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Furry Fandom and the Internet forced back to roots by viral outbreak

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The internet was seen as a major catalyst for the furry fandom finding one another during the times before we held conventions. During that earlier period in the 1990s, conventions and meets were rare, and finding one another was done mostly through the chat rooms and message boards of the past. There was no bandwidth for video or sharing major animation projects, therefore most of our intimate conversations were textual.

For many younger furries, it was a time that was lost in the annals of a distant history. Instead they found themselves joining in amongst a wave of growing conventions being held in various places around the world on any given weekend. Ones where those in custom fursuits march out in the streets openly rather than feeling a stifling isolation of being cooped up in hotel spaces, with a handful of home made creations, being wary of a hostile media looking for a freak show.

Coming out of 2019, it seemed that the time where furry was just an internet thing was fully behind it. However a series of unfortunate events were in line for 2020, a year that has led humanity to be forced into their rooms by an irate Mother Nature as an easily spread virus has forced governments around the globe to take drastic measures to slow its spread and put strict limits on social gatherings. A situation which has forced both the furry fandom, and the internet that brought it together, back to their roots.

Do furries need to organize?

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Squash the Boss - Unite Your Workplace; International Workers of the World A furry fan drew an inflated skunk embroidered with the emblem for the Industrial Workers of the World union squishing a hamster in a top hat with the caption of “squash the boss”. Such a piece is not anything too unusual. The oddity that caught the eye of the Daily Dot was that the union itself posted the piece to their Facebook page.

Soon thereafter, the IWW's Twitter account joined in. Though, for some reason, they quietly back out later, as the original Tweet referenced in the Daily Dot article appears to be deleted. (Its text remains in the article despite this – a feature of the standard embedding code for other sites. Tweeters, be wary of this.)

But has furry reached a point where we need to squash the boss and organize? Or are unions barking up the wrong tree? The answer, like the fandom, may be complex.

Movie review: 'Underdog' (2018)

Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (7 votes)

Underdog (언더독, trailer) is a South Korean animated film from 2018, written and directed by Oh Sung-yoon at Odoltogi Studio, and co-directed by Lee Chun-baek who previously directed Leafie, A Hen into the Wild.

The main character is Moongchi, a dog who loves and trusts his owners, so he's understandably confused when he's deliberately left behind in the woods. Luckily he soon meets a group of other abandoned dogs who take him in, surviving in an empty slum on the edge of the nearby town.

While his fellow strays beg and scrounge to survive, Moongchi is still figuring things out. Wandering up the mountain into the forest, he meets a small group of wild dogs and wants to impress one of them, a female named Bami. Trouble is brewing for both groups, and soon they must unite and find a new place to live.

'Rolling Stone' asks if Furries will go mainstream, but are they already?

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I was browsing my Google news feed, as people who read non-fiction writing tend to, and low and behold, a news article from Rolling Stone came up entitled Will Furries Ever Go Mainstream? The reporter reviews his experiences while attending Midwest FurFest last December.

It’s a good piece that poses the question of whether our fan club, that has grown to the size it has in Rosemont, will garner mainstream attention - or acceptance. It's also long, and coming from me you know that’s saying something.

Like most coverage deemed “positive”, they do seem to marginalize the adult aspects of sexual expression in the fandom pretty quickly by saying that it was not the “main aspect of the fandom”. However, like most clever furs they snuck in a risqué quote about foxes:

dozens of six-foot alligators, snakes, lizards, and other assorted reptiles scramble to pose for a group photo.
[...]
On the floor, about three dozen foxes lie on top of each other in a “fur pile,” orange-and-white limbs and bellies knotted together on the ground.

I see what you did there Rolling Stone. You should be proudly ashamed.

But back to the concept of going mainstream. It isn’t a new question within the fandom which can bring excitement or concern depending on who you ask. We claimed it was happening when Disney used the word “anthropomorphic” to describe the world of Zootopia.

However, I would like to claim that, yes, we are entering the mainstream, whether we like it or not. I even have evidence that we may already be there.

Opinion: The top ten furry movies of the 2010s

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top10.jpg

They say hindsight is 20/20, and its 2020, so that must mean a look back is in order. In lieu of the usual top ten best movies of the year, let's actually, for once, do a furry list on the furry site and countdown the ten best furry movies (or at least the ones I liked the most) from the last decade.

Review: 'Cats'

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (11 votes)

cats.jpgCats is such a bizarre phenomenon, I don't really know where to even start.

It's not just the movie. That a stage play based on a series of children's nonsense poems would not only be made, period, but that it would go on to be one of the most popular plays in some of the biggest venues is one of those things that make people say things like "well, it was the 80s" and "cocaine is a hell of a drug". Heck, there isn't even a lot of anecdotal evidence that drugs were involved any more than usual, if at all.

But, of all the inexplicable things, I'd like to point out the original tagline of the movie, which is so generic for such a weird property, stood out to me. "You Will Believe".

I will believe what, exactly? Neither the poems, play nor, it turns out, this feature length film has much in the way of thematic content, other than maybe "cats". Certainly, questions of faith or belief are not addressed. You could say the "jellicle cats" are a sort of feline cult to the moon, but there is no interest in the philosophy or theology of this possible cult. Certainly, I didn't come away believing there is some "Heaviside Layer" that would grant cats an extra life if they sing a song really good. Furthermore, I don't think the movie was trying very hard to make me a "believer".

So let's actually talk about the movie. The very first shots are set at a human level, as a canvas bag with a cat inside that we will learn is named Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is thrown out the window of a moving vehicle, apparently abandoned by her human owners, who we never see. This departure from the stage play, where we are given a point of view character who is new to the world of movie to have stuff explained to, is a welcome addition.

It's also the only thing the opening scene gets right.

Decolonizing the anthro-animal: Furry fandom, speculative fiction, and the need for newer directions

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The taxidermy of Walter Potter (1835-1918).Anthropomorphic animals have been a means through which we can think about and examine queerness, abject bodies and forms. However, it can be argued that furry fandom has relied on animals under the meanings that western, white culture imagines them to have. This essay offers a critique on how furry fandom, at this current point in time, needs to look for newer directions, inclusive of rupturing the animal concept as we know and think of it right now. Some possible directions include ideas from Indigenous literature and post-colonial identities.

ArtWorkTee's T-Shirt Campaign and the Selling of Identity

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (12 votes)

34,000.jpgArtWorkTee has been quite busy this year when it comes to their charity drives and other Kickstarter campaigns. At this time they are working on their third KickStarter for the year. The first was a calendar drive where fursuiters were pictured for each month. These calendars were sold with proceeds going to a shelter for young horses called Last Chance Corral, which was covered by Flayrah. The second was not covered by Flayrah and was a for helping a feline shelter, Flatbush Cats.

Using charitibility is always a good way to achieve positive marketing and brand recognition, particularly in the furry fandom. In fact, it was a suggestion I had made in regards to the failed ‘designer fursuit’ experiment Zweitesich that if they made those custom designer fursuits a few thousand dollars more expensive and donated those thousands of dollars toward a charity it would have made the fursuit a badge of honor instead of one of purely being a gloating of wealth, which tends to be seen as reprehensible in the fandom.

Now that ArtWorkTee had done these charity kickstarts, the third appears to be using a month drive as an opportunity to introduce a new line of T-Shirts from them. This time it looks like there is no organization that is being supported. Instead, ArtWorkTee is using the same marketing strategy in order to introduce a line of pride shirts based on promotion of individual sexual and gender expression. It mixes a furry character brought to life by LuhBraz Art, mixing the characters with the particular representative flag's color schemes.

There are only a few days left to secure a t-shirt from this initial printing. But they will be available for sale after the campaign at their website and at Midwest Furfest's Dealer's den this year. So what is the incentive for doing this Kickstarter Campaign? It seems mostly to gauge interest, and they will expand their line based on this interest. That's what we will be going over in this article.

Review: 'Arctic Dogs'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (14 votes)

arcticdogs.jpgSo, the premise of the movie is that there is a fox who really wants to be a dog. I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble understanding who thought this was a good idea.

Well, movie with an unrealistic premise aside, what is Arctic Dogs? It is directed by that auteur of furry cinema, Aaron Woodley, whose previous movie, Spark: A Space Tail, I reviewed here.

In case you don't want to read a whole different review on top of this one, I'll just spoil that one for you and say that I did not like Spark very much. But, Aaron Woodley now has the unique distinction of having directed two fully furry movies, featuring fully-anthropomorphic animal characters without any humans, theatrically released to American cinemas. That's a notable achievement. We now seem to have a mainstream director who specializes in furry movies. That's good!

Pity about the movies.

Comic review: "Can I Pet Your Werewolf?"

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (10 votes)

Can I Pet Your Werewolf? is a 160-page comics anthology that came out in 2017, after a successful kickstarter by Kel McDonald. Recently there was a second kickstarter to make a new print run, so I got in on the PDF version, and my hardcopy should be shipping pretty soon.

The project is described as "A light-hearted anthology featuring tales of friendship, family, and romance shared between those who get hairy under a full moon. Just because they have sharp teeth and claws doesn't mean they have to be a monster out for blood."

There are 13 stories, black and white, from mostly women cartoonists of many backgrounds and art styles. They're short popcorn tales, ranging from 8 to 19 pages in length. Not a lot of time for deep world-building, but in each one you're seeing a personal little snippet of a larger setting.

Winds of Change brings many good changes over its visual novel predecessor

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Klace, a pink canine character with colorful locks, and his studio Tall Tail Studios has released a successor to his Ursa Major winning visual novel Major/Minor. Winds of Change is not a sequel, it is a self contained adventure that requires no experience with the former to play and enjoy. There are a few Easter eggs that seem to allude to the older game, but nothing that shapes your ability to comprehend the world before you.

So given that is this game worth your time? In short if you love visual novels and enjoyed Major/Minor you will love this game even more as it is better in every regard. If you despise the genre obviously, you may want to pass.

I would say even if you disliked Major/Minor due to its quality, you should give this one a shot. The difference between the two games are night and day. I’ll be covering mechanics over story in this, mostly to avoid narrative spoilers. There are however a spoiler for Mass Effect 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Winds of Change.jpg

Review: 'Rukus'

Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (8 votes)

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.
Rukus

The Good Clown, the Bad Clown, and The Furry Con

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (16 votes)

Midwest Furfest has come to learn that being the largest furry convention in the world comes with its follies as news broke of an infamous alt-right provocateur, Milos Yiannopoulos, setting his sights on the gathering. After he went public with this, and word started to spread around, the pressure was on for the convention to make a decision on the matter of this particular would-be attendee.

In a statement released by the convention they said that his presence would not be appropriate for the goal of giving attendees an enjoyable gathering experience.

In return there have been statements by the banned individual that they plan on showing up to the event anyway. With this debacle covered by many outlets outside the fandom such as the Rolling Stone, it has inspired other far right political actors, such as the Proud Boys, to claim they’ll try and be disruptive of the event as well. Convention security has been working with the venues and law enforcement to ensure that precautions are taken. Furs have been informing other attendees to take necessary steps and be aware when attending this December’s gathering.

The Haunting of Hog-Town

An interesting new comic from Oni Press we found out about through Previews: Ghost Hog by Joey Weiser. “A new graphic novel from the Eisner Award-nominated creator of Mermin that deftly navigates loss, vengeance, and acceptance! Truff is the ghost of a young boar, fueled by fury towards the hunter who shot her down. She has a lot to learn about her new afterlife, and thankfully the forest spirits Claude and Stanley are there to guide her! However, they soon find that her parents, along with their fellow animal villagers, have been kidnapped by the malicious mountain demon Mava! Truff wants to help, but… the hunter is finally within her grasp, and if she lets him go, she may never get her revenge!” Check out the detailed review over at Comics Beat.


image c. 2019 Oni Press

Eurofurence 25: 'Fractures in Time' – con report

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Fursuiter riding an inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex at Eurofurence 25; photo by Alex 'Khaki' Vance Over 14-18 August, Berlin's Estrel hotel was filled to capacity with furs attending Eurofurence 25: 'Fractures in Time' - both the largest furry convention outside the United States (attracting 3412 this year; a 400 increase), and the oldest running furry convention in the world. EF25 celebrated 25 years since Unci made the post on alt.fan.furry leading to the con's creation.

Due to the eponymous fractures in time, Eurofurence 25 started by showing the closing video during the opening ceremonies! That was hardly the only disturbance in time and space, as attendees also saw Uncle Kage announcing the move of Anthrocon to Pittsburgh before time stabilised enough to continue as normal. It was the most impressive opening of the past five years, and you can get a sense of the excitement from one attendee's upload on YouTube. Beyond the opening ceremonies, it's impossible for any one person to see everything. I'll give an idea of what I saw and what was going on so that everyone has an idea of what they may be able to expect in future years.

Update 03/09: The final charity total is €42 105,37.