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Furry news, every weekday.

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Co-written by Thurston Howl and Patch O’Furr. Full disclosure – Howl and Patch have received Ursa Major awards by community vote.

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Even in non-writing communities in the furry fandom, many furries are aware of the Ursa Major Awards. They’ve been around for about 17 years, have presence at cons, and each year they receive many voters. However, for all their legacy, Thurston Howl – (a furry publisher who assisted with social media and marketing for the UMAs in 2017) – has come forward with concerns involving the UMAs’ recent soliciting for donations and GoFundMe campaign.

A transparency concern.

Until now, there has been no formal budget or accounting for funding. Fred Patten, Secretary of the ALAA (Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which runs the UMAs), told Howl on 5/30/17: “I cannot remember that the Treasurer for the ALAA has ever submitted a formal treasury report.” Fred confirmed there were no records for 17 years, and later added:

I don’t know how much it costs to print UMA award certificates, buy frames for them, ship them to the recipients, make and ship powerpoint presentations, etc., and I don’t know how much total in donations we’ve gotten over the years…

There have been complaints in email discussion by associates.  ALAA member Bernard Doove said: “I would like a report on the finances that is more than ‘we’re broke.'” And on 5/4/17, a donor reported that they considered their donation “an unwise decision that could have been put to much better use elsewhere.” There were even fears of misappropriation, but Bernard Doove found no evidence when he looked in the bank accounts. The explanation seems to be fees of $156/year to maintain a Checking and Savings account if they have under a $300 minimum balance each.

It honestly seems like an issue of mixing small fan efforts with more formal organization, like how fandom started. ALAA Treasurer Rod O’Riley was a fandom founder who helped start Confurence in 1989. He responded to a request for comment:

The problem is not transparency — the problem is a lack of funds to be transparent about.

All donations have made their way into our bank account, and have been spent on either what they were supposed to be spent on — making and mailing out our trophies and plaques — or else were swallowed by the bank fees. ALL donations. Sometimes they took a while to get where they were going — as recently, when PayPal and our bank’s on-line system had difficulties talking to each other, for reasons I still do not understand. But eventually, they got where there were going.

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Good faith is evident when many operation costs have been paid out of pocket by Rod and other ALAA members.  However, when public contribution is wanted, more formal fiduciary duty should be expected. Can we see a budget for expenses?  Will there be accounting for what is received and spent, and a report? Without such efforts, donations could be received under mistaken expectations. There should be clarity for donors reached by public appeals.

The understaffed committee.

When Howl consulted ALAA members in 2017, Fred Patten explained:

The ALAA has always been an understaffed volunteer organization. We have had to take who we can get. Rod is literally the only person who has shown any interest in handling the ALAA’s assets. We can’t afford to fire him; who would we replace him with?

Let me emphasize that the ALAA does have some real expenses, and with all donations going into Rod’s pockets and him paying for those expenses personally, we are basically trusting that his financial contributions outweigh the amount of the donations we get from other people.

On top of all of this, for con presentations of the UMAs, Rod apparently charges the ALAA for some services, such as assembling “and delivering” a Powerpoint presentation. Volunteering is work, but isn’t every con run without compensation? It seems that Rod puts in a great deal of work into both the ALAA and the UMAs, and the ALAA board allows respect for his long experience and devotion. A clear budget could help assure that to the public.

Solutions.

Here’s some steps for proper accounting to solicit more and better help:

  • A finance 101 book for indie business could solve some issues such as what the IRS expects.
  • Start a basic bookkeeping system – such as with Quickbooks or free Google Sheets.
  • Optionally, set up a Chart of Accounts for income and spending categories.
  • Make sure all income and expense transactions are tracked.
  • Post a clear budget and promise annual reports.
  • THEN crowdfund for expenses with full transparency.

Rod responded:

I’m actually very appreciative of the system you laid out. Other than the paperwork to fill out for the US of A (which is new now that we have a Tax ID number), much of it is things we’ve already been doing — again, when asked. We simply have to make them habitual even even not asked. Can do.

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CAN YOU HELP? PLEASE COMMENT.

Let’s solve this to raise donations and make the Ursas what they always promise to be – a fandom institution to rely on, be proud of, discover with and enjoy!

Are you willing and able to volunteer skill for the understaffed needs? How about donations to offer, contingent on progress?  Specifically, there’s a wish for small, stable, solid yearly contributions out of the budgets of big cons to sustain the awards. Can any con organizers assist?

Soon, the UMA GoFundMe campaign will be reposted on Dogpatch Press and promoted with a reminder about needs that generous people can help address. Solving these problems would be a good way to help repay what Rod and associates have done for fandom since the beginning.

Additional comments from ALAA members, February 2018.

Bernard Doove:

The ALAA has needed volunteers for years, but we have lost members rather than gained, and we are all doing as much as possible to keep the Ursa Major Awards running. I’ll be donating money from my personal funds once again for the 2017 Award trophies, and I will be flying up to Queensland where the awards ceremony will be held at FurDU this year in order to run the event. The cost of that comes out of my own pocket too. I’m willing to do my bit for the cause, but we desperately need more people with the skills required to improve it.

Fred Patten adds:

Often it isn’t as much the money as the time & effort to cover the bureaucratic details. Rod has also been handling all the correspondence and financing to have our trophies made and mailed to the recipients. I don’t know exactly how much labor and money is involved, but Rod has been taking care of it alone for over 15 years now.

Since 2015, we have replaced the first UMA trophies — the framed certificates — with the lucite trophies, which are more expensive.

I have told McFarland & Co., the publisher of my Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015, to donate all my royalties directly to the ALAA, but so far this has been less than $200.  Something else that I have been trying to get is some of the better-established furry conventions to regularly donate $100 a year to the ALAA. Is there any way to arrange for a regular small donation from, for example, Anthrocon or Further Confusion or Midwest FurFest or Megaplex or Biggest Little Fur Con or Furry Fiesta or Anthro Weekend Atlanta? If we could get just $100 each from some conventions, we should meet our annual budget.

Visit the Ursa Major Awards site to learn more about what they do.


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Rune’s Furry Blog showcases “people within the Furry Community… their characters, life, thoughts, and beliefs”. It also covers furry issues and media. Welcome Rune! – Patch

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This week I will be attending Texas Furry Fiesta 2018. This is my 3rd convention that I have been to, and while I wrote about going to the conventions, fursuiting, and things to do at a convention (etc), I never got around to talking about the ‘prepping’.

Going to a convention takes a lot of planning and preparation. It’s crazy how much time gets dedicated to planning what panels you want to attend, figuring out the stuff you need to bring, and how much money you will need to survive for 4 days. And because I have found myself in several situations that were not exactly ‘ideal’, I figured this is the best time to reflect on the things I have learned so that others might better prepare for their Furry Conventions.

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  • A Furry Convention is NOT a necessity! 

I hate that this is something that needs to be said, but it’s best to get it out of the way first. A Furry Convention is a fun break from our day-to-day lives where we can feel free to express ourselves. It’s full of hugs, fun, friends, and fur (literally everywhere), but it’s not a necessity. Things like food, a water bill, a car payment… all of those things come before a Furry Convention. So please be responsible! Do not let the ‘want’ of going to a Furry Convention hurt other areas of your life. We all need to be adults sometimes and that can mean missing out on something fun. But remember… there is another Furry Convention the next year (and maybe another local one later the same year). Save your money, budget, and go to one that you can comfortably afford later. You will have a lot more fun if you don’t have to worry about the consequences of bad spending the minute you get home!

  • Figure out where you are staying & reserve your rooms.

Hotel rooms where the convention is being held go FAST! They are usually sold out within the first week or sooner. So, once you find out about a convention, you need to start researching where you are going to stay. Start planning who you are going with, how many beds you would need… and if the con-hotel is too expensive, then browse hotels within the area. Remember to take into account the distance from the con hotel, the way in which you will get in-between the two, and possible parking costs. Reserve your rooms ASAP!

Remember that some hotels make you pay a small ‘holding’ cost upfront, and also that some hotels do not take out payment until AFTER your stay! So make sure you are budgeting your money accordingly so that you do not get over-drafted. If a friend has reserved the room, make sure that your name gets put somewhere on that room. This way you can not be kicked from the room and/or you avoid any issues if your friend failed to mention more people staying in the room than what is allowed. Telling the person behind the counter that you only have 2 people in your room and then having 2 other people sleeping on an air mattress is a legal issue and an overall safety risk/hazard! So please do not do it.

  • Pre-Register!

Even if you do not plan to attend the convention on all of the days, pre-registering is the way to go. Unless you are attending for only one day. Pre-registering has a bunch of perks including faster lines (thus faster access to the con), pre-con activities, and other things. It usually gets you some extra goodies from the con-bags as well! But pre-registration does have specific closing dates. To remind yourself to pre-register, set an alarm or notification on your phone. Research the cost beforehand and budget to spend that money. Write a memo… do whatever it takes to remind yourself to get it done!

Not pre-registering when traveling with a group can be a hindrance to other people. Non-registered lines operate at different times, and sometimes it means you can not attend early events which your friends might have planned to go to. Sometimes this means the group might have to go to the con a day later rather than a day early depending on how their schedules lined up because now you have to go through a different and longer line. So while it seems like a small thing, depending on the con, it can make a big difference!

At one of the cons I attended- a couple of our people did not pre-register like they were supposed to. We had the opportunity to experience the con a day early and had decided to do so (as a group), but then we found out that the longer lines closed early and that if we were to go to the convention, we would have to leave the other 2 people alone in the hotel. We made the decision to stay, but waiting for them to register did strike a nerve… especially when we realized the things we had missed because a couple people did not remember. Small things can make waves when it comes to plans… so try and do everything in your power to be proactive, to plan, and be responsible. Even nudge your friends if you have to… just try and be nice about it rather than bossy or pushy.

  • Just because it may be cheaper does NOT mean you should surround yourself with toxic people!

I learned this lesson my very first con. It is way cheaper to go to a convention with a bigger group. Most furries have at least 2-3 people they room with because splitting costs is usually a win-win for everyone. But just because you want to spend less money does not mean that you should put yourself in a bad/toxic situation. My first convention was still a good time. But, for all the good moments, there were just as many bad moments because of the people we were staying with.This all lead to a lot of unnecessary drama and my friend and I almost getting stranded at a hotel that was a ways from the con because people were not getting along. There were panels that were missed, a lot of time just spent sitting around, people arguing over simple things like food and when they wanted to go back to the hotel, fights about sleeping arrangements, and overall it was just BAD PLANNING because in the end, it was thought that “cheaper” would be better. No… just no. That’s not to say you shouldn’t room with friends. If you know a person and trust a person, and if you feel comfortable staying with a person, then by all means do so.

Placing yourself in a bad situation also means allowing strangers to room with you in order to cut costs. I see so many people on con group pages asking for people to room with, and while some of them work out, scams are highly likely as well. If you are willing to take in a stranger, make sure you do your homework. Interview this person, get to know them. Talk with them in-person to make sure they are who they say they are (even if this means a skype call). Take your payment up-front and send verification that they are on the room’s list. Make good business decisions like you would if you were commissioning a fursuit or some other work! Make sure you set room rules, and even write up a contract if you have to. Protect yourself, your things, and your money! If this means spending more money to be safe… then save up more money and/or wait until the next convention!

  • Set aside emergency funds!

I don’t find this being pessimistic but more realistic when I say: “Not everything goes according to plan!” This just means life in general. In the time between registering for a convention and making it there, anything can happen! Even after the convention, life can happen and take you by surprise, so try and be prepared. By being prepared… I mean setting up a financial ‘cushion’ in case things go south. Maybe you miss your bus or plane, or maybe your car breaks down. Maybe an unexpected bill takes out or you miscalculated on your budget for food. Make sure you have extra money so that you can take care of whatever needs to get done so that you make it to the con safely and make it home safely as well.

  • Make a packing list!

I am the type of person that seems to always forget something when I am packing for a trip. Usually it’s just small things, but I know others that tend to forget major essentials and it can cause high tensions when trying to enjoy a con. What I do is I make a packing list. I make a list marking my essentials, things like props, and even emergency things. I leave a checkbox by the items and then check them off as I pack. This is just one of the ways you can avoid forgetting things… but I understand such a method does not work for everyone.

So come up with a way that you can make some sort of list of what you need and then make sure those things make it into your luggage! Remember to take into account how you are getting to the convention when packing. When flying, you will have to follow those specific travel rules for what you can bring and what you can not bring. If riding a bus, the same thing applies. My first convention I took a bus, and I was not told that the bus only allowed one thing of luggage to be put under the bus (and it was my fault for not researching it). This lead to me having to have my other (heavy) luggage bag on my lap as well as my fursuit head while I sat uncomfortably for the next 4 hours. If you are driving with friends, try and account for how much room will be available for your things. And if traveling alone, still pack as little as you can since you never know if someone might need your help and have to make use of your vehicle. Though this has nothing to do with packing: CLEAN YOUR CAR! Especially if you are driving other people. It makes more room, it is way more comfortable, and it ensures that no one’s stuff gets dirty or damaged.

  • Commit!

Commit to the things you said you were going to do. This applies especially if you are traveling in a group. Owe someone a badge? Put a notification on your phone and make the badge! Have a fursuit to finish? Manage your time and set notifications to make the fursuit! Don’t put yourself in a position where you are doing things last-minute and you have to break promises because you were not responsible and organized… this is a bad way to start a convention.

In saying that, don’t overload yourself when you know you have a bad habit of getting burnt out, overwhelmed, etc. Life happens, yes… but when you cause your own problems, it can make for serious issues when planning cons with people in the future… especially when you can not come through with things you promised to do. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, fulfill your obligations to friends and to customers alike. Make time to do things, even when you’re feeling lazy. Send money when you promised to send money, pay for the things you promised to pay for rather than backing out last minute. Don’t volunteer for something you might not be able to do because no one likes this type of person. Be responsible, be reliable, be honest… and commit!

  • Remember you are not OBLIGATED to take care of anyone for their mistakes!

While I say to “commit”, in the same likeness… you should not be held accountable to fix someone else’s mistake. If you have to take care of a cost because someone did not budget properly, make sure that person pays you back. If someone didn’t bring something, you are not obligated to get them the things they need. Even if this means they can’t spend money to buy that t-shirt or that plushie, that is not your fault. That falls on them, not on you. Do not sacrifice your fun and comfort because someone else did not plan as they were supposed to. You are not obligated to take care of anyone else other than yourself. Especially if you can not afford to take care of other people.

  • Remember that this convention is about YOU having a good time.

Don’t let anyone else ruin your fun. Don’t want drama? Don’t get involved in it. Someone trying to bring you down because they are down? Don’t let them drag you into their problems. Don’t let people guilt you into helping them with anything… and don’t let them tell you what you are going to do at a convention. This is YOUR time that you paid for. Do not let someone else run the show and ruin your fun. You’re free to break off from your friends if you wanna go to a panel they are not interested in. You are free to not go to that dance they want to go to because you don’t like dancing. You are free to drink (but if they say no alcohol in the room then respect that) or to not drink despite what others are doing. This time and this con is for all furries, but for all furries to have fun in their own way!

  • Read over con and hotel rules!

Convention rules are usually additional to hotel rules, so make sure you read over both. This can concern anything from alcoholic beverages to smoking and prop use. Make sure you read and understand what you can do and what you can not do. I know a common rule is that you are not allowed to sleep in the public hotel spaces or in the con space… this is for safety reasons and it can get you banned from the con for a day after multiple offenses. Also, some hotels allow alcohol, but only in designated areas (same goes for smoking), so make sure you read those rules. Since conventions tend to have themes to them, people like to dress up and bring props matching the theme… but there are rules as to what props are allowed and what are not allowed. If the rules do not specify something, proceed with caution but never assume it is allowed. I like to call hotel staff if I have a question and if the convention managers have not gotten back to my e-mails about such questions after a certain amount of time. Failure to follow rules can lead to being banned from a convention and even the hotel itself. Pleading ignorance does not get you off the hook either. So read up on the rules ahead of time.

  • If you’re in a group, go over the con schedule and plan out panels together!

One thing my buddy likes to do is to have everyone read over the con schedule and say what panels they are interested in. When you are traveling with a group, it’s okay to split up during the convention… but I will say that spending the convention with friends is a lot more fun. So, by planning out who wants to go to what panel, it usually ensures that you’re never alone and you have someone to go and see things with. Sometimes people might get interested in a panel they never thought about before because so many friends want to go to it. So it can never hurt. I find that planning these things before a con leads to a lot smoother of a con experience! This also can be good so that you can map out times when people are not busy and you can all meet up to go eat or check out the Dealer’s Den.

  • Create room rules and set other boundaries BEFORE the con!

It’s not very nice to get into a room, start settling in, and then suddenly get slapped in the face with rules. This is especially annoying when you might have already had plans for things you wanted to do. Now, if you’re rooming by yourself, this is not an issue… but, if you are rooming with other people, make sure you set rules and boundaries BEFORE you make it to the convention. This means laying out the rules on who gets room keys, where people are sleeping, what the rules about bringing over friends is, and anything else you feel needs to be covered. Often at Furry Conventions this can usually mean bringing over friends, dates, having alcohol in the room, and/or having a room party. Again, remember to follow hotel rules at all time!

  • Have a backup plan for EVERYTHING!

Like emergency funds, life happens… and it does not always concern money. I’m talking more in terms of transportation and things of that nature. People and machinery alike can prove to be unreliable at times, and life happens, so please have a backup plan for everything! If your friend can’t take you to the convention, then make sure you have a plan for that. Maybe there is a bus you can hop on or someone else you can call. You won’t have to panic if you have a plan A-B-C for if things go awry. Also if your car breaks down, the same thing applies. You and your group should have a bunch of emergency backup plans in case anything gets crazy.

  • Make sure you are making healthy changes BEFORE going to the con!

At a convention you will hear the 6-2-1 rule: At least 6 hours of sleep, at least 2 meals a day, and you have to bathe once per day at the minimum! But you should be making healthy changes before the convention, especially if you are a fursuiter. At a convention you are most likely going to eat like garbage. You will be having so much fun that you will go hours upon hours without food; then you will grab the first thing you see because you are starving!

Dehydration is a real concern at conventions… but you don’t just wanna start being hydrated when you come to the convention. Start drinking more water the week prior. Try and eat as healthy as possible the week before a con so that when you are eating nothing but junk at the convention you might not feel terrible afterwards. Give your body a head-start into what is going to be the craziest, most fun weekend of your life!

  • Don’t be afraid to do something differently next year…

If your arrangements that you made this year do not work out, or if you learn some things that you can do better to ensure you have a better time at the next convention… then don’t be afraid to do it. Do not be afraid to not room with that friend you have because maybe you guys don’t agree on room rules… and don’t be afraid to say you’re not driving everyone next year. This all comes back to the convention being about you having fun.

Conventions have their stressful points, but they shouldn’t be remembered as stressful. They shouldn’t be remembered for all the things that went wrong but for the amazing memories that you made while there. So learn from your experiences and use that knowledge to improve on how to tackle future conventions… even if other people might not agree with you.

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Sometimes my advice may seem a little harsh… but I promised myself to only ever be realistic and honest, even if the truth might hurt. You may or may not like this advice, think it sounds a bit too depressing, or whatever… but the tools are there if you choose to use them.

Conventions are never perfect… but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Sometimes the funniest and best things stem from a mistake or mishap. So even if things are not 100%, it does not mean you are bound for a bad time. But, the smoother something can sail, the better.

So, I wish you all the best with your convention preparations! Captain, Escap’e, Rune, Pitch, and other awesome peeps will be wandering around Texas Furry Fiesta just waiting to say hello! I personally like hugs and photos so don’t be shy to come up and have a word (or chirp) with me!!!

Thank you all for reading, and I will see you all in the next blog 😉

P.S= Furry Con season means Stolen fursuit season! You can see my tips and advice for protecting your fursuits HERE


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Thanks to Rex and Flash for their reviews! Dogpatch Press welcomes community access writers – get in touch. – Patch

0h69_B_5_400x400.jpeg?resize=150%2C150A review of Mascot Fur Life

I have just watched a film titled Mascot Fur Life (2016 German with English subtitles). To be honest I was a bit apprehensive to watch another “furry film/ documentary” – the last one I watched left me feeling betrayed and hollow inside. Anyway, on to this film.

The main character is a Lion named Willion Richards.  Willion’s dream is to be the mascot of a soccer team.  He trains very hard with the help of his coach Berk.  Life is difficult for Willion, who struggles as a greeter in a large hardware store.

The film is professionally made, with excellent editing, good camera angles, great sets, and most scenes being shot on location.  I’m sure none of us will argue that the costumes aren’t first rate!

Can Willion make the tryouts?  Will this lion be happy, or forever doomed to work at a hardware store?  Will he overcome despair and the prejudice against him? Can he even pay the rent for his flat?

I found this film to be most enjoyable; in fact, I highly recommend you see it!

It most assuredly receives a Five Paw rating from this old dog.

– Rex Masters

Hard Work Fur the passionate

21451162@400-1476675400.jpg?resize=150%2A review of the YouTube mockumentary Mascot Fur Life

By Jeremiah “Flash Hound” Stanley

Ever since I entered the furry fandom in 2014, as I got further and further into it, I’ve seen content from a range of media and points of view such as musical furries – like NIIC and Pepper Coyote – along with sports furries, like Huscoon and myself.  I recently watched the newly released Mascot Fur Life from Willion. I think it’s one of the best furry films since Disney’s popular Zootopia (2016) made the mainstream take a little notice about the fandom. I’d like to go deeper into the film, and break it down from different aspects.

● Story

The meaning of the story is something everyone can relate to in their own special way. It’s a similar story to Rocky films from the last few decades, and features a variety of fursuiters such as Keenora, who is shown in the film at the mascot auditions. The meaning of the film is to never give up, and work hard for that one thing you’re passionate for and determined to get in your lifetime.

● Characters

Every character in the film, whether speaking or mute, plays their roles perfectly as directed. The one character I have many questions about is Berk. I’m certain that he’ll raise questions for other viewers too. Some questions I have about Berk would be: “How can he hear what Julia is telling him through his cell phone if he put his cell phone at his fursuit cheek instead of his fursuit ears which are obviously higher than his cheek?” and “How did Berk and Julia agree about settling a walk-in mascot audition for Willion so quickly?” The only way to get the answers would be to ask Willion directly.

● Music

The music in the film is well put together to fit every situation faced by Willion, the main character, in each scene. It’s created beautifully to capture the viewer’s attention. It nearly puts the viewer in the fur of the main character, Willion, to share his experiences in the storyline of the film.

● Overall rating

The film is well put together and all the fursuiters who took part in the film give it a family friendly feeling. I’m certain between most recording sessions that the fursuiters were treated to healthy food and drinks. The one thing I didn’t like was the drinks that were shown in the film – thankfully I don’t believe they were told to drink them. Despite that one complaint, I would give Mascot Fur Life a 9.5 out of 10 rating.

– Flash Hound

Follow the film on Facebook or Twitter – and watch for their next project, a web series called Wolfgang Doe that starts filming in summer 2018.  But first, here’s a notice about supporting the film makers:

You can help “Mascot Fur Life” to win a prize!!!

To be nominated for the Ursa Major Award, we need your vote by February 15th! Go to the linked page and register to vote for our film. We want to be nominated in the category “Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work or Series.”

The Ursa Major Awards are prizes awarded annually by the furry community for the best media / literary works dealing with Anthrophomorphism (Animal-human) content.

The Mascots are counting on you!

http://www.ursamajorawards.org/nominations.htm

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

510O1ioM7gL._SX341_BO1204203200_.jpg?resKa: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, by John Crowley. Illustrated by Melody Newcomb.
NYC, Saga Press, October 2017, hardcover $28.99 ([4 +] 442 [+2] pages), trade paperback $16.99, Kindle $7.99.

This is the story of Dar Oakley, “the first Crow in all of history with a name of his own” (blurb). It is told by a nameless human narrator in the time of death, when both humans and Crows are all dying. The narrator’s wife Debra has just died, and he is sick, delirious, and alone in his country house. He finds a sick, obviously dying Crow in his back yard:

“I approached it warily – those bills are sharp – and heard from several directions the calling of other Crows, so close I thought I ought to be able to see them, though I couldn’t. The sick one made no attempt to get away, and didn’t even watch me come closer. Or so I thought then. It would take me a long time to understand that Crows, courting or walking a field together, never turning heir heads to observe one another, aren’t indifferent to or unconscious of their neighbors. No. A Crow’s eyes are set far apart, far enough apart that he can best see very close things out of only one eye. Crows beside one another are, in their way, face-to-face.” (p. 4)

The narrator brings the dying Crow into his house on a shovel. But the Crow does not die, nor does the narrator. During the next two years the Crow and the narrator, always alone, both get well, and the narrator learn to talk to the Crow. The Crow, Dar Oakley, tells him his life story. All two thousand years of it:

“He tells me now that he can’t remember much at all of the worst days of his sickness, and the story that I tell – the backyard, the Crows, the shovel, the bathtub – will have to do for him as well as for me. The one thing he knew and I didn’t was that he wouldn’t die. That would take more than a bout of West Nile, if that’s what this was.” (p. 6)

Ka pages 13 to 442 are Dar Oakley’s story. It starts long before the days of Julius Caesar, in the lands of the Celts in northern Europe. One day the Crow who would become Dar Oakley was boasting to a wandering Vagrant Crow:

“‘You’d probably not believe me,’ Dar Oakley said one day to the Vagrant, ‘if I told you how far from here I’ve been.’

The Vagrant, poking in the mud of a pond’s edge for larvae or Frog’s eggs or whatever else might turn up, said nothing in response.

‘I’ve been where there are no Crows at all,’ Dar Oakley said. ‘None anywhere but me.’

‘No such place,’ the Vagrant averred,

‘Oh no?’ said Dar Oakley. ‘Go as far as I have,’

The Vagrant stopped his hunting. ‘Listen, fledgling.’ He said, in a low but not soft voice. ‘Long ago I left the places where I grew up. I was run out. Never mind why. Always between then and now I’ve been on the wing.’” (p. 17)

Dar Oakley flies far to prove the Vagrant wrong, but he never does. He returns to the home of his parents and siblings and his murder, where they watch the two-legs and their rolling carts come into their woods and settle. But there is always something a bit different, more adventurous about him; a willingness to go farther than the others.

One day Dar Oakley visits a farther land yet (the human Underworld). When he returns home, he is immortal.

Centuries pass. The Celts become Irish monks, and Dar Oakley travels with them to the unknown lands of the West.

More time passes. Eventually Dar Oakley’s and the narrator’s lives become intertwined.

Screen-Shot-2018-01-15-at-6.11.58-PM.pngYmr is the human world, and Ka is the land of the Crows. Of all animals, actually, but Dar Oakley is corvid-centric. Ka has other talking animals among Dar Oakley’s adventures:

“The Owl looked around itself with its mobile head as though for a definite answer to give. Then it said, This is possible.

Yes, Dar Oakley cried. I knew it must be, and it is!

It is possible, the Owl went on. Because you have been a friend to Death, I will tell you how.

Yes, Dar Oakley said. (Had he been a friend to Death? Where, in what land, among whom?)

To do it, the Owl said, you must do exactly as I say.

I will.” (p. 327)

“The two Ravens turned to one another with a look that seemed to say, Has a question been put to us? Then one bent forward a little toward Dar Oakley. ‘Of Crows,’ it said, ‘there are gnone.’

‘Where have they gone? There are Crows everywhere.’

‘As you say,’ said the other Raven. ‘But gnot here.’” (p. 379)

“Night should have fallen by then but somehow hadn’t, as though the sun hovered just below the horizon and sank no farther. Dar Oakley followed the beast through the wilderness of the riverbank ruins, they passed among People unnoticed, the People seeming dim and hardly present. It was light enough to fly, and sometimes he flew, unable otherwise to keep up with Coyote’s ceaseless trotting.

He wasn’t from these places, he told Dar Oakley; not city-bred, no: he was unwelcome in the city, and if he was caught by the People, he’d be got rid of without hesitation.

Of course they have to catch me before the trial can start, he said, if there’s a trial, which there wouldn’t be, because they don’t catch me, so on we go.” (pgs. 420-421)

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (cover by Sonia Chaghatzbanian) is not as much a furry novel as a mainstream talking-animal fable. John Crowley is a World Fantasy Award-winning author who was originally classified as a science-fiction writer – see his 1976 s-f novel Beasts with bioengineered leos (lion-men) and one fox-man – but today is considered to write in general fiction, science-fiction, fantasy, and experimental writing.

Fred Patten

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fred2.jpg?resize=500%2C359Guess how many furries there are in the world? I’d say at least the population of a medium-to-large city. That’s a lot of members to remember for the holidays. Santa Claws couldn’t deliver all the plushies and bones you need with just one trip on Christmas Eve. Of course instead of Christmas dinner, some of you might be having lox or falafel (or fruitcake pizza). Anyways, whether this is your holiday or not, it’s a good time to look back at 2017 and appreciate things shared in common. I’ve been wondering what kind of gift to give the fandom for supporting this site and each other, for having a successful year of record-breaking cons, and for being my favorite thing. I decided that instead of pleasing everyone, let’s pick one furry who gives a lot and give thanks back to him.

That’s Fred Patten, who helped make it all happen. It started 3-4 decades ago when there were only handfuls of people who couldn’t get enough stuff like this…

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Fred as The Flash at the 1962 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. Photo (c) William Schelly, from the Founders of Comic Fandom book. More Fred photos thanks to Kay Shapero.

Funny animal comics that were huge in the Golden Age but mostly went extinct (except in newspaper strips like Pogo that spoke to adults too.) 1960’s counterculture-inspired, untamed underground comix like Fritz the Cat. A renewal of Disney excellence that suffered in the 1970’s “dark age” of animation after Robin Hood. An adult side to anthropomorphics with action and sci-fi stories seen in anime, leading to 1980’s alternative comics like TMNT and Usagi Yojimbo. Those are roots that grew into a thriving scene that’s now full of young creative people who can learn from founders like Fred.

Fred’s fan activity started with comics in the 1940’s. He joined science fiction fandom in 1960, and in the 1970’s he helped import Anime to North America. It found a place at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society clubhouse where fans shared movies, writing and art. That led to funny-animal fan organizing. They gathered in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago, with house parties, room parties at sci fi cons, and APA’s and zines. Fred’s 17 years of editing Rowrbrazzle put him at the center of it while furries started their first con in 1989 and expanded overseas. He’s won lots of awards, written countless book reviews and animation columns, and edited a dozen furry story anthologies.

Fred also makes Dogpatch Press what it is. He’s a keystone from the past to now, so the bookish beginnings don’t get forgotten with the rise of costuming, bigger events and social media. My part with the site is building “Furry Media” for a more direct line than what outsiders publish. That involves looking for the pulse of fandom, sometimes on the street level with fursuiting, partygoing and event organizing, as well as muckraking or occasionally even being featured in spicy rumors. But meanwhile, without playing a fursona, Fred tells the history, and dives into quiet concentration to review books that furries pour their hearts into writing.

Fred stays in a convalescent hospital and isn’t likely to be at cons (although he does see movies sometimes in a wheelchair), so I hope your messages are like a window on a happy view that you made for him. Smile and wave!

Many furs answered the request I put out. Whether it’s for Christmas or otherwise, it’s a birthday gift too – Fred turned 77 on December 11.

Any furry have some christmas appreciation to give Fred Patten for all he does for fandom? Please email to patch.ofurr (at) gmail, I'm assembling a post full of it. He doesn't read Twitter so it will be a surprise!

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 21, 2017

Fred gave me my first publishing break and has done a lot for the fandom; show him some love!! https://t.co/cnUcS0ptvX

🎄X-Mas Gull🎄 (@gullwulf) December 21, 2017

Fzygal:

I want to give a big thank you to Mr. Patten. Without him, I wouldn’t know know what furry fiction is. More to the point, I wouldn’t know what good furry fiction is. I owe hi my literary life. So big thank you, and much love to him <3 I don’t have anything I can give physically but he deserves so much and then some. Give him a big hug, even if digital.

Tryp the Wolfyote:

I just wanna give my best wishes and thanks to Fred Patten, and thanks to all your contributions you’ve made for the fandom. Merry Christmas.

Cassidy The Civet:

As someone who frequents Flayrah, it’s hard to not notice the work you put in with your reviews and detailed content. I can still count on one hand the amount of years I’ve been in this fandom, but even I know the sheer scope of all you’ve done. And I really thank you, for your passion helps inspire and drive new content creators, myself included.

Rechan:

Merry Christmas! May these well wishes find you merry, holly, and jolly.

Alice/Huskyteer:

Dear Fred, Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement you’ve given me. I’ll never forget the positive review you gave my very first published story, ‘Magnificent Dogs’ back in ROAR 4 – it made me feel I must be doing something right, and helped me to keep at it. Later you were kind enough to accept my stories into some of your own anthologies, and two of them went on to win an Ursa Major, which was a huge compliment and confidence boost. Wishing you all the best!

D.T. Jones:

Dear Fred,

Your work for the community I’ve grown to love is legendary. I feel as though it wouldn’t exist without you and everything you’ve done. If you are not the foundation of the fandom, then you, as a historian, are the glue that holds it together. Without you, I don’t think we would be what we are today. From your collection to your writing, you have given us a place to be ourselves in a world where that may be hard to come by. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mr. Patten.

All my warm wishes,
D.T. Jones

Pell:

Hey Fred,

I loved talking to you at FC.  You were so full of information, and I always like seeing you still around.  Even if we haven’t spoken in years, I really appreciate all you’ve done for the fans

Also i really enjoyed your stories where-ever I found them in old Albedo or Furrlough.  Anyway, thank you for everything.

-Pell Riverclaw

Around 2013, 14, a fellow MK writer found me and said that Fred was looking for me. But when I finally reached out, it was too late. Fed's Ursa Major book was at the printers.

I told Fred, because I no longer felt compelled to write, that he could just reprint anything, any time

— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables coming soon (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017

Except, I was just killing time. I wasnt building anything for a future. My meds were destroying my liver. We started weening me off the meds, found a maintenance dosage.

My ego found its spurs.

I started and failed to create stories. I read a few MK stories from my time away.

— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables coming soon (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017

So, I rewrote a bit of The Good Sport to get rid of a shared NPC. And that was easy... no ego hang ups. That was a new experience, which I owed to the meds.

Fred wasn't poetic about it, he just matter of factly, handed my pride to back me, told me my worth, and I believed him.

— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables coming soon (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017
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Takaji Kusonoki and Fred Patten look at a pressbook for the animated feature Phoenix 2772. More Fred photos thanks to Kay Shapero.

 

Shining River:

If you study art long enough, even if your study is done in a casual manner and limited to the resources of library books, local public displays and exhibitions, and online, you will see that the production of art is everywhere and neverending.  Millions of us humans make artistic creations in one form or another.  But art, like glory, is a fleeting thing. The drawings and writings of our youth are easily lost as we move through life, and are often deliberately discarded by the creators.  To have one’s art viewed and recognized by another person is a small step toward finding some meaning in our existence.  To have widespread recognition of our life’s works may be more than we can hope to achieve.

In the folk culture of modern fandoms, writers of literature have some people to help their work become recognized, and these people are reviewers and critics of literary works. These people are relatively few in number, often work for little or no compensation, and may in fact have only basic education in literature.  What matters most is their personal hands-on experience of literature that gives them the ability to discern the good from the bad and the good from the great.  A handful of individuals and websites over the past twenty years have given us reviews of the literature of the furry community and the most prolific and successful of these individuals is Fred Patten.

When a furry author gets to the point where they can bring their work to public attention, they still have a road ahead of them. If your work is good enough in the eyes of a publisher, your book or other literary work may get some real world, on-paper publication, then a listing on the publisher’s and/or a retailer’s website. If your name is previously unknown in furry literature, good luck. That good luck may actually arrive when Fred Patten gets a copy of your book, reads it, writes his review and publishes it on such popular and credible websites as Dogpatch Press and Flayrah. Fred makes the effort to look through a book and tell prospective readers whether or not they may find it worth some amount of money to purchase some author’s stories. The furry writers community may be relatively small but we still generate enough books that it can be a challenge to choose one that’s worth our time and coin. Fred’s work, accomplished despite a serious physical disablity, and at a time in life when many people are just going from one day to the next, is producing his reviews and commentary greater than persons half his age or younger. Fred, you make other people greater than they are alone, you lift our literary works above and beyond where we ourselves can take them.  Your writing saves ours from being “washed away like tears in the rain.”

Regards,
Shining River

Hugo Jackson:

Dear Fred,

I hope the holiday season finds you well! It’s weird to think you’re not on Twitter, because I see your influence on there pretty much daily. There isn’t a single moment that I’m not grateful for the time and consideration for your reviews of my books, and for what you do for furry authors generally. It’s honestly an enormous honour and encouragement to me to look back on them. It feels amazing to be part of the platform and community you’ve helped build among furry writers to help bring them recognition in a fandom that can so easily dismiss something that isn’t presented to them visually. It’s allowed me to grow in huge amounts, professionally and personally, and meet so many other amazing like-minded people to help them do the same. I would have very little right now if it weren’t for your tireless, extensive, and historical work to put all this in place.

Wishing you all the best for Christmas and the New Year; I hope it brings you health and happiness.

Best regards,
Hugo Jackson

Mark Engels:

I’ve made some great friends among the furrydom whom I’ve learned are also anime and manga fans like me.  Fred is one of them, having been at the epicenter of fandom back when my boyhood fascination with Disney’s Robin Hood drove me to find authors/artists like Steven A. Gallacci, Monika Livingstone, Stan Sakai and Eastman & Laird.  I think Fred’s tireless support of these creatives is in part what allowed me to find them and come to enjoy their work.

I still have a copy of Amazing Heroes #75, July 15, 1985 featuring Fred’s interview ROBOTECH: Japanimation Invades Comics With a Trio of Comico Titles with Carl Macek (not to mention all of the Comico comics themselves.)  Fred recently shared with me the story how he and Carl under the auspices of Streamline Pictures continued to make Robotech available to a new generation of fans at the closing of the VHS age.  My time and experiences in the fandom have been enriched by people like Fred, who used their time and treasure to share the joy these stories and characters brought them.

Thank you Fred.  But for people like you I would have never taken notion to write paranormal sci-fi thrillers featuring the modern-day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats in the first place.

MJE
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin  USA

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Fred becomes OE of Rowrbrazzle at the LASFS Clubhouse in January 1989. Present are former OE Marc Schirmeister, and Bob Hill as a Bambioid. More Fred photos thanks to Kay Shapero.

Dwale:

My debts to Mr. Patten are manifold. His efforts in bringing anime into popular awareness are part of what allowed me to take a lifelong interest in it. And when I began to publish stories within the furry fandom, he was the first one to review them. That let me know, at least, that someone was listening, that I wasn’t throwing my fiction out into the void. That simple fact helped to keep me going.

Looking back, long before I knew his name, his work in the nascent anime fandom of decades past means that he has played some role in my development as a creator since I was a child. Now, all these years later, we have reached a point where he has edited and published my stories directly. What were the odds?

But while the turns of life and fate are mysterious, I doubt my testimony is unique. So, Fred, from all of us whose lives you’ve touched, thank you, and best wishes.

Peace,
Dwale

Summercat:

I started off this email five times.

Each time I had to delete it and start over because it just felt wrong. Some of them felt like they were about me than him, one was almost accusatory, and one was full of saccharine.

None worked.

I don’t know Fred personally – I only first heard of his name in 2006, shortly after his stroke. We’ve met twice, during some brief trips to Califur, but it was only a fleeting greetings.

What heartfelt thing can I say to a man I only know professionally and culturally? How can I craft a message of “Seasons Greetings” that isn’t ripped off from a Halmark Card for a man that I can only feel comfortable addressing as “Mr. Patten” out of respect for everything he’s done?

Fred has been in this since the start, and has been involved in so much that I doubt that there is much that does not bear his influence even indirectly. His professional tone is such that I can only dream of ever being on his level.

Fred is the reason why I demur when people call me a Furry Historian, because to me that means Fred, and I don’t think I’d be a good stand-in for him.

I keep saying, to borrow from Asimov, that there is but a single light of Furry, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere. Fred has spent decades in the fandom, often working behind the scenes, to brighten that light.

I wish him a Happy Hannukah (although that’s passed), a Merry Christmas, a Fabulous Fetisvus, a Sublime Solstice, and a Happy New Year.

Fred-Audubon-Grad-1955-with-Sherry.png?rFred’s sister Sherry wrote in with news about…

…always bringing MORE and MORE BOOKS to Fred every afternoon (from our local libraries; those sent to him by authors or publishers; AND, ALL THE BOOKS Fred orders on Amazon.com… since most all FURRY BOOKS are not in libraries).

Also… now that movies of interest to Fred are coming out we recently saw COCO and FERDINAND.  Fred has a long list of movies he wants to see in 2018 (including PADDINGTON 2 and SHERLOCK GNOMES that I do look forward to seeing, too).

Fred’s longtime LASFS friend, Kay Shapero, very kindly MAINTAINS the Fred Patten Website… and, she just sent us the “link” to this wonderful PHOTO MONTAGE she assembled from ALL the photos Fred had received over the years (most all “candid pix” taken at various venues):

http://www.kayshapero.net/fredpatten/fred.html

At the top, click ABOUT FRED, and then on PHOTOS to PLAY the VIDEO MONTAGE of “Fred Patten thru the years”.

And… while I’m “waxing nostalgic”… this is my most cherished photo, Fred and me at his junior high school graduation June 1955 (Fred is 14; I am 7). My dress was PINK but obviously FADED in this photo… and, each subsequent copy of it (62.5 years ago was a long time).  FYI, Audubon Junior High School was RAZED after one of the South CA earthquakes (I think in the early 1990’s).

Fred chatted with me before reading all these messages:

My sister just took me in my wheelchair to a theater to see the animated Ferdinand.  I also keep up with animation news, and there is a lot of speculation right now if the Blue Sky Studios in Connecticut will survive no matter how successful Ferdinand is.  Blue Sky is wholly owned by 20th Century-Fox, and Disney has just bought 20th Century.  Disney already has itself and Pixar; it doesn’t need another animation studio, no matter how successful.

Coco is one of my favorite Pixar movies.  I tried to get someone to write a story about Mexico and a xoloitzcuintli when I was editing Symbol of a Nation, but nobody was inspired to.

My birthday is on December 11 (I just turned 77), so I am also getting many birthday and Christmas greetings at the same time.

– Fred

Happy birthday and Merry Christmas Fred, the site couldn’t have a better partner. Best wishes for 2018 from me and fans around the world.

If you want to enjoy some of Fred’s writing, he works with Dogpatch crew to list his work published online here, at Flayrah and elsewhere. Here’s what’s listed so far (there’s more that isn’t added yet, any volunteers?) Also check his latest posts. 


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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51GFcdYoaSL._SX351_BO1204203200_.jpg?resScurry: [Book 1] The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith. Illustrated.
Vancouver, WA, Easy Prey Entertainment, November 2017, hardcover $30.00 (unpaged [104 pages]), softcover $20.00, Kindle $11.99.

This is the first collection of one of the best, largest (13.7” x 8.3”), and most beautiful anthropomorphic-animal comic strips on the Internet. Mac Smith, a graphic designer in Portland, Oregon, began Scurry: A Post-Apocalyptic Mouse Tale on January 17, 2016, and has been posting about two pages a week. The Doomed Colony contains Part I, Lingering Light, Part II, Beasts of Winter, and Part III, Grim Shadows. These add up to 84 pages, and an Afterword, an extensive Cast of Characters, and samples of Smith’s working process bring The Doomed Colony up to 104 pages.

Smith ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,000 to publish this book. He got $101,230 from 2,129 backers in a month. Smith says in his Afterword that he has not read any of the anthro-animal books that readers have been recommending to him. His influences are 1980s movies like The Secret of NIMH, The Dark Crystal, and The Neverending Story.

Scurry is set in a “post-apocalyptic” world in which the humans are dead or gone but their cities are undamaged. There has been no explanation yet of what happened to the humans (despite the book’s cover, no bodies or skeletons are around), or whether what happened is responsible for the animals’ intelligence (although probably this is just a talking-animal fantasy). The mice in the colony wonder whether the humans could return, or whether there are still some left elsewhere. The setting could be Smith’s Pacific Northwest; the fauna and flora fit it. The rusted and decayed look of the buildings and vehicles, and the overgrown lawns implies that humanity disappeared about a year earlier. Food in the houses has run out. Pets like cats have turned feral and hunt the mice for food.

The Doomed Colony is that of the mice in a house in an unnamed suburban neighborhood. They have eaten all of the food that they can find in their own and other nearby homes. The local ex-pet cats are growing increasingly dangerous. Feral wildlife is moving in; some like beavers and moose are harmless, but others like hawks, wolves, snakes, and owls eat mice. The colony is divided between those who want to stay put and explore farther for food, and those who want to move the whole colony into a nearby city where there may be more food and shelter from wild animals.

Politics makes the debate more convoluted. The mice have been ruled well by an Elder Council, but the Council is literally dying of old age. Is the Council’s preference to stay put based on wisdom, or a refusal to consider new ideas? Is Council Leader Orim’s wish to be replaced by his daughter Pict, whom he has trained to replace him when he dies, a good one, or is it pure nepotism? Is Resher, who leads the faction to move into the city, really working for the colony’s benefit, or does he plan that the colony’s upheaval will give him the chance to take over its leadership?

The protagonist of The Doomed Colony is Wix, a young mouse who is one of the best scavengers in the colony. He is potentially Pict’s boyfriend, but he’s really more interested in exploring new locations. Part I introduces Wix and his best friend Umf, a rat, looking for food in the last house in the neighborhood and running into the neighborhood’s cats; and Pict with her father arguing over the colony’s politics. In Part II there is a rumor of the discovery of a human food delivery truck, resulting in an expedition to find it, which lures Wix and others out of the colony. Part III takes Wix into the forest and introduces some of the more feral characters in Scurry: a hawk, a moose, a wolf.

Smith’s plotting and dialogue are taut. His action seldom slows down. Wix, Pict, and Umf are constantly escaping from huge, bloodthirsty cats and hawks, and enemies among the mice themselves scheme for their betrayal and deaths. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and a notice that Book II, The Drowned Forest, will come in May 2018.

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In the meantime, read the semi-weekly Scurry on the Internet.

(Although this book says that Easy Prey Entertainment has a Vancouver, WA address, its Facebook page says it is a Portland, OR business. Scurry is beautifully printed on thick, glossy paper in China. If I may be permitted a personal kvetch, books without page numbers on thick, glossy paper are very annoying because it’s hard to tell when you’re accidentally turning two pages at once.)

Fred Patten

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Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here. (- Patch)

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Emily Rose Lambert, is an illustrator and first class graduate from Loughborough University who works as a greetings card designer. Her work encompasses comics, design and illustration, often featuring repeating patterns, showcasing a preoccupation with indigenous American culture, nature and animals.

Dreamscape is the lovely, achingly cute story of two adorable animal characters travelling through a series of dreamlike vignettes that evokes the ephemeral nature of dreams and conveys that sense of disjointed dreamlike logic as the characters drift between seemingly disparate situations and emotions. The story floats effortlessly from the fantastical, one of the figures breaking into fragments, one lovingly patching up the other with clay and leaves to the more everyday, as the dreamers enter a birthday party late and unable to sing along with the other revellers. From the small embarrassments that gently gnaw away at us in the night to the gentle sense of dread as an unknown figure watches us from afar, each instance captures the moments in dreams where feelings seem always just a little too close to the surface, more immediate and raw.

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On her own blog, Emily briefly describes her process behind the comic revealing an early draft that she had begun creating digitally until, as she puts it a “boost of confidence in using ink and pencil” promoted her to switch over to more traditional methods resulting in the final comic. It’s a decision that definitely works in her favour, as does the restriction to black and white owing to the anthology it’s collected in.

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The first draft almost seems too solid, too real while the traditional hand drawn panels fit the otherworldly tone of the story perfectly. The final version with the soft pencils and ink give her story a suitably intangible feel in the way that dreams often are. A sense that if you tried to bring it any more into focus, recall it in more detail, it would fade away. The sudden sadness upon awakening as you desperately grasp at details that moments ago seemed so clear become more fleeting and blurred around the edges the harder you concentrate on them. Only half remembered,  leaving you only a feeling or a vague sense of them.

The comic ends where it begins as one of the figures looks out onto the stars once more, again emphasizing it’s roots in dream logic and the recursive, circular nature they sometimes taken on, with motifs or events being repeated over and over. Her sparse dialogue has the rhythm and mood of a fairytale. Sweet, whimsical and imbued with both trepidation hope, it manages to cover a complete gamut of emotions in only two pages.

Originally posted on marfedblog, where Bessie reviews and spotlights Furry and mainstream comics.

Let’s add a comment that came up in conversation about syndicating the reviews:

To explain what my ‘aim’ is with my articles and what I’m all about: I love the comics stuff on Dogpatch and other sites but I think it can get a bit insular with people reviewing anything with anthro characters or featuring the same people all the time (Kyle Gold etc) and what I enjoy doing is pointing out new and interesting comics and creators that are part of the fandom that people may not be aware of or increasingly, people outside the fandom who are doing interesting projects using anthro characters. I’m constantly surprised that for a group that gobbles up anything remotely furry still manage not to pick up on some real gems, usually from lack of exposure. I feel that falling back constantly on old favorites doesn’t do the fandom any good. So hopefully I’ll be able to help the site in that way.


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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51q80MqdE3L.jpg?resize=266%2C425Marking Territory, by Daniel Potter. Illustrated by Johanna T.
El Cerrito, CA, Fallen Kitten Productions, November 2017, trade paperback, $14.99 (381 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Marking Territory is Book Two in Potter’s Freelance Familiars fantasy series. There is no Synopsis or What Has Gone Before of the events of Book One, Off Leash. The Freelance Familiars series is recommended, but if you aren’t familiar with Off Leash, you won’t know what is going on.

For the record, the Kindle edition was published in July 2016, over a year before the paper edition.

The narrator is Thomas Khatt, a cougar who was a young unemployed librarian in Grantsville, Pennsylvania. Off Leash begins with Thomas’s next-door neighbor being killed in a suspicious hit-&-run “accident”, and Thomas being transformed into a mountain lion/cougar/puma. He learns that he has been transported to the “Real World”, and as an intelligent animal, he is expected to become a wizard or witch’s familiar; an involuntary magical assistant – in practice, a slave to a magus.

“Yet one thing had become crystal clear; I wanted no part of this world. Losing my thumbs, my house and my girlfriend in exchange for the chance to be sold off to some pimple-faced apprentice did not sound like a fair deal to me.” (Off Leash, p. 35)

To quote from my review of Off Leash:

“Thomas decides to take charge of his own life, even if he is not familiar with the Real World yet. He faces the dangers of our “world beyond the Veil”, of being a cougar loose in a San Francisco residential neighborhood, and of the Real World, refusing to join the TAU [Talking Animal Union] or to become bound to a magus – or to an apprentice – as a familiar.

“To stay off the leash, he’ll have to take advantage of the chaos caused by the local Archmagus’ death and help the Inquisition solve his murder. A pyromaniac squirrel, religious werewolves, and cat-hating cops all add to the pandemonium as Thomas attempts to become the first Freelance Familiar.” (blurb)

Off Leash ends with Thomas still a cougar, but he’s found and rescued his girlfriend, a werewolf (she’s more like a permanently furry wolf-woman) named Touch, and he’s won his independence as a freelance familiar. He’s become a familiar for hire – and if he doesn’t like his boss, he’ll go elsewhere. He’s satisfactorily bonded as the familiar of O’Meara, a magus who is the Inquisitor (police officer) of the Grantsville of the Real World, but who has been gravely wounded in a magical duel saving his life.

Marking Territory begins six months later. Thomas and Noise – her human name is Angelica – are having dinner at an expensive restaurant “beyond the Veil”, posing as elegantly dressed humans:

“Pity slipped into the waiter’s eyes as I gathered my scattered thoughts. Really, I wanted to savor this moment for as long as I could. Thanks to the Veil that blinded mundanes to any magically-induced weirdness, he surely saw a miserable wretch of a man slumped in a wheelchair despite the snappy tuxedo. I didn’t need pity, for this was a triumph! I sat at the table, instead of hiding under it like a pet. He couldn’t see my smile filled with teeth designed to crush the windpipes of a deer or the huge paws that awkwardly pushed on the armrests of the wheelchair in which I perched. Nobody but Noise saw the nearly three-foot long tail that protruded from the space between the back and the seat of the wheelchair.

No one could comprehend a reason for a cougar to come into their restaurant dressed in a tuxedo and sitting in a wheelchair. Therefore, logically, I must be a man. It was a trick I’d only been able to pull off on the internet or in a dark alley.” (p. 8)

Their dinner is majorly interrupted by a transition. Thomas isn’t experienced with transitions yet. O’Meara’s mental connection saves him from its effects, but Noise isn’t immune to it.

“‘ThoOOOMAS?’ Noise’s voice stretched out into an animal bay as everything around me twisted, including her! I couldn’t turn my head away as black splotches appeared on her skin.

Her eyes, wide with shock, slid to the sides of her head, pushed there by the growth of a heavy muzzle. Horns erupted from either side of her skull, and her dress strained to contain the sudden bulk of her body and breasts. The glass she held shattered, crushed with the strength of a massive two-fingered hand.

Behind her the wall shimmered from plain white into roughhewn planks. The elegant table before us became a barrel covered with a red-checked tablecloth, and the silverware, wooden spoons and knives. The salt and pepper shakers blossomed into shallow bowls with piles of spice.

Noise held a hand up to each eye. Her mouth, a maw filled with blunt teeth and a black tongue, hung open like a dentist had used too much Novocain. She closed and opened it as if to speak, but all that came out was a loud, panicked MOOOOO!

Noise clutched at her muzzle. The waiter, or what had been our water, appeared. He bleated a question at Noise as he effortlessly balanced on cloven feet, wearing nothing but his blue vest. Noise just stared at him, her huge blue eyes flicking up and down the man’s goat-like body. Around us the mundanes, now blended with a reality that resembled a barnyard, continued with their meals, the Veil preventing them from noticing anything unusual had happened.” (pgs. 13-14)

The effect doesn’t last long, but it’s a blatant sign that Thomas, as an intelligent but physically unanthropomorphized cougar, is starting a new adventure.

Thomas, still getting used to life as a physical cougar who’s mentally connected to a magus who has become a wheelchair-bound cripple saving his life, feels personally obligated to getting medical help for O’Meara. To do that, he’ll have to quit being O’Meara’s familiar and earn magic on his own as a talking cougar in the Real World, with only (legally) the help of Rudy, a wisecracking, pyromaniac squirrel. Thomas assumes that they will have to do it in Grantsville. Rudy insists they go to Las Vegas:

“‘Wait on the highway and show some leg [Rudy said]. We hitch a ride to Vegas. There’s trouble there that’s gonna need shooting.’

‘I’m still thinking local. I don’t think the Veil would like us in Vegas.’ I stopped to rub an itchy shoulder against one of my favorite scratching trees.

‘No seriously,’ Rudy said, ‘there’s no Veil in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Anything magical happens and munds assume it was all a wild bender. Most magical city in the USA. If you want clients to get this whole freelance familiar thing happening, go there. I’ll dig you up a fedora somewhere.’” (pgs. 52-53)

This review is running too long. There are even weirder transitions, a cat-controlled helicopter, and lots more, most of which involves the cougar and the extroverted squirrel dealing with anthro animals of some sort:

“Eight birds stared down at us as Ixey opened her eyes. One was no crow. You might mistake him for a giant raven, but the beak had a wicked curve to it, his talons vicious hooks. This was no scavenger. He was a black eagle, feathers darker than the others, given almost no shine by the glare of their lamppost perch. He hopped forward, gliding down toward us. A single crow followed his lead, her body bursting into a blue light and form blurring as she swooped beneath the eagle, landing as an elegant woman in a white dress. She wore a falconry glove, which the eagle alighted upon as the last of the blue light faded from a ring she wore.” (p. 84)

Marking Territory (cover by Ebooklaunch.com) arguably features magical animals rather than anthropomorphic animals, but what do you care as long as they are talking animals? Decide for yourself whether to read Off Leash first.

Fred Patten

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51xpUHYiXML.jpg?resize=227%2C350Mist, by Amy Fontaine
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, September 2017, trade paperback, $10.99 (168 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

Mist is more like a traditional fairy tale than a usual furry novel.

“‘Where am I?’ said the five children. They startled all at once at the sound of each other’s voices.

They peered at each other through the swirling mist, slowly piecing together each other’s appearance. A broad-shouldered girl with brown eyes as fierce as a hawk’s stood firmly, locking eyes with each of the others in turn and staring them down. A much younger, much smaller girl trembled as she gazed into the mist, twirling a golden curl of hair around her finger. A boy with short-cropped, dirty-blond hair smiled kindly at the others. A tall, lanky boy with messy brown hair glanced all around himself, assessing his surroundings. A pale boy with pointed ears frowned at the others. They all seemed to be teenagers of varying ages, except for the quivering little girl.

‘Who are you?’ the children asked each other.” (p. 1)

The five children do not remember their names. They are in a forest of tall trees shrouded in mist. They find a giant redwood with a treehouse containing shelves of books. A book on a candle-lit table is titled Transformations.

“The book had two parts, ‘Part One: Changing Yourself,’ and ‘Part Two: Changing the World.’” (p. 3)

The five children learn that they each have two animal forms (only one of which is revealed immediately to the reader), and they can all talk telepathically, in their animal or human forms. Since they do not know their names, they take new ones. The hawk-eyed girl, who can become a wolf, becomes Karen Starbroke, their leader. The boy with the gentle smile is Samuel Reed, a red deer. The little girl is Tessa Opal, a golden mongoose. The messy-haired boy is Jack Walsh, a lynx. The pale boy with pointed ears, a python, will not show the others what his other animal form is, and only reluctantly chooses a name when pressed by Karen: Loki Avila.

“‘Well, now that we have that established, we can go and use what we can do to be heroes.’” (p. 5)

All during this the mist is swirling closely around them, as though it is watching, listening, and embracing them. Suddenly their apparent adversary appears.

“‘Before the wolf could finish her sentence, a bloodcurdling roar split the night in two.

A quarter-mile away, at the spot from which the roar had come, two slanted yellow eyes glowed in the darkness.

[…]

The yellow eyes belonged to a large, ugly, reptilian face. Its scales melded into the darkness. The big, distinctly split scales made the face seem cracked like ancient mud.

The eyes had risen because the jaws had parted, and the creature’s cavernous mouth now loomed open. Karen saw the ghastly gleam of long, sharp teeth like ivory sabers, with strings of spit clinging like cobwebs to the inside of the gaping maw. For a moment, she stood motionless, watching the creature.

Suddenly, the creature disappeared into the mist.” (pgs. 6-8)

But it turns out that everyone sees the monster differently.

And so it goes. Plenty of exciting events happen, but for no apparent reason. Whenever anyone does ask a reason, it pointedly is not answered.

“Karen blinked rapidly, staring at nothing. Then, she looked at Jack. ‘Let’s wake everyone up. We need to keep moving.’

‘Why?’ asked Jack. Karen wasn’t listening.

After everyone was awake, they took another quick stop at the brook and headed on their way, following Karen toward … well, no one knew where.” (pgs. 13-14)

Karen is friendly toward three of the group, but is constantly berating Loki, usually for being the last to arrive when she orders them to change into animals and dash off.

“Karen returned to human form and glared at Loki. ‘Well, look who decided to show up.’

Loki stared blankly at Karen. ‘What?’

‘Why didn’t you follow us right away?’ growled Karen. ‘If we’re going to be a pack and work together, we have to all stay together. We only have each other to rely on from now on. We might have needed your help to fight that … that thing. And you weren’t there.’

[…]

Karen and Loki glared at each other.

‘What about you, Karen’ said Loki. ‘You charged off and left us without a second thought. How was I supposed to keep up with you all in those swift forms of yours, anyway? I can’t match your pace, as a snake or as a human.’” (p. 8)

The forest, which turns out to be called the Ethereal Forest, seems to be a typical fairy-tale (i.e., European) forest, but its wildlife is North American: coyotes, mountain lions, and so on. There are wondrous things in this world, and the five children have wondrous adventures, yet I get the impression that this was a mistake. Or was it a deliberate effort to bring the magic of Old World fairy-tales into New World settings?

It doesn’t matter.

“In her very soul, Karen felt a yearning as profound as the heavens. Somewhere, a voice was calling her, with music soft and mysterious, lyrics as old as the sea. The voice was without her, yet there within her, too. She might have felt strange, seeking something that was right there inside her, but the urge to wander was too strong. She knew then more than ever that she would fulfill the call no matter what it took. Her emotions a wild dance of red flashes in her head, she was wound up, unable to contain herself, so overcome with feeling. Without realizing it, she had become the wolf. She threw back her shaggy head and let out a powerful, spirited howl. It was so full of lonely longing, so otherworldly and unreal, that the loud, carrying cry seemed alien to all those who heard it. It was so full of strange potentials difficult to grasp that it was like the mist in its ambiguity. The howl that Karen let loose was indeed a thing truly ethereal in nature.” (p. 50)

Mist (cover by Scott L. Ford) is, like most tales of this sort, at heart a teaching experience, for the five children and for the inhabitants of the Ethereal Forest alike. Who is the teacher? What is the mist? Read the book and find out.

Only four will survive.

Fred Patten

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Guest post by Nightf0x with a response by Patch.

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Flying out to Pittsburgh this past June for Anthrocon was a fantastic experience. I got to spend time with my friends and see this convention for the first time. However there was something that felt a bit off to me.

It took a different experience at Anthro Weekend Utah to make me aware of what exactly I was feeling at Anthrocon. I had never noticed before, but there is a sense of classism in the furry community. (I didn’t experience any of this classism at Anthro Weekend Utah.)

A lot of people in this fandom are successful, and they should be proud of it! However, sometimes this financial success creates an aura of a “holier than thou” attitude that they may not be aware of. By spending copious amounts of money and keeping their social cliques to people in the same financial situation, it creates a feeling of the haves and have nots.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to reach this kind of success. For the most part this fandom is full of people who are intelligent and apply themselves, and they should be happy that they are in their situation. All I’m asking is to just be aware that sometimes, all the extravagance and copious spending creates social rifts. It can be detrimental to a convention’s social experience. This fandom has definitely been through a lot of social change lately, and my hope is that the next change is to be aware that everybody is in a different socio-economic status, and to at least try to be inclusive in that regard. It’s great to see a fandom that is getting more and more inclusive. However I think as a community we could work better on inclusivity across socio-economic barriers.

I’m not saying you’re evil if you own a fursuit or have a lot of money.  But I think everybody should be entitled to have a fun time without feeling the socio-economic barriers they may experience outside of the fandom. In the end, no matter your current socio-economic status, we are all fans of anthropomorphic animals and we all share this in common. Let’s go out there and have fun without class elitism!

– Nightf0x

A rather critical thread about the topic here:

(most) rich furries are classless as shit imo

— GOTHWENDYS10K (@CrocutaMane) December 14, 2017

A perspective by Patch – expensive fursuits help showcase the whole fandom’s creativity.

Dogpatch welcomes guest posts as part of the mission of the site, and thanks Nightf0x for contributing.  Open access is one small way to be more inclusive. Sometimes a critical opinion can lead to dissecting a problem for positive qualities. So let me offer thoughts about how fursuiting the fandom is known for can represent “conspicuous consumption” and how that isn’t always bad, especially if it’s more about creativity on display than just hoarding the wealth.

Previous stories that look at the fandom’s most expensive fursuits:

A $17,500 sale sure makes an eye-catching headline. Those articles get longer lasting views than many on the site, and I think it shows that the issue matters to many furries.  Spending that way isn’t just anyone’s luxury – but like a museum with a valuable collection, it can be more than just personal indulgence.

How? Look at how unique the art of fursuiting can be. Other fandoms and subcultures have art, music, cosplay, and even their own movies. Furries enjoy that stuff, but original character fursuiting is something you only see from furries. Elsewhere you see it called a mascot or Halloween costume, but it’s more tradition or social performance than personal expression. So you can call fursuiting the most visible display of “furriness”, and that includes the way members spend.

Think of what the “furry dollar” buys across the furry economy. Con-going furs spend a lot on travel – the same as any non-fan who takes vacations – but the ones with suits are extra invested.  Dropping several grand on a suit involves putting in all the effort to use it. That makes a special market by furs, for furs, that uniquely brings together fans and skilled makers with event organizers who help them have a “stage”.

In other words, those fans could be a weathervane for how the fandom grows. Furries don’t make movies (yet), they throw cons, and fursuit group photos are the money shots or the crown jewels. The biggest cons showcase over $3 million in furriness (close to 2,000 suiters) at once. Nothing else approaches such a display.

Why mention it if only more privileged furs can take part?  Because they can be considered Patrons of the Arts, and fursuits are for wearing and performing, not being shut away. It enriches an experience for everyone. They’re pricey, but accessibility is relative too.  Fursuit maker skill is an incredible bargain by comparison to other hand-made fashion. Many makers do it for love at near minimum wage for the labor it takes (if you got hand-made jeans, they’d cost hundreds of dollars.)  And if you can’t afford a suit, you can make one yourself.

DIY Power is part of the beauty of what Furries do. There’s class in it, but it’s different than say, collecting rare cars or vicariously watching highly-paid athletes (stuff the mainstream takes for granted as hobbies and fandom.) For other ways to increase inclusion, remember that it’s made of real people who meet in real life. You can reach out to those who want to do meets and cons and welcome them in. Those depend on volunteerism, so someone who can’t afford it can still get in as a volunteer to make an event for everyone. Cons always need more volunteers for operations or to put on panels and make their content better. Even if you want nothing to do with fursuiting, there’s another niche waiting for you. You don’t have to wait for a con, either. Want a guest writer spot here? Make it yours.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.


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Guest post by Arrkay from Culturally F’d, the furry youtube channel. See their tag on Dogpatch Press for more.

This week Culturally F’d returns from our brief hiatus to talk about internet memes inspired by the titular Blue Hedgehog. We wanted to talk about the franchise, without talking about topics that have already been covered at great length on YouTube (like the general history of the franchise.) This was a bit more fun.

It’s everything from Sonic OC’s to Knuckles Knuckles & Knuckles. Sonic or Sanic? Arrkay talks about the hedgehog that has inspired Meme after Meme all over the internet for almost 30 years! Sonic’s constant pop-culture presence makes his franchise chronically memeable, and we explore its history and influence.

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Some info if you’ve somehow never heard of Sonic in its nearly 30 years of existence.

Originally, the script was going to be a collaboration. The Sonic theme was proposed to coincide with the release of Sonic Forces in November. Sadly, the collab fell through. Culturally f’d was left hanging with a script about Sonic Memes. So we cleaned it up as a regular episode.

This music in this episode was generously provided by insaneintherainmusic – Carlos Eiene. You can listen to the original here. (The last time we talked about video games, we used a jazz-cover as well. Our video on Star Fox Fan-Canon featured this awesome smooth jazz cover of the Star Fox 64 music.)

We also had some technical issues with our audio. I bet those with keen ears will be able to tell what, and how we fixed it.

Here’s some additional video links to help put some of these strange memes into context:

Music Clips:

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The official Sonic Twitter (@Sonic_Hedgehog) is sublimely aware of its fan base and uses internet memes quite effectively.

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Our patreon sponsors get to see the videos early, and have their characters in the thumbnail of the episode!

 

Previously, on Culturally F’d: MAGIC

 

We had guest writer Tempe O’Kun script us an episode he was very passionate about. Summoning Furries in Magic: The Gathering was so much fun to make. We pulled out some extra bells and whistles to bring life to the incredible paintings that are used in the collectible card game.

Culturally F’d looks at the extensive cat-people, the best-birbs Aven, the lizardly Viashino, and the miscellaneous handful of other magical mythical creatures that grace the planes of our worlds most popular collectible card game.

Just typical Culturally F'd work pic.twitter.com/CtPxTS1K0V

— Culturally F'd! (@CulturallyFd) October 12, 2017

We had the pleasure of meeting the creators of MTG Purple, at the YouTube Space Toronto. We proceeded to blow their freakin minds with this video, and educate them a bit on what Furries are actually all about.

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Lastly, (late to the punch) we also filmed a Halloween video with Rusty Shacklefur’s very own fursuit come to life – “Tetanus”

 

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We shot this at Underbite’s real birthday party. Not bad for something we filmed well into a buzzed party-mode. It was certainly a fun thing to end on as we entered into a break. Check out where we got Tetanus from, here in this compilation video.

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

61QvM84EGmL.jpg?resize=341%2C500The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
NYC, Alfred A. Knopf, October 2017, hardcover, $22.99 (449 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $11.99.

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
London, Penguin Random House Children’s/David Fickling, October 2017, hardcover, £20.00 (560 pages), Kindle £9.99.

This is Pullman’s long-awaited followup to his multiple award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Its volume 1 is known as Northern Lights in Britain and was published in July 1995. It was retitled The Golden Compass in the U.S. and not published until March 1996. A little over twenty years later, both the American and British editions of The Book of Dust are published simultaneously and with the same title. Yet they are not physically identical. The two editions are typeset separately, with American and British spellings and terminology as appropriate, and the British edition is over a hundred pages longer. The American edition has almost none of the interior illustrations by Wormell, which are just chapter-heading drawings that are frankly not worth missing.

It is not a sequel. The main character in His Dark Materials is the young woman Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon. Lyra is 11 and 12 years old, not yet an adolescent, and her dæmon can still take any male animal, bird, or insect form, which he does. At the conclusion of the trilogy Lyra becomes an adolescent, and Pan’s form is fixed as a talking pine marten. But The Book of Dust is Lyra’s story before His Dark Materials. In La Belle Sauvage she is only a baby.

They aren’t really talking-animal novels. The Book of Dust is set in that alternate Earth where everybody has a dæmon, a talking animal personification of their soul, accompanying them. The dæmon cannot stray too far from its person.

The protagonist of La Belle Sauvage is Malcolm Polstead, the potboy at his father’s inn on the shore of the River Thames at Oxford:

“Malcolm was the landlord’s son, an only child. He was eleven years old, with an inquisitive, kindly disposition, a stocky build, and ginger hair. He went to Ulvercote Elementary School a mile away, and he had friends enough, but he was happiest on his own, playing with his dæmon, Asta, in their canoe, on which Malcolm had painted the name LA BELLE SAUVAGE. […]

Like every child of an innkeeper, Malcolm had to work around the tavern, washing dishes and glasses, carrying plates of food or tankards of beer, retrieving them when they were empty. He took the work for granted. The only annoyance in his life was a girl called Alice, who helped with washing the dishes. Se was about sixteen, tall and skinny, with lank dark hair that she scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. […] He ignored that for a long time, but finally rat-formed Asta leapt at Alice’s scrawny jackdaw dæmon, knocking him into the washing-up water and then biting and biting the sodden creature till Alice screamed for pity. She complained bitterly to Malcolm’s mother, who said, ‘Serves you right. I got no sympathy for you. Keep your nasty mind to yourself.’” (p. 2)

When he isn’t helping out at the inn, Malcolm does odd jobs for the nuns at the Priory of St. Rosamund on the opposite bank of the Thames.

Something unusual begins to happen when Malcolm is eleven. Three strangers come into the inn one evening. Malcolm’s father recognizes one of them as the former Chancellor of England, now out of office. While Malcolm is serving their dinner, they ask him seemingly casual questions about the priory across the river. Does it ever have any guests? Have any of them ever brought an infant with them?

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The next day, Malcolm with Asta goes paddling down the Thames in La Belle Sauvage.

“The reeds [along the riverbank] were taller than he was as he sat in the canoe, and if he kept very still, he thought he probably couldn’t be seen. He heard voices behind him, a man’s and a woman’s, and sat like a statue as they walked past, absorbed in each other. He’d passed them further back: two lovers strolling hand in hand, their dæmons, two small birds, flying ahead a little way, pausing to whisper together, and flying on again.

Malcolm’s dæmon, Asta, was a kingfisher just then, perching on the gunwale of the canoe. When the lovers had passed, she flew up to his shoulder and whispered, ‘The man just along there – watch….’

Malcolm hadn’t seen him. A few yards ahead on the towpath, just visible through the reed stems, a man in a gray raincoat and trilby hat was standing under an oak tree. He looked as if he was sheltering from the rain, except that it wasn’t raining. His coat and hat were almost exactly the color of the late afternoon: he was almost as hard to see as the grebes – harder, in fact, thought Malcolm, because he didn’t have a crest of feathers.

‘What’s he doing?’ whispered Malcolm.

Asta became a fly and flew as far as she could from Malcolm, stopping when it began to hurt, and settled at the very tip of a bulrush so she could watch the man clearly. He was trying to remain inconspicuous, but being so awkward and unhappy about it that he might as well have been waving a flag.

Asta saw his dæmon – a cat – moving among the lowest branches of the oak tree while he stood below and looked up and down the towpath. Then the cat made a quiet noise, the man looked up, and she jumped down to his shoulder – but in doing so, she dropped something out of her mouth.” (pgs. 20-21)

The humans and their dæmons in La Belle Sauvage engage in a complex game of spying on each other, with young Malcolm and Asta at first as a neutral third party spying on both. After he learns what is going on, Malcolm joins what he considers the right side. Malcolm has an advantage in that his dæmon doesn’t have a fixed form yet. Asta can become anything small – a mouse, a squirrel, a ferret, a swallow, a goldfinch, a robin, a moth.

Or more:

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British cover

“It was raining even harder now, and Malcolm found it difficult to see ahead. Asta became an owl and perched on the prow, her feathers shedding the water in a way she’d discovered when she was trying to become an animal that didn’t yet exist. The best she could do so far was to take one animal and add an aspect of another, so now she was an owl with duck’s feathers; but she only did it when no one but Malcolm was looking. Guided by her big eyes, he paddled as fast as he could, stopping to bail out the canoe when the rain had filled it to his ankles. When they got home, he was soaked, but all she had to do was shake herself and she was dry again.” (p. 38)

Adult characters have larger dæmons:

“Coram turned, careful and slow, and saw in silhouette against the lighted embankment the small head and hulking shoulders of a hyena. She was looking directly at them. She was a brute such as Coram had never seen: malice in every line of her, jaws that could crack bones as if they were made of pastry. She and her man were clearly trained at the business of following: because Coram was trained at the business of spotting it, and admired their skill; but as Sophie remarked, it wasn’t easy for such a dæmon to remain inconspicuous. As for what they wanted, Coram had no idea; if they wanted a fight, they’d get one.

He tightened his grip on the fighting stick; Sophie [Sophonax, a cat dæmon] readied herself to spring. The hyena dæmon came forward a little, emerging into a full silhouette, and the man stepped silently forward after her. Coram and Sophie both spotted the pistol in his hand the moment before he flattened himself against the wall of the alley and disappeared into shadow.” (pgs. 58-59)

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage (cover by Chris Wormell) may not be a furry novel, but there are plenty of fully-intelligent furry secondary characters, with those who are pre-adolescent being shape-shifters as well. And the story is gripping. This is volume 1 of 3, so you know there will be a cliffhanger ending.

– Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.


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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

519bdfK79L.jpg?resize=328%2C500Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder. Maps by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $15.00 ([3 +] 397 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Reading Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe is an exercise in frustration. There is a detailed map of the world of Amarthia, but it’s so reduced as to be illegible. There is considerable exciting action, but it’s wrapped in such extensive descriptions as to become almost boring.

The beginning of the novel is what would be a tense dramatic sequence anywhere else. A team of six big-game hunters, loaded for monsters, moves into a secretive nighttime kill mission in a deserted slum district in Kairran, the capital of the desert nation of Pytan. Yet it goes on for forty pages!

“Vincenzo Nieves only averaged 165 centimetres, but the long ears poking out through the crown of his worn white fedora with its faded black band made him appear much taller. As he hop-stepped along, they bobbed and swayed, twitching now and again like electrified antennae.

The jackrabbit had a melodious baritone honeyed by the southern strains of upper-class Banton, far away in the bayous of the West United Kingdoms. Or at least it would be melodious if it was not constantly ringing in the ears of his teammates.

‘So there I was, just enjoyin’ a nice breakfast salad. Actually, it kinda reminded me of the carver’s salad they serve at this quaint café in Clairmount, but never mind. I’m sittin’ there, and in from the kitchen walks this absolutely gorgeous leopard girl, I mean you’ve never seen spots like she had. She had this cute little bob cut that showed off her earrings and a cute top that … well …’ He trailed off with a lascivious gleam in his golden-brown eyes, but no one was actually paying attention to him.

Most of his stories tended to end this way. Only Vince’s appetite for food rivalled his appetite for women. He was not the guy with a girl in every town; he was the guy with a dozen girls in every town. Still, Mohan [the tiger leader] had to admit that, for all his boasting, at least he kept the stories relatively clean. And his behaviour wasn’t entirely without cause; he was a handsome fellow who kept his wavy blond long-fur trimmed short and proper, as befitted a southern gentleman, and had dyed and groomed the fur on his chin into a matching goatee.” (pgs. 10-11)

That’s not all. Vince’s description goes on for another page. And this is just for the jackrabbit. Kittina “Kitty” Katral the tigress, Rizzo Vega the basilisk, Mohan Katral the tiger leader (Kitty’s father), Victoria Littlepond the “petite female bullfrog”, and Ezekiel “Zed”, a desert nomad badger, are described at equal length. So is the monster/fiend they are up against:

“Beneath the city streets, cloaked in the dark and damp, something stirred.

It was aware of many things all at once: the distant lap of water against the shore, the whistle of air through its underground sanctuary, the taste of fresh blood in its mouth, the sounds of its new prey stalking above it.

It could not understand the beings, though the echo of their speech was clear to its ears. It knew from their movements that they were not following the path it had laid out for them.

With swift and stealthy purpose, driven by a hunter’s instinct, it slithered into the maze of tunnels that branched off from its lair.

It sensed something different about these intruders, a peculiar scent that sparked ancient genetic pain and fierce battle. They would not stumble into its trap like the others. It had been long since prey had offered such a challenge.

It could not express emotion like the ones it stalked, yet it felt a thrill shudder through its body. It had not felt anything like it since the days of its ancestors.

The hunt had begun.” (p. 21)

There is the description of the monster’s lair, an abandoned slum hotel … But let’s just cut to the fiend:

“Tiamats averaged eight metres from head to tail. Tw ridges of serrated bone ran parallel down the broad back from the base of its neck to the tip of its thick short tail, which had another ridge of bone running from the base to the tip. Despite its short length, a tiamat could use its tail quite effectively; flanking the creature was always a risky strategy. Four massive legs supported its barrel-like body. Each ended in a five-fingered hand tipped with claws 15 centimetres long. Unlike an ahuitzotl, it did not have webbing between the toes. Its skin was covered with thick diamond-shaped scales couloured a mottled greenish-brown. The scales pulled tight against ribs, joints, and spine, giving the creature a skeletal appearance that belied the incredible strength within its powerful limbs. Many of the major muscles, particularly the anterior and posterior muscles of the legs, protruded through the skin like dull red blisters.” (p. 29)

Etc., etc., etc. – it goes on. When the story finally gets around to the hunters’ confrontation of the fiend, it’s a doozy, but it seems all too short compared to the buildup.

I haven’t mentioned the main character at all yet, who doesn’t enter the story until page 42. He’s Sedric “Ric” Barnes, a lynx investigative journalist, in Kairran with Ed Sanders, his fox photographer. They’re in Pytan to cover the reports of illegal gladiatorial games and slave trading being held there almost openly, and have found the rumors of grisly murders and a nightmarish fiend loose as well.

To condense the plot, the rumors are true. The whole Sultanate of Pytan is run by the Assad Alabwaq, the Black Horns, who continue to run the technically illegal but still popular gladiatorial fights to the death and slave trading. But the kill-crazy fiends are something new. As long as the crimes stayed in Pytan, the other nations of Amarthia are willing to ignore them; but when there is evidence that Assad Alabwaq is trapping the fiends and releasing them in Pytan’s rivals and enemies – a form of biological warfare – that’s going too far. So there are Alabwaq – the criminal organization and its crime lord — trying to trap the fiends; the six hunters trying to kill the fiends first, and a secret running battle between the hunters and Alabwaq; and Ric Barnes and Ed Sanders out to expose the truth.

Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe is unusual in furry fiction in making its lead villain not a predator:

“The man calling himself Assad Alabwaq was short-statured – not uncommon for a mouflon – but he appeared immaculate and confidant in a white and gold linen suit with a purple feather pinned to the lapel. He was approximately in his mid-forties, and kept his slate-grey long-fur, streaked with white at the temples, swept straight back from his high forehead. Alabaster horns – clearly Black Horns was just a euphemism – sprung out from either side of his narrow skull, curving down and forward until they made almost a full turn onto themselves. He had capped them with gold and purple tassels. Despite the dark brown of his body-fur there was a large white patch at the end of his long thin snout, and the long greying goatee on his chin was neatly brushed and trimmed.” (p. 78)

Yoder uses many Middle-Eastern words in his descriptions of everyday life in Kairran. His third-person narration and the tigers’ dialogue is full of Britishisms – spellings such as metres and coulour, lorry for truck, journos for journalists, arvo for afternoon, “If things get bodgie”, “Bonza!”, “Bugger all!”, and so on.

And with many questions still unanswered, this review of Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe (cover by the author) is being brought to a close. How many different sides are in the hugger-mugger in Pytan, and is Assad Alabwaq really the worst of the lot? What is the six-hunter team a part of? Where are all the monsters/fiends coming from?

What is the Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe?

– Fred Patten

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Paws in the air if you like science!

The newest, international FurScience survey needs your participation. They will use the data to help the fandom and those outside it to learn more about it. They have been doing surveys for years, and this is their largest and most ambitious one yet. They’re hoping to blow previous records out of the water by getting 10,000 furries worldwide. At the end, results will be available to all, and it’s sure to prove fascinating for anyone curious about what goes on inside the fluffiest fandom. Please spread the word about it to other furries you know!

Take the survey here:  https://psychologyuwaterloo.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_39LTMxBo27VJMl7

This is a great time to help increase knowledge, with conventions hitting record attendance. In December 2017, Midwest Furfest grew larger than any con before by a difference that equals a small con itself.  The more participants a survey can gather, the better it can represent them.  Furscience / IARP has brought data in the past that has immensely helped raise understanding about why and how people come together in this very unique group – a reason why the media is doing less and less mocking and taking more time to tell real stories. Instead of waiting for slower media to catch up, put some science in their faces to neutralize the clickbait. That’s just one reason to help, and there’s probably 10,000 and more, one for every unique furry. So don’t wait, click that link!

International Furry Survey is open - please retweet and participate! https://t.co/ez9aNW4YjF pic.twitter.com/9kjUWeVxZG

— Furry News Network (@furrynewsntwk) December 7, 2017

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Midwest Furfest 2017 broke the attendance record of all furry cons by the margin of a small con itself. It raised an eye-popping $86,000 for an animal charity that was previously in the red and is now funded for years. Twitter was on fire about the smashing success for the fandom. Among many ecstatic posts by attendees, of course there had to be some kind of drama too. It came with a fursuiter being arrested. Here’s the story pieced together by claims on twitter:

Scene: a hotel lobby. A black, red and white wolf fursuiter with a German WW1 style Pickelhaube helmet is parading around. People taking photos are greeted by offensive behavior like saluting with a “Sieg Heil” and shouting racist things. It causes hotel and/or con security to pursue him, and he flees and gets cornered in some bushes until the police come. They make him take off his suit, and he’s taken away in underwear. He was previously banned from the con and hotel, and the charges involve trespassing and assaulting a staff member before his arrest.

Some of those claims may be disputed (especially the nazi part), so let’s look deeper for the truth. Here’s an arrest record. Associates confirm the fursuiter who matches it is Magnus Diridian, AKA Rob Shokawsky (real name Robert Sojkowski). What is Magnus known for in furry fandom?

  • Fake Lemonade Coyote: At Anthrocon 2014, Magnus gained notoriety with a “bootleg” fursuit made to imitate a furry who died on duty as an EMT. People mourning his death were unhappy about exploitation of his image, which continues in 2017.
  • Confederate flag fursuit: At Anthrocon 2017, Magnus caused more anger with a flag-design fursuit and a Trump sign. It was a protest of takedown of the flags around the USA due to their racist association, following national attention on hate crime murders by Dylann Roof. The story was covered in a Dogpatch Press article: The Confederate fursuit incident shows how you can’t be a troll and a victim at the same time.
  • Grimace McWendy’s: Custom suits show that Magnus puts a lot of effort into these events. If it’s not just calculated to troll, isn’t that’s a loveable quality? The same is said by people close to him who are earnest about defending him as a nice guy. I have to admit that this fursuit makes me laugh and I have to admire the creative humor. (Suiting video).

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Then there’s the crime record. Here’s an extensive record starting in 1990 when he was 18. It includes charges like: disorderly conduct, prowling at night, harassment, terroristic threats, “ethnic intimidation”, reckless endangerment, cruelty to animals, possessing instruments of crime with intent, numerous counts of theft and receiving stolen property, fighting, and most recently a battery charge (dismissed in 2016).

Such sensitive info could use care – people’s pasts can be their business, like bad credit shouldn’t be held against someone if they aren’t borrowing your money. Old shoplifting incidents may not add up to that much, and many people get into fights at some point in life. Everyone deserves credit for making mistakes as a kid or doing time and having a clean slate again… but things pile up when “benefit of the doubt” is in question. Magnus may be nice to friends and a great guy in many cases, but con staff worry about this stuff to do their jobs. When a con has a problem, every attendee has one too.

Let’s get back to MFF 2017. Below are tweets from when things came out – then we’ll compare a defense by Magnus himself with reports by witnesses.

Pic of fur arrested at MFF, was banned but made a scene anyways. More details withheld for now. pic.twitter.com/9Sx7Z6CTqU

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 2, 2017

Remember the Confederate flag fursuiter? It turns out that he got arrested at MFF for Wearing a World War I German Uniform while shouting out Nazi Expletives. pic.twitter.com/9QVpUjJWKG

— Biogodz | MFF2017 (@Biogodz) December 2, 2017

First night of #MFF and Magnus Diridian gets kicked out a con... again! Apparently he was told in advanced by the hotel that he wasn't allowed due to his past actions there. He came anyway, disturbed the guests & got arrested when he didn't leave as told.

— The Great and Magical Coquito Pupper (@vappyflame) December 2, 2017

Listen everyone, stop calling him “the confederate flag fursuiter” and call him by his name, Magnus Diridian, sole proprietor of Chirrfull Creations and maker of these fine works of art pic.twitter.com/DUMxmHVaU8

— reaux (@reauxpudu) December 3, 2017

btw here's acid revelation. its low quality because i screencapped it from a youtube video. pic.twitter.com/6xQUmN8Gjq

— red panda with a name that shouldnt be this long (@SerrisV) December 3, 2017

Can anyone explain to me how Magnus Diridian has a new offensive fursuit every six months? How much disposable income can one guy have?

— Arrow supports Net Neutrality (@AQuivershaft) December 3, 2017

Like, last night, I witnessed Magnus get arrested. He’s doing a Nazi salute, while wearing a WWI Kaiser helmet, with American Purple Heart ribbons. That’s two separate eras and two separate nations at war.

— Brutus @ MFF (@BrutusDBernard) December 3, 2017

About the MFF arrest drama, try not to be That Pedant about the suit not being related. Magnus designs suits to provoke like the bootleg Lemonade Coyote and Confederate fursuits. This nailed it. https://t.co/x7qFkvI1zf

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 2, 2017

They're playing "I'm not touching you" because they have this weird idea that private entities will play their game of technicalities.

— Socratic Method Acting (@ChaKatKimber) December 2, 2017

Please note that the altfurries are trying to disavow Magnus because he disrupts their narrative of altfurries having done nothing wrong and having broken no law.

It is a lie. They specifically recruited him.

— VƎX qualifies as a service animal in 15 US states (@andreuswolf) December 5, 2017

also worth adding: Magnus Diridian has an extensive criminal record including threatening to bomb a local bank about 10 years ago

trying to get access to the public court docs, just bc I wouldn’t blame y’all for thinking all this stuff was too wild to be true

guy is messed up https://t.co/GVpyAGWQWx

— fall out futch @ NYFB+ANE (@JUNIUS_64) December 2, 2017
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Bad Dragon didn’t make a “sit on a Pickelhaube” toy.

Digging into more details:

  • Charges: Con staff told me that Magnus was approached, pursued and arrested because he was banned from the con space and hotel. A defender tells me no drugs or alcohol were involved, the charges aren’t too serious and Magnus got out on $100 bail, but he can’t go back to the con.
  • Disputing Nazi labels: The same defender says that he made a German fursuit and spoke German, so people overhyped the issue. Others say a WWI German character (a Baron von Hindenberg type) isn’t a nazi, which is technically true. It’s also true that replacing a swastika with a paw print on a nazi armband is still a callback to nazi symbolism. “Dogwhistles” are a popular tactic. Magnus’s history of making fursuits to reference high profile fandom events says there’s little point in denying a reference to nazis in 2017. Not necessarily racist but indubitably a troll.
  • Altfurry and the Furry Raiders say that Magnus isn’t a member of their groups, deflecting the way his Confederate suiting made him their cause célèbre for free speech. Which itself is manipulative because free speech involves public matters, but a private event can set its own rules to limit trolling. Inside sources that helped me to expose the Altfurry Discord chat logs confirmed that the group sought to meet Magnus at AC, and he is friendly with Foxler.
  • Being arrested in underwear has to be a horrible experience that dehumanizes a furry no matter what came before. Events came out on Twitter on Friday 12/1 and the arrest record shows booking on 12/4, so if accurate, he may have spent a weekend in a cold, painful holding cell.

I have to ask: what was he thinking with all that preparation for a just few wasted minutes of negative attention? He’s almost 46 and it took a great deal of energy and money to get quickly arrested. He got to sit in a cell while everyone else enjoyed great times. How does someone find this a worthy use of energy?  Magnus himself tried downplaying it on social media by hinting that there was no arrest and it was rumor. But of course that wasn’t going to work. His post about it aims to deflect blame for an event he built a suit for, like previous incidents. That’s hard to call an unexpected coincidence:

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I went looking for witnesses. A con staffer on duty that night was told by others about nazi salutes (but told me he only saw the arrest). @Kellervo was also there and reacted to Magnus’ story:

“Yeah, that’s not at all what happened. I didn’t see any salutes, as I was outside, but I did see his run. Con staff didn’t appear to be blocking him at all. A con goer did try to stop him when he ran out the doors, but at no point did I see the con staff actually try to blockade him, much less form a “human wall”.  He got into a shoving match with the con goer, and once he shoved them aside, he ran off with con staff trying to catch up to him. As for the bit about shouting Nazi slogans, Sieg Heil was about all I heard. Since I was outside I only really caught the aftermath. Can’t really say for sure it was 100% the suiter that shouted it.”

Another source saw him pushing against people in front of the doors, and sent photos. I see what looks like two staffers standing off to either side.

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So what is the real story? Isn’t this just trivial trolling to ignore? Why so much attention on Magnus for one little incident? Well, with such an ongoing history of staging scenes at cons he’s been banned from, coming back again and again shows an obsession with getting attention. He has expressed anger at MFF staff now and in past years. One may ask when he’ll strike again. And let’s close with something to think about.

A reader commented on the July 2017 article about the Confederate fursuit, describing a crime that used chemicals:

“Robert Sojokowski did commit a terror attack against a bank in 2004.

Source: http://magnusdiridian.livejournal.com/22622.html
Mirror: http://archive.is/ZrtRn

And here in his own words are things he actually said in that post:

“So, back in I went, and set it off DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE TELLER after making another deposit.”

“I drove past the bank on my way home 5 minutes later and nothing seemed amiss. So I figured things were cool.”

“They illegally raised the terroristic threat charge to a felony”

“Hazmat team was sent to the scene as well as the fire department. A pregnant woman was rushed to the hospital.”

This is the kind of person we’re dealing with. A person whose actions put a pregnant woman in the hospital over $100 in bank fees and then complains that he was charged with a felony.

Posting this anonymously because I am worried for my safety.”

Then there’s this.

19 people were hospitalized, some with long lasting lung damage (one wrote about the experience). A furry with a troubled history falsely claimed responsibility, but was ruled out as a suspect. The story was revisited by Vice in CSI Fur Fest: The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention.

Michael on Facebook doesn’t want to be contacted. I would hope there isn’t more to this, but I have a feeling it will come up again.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.


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Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)il_570xn-773280706_8bp8.jpg?resize=570%2

Being of modest means, in the past I have shamefully bought comics due to page count alone. Quantity counts when strapped for cash and I’d usually choose comics with a bit more meat on their bones. Although I’m slowly collecting Hellblazer trades they’d always be at the top of my list when they came out due to their huge wodge of pages and densely written style that would take me a few weeks to chew through. Recently being a little bit more financially relaxed and delving deeper into the small press and independent scene I’m discovering more often that the best comics can be both beautiful and brief. Vessel is an independent comic from Leeds artist Kristyna Baczynski. It stars an unnamed anthro protagonist who completes her education and finds herself immediately stuck in an all too familiar procession of banal and ultimately interchangeable jobs. Baczynski captures the feeling of quiet mundanity here perfectly in a series of repeated patterns, her character stood in the same pose and expression in each and every one, with only the hats name badges changing. She finally realises after what could be years of these jobs that her own inaction, that she has to make her life happen as she rushes out into the world. While the subject matter is as well travelled as her heroine by the end of the comic, Baczynski’s unique voice and artistic style ensures she still has something fresh to say on the matter. It’s powerful and deeply affecting, especially to someone like myself who might be realizing that life doesn’t happen on it’s own.

Baczynski’s artwork in general is stunning and he unique style and strong playful lines are used to great effect in Vessel. Her pages are both expansive and intricate when needed and filled with delightful little details and flourishes. One element in particular is her use of water to illustrate and express some of her themes. Referring to the title, our protagonist imagines herself as a vessel filling up with knowledge. Eventually the central character finds her own meaning, filling her life up with all the desperate pieces around her to make a whole.The second instance is drawing her character with waves moving around her, brilliantly expressing the idea of life happening and time moving around you, waiting for something to happen rather than living in the now.

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Before her travels her life is restricted to single pages and panels before opening up to widescreen, cinematic double spreads. At the start of her escapades, on the first double page spread, our adventurer stands elated, poised and thrust forward at the edge of a cliff. As she leans forward your eye is deliberately drawn across the page to the wide open landscape. It gives the comic a strong feeling of action and forward momentum, conducive to a story about travel and adventure. It’s definitely worth noting the clever and effective colouring she employs in Vessel, using a limited palette throughout. The pages are all blue until her epiphany and setting off into the world, when colour is literally added to her life. Subsequent pages limit themselves to three colours per double spread until the very last one showing the traveller with her collection of trinkets which combines all of the colours from the previous pages. It perfectly illustrates the accumulation of her encounters.The physical objects show a patchwork of experiences made manifest in “a collage of passport stamps, trinkets and anecdotes”. Baczynski deftly condenses a sense of a lifetime of travel and experiences into such a short comic, with the last few pages showing objects from her travels, skilfully hinting about unseen adventures.Care has been taken to ensure that Vessel itself could join those prized possessions, being risograph printed on thick glossy card stock, and hand stapled.

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Showing it to my partner he enjoyed it and liked the artwork but wasn’t quite as taken with the romanticism of travel or the thought of leaving it all behind as I was. While it’s extensively about travel, I think it prevented him from seeing the much larger point this story makes. The beautiful and touching message at the heart of this comic, of having a rich, full life well lived. I think, giving it another shot, he’d really appreciate what Baczynski depicts here, of being able to look back as this messy, cluttered life and feel content. While the travel and exotic locations give the comic it’s quick pace and momentum, as well as showing of the artists skills, allowing her to draw far flung vistas and even alien looking worlds, it also visually emphasises a point of encouraging us to get out there and open ourselves up to new and enriching experiences. As the protagonist tells us “This might be wisdom, I don’t quite know”.

More of Kristyana Baczynski’s work can be found on her website while Vessel and other comics can be purchased from her Etsy site.

Originally posted on marfedblog, where Bessie reviews and spotlights Furry and mainstream comics.


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Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)

alex.jpg?resize=400%2C573

“You can either stay and rot, or you can escape and burn. That’s OK; he’s a songwriter, after all, and he needs simple choices like that in his songs. But nobody ever writes about how it is possible to escape and rot, how escapes can go off at half-cock, how you can leave the suburbs for the city but end up living a limp suburban life anyway. That’s what happened to me; that’s what happens to most people”

High Fidelity- Nick Hornby

Years back, after heavily getting back into comics, I was gifted with the book 500 Essential Graphic Novels and surprised by the breadth and depth of the selection set about bookmarking and ordering a few dozen titles. Amongst them was Mark Kalesniko’s Alex, a character I instantly fell in love with and creator who’s work I quickly consumed. Having moved back to his home town of Bandini in Canada, with his tail between his legs, after abandoning his dream of animation at ‘Mickey Walt’, Alex wakes up on a park bench, groggy from another night of alcohol fuelled self destruction. Hungover, high school yearbook in his jacket and with an expressionistic painting of the town he has no memory of. The frustrated Alex fills his time wrestling with his past, struggling with artists’ block, hard drinking, and Gilligan’s Island whilst avoiding old school friends and facing up to the unthinkable. Having to be an artist, rather than a cartoonist. Freeway, drawn over ten years features a younger Alex in his animating career. Stuck in a seemingly never ending traffic jam he reminisces about his uncertain start in LA , whilst he imagines himself living an idyllic life, back in the golden days of animation.

Although optimistic now, I spent most of my teens and twenties as a shamefully stereotypically moody and sullen sod, even now I’m drawn to characters like Alex. Back then my favourite book was High Fidelity, which is the reason for the quote at the start of the review which pretty much sums up Alex’s story. Both books features a downtrodden lead character, stuck in their ways and unhappy with the way life turned out. Kalesinko’s work is great for wallowing in self pity and misery, in the same way that we’re drawn to sad songs, knowing full well they’ll bring us yet deeper into sadness. Tackling themes of depression, self destruction, inner peace and the death of a dream, they are both hugely moving and funny reads. Kalesinko can tease out the comedy of even the most disastrous and destructive events of Alex’s life, presented with his sparse fine line with the pacing and sense of movement that clearly comes from his own stint in animation.

Bessie: I found the short Alex story ‘OCD’ funny, but also touching, it’s odd that on every occasion in other media people who have it are presented as being unaware they are doing it, or at ease with it, whereas you presented Alex as getting annoyed even with himself. Does this come from personal experience, do you share any of these traits with Alex? Are there any other of your traits you’ve imbued him with?

Mark Kalesniko: Yes this does come from personal experience, I do suffer from OCD and find it very frustrating and exhausting especially when leaving the house.  I did exaggerate some of the traits for comic effect and the last  gag with the iron I have never done but wanted to.

I do draw from my own life experiences for my Alex stories but they are in no way autobiographical. First my own life is quite dull so I will incorporate events that have happened to other people just to make my story more entertaining. For example, in my book “Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?”, I have a bully who enters Alex’s house and beats him up right in his bedroom. That incident never happened to me but it did happen to a neighbour kid so I incorporated in to my story to show the horror of a bully out to get you. That is the beauty of fiction is to combine different ideas from different sources to make a more interesting story. Also in fiction, the story can wrap up to a conclusion that is both satisfying to both the author and the reader, while reality doesn’t always conclude so neatly.

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B: With comics like this do you find it beneficial to tackle the more serious aspects of it with humour? Do you think it’s an important part of getting information across to an audience?

MK: OCD is exhausting and anxiety inducing malady and to show it with humour I believe breaks the stigma. I am not laughing at the person who suffers from it, I laugh with them. I am trying to make the OCD smaller, less brutal, give some one who suffers from it some distance, to see that there are others who are going through it and they are not alone. When we laugh, we can begin a conversation which in turn helps both those that suffer with OCD and those who know people who suffer a better understanding.

Humour and comedy has always been a good way to broach difficult subjects be it race, religion or illness. A recent example is the comedian Tig Nataro who created a whole comedy routine over a series of tragic events that happened to her. By using humour, it eases the pain and makes things more bearable especially for people who are suffering through their own personal problems.

B: Again in Overpass you write about a difficult subject, Suicide, and inject humour into it with Alex musing over the practicalities of the act. What was your intention with the comic? Similar to making OCD smaller in the other story?

MK: I have written about suicide before with “Uncle Bob” and “Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?”. Both stories dealt with the tragedy and confusion of such a desperate act. In “Overpass”, I started thinking of the act itself and how much effort and planning it would take and that Alex is so depressed that even the act is not worth the effort and in turn he actually saves his own life. It’s humour born out of the absurdity of the situation.

B: How did the idea of drawing Alex as a dog come about? Is it simply to make him stand out more visually amongst other characters or is there something else behind it?

MK: The dog headed character of Alex is based on a character I created as a child. Originally, Alex had a brother and they went on adventures alone the lines of Carl Barks “Donald Duck.” As I got older, I wanted to create stories with more complex themes and decided to haul out my childhood character and put him in adult situations.I found that using a dog to represent Alex could reflect alienation and loneliness. Although Alex doesn’t actually look like a dog to his family and peers, his seeing himself as a dog reveals the way he feels about himself, that he is different. For the reader, the dog evokes a sense of distance and perspective in seeing elements of the plot, just as animals were used in fairy tales centuries ago to represent ideas or character traits.

B: The shorts featured on your website, where do they fit into the ongoing story of Alex? Will the next book be set after the events of Alex or do you have another part of his life in mind for it?

MK: The Alex time line is confusing. Originally, “Freeway” was suppose to come before “Alex” and was the back story for why Alex moved back to Bandini but when I completed “Freeway”, I purposely ended it in the mid 90s a few years after Alex’s time period. The reason being, I had more stories to tell of Alex in L.A.  but I couldn’t figure away to tell them if he was still in Canada. Also at the same time I got a germ of an idea for another Alex/Bandini story set after the events in “Alex.” So to solve the problem, I decided to free Alex of the time line.  All the books and stories of Alex stand alone and do not need to be read in any particular order. And I wanted to explore different aspects of Alex’s character that both L.A. and Bandini bring out in him. So Alex is  unstuck in time. As for “Overpass”, “Tarantula” and “OCD” they are all set in L.A. and take place after “Freeway” as does the new Alex story I’m currently working on. If I live to 100 I hope to also draw the Alex/Bandini story.

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B: Freeway and Alex both tackle the subject of artists working within a strict system and how stifling that can be for creativity , has this been your general experience of certain industries and do you personally see this situation changing at all? 

MK: “Alex” and “Freeway” were both written when I was a young man and express the views that an artist should be free of any constraints and working for himself. At the time, I felt that working in a corporate setting was stifling, political and no way to reach your artistic expression. Now that I’m older, I have a more nuanced view. Working in a corporate setting, an artist can exchange ideas, learn new things and be part of a bigger project that can be satisfying and rewarding. So I see the value in both and its the choice of the artist to balance the two to get the most reward from it.

B: Who were your inspirations when developing your own unique drawing style?

MK: Egon Schiele is probably my greatest inspiration for my drawing style. I love his lines, the expressionism of his paintings and drawings. The raw feelings he has for his subjects. It is very powerful. He inspired not only my graphic novels but also my personal paintings. In comic books, Guido Crepax  has had a strong influence. His line work is very sensual and I love the way he lays out his pages. Also I love Carl Barks “Donald Duck” and Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace”, both drew with a strong draftsmanship  that let me the reader go to different places and actually look around. As matter of fact it’s “Dennis the Menace in Hollywood” that was a huge inspiration for Freeway. When I was a kid I loved exploring the detail of each page and how he took me on a virtual tour of Los Angeles. It  inspired me to draw my own tour of downtown L.A. in Freeway.

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B: In Alex, he spends the book suffering from artists block, have you ever suffered from it yourself and why do you think it’s a subject that artists tend to go back to and explore in their works? 

MK: I have never had a block that stopped me from finishing a book. I have had blocks in certain sequences of my books where I had to put that section away and hope when I get back to it I’d have a solution. One of the best examples of this was  during the creation of Mail Order Bride, I had a scene where Monty and Kyung were arguing about her art school friends. I originally had a very weak argument that Monty was making and I knew it wasn’t working, so I put it aside. One evening , my wife and I were in Pasadena enjoying these Hurdy-Gurdy street performers who had as part of their act, dancing puppets of a maiden and devil. As Matter of fact, those puppets inspired the  puppets in my book. Talking to the performers later, I said how much I like your maiden and devil but one of them corrected me and said that’s not a devil that’s a fool. That statement inspired me and I was able to rewrite the scene using the devil/fool puppet as a symbol of the foolishness of Monty’s argument with Kyung.

Why do artists explore the artist’s block in their work? I believe it’s every artist’s greatest fear. What if I can’t come up with a new idea? What if I never create again? For myself, it scares me to death.

B: In your research for Freeway and the buildings featured was there anything surprising that came up that made its way into the story? What was your favourite to draw and why?

MK: The route that Alex and Chloe take in present day Bunker Hill is the same route I take when my wife and I go downtown to explore. In researching and drawing the Bunker Hill of the past, I was quite surprised how well the two routes synced up. The Bunker hill of the past is completely gone, not only are the buildings demolished but even the topography of the hill was radically changed. When I did my research I was pleasantly surprised at how the present and the past would lead in and out of each other making the journey through time much more seamless. I could not have planned that.

My favourite structures to draw were Angels Flight and the Bradbury Building because they both still exist. There is nothing like drawing something right in front of you. You can see how the building is built. How it fits in to space. How big or small it is. In a photograph, which in Freeway I needed because so many of the structures of the past are gone, I sometimes had difficulty making out how a building worked. A shadow could be too strong or an angle just a little off and I would have no idea how to draw it or what details were there. I’m grateful to have those photos but it’s easier if you can draw something right in front of you.

B: Do you have any plans for other graphic novels any time soon?

MK: Yes, I’m working on two books at the same time. One is a horror story and the other is another Alex story. They should be out in a year or two.

Mark Kalesinko’s books can be bought from amazon and most comic stores, his shorts and further information are available from his website.

Originally posted on marfedblog, where Bessie reviews and spotlights Furry and mainstream comics.


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@HavenFusky of @HavenCon has a 24+ hour livestream for his charitable foundation. Check out the schedule, and here’s @KalTorathen to tell you more, with hope to see our community come together to support a Very Good Boy! 

Have you ever wondered where the money to host and support a convention comes from? In particular, how do smaller or startup cons get funded?

One might argue that larger, long-running cons can gather money for next year’s convention during this year’s convention. But that isn’t true for smaller and younger cons. They depend on generous individuals that donate their time, money, and expertise to make them a reality.

That’s a good reason to support HavenCon (www.havencontx.com) and the associated It’s Your Haven Foundation (www.itsyourhaven.org).

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“But Kal,” you say, “There are many charitable causes, and is this one furry?”

HavenCon is an LGBTQ+ sci-fi convention that is partially run and organized by furries. It welcomes many furry attendees, and features some as special guests. There’s a litany of other talented participants and special guests as well, including game writers and designers, celebrities, actors, and a whole lot more! Of course it includes dances, panels, and other events – the same thing you’d expect to see at a furry con, but with fewer fursuits and a lot more cosplayers. Not only are furries loved here, but the whole fandom benefits from new allies in other fandoms.

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That’s the convention; what about the foundation?

It’s Your Haven Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports running HavenCon. It’s currently seeking to expand the frequency and location of events, and also create the Haven Creators Fund to financially support projects which promote diversity and inclusivity.

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“OK, Kal! How can furry readers support this?”

Now that you know of this wonderful convention and foundation, please consider joining an upcoming 24+ hour donation livestream, on December 8 – 9.  The proceeds will go towards supporting the It’s Your Haven Foundation, and it will feature special guests, interviews, discussions, game play, and more!

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For full details about the live stream, visit:
http://foundation.havencontx.com/building-a-foundation-live-stream-schedule/

For more information about the Foundation:
https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/building-a-foundation-for-diverse-geeks-and-gamers

And finally, HavenCon itself:
http://www.havencontx.com/

– @KalTorathen


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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

5130Wrs2KXL.jpg?resize=243%2C375Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending, by Mary E. Lowd
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2017, trade paperback, $9.95 (227 pages), Kindle $6.99.

Otters in Space III follows right after Otters in Space II, published four years ago. There’s not even a brief What Has Gone Before. Unless you have a really good memory, you had better reread the first two books before starting this.

The series is set in the far future, after humans have uplifted cats, dogs, and otters (and some others), then disappeared. The dogs and cats run Earth, and the otters run everything in space. The protagonist is Kipper Brighton, the tabby cat sister of Petra and Alastair Brighton. Alastair has just run for Senator of California, and despite cat voters outnumbering the dogs four to one, the dogs who control the results announce the dog nominee has won in a landslide. Alastair and Petra must decide whether to challenge the vote and risk starting a cat-vs.-dog civil war. Meanwhile, Kipper has gone into space and is aboard the Jolly Barracuda, an otter merchant spaceship on a supply run to the Jovian colonies. They find the colonies under attack by aliens that turn out to be raptor dinosaurs who have already conquered an octopus space civilization that the cats, dogs, and otters didn’t know about. Otters in Space II ends with the cats and dogs of Earth uniting to oppose the dinosaurs, while Kipper commands a spaceship full of rescued cat refugees returning to Earth.

(I hope that Lowd plans to eventually republish the three books of Otters in Space as a single novel.)

Otters in Space III begins with Jenny, an otter, and Ordol, the leader of the octopi (that’s them on Idess’ cover), flying back from the Persian cat colony of New Persia on Europa in a stolen spaceship, to the Jolly Barracuda hidden in Jupiter’s Red Spot:

“As they flew toward Io, Ordol’s tentacles continued to work in Jenny’s peripheral vision, running scans and taking readings. The ship’s computer displayed the results in a language Jenny couldn’t yet read. Sharp angular letters clustered erratically into words – or so Jenny assumed – and scrolled senselessly across the computer screens arranged beneath the central viewscreen.

The sight of the alien language made it impossible for Jenny to forget: this ship was stolen. They had disabled the homing signal to hide it from the original owners, but it was stolen nonetheless.

Ordol could read the writing, at least, a little of it. He’d been a slave to the aliens who’d built the ship. Before it was renamed Brighton’s Destiny; the aliens who wrote the inscrutable language that filled its screens and who still enslaved the rest of his people.” (p. 10)

Meanwhile, Kipper and the evacuated Persian cats of Europa have successfully returned to Earth, but everyone knows that the raptors are coming:

“Only two people in the entire solar system had infiltrated one of the raptors’ sail ships inside the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. And only one of them had seen the aquariums where the raptors kept octopi enslaved.

Kipper remembered the yellow eyes staring at her and pale tentacles. She remembered those tentacles writhing and struggling as raptors grabbed them, pulled them from the water, and forced them into electronic harnesses that overrode the octopi’s own brains. Raptors hadn’t merely enslaved octopi – they violated them, robbing the octopi of their own wills and bodies on a daily basis.” (p. 17)

Otters in Space III consists of 34 short chapters, going back and forth between the main characters. Kipper Brighton, a cat, hates the water but she ventures deep into the oceans to convince Earth’s octopi and the government of the octopus oligarchy to join the resistance to the raptors.

“‘It looks like a brain, doesn’t it?’ Pearl asked, breaking Kipper’s trance.

Kipper skewed one ear, slightly annoyed by the interruption of her reverie, but she had to admit it was true. Choir’s Deep looked like a giant green brain nestled into the crevice between two underwater cliffs.

As they got closer, the front lights on the submarine began to illuminate the scene. The colors grew clearer and more complicated – patches of peach and orange anemones grew on the coral like blushes of rust; darting schools of copper fish sparkled like pennies sprinkled down a wishing well; and strange plant-like growths in brilliant red and cobalt blue clawed upward like grasping hands.

In many ways, it was a more alien world than Mars or Europa.

‘Do otters visit Choir’s Deep often?’ Kipper asked.

[…]

No.’ Chauncey looked pensive for a moment. […] ‘We’ll be the first to visit Choir’s Deep in nearly a hundred years!’

Kipper blinked. ‘That’s because most otter-octopus interactions happen at a different octopus city?’ she asked hopefully.

Captain Cod turned from his wheel to stare levelly at Kipper. He didn’t usually do anything levelly, so it was quite disturbing. ‘That’s because the only octopi that have been in communication with otters – or anyone – for the last century are refugees and exiles.’” (pgs. 69-70)

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Jenny, one of the otters from the Jolly Barracuda, is frustrated by the infighting over who should command the resistance in the Jupiter-Europa theater:

“The spherical room had been designed for octopi, and the only octopus there was Ordol, clinging to the ceiling with his sucker disks, wearing a breathing apparatus that looked like inverse-SCUBA gear. He looked as uncomfortable as Jenny felt. and he was the only one who should have been comfortable in a room like that.

Instead, Ordol watched silently, reading the paws of the one otter from the Imperial star-Ocean Navy who was taking the time to translate the arguments between his fellow officer-otters, the dachshund and Australian Cattle Dog from Howard Industries, and the yellow-furred former-empress of New Persia into sign language. The cats and dogs didn’t know Standard Swimmer’s Sign. Of course.

That didn’t stop them from arguing over who should own a base designed by octopi, for octopi, and meant to float just under the surface of an ocean planet.” (p. 20)

Kipper’s sister Petra tries to help in the supposedly united cat-and-dog defense against the raptors, but quickly learns that the unity is just a façade for the usual dog supremacy.

“Nothing had changed.

She was the president’s sister, but out here, next to a dog in a police uniform with a gun, she was still just an alley cat.

‘Get out of the car,’ the dog barked. She’d taken too long to answer.

Please,’ Petra hissed. ‘Keep your voice down. I have kittens slee==

‘DON’T YOU HISS AT ME, CAT!’ The dog stepped back from the car and pulled his gun.” (p. 84)

Earth is saved, of course, but how it is saved may surprise you.

Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending (cover by Idess) is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. But, since it has been four years since the middle volume, you might as well go back and read the whole trilogy from the beginning. If you’ve got the first two volumes – I won’t say novels, because this is one novel in three volumes – you can reread them while waiting for this one.

There’s an intriguing passage around pages 34 to 41 and 63 to 68 where Kipper learns facts about uplifted squirrels and mice that she’d never known about before. Lowd offers convincing reasons for her not knowing, but it would be interesting to see a future novel about them.

Fred Patten

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

BNCImageAPI.ashx_.jpeg?resize=330%2C375Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert. Introduction by J. B. Kaufman. Illustrated.
Glendale, CA, Disney Editions, August 2017, hardcover $40.00 (176 pages).

I can’t say that I have been waiting all my life for this book, but it seems like it. As an animation fan during the 1970s and 1980s, everyone knew the Walt Disney story from the creation of Mickey Mouse onward, but nobody seemed to know what came before Mickey Mouse. Information about Disney’s first Laugh-O-Gram cartoons in Kansas City was gradually learned – his move to Hollywood and the Alice Comedies, then Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; then in early 1928 – nobody knew the exact date — the Oswald cartoons were somehow stolen from him, and he quickly created Mickey Mouse to replace his loss. But what happened in early 1928? Animation fans wanted to know.

The general story slowly emerged, but there was a shortage of details, and no one place contained all the information. Then in 2006 the Disney Studios reacquired the long-dormant Oswald rights from Universal. Well, to cut a long story short, this book now presents those details, with contemporary illustrations from the Disney Archives on almost every page. It’s not complete; there are still seven of Disney’s 26 1927-1928 Oswald cartoons that have not been found. But there is enough information here, in text and illustrations, to fill a book – this book.

This is fine for the animation fan. Is it worth it for the furry fan? Definitely! Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a major anthro animal star of the late 1920s; by Disney in 1927-28, and it took him a decade to sink out of popularity under other directors during the 1930s. Here he is during his original stardom. If Disney hadn’t had Oswald taken away from him, we would never have gotten Mickey Mouse. Instead Oswald would have gone on to the mega-popularity that Mickey won. (Maybe. Oswald was still owned by Universal Studios, so Disney never would have had the creative freedom that he did with Mickey, who was 100% his own character.) Furry fandom would have acknowledged Oswald instead of Mickey as one of its major influences.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit relates Walt Disney’s story from his and his brother Roy’s coming to Hollywood in 1923 and starting their studio. Back then it was standard for an animator to create an idea, present it to an agent, and for his agent to shop it around to the big studios. A studio that liked the idea would buy the property, and hire the animator and his assistants to create the cartoons which it would pay for, through their agent. That is what happened with the Oswald cartoons. Disney created the concept, had it approved by his agent, Charles Mintz, and Mintz sold the concept to Universal Studios, which then hired Disney to make the cartoons, two per month. Universal was a major studio and Disney’s future seemed assured. But during 1927, Disney began spending more and more to make each cartoon. Oswald was a big animated cartoon star and Disney wanted to constantly improve each film’s qualities, while businesslike Universal just wanted the cartoons made as cheaply as possible. Universal and Mintz agreed together to replace Disney with a new animation director to produce Universal’s Oswald cartoons. Disney knew that he had sold all rights to Oswald, so he didn’t protest – he secretly created Mickey to replace Oswald, and he got his own funding so he never had to sell the rights to Mickey. With more money and imagination, the Disney Mickey cartoons grew to worldwide popularity during the 1930s, while the cheaper and less imaginative Universal Oswald cartoons dwindled and disappeared.

This is detailed in the first chapter, “The Origins of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit”. Subsequent chapters are “Reacquiring the Rights to Oswald” (the Disney studio getting them back from Universal in 2006). “The Search Begins” (Universal hadn’t bothered to keep any of the 1927-1928 cartoons, so Disney had to search for them elsewhere). “Restoration, Preservation, and Music” (many of the cartoons, all silent films, were partial and in deteriorating condition), and “Walt Disney’s Original 26 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Episodes”.

Each of the 26 cartoons – “Poor Papa”, “Trolley Troubles”, “Oh, Teacher”, “The Mechanical Cow”, “Great Guns”, and all the others released from September 5, 1927 to September 3, 1928 — gets a five- or six-page profile, with its premiere date, complete credits, running time, and a lengthy plot synopsis. Even the seven cartoons that have not been rediscovered yet have their scripts and samples of their artwork preserved. The illustrations include film stills, cartoon scene notes (storyboards had not been invented yet), full-color posters that have been found, and pencil rough layouts for posters that have not survived. The opening chapters are illustrated with photographs, story notes, telegrams, and other materials from the Disney Archives. Apparently Disney hoarded everything, whether Universal did or not.

Comic books did not exist yet, so these 26 one-reel theatrical cartoons were all the existence that Oswald got. But they were enough to make him a major cartoon movie star of 1927-28. Many of the story ideas and gags in these cartoons were recycled by Disney in his later Mickey Mouse cartoons. The character of Mickey evolved over the years, in animated cartoons, newspaper comics, comic books, and more. The character of Oswald never got the chance to evolve. By the time furry fandom arose, all that was available of Oswald were some very bland and completely redesigned and forgettable Dell comic books, from the 1950s through December-January 1961-62. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shows both the history of the cartoons, and what character the furry fan has unknowingly been missing.

Today Disney is reintroducing Oswald through new video games, comic books, merchandise, and theme-park costumes. Don’t miss this chance to find out about Oswald’s origins.

Fred Patten

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51XVFm3CiFL.jpg?resize=250%2C400The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy
NYC, Tom Doherty Associates/TOR Books, August 2017, trade paperback, $14.99 (127 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is the first novella in the new Danielle Cain horror series, “a dropkick-in-the-mouth anarcho-punk fantasy that pits traveling anarchist Danielle Cain against vengeful demons, hypocritical ideologues, and brutal, unfeeling officers of the law,” as a blurb says. #2 will be The Barrow Will Send What It May, to be published in April 2018. This is not a furry series; #2 will pit Danielle against zombies. But this #1 is fantasy-animal-related, although not anthropomorphic.

Danielle is the foul-mouthed narrator, a late-twenties now-cynical anarchist, no longer looking for the idealized commune where everyone loves everyone else and anarchy really works. As The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion begins, she is hitchhiking in rural Iowa to such a rumored commune, and she has to pull a knife on the car’s driver who does not want to let her out in the middle of “nowhere”.

“Ten years of putting up with shit like that from drivers. It was getting old. Hell, at twenty-eight, I was getting old. Ten years ago I’d talk to drivers about anything and love them for it. I loved the nice ones for their kindness, I loved the crazies for their stories, and sure, I hated the racist pieces of shit, but if nothing else I got to feel like I had the pulse of this racist, piece-of-shit country. But a decade is an awfully long time, and whatever shine I’d found on the shit that is hitchhiking had long since faded. Still, it got me where I wanted to go.” (p. 12)

Freedom, Iowa is a commune of about two hundred squatters and anarchist activists in an abandoned ghost town. But why Danielle wants to go there is:

“It was the last place Clay had lived, the last place he’d spent much time before he’d found his way west and his hand had shown his razor the way to his throat. No warning signs, no cries for help.

I had a lot of questions. If there were answers, I might find them in Freedom, Iowa.” (p. 13)

Danielle encounters the first horrific animal near the town right away.

“After a hundred yards and a couple turns, when the trees were getting thick enough to cast the whole of the road into shadow, I saw a deer on the shoulder ahead, rooting at something on the pavement. The beast was crimson red. Bloodred. I didn’t know deer even came in that color.

I crossed to the far side of the street so I wouldn’t disturb him, but I couldn’t help staring. A rabbit was dead on the ground beneath him, its belly up, its rib cage splayed open. The deer looked up at me then, his red muzzle dripping red blood.

On the right side of his head, he bore an antler. On the left side of his head, he bore two.” (ibid.)

Freedom, Iowa turns out to be the kind of deserted Midwest small town that you would find in a Stephen King short story. Houses’ roofs have fallen in. Cars are rusting at the curbs. It’s quiet. Too quiet. When the punk and hippie squatters appear, they’re all friendly but afraid. Clay had talked about her while he lived there, so they welcome her. They have names like Vulture, Doomsday, Thursday, Eric Tall-As-Fuck, and Kestrel. Danielle’s name is also her own adoption, but it’s not weird like that. She sees that one has a tattoo of a stylized three-antlered deer head on his neck.

“I was about to ask about it, but a sudden fear shut my mouth. There was something more to Freedom than I knew, and as much as I wanted to feel right at home, I didn’t.” (p. 21)

Okay, it’s a horror novella, so you can expect something grisly. It’s all animal-related.

“The sun sat fat and low on the western horizon, at the top of the street, and the last light of the day lent everything vivid faded colors. White lambs, dappled with red and purple wounds, paced a circle around both lanes of the street, not twenty yards from where we stood. Geese dodged in and out between them, and a regal goat oversaw the parade. Each creature had only a gaping wound where its rib cage had been, yet they lived. They opened their mouths to bellow and squawk and bleat, but their organless bodies let out only strange rasps.” (p. 24)

The ghoul animals are controlled by the deer.

“‘The deer’s name is Uliksi,’ she [Doomsday] told me again. ‘An endless spirit. A demon. A creature of vengeance hat walks these woods, swims in this river, watches this town. He’s been a guardian spirit, until tonight.’” (p. 28)

Why, if Uliksi has begun killing them, do Freedom’s hippies want to stay? Because they’ve finally gotten an anarchic community that works. A community of free-living friendship that’s worth fighting for, from The Establishment and from Uliksi’s ghoul animals. But the community’s defense leaves something to be desired.

“‘What do we do if we see anything?’ I asked.

‘Oh, right,’ Vulture said. He unslung a hunting horn from his belt. An honest-to-god hunting horn, like the kind that comes off an animal, with the tip cut off so you can blow through it. ‘Blow this. Or, you know, call someone. There’s decent cell signal everywhere in town and on this side of the hill. Maybe do both. I would do both.’

‘Okay,’ I said.

‘You’re looking for cops on the highway, large gatherings of undead animals, or I guess in this case very tall figures running around with my no-good ex-boyfriend or especially making their way toward the house.’

‘Got it,’ I said.

Vulture put his arm around my shoulders. ‘Did you floss?’ he asked.

‘What?’

‘Flossing is super important. Some people say it’s more important than brushing your teeth. It’s easy to forget to floss at times like this, but you’ve got to live today like you’ll survive till tomorrow.’

He was being serious. Kind of scarily so.

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I floss.’” (pgs. 62-63)

There turns out to be three forces, not two, menacing the anarchist commune: The Establishment/police, Uliksi and his undead/ghoul animals, and a cabal within the commune-where-everyone-is-equal who secretly plan to seize power over the rest. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is more of a detective novella than a horror novella. Danielle must figure out who the true enemy is.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (cover by Mark Smith) is full of suspense and fear – but more because it tells you that it is than because of anything that happens.

“He lit a second cigarette with the end of the first one. He wasn’t smoking as an affectation, he was smoking because he was scared as hell and trying to keep his cool.” (p. 46)

But the scenes with the ghoul animals are creepy:

“Animal eyes turned toward us with mute curiosity, which turned to malice as we tried to rush past them. A silent mess of geese got underfoot and lunged for my hands. I started swinging. It wasn’t animal abuse. They were dead already. Some of the ones I hit didn’t get up again.

Brynn was almost to the gate when the goat ran at me. Someone or something had sheared off the beast’s horns, presumably before Uliksi had stolen the creature’s rib cage. Not an easy life, or unlife or whatever. I pulled back and swung from the hip, like a one-handed batter, and hit the goat in the skull with all my strength.

I must have grown up watching too many zombie movies. Hitting that thing’s skull was like hitting a boulder, and I probably hurt my hand more than I hurt the goat. Still, the blow seemed to have stopped its charge. It was still in my way. It tried to bleat, but had no lungs.

I heard a low rumble like distant thunder and turned in time to see a demon bull crash out of the trees and barrel toward us.” (p. 77)

The ghoul animals may not be anthropomorphic, but The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is a good Halloween read.

Fred Patten

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51tUZH2oOML._SY346_.jpg?resize=239%2C325Imperium Lupi, by Adam Browne. Illustrations, maps by the author.
Kent, England, U.K., Dayfly Publications, July 2017, trade paperback, £15.99, $20.99 (724 pages), Kindle £3.99, $5.99.

The book starts off with three complex full-page maps and several insignia. One map is of the walled city of Lupa, captioned “The capital of Wolfkind”. The insignia are of such things as “Buttle Skyways”, showing a dirigible, and “Lupan Laws”, the seal of the Lupan Republic’s government. There is also a ten-page lexicon at the rear of the book of terms used in the novel, such as:

Chakaa: The hyena answer to the Howlers, they are forbidden to use white-imperium by their beliefs, but unlike wolves they cope well with the psychotic side effects of purple-imperium. Even so, Chakaa are often unstable and are sidelined by the exacting standards set by noble-born hyena society, and only tolerated at all for their great strength and usefulness in battle.

The Politzi: Lupa’s police force, consisting largely of hogs, rats, rabbits and other lesser beasts who are for the most part unable to wield imperium directly.

Queens Town: Cat colony on the east coast, independent of Lupine Law. It was allowed to remain sovereign Felician territory as part of an ancient peace settlement between Felicia and Lupa. It is the first port of entry for any cats, or other beasts, coming to the Lupine Continent from across the Teich.

Imperium Lupi is set on the world of Erde. The first character that the reader meets in Part 1, Chapter 1 is Howler Rufus, a red-furred wolf, on a train:

“The pain subsiding, Rufus leant back into his seat, chest heaving beneath his cloak. He glanced around the dilapidated carriage; his fellow passengers diverted their curious gaze or hid behind newspapers. Little beasts mostly, mice, rats, rabbits, all the lesser races, who wouldn’t dare speak to Rufus without being spoken to.

The train slowed and the station panned into view, its fine marbled columns standing proud, each tarnished by the faintly spangled lustre of imperium ash. Rufus reached over and grabbed his helmet from the adjoining threadbare seat. He placed it over his brow; the padded metal hugging his sleek wolfen skull. It was black, save for the cheeks, which were white. Luminous red triangles were set beneath each eye-hole, like that found on Rufus’ brooch. Made of the wonder mineral imperium, they glowed even in the muted daylight, and against the helm’s white cheeks they resembled two bloodied fangs lying atop freshly fallen snow. The helm’s nose was covered by a grille punctured by a dozen round holes that enabled Rufus to breathe. Only his inquisitive green eyes and perky red ears remained visible, endowing him with menacing anonymity.” (p. 25)

The minutiae of this civilization are described in fine detail. It would be easy for a cosplayer to make the costumes, or for a model-builder to craft the vehicles and devices:

“At the bottom of the sprawling stairs, Ivan peeled away from Rufus, keys jangling in paw, and found his monobike parked by the road – and a fine machine it was, too, its large, singular wheel housed seamlessly under a chunky, polished black chassis marked on the flank with a small white spider motif.

Brushing globules of rainwater from the seat, Ivan threw an armoured leg over his marvellous bike, inserted the keys, and started it up with a kick of the pedal. Amidst a loud bang and several ear-thumping pops, imperium ash exploded forth from the exhaust in grey, yet slightly glittery clouds. The inside rim of the bike’s lone, broad wheel nestled between Ivan’s legs lit up in a bright ring of white as the imperium-laced gyroscope came to life. The bike rose up a little and righted itself, like a metallic beetle awakening from hibernation.” (p. 28)

It takes an age for the plot to get moving, but the richness of the buildup is exquisite. Here is an important quote:

“‘The imperium in our bodies is what gives us Howlers power,’ the imperologist went on, enjoying his role as the wellspring of knowledge, ‘but there’s a price. Whenever it’s burnt, whether it be in a car, a train, or our muscles, imperium of all colours decays into imperium ash. It’s bad enough when it clogs Lupa’s air, but when it fouls our bodies up it causes great pain…it’s well you know.’

Bruno gulped audibly.” (pgs. 35-36)

There is also drama:

“A flash of light and puff of ash burst from the pistol’s end. A fraction later and a colourful spark dashed off the leading monobike’s one wheel. The tyre exploded and tore itself apart in an instant.

The assassin’s monobike shuddered and twisted violently to one side, before catapulting itself seat over wheel and flinging the rider in front. He sailed through the air and disappeared amidst the carnage as his machine slid along the cobbles, shedding a shower of sparks and pieces of chrome bodywork all the way, before smashing into a heap of rubbish piled against the end of the alleyway.” (p. 41)

Here is more detail:

“Uther danced over to his locker and turned the dial on the combination lock, all the while flicking his tail and jigging his legs like some cabaret star. He removed his helmet like a hat, twirling it deftly over one paw and into the darkness of the locker, whereupon the red-imperium fangs slowly lost their lustre. Uther’s whole helmet was fortified with imperium not just the fang decoration, his leg armour too. The metal comprising Howler armour was known as eisenglanz, an alloy of steel and, of all things, imperium ash. Eisenglanz was not only physically tough, but the ash melded within the steel acted as an insulator and helped diminish the burning plasmatic attacks Howlers could inflict on one another. The ash gave naked eisenglanz a distinctive grey sheen, like pencil-lead.” (p. 66)

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There are many major characters in Imperium Lupi. Some of the most important are the wolf Howler officers Rufus Valerio and Ivan Donskoy, Troopers veteran Uther “Wild-heart” (orphan; family name unknown) and young Linus Mills (all Bloodfangs); Rufus’ politically well-connected wife Janoah Valerio; the effete Felician aristocrats Montague and Penelope Buttle who keep appearing or being referred to; the Hyena terrorist Prince Noss and The Hyena Organisation for Recognition of Nationhood (THORN); the rabbit tavern cook Casimir Claybourne; and Casimir’s adopted son, the mysterious wolf pup Bruno Claybourne, and his wolfess girlfriend Sara Hummel.

The highly convoluted plot revolves around the Lupan Republic’s dominance of the Lupine Continent on the world of Erde. There are schemes within Lupa’s elite wolf government to turn the Republic into an Empire; there are schemes by some of the other animal peoples within Lupa for their own independent nations; there are fears around Erde that Lupa’s dependence on the powerful but ultimately deadly imperium (Lupa city is perpetually under “the choking clouds of the Ashfall”) is slowly poisoning the entire world, and schemes by some to get rid of imperium by ending Lupa’s dominance; and there are schemes by some who just want to end wolfkind’s rule.

Imperium Lupi (cover by Mike Nash) is a rich mixture of action, comedy, mystery, tragedy, political intrigue at the highest levels, and sentient bugs, among the animal peoples of the world of Erde. The wolves dominate, but there is plenty here for the fans of rabbits, pigs, hyenas, otters, and others. Imperium Lupi is proof that not all of the best furry literature is being produced within furry fandom.

Fred Patten

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I’m in love with this exclusive animation that Jib Kodi made for a B&A (Bark & Awoo) with me!  It was so cool of him to put the appeal and personality of his art on display with his words. He caught my eye, as I’m sure he did for many others, with his outrageously cool short .gif animations on Twitter. In a very short time (months!) he’s built a massive 14K following based on how infectiously shareable they are. It’s a winning strategy for an artist, and as far as he’s told me, it just happened accidentally out of love for what he’s into. Kind of like furry fandom grew itself. – Patch

Follow Jib Kodi on FurAffinity and Twitter

Hi Jib, can you talk about how you got into furry, and what do you think about it?

Welp, here goes nuthin’.

I was interested in the fandom since I was little, but obviously back then I wasn’t aware of fandom’s existence. And finally when I did get to learn what it was all about… well, people around me had negative views on it. That was my first impression from the public. So I naturally I suppressed my interest, hoping it would eventually fade away. During that period I’d hear more about the community, all the cons, and events. And oh boy, it sounded really really fun. Finally after 10 years, around March of 2017, I finally decided to make my own character, do little drawings and animated clips, and get myself involved. Basically all the stuff I wanted to do back in the day. To be able to open up, gosh, what a liberating feeling that was. As I look into the community more, there are many aspects and interests that I could relate to. With in less than a year, I was able to meet peeps from all over the world, with various careers, and interesting stories. When I look back, it makes me regret not joining the community earlier.

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How did you get into animation, and what do you like about it?

Story telling was something I always enjoyed doing since I was little. Happy stories, sad stories, funny stories, you name it. Hehe I was one of those kid that spread silly rumours like how the school bathroom was haunted, and got myself into all sorts of troubles. But the point is, if I can get the person to react in some sort of ways, then I was all in. Drawin’ is one of my other big hobby, so it was inevitable that I drew pictures that tell some sort of stories. Those two interest eventually snowballed and I came upon animation. This opened whole new components to story-telling! From timing, to adding music, how to reveal punchline, and all that jazz. One of the first thing I animated was an alligator waggin’ its tail. When I saw that tail move, I was instantly hooked. Since then, animation has been one of my favourite medium to tell stories or show a little slice of life that the viewers can relate to.

What have you done with animation before?

I’ve made bunch of personal animated shorts. I love making them, but to be honest they can be really exhausting. In a way, it’s a marathon; you will be drawing thousands of same thing over and over again! And when you do get it done, and lets say right before you post it on the internet or submitting it to a film festival, theres so many emotions that goes thru your head. But its really worth it cause, due to longer runtime, you get to tell longer stories, and develop characters much more in depth. It really feels like a long journey that you go on when you make these shorts. Other then that, I’ve freelanced and worked for animation studios. For the bigger studios, I’m a story board artist. It’s a process where you draw the film almost like a comic book. But in a movie format. It helps the director and the rest of the crew visualize what the story of the movie is going to look like.

What inspires you, and who do you work with? (Are there other furry animators?)

Fandom has inspired me big time. Especially coming from someone who loves to draw animals. I know thats been a HUGE motivation for me to crank out all these animation in a short amount of time. I honesty thought I would’ve burnt out within a month or so. But that fire is still burning and even after I come back from work which is drawing all day, I get really excited to work on these animations! As far as collaboration goes, there are some artists who I’ve discussed about working together on something which I’m excited for! Though I’m still somewhat new kid on the block, and I don’t know a lot of artists in the community. But I really hope I get to meet more em in the future.

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What do you plan to do with the animation you’re working on – is it for fun or do you have specific ambitions?

A lot of these animations I’ve been doin’ lately were mostly just for fun. My initial purpose joinin’ the fandom was to have a good time, and I’m having so much fun working on these little animated clips. I’m really excited to see what other stuff I can get involved in other than working on these animations. When I learned about how big charity events are in the community, that alone makes me really happy!

Within these several months, I think I’ve made handful of animated clips with similar topics that I think I can compile em all together with music and make little shorts out of them. At the moment I’m not thinkin’ too much into making longer contents. They often require a lot of planning and I’m bit aloof those might drain the motivation out of me. However, some of these animation unintentionally became more like a little short/ daily episodes. For instance, I animated a Shiba Inu gettin ready for business. At first, I just wanted to show how he wears a tie. But the moment I posted the gif, all these ideas popped in my head. So I started building a story based on the first gif. I certainly enjoy all these spontaneous encounters. And I’ll embrace em with open arms. Despite a lot of intense work, they force you to improvise and I personally think thats a real good exercise for animation and story telling.

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Let me throw a bunch of stuff at you about your work process. When you get an idea, how do you sit down and prepare for it? What are your steps for making it? Do you use a lot of reference? What are you using to animate? How productive are you, and does it help your flow to use twitter to post small chunks?

My animation process is kinda all over the place. But they all start with something I want to show or express. Or characters I simply just want to animate. I’ll quickly brainstorm and start elaborating on what I want to show. And how I want to execute the content. Then I would quickly thumbnail the visuals just to check if its worthy of spending 10-20 hrs on it. If I’m happy with it, Ill go to town. Starting off with some main poses of the character and then timing out the overall animation. I work really rough. In my animation style, the roughness shows even in the final look of the footage. I just don’t have the patience to spend days making everything pristine and clean. If that was the case, my work flow would be a lot more slower and each piece would probably tag on twice the amount of production time. For others who are interested in story telling or animation, I highly recommend researching and gathering reference for your content. whether its the idea, or movements, research makes everything more solid. No matter how cartoony your animation may look, you can still add the realistic quality that helps the viewer relate to the content. And thats a great way to let the viewers engage and become invested in the characters you’ve created. These days, research is a whole lot easier than ever. Yup, thanks to Internet. Though, if you can somehow experience it in real life, I recommend that cause theres no other better way to gain experiences other than living it.

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Anyway, the clean up process for the animation takes a good chunk of time. It can be a bit of a brain dead activity as well since you are most likely colouring something hundreds of times. I generally watch movies as I work on this process to keep myself somewhat entertained. But when you get it all done, its such a rewarding feeling. Oh and yes, for those digital animators. don’t forget to save!!! And save multiple versions of files. Last weekend, my file got corrupted and I lost 17 hrs of work. Don’t do what I do! XD

Your small animated gifs are getting tons of views and look like a really smart way to use twitter to build up for a bigger project.  Can you say anything about using Twitter that way – is it intentional or did it succeed by surprise? And can you say anything else about promoting your work?

I had zero intentions for anything with twitter. I still can’t believe I have twitter now, I was never too crazy about having one. I’m quite wary that whatever I post may expose to the wrong group of crowd. Heh I guess thats just me being paranoid. Anyway, I finally opened an account. From there on its been about 5 crazy months for me, and I’m very thrilled and overwhelmed with the attention I’ve received. The community has been really inspiring and friendly. But really, in all seriousness, I’m still quite unexperienced in social media. So there’s a lot of new stuff I’m learning. It just started out with posting contents Ive been working on. The only thing Ive really caught on are the fact that timing for posting your stuff is really important. I do have to say, internet is one big massive mysterious beast. There’s level of randomness when it comes to putting your work out there. Good content, that goes without saying, but the right timing, good amount of luck, and something that catches the viewers eye are all the elements that comes into play when getting your stuff out there. Keep creating, keep posting, and eventually viewers will notice your work more.

What thoughts do you have about “furry animation” for the future – do you think it’s growing, and could there be a scene for it?

I have high hopes that animation will have a bigger spotlight in the fandom. Especially for a fandom that’s so heavily inspired by animation, there’s big potential. I hope there are more artists out there who are inspired to try animation. It is a lot of work, but the sky is the limit in animation. Whatever you imagine, you can animate. After all it’s just bunch of drawings seen at a high speed. But you can add so much life this medium! That charm alone is the reason why I chose animation to tell stories, it’s the reason why many other artists animate, and why we enjoy watching them so much.

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Is there anything else you want to talk about?

As an artist, always try to find ways to improve, and don’t be afraid to try new gigs! Be open to critiques. Some feedbacks may sting, but it’ll overall help you grow a tougher skin. Along the way you will make mistakes which means you’re on the right track, cause you will learn from those mistakes! Don’t get too precious with what you make. In the long term, this may work against you as you stop looking for ways to improve. If what your working on gets really frustrating. Take a breather. Don’t hack at it. You can work on something else and then once you’ve cooled off you can return to what you were struggling on. And remember to give your eyes a break, load up on fresh air, h2o and exercise. Your health comes first before everything else!

Thanks!! I hope it all makes sense and thank you for the opportunity!

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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Screen-Shot-2017-11-27-at-3.58.15-PM.pngDogs of War II: Aftermath, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Midwest FurFest 2017 in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois over the November 30-December 3 four-day weekend. The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Dogs of War II: Aftermath is an all-original anthology of 20 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals (not just dogs) in military scenarios, from battle action to boot camps, from the past to the future, on land, at sea, and in space. This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of military s-f.

From bioengineered military dogs with Artificial Intelligence to a fawn trying to prove he is a stag, a horse sailor on a warship, a canid-ape space war, a self-aware robot bird, a fox soldier passed over for a deserved promotion, reindeer Vikings, animal Sea Bees constructing an island airstrip, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment.

Contents:
Dog, Extended, by Cairyn
Remembrance, by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden
Scars, by Televassi
The Surface Tension, by Dwale
My Brother’s Shadow, by M. R. Anglin
Close to Us, by MikasiWolf
Lime Tiger, by Slip-Wolf
Umbra’s Legion: The Destruction of Ismara, by Geoff Galt
Umbra’s Legion: Charon’s Obol, by Adam Baker
The Call, by Lord Ikari
Every Horse Will Do His Duty, by Thurston Howl
Matched Up, by K. Hubschmid
The Son of Goulon Stumptail, by NightEyes DaySpring
Noble, by Thomas “Faux” Steele
Trial by Error, by Jaden Drackus
The Night the Stars Fell, by KC Alpinus
Tears of the Sea, by MikasiWolf
The Pack, by Argyron
Red Engines, by Kris Schnee
Going Home, by Miles Reaver

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Price: $19.95. 478 pages. Wraparound cover by Teagan Gavet.   ISBN 978-1-61450-397-2.

Fred Patten

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Welcome to guest poster Summercat – a great friend to Dogpatch Press, with a cool interest in Furry Comics and Zines History.

When I joined the fandom in 1999, there were very few ways to shop for furry fandom merch. Most of your purchases were made via mail-order, or at a convention dealer room. There were few options for buying things from individuals – I recall having to mail a money order for my first online purchases.

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Anthrocon 2006 Dealer’s Den. Photo by GreenReaper.

But that was 18 years ago. Today, with low-barrier tools like Square and Paypal, it is easier than ever to purchase work directly from someone living somewhere else in the world. Starting in the mid-2000s, the Furry Fandom has had it’s marketplace explode in volume and quantity. While there is a wealth of options around us, it can be confusion on where to go or start when trying to see what sort of Furry merchandise is available.

Here, I have compiled a list of online places where people can find books, comics, clothing, fursuits, and commissions from a variety of people. Due to otherwise overwhelming the list, I am excluding publishers that primarily sell their own imprints. For those, see: Furry Publishers – A Resource for Artists and Authors. This list is not exhaustive – if you feel something has been left out, please speak up and let us know!

I’ve broken down the locations in this list into three categories: Storefronts, Auction Sites, and Listing locations.

Storefronts

 

While not intentionally not an exhaustive list of everywhere you can buy books and comics, these stores feature work from a variety of companies and artists, with merchandise you purchase directly.

Rabbit Valley – Books, Comics, Prints, Misc

Rabbit Valley started off as a mail-order distribution company, selling works via catalog on behalf of small publishers and individuals. They have since expanded their operations to include their own in-house publishing, but remain one of the biggest distributors of wares in the fandom. In addition to selling newer works, Rabbit Valley also has a large back catalog of older works from the 90s and early 2000s as well.

InkedFur – Comics, Prints, Dakis, More

Founded in 2014 as a seller of art prints, InkedFur offers artists the ability to sell prints and other items with no up-front cost. InkedFur offers printed towels, acrylic stands, prints, artbooks, wall scrolls, pillow cases, and dakimuras.

Second-Ed – Comics, Zines, Misc products

Started in 2003, Second-Ed is purely a distributor of Furry, GoldDigger, and related items. While Seond-Ed does get in new items, it also sells a wide variety of older Furry Fandom items from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s as well.

Windshear’s WaresComics, ‘zines, Doujin, Misc

Windshear’s Wares is a Furry comic and Japanese Doujin importer and distributor. In addition to stocking newer items, Windshear’s Wares also has a large backlog of comics and zines due to long years of operation.

FusselschwarmGerman language importer

Fusselschwarm is a German importer of Furry Comics, Books, and zines. They import from Inkedfur, Thurston Howl, Rabbit Valley, Furplanet, and others. Thanks to Fred Patten for the tip!

Pawstar – Apparel

Crossover between anime, cosplay and furry dealer den fare, with raver appeal too.  Animal themed hoodies and kigu’s, ears/paws/tails, collars, goggles and hats, jewelry, and fur by the yard.

Auction Sites

 

While nothing in the fandom could compare to the power of e-bay, auction sites have been a feature in the fandom for a long while. All sorts of items and goods can be listed and sold.

The Dealer’s Den

A low key auction site, The Dealer’s Den has listings for commissions, prints, books, partial suits, and allows adult work. While there is a $1 account verification fee for buyers and sellers and a $0.50 “Featured on the Home Page” optional fee, there are no other costs for using the site. Payments are made direct to the seller, but The Dealer’s Den offers an invoicing system to help keep track of things.

Furbuy

Launched in 2000, Furbuy is one of the more well-known – though with its share of critics – furry auction sites. While basic accounts are free, there is an optional $5/month verified account that allows for more than 4 auction listings at a time. There are no fees for listing items.

Etsy

A craft and vintage focused, boutique alternative to ebay for the smaller seller.  Tailoring your searches can find well established furry-specific storefronts.

Listing Locations

 

Listing locations are not storefronts or auctions. These are places where people can list they are open for commissions or sales, and in a few cases that they are seeking to get a commission done. All of these need an account to interact with, but are free to use.

Weasyl Marketplace

One of the features of online art site Weasyl, the Marketplace is a searchable and filterable list of Weasyl users who have marked themselves as open for commission.

Telegram Channels: The Dealer’s Den, Furry Market Place

Lumped together for brevity, these are Telegram channels specifically for posting ads seeking to buy or sell commissions. Both are very specific and strict about off-topic chatter and discussion. TheDealersDen has over 2000 members, while FurryMarketPlace has over 1250.

Furaffinity Art Sales and Auctions Sub-forum

The Furaffinity Forums have long had a marketplace for people offering and buying commissions and items to meet up, and this is the most current iteration.

Facebook Pages: Group 1, Group 2

Two Facebook groups for people to list they are open for commissions. They require a Facebook account and to join the group in order to see the postings.

Did I miss anywhere? Have a question about why a site may have been excluded? Please comment down below – as I said before, I could have very well left a site or location out of ignorance, so please let me know! – Summercat

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward. They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.


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