Those attending Anthrocon this year that have an interest in non-fiction works about our little fandom will not want to miss the session I am hosting on Sunday, July 2nd to preview my book looking at the history of furries, Furry Nation. The book gives this "greymuzzle" freelance writer's perspective, having been in the fandom since 1988; a journey which all began with a surprise invitation in the mail to something called a 'furry party' being held at a Philadelphia Sci-Fi convention.
Furry Nation tells the story of the fandom’s birth and growth, from the earliest “funny animal” comic book fans and convention organizers to the worldwide fandom it is today. Artists, fursuit builders, and fans of all stripes are profiled, and of course our rocky relationship with the Hollywood animation community is also examined. In the book’s final chapter a genetic scientist discusses the possibility that genetic therapy will someday transform humans into actual anthropomorphic animals. Furry has indeed transformed many lives, including my own in ways I never expected— personal experiences that became a part of Furry Nation.
When Anthrocon started in Albany in 1997, the humble gathering went by the name of “Albany Anthrocon”. Two years later the convention found itself moving out of New York State and into Pennsylvania. Through that was learned the first major mistake a fledgling convention could make. Naming your new convention after the city it is hosted in is like someone getting their lover’s name tattooed to their arm. Ironically, it’s a mistake that other conventions still make to this day.
But living through mistakes is what makes one stronger in the end. It has now been about one decade since the largest furry convention had made its home in Pittsburgh. At this point I think it’s a much safer bet to commit to being inked.
As there were 6,389 recorded attendees to this convention, there are just as many stories and perspectives on the convention. So this review will focus on three sections I focused my experiences around: fursuiting, performances, and writing. It is essential to note that reviewing a convention is unlike reviewing any other medium where you can experience a full package. Many panels run concurrently so one has to make a choice, usually based upon one’s preferences.
Anthrocon is exceptionally supportive of furry music. The following performances – by Amadhia, Bucktown Tiger, Fox Amoore, "Bandthro", Matthew Ebel, Pepper Coyote and Rhubarb & Cosmik – can be seen at this year's event, running July 9–12 in Pittsburgh, PA.
E. Amadhia Albee: On Friday, July 4th at Anthrocon from 3-4pm in room DLCC 319-321, after a short retrospective about where the search for Hollywood funding succeeded and where it failed, we will be introducing the production team behind Kaze: Winds of Change, the new series that chronicles the love between Kaze and 'Bay, and the fall of the Kenmai dynasty.
We will be announcing an open casting call for the remaining parts in episodes 1 & 2 (scheduled for release at FurWAG in early October of this year), and we will be sharing a teaser recording of some of our principal cast doing a read-through of one of the scenes from the upcoming episodes. Close to 4p, we will be sharing a major bit of news that will likely have great appeal to Kaze fans.
Fred Patten will have a new anthology, Anthropomorphic Aliens, on sale at Anthrocon 2014. The 301-page book, published by FurPlanet Productions, presents eleven short stories and novellas featuring “furry” aliens from 1950 to 2013:
- “Mask of the Ferret” by Ken Pick & C. Alan Loewen
- “The Inspector’s Teeth” by L. Sprague de Camp
- “Specialist” by Robert Sheckley
- “In Hoka Signo Vinces” by Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson
- “Point of Focus” by Robert Silverberg
- “Novice” by James H. Schmitz
- “What Really Matters” by Elizabeth McCoy
- “Kings and Vagabonds” by Cairyn
- “The King’s Dogs” by Phyllis Gotlieb
- “A Touch of Blue: A Web Shifters Story” by Julie Czerneda
- “Fly the Friendly Skies” by Bryan Feir
Recently published survey results suggest there is "little relationship between furries and clinical diagnoses of psychological dysfunction". However, those identifying more strongly as furries tended to report "particularly active, vivid and magical mental worlds", and furries (at ~4%) were "at least 2.25 times more likely to have Asperger's Syndrome" than the general population, even after controlling for different sex ratios.
Being furry was not associated with anxiety disorders or medical conditions; indeed, it was "marginally associated with psychological and relationship well-being" (B=.062-3, p=.083-.079). Furries identifying as therians did not differ from non-therian furries on measurements of most psychological conditions, well-being or health, but differed in several cognitive factors, and were more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (B=.099, p=.008).
The survey was conducted at Anthrocon 2013 by the Anthropomorphic Research Project. Researchers gave 820 adult participants questions that "assessed symptoms frequently associated with clinical lycanthropy, as well as numerous scales which assessed various indicators of physical and psychological well-being", with the goal of "understanding why the furry fandom is so frequently associated with dysfunction in popular culture and lay theory".
Jerry Beck on the Cartoon Research website has posted news that in April, animator Paul Terry and his Mighty Mouse were among this year’s inductees added to the New Rochelle (New York) Walk of Fame, just outside of the town’s central Public Library.
The plaque emphasizes Mighty Mouse (who is a lot more famous than Paul Terry). A past honoree is Walter Lantz, the third animator of Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit and creator of Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Homer Pigeon, and many other cartoon animals. Terry and Lantz have a connection to New Rochelle; Lantz was born there, and Terry’s studio was there.
But this raises the point of two recent Furry Halls of Fame: the AUSFA-administered Furry Hall of Fame, for notables of Furry fandom like Steve Gallacci, Stan Sakai, Anthrocon, and Sofawolf Press; and the ALAA’s Hall of Fame, for notables that have led to Furry fandom like Bugs Bunny, Walt Disney, and the novel Watership Down. All that they get are an attractive trophy or a certificate. What if there could be a real Furry Walk of Fame somewhere?
Pittsburgh's appreciation for Anthrocon was proudly advertised on the active block of shops, restaurants and bars by the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Many had windows and signs marked with "Welcome furries!", cartoon foxes, and Furry-themed specials. Hanlon's, next to Fernando's even served breakfast in souvenir dog bowls. (Yum!)
Occasional identity confusion came from the fursuits and furry names - it's a reason for badges, and nothing to be embarrassed about. This can lead to benignly playful and revealing situations. The latter happened on an airport shuttle.
"You must be the 17th person who asked today", said Tim at Hudson News in Pittsburgh International Airport. "There's not a shirt left in this airport."
This was a hunt for the "City Shirt", a special shirt made for the public as well as Furries, only for sale outside of Anthrocon by request from local merchants. Most wearers said they got it first thing on arrival, before it sold out. On the way out of the city, some held out hope to ask in case any were stashed away. One place had a shirt stashed under the counter, the last one from "boxes and boxes" of 30+ per size, but it was a tease, because it was reserved for an employee.
Siddy, a commenter on Anthrocon's post, reports:
When I picked up one of the shirts at the airport. The cashier never seen something sell so fast, she told me she had to restock the rack three times just that morning.
We should have all extended the con by a day given the air traffic!, said one responder to a mailing list message asking if anyone else was having trouble getting home from Pittsburgh.
During the convention, an Asiana Airlines jet crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing two, injuring 181, and delaying many flights.
What's your traveling experience been like for Anthrocon? Did you experience any other issues, such as difficulty with the high traffic in fursuit bins searched by TSA agents, following the Guinness World Record attempt to assemble the most fursuiters in one place?
The winners of the 13th annual Ursa Major Awards for the best anthropomorphic literature and art published in 2012 were announced July 5 at a presentation during Anthrocon 2013 in Pittsburgh. 1,113 people voted, a decrease of about 37.5% compared to last year.
Members of the Anthropomorphic Research Project have launched a new online survey about fursonas, to answer "questions furries (and psychologists alike) have been asking", covering the relationship between:
[…] furries and their fursonas, including the perceived functions of fursonas, the ways they manifest themselves for different furries, and the extent to which furries see their fursonas as being similar or different from their own personality.
Participants, who must be 18 or over, have the option to enter a draw for a $50 Amazon gift certifiate in return for the 20-30 minute survey. The group is also running reaction time tests at Anthrocon 2013 in the Westin on Friday and Saturday, focused on how furs see:
[…] the complex relationship between human beings and animals on this planet.
The team is still signing participants up for their existing longitudinal survey.
Fred Patten, the editor of Best in Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction (Sofawolf Press, July 2003; republished as Furry!); Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Legion Printing, June 2012); and The Ursa Major Awards Anthology: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration (FurPlanet Productions, June 2012), will have a new anthology published by FurPlanet go on sale at Anthrocon 2013.
What Happens Next: An Anthology of Sequels presents eleven new stories by fan-favorite Furry authors featuring their popular characters:
- M. C. A. Hogarth and her Alysha Forrest
- Brock Hoagland and his Perissa and Maelith
- Kevin Frane (Rikoshi) and his Iolite League
- Kristin Fontaine and the crew of the interstellar freighter Tai-Pan
- Michael Payne and Cluny, the sorceress squirrel with Crocker, her human familiar
- Jenner and Dr. Benjamin Rat, M.B., B.S. D.R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. F.R.A.C.G.P.
- Kyell Gold and a new tale of Argaea
- Elizabeth McCoy and her feline centauroid Kintarans
- Chas. P. A. Melville and his Felicia, the Vixen Sorceress
- Ken Pick and his Brigit Bunny on the planet of the foxlike Thalendri
- and Roz Gibson and her Jack Salem
The voting for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic literature and art of the calendar year 2012, is now closed. Voting took place from March 15 to May 15. 1,696 registrations were received, but only 1,113 people actually voted.
Registrations were received from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the U.S.A., Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam. This includes the large number of registrants who did not in fact vote.
Voting for the Ursa Major Awards for the Best Anthropomorphic Literature and Art of 2012 is now open, and will continue until May 15. The winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony at Anthrocon 2013 in Pittsburgh, July 4-7.
Anyone may vote, and you are encouraged to ask your friends to vote also — please help to spread the word!
There are five nominees in each of eleven categories, except where there was a tie for fifth place. To be eligible, a work must have been released during the calendar year 2012; must include a non-human being given human attributes, which can be mental and/or physical; and must receive more than one nomination.
Read on for the nominees...