I've probably made it fairly clear in past Pull Lists, but just in case I haven't, Squirrel Girl is my favorite superhero. For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Doreen Green is a Marvel mutant with the ability to talk to squirrels, as well as squirrel like agility, plus a squirrel tail. Together with her squirrel sidekick, Tippy Toe, she fights crime as Squirrel Girl. Very well. At risk of sounding like a hipster, I liked Squirrel Girl before Squirrel Girl was cool. Of course, Squirrel Girl is cool because she is not cool (which also sounds super hipster-y), but my love for the character is not ironic.
I like her because she is a genuine superhero; she both has superpowers and acts heroically, but more importantly, she also likes being a superhero. She has fun being a superhero. If she doesn't take, say, an encounter with Doctor Doom seriously, it's not because she herself sees the ridiculousness of the situation. She doesn't see fights with supervillains as something to worry about; she's a superhero. She is supposed to fight supervillains; and she wants to fight supervillains. On a meta-level (and though she doesn't quite go to, say, Deadpool's textual awareness level, like most "humorous" Marvel characters, she has her medium aware moments), she believes that she will win any fight with a supervillain because she is a superhero, and superheroes always win in the superhero stories she reads; therefore, by choosing to be a superhero, she chooses to win. It is not "realistic" that she should, say, beat Doctor Doom with squirrels, but, seeing as how she isn't real, reality does not concern her.
This is why she is such a divisive character; a certain sort of comic book fan believes that comic book superheroes can only be taken seriously if it is presented "realistically." This viewpoint has been the default comic book fan view for decades now, to the point where a character who regularly and unequivocally wins fights with supervillains, and doesn't angst about it, stands out like a sore thumb, and is therefore a breath of fresh air, especially if your personal preference (like mine) is Guardians of the Galaxy over Watchmen. This is not to say a comic book that deals with the consequences of superheroics is bad; it's to say that a comic book that deals with the consequences of superheroics isn't automatically good. And comic books that don't aren't automatically bad. Or for that matter, that "realism" and "explores consequences" are mutually exclusive.
So, anyway, Squirrel Girl has her own comic book now, and it's awesome. Here's a review of the first three issues.
Kevin Hsu is a sexology researcher based at Northwestern University on the outskirts of Chicago. In 2013 he sought, and received, approval from the Northwestern Institution Review Board (IRB) – an ethics committee that oversees research with human subjects – to study furries.
Hsu's research is intended to follow work published by Dr. Anne Lawrence in 2009, which references furries as a group possibly displaying a hypothetical phenomenon associated with fetishistic behaviour named "Erotic Target Location Error". Hsu's hypothesis is that many furries – possibly most – are zoophiles, where that attraction manifests as the furry identity and in activities such as fursuiting, and that furries can therefore be classified as "autozoophiles".
This is one small step for dino, and one giant leap for sauruskind. JumpJet Rex is a retro action platformer where you play as the first dinosaur astronaut. Rex's casual space exploration becomes a call from his species to save them from an asteroid bearing down upon the planet. Will Rex be able to save the dinosaurs? Or will they go extinct? The answer depends on whether you can guide him and his jet boots skillfully enough to survive.
Isiah reviews Ori and the Blind Forest.
It has been about three weeks since the biggest FurAffinity controversy of recent years happened. For those unaware, every single piece of art that was ever uploaded there has been archived, and preserved. Now you can see all the galleries that has been wiped from FurAffinity, presumably forever, in just a few clicks.
In other words, what is put on the Internet, stays there forever, as the great Anonymous warned us.
That made me think: how should we feel about embarrassing old art and dirty laundry? For the longest time in history, artists could hide their more controversial and poor quality drawings form the public, put them in a safe, or throw into the fire. That time is apparently gone forever. Since there is nothing we can do about it, should we change the way we feel? I think this is a worthy subject to talk about. What do you think?
The furry fandom is, by-and-large, a visual fandom. Internally, we elevate visual art to the point where sites like Fur Affinity and SoFurry are often referred to as "art sites", despite hosting various kinds of content. Similarly, outside attention on the fandom has tended to exaggerate fursuiting, another highly visual aspect of the fandom.
This focus on visual aspects is quantified in The State Of The Fandom 2008. Although this is far from the most recent set of results available from the Furry Survey it is the most complete report on the results. It shows that approximately 90% of furries consider artwork, 59% consider writing and only 23% consider music to be important to the furry fandom. In addition, 36% said that music was unimportant to the fandom, compared to 7% and 6% for writing and art respectively.
At this point, I’m a bit behind of recent comic books, but I’m trying to get caught back up to recent times while bringing our readers reviews of every issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and a few even newer series we’ll be getting to eventually.
But for now, we’ve got Guardians of the Galaxy, plus I finish up the final couple of TMNT villains issues.
League of Geeks' flagship game shows a great deal of promise as it goes out to early access. Armello is a video game which bases itself in board game principals where four heroes, a wolf, rat, rabbit and bear, compete for their clans to secure the throne.
The goal is to gain more prestige points than your opponents by the time the king dies of his illness, or to smite him yourself. The game has three methods of doing this, and takes familiar elements and mixes them in ways that work extremely well. The fact that the characters are anthropomorphic is icing on the cake of a solid game.
But enough about next year - here’s ten movies from 2014 I liked.
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!
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 cover bears the line, The Fire Bearers: Book One, letting you know it ends on a cliffhanger. It is, in fact, the first volume of a trilogy.
In the prehistoric past, when men shared the world with anthropomorphized animal-gods, there were two very different brothers in a tribe. Clay, the older brother, respects and worships the old gods who control all men’s lives, while irreverent Laughing Dog mocks the unseen gods, and swears that he controls his own destiny. The brothers love each other, in their own ways, but their differences lead both to disaster.
Doto crouched in the forest, his clawed fingers pressing down beneath the grasses and bed of fallen leaves to touch the earth below. He went out, out, into the soil, into the trunks of the trees, the branches and leaves, the grasses and ferns. He felt the air swaying branches, the sunlight on the leaves. He felt the rodents skittering across the forest floor. […] He leapt from branch to branch and winged over the canopy. He spread himself out, farther and farther. Through the keen eyes of the birds and the considering gaze of a monkey clinging to a branch above, he could see himself, crouched on the ground far below, so still that he was nearly undetectable. […] All the surrounding life lived through him. But all was not right. There was an uneasiness in the forest, somewhere around the edges. Could great Atekye have risen herself up in the south of the forest, swelling her swamps to flood the forest floor once again? (p. 1)
These are books 2 and 3 of M.C.A. Hogarth’s Her Instruments space opera trilogy. Earthrise, book 1, was reviewed in Flayrah in June 2013.
The fact that Maggie Hogarth commissioned professional s-f cover artist Julie Dillon to paint the covers of this trilogy instead of doing their covers herself, as she usually does for her books, shows that Hogarth considers them especially good (or at least especially salable). And you know how good her fiction usually is.
Rose Point, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, October 2013, trade paperback $16.99 (349 [+1] pages), Kindle $5.99.
Laisrathera, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, May 2014, trade paperback $16.99 (402 pages), Kindle $5.99.
These 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.
Mousenet and Mousemobile are recommended for readers 8 to 12, grades 3 to 7. They are clearly juvenile fiction, but are well-written and imaginative enough that “all ages” might be a better recommendation. Megan Miller, the protagonist, who was 10 years old in Mousenet, is 11 years old here. The series is not just spinning its wheels; this is a true sequel.
In Mousenet, Megan and three others – her slightly older step-cousin Joey Fisher and two adults, Megan’s inventor uncle Fred Barnes who made the mouse-sized Thumbtop miniature computer, and Joey’s father Jake who invented the solar blobs that are its power supply – become the only humans who learn that all mice are intelligent, and want the Thumbtop for all mice around the world so they can communicate instantly via a Mouse Internet. They obviously need more than a single miniature computer curiosity if this is to happen, so Mousenet is about the two children and the mice – particularly Trey, the Talking Mouse, and the officious but smart head of the Mouse Nation, the Chief Executive Mouse (a.k.a. Topmouse, known as the Big Cheese behind his back) – persuading Fred and Jake to mass-produce the Thumbtop. The mice come up with the fiction that enables the two adults to get away with this, by creating a “cute” small company, Planet Mouse, to purportedly make miniature computers as novelty keychain fobs, in Megan’s and Uncle Fred’s home city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, NYC, Disney•Hyperion Books, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (282 pages), paperback $7.99, Kindle $9.99.