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Category: Media

Review – Furry Nation: The true story of America’s most misunderstood subculture, by Joe Strike.

by Patch O'Furr

Furry Nation: The true story of America’s most misunderstood subculture, by Joe Strike.
Cleis Press, October 2017, paperback $17.95 (288 pages), Kindle $10.99.

Here’s what I wrote for a cover blurb:

Like herding cats, gathering the history of furry fandom has been called impossible.  Furries love impossible things, so this is long overdue.  I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.  Joe Strike puts solid ground under the legs of the Furry Nation – genre, subculture, and yes, even kink – with his experience of watching it grow.  This book is for original 1980’s fans, new ones looking back, and outsiders drawn to the weird coolness of talking animals.  There’s many ways to get into it, but this is a unique inside view of how furries are breaking out.

Joe’s book isn’t the perfect bible for everyone – but expecting that from one book is unrealistic.  It’s just the kind of book that comes from a devout fan, and that’s why I recommend it.

I’ll summarize some reaction to the news that this book will exist: “It’s gonna suck! Who is Joe Strike?” – I knew who Joe was before I knew he was a furry, from his animation journalism. He does scriptwriting and his own comic too. He brings us a history that can live beyond bit-rot, supported by a firmly established publisher. Cleis has a 36-year history as “the largest independent sexuality publishing company in the United States.” It’s smart to focus on the word independent, which means open-minded support from the first ones to take the chance.

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What’s Yiffin’? – August 2017 edition of syndicated furry news.

by André Kon

For a good many of us, summer vacation is almost over and it’s time to return to the reality of classes, or just another day at work if you’re no longer in school. This past summer has been home to a number of controversial events at conventions and in the fandom alike.  We’ve got four more to round things out before all is said and done. Mercifully, there’s no convention drama this month… well, not unless you count Pokemon GO Fest as a “convention”. There’s a lot of things we’d call that disaster, but “con” isn’t one of them (unless you mean “con” as in “to trick”). Anyways, on with the news!

2016 FURRY OSCARS

It’s that time of year again, Oscar season! Not the actual Oscars, mind you, but the fandom’s equivalent of them: the Ursa Major Awards. Awarded to people and projects who go above and beyond in the name of anthropomorphic entertainment, the Ursa Major Awards are community-driven, with initial nominations and ultimately voting open to the fandom. This past month the winners for 2016’s Ursas were announced. The results were full of emotions, ranging from surprise to “ugh, not again”.

First off, the big daddy title of Best Motion Picture went to Zootopia… to the surprise of literally no one. If there’s such a thing as “Ursa Bait”, this was it; in the past decade there’s probably not been such an obvious shoe-in winner since The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Right behind Nick & Judy’s furry fling was Pixar’s Finding Dory, which, while this was a great movie in its own right, stood no chance against Disney’s powerhouse. The results of the Ursas are posted in order of who received the most votes, and coming in dead last was The Secret Life of Pets, a godawful CGI movie. In what we imagine must have been a three-way tie for last place, Sing and Kung Fu Panda 3 also made the bottom of the list.

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Original species of furry fandom: an overview.

by Rune AngelDragon

Rune’s Furry Blog showcases “people within the Furry Community… their characters, life, thoughts, and beliefs”. It also covers furry issues and media plus some personal blogging. Rune joins other guest posters to Dogpatch Press like Andre Kon (What’s Yiffin’?) and Arrkay (Culturally F’d). Welcome Rune! – Patch

volcanicbonding_SMALL
“Volcanic Bonding” – Art & Leothaun species by thelostcause86
Masika belongs to MasikaRayne (FA) / Thyra belongs to shewulf7

Creativity has always been the highest focus of the Furry fandom outside of the love for anthropromorphic animals. That is to say that creativity is what keeps pushing the fandom forward whether it be art, music, crafting, or something else entirely.  One of the amazing things that creativity has brought us within the fandom is the emergence of original species.

Why be a dog when you could be a RaptorDog? Why be a regular ‘ol rabbit, when you could be a Bunninut?

It sounds crazy when you say it out loud, but these are actual species imagined by people within the community!  Some create more of a stir than others… and in fact, most people know of a few original species that overwhelm the fandom today due to their popularity! For example: Primagen/Protogens, and Dutch Angel Dragons. These species don’t exist in the world that we know, they were brainstormed and brought to life by individuals that wanted something different and something more.  Sergals are another example of a popular original species that was shown to the community and changed it forever.

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A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, by J. R. Archer – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, by J. R. Archer
Hove, England, White Crow Books, June 2017, trade paperback $14.99 (ix + 299 pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is an intriguing fantasy, but from an anthropomorphic point of view, it’s ultimately unsatisfying.

The locale is New York City. The chapters are short. In chapter one, Svetlana witnesses Robbie commit suicide, leaving Rosie, a small dog. In chapter two, rich, elderly Margaret Roper and her small dog Rags are introduced. In chapter three, young Black police officer Teddy Dwight investigates Robbie’s suicide and takes charge of Rosie. In chapter four, Margaret has a fatal heart attack. Her son Will, who has anger issues, is mostly resentful at the inconvenience her funeral will cause him. He breaks his promise to look out after Rags, who is sent to a dog shelter.

Most of the first nine chapters are entirely about the human cast. The dogs are little more than props. Other important characters are young Milo McGarry, the conscientious Black receptionist at the East 110th Street dog shelter (which is expected to go out of business soon), where Rosie and Rags are taken; two other dogs there: Lennon, a hulking but kindly Great Dane, and Darcy, a rescued Greyhound ex-racing dog; Sebastian, Svetlana’s pet Borzoi-German Shepherd mix; and Elton, Milo’s long-haired Chihuahua.

The dogs finally talk in chapter Ten. Chapters Thirteen, Fifteen, and some others are also devoted to the dogs, but for an anthropomorphic novel, it’s too little, too late.

The dogs don’t talk verbally but mind-to-mind.

“‘Allow me to introduce myself, Lennon, my name is Rags.’

The Great Dane sat up, looking surprised. ‘How’d ya know my name?’

‘It came to me as soon as we connected.’

‘Seriously? … I’ve never been able to do that. Have you just arrived, little fella?’

‘I got in early this morning.’

‘Rags, if you want a heads up, I’ve been here for a while now, and for me it’s home. I don’t know how long you’re gonna be here but, while you are, let’s be friends.’” (p. 47)

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ArCANIS: A Modern Animal Tarot, by David DePasquale – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

ArCANIS: A Modern Animal Tarot, by David DePasquale. Illustrated.
Los Angeles, The author, July 2017, hardcover $30.00 (unpaged [168 pages).

I went to the Center Stage Gallery in Burbank, CA during August to see the “ArCANIS: A Modern Animal Tarot” art exhibit by David DePasquale; a full 78-card Tarot deck in color, divided into 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards split into 14 cards each of the four Tarot suits (swords, wands, pentacles, and cups), with each card featuring an anthropomorphized animal. Besides the original art (for sale), there were the printed cards, a rotating enlargement slide show so the attractive stylized art could be easily seen in detail, and brief notes on the history of Tarot and the meanings of the cards.

In addition to the exhibit, visitors could buy in advance (the publication date is in September) the printed 3.5” x 5.5” deck of 78 cards in a customized tuck box, and a de luxe hardcover book showing the 78 cards individually on right-hand pages with a one-page explanation of each on the left-hand page:

THE NINE OF WANDS

Upright: Determination, Hope, Persistence

The Nine of Wands can represent searching inside yourself for the inner strength to overcome a final hurdle. You have worked through many obstacles to get to where you are now, so do not give up when you are so close!

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Avaritia: A Fable, by M.D. Westbrook- Book Review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Avaritia: A Fable, by M.D. Westbrook
Wichita, KS, M.W. Publishers, April 2016, trade paperback $9.99 (200 pages), Kindle $1.00.

Usually the dedication of a book is not pertinent, but this one really sets the mood:

“This book is dedicated to rising taxes, broken promises, forgotten children, crime, starvation, war, death, and despair.

Thanks for the inspiration, guys. Couldn’t have done it without you.”

Avaritia has a very plain cover (by the author, credited as Mark D. Westbrook), but it turns out that there is a reason for this. The novel is grim and preachy, but fascinating in an Old Testament way. The only anthropomorphic novel that I can think of that’s remotely similar to this is the black comedy Play Little Victims by Kenneth Cook (1978). See my 2014 review of it on Flayrah: https://www.flayrah.com/5725/review-play-little-victims-kenneth-cook

But there is nothing funny about Avaritia. I read Play Little Victims almost forty years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I don’t expect to ever forget Avaritia, either.

Avaritia begins in a house with a human father, a mother, and two brothers. The younger brother has three pet rats. The older brother has a bowl of mice, but Older Brother Human only keeps them to feed to his pet snake.

The characters in Avaritia are its mice and rats. The story begins with Older Brother Human lifting Radish, one of the mice, out of the bowl to feed to his boa constrictor while her mate, Cookie, pounds on the glass and squeaks, “Take me! Take me and leave her!”

“Cookie cried uncontrollably, watching as the snake slithered behind his mate.

In a blink, the snake struck. Radish released a final squeak as the constrictor wrapped around her lower abdomen.

‘Noooo!’ Cookie wailed.

Radish opened her mouth, gasping, and beat her tiny paws against the orange and yellow scales, but to no avail. Radish’s once soft pink eyes bulged, now a darker hue of red.

Older Brother Human laughed out loud. ‘Good boy, Petey. Eat ‘er up.’” (p. 2)

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Vice News and furries, the Fullerton murder story, and “sensational media”.

by Patch O'Furr

Vice’s Furries topic has excellent news reporting. You can find a few missteps, but it has some of the best focused attention that the media has ever given to the fandom, way beyond Furries 101.  One outstanding article is CSI Fur Fest: The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention. Writer Jennifer Swann got an Ursa Major award nomination for it.  Their most recent is Who Makes Those Intricate, Expensive Furry Suits? (Fred Patten and myself were proud to assist writer Mark Hay – I sent a long summary of history, makers, details to investigate, and links.)

Those show that not all media is bad, and talking to them has good results. That’s different from prevailing attitudes against “sensationalism” that blindly treats “the media” as an epithet – as if PBS is the same as the National Enquirer. There’s a world of difference between trashy daytime TV and well-researched long-form reporting. But a fandom grudge persists, for as long as 16 years after stale old incidents we all know and hate. There’s even backlash at members who step out of line. This friend of ours experienced it:

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Garbage Night, by Jen Lee. – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Garbage Night, by Jen Lee. Illustrated.
London, NYC, Nobrow Ltd., June 2017, hardcover $18.95 (98 pages).

Garbage Night is #2 in Lee’s Vacancy series; what Amazon calls “dystopian graphic novels”. Vacancy, #1 in the series, was published in June 2015. But Garbage Night the book includes the complete Vacancy as a bonus. Garbage Night itself is 70 pages, followed immediately by “Now read Jen Lee’s original comic, Vacancy” for 26 more pages. You should skip directly to Vacancy, read it first, then return to the beginning of Garbage Night. Be warned that it still ends with a “to be continued”.

What is going on is unexplained. The blurb for the first story says, “Vacancy explores the ways that animals think; how they internalize their changing environment and express their thoughts, fears, or excitement.” The blurb for Garbage Night says, “Juvenile animals strive to survive across a post-apocalyptic wasteland in this striking parable about the nature of freedom and friendship.” What it is is about anthropomorphic animals (they wear clothes and are bipedal) living in a deserted, humanless world.

Simon is a pet watchdog left behind when his humans disappeared. But it is obvious that what’s happened is more complex than that. The entire town shows years of having been deserted. Signs are peeling, windows are broken, cloth is rotting, roofs are falling in. Simon roams through his owners’ empty house, wishing that they’d return to fil his food bowl, but not really believing it after so long. What remains of the town has been scavenged out of food by the abandoned pets and nearby wildlife like Monica the opossum. When two forest animals pass through town – Cliff, a raccoon, and Reynard, a deer with a broken antler – Simon asks to go with them. “I need someone to show me the ropes of the wild.”

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How to Be Cool and Play Off that Furry Porn You Forgot Was on Your Phone

by Patch O'Furr

@SpotlessEnvy saw my Onion-style headline and suggested writing the article. I asked if they wanted to try it as a guest post. Here it is, with the extra fabulous bonus of illustrations made by Spotless.  Check them out for art commissions. – Patch

Unfortunately, it’s a common awkward moment in the day of the smartphone. You hand your phone to a friend, family member, coworker, etc. to show them your vacation photos, the 87 pictures of your dog you took this morning, 2007’s embarrassing Halloween costume or the like, and despite your pleading scream of, “Don’t swipe!” they swipe. In the fandom, what’s the worst thing for them to find on your phone?

How to Be Cool and Play Off that Furry Porn You Forgot Was on Your Phone:

1. I got this phone on Craigslist

Hey, buying gently used electronics off Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and the like is fairly common these days. Just explain that you didn’t think to clear the memory before using it. “Don’t worry Mom, I’m not a sexual deviant; the person I bought the phone from was!”

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon and Dean Hale – review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Illustrated by Bruno Mangyoku.
NYC, Marvel Press, February 2017, hardcover $13.99 (324 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

The Marvel Comics Group is having hardcover novelizations written of most of its high-profile super-heroes such as Iron Man, for the 9-to-12 age group. Marvel does not go in for animal heroes, so the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and her 300 squirrels are about the only ones who would qualify for interest to furry fans. New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale specializes in romantic novels for adolescent girls and young women, many in collaboration with her husband, Dean Hale.

This novel recounts the beginning of Squirrel Girl’s career, written in a breezy teenager’s diary style. The comic book stories began in 1991 with her as a 21-year-old college student, but here 14-year-old Doreen Green has just moved with her parents from Southern California to Shady Oaks, New Jersey. “Who runs the world? Squirrels!” Doreen may be prejudiced because she was born with a bushy squirrel’s tail. Otherwise she looks like any young teenage girl, except that she’s super-strong and has retractable claws and “her two front teeth were a little longer than their neighbors. She had to gnaw on things to keep them from getting even longer. Things like logs.” (p. 2) Maple logs are her favorite.

No reason is given for her having a squirrel’s tail, but Hey! this is the Marvel Universe. Doreen used to see She-Hulk while she lived in Los Angeles, and now she’s looking forward to seeing Thor and the other Avengers who live in nearby New York City.

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