The 2000s were not an easy time for those who were furry or gay. The mainstream media was still hyper-focused on the sexual aspects of fandom expression in a freak-show style of coverage, instead of the overall complexity of the community. The ability to marry individuals of the same sex was still not federally recognized in the United States and wouldn’t be until the early 2010s. It was in that era that one furry artist named Rukus took their own life at the end of 2008.
Now, just over a decade later, someone who knew this artist on a personal level has finished a documentary covering the life of their lost friend and their interlude with fandom. That director, Brett Hanover, contacted me and gave me the opportunity to view a screening of the film.
The show releases on Vimeo and their own website today and can be viewed there. You can choose to watch before I go over the details and review below. Though the review may help understand some of the nuances of the film.
To many furs in the world, young and old, the fandom and the content it produces can be a form of escape. A way to engage in a fantasy world with conjured characters. It works as a means to forget the menial and divisive day to day events. It keeps them sane in a world that can lose it in the spur of a moment.
Drugs in which are utilized recreationally also provide such escapes for some. Through stimulation or suppression of the senses, the user can achieve a state of mind that can help them take an edge off the sharp protrusions in life.
However, just because both tools seem to be a means to the same end, it does not mean that these worlds do not overlap. In many circles in the fandom the usage of these substances can be seen as revered, one such group that is a famous example call themselves the “Baked Furs” are well known for their pro-marijuana stances and usage.
Unfortunately, as drug culture has continued to grow along with the growth of the fandom itself, the dark side of these habits is becoming far more prevalent. A recent death of one furry has pushed the conversation to one that can no longer be ignored by the community. Today we go these examples of substance abuse in the fandom, and the impacts that it has had.
R.C. Fox (Carl Kirkwood), a fursuiter who was charged for criminal possession of child pornography back in October 2017, committed suicide last week. The news started to spread after posts on Twitter linked him with a news story from the Pennsylvania-based Times Online.
The article described that a body had been found in a vehicle parked on the side of the road in an unpopulated area, that hazardous chemicals had been released within the confines of the car, and that a hazmat team had been dispatched.
This happened before he could be convicted of the charges against him. Carl had plead guilty as part of a plea bargain. However, a source who knew him indicated that he'd regretted this decision:
He already plead guilty [...]. And then, his lawyer found evidence that none of the child-porn rated content was his (network hacking). But in order to appeal, he needed $25,000 and he didn’t have it. He was going to prison until he came up with the money to prove innocence and he just couldn’t bear to do it.
Sad news has come to the web journal of the furry convention Fur 'the More. Their most recent announcement tells of the passing of Cobalt the Fox (David Gonce) last Friday (October 6), due to a heart attack. The fox's final tweet indicated he had felt particularly ill.
This dedicated staffer worked in the security group, known as the Rangers, for the Baltimore area furry convention. He also had the opportunity to MC for their furry dance competition.
The blessings of the staff, and their sorrow over the loss speaks volumes for Colbalt's contributions to the fandom he loved.
I have met and talked to so many people and in all my life i have not met anyone who isn't special and unique.
— I'm Cobalt! (@Cobalt_The_Fox) July 13, 2017
On Janurary 13, Equino Faukland, a friend of Spike Niko, posted about the passing of the founder of Rainbow Tiger to the club's group:
Hello my friends from Rainbow Tiger. I wish I was coming to you with something other than bad news, but with a heavy heart I must inform you that yesterday Spike Nico, the Boss Pony of the Rainbow Tiger passed away. Some of you might know that Spike was sick back in June with some lung issues and was in pretty bad shape. However, always the fighter Spike pulled through and was in full recovery. However his illness resurfaced this winter with a vengeance. He died in his bed yesterday from complications of his illness.
There have been many articles speaking to the harshness and cruelty of the year 2016. This time in history has been seen in such a negative light that people have gone so far as to make horror trailer parodies of the year itself. Barring the turbulent political results in countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, many celebrities who brought forth stories of endearment and inspired a generation passed on this year.
But just like you this year the furry fandom has been filled with reminders of our own mortality and that while some may try and use the fandom as an escape from these very realities, death and political strife caused by our interactions have made themselves apparent this year more than any in recent memory.
Former owner Albi Azul says he found Ron curled peacefully under his favourite picnic table. Albi had hoped to film an episode commemorating his channel reaching 100,000 subscribers; the award arrived just a few days too late.
A combination "thank-you" and "memorial" video clip was uploaded on the morning of April 9, but be warned: it is very depressing: Goodbye, silly RonRon, sleep tight.
Brian Bedford, an English-born actor best known to furs as the voice of the titular character in Disney's Robin Hood, passed away January 13, 2016, due to cancer in Santa Barbera, California. He was 80.
Bedford was born in Morley, UK on February 16, 1935. Primarily a stage actor, known for his work on Broadway, he made his Broadway debut in 1959, in the play Five Finger Exercise, directed by John Gielgud. In 1971, he won a Tony Award for his role in The School for Wives. He would gain an additional six Tony nominations; the most recent coming for his last stage role, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. He also appeared in many TV and film roles, though his vocal role as the vulpine Robin Hood is his best known.
Bedford is survived by his husband, Tim MacDonald.
The body of what is believed to be Pennsylvanian furry fan Donna See, also known as Sasha Tigress, has been found behind the house of her boyfriend, who she met last October on dating website PlentyOfFish.
Donna of McKeesport, 60, an driver for the elderly, had not been seen since August 14. Her journal shows attendance at Anthrocon and FA: United; according to a fellow fan, she had attended meets since 2005.
George Biegenwald of Shayler, 57, has been charged with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse, and evidence tampering. He said that he and Donna quarreled about her wish to move in, had been drinking, and got into a fight at his house, in which she hit her head on a dresser after he "flipped her off his back".
Friend and co-worker Margie Byers, who led a campaign to find Donna, doubts George's version of events, calling Donna "one of the most timid people I've ever met", and saying she'd noticed bruises on Donna in the weeks running up to the incident.
Update (13:20 PT): Doug Winger has passed away at the Western Medical Center in Tustin, California.
One of the greats, one of the true giants of the furry fandom, has lost his battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or emphysema, brought about by smoking and other ailments.
Over the past few days two gentlemen passed away. Two gentlemen with very different but both very interesting connections to furry fandom. Stan Freberg, 88, was a man who “wore so many different hats throughout his career that he may as well have been a hat-maker. Satirist, songwriter, comedian, commercial producer, recording artist, actor, puppeteer, and voice artist only scratch the surface.” Among the myriad of voices he created some of the most memorable might be Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent (in both the puppet and animated versions of Beany & Cecil), the beaver in Disney’s Lady & the Tramp, and (from a very young age) Junior Bear, the lunk-headed young son of short-tempered Papa Bear in a series of cartoons by Chuck Jones. (“C-A-T, dog… D-O-G, Rhode Island…”). Meanwhile Bob Walker also passed away, at the age of 54, apparently from a heart condition. Mr. Walker will best be remembered as co-director (with Aaron Blaise) of Disney’s 2003 2D animated film Brother Bear, but prior to that he had worked as a layout artist on numerous Disney animated projects including Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002). A native of Canada, Mr. Walker started his career working for Nelvana Animation on TV shows like The Raccoons. [Thanks to Cartoon Brew for providing this info.]
It is with great sadness that I must report on the passing of one of the giants of the voice-acting world.
Christine Cavanaugh passed away on December 22, 2014 at the young age of 51. She is perhaps best-remembered as the voice actress of (in no particular order) Babe, Dexter (Dexter's Lab), Bunnie Rabbot (Sonic the Hedgehog), Chuckie Finster (Rugrats), Oblina (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters) and Goslyn Mallard (Darkwing Duck, Raw Toonage).
While her voiceography is not as long as other veteran voice actors and actresses, she more than made up for it with quality acting and defining fan-favourite characters, bringing them memorable personalities that lasted long after their shows completed their runs.
Colin maintained several furry websites, including furry.org.nz and the NZfurry mailing list, and (as Nicol Firefox) furry image and story archive Cub Central. He featured prominently in media coverage as a New Zealand fursuiter, provided hosting and IT support for FurcoNZ, and participated in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Colin received a BSc in Computer Science from the Victoria University of Wellington in 1997, and worked for over twelve years as a systems programmer and Linux server administrator for the University of Waikato; in March 2013 he moved to Mako Networks.
Colin's funeral will be at 3PM on Thursday 27 November at the chapel of Morrison Funeral Directors at 220 Universal Drive, Henderson, Auckland. A memorial for friends and family will be held 29 November in the Wellington area.
Update (21 Mar): The website Colin founded, Cub Central, is set to close after his death.
The world of movies lost another big name this week when actor Bob Hoskins passed away at the age of 71. Though he was known throughout much of the world for his dramatic roles (and earned award nominations for several of them), here in the United States he will perhaps forever be best known for his role as gumshoe detective Eddie Valiant, playing opposite a crazed toon bunny in the groundbreaking 1988 live action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which went a long way towards putting animation back on the American landscape after a long slump in the previous decade. But not even counting that, Hoskins had numerous roles in movies with more than a bit of Furry Fandom interest. Some of them cringe-worthy (Mario Brothers, anyone?), some of them wonderful (like the voice of Boris the goose in Balto), and some of them rather obscure (he played Badger in a 2006 British TV movie of The Wind in the Willows). Check out his page at the Internet Movie Database to find out just how diverse his career was. He will be missed.
Furry artist FilthyRotten Jackalope (Tangela Parten, née Harris) has been reported dead following complications from emergency surgery at the age of 35.
A long-time resident of Atlanta, Georgia, and a long-time participant in the local furry community, FilthyRotten served as Volunteer Coordinator at Furry Weekend Atlanta from 2008 to 2013. She moved in June 2013 to Vancouver, Washington, with her husband DarkPatu (Paul Parten) and their three children.
On April 1, 2014, FilthyRotten posted pictures to her Twitter account from her stay at the Peace Health Services Hospital for a blood transfusion (due to a history of chronic internal bleeding), but by April 4, she posted that she would be heading to emergency surgery the next day. According to DarkPatu, "Complications after an emergency hysterectomy led to an infection in her brain and cranial bleeding."