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.
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.
It’s time we caught up with The Humans. Which is to say Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely’s new full-color comic book series from Image. Take the violent biker culture of the early 1970′s. Set it in dusty Bakersfield, California. And make the protagonists all walking, talking, humanoid apes. In leather. On big bikes. There you go. “The Humans is one long and twisted ride through biker gang warfare, drug running, corrupt cops, semi-truck hijackings, Vietnam flashbacks, Skin Fights (homosapien cockfighting), major ultra-violence, a strip club called The Forbidden Zone, and bloody vengeance.” Sounds like quite a party. Check out theinterview with the creators over at The Nerdist, and look for the first issue to come out this November.
Pillgrim: Okay, I think we are ready to go. First of all, I would like to thank you for your decision to give an interview for our magazine - it is very awesome! So, I've met lots of singing dogs and can say I like howling myself, because I am a wolf you know, but what makes you NIIC, the singing dog? Please, tell us your story - when, how and what for you've discovered furry fandom and a dog in you.
NIIC: Well, I discovered the fandom back in February 2013. It began as a research project of sorts - I had recently graduated from The University of the Arts and loved working on unconventional music projects for different audiences (before NIIC, I was working on a puppet music episode series for college kids working at Starbucks, with a similar crude but charming vibe to BBC's Mongrels). I was given advice by a music professor of mine to get my feet wet in one of the East Coast's underground music scenes, specifically the emerging Nerdcore scene. But after getting a bit sidetracked and with an accidental click on the internet, I stumbled upon the world of furry animal avatars! But I suppose it was only an accidental click if we don't believe Fate played a part in all this.
I had written a couple of short fantasy musicals while I was in college, so I was already getting a thrill out of constructing larger-than-life characters. But a whole subculture where its members re-invented themselves through humanoid animal characters? I was instantly intrigued by what new world I had stepped into!
Animator Mike Kunkel returns to comics in a big way with the first new Herobear & The Kid series in over ten years. Young boy Tyler and his large flying friend are back in Herobear & The Kid: Saving Time, a new full-color 5-issue mini-series coming this month from Boom! Studios’ Kaboom! imprint. “Henry, the family’s magical butler, is missing!! It’s up to Tyler and Herobear to figure out what happened to their friend…only they might learn a lot more about Henry than they initially thought…and be forced to get help from an unsuspected source.” Check out the interview with creator Mike over at Comic Book Resources.
Those pictures were drawn by Ookami Kemono. Since then, he has continued to entertain his thousands of watchers and, on 31 August this year, began a webcomic entitled Lucid's Dream. I got in touch with him to talk to him about his art and his latest project.
The Cartoon Brew has an interview with Jordan Reichek, the director/producer of Animal Control! for Cartoon Network Asia, located in Hong Kong for broadcast throughout Southeast Asia. Animal Control! is a series of 1’47” dialogueless cartoons featuring Ya and Ba, two hapless Animal Control officers and the anthropomorphized animals whom they are supposed to control, especially surly, troublemaking Mr. Koala. Reichek describes it as “kinda like the Crocodile Hunter, but dumber.”
Animal Control! is produced by Reichek at his Perky Pickle Productions studio. What will really make the interview of interest to Flayrah’s readers is that links to PerkyPickle.com, where all ten episodes produced so far can be seen. Plus other goodies, such as the Invader Zim pilot, which Reichek worked on. Check it out.
Jordan Reickek is an animator and storyboard artist with a long and storied career to his name: He worked on the original Ren & Stimpy series as well as The Simpsons early on; he directed the pilot episode of Invader Zim for Nickelodeon; and he worked on storyboards for DreamWorks films like Monsters vs Aliens, Megamind, and Kung Fu Panda. Cartoon Brew recently interviewed Jordan, and he spoke about his newest creation: Animal Control, which he produced for Cartoon Network Asia. The series follows the adventures of a pair of hapless and not-too-bright game wardens as they try to keep a lid on the silliness of their animal charges. The premier episode is up on Vimeo as well. Recently Jordan re-launched his production web site, Perky Pickle, which includes production art from many of the projects he’s worked on over the years.
A new art form is being developed in the furry fandom. It is like a soap opera in that a central cast of characters tells story arcs in chapters within a larger consistent setting. When one story arc is over, another begins. But unlike a soap opera, at the end of each chapter or episode is a covered song or parody song that relates to the chapter or episode. Each chapter averages eight minutes long. The production is titled The Beach Bears.
After listening to the a few chapters, I wanted to know more of the story, and more about how this exciting work came to exist. The Beach Bears was created and is produced by Max DeGroot. Mr. DeGroot was kind enough to grant me an interview to satisfy my curiosity.
TG: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
MDG: Well I have been active in the Furry Fandom for many years as a furry convention chair, a puppeteer, and a musician. One of my current labors of love is an audio drama series titled The Beach Bears.
TG: I have listened to The Beach Bears and I must say it is a very unique and entertaining format that has me hooked. How did you come up with the concept?
There's been much discussion and speculation about a casting call for Furries to appear on MTV's reality show, True Life. Erika Dobrin, casting VP at the show's producer Asylum Entertainment, was nice enough to give me 30 minutes to answer questions about it.
The phone app I used didn't record (I blame an app update), so this is paraphrased from notes and approved by Erika. I would say that the answers were very, very on-message. I did ask personal stuff to make it relatable - perhaps some responses would boil down to "just doing a job", or it might have caused shyness about getting personal. (Understandable, considering that the casting call has gotten hate mail.)
I aimed to ask tough questions, balancing sympathy towards the challenge of putting out professional media with being a Furry fan who's shamelessly obsessed with fursuiting.
There's a new blog about music by furries, that follows an ongoing podcast: Fuzzy Notes, run by Potoroo. This article led to an invite to contribute, so expect more there soon. (Can anyone suggest fun puns that cross furry animals and music? - like "fuzzbox".)
Nickson: Soo, Lemurr, hi!
Lemurr: Hi-hi, hello.
Nickson: OK, so, who wants to start?
Pillgrim: Lemurr, please, introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us what you do in normal life. When did you become a furry, how did you get to know about this sub-culture and so on?
Lemurr: I am a professional web designer and a programmer. I've been furry for, like, five years. I came upon the fandom from browsing some YouTube channels; then I saw the keyword, googled it and came up with some Polish forums. Nothing really special, I guess.
Nickson: Can you tell us more about your fursona?
Lemurr: I don't think it will be a surprise. My fursona is an anthro lemur. Nothing special or fancy like colored fur, just a plain lemur.
Nickson: It's interesting that you are a lemur because sometimes people choose different species.
Hi-jera: What's more interesting is that he pronounces it like l'amour.
Lemurr: I am sorry about the pronunciation, I just pronounce it this way - lee-murr. What's pretty annoying is that everyone thinks I chose this fursona because of Madagascar, but it's not so. I just like the stripy tail and stuff.
Q: Could you give us a brief introduction?
Chris: [...rattles off storyboarding, animation, writing and directing credits for shows noted in his Wikipedia article, including Rocko's Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy, Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls...], written a few episodes of My Little Pony, which is probably what some of you care about - it's so cool to see people who appreciate what you've done; we're so sheltered by TV, we never get to see you, so for all of you, the full house.
Ursula: Ursula Vernon, artist and author; did finally finish the webcomic Digger, which won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Series . . . I do a series for children called Dragonbreath, 8-12ish, I also do a lot of art, I do furry art, I go to furry conventions, I love you people man . . . *applause* . . . and that's sot of what I do.
Sprout: So Chris, you've done a lot of awesome TV shows, so what exactly have you done for each of those throughout your career?
Isiah takes the opportunity to interview furry artist Kadath on several recent aspects of his career. Future plans for projects and characters are discussed, including some mature content.
Jeremy Bernal: Thanks for the opportunity of the interview.
Isiah Jacobs: For the very few furries out there who have never heard of you before, you are the owner of two of the most well know furry porn pay sites, SexyFur and Tail Heat. SexyFur has been around for pretty much ten years now, and you just recently came out with your first official publication; a decade's worth of retrospective pin ups.
Jeremy Bernal: I'm not sure if it's the first official publication. We've done some other artist books and comics before the retrospective book. But it's probably the first "new book-like thing" I've put together in a few years.