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The 2016 Ursa Major Award winners

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The 2016 Ursa Majors Awards logo.The 2016 Ursa Major Awards have been announced on Friday afternoon, June 30th at the Anthrocon convention in Pittsburgh. The Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic fiction of the past calendar year, are presented in twelve categories by the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association (ALAA), and are voted upon by the public on the Ursa Major Awards website.

Time to nominate the 2016 Ursa Major Awards!

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Ursa Major Awards logoFrom January 12 to February 28, 2017, it's time to nominate your favorite furry creations for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards!

Is there a furry comic, story, movie, video, podcast, or anything else with furry content that brightened your day last year? Nominate it – don't put it off until the last minute!

You can nominate up to five things in each of twelve categories. If you're unsure what to nominate, check out the 2016 Recommendations… and you can nominate titles that aren't on that list! It's there to give ideas, to help you find furry stuff that you might not have heard of.

Sometimes, a Nomination or a Recommendation feels like it fits into more than one category. You can browse previous years (like the 2015 Recommendations) to see where something should go. As of 2016 there's a new category: Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work.

Review: 'Klaw' and 'Love' graphic novels

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A tiger attacks a teenager. Klaw is a French comic book series that will soon be available in English from Magnetic Press, so this is a good time for a review! It's a young adult superhero/action comic with anthropomorphic content. Will it appeal to furry fans? Possibly. Bonus points if you're a fan of tigers. It's written by Antoine Ozanam and drawn by Joël Jurion.

Angel Tomassini is a kid in early high school who gets bullied a lot, even though everyone (except him) seems to know that his father is the head of the Chicago mafia. Within the space of a particularly bad week, Angel learns the truth about his dad, is questioned by the police over the suspicious death of another student, is attacked by ninjas, goes on his first date, and finds out he has the power to turn into a powerful, muscled were-tiger.

2015 Ursa Major Award final ballot

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Ursa Major Awards logo by FoxenawolfVoting for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards, for the Best Anthropomorphic Literature and Art of the 2015 calendar year in eleven categories, is now open. The voting is open from March 15 to April 30. The awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony at What the Fur 2016, in Montreal, Quebec, on May 20-22, 2016.

The eleven categories are: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series, Best Anthropomorphic Novel, Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction, Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work, Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip, Best Anthropomorphic Magazine, Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration, Best Anthropomorphic Game and Best Anthropomorphic Website.

Voting is open to all! To vote, go to the Ursa Major Awards website and click on "Voting for 2015" at the left. You will receive instructions on how to register to vote. You do not have to vote in every category. Please vote in only those categories in which you feel knowledgeable.

This final ballot has been compiled from those works receiving the most nominations that were eligible. Please check the dates of publication next year to make sure that your nominations are only for works published during the calendar year (January through December) in question.

Update (22 May): The results have been announced.

Two Bears, One Boy, and a Big World

Amber Victoria has both written and illustrated a new novel for younger readers, Twins European Adventures. It’s the first in a planned series of books about the exploits of a pair of orphaned bears who are befriended by a young human named Thomas — and then, adopted by Thomas’ family. It so happens that Thomas’ parents have jobs that require them to frequently travel the world, and of course this leads our ursine young pair to adventures in many far-flung places.  This first story, as you might guess, follows the bears and their new human family to Europe, where a series of mishaps finds the bears separated… and scrambling on a variety of trains and buses trying to find one another again! Find out more at the Twins web site, and find the book on Amazon and Createspace. The llustrations are also available as black & white prints.

illustration c. 2015 by Amber Victoria

illustration c. 2015 by Amber Victoria

Fine Art? Funny Animals.

It’s interesting when full-fledged fine artists turn their attention to something more whimsical, like cartoon illustration. Such is the case with painter Richard D. Sweatt, who in addition to his gallery works has taken time to write and illustrate a softcover children’s book, Fuzzy Friends. “A story about a little girl that makes friends with the little animals from the nearby woods. Everyday the little Fuzzy Friends wait for the little girl to arrive home on the school bus to greet her. The little girl loves to play with her friends and at the same time learns some valuable lessons about making good choices when it comes to choosing friends.” Check it out over at Lulu.com, then check out Mr. Sweatt’s other fine art paintings at his Enjoygram site.

image c. 2015 by Richard Sweatt

image c. 2015 by Richard Sweatt

Filthy Animals of the World, Unite!

It’s hard to describe The Woodland Welfare Manifesto any better than Slave Labor Graphics do: “Woodland Welfare Manifesto is the story of Burnt Bear, Crazy Rabbit, and Perverted Monkey — three proletarian animals who struggle against the corrupt capitalist system that oppresses their forest with an iron fist of injustice! Will this trio of friends triumph when working-class livelihoods are threatened, or will Crazy Rabbit’s anarchist methods threaten to make them all enemies of the state?” There you have it. Well, except to say that this full-color short graphic novel (written by Justin Sane and illustrated by John Hageman) is coming soon in trade paperback from SLG. Check out the more detailed review over at Fanboy Comics.

image c. 2015 Slave Labor Graphics

image c. 2015 Slave Labor

The Fight for Fleadom

(Say that three times fast we dare ya!) Author Lewis Goldstein is known for creating stories that are religious parables told with a particular wit. Now in his second book, he tells the story of one Finnegan T. Flea in a graphic novel called Of Fleas and Fleadom: A Tale of Two Vermin, illustrated by Arianna Grinager. Finnegan is an ordinary flea, trapped under the thumb (literally) of a brutish flea-circus owner and forced to witness some of humanity at their worst.  He longs to break out and experience his true “fleadom”, and Mr. Goldstein’s adventurous poem shows how the flea tries to do precisely that. Find out more at the official web site of Baable-On Books, the publisher. By the way: This (very) graphic novel is not meant for young readers!

image c. 2015 Baable-On Books

image c. 2015 Baable-On Books

Mass Hysteria!

In other words, dogs and cats living together… in one book! Let us explain… Graphic Classics (from Eureka Productions) is a series of graphic novels based on, yes, classic literature. Now for Volume 25 of this full-color series they present a special double issue with two books back-to-back: Canine Classics — Stories for Dog Lovers, and Feline Classics — Stories for Cat Lovers. ” Featured are “The Emissary” by Ray Bradbury, “Ancient Sorceries” by Algernon Blackwood, “The Beast from the Abyss” by Robert E. Howard, and 17 more great stories and poems, including two from the volume’s co-editor, John Lehman.” Check it out over at the Eureka web site for a full list of stories.

FelineClassics

images c, 2015 Eureka Productions

images c, 2015 Eureka Productions

A Doll and Her Cat in The Clockwork City

Image Comics have been proudly announcing their new fantasy graphic novel Hinges, written and illustrated by Meredith McClaren. “This graphic novel introduces the nuts and bolts of a city called Cobble, where one girl new to the city, Orio, must depend on help wherever she can find it. Her assigned familiar, Bauble, has his own agenda however. As the two explore the walls of the city, they find they are not the only new arrivals. ” Her “assigned familiar” appears to be a cat, and Orio herself appears to be… constructed. What does it all mean? Find out when Hinges comes to comic book stores this February. Or, take a read through the interview with the creator over at All-Comic.com.

image c. 2015 Image Comics

image c. 2015 Image Comics

Amphibian vs. Asphalt

Amp! Comics For Kids presents a new full-color all-ages graphic novel written and illustrated by Paige Braddock. “Cecil is a toad. A toad busy doing what any other toad does with its days–judging the pond splashing contest (Reggie the fly is usually the honorary winner by dint of his five-day lifespan), or visiting his friends, Jeff the free-range hamster, Rayray the lizard, Jeremy the worm, or Sprout the frog. And, of course, trying to keep clear of the local hawk. But when Cecil discovers a freeway construction project aimed right at the pond, he knows he has to come up with a plan to save his home. But what can a small group of amphibians and a reincarnating fly do against construction vehicles and a steady onslaught of hot asphalt? Cecil isn’t sure, but he knows they have to try. [This is] the hilarious tale of a group of amphibians (and one free-range hamster) who set out to save their tiny pond home from one very large steamroller. Sometimes big stories happen in small places. Sometimes big things happen to small creatures. This is one of those stories.” Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue comes to stores in softcover this February. Find out more at AMP!s big daddy, Andrew’s McMeel Publishing.

A Kendu Attitude

Kendu Films is the creation of Davy Liu, a veteran artist and animator who has worked on numerous projects at Disney — including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, and The Lion King — as well as at ILM and Warner Brothers. Now he’s started his own production company, hoping to “encourage the next generation with a ‘Can Do’ spirit in every child by bringing great content and encouragement to families everywhere.” To that end he has created a series of five illustrated books, “Invisible Tails — parables told from the animal’s perspective”, whose titles include The Enchanted Tree, Fire Fish, Jordan’s Guest, The Royal Feast, and The Giant Leaf. You can purchase each of these books at the official Kendu Films web site, and also see a collection of development art from these and various film projects the studio is currently working on.

image c. 2014 Kendu Films

image c. 2014 Kendu Films

The Big Outdoors and One Little Coon

In another vein entirely, check out the Little Ty Cooney series of illustrated books from writer and artist Steven Riley. He took his love of the great outdoors, art, and children’s books and mashed them all together into three hardcover adventures, Little Ty Cooney and the Big Yosemite Race, Little Ty Cooney and the Big Yellowstone Mystery, and Little Ty Cooney and the Grand Canyon Tour Company — so far. In each, a young raccoon and his friends explore these famous National Parks to learn and, of course, to find danger and escape it. Each of the books can be purchased at the official Ty Cooney web site, which also features art how-to videos and other projects that Mr. Riley is currently working on.

image c. 2014 by Steven Riley

image c. 2014 by Steven Riley

A Boy Becomes A Man… And A Dragon?

He Walks With Dragons is the first book in a new fantasy series of the same name by author and poet Stanley S. Thornton. As he points out, unlike your average fantasy series this does not take place in a fantasy land — it imagines dragons in our actual world, influencing human history and human evolution. “Draig, a boy on the verge of his manhood, is summoned to the majestic mountain by the Great Ones. There he finds out he is about to transcend the ages and risk his life to prevent the destruction of mankind. Born into the naïve innocence of ancient man, Draig lives a simple pastoral existence in a quiet, small village. But one day he is flung on a magical journey into a forbidden new world. There Draconos, a dragon, befriends the boy, training him in the art of warfare. From this day forward, the young boy finds himself in awe at the wonders the world holds for him. Not only has Draig become a man, but he is living like a dragon and learning their mystical powers… And when the time comes, will Draig be willing to lay down his life for the sake of saving the dragons? And when the dragons are gone, where will he go?” He Walks With Dragons and The Staff And The Orb, the 2nd book in the planned 4-book series, are available now. Visit the author’s web site to find out more about the series and when the next books are coming.

Review: 'Slightly Damned', by Sarah 'Chu' Wilson

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Slightly Damned Book OneThese are the first two collections of the wacky fantasy Slightly Damned full-page, full-color internet weekly comic strip by Sarah “Chu” Wilson. She has won the Ursa Major Award for both the Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work (these book collections) and for the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, for both 2012 and 2013. If you haven’t read “Slightly Damned” yet, these are a lot more fun than reading through the strip’s online archives a page at a time.

The back-cover blurb, which establishes the mood as well as the plot, says:

Rhea has a big problem: SHE’S DEAD. Too burdened with sin for Heaven or Purgatory, yet not quite bad enough for Hell, Rhea is sentenced by the grim reaper to the obscure Ring of the Slightly Damned. There she finds that death is only the beginning of her worries as she contends with dysfunctional Demons and their perplexing pets, a socially awkward Angel with a cute ‘n cuddly curse, a goofy god, and even… herself. The afterlife just ain’t what it used to be!

Slightly Damned, Book One, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, June 2012, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [276 pages]), digital download $4.99.
Slightly Damned, Book Two, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, May 2013, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [318 pages]), digital download $4.99.