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UK furs targeted by dubious Eurofurence photo solicitations

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (6 votes)

'Pantrey Investments' chat Furry photographer Exodus Arias was not impressed upon reading the pictured note:

[…] the worst attempt at hiring a Cameraman for a convention ever. Clearly they want some specific footage yet unclear as to what.

Additional information was provided by another attendee of LondonFurs' Summer Weekender, ThunderTomCat of MK Furs:

That's curious, there was a guy on the boat party and later the meet in London who was in a business suit, not interacting, just dropping of their business card (the photo attached) to random people...a tad weird.

Even more weird: said card, shown below, came with a teasing mention of hard cash.

Update (31 Jul): The person behind the offers has given a response, published below.

'Danger Mouse' moves from England to Northern Ireland

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

His animation studio, that is. The original Danger Mouse was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films in Manchester, England, U.K., for Thames Television from September 1981 to March 1992. The new Danger Mouse is being produced by Boulder Media in Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K. from September 2015 to who knows? DM, Penfold, Baron Greenback and the whole gang are back. With some differences.

Baron Silas Greenback is now Baron Silas von Greenback, mit ein Cherman agzent. Professor Squawkencluck is now female, the niece of the original Professor. A new character is Jeopardy Mouse, an American equivalent of the British DM, and a female. Count Duckula, star of another Cosgrove Hall series of the 1980s, is a supporting character in the new DM.

BBC's 'Why Factor' talks anthro animals with Cambridge furs

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (7 votes)

BBC World Service Why Factor: Animals Are Us 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.

Review: 'The Mysterious Affair of Giles', by Kyell Gold

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

The Mysterious Affair of GilesThe Mysterious Affair of Giles is an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery and is best read with a cup of tea nearby. (publisher’s blurb)

Kyell Gold already has the reputation of being the preeminent author of high-quality erotica in Furry fandom. Now it seems that he is trying to establish a similar reputation as furry fandom’s number one mystery author, at least of what is usually called the British “cozy” mysteries, or the country-house murder mysteries of which Agatha Christie was the acknowledged mistress.

The Mysterious Affair of Giles makes no secret of this. It is advertised as an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery. It is dedicated “To Dame Agatha for all the inspiration.”

An acknowledgement thanks London furry fan Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden for “Brit-picking” the manuscript, making sure that it, and especially the dialogue, are correctly British. The furry characters are all English animals except where they are noted as coming from British India. Most tellingly, the title The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an obvious pastiche of Christie’s first novel, the 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced both her as a mystery author and her most famous private detective, Hercule Poirot.

Yet do not think that Gold’s novella is a point-by-point imitation. There is no Famous Detective in it. The year is 1951; not exactly the present, but not the old-fashioned past, either. Tremontaine is a large manor house a couple of hours’ drive from London. The cast is Mr. Giles St. Clair, an aristocrat but also an up-to-date industrialist, his wife, and their son and daughter in their early twenties, all red foxes, and Martin Trevayn, Giles’ business partner, a stoat, their guest at Tremontaine on a business visit, plus the manor staff, a deer senior housemaid, two weasel cooks, a rabbit and an Indian otter housemaid, an Indian brown rat butler and Mr. Giles’ dhole valet.

Twelve characters. One of them is murdered.

The principal investigators are a badger police Inspector and his wolf Sergeant. The mystery’s protagonist is Ellie Stone, the young weasel assistant cook, a reader of murder-mystery novels who has never wanted to live in a real one, but who can’t help comparing the actual police’s sleuthing with her fictional police’s detecting. Naturally, everyone has a secret, and during the course of the story they all come out. Some are pertinent; others are not.

Kyell Gold’s stories often come with “Adults Only” readers’ advisories. The Mysterious Affair of Giles does not need one – quite – but its cast are all adults, and some of the secrets revealed are adult ones. I do not recall Agatha Christie ever delving into this territory, but it feels natural here and it helps to keep the story from being a period-piece.

Illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles,Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, February 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (107 [+2] pages), Kindle $6.99.

Review: 'The Mystic Sands', by Alflor Aalto

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

The Mystic Sands The bad news: The Mystic Sands by Alflor Aalto is a funny animal novel. The characters, all anthropomorphized animals, are interchangeable surrogate humans. There is no reason for any of them to be raccoons, rabbits, foxes, weasels, squirrels, or anything other than humans. They are all human-sized, wear regular human clothes (imagine a human-sized squirrel wearing Victorian clothes), eat human diets, etc. They do occasionally refer to their animal natures:

And don’t you worry your fluffy ringed tails, my friends. (p. 36)

The good news: The Mystic Sands by Alflor Aalto is a ripping good page-turner, a guaranteed attention-holding light thriller of the 1930s Weird Tales sort with anthropomorphized animals that will have you wanting to finish it in one session. Go buy it!

Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley Comics, May 2013, trade paperback $20.00 (245 pages).

Upcoming symposium on Gef the Talking Mongoose

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In 1931 on the Isle of Man, the Irving family claimed that their farm was home to a spectral talking mongoose. Many British tabloids carried stories on Gef and various psychic investigators visited, searching for evidence of the creature. Was is a hoax, paranormal activity, or some combination of them?

The curious can attend a symposium on Gef at the University of London, Thursday 10 April. Tickets are £7, including light refreshments.

Review: 'Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism', by Carmen Dobre

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (4 votes)

'Furries', by CarmenDobre

Furries gives a candid commentary that reveals details about 'fursuits', 'fursonas' and the 'furry fandom'. Award winning photographer Carmen Dobre continues her examination of 'furries', who they are and how they perceive themselves. Documentary style portraits alongside one-to-one interviews reveal the intriguing passions of people whose human identity is challenged by their love of their chosen animal persona/fursona. The first colour illustrated book featuring an international cross-section of individuals who choose to dress as animals and why. (blurb)

Leave it to Academia to get it almost but not quite right. Furry fandom is about more than just the furry lifestylers, of course, but this artistic collection of photo-interviews with fifteen fursuiters (and their mates) does get all genuine furry lifestylers. Each portrait identifies the British, Dutch, French, or German lifestyler in an average of two pages of text, followed by eight pages of beautifully-posed full-colour photographs; two of the fan posed in his home or apartment, a closeup or two of his fursuit, and four or five of his messy home. Most of the fursuiters look like typical college students living in batchelor apartments, including those married and long out of college.

Plymouth, Devon, UK, University of Plymouth Press, October 2012, trade paperback £17 (150 [+ 2] pages; illustrated). Foreword by Valerie Reardon.

Reviews: 'Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strips Collection. Volume 1, 2010-2011', by various

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strips Collection. Volume 1, 2010-2011 Aardman Animations’ Wallace & Gromit stop-motion clay (or plasticine) films should need no introduction to Flayrah’s readers. The first, A Grand Day Out, released in Great Britain for Christmas 1989, almost immediately became a sensation in both Britain and America. New short films, the Curse of the Were-Rabbit feature, the Shaun the Sheep TV series, and a steady stream of merchandising have kept the pair (for Flayrah, especially Gromit) alive for almost twenty-five years.

It seems bizarre that there was no Wallace & Gromit newspaper comic strip until May 17, 2010. As an American, I had assumed that there was a comic strip in Britain long ago, but apparently not. Here is its announcement:

Titan Comics and Aardman Animations have teamed up with The Sun newspaper to produce a daily Wallace & Gromit comic strip!

From May 17th, the inventive duo will feature in their very own daily comic strip in the newspaper, with each adventure running for 6 days, from Monday – Saturday. The comic strip comes after the success of Titan and Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit iphone comic, which was brought out to celebrate 20 years of the famous pair.

Don't miss the start of the first adventure, out on May 17th and let us know what you think!

Titan Comics, October 2013, hardcover $14.99 (unpaged [136 pages]). Foreword by Nick Park.

Animation: The 'Clangers' are returning

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From 1969 to 1972, BBC-TV presented a series of 26 10-minute stop-motion animated children’s episodes about the Clangers, tiny pink mouse-like denizens of another planet, and their cook, the Soup Dragon. The series was popular with British children and parents alike.

The Cartoon Brew has announced, in an article by Neil Emmett, that Clangers (or The Clangers) will make a comeback in 2015, with 52 new episodes for CBeebies in Britain and the preschool channel Sprout in the U.S. The new series will be produced in stop-motion animation of knitted puppets by Peter Firmin, the original puppet maker and puppeteer (now 84), with writing supervision by Daniel Postgate, the son of the creator and original writer, Oliver Postgate. The article contains one of the original 10-minute episodes.

Survey: Furry fandom in digital spaces

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

Ben Walker, a British undergraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, is conducting research on the design of online social spaces. He has created a brief survey for members of the fandom and is seeking candidates for interviews and focus groups.

[The] point of this research is to aid the design of online social spaces. If forums and community sites can be made to fit their communities better, the experience users get from them improves.

This project combines my two degree subjects, Computer Science and Geography (the human centric stuff) with the aim of utilising both to provide some tangible benefits to online communities. Being on the edge of the fandom I thought looking at Furries would be more interesting.

The project supervisor is Dr D.C McKay of the School of Physical and Geographical Science. Those interested in participating may complete the survey linked above, or email Ben.

Gromit statue auction raises £2.3m for Bristol children's hospital

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Between July 1 and September 8, the Gromit Unleashed exhibition saw the city of Bristol play host to several dozen statues of Gromit, the anthropomorphic dog from Wallace and Gromit.

On 3 October, the statues were auctioned to raise money for an expansion of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. One lot, Gromit Lightyear, designed by animation studio Pixar and depicting Gromit as Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise, sold for £65,000.
Gromit statues
The eighty-one statues, depicting Gromit in a variety of styles, were designed by several artists, including Nick Park (creator of Wallace and Gromit), and Simon Tofield (animator of Simon's Cat). In total, £2.3 million was raised for the hospital. Nick Park said he was "stunned" by how successful the auction was.

Animation: 'Gelato Go Home!'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (8 votes)

Are ice cream trucks migrating south for the winter anthropomorphic? This is bird (or monarch butterfly) behavior, not human. Nevertheless, this seems like the sort of thing that Flayrah should want to know about.

A 3’33” film directed by Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney for Britain’s Channel 4, reported by C. Edwards on the Cartoon Brew website.

The Local Monster Needs An Upgrade

Monster on the Hill is a different sort of all-ages graphic novel, coming this July from Top Shelf Productions. “In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster — much to the townsfolk’s delight! Each town’s unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism. Each town, that is… except for one. Unfortunately for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn’t quite as impressive. In fact, he’s a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become a proper horror? It’s up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling.” All of this brought to you in full color by artist and storyteller Rob Harrell. There’s a pretty good preview of it at Whatcha Readin’.


image c. 2013 Top Shelf Productions

BD & Comics Passion 2013 at London's Institut Français

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BD & Comics Passion 2013 bannerBetween May 30th and June 2nd, UK fans of comics and graphic novels can attend the BD (bande dessinée) & Comics Passion 2013, a series of events at the Institut Français in Queensberry Place, south-west London. [Facebook page]

The programme includes film screenings, artist talks and drawing workshops for children, teenagers and adults. There's not much on the menu that's explicitly furry, but the festival logo should appeal if nothing else! [Trailer]

Review: 'I Was A Rat!'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

I Was A RatCurrently touring the United Kingdom is I Was A Rat!, a stage play based on the book by British author Philip Pullman.

Pullman's 1999 book opens with elderly couple Bob and Joan answering a knock at their door, and finding a boy in a tattered page's uniform. When asked who he is, the boy can only tell them, "I was a rat". Having no children of their own, Bob and Joan take the boy in and name him Roger. They soon find he has distinctly ratty behaviour - he cannot eat with a spoon and, on his first night, chews his bed linen to shreds.

Bob and Joan attempt to find Roger's parents, but find the authorities disinterested and unhelpful. After Roger runs away during an examination by the Philosopher Royal, he gets exploited as a sideshow freak, used as an assistant to house-breaking, and eventually takes refuge in the sewers. With the local newspaper The Scourge feeding the hysteria, he is eventually caught and, as "the monster of the sewers", put on trial for his life.

I recently attended a performance at the Liverpool Playhouse. The stage play follows the book fairly faithfully; it was extremely well done, and I had so much fun watching it that I returned to catch it a second time before the production moved on to their next venue.