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.
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.
From 1905 for about the next twenty years, Seymour Eaton's anthropomorphic bears were the subject of some of the most popular children’s books in America. Their topical popularity was due to the tie-in between the bears and Teddy Roosevelt during the 1900s when TR was President of the U.S., and the 1910s when there was widespread speculation whether he would try to run for a third term.
But Eaton died in 1916 and Roosevelt died just two months after World War I ended. The publisher tried to keep the series alive with reprints in 1921, but by the Roaring ‘20s American pop culture had moved on, and TR and the Roosevelt Bears became quickly passé.
This article is enlarged from a chronology originally printed for an exhibition at L.A.con III, the fifty-fourth annual World Science Fiction Convention, 29 August–2 September 1996, at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California. It was originally published in Yarf! #46, January 1997. Yarf! published it separately online, where it has been a valuable Furry historical reference for fifteen years, with links to it from Wikipedia, WikiFur, the Furry News Network, and many other websites.
In February 2012, Yarf! disappeared without warning from the Internet, and all the links to this chronology stopped working. To restore it to the Internet, Flayrah has agreed to reprint it, slightly revised and with illustrations.
There is no single specific date or event that can lay claim to being the birth of furry fandom. However, there is general agreement that it was around late 1983 or early 1984 that furry fans coalesced out of SF fandom and comics fandom and began an independent identity.
Long articles could be (and have been) written on the adventures of Donald and Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Gandy Goose and Homer Pigeon. In the last decade, most American propaganda cartoons have been re-released on DVD, so we can see them for ourselves; they are also on YouTube.
Volumes could also be written of the wartime funny-animal comic book and newspaper comic strip characters who fought the Axis, usually on the Home Front against saboteurs and hoarders. World War II's talking-animal propaganda novels are less well-known. In fact, they are forgotten today except in movie-adaptation credits. That’s too bad, as the books are still enjoyable reading.
2011 was a busy year for Flayrah, with over 80,000 front-page visitors. More than half went on to read a story; others jumped directly to them. But which of our 350 stories did they like, and what might occasional readers have missed?