Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: December, 2017

A present from furry fandom to Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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.

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Scurry: The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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?

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“We’d forgotten what it was like to be kings”- Emily Rose Lambert’s ‘Dreamscape’

by Bessie

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.

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Marking Territory, by Daniel Potter – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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)

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Mist, by Amy Fontaine – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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)

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Classism in the Furry Fandom: An Opinion by Nightf0x

by Patch O'Furr

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

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Sonic Memes & Magic the Gathering – latest episodes from Culturally F’d

by Arrkay

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

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

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

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The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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)

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Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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)

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Calling all furries: FurScience / IARP launches international furry survey.

by Patch O'Furr

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 who’s curious about what goes on inside the fluffiest fandom. Please spread the word about it to other furries you know!

Take the survey here:

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 reasons and more, one for every unique furry. So don’t wait, click that link!