Journalist Maria Margaronis interviewed furry fans at a Cambridge Furs meet last month for next week's episode of The Why Factor, a programme exploring "the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions" through the voices of those involved.
In stories, cartoons, advertisements and our everyday lives, we project human thoughts and emotions onto animals—and claim their strength and style for ourselves in the brand names of cars and cosmetics. Why do we do that, and what do we get out of it? Can we ever know what animals really feel? And are we as different from other species as we like to imagine? Maria Margaronis meets the furry fandom, who put on “fursonas” and cartoonlike animal costumes to meet and socialise. Neuroscientist Bella Williams upends some assumptions about animal brains and explains how to read a mouse’s facial expression; children’s author Michael Rosen sportcasts an insect race. Farmer Helen Reeve reflects on how she feels about eating her own cows. And historian Harriet Ritvo poses a thornier question: what makes our species think we are secure in our dominance over the natural world?
The 18-minute show "Animals Are Us?", which received input from furry artists, fursuiters, fursuit-builders and other fans, is to be broadcast on the BBC World Service on Friday 24 at 18:32 and 23:32 GMT (EDT+4, BST-1), with re-broadcasts on Sunday (21:32) and Monday (04:32, 12:32).
Update (23 April): A four-minute clip featuring several furs is available (transcript below).
Update 2 (24 April): The full episode has been published. There is no additional content featuring furries, but you may find the rest interesting, as it's all about anthropomorphism.
3D chat service IMVU has bought furry art community Fur Affinity for an undisclosed sum. According to the announcement, "FA will continue to operate independently", and former owner Dragoneer says he remains "in charge of the site, direction and improvements".
IMVU, which bills itself as "the world's largest 3D Chat and Dress-Up community", has marketed its service to furry fans since at least 2009. The company proposes to monetize their January 2015 purchase through "added advertising" presented via "an improved experience", rather than "taking FA content, redistributing it, reposting it, using it in-game".
Recently your humble ed-otter and his mate, Sy Sable, put up on YouTube a recording of the presentation they did at Further Confusion 2014 (in San Jose, California) celebrating 25 years of furry fandom conventions. That’s right, 25 years ago (well, 26 now!) in January of 1989 the very first furry-themed fan convention and seminar, ConFurence Zero, took place at a little Holiday Inn located in Costa Mesa, California, with a membership of just under 100 and an actual attendance of 65. At Further Confusion last year the co-directors of the original run of ConFurence (Mark and Rodney, sable and mink) lead a well-attended discussion about the early furry cons, how ConFurence came about, and where they’ve been since then. Afterwards, Changa Lion (of Furry.Today) went about creating a slide show and video sampler to go along with the recording of the discussion — and now, it’s available up on YouTube. Have a look — and learn some furry history.
When I finally saw the plot synopsis and the box art for Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave, I was actually pretty upset. I feared that they just no longer care for the original characters of the very first movie.
The box art only featured the wolf puppies and I kept thinking negative things like: "Are they heading in a direction that I don't want them to go?"
I was scared about this movie. I just didn't bother posting a preview here, probably because of that. But you know what? My fears weren't completely true. They actually shown Kate and Humphrey and they had real roles. However, the focus was still often on the pups. There was also a white wolf called Daria often along with the pup Runt. These two were the main focus.
Some amount of spoiler is to be expected!
A broken plain glass jar containing a white powder was found in the ninth floor stairwell after reports from room 963 of a strong chlorine smell that forced the occupants onto the balcony.
A standard "box alarm" at 1:03 AM was quickly elevated to a hazardous materials and third-alarm emergency response. The adjoining convention center was used to house attendees until the area was made safe, with the all-clear sounded at 4:21 AM.
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.
Potoroo, host of the Fuzzy Notes podcast, is developing a new podcast that models itself after NPR's This American Life with a focus on the stories of the furry fandom. Like the popular program, it will choose a theme and tell several stories based on that theme, but focused on the furry community – its people, history and culture.
Currently in its early stages, Potoroo is seeking interested furs who may want to contribute. The goal would be to create a monthly show using segments produced by members of a collective through research, interviews, and narrative audio storytelling. He is also interested in including short stories, poetry and music by members of fandom as suits the theme.
One must wonder whether it's time Dragoneer stepped down as head of Fur Affinity, as he continues to make poor leadership decisions. Earlier this year, he stirred controversy by announcing Zaush, who'd been accused of rape, as development lead for Project Phoenix. This time he has made sure there are no lingering doubts over the suitability of his appointments by choosing a fur with a history of maladministration.
StarryKitten was recently announced as the new head of the FA tech team, tasked in part with “bringing more transparency” to FA. Some noticed that StarryKitten had only joined FA about a week before the announcement was made. As it transpires, StarryKitten was an alternate account created by the infamous Zidonuke, the real head of the FA tech team.
With the concept of irony easily going right over Dragoneer's head, it was further revealed that the tech lead with a puppet account has been a secret member of staff since 2013:
The convention was held in the Ramada hotel near the Mall of America and MSP Airport, and the guests of honor were Foxfeather R. Zenkova, Kyell Gold and Jeff Eddy (head of Sofawolf Press). Overall I had a very good time!
All first-year conventions are a bit wobbly, and Furry Migration is one of the least wobbly ones I've ever attented. They ran it really smoothly, especially registration - amazingly efficient. Apparently there was a bit of a last-minute shuffling of staff in the weeks leading up to the con, and there was no sign of it. The only major let-down was the limited sponsor brunch menu (probably due to budget constraints); some panels were unusually under-attended, but you can't blame staff for that.
Despite the attendance of 543, the halls never felt horribly crowded. Friday night was a little slow, while Saturday was a blast - this is definitely a social con! Now all it needs is a zoo or general-purpose lounge, although I'm not sure where they could put one. Aside from the con suite (well-stocked with drinks and snacks), one of the nicest places to hang out was in the fresh air, there was an inner courtyard with lots of chairs. Holding the evening bonfire there went really well, great energy.
Playwright Jeff Goode's Fursona Non Grata is to appear at Fangcon on the weekend of November 7-9 in Knoxville, Tennessee. This play premièred at Wild Nights last year in the Central US, and also played on the West coast at Califur IX. The performance will be a radio play featuring many of the performers in their roles at Wild Nights. There will be some casting, as well as a rehearsal.
This play is just one of the performances the convention will be offering. Fangcon's musical Guest of Honor is NIIC The Singing Dog, who is both a stage and studio performer. He will be presenting his newest album "Instinct". Another musician, Buck (or Husky in Denial) is debuting the album "Kay". These two are just the tip of the iceberg for entertainment. Rhubarb The Bear will be returning to Fangcon; and on stage for their first Eastern appearance is A Dozen Dead Furs - a metalcore band from Oklahoma.
This is the fifth volume in Sofawolf Press' Artistic Visions series of art-sketch format albums. The first four each showcase one (or two) of the best artists in furry fandom; Kenket (Tess Garman), Brian and Tracy Reynolds, Ursula Vernon and Henrieke Goorhuis. Each is a professional artist, but is especially well-known in furry fandom for convention conbook covers, badge art and other commissioned art, and trades with other Furry artists; many of which are posted on DeviantART, FurAffinity and other art websites.
Hibbary (Hillary Leutkemeyer) has been a member of DeviantART for over a decade, and she was Artist Guest of Honor at Furry Weekend Atlanta 2013, but otherwise she is little known in furry fandom. This large (8½” x 11”) volume of Artistic Visions should change that.
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2014, trade paperback $14.95 (99 pages).
In command of his family's star freighter, foxen noble Lord Rolas Darktail finds himself a captive of the infamous pirate, the Red Vixen. Drawn to her easy freedom, he finds himself torn between staying with her, and honoring his duties to his family, who must escape the cruel countess they serve.
Come along with Rolas as he experiences love and adventure in this science fictional take on a traditional Age of Sail romance novel.(blurb)
It's rare that I come across a story that not only makes me get massively pissed off at a character or laugh out loud in public, but Captive of the Red Vixen by Royce Day did that and so much more. Day has crafted a wonderful story that contained every element of a story I personally look for and enjoy in a tale. It also reminded me a lot of what brought me into the furry fandom to begin with.
Amazon Digital Services, Inc., August 2011, Kindle $2.99 (106 pages).
Taboo is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)
It is rated NC-17.
Every society has taboos, from sacred vows which must never be broken to the limitations of sexual expression. These [fourteen stories answer] the question, "Which line would you cross?" (blurb)
This is a longer book review than usual, since it covers 14 individual short stories. If you don’t want to read a review this long, my critiques are all at the end.
Since this is a furry NC-17 anthology, you can guess that all fourteen stories feature explicit sex. Whether it fits the story or not.
"That Red Panda Girl" by Tarl "Voice" Hoch"
Raven, the almost-40 panther, is a high school teacher happily married to the beautiful nympho Holly the jaguar, who sets up some kinky sex activity for him almost every night. But that doesn’t keep him from lusting after one of his students, the red panda Leah. She’s gorgeous, she’s over 18, and she’s already unmarried-but-pregnant. Raven knows that a sexual liaison between a teacher and his student is taboo, and jeopardizing his relationship with his wife is really foolish. But Leah is also a nympho lolita, and she desperately wants him …
Illustrated by Kadath’s cover.
I reviewed volumes 8-10 here in May 2013. My review was so favorable that part of it is quoted in the back-cover blurb on volume 12. Here are volumes 11 and 12, equally enjoyable and not-to-be-missed.
These two pocket-sized books contain the Doc Rat daily Internet comic strips from #1427 to #1558 (December 13, 2011 to June 13, 2012), and #1559 to #1758 (June 14, 2012 to March 20, 2013). Volume 11 is a normal one, collecting six months of the comic strip. Volume 12 is a giant-sized one, collecting more pages to take the story to the conclusion of a long story-arc.
Dr. Craig "Jenner" Hilton has been simultaneously an active furry fan and an Australian doctor since the early 1980s. His anthropomorphic cartoons were published in the progress reports and program book of the 1985 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne.
For about twenty years after graduating from medical college, Hilton was assigned to provide medical services for a series of small towns around western Australia, from which he sent his furry cartoons to America. During a stay as the doctor for the coal-mining town of Collie, he drew an anthropomorphic comic strip, DownUnderGround, for the local newspaper. He finally settled in permanently as a GP in a suburb of Melbourne. His character of Doc Rat began appearing in individual cartoons in medical and non-medical publications during the 1990s. On June 26, 2006 he launched Doc Rat as a Monday through Friday comic strip on the Internet. Since then Doc Rat has picked up an international following, including placing as one of the five finalists in the Best Comic Strip category for the Ursa Major Awards for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 voted upon this year.
Doc Rat is a combination of stand-alone comedy strips, usually emphasizing medical humour of the groaner-pun variety, and urban drama in an anthropomorphic world where carnivores are allowed to hunt and eat the herbivores, although they have to do it legally. This involves a lot of red tape and filling-out of forms. Often the carnivores are too impatient to do this, and they hunt illegally, which provides much of the drama of the strip. The herbivores are working politically to make all predation of intelligent citizens illegal, which is also a plot point.
Doc Rat. Vol. 11, "I’m Fair Off Me Tucker, Doc", by Jenner, June 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS $16.00 or US$12.95 ([76 pgs.])
Doc Rat. Vol. 12, "It Hurts To Swallow, Doc", by Jenner, December 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS$18.00 or US$14.95 ([110 pgs.])