Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: January, 2016

Cultural Appropriation in Fandom – guest post by Akhetnu.

by Patch O'Furr

Guest post submitted by Akhetnu.

Anubis_standingFurry is a unique exploration and interpretation of the human experience, warts and all, through the lens of animals both real and fantastic.  Many of these creatures are unique to certain parts of the world, especially the imaginary ones that form part of the mythological archetypes of the cultures other than our own.  When it comes to looking at humanity, we also tend to investigate these various cultures as they existed and continue to exist throughout time. 

As a result, there are many fursuits, fursonas and furry art of beings such as dragons from East Asia adorned in silk kimono, wolves dressed as Navajo warriors, and raptors wearing uniforms of the imperial Prussian army (that was a shameless plug for myself, incidentally).  Still others may adopt a small piece of a cultural artifact such as a ying-yang symbol, Alpaca poncho, or a Chinese character tattoo.  Furries may even refer to their fursonas as ‘totems’, at least if that concept is in the popular consciousness of their society.   

Many of these furries are not themselves descendants of the cultures portrayed on their fursonas or suits.  This had led to concerns over cultural appropriation, which is believed by many to be problematic in that is dehumanizes the people of other cultures and robs them of their own identities, as and hence is thought to represent Western white oppression of minorities. 

An example in the real world was at Yale University where a letter was circulated urging students not to adopt Halloween costumes portraying other cultures, as it was allegedly harmful to others of those cultures.  An art exhibit wherein people could try on the kimono used in a painting by Monet was shut down after protests accusing the art gallery of cultural appropriation.  A Columbian student in Canada was told not to wear his own Columbian poncho and hat for Halloween, not because it was him culturally appropriating (can you appropriate from yourself?) but because other students may have mistaken it for such.

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A Menagerie of Heroes; A Rainfurrest Anthology – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Dear Patch;

FurPlanet is advertising that its appearance at Further Confusion will be the final opportunity at present to buy the RainFurrest charity anthologies.  FurPlanet is no longer carrying them after last December 31st and it is bringing its final printed copies for sale at FC 2016.  The book is at least temporarily unavailable, because it will be up to the con to take over printing and selling after this year. – Fred

rainfurrest2015A Menagerie of Heroes; A Rainfurrest Anthology, edited by Ryan Hickey and Garrett Biggerstaff.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2015, trade paperback $15.00 (320 pages).

Seattle’s annual RainFurrest convention has published a charity anthology every year since 2011, growing from 108 pages in 2011 to 269 pages in 2014. All stories are donated to RainFurrest by mid-June, and the anthology is printed by FurPlanet Productions in Dallas to be sold at the convention in September, with all proceeds donated to that year’s charity. RainFurrest 2015’s total donation was over $10,000 to the Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah, Washington. The anthologies are subsequently sold through the FurPlanet catalogue.

In 2015 for the first time there were two charity anthologies; the “clean” A Menagerie of Heroes with 14 stories totaling 320 pages, and the “adult” Naughty Sexy Furry Writing; Enter at your own Risk with six stories totaling 124 pages. Here is the G- and PG-rated one, featuring RainFurrest 2015’s theme of Swords and Sorcery.

“Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” by Wilfred B. Wolf is a charming story, but you have to get through some clunky writing to read it. In a medieval Japanese fantasy setting, Gasu Yeo is a Bard, a gifted musician and a royal official sent out to spread the news and the latest royal pronouncements to the farthest corners of the Empire. He is also one of the first Kitsu Bards; one of the first of the Empire’s foxlike anthros to be accepted into the Bards. When he is assigned to visit a distant village that has never seen a Kitsu, he is mistaken for a mythical fox trickster bringing bad luck or a curse. Yeo must convince the human peasants that while he may look like a humanoid fox, he is as human and peaceful (and a royal official) as any of them. The story is delightful, even though given a choice of words, Wolf picks a flat one every time. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Cats and More Cats’ anthology to launch at Further Confusion 2016.

by Patch O'Furr

Cats and More Cats Cover

Cats and More Cats; Feline Fantasy Fiction, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Further Confusion 2016 in San Jose, California over the January 14-18 five-day weekend.  The book can be pre-ordered online from FurPlanet Productions.  It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Cats and More Cats is a reprint anthology of 14 short stories and novelettes of feline fantasy fiction (“the best of the best”) from 1989 to the present, most of them out-of-print today, plus a new essay and an extensive bibliography of cat fantasy books.  This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and all cat-lovers.

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Revisiting Rainfurrest: what can we learn about limits of a growing fandom?

by Patch O'Furr

giphy

Everything was happy and peaceful with the furries, until… Overflowing hot tubs damaged the Rainfurrest hotel.  The con’s current status is still seeking a new venue. There’s been much public discussion about bad behavior leading to this.

Separate from that drama, there was an issue about organizing their dealer’s room in 2015.  High demand vs. limited capacity made pressure to compete for tables. Rainfurrest decided to manage it with a new Jury Selection process that left many feeling shut out.  The same issue has happened across many cons.

For dealers, the pool is feeling crowded. For everyone else, more crowds makes more strangers with weaker links to keep peace.  It’s a village vs. city situation.

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CALL FOR INFORMATION: Furry Convention History, by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

IF YOU HAVE HELPED TO ORGANIZE A FURRY CONVENTION, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW.

Fred Patten wants to put your con in a fandom history book from an academic publisher. (See previous articles from “Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer“.)  There are pieces of info lacking from many cons – Fred can make it clear what’s needed from which ones.  He’ll report it like this example, the history of RAINFURREST.  – Patch  

Fred’s message:

For the last two years, I have been compiling a history of all furry conventions throughout the world from 1989 through the end of 2015.  It has been accepted by a publisher, McFarland.  It covers 112 furry conventions in North and South America, Asia, Australasia, and Europe.  The manuscript is 277 pages. My deadline for finishing is March 1, 2016.

Many convention committees have given full information; others have not answered at all.  Also, I am trying to get at least one illustration for each convention — art such as website logos, conbook covers, posters, illustrated membership badges, illustrated hotel room keys; whatever a committee wants to submit.  McFarland says that none of the illustrations on the Internet are of high enough resolution for book publication, so I cannot just framegrab an illustration from the Internet.  They need an electronic file of 300 DPI or better.

I suspect that some lack of replies are due to a committee member who is not answering or passing them on.  So a public announcement might reach a committee member who wants their convention represented in my book with all questions answered.

Here is what I have on one convention.

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FurNightATX is coming to Austin! Organizer Haven gives a Q&A for the Furclub Survey.

by Patch O'Furr

FurnightATXLogoFurclubbing: “A repeat/regular nightclub event by furries for furries.”  It’s a New Thing that’s been spreading since the late 2000’s.  This kind of dance party is independent from cons.  This builds on the growth of cons, and takes things farther.

It’s more ambitious than events that happen once, house parties, or informal meets.  Those can stay inner-focused for friends who already know each other.   This brings partnership with venues that aren’t hotels, and new supportive interest in the kind of events they host.  It crosses a line to public space.  A stranger may walk in off the street to discover their new favorite thing.  It encourages new blood, and crossover to other scenes. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

See the list of parties at The Furclub survey.  Any party that gives a Q&A will get a featured article.

Featured here is FurNightATX, a new event focused towards the Furry Fandom in Austin Texas.  It was shared by MC/organizer Haven, with extra-professional outreach (I love publicizing tips that come that way).  I asked if FurNightATX was affiliated with the irregular Austin Furry Dance series organized by Whines – they’re friendly but the events aren’t connected. That’s an interesting sign of independent activity.  Haven shares more:

FurNightATX (2016)

____________________  

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Fledger by Nicholas Barrett, Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

fledgerFledger: a Novel, by Nicholas Barrett.
NYC, Macmillan Publishing Co., September 1985, hardcover $13.95 (207 pages).

Ever since Adams’ Watership Down was published in 1972, just about any “realistic” nature fantasy centered upon one particular species has been “high profiled” as a “Watership Down for” (whatever species is featured). Fledger is certainly a Watership Down for puffins.

A flock of puffins is returning to Land (specifically a bleak, rocky shoreline) to dig burrows and lay eggs after three years of living at sea upon ice floes. Rock Samphire, a hen, is distraught and insulted because her mate, Sorrel, will not listen seriously to her dreams of impending disaster if they continue to build their rookery as puffins always have; on the Land and upon a small island just offshore. Ringleader, the flock leader, dismisses her dreams because the Golden Lord only sends true dreams to flock leaders like himself, and he has not had any nightmares. Rock Samphire stops protesting, but she builds a secret burrow for her egg on the other side of the island, apart from the other puffins. This just removes her from their protection, and she is eaten by the swaabies (great black-backed seagulls) just after laying their egg. Ringleader orders Sorrel to raise the chick, Goldie (Golden Samphire), in secrecy.

Goldie is predisposed from birth to believe in the puffins’ doctrine as revealed by Ringleader:

“‘And you must be Ringleader, sir,’ chirped the little bird. [No, it’s Sandpiper.] ‘And you have come to give me the Faith that I shall need to leave this strange burrow on the day when the Golden Lord calls me and the other fledger puffins down to the sea together to swim away from the Land.” (p. 33) Read the rest of this entry »

Housepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), By Rick Griffin, Book Review By Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

HousepetsHousepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), by Rick Griffin.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, November 2015, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Another year passes, and here is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Umpty million thousand furry fans can’t be wrong.

Book 6 contains the strips from June 19, 2013 to May 30, 2014; story arcs #70, “Mice To Meet You” to #77, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! is the story of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninja Timmy, By Henrik Tamm – Book Review By Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Ninja TimmyNinja Timmy, by Henrik Tamm. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, Delacorte Press, November 2015, hardcover $14.99 (211 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $9.99.

This children’s book was originally published in 2013 in Sweden as Ninja Timmy Och De Stulna Skratten, although it was written in English. Henrik Tamm is described in an About the Author as “a conceptual designer in Hollywood involved in various animated and live-action projects” (p. [213]), including the Shrek and Chronicles of Narnia movie series.

This children’s book for 8- to 12-year-olds (grades 3 to 7) is technically too young for furry adult readers. But, like many CGI animated features, it will be of interest due to the setting (a Medievalish European metropolis inhabited by anthropomorphic animals and humans together), the full-color illustrations on almost every double-page spread, and the plot of natural and magical evil and the young animals who fight it.

The visual richness is evident from the moment of opening the book. The front double-page endpapers show a panorama of the city of Elyzandrium busy at midday, with high towers and dirigibles and ascension balloons overhead. The rear endpapers show the same scene but at night, dark blue and with empty streets, but with the city’s windows all alight. Read the rest of this entry »