Monday, July 27 marks the 80th anniversary of the theatrical release of the animated short film "A Wild Hare", part of the Merry Melodies series of shorts produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions for the Warner Bros. film studio, which featured the debut of an at the time unnamed lapine (called a "wabbit" by his rhotacism afflicted co-star) who would soon be known as Bugs Bunny. This character would become somewhat popular over the last eight decades.
To celebrate the world's most famous bunny's birthday, the United States Postal Service has released a set of ten stamps featuring Bugs Bunny in multiple outfits he's worn in his over 168 starring roles in the original Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies 1930-1969 run; and that's not counting cameos there and starring roles in cartoons outside that run. Featured outfits include his barber's outfit from "Rabbit of Seville", his Tea-Totaller team uniform from "Baseball Bugs", his basketball team jersey for the Tune Squad from the movie Space Jam, and, in one of two featured drag get-ups, his disguise from often-cited-as-best-cartoon-EVER "What's Opera, Doc?". Ironically not featured is his standard outfit of au naturel except a pair of white gloves; disappointingly, neither is his fox fursuit from "Foxy by Proxy" .
For our final foray into lycanthropic cinema, comes— a movie I saw as a Sci Fi Channel original movie. It never even had a theatrical release in America. I will point out that it is by far the greatest Sci Fi Channel original movie ever produced, but I need hardly point out that is not a big accomplishment.
But, sometimes, hidden in the terrible filler, something emerges from the shadows. Perhaps I waste my time watching bad Sci Fi movies, but they provided a baseline. It's harder to know when you've got a good werewolf movie if you've never seen a bad or even just indifferent werewolf movie. Of course, if you don't have the patience to sit through the bad (with or without the MST3K patter), you can just take my word for it.
Dog Soldiers is a gory blast.
Occasionally, there comes a pair of movies that share remarkably similar themes that come out together. Sometimes, as in Antz versus A Bug's Life, there's evidence that one of the movies was designed as a direct competitor to the other. More often than not, however, there's just something in the water. Just last year, Disney went out of its way to advertise how unique a movie Zootopia was for featuring a fully anthropomorphic animal world in the one year in the history of American feature animation where that was not a unique quality. These things just happen.
1981 was one of those years, featuring not one, but two werewolf movies utilizing cutting edge (for the time) makeup effects that also happened to be horror comedies as opposed to straight horror movies. The Howling came out first, but it was the scrappy underdog that went up against the real Hollywood juggernaut, An American Werewolf in London, written and directed by John Landis, an up and coming director who hung out with the likes of Steven Spielberg.
Though An American Werewolf in London is an acknowledged classic of the horror genre and features a ghoulish sense of humor (Landis was, and still is, best known for Animal House, early poster taglines noted this movie featured "a different kind of animal"), it is, like The Wolf Man, very much a tragedy. And not all the tragedy is on screen.
As a kid, I was given many cheap Wal-Mart editions of the writings of children's author Thornton Burgess, including The Adventures of Old Man Coyote, which contained a back cover blurb that was given a header simply saying "The Howling".
I bring this up because the movie referenced not very appropriately by that children's novel back cover is, on one hand, overshadowed by a similar werewolf movie that came out the exact same year, but has still managed to find itself embedded into pop culture deep enough that it gets its own call outs. I'll be covering that more popular werewolf movie eventually, but of the two werewolf movies of 1981 (three if you count the sorta-werewolf movie Wolfen), The Howling is my favorite.
Of all the werewolf movies I plan on covering, it has the most obvious flaws. It, more than any other, is going to take a very forgiving attitude to dated special effects. At least The Wolf Man has its iconic status going for it. The Howling also features one really cheap jump scare early on, but, to be fair, it makes up for this with one of the most earned jump scares in horror movie history later on. And finally, one of the main reasons I really love it so much is also something people can find annoying.
It's a postmodern werewolf movie. The rules of the werewolf movie have been codified. Now it's time to start playing with them.
After a 20-year hiatus, Rat.org has returned, at least as a read-only museum. Few today may remember it, but for some fans it was their first furry Web repository, and a launching point or inspiration for many other sites.
Rat.org was founded by Kilorat in the ancient stone-age year of 1994 as a combination Sonic the Hedgehog and Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron fansite. Later a Gargoyles section would be added as it grew in popularity.
This was the first home for many artists and fanfic writers, launched before Windows 95 came out (most used Mac OS 7.5.x or Windows for Workgroups 3.11 to connect with dial-up), and before giants such as Yahoo!, GeoCities, deviantART, and Fanfiction.net took over.
The website was hosted on a humble 80386DX with a "gigantic" 500 MB hard drive co-located at MV Communications – the first ISP in New Hampshire, where Kilorat was working. Despite being one of the only sources for fan materials on the Internet [compare S'A'Alis' Avatar Archive], the server was able to handle the low levels of traffic of the day.
Update (August 2018): The domain name has been sold, and all links updated to kilorat.com.
So, anyway, earlier this year, a movie came out called Zootopia. We, uh, might have mentioned it. Despite being anticipated, or even known, by just about nobody who wasn't a furry or, perhaps, a major Disney fan, the movie managed to become a rare hit at both the box office and with professional critics (though gathering up Flayrah reviews, the consensus was more in line with Metacritic's "good, but whatever" score, because furries, am I right?).
One thing that was repeatedly and pointedly not mentioned by anyone involved with the movie was another movie a little over a decade old, called Chicken Little. Lots of interviews, and even a semi-independently produced 45-minute making of documentary, all went on at length at how this Disney's first fully anthropomorphic animal world since Robin Hood, and the first set in the furry equivalent of a modern world, despite the fact that it, well, wasn't. Chicken Little became the animated equivalent of a "disappeared non-person" in some sci-fi dystopia.
Which makes it incredibly interesting, in a weird kind of way; in a company that mines its past productions for nostalgia like there is no tomorrow (only yesterday, repeated), Disney has gone out of its way to avoid reminding anyone this movie exists. And this is actually a fairly important movie in the history of the company; it was the first full length computer animated feature by Disney (and not Pixar). So, is it really that bad?
Yes. Yes it is really that bad.
In 2015, Flayrah published 140 stories from 20 contributors, including crossaffliction (with 64 stories), Fred (34), Sonious (9), GreenReaper (6), GreyFlank and Rakuen Growlithe (4 each), Huskyteer and RingtailedFox (3 each), DarkXander, earthfurst and georgesquares (2 each), and A C. Fox, CassidyTheCivet, Diamond Man, Isiah Jacobs, jm, M'aiq the Liar, Micah, Mister Twister and Quinn Yellowfox (one each).
In 2014, Flayrah published 189 stories from 36 contributors, including Fred (72 stories), crossaffliction (54 stories), GreenReaper (17 stories), Higgs Raccoon (5 stories), Rakuen Growlithe (4 stories), dronon, Isiah Jacobs and Sonious (each with 3 stories), Diamond Man, Voice and wyrmkeep (2 stories each) and AC_Fox, aquariusotter, Cubist, draconis, earthfurst, equivamp, Feli, fenrislorsai, Grisli, hi-jera, Huskyteer, jasper-bear, JoJoJoshua, Lightsen, Martes, Mister Twister, NeonBunny, AC_Fox, oldhans117, Patch Packrat, Pimlico, Potoroo, RingtailedFox and Snow (with one story each).
Update (March 23): Now with the most viewed stories of 2014.
An Ode to Saturday Mornings Past, by JessKat
I'm not quite sure how to explain this… especially to younger viewers who grew up in the 500-channel universe of cable television and satellite services and Netflix streaming… but for those of us old enough (or geeky enough) to watch cartoons over-the-air with a rabbit-ears antenna, Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons after school were the only times when animation fans could watch their favourite shows… especially where cable channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, YTV or Toon Disney weren't available.
September 28, 2014 was the day the animation died - ending a long and painful decline on broadcast television in the United States, with The CW (the newest broadcast network) being the final holdout… the last man standing, as it were. This was the final Saturday morning with cartoons in America.
From here on out, animation fans in the United States will have to follow the path their Canadian counterparts took in 2001 to get their animation fix: a cable television or satellite subscription. If there is any consolation, it is that the ecosystem of Saturday morning cartoons seems healthier in Australia and Mexico.
To understand how we got to this point, we'll need to review the chain of events leading to the demise of animation on over-the-air television.
So how did Flayrah do compared to 2012? At first glance, activity fell, with 536 stories from 33 contributors. But the year's 914 Newsbytes replaced many short stories, especially after auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook began.
High ratings accrued to a profile of horse-worshipping Turkmenistan, news of the proposed feline mayor of Xalapa, survey results suggesting that furries 'think differently', a review of Blue Sky's Epic, surrogate monkey mothers, and Mike Rugnetta's comments on fan communities.
News of the death of Lemonade Coyote attracted almost 10,000 unique visitors, while an exposé of FurFling and FurryMate remains active, with over 1000 views this past month. Many also followed the search for a missing fur.
Flayrah has been around since 2001. It has had three editors-in-chief (Aureth, Frysco and GreenReaper) who between them have published 3529 stories from 279 unique contributors (plus another 341 anonymous contributors), including both news and opinion pieces. What follows is a statistical breakdown of Flayrah in various ways.
So what was popular, well-rated, or highly-commented? The answers may surprise you . . .
During the early eighties, the FCC began to back off on restrictions on advertisements in children’s television, despite pressure from parents’ groups to apply more. The upshot was a series of Saturday morning cartoons (as well as other children’s shows) that were nothing but glorified commercials for various toy lines.
Hasbro was one of the companies involved in selling chunks of plastic to kids who could then nag their parents via the magic of animation. To be entirely fair, their products were probably the most artistically valid at the time, which I should stress was not saying much. Most of their shows have had a remarkable shelf life, long after the need to sell toys have gone.
In 1986, Hasbro had two movies hitting theaters based on their toylines; Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie, with a G.I. Joe: The Movie planned for 1987. However, both became massive box office flops, and G.I. Joe was sent direct to video. While Transformers quietly went on to become an animated cult hit, My Little Pony, well, didn’t.
The reason for this is simple; it’s not a very good movie. But looking at it today, it offers insights into why the newest incarnation of the property, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has followed in Transformers: The Movie footsteps to become its own animated cult hit, as well as why bad movies are bad in general.
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.
After years of comics, cartoons and movies, they’re still a lean, green fighting machine.
Born in 1984 as an underground comics parody of various martial arts and mutant comic books, the reptilian superhero team known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turned 28 last May, making them a bit old to still be considered teenagers.