the dust expelled in car drifting]
At conventions it’s a bit more difficult. I keep washing the armpits and the front and back with wet towels. Same with the head, using a tiny bit of detergent. Though, after a long week of suiting at a con, I have to wash it, of course, as soon as I get home
MR: So at home you submerge the body suit in water, and you cover the head with moist or wet towels, drying afterwards.
KF: No no, at home I use a washing machine! 800 RPM, 30ºC. I tried 1600 RPM in the past, but then I had to brush for a really long time.
MR: Do you collect plushies?
KF: Hmm, I do have like 10 or so, but I stopped many years ago I have three plushies of Kee though. The smallest one is always with me when I’m traveling (50 cm / 20 inches tall), and the biggest one comes with me to some conventions, but lays in my bed otherwise (120 cm / 3 feet tall).
MR: Aphinity (from VancouFur, Canada) argues that furries give the best hugs. Hugging as a greeting is a particular staple of furry fandom. How much do you like hugging / being hugged?
KF: Very much! Whenever I see friends, I do hug them, no matter if I’m in suit or not. Hugging shows, a bit, that you are “closer” to that person. I would never do that with my co-workers
MR: Can you share some touching experience you’ve had that involved hugging someone?
KF: In suit, there are many of those moments. I have them often, when I hug very old people or young kids. Last year we were at an event, at an inner harbour. There was a nursing home around the corner, and some elderly women were in their wheelchairs together, with some nurses, enjoying the nice weather. When I walked to them and hugged them, they didn’t want to let me go! They were hugging me like a huge plushie and they were so very happy about it. Most of them had dementia, and probably weren’t able to remember later that evening. But for me, it was really touching, to be able to make those people happy, on maybe one of their last days on earth. With something as simple as wearing a costume, you’re able to make a big impact. A fact which is just stunning
I’ve had similar situations with children. Last year, at a village of refugees, with children having very bad injuries from wars and conflicts, with no legs, no arms, blind, scarred… Those kids, who have seen the worst things on the planet, and experienced so much hate and suffering, were very happy! I just hugged them and they were happy. Happy because of almost nothing! They cried out of joy! And trust me, when you are in a situation like that, seeing those kids… you begin to cry. I wasn’t able to hold myself back, the tears were running down my face inside my suit. I didn’t want to stop. Sadly, it began to rain afterwards so we weren’t able to do it for longer than 3 hours or so. But it was a very touching experience.
MR: Maybe you’re familiar with a general rule of thumb for conventions called the 6-2-1 rule. The rule of thumb says, during cons, you should at least sleep 6 hours a day, have 2 meals a day, and shower once each day.
You’ve had diabetes for over ten years now. Is there some special guide or tip you follow, to keep an appropriate blood sugar level, during cons?
KF: I always turn that rule around… 1 hour sleep, 2 times food, 6 times showering
For diabetes, yes. I keep eating less at conventions, so I need to take care of that a bit. Stress + Activity – Eating means low sugar levels So yeah, I keep crashing into the fursuit lounge from time to time for water and some sweets. Basically neither diabetes, nor suiting, holds you back from cons.
MR: You’ve been at this year’s Japan Meeting of Furries, in January. Japanese culture always strikes me as slightly weird, unfamiliar, though I suppose non-furries could say the same about the furry fandom. What would you say the Japanese convention has in common with other cons? And which things are different?
KF: Hehe, well, I can tell Japanese culture is different for sure. But it’s not as weird as the media would let you assume. The things I have seen are, for example, good spotters [fursuiter lackeys, people who act as helpers to a fursuiter or costumed individual], handling the suiters really really well. They keep holding paws with them and always support them. In the city, people’s reactions are basically the same as in Europe. They are just way more polite, and nicer
The cons are different. At least the JMoF is. The dancing only lasted two hours, for example. But the parties are the same, or actually better
The “dead dog” party was the biggest difference though. We assume that a dead dog party is a normal dance on the last day. But not in Japan. They hosted a dead dog party where you have to pay a bit more, and what you get is a huuuge party. With food for free, drinks for free, and alcohol for free! It was just intense
For me, it’s pretty clear JMoF is getting an annual regular visit from me
MR: You’ve been a member of a Scouts group, or as known in German, a member of a Pfadfinders group. In what ways has this shaped who you are, if at all?
KF: Yes I was in the Scouts, but I was a little boy and that’s it. It didn’t influence me in a special way.
MR: Do you still remember the Scouts oath? What did you think of [spoiler] Nick Wilde in Zootopia when it turned out he was a Scout?
KF: Hah, it was hilarious. Really cute scene Though, a Scout would never do such mean things to others!!!
Funny fact about the German Scouts: The first group you go into is called Wölflinge, which could be translated to “Young wolf cubs”
MR: Yes, that’s the case here as well. Though they later included, at least in my Scouts group (when I was there), an even smaller kids group, the Beavers. It went Castores, Lobatos, Tropa, Pioneros, Rutas; that’s “Beavers”, “Wolf cubs”, “Troops”, “Pioneers”, and “Routers”.
MR: Can you tell us something about your performances for charity work?
KF: Oh yes! I love to do charity stuff! I found out getting cash together at an event is so easy in fursuit For example, last year we were at an animal shelter in another city for the first time. The owner is a friend of the leader of a local shelter here. So he said, [the one over here,] get them over there and you’ll see what will happen.
So when we went there, we got those little cans to collect money. It was actually really easy to get them full in a very short amount of time When I run around collecting money, I’m always a bit “mean”. So I do offer a hug, or some other cuddle, when someone throws money in the can. But after they did, I just kept hitting my paw on the can or running behind the person. Of course, only if they’re happy and like the fun So it gets full really fast!
For me, the whole “money” thing is a very sensitive topic though. I don’t want to earn money with fursuiting. Never. Once we went to an event in the Netherlands and they offered each of us 50 euros. And I didn’t take the money, because for me it’s just a no-go. A friend told me once: “A hobby is a hobby as long as you won’t get paid. When you get paid, it will become a job”.
MR: You’ve worked with commercial media, as a furry & fursuiter, and have appeared on television on several occasions. How has your experience been with the media? Did they treat you fairly?
KF: I can clearly say, yes. They do, as long as you know their tricks I mean, it’s just their job to get the most out of it. Some of them leave scorched earth behind; yes, handling it is possible. Reporters always try to ask the same questions in different ways on different times and locations. When you film with them for like two days or even longer, it ends up like that. And they get annoyed, when they realize that you know how they ask and how they think.
Of course they have questions you don’t want to answer, or don’t like or don’t want to be asked. It has happened to me many times. I always answer but sometimes not their question, or not directly. It’s like Nick Wilde said it in Zootopia: answer their question with another question, and answer that one… It really works!
Some producers take a sentence, and try to cut it down to a fitting sentence they want, even if you have something to add. When that happens, I try to talk in a fluent sentence without letting too many gaps in between the parts. So they have no way to cut it down and if they do, it sounds chopped and not good enough for a report Before I do such a thing, I do check their format though. What have they aired before, what have they produced, how they do their work and research, etc. You need to be prepared!
But yeah, basically I can say, they do treat me fairly but with a bitter taste of professionalism
MR: I believe you’re a software developer. Can you tell us a bit about your job?
KF: I work as a web developer. I’ve seen the internet grow all the time technically. That means it has many upcoming opportunities to work with it. I have two jobs, which are pretty much the same. On my main job I work in a company as the head of web developing, creating e-commerce platforms and interfaces between other systems and those platforms. My second job is my own company, in which I do the same. The main job is mainly to pay the bills, and my company I use for stuff I like to do, also traveling or other stuff. In my own company I work for normal customers, whereas in my main job I work for companies and not directly end-consumers. I also do web design and content management systems (CMS).
MR: Do you play any videogames?
KF: I wish! I used to play MapleStory a few years back. But time is my problem. I mostly spend time during weekdays for work, work, work. I only have the weekends free, and I want to use them without a screen in front of my muzzle
MR: And, to finish the interview, I have one last question. We’re having this furry convention here in Madrid, Spain, called Furrnion, which I don’t want to brag about (lie), but I can assure at least we’ll have awesome food, because Spanish food & wine is great. Will you be visiting Furrnion in 2017?
KF: Weeell That depends a bit Mostly on the date. It’s not like I haven’t checked flights already The first two weeks in January are blocked for Japan already, but if it’s after the 15th of January, then I will be there, pretty much. I’ve always wanted to see Spain
MR: Well, thank you Keenora for attending the interview and answering the questions!
Keenora uses internet heavily, and is always approachable on social media, FurAffinity, and other websites. You can also find him at his own website, www.keenora.de .
Welcome! FurryFandom.es is a website which includes news, interviews, reports, or opinion pieces, that anyone can contribute, related to the furry world, its culture, its art and its people. It focuses on showing this in both Spanish and English, thus making it easier for non-English speakers to enter the world of furry. There are always things to discover, and interesting news to report! The publishing of new articles will also be notified through Twitter @FurryFandomEs . For those who want to contribute articles, you can read the rules for publication in the ‘Rules’ section; you can also find there the rules for commenting. We start the website with an extensive and personal interview with Keenora!