Dogpatch Press

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Category: history

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 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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The Confederate fursuit incident shows how you can’t be a troll and a victim at the same time.

by Patch O'Furr

TROLLING ANTHROCON

The infamous Confederate fursuit got a lot of views on social media. The issue started with complaints during Anthrocon and Midwest Furfest in 2015.  By no coincidence, the symbol was pushed on the fandom at the same time as racist mass murder by Dylann Roof led to taking down Confederate flags across the USA.  Then in 2017, during a huge amount of positive news about Anthrocon, the issue bubbled up again like a turd in a punchbowl.

The fursuiter is Magnus Diridian, AKA Rob Shokawsky. He was previously known for causing disturbances by copying the fursuit of Lemonade Coyote to exploit his death for attention. For several years, Magnus was reputedly banned from MWFF and Anthrocon.  He came back to troll with the Confederate fursuit and a Trump sign that violated AC’s Code of Conduct:

Any action or behavior that causes significant interference with convention operations, excessive discomfort to other attendees, or adversely affects Anthrocon’s relationship with its guests, its venues or the public is strictly forbidden and may result in permanent suspension of membership.

Harassment includes … Conduct, dress, or speech that targets, threatens, intimidates, or is otherwise intended to cause distress to other attendees, or to members of protected classes (such as those based on race, age, religion, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual identity).

Magnus chose to bring that suit even though he has many others. There’s no pretending that it was anything but forcing politics on others, since he admits he did it because of “attack” on the flag. According to his helper, he was even  “ghosting” the con to do it. He could have attended like anyone else if he didn’t set out to cause entirely predictable negativity. To be perfectly clear, Magnus was an antagonistic outsider who did not register or support Anthrocon.

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The ConFurence Archive: a new resource for fandom history, with Q&A by Mark Merlino.

by Patch O'Furr

Dogpatch Press is honored to host guest writer Mark Merlino.  He’s a fandom founder who helped found the first furry convention (ConFurence Zero in 1989). Mark maintains the Prancing Skiltaire house in So Cal, with fellow fans Rod O’Riley and Changa Lion.  Below is his submission, followed by a part 2 with additional questions I sent.  

Mark is announcing a treasure trove of pre-internet furry lore.  Now you can see stuff like the ConFurence Zero conbook. You may love this if you got involved in the days of trading ‘zines by mail (like me), or if you just want to compare what cons do now to how they did it decades ago.  Now we have a thriving subculture on top of the 1980’s fan ways, with unique features like a cottage industry for fursuiting, dance events beyond compare, and cons every weekend around the world.  But some things never change – this blog is basically my ideal 90’s ‘zine, except I’d love to add more art as it grows. ( – Patch)

Mark in 1989 – and check out the ConFurence Zero Aftermath Report.

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A Brief History of Cartoon Animals Punching Nazis

by Arrkay

Dogpatch Press welcomes Arrkay of furry channel Culturally F’d.

Nazi-panic got you down? It seems these days everywhere you look there seems to be some sour racists ruining someone’s day. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Working on Culturally F’d gives me a great outlet to explore anthropomorphic animals throughout history and media. So after the public twitter discussions about whether or not it’s ok to punch nazis, I recalled some historical examples that helped. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, there was a huge push in propaganda on all fronts. They encouraged spending money on war-bonds, saving fats and scrap metals, starting community “victory” gardens, empowering a new female workforce, perpetuating false-optimism of a short war, warning against spies listening in, and attempting to shape public opinion and spark a sense of national identity. The military’s of the world commissioned animators to help influence public opinion during a time when Nazi Germany was beginning it’s invasions, and it was becoming clear to more and more governments that the Axis powers were not slowing down or stopping.

Propaganda like these were created to help sway public opinion, and to paint a caricature of the enemies. This was at times, incredibly offensive and racist, and it’s important we don’t forget that and that we don’t repeat it again.

We’re going to start with Animated Shorts, which were created to precede or follow newsreels of current events, often part of a pre-show for a larger, longer feature presentation in the movie theatre.

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Q&A with Sherilyn Connelly, author of Ponyville Confidential: the History and Culture of My Little Pony, 1981-2016.

by Patch O'Furr

ponyvilleRecently, I posted “The history of My Little Pony and thoughts about growing up with cartoons” to prepare for chat with Sherilyn Connelly.  Sherilyn is a journalist local to the San Francisco Bay Area Furries. (She has given them notice in publications like SF Weekly.) Her first book is out this April: Ponyville Confidential, a pop culture history of the My Little Pony media empire. (Please like the book’s Facebook page!)

Hi Sherilyn, thanks for talking about Ponyville Confidential!  Let me start by asking – who needs to read it? Will it be manely for fans?  Will there be parts to tempt furry readers?

“Manely!” I see what you did there. Obviously everypony needs to read it, and it’s by no means intended just for My Little Pony fans; I hope that people who are interested in pop-culture history in general will give it a look as well. And there are many references to the Furry fandom, including shout-outs to Frolic, Further Confusion, and Anthrocon.

I know you as a committed, active fan who comes to Furry events and writes journalism about them (and movies, and more.) Can you give a brief intro about your background and writing?

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was old enough to want to be anything at all. I started writing professionally for SF Weekly in 2011 — within a few months when I started grad school and began watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, so it was a momentous year in retrospect — and wrote quite a lot about the the local Furry scene at the time. I began contributing film reviews to the Village Voice in 2012, and became the Weekly‘s permanent film critic in January 2013.

I hear this is your first book, congrats – how excited are you? Would anything surprise you about how it might be received?

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The Furry House – a base for creativity and community.

by Patch O'Furr

Model furry house, the Prancing Skiltaire

The Prancing Skiltaire

Ever been to a furry house

They don’t smell like barns or zoos, with shedding all over the place. But they are full of nerdy games and comics, fursuit parts, and framed animation and fursona commission art on the walls. Sometimes there’s art that might cause awkwardness during a pizza delivery or surprise visit from mom. But it’s not for them. It’s by and for fellow furries when they get together for meets, parties, art jams, and movie screenings as a community.

A furry house is a special place. It’s more immersive than activity by yourself. If you live there, you’ll never get PCD. It’s a dimensional crossroads where the limits of reality dissolve and you can be furry 24/7.

Inside the P.S.

Inside the Prancing Skiltaire.

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Here’s why furries are on a secret list at the California DMV.

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Pup Nacho for his news tip below.  First, let me ask: Are knots funny? 


If you’re giggling like I did when I posted those, you might be Furry Trash.  And you might appreciate how they only make sense for those in the know.

Having unique language is a mark of a fully-fledged subculture.  They call it slang, vernacular, cant, or cryptolect. Fans of fantasy fiction and role-playing might know about Thieves’ Cant (for criminals, beggars and hustlers, traveling performers, and carnival workers); those who study Queer theory may know Polari. (See Atlas Obscura: The Forgotten Secret Language of Gay Men.)  

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FUTURE FURSUITING: furry’s most original creations and the rise of tech-enabled smart suits.

by Patch O'Furr

The most original creations of furry fandom.

Here’s a fun feature about the future.  But first, let me make a bold claim about fursuiting.

Male-Peacock-displayingMascots and costuming have been around forever. But furries are doing something new. They don’t just play with generic icons from myths and media. They add original fursonas and custom craft for everyone. It makes a subculture with personal expression beyond anything else.

Of course, many furs don’t have (or want) fursuits.  But the ones who do make a photogenic face of fandom. Other groups do art and writing like this one, but I don’t think anyone else does costuming in such a specialized and devoted way.  So there’s nothing wrong with the way the fursuiters stand out.  Everything else is imagination – they bring it to life and help to define the tactile name of “furry”.  And the quality is developing beyond anything you can buy commercially.  Some dedicated makers now have careers by fans, for fans, leading a Furry Economy with an exciting future.  Look forward to amazing things.

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A brief history of who ruined furry.

by Patch O'Furr

fritz-the-cat-movie-poster-1972-1010196225Many people are to blame for ruining furry. This list isn’t comprehensive, and some of the jerks on it caused multiple problems at the same time.

1960’s – 1970’s:  Artists ruined furry.

Underground comic artists made a plan to stigmatize fans of funny-animal comics by putting adult stuff in ones like Robert Crumb’s Fritz The Cat and Reed Waller’s Omaha The Cat Dancer.  It worked well enough to keep fans from openly using the “furry” name until the 1980’s.

1985-1988: “Skunkfuckers” ruined furry.

It was just starting to be OK to be furry in public. Then some bad apples got us kicked out of respectable science fiction fandom.  Look at these 1980’s convention room party flyers from Lance Rund and Sy – this is the kind of thing that made furries get isolated apart from other fans, with our own private shame-cons.

furpy3

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Professional mascots and furries – Q&A with Uncle Kage and Kodi of Midwest Furfest.

by Patch O'Furr

The National Mascot Hall of Fame is coming in 2017.  This mainstream event might deserve furry attention. It’s a series here:

1) The beginning of mascots and fursuiting.
2) Fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
3) The National Mascot Hall of Fame.

Could a full time mascot-based tourist attraction include furries somehow?  Maybe they will indirectly benefit.  Imagine an exhibit dedicated to hobbyist costuming, and how it’s an institution in places like Pittsburgh.  If that happened, Uncle Kage would surely be one of the first asked to help connect furries and pro mascots. And it’s interesting that the NMHOF is close to Midwest Furfest (imagine an exhibit coordinated with the con.)

I contacted Kage and MFF about this. Here’s followup to the stories above.

From Raymond Entertainment Group

From Raymond Entertainment Group

Mascot Boot Camp is run by NMHOF founder Dave Raymond (the original “Philly Phanatic”).   It’s in Kutztown PA- 3 days for $399.  Fursuiters, check that out.  And you can hire it to come to you (wouldn’t it be amazing to have such a workshop hosted by a con? Although cost per person would be huge.)  Check Dave Raymond’s group of companies for a look at professional mascot building and more – Raymond Entertainment Group.

Furry sports fans on national TV – have you seen this going around as a popular meme? (Tip: Chakat Shorttail.)

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