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  1. Co-written by Thurston Howl and Patch O’Furr. Full disclosure – Howl and Patch have received Ursa Major awards by community vote. 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. 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. 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. View the full article
  2. 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 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. 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. 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 View the full article
  3. Thanks to Rex and Flash for their reviews! Dogpatch Press welcomes community access writers – get in touch. – Patch A 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 A 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 View the full article
  4. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Ka: 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. Ymr 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 Buy on Amazon Buy on Simon and Schuster 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. View the full article
  5. Guess 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… 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 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 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’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. The State of Furry Publishing – Fred Patten gives the inside story of eight groups. How did Disney inspire Furry fandom? A look at early influences by Fred Patten. What the Well-Read Furry Should Read. More of What the Well-Read Furry Should Read. What The Well-Read Furry Should Read: Early 2016 update. Fred Patten Presents his articles about Furry publishing, animation, and history. View the full article
  6. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Scurry: [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. 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 Buy on Amazon 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. View the full article
  7. 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) 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. 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. 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. View the full article
  8. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Marking 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 Buy on Amazon Check Out Fallen Kitten Productions Site 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. View the full article
  9. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Mist, 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 Buy on Amazon Buy on Thurston Howl Publications 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. View the full article
  10. Guest post by Nightf0x with a response by Patch. 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: $11,575 fursuit sale brings comments from Furbuy and seller PhoenixWolf. Thoughts from the winner of the record-setting $11,575 fursuit auction. Responses to fursuit auction story confirm $17,500 top price. 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. View the full article
  11. 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. 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: What is YouTube Poop? An explanatory video SUCC UNLEASHED (1K Special YouTube Poop) by Mr. Pasquale More on “Tails Doll” – Creepy Gaming TAILS DOLL EXPLAINED by TheStickyPaddle Music Clips: Green Trill Zone – Sonic Remix by Cyranek Knuckles sings by Gregzilla Knuckles from K​.​N​.​U​.​C​.​K​.​L​.​E​.​S. & Knuckles [Full Version & Knuckles] The official Sonic Twitter (@Sonic_Hedgehog) is sublimely aware of its fan base and uses internet memes quite effectively. 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. Lastly, (late to the punch) we also filmed a Halloween video with Rusty Shacklefur’s very own fursuit come to life – “Tetanus” 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. Buy Culturally F’d Merch today: http://www.culturallyfd.com – only $5 shipping within the US. Pay-What-You-Can digital download of our Fox Wars poster to print locally. HD with no watermark: https://checkout.chec.io/FWdCjF Support Culturally F’d on Patreon with small monthly donations. Our perks include custom Rusty Video, YCH Thumbnails, Free art and more: https://www.patreon.com/culturallyfd Subscribe to our Newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/gsz8us7 View the full article
  12. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. The 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? 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: 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 Buy on Amazon Review in The Guardian British edition 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. View the full article
  13. Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Mark 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 Buy on Amazon 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. View the full article
  14. 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 View the full article
  15. Magnus Diridian on Wikifur 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). 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 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: 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. 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. Facebook post about MFF 2014 / Archive 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. View the full article
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