The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper is a collection of seven short stories written by A. J. Fitzwater centred around Cinrak, a lesbian, capybara pirate. It has a couple of strong elements as well as several weak points. I struggled with my thoughts as I read it and, in the end, I would say that, overall, I found it frustrating.
I will start this review briefly talking about politics. It might seem like an unusual starting point but the introduction makes clear that the book is political and it touches on several hot button issues.
Come for handsome, huggable Cinrak in a dapper three-piece, stay for her becoming a house-ship Mother to an enormous found family, the ethical polyamory, trans boy chinchilla, genderqueer rat mentor, fairy, and whale, drag queen mer, democratic monarchy, socialist pirates, and strong unionization.
What I do like about the way politics is handled in this book, is that it is not set up as a conflict between opposing ideologies; the book presents its favoured way of seeing the world and just leaves it as that. Even the religious character (and there is a fascinating take on religion inside) is played off sympathetically. However, by taking the stances it does, the book is also going to be, though it has no regrets about it, alienating for certain readers. If you can not tolerate a heavy emphasis on, and I quote, LGBTQIA characters, then this book is definitely not for you and you may as well stop here. On the other hand, if that’s what you crave, it may be exactly what you want and you should read further.
Can I Pet Your Werewolf? is a 160-page comics anthology that came out in 2017, after a successful kickstarter by Kel McDonald. Recently there was a second kickstarter to make a new print run, so I got in on the PDF version, and my hardcopy should be shipping pretty soon.
The project is described as "A light-hearted anthology featuring tales of friendship, family, and romance shared between those who get hairy under a full moon. Just because they have sharp teeth and claws doesn't mean they have to be a monster out for blood."
There are 13 stories, black and white, from mostly women cartoonists of many backgrounds and art styles. They're short popcorn tales, ranging from 8 to 19 pages in length. Not a lot of time for deep world-building, but in each one you're seeing a personal little snippet of a larger setting.
The Autumnlands is the creative result of writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey, with help from colourist Jordie Bellaire and typesetter John Roshell and published by Image. Started in 2014, it is still in continuation with a recent release of a second volume.
The story revolves around the city of Keniel, one of seventeen great floating cities above the earth, resides a relatively peaceful community of anthropomorphic people living in a world of sorcery. In the eyes of Dunstan, a young bull terrier lad, life is going fairly well as he learns from his father to take on the family trade business.
Though not all is well as it seems in the world. Magic fades at an alarming rate and the great mages seek to desperately restore it. In relative secret a group of mages seek to bring back a great hero of legend to restore the world’s magic, despite the warnings of their council superiors.
Unfortunately for them, things don't play out as planned.
It’s a phenomenal story collecting the first six issues of the action/fantasy series featuring primarily anthropomorphic animal characters. While these topics of talking animals and magic seem like the things a child would like to read about, it’s noted that this comic touches into more mature territory pretty quick.
In this series you will find nudity, racial segregation and stereotyping, violent impalement and disembowelment. And this is just within the very first chapter!
It immediately sets itself up as being a story for mature readers, and a clear reminder that some comic books aren’t written for children.
(Full Disclosure: I have a story in this book: Unbalanced Scales, the 6th story in the book. It takes place in the same universe as last year's Brooklyn Blackie and the Unappetizing Menu, just 40 years later. I will "review" that story last. I mean, I could skip it entirely, but I do so like talking about myself and my stories.)
Mary Lowd returns to the helm of ROAR for another collection of "all audience" Furry stories. This time the theme is Legends. There are all sorts of Legends and there was only one story out of the following seventeen whose legend worthiness I questioned.
Furry fiction is replete with references to its characters' ears, tails, paws, and how they notice scent in the world around them. While adding to a story's atmosphere, in many cases the characters could, with minor modifications, be written as humans. In The Furry Future, editor Fred Patten wanted to depart from cursory furriness.
This is an anthology of short stories more firmly rooted in science-fiction, not fantasy, in which the existence of its furry characters tries to be relevant to its stories.
The cartoonist known as Linda Panda has a thing for, yes, pandas. Pandas who… fart. Friendly farts that smile and make comments. Seriously. This is the odd world of Linda’s panda cartoons, and she’s been creating them daily and putting them up on the web for some time now. More recently, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, she’s collected hundreds of her daily works (as well as her more “traditional” sketches, perhaps) in book form. Head over to her official web site to find out how to get your own copy — as well as buttons and prints and other such ways you can see farting pandas.
Sentai Filmworks have released Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the God — Complete Collection, bringing together all 12 episodes of the anime TV series based on the original manga by Sayori Ochiai. Here’s part of the review by Charles Solomon over at Animation Scoop: “For 15 generations, Makoto Saeki’s family has maintained the Inari shrine to the agricultural god Ukanomitama. Makoto lives there with her widowed father, a well-meaning, slightly befuddled man. Because her bloodline makes her the heiress to the shrine, teen-age Makoto has ‘the gift': She can see and converse with Gintarou, the resident fox-spirit who is a herald of the gods. Heralds traditionally live and work in in pairs, but his partner left many years ago. Gintarou is later joined by Haru, a much younger female fox spirit brought to Inari by Makoto’s friend Satoru… Gintarou functions as a sort of substitute father/big brother to Makoto. He’s gruff, cranky and lazy, but his façade of indifference can’t disguise his affection for her.” I like Mr. Solomon’s description of the fox spirit: “Gintarou has a scarred fox’s head stuck onto a burly human body. He looks like a macho delegate to a Furries convention.” So noted! The 2-disc DVD set is for sale over at Best Buy.
Before Outland, WAY before Mars Needs Moms, even before Bloom County… he brought us The Academia Waltz. That was creator Berkeley Breathed’s first foray into comic strips, running in The Daily Texan at the University of Texas at Austin while he was still a student there. Now IDW have collected the complete strip (along with some of Mr. Breathed’s political cartoons and other items of archival interest) in a giant 300-plus page hardcover book, Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions. You can look for it this June, or read all about it over at Comic Book Resources. Much more immediately (just this week, in fact!) IDW are offering The Humble Bloom County Comics Bundle, offering hundreds of pages of original Bloom County strips (black & white and full color) in digital format for downloading — all at reduced prices! But hurry on over to the Humble Bundle web site because the sale is on only from now until March 18th!
Squarely in the “It’s about time!” department: Warner Brothers Home Video has announced the release of Road Rovers: The Complete Series on DVD later this month. “Meet ‘Cano-sapien’ the next, heroic step in the evolution of man’s best friend! After the evil General Parvo unleashes Professor Shepherd’s inventions upon the world, mutating dogs into monsters, Professor Shepherd recruits an international team of canines and transdogmafies’ them into super-heroic, humanoid crime-fighters.” That description barely scratches the surface of just how completely odd this popular anthropomorphic cartoon series from the 90’s could get. So head on over to the Warner Brothers web site and check it out. And remember: Don’t be weird boy!
Katie Cook is well-known these days as one of the main writers and sometimes artist of IDW’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic book series. Well, she has also created her own on-line comic series called Gronk: A Monster’s Story, which follows the adventures of a young and rather adorable monster… living out in the human world. Unable to make it as a scary thing that bumps in the night, she instead moves in with a young woman, her mischievous cat, and her friendly but very large dog. After several years on line, this full-color all-ages comic has now been collected into three softcover volumes by Action Lab Entertainment — all of them currently available at the Gronk web site.
For many Furry Fans who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s, Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth held a special place in their hearts. Now, IDW Publishing have brought us this: “Of all Jack Kirby’s celebrated DC Comics creations, perhaps none has struck such an enduring chord with readers as his post-apocalyptic adventure Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Now, to the delight of fans far and wide, this much-anticipated series joins the esteemed ranks of Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s Artist’s Editions! Long after the age of super heroes, Kamandi triumphed as humanity’s last beacon in a world ruled by beasts. Traveling the remnants of civilization after a great disaster, the Last Boy on Earth found both friends and foes among the irradiated animal kingdom that now inhabited the world. Written and drawn by Kirby, the series was unique to comics and completely unlike anything else readers had seen. This enthralling Artist’s Edition features some of the most influential complete issues from the revered series, including issues 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9, along with additional covers and other bonus material. At 160 pages and measuring 12” by 17,” this Artist’s Edition will amaze and delight fans this May!”
Back in the Ren & Stimpy days of boffo animation (as opposed to the more sedate, cultured world of Adventure Time today. Right.), one of the more interesting and unusual shows lived on Nickelodeon of all places: Catdog, the story of a creature who was half cat and half dog… and both of them front ends! “Brothers Cat and Dog couldn’t be more different — Cat is clever and cultured, while Dog is a naïve but lovable goofball. But they definitely share one thing in common: a body! This crazy set of conjoined twins find themselves in all sorts of silly adventures, but through them all, the two misfits stick together…whether they like it or not!” Now Shout Factory have brought together all 68 episodes in one new DVD compilation, Catdog: The Complete Series. Check it out at their web site. You even get a poster!
The European artist Peyo (real name, Pierre Culliford) is well-known (or is it infamous?) as the creator of The Smurfs. But he also wrote and illustrated the adventures of a cat, known simply as Pussycat, for Spirou comics magazine. Now Papercutz (well-known as the publisher of Geronimo Stilton) have brought together Pussycat’s comics in one full-color hardcover collection. “This cat isn’t exactly the noble hunting type– he’d rather play a game of kickball with the resident mouse than chase after him– and most of the humor originates from his clever, yet often foolish ways of trying to get what he wants (e.g. milk and snacks).” You can pre-order Pussycat over at Barnes & Noble, and look for the book to hit stores this coming February.
Years ago, underground cartoonist Hunt Emerson made a name for himself with a comic strip known as Calculus Cat which… well, let’s just say it’s not about a cat who’s good at math. “Calculus Cat’s home life is locked in an intense, argumentative relationship with his TV set, which bedevils him with commercials for Skweeky Weets – the world’s most asinine breakfast cereal. His ‘job’ is no better. He is forced to run thought the streets sporting his famous grin as The Public shout abuse and throw rubbish. His world is graphic, black and white, jagged, full in, weird, speedy and loud – everything a comic should be.” You heard it here. Long ago there was a compilation of Calculus Cat comics published, but it has long since gone out of print. Now after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Knockabout Comics have released a brand new expanded collection in trade paperback, featuring brand new pages and a collection of Calculus Cat art by the likes of Dave McKean, Gilbert Shelton, John McCrea, Kevin O’Neill, Kate Charlesworth, and Rian Hughes. Find out more over at Previews. The collection is in stores now.