Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: history

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

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.)

qmA0WL7

Furry symbolism – money, flags and coats of arms.

by Patch O'Furr

Anthropomorphism is loaded with symbolism.  Foxes and lions from Aesop’s fables, and fauns and centaurs from old myths represent personalities, emotions and urges.  This influenced modern concepts of the subconscious by Freud and Jung.  In dream symbols, animals are very prevalent, appearing in as much as 50% of dreams of children.  It relates to the way animal symbols spread throughout prehistoric cave art, until today when media is full of animal cartoons.  Anthropomorphism has deep roots in the way people think.

You can read a lot more about this in Wikipedia’s page for Symbolic Culture and the study of symbolic language (semiotics.)  This broad background makes it interesting to look at symbols with very long traditions, perhaps as old as language.  Many furry articles could be written about different categories.

Fred Patten sent comments that lead to furry thoughts about Heraldry (royal coats of arms), Vexillology (flags) and Numismatics (money) – all closely related symbols of nations.

– Patch

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Free speech, Fursonas movie, and all the controversy in the media – NEWSDUMP (3-22-16)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Tips: patch.ofurr@gmail.com

Free speech victory led by Vermont Furs.

Fursuiters were banned from costuming on the street, and it was unfair.  Burlington VT had an antiquated anti-mask law to regulate groups like the KKK.  In the 1960’s, the officials who made the law could never imagine the future-people hobby of fursuiting.  Imagine a fursuit parade colliding with the hooded creeps.  It would be like matter meeting antimatter, with an explosion of rainbows and a fallout of fluff for miles around.  To update the law to better serve it’s spirit, members of the Vermont Furs went in front of the city council, and got the law changed. Now it only bans hiding behind masks to commit crime.  Hugging isn’t a crime yet, so thanks guys for setting a great example nationwide.  Fursonas are free expression!

There’s video here, and from Vermont Public Radio:

Last year, two men were detained by Burlington Police for violating the ordinance by wearing masks to a political rally. The detention was controversial, and the head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Vermont chapter questioned the constitutionality of the mask ban.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said that incident, paired with pushback from a community of “furries” – people who like to dress up as furry, caricaturized animals – led the city to reexamine its mask ordinance.

The co-moderator of Vermont Furs got the media to call furries “a collection of artists, writers, animators, actors, and our passion is all things cartoon animals.”  (Notice what they don’t call it.)   On Furaffinity, Zander Stealthpaw noticed that the furs helped much more than their own small group:

You guys help contribute to a very good cause, and I’m sure Vermont Comic Con would be just as ecstatic over this change.

“Fursonas” documentary movie gets a national tour, a pile of press, and spirited discussion.

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New episodes from Culturally F’d: Twisted Tempting Furry Demons!

by Patch O'Furr

If culturallyfdyou’re not reading Dogpatch Press, you should be watching Culturally F’d!  It’s the Furry youtube series that asks:

Where does the love of anthropomorphics come from? How far back can we dig in history and mass media to really get to the bottom of it? Why does every culture across the face of the earth have a fascination with animal-people?

Here’s what’s been going on with Culturally F’d in the past month:

Episode 20: Tempting St. Anthony

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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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