Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

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

by André Kon

Welcome back, Dogpatch Press readers, to another installment of What’s Yiffin’! In the introduction to last month’s update, we mentioned that due to the manner in which this series is produced, some “big” stories (such as the quagmire surrounding Rocky Mountain Furry Con) are forced ahead one month.  Fear not, in case you were hoping for some “hard-hitting” fake news coverage of what is pretty much yesterday’s news by now, look no further – because the What’s Yiffin’ news team has you covered! Without further ado, here’s all the news that’s fit to yiff! Four stories to either amuse your brain, or make you sigh and lose even more hope in the fandom. Or both.

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Sorin, Chair of Rocky Mountain Fur Con, discusses demise of the con.

by Patch O'Furr

Sorin joins me for an interview as a devoted representative of RMFC, even after the con’s sad, surprising end.  It was a happening that Dogpatch.press had some part in, even if issues were brewing long before and carried forward on their own.  That makes it extra gracious of Sorin to be open and professional about talking.  Questions were prepared to build a formal article, then sent in live chat.  Sorin fielded them on the fly, with power to review before publication to keep his side as intended.  You will see probing opinions from one side, then the other side to make a dialogue.  (-Patch)

Hi Sorin. We’re only talking because of sad circumstances – maybe we can improve that. Can you introduce yourself briefly? What are you like besides having been chair of RMFC?

I’ve been part of the furry fandom since 1996, and have been attending conventions since 1998 starting with Confurence and Anthrocon, later Further Confusion and Rainfurrest. I’ve been a part of Rocky Mountain Fur Con since its inception, first as the Vice-Chair and later stepping into the Chairman position when the previous chair stepped down. I’m a social person and like the furry community for its openness and acceptance.

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Word of Mouse, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Word of Mouse, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Illustrated by Joe Sutphin.
NYC, Little, Brown and Co./Jimmy Patterson Books, December 2016, hardcover $13.99 (284 [+ 6] pages), Kindle $9.99.

(See an animated TV ad for the book.)

This children’s fantasy, recommended for 8- to 12-year-old readers (middle grade/grades 3-7), will be too young for most DP readers. But it’s a quick and enjoyable read for those who liked Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. – the novel by Robert C. O’Brien, rather than the Don Bluth animated movie that turned it into a fairy tale.

James Patterson is a writing machine. He holds the Guinness World Records for the most #1 New York Times best sellers and the first author to sell over 1,000,000 e-books. He has topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid authors for the last three years. Wikipedia lists 164 books by him, alone and with a co-author. He has written adult mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels, and young adult and juvenile light school-life novels and science-fiction. His adult thrillers featuring Alex Cross, police psychologist, are by himself alone, and most of his others are in collaboration. Chris Grabenstein is a frequent co-author on his children’s novels. Word of Mouse is their first fantasy featuring talking animals.

The narrator is Isaiah, a mouse:

“My story starts on the day I lost my entire family. I’m running as fast as I can behind my big brothers and sisters. Down the hall. Past the mop bucket. Toward the open door.

We’re escaping from a place that’s foul and creepy and 100 percent HORRIBLE!” (p. 1)

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Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 by Fred Patten – Review by Thurston Howl.

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Howl, of Thurston Howl Publications, for his review.

51561577Fred Patten asked me to review this book, and I was genuinely excited for the volume. It is incredibly rare to receive a strong nonfiction book relating to the furry fandom, and this is no exception.

In a nutshell, the book is an encyclopedia of all the furry fandom conventions, their details, their histories, and the people that have made the conventions happen. For a researcher, this is invaluable in measuring statistical data on convention attendance, themes, charity donations, etc. For the random furry, this could be a great primer (or travel guide) on which cons to attend (or avoid). The style of the book is mostly informative with some humor thrown in as well. I am quite glad to have this book on my shelf, and the “furword” by Dr. Gerbasi is delightful authentication for the book as well.

My greatest qualms with the book are more along the lines of production. For such a small reference book (marketed toward furries, no less), the cost is absurdly high at $40.00 US dollars. I understand there are a few color pages in the middle of the book, but those illustrations hardly make the book worth that cost. The cover itself looks shoddy as well, as if it were designed as a MS word page with public domain furry art. In fact, the way the text blurs on the front, I had thought Dr. Gerbasi was the author of the book, as that font stood out from the title more than the author font did.

I know these complaints are trivial. After all, they are hardly complaints against Patten. But as a whole, I must review the book as a finished product, not just the text itself.

However, my review on Amazon gave the book four stars out of five, and I truly recommend this to anyone who wants to research furry cons or is interested in a good primer on the subject.

The publisher has requested the following information be included with this review:

Publisher: McFarland – www.mcfarlandpub.com – 800-253-2187

– Howl

Peter & Company: A Comic Collection, by Jonathan Ponikvar – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

51NDvBrHhlL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_Peter & Company: A Comic Collection, by Jonathan Ponikvar.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2012, trade paperback $17.99 (unpaged [74 pages]).

Although it doesn’t say so, this is volume 1 of what is now Ponikvar’s online bi-weekly comic strip. It covers Peter & Company for its first 100 strips; from its beginning on January 1, 2005 to December 17, 2007. Volume 2, Of Cats and Crushes, is “coming soon”.

Peter & Company, drawn with anthropomorphic animal characters, is about Peter (cat), a 12-year-old geek and social loner who gets Seth (duck) as a cross between an imaginary friend and a guardian angel. Seth is invisible to everyone except Peter, but like the ghosts in Thorne Smith’s Topper, he can make his presence felt by others when he wants to.

Ponikvar calls Seth and his compatriots “Guardians” rather than “guardian angels” to remove any religious aspects from the strip, and to present them more imaginatively than in the format of standard religious doctrine. Seth is more like a senpai, a big brother, than a messenger from God. He’s sarcastic, and often openly manipulative to force Peter to do something like studying that he doesn’t want to do.

Ponikvar is also more original in his use of Guardians. Not everyone has a Guardian; only those who need one. Peter can not only see Seth; he can see the Guardians of everyone else who has one – and those who have Guardians can all talk with them. (With exceptions, which are explained in the strip.) The Guardians sometimes get together and “talk shop” without their charges. Peter talks openly to his “imaginary friend”, which increases his reputation as a “freak boy” and gets him sent to Mr. Betrug (dog), the school Counselor.

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Artstuffs, by Melody Wang – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

40593Artstuffs, by Melody Wang
Toronto, Ontario, The artist, November 2016, $20.00 (unpaged [48 pages]).

This is not a book as much as a book-format folio of 48 pages of the artist’s color illustrations, drawings, and sketches, on thick glossy paper. There is no subject. Like most artist’s sketchbooks, this is a hodgepodge of whatever the artist has felt like drawing.

What Melody Wang has felt most like drawing is anthropomorphic animals. There are Constable Nips and Inspector Porkington, of her student film. There are rabbits, pigs, and other animals in late-Victorian dress. Even when she is sketching the plants in a greenhouse, she usually has added an anthropomorphic animal or two. Her birds, “Wingfolk”, are particularly wonderful. A couple, such as the one of a man turning into a mandrill to his young daughter’s delight, cry out for having a story behind them.

Some of these are in black-&-white linework, but most are in full color. There are experiments in pastels and linocuts as well.

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Urchin and the Raven War, by M. I. McAllister – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

51Nh4vyr8BL._SY346_Urchin and the Raven War, by M. I. McAllister. (The Mistmantle Chronicles, Book 4.) Illustrated by Omar Rayyan.
NYC, Hyperion Books for Children, October 2008, hardcover $17.99 (284 pages), Kindle $6.99.

Urchin and the Rage Tide, by M. I. McAllister. (The Mistmantle Chronicles, Book 5.) Illustrated by Omar Rayyan.
NYC, Disney • Hyperion Books, July 2010, hardcover $17.99 (268 pages), Kindle $6.99.

This is a guilty review. I reviewed the first three Mistmantle Chronicles for Cubist’s Anthro magazine in 2007 and 2008. Then Anthro ceased publication. An additional complication was that the first three books appeared first as British paperbacks, with the American hardcovers as reprints. When I looked for any subsequent books, I looked on Amazon.uk and didn’t find any. This was because there weren’t any more British editions. Books 4 and 5 were only published in America. So I never reviewed them when they were first published.

Fortunately, they are still available, so I am correcting that error now. The Mistmantle Chronicles are technically children’s books, but they are very similar to Brian Jacques’ Redwall novels, and those are enjoyed by readers of all ages. If you are fond of serious adventures featuring talking animals, don’t miss The Mistmantle Chronicles.

The setting of Urchin of the Riding Stars (January 2005), Urchin and the Heartstone (April 2006), and The Heir of Mistmantle (March 2007) is the isolated island of Mistmantle, hidden by thick sea mists (I was going to say fog, but McAllister makes a distinction between fog and mists). It is a kingdom shared by four British woodland animal species living in harmony: hedgehogs, moles, otters, and squirrels. When the series starts, Mistmantle is ruled by good King Brushen, a hedgehog. But there have been other dynasties in the past, and there is no prejudice against a new king from one of the other species. Whenever a dynasty does not have an heir, the senior captain becomes the next king. The captain (there are traditionally three) is a combination of a royal advisor and leader of the royal guards.

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The history of My Little Pony and thoughts about growing up with cartoons.

by Patch O'Furr

Coming soon at Dogpatch Press – a Q&A with the author of Ponyville Confidential: a History of My Little Pony.

Sherilyn Connelly is a journalist local to the Bay Area Furries.  She gives them supportive notice in publications like SF Weekly. Now her first book is coming from McFarland publishing. Ponyville Confidential will dig deep into culture while being a fun read for everypony.  (I’m told there are some parts specifically about furries.) If you like the show and can give support back to Sherilyn, please visit the book’s Facebook page and give a ‘like’ right now!

I have only seen 6 or 7 episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and they were great.  Even with low experience, it makes me want to share some thoughts before the Q&A.  This is more personal than about the show or the book.

Growing up with cartoons.caamqryusaahzcn

When I talked with Sherilyn, she described a double standard about audience gender. It’s a thesis in the book that when My Little Pony first aired in 1986, it was disrespected as a prime example of crass commercialism. They said it was all about selling toys. By comparison, similar toy-related “boy” shows, like Transformers, got a pass. “Girly” shows had extra stigma.

It gives me curiosity about my own puppyhood in the 1980’s, but parts that were a bit outside of my consciousness.  I didn’t watch My Little Pony, and similar sparkly friendly shows like Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. I experienced them being judged as sissy girly stuff, and they would make me do barfing noises. Instead I loved He-Man, G.I. Joe, and most of all the Transformers.

There was another kind of stigma with “boy” shows. Even if “girl” shows could be disrespected as trivial, they could still be considered inherently nice. But my favorites were judged as morally questionable.  Parents were suspicious of indulging a masculine sense of adventure and danger, even with stories about justice.  Action and “violence” would corrupt impressionable minds.  It had to be policed to keep kids pure and innocent.

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The Origin Chronicles: Mineau, by Justin Reece Swatsworth – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

51tacpDt0ML._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_The Origin Chronicles: Mineau, by Justin Reece Swatsworth. Illustrated by the author.
Grampian, PA, Dolphyn Visions, December 2008, trade paperback $34.95 (391 [+ 1] pages), Kindle June 2016 $3.98.

“The universe is a living experiment in the realm of possibility. From the largest stars down to the smallest particles of matter, everything exists because at some point it became possible to exist. In this context, time simply marks the beginning and completion of these possibilities. Everything changes in the universe, yet amazingly it never stops experimenting. As one object reaches the end of its existence, a new one is born … the possibilities are endless.

The only constant in the universe is the experience of curiosity. Curiosity is not only the signature of possibility, it is the beginning of it.” (p. 6) Etc., at great length.

The Origin Chronicles: Mineau is the story of one dolphin’s experiences. To the reader, his background may be of greater interest.

“My family and I decided to swim over to the celebration on this particular occasion. After all we lived on the coastline directly opposite the city, and it was only a short swim to reach the docks. The levitation tram would be packed at this hour and honestly, something just felt more natural about the water. There was noting quite like a warm ocean on a brisk evening!” (p. 9)

“As we both glided through the water, I marveled at the sights taking place below us. Vast green tunnels and tubes could be seen stretching for miles, providing services like power, transportation of goods, and walkways for those who did not feel like traversing the waterways of the city and getting wet. These tubes were particularly busy tonight.” (p. 11)

Mineau is part of a world of anthropomorphized dolphins. He is an adolescent living in a coastal city designed by uplifted dolphins for uplifted dolphins. “Dolphins were shown being given legs and arms to be able to work on land, which allowed them to have increased mobility.” (p. 21) Who uplifted the dolphins? That would be a spoiler.

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Frolic ‘the original furry nightclub’ to lose historic venue – community responds.

by Patch O'Furr

The future is as dim as the lighting at The Stud, one of San Francisco’s most loved dive/gay bars.  The property is being swept up in a wave of real estate speculation and gentrification that shows no sign of ebbing.  Some luminaries of local culture are just treading water, while many are sinking under. They just can’t afford to live in their own city any more.

One by one, the lights of San Francisco night life are going out.  Now the Stud is set to close.

On every second Saturday each month, furries flock there for Frolic dance party.  It’s the premiere event for their thriving local scene.  The venue loves furries as much as they love each other, so Frolic has been steadily supported since 2010. Their success bore a litter of furry club events across North America that look up to it for inspiration, from Foxtrot in Denver, to Suit-Up Saturday in Minneapolis.

Calling it “the Original” furry dance party may be debatable (credit may be due for a few rave-type events outside of North America) – but there’s no debating its influence.  It will be very sad if Frolic loses it’s home.

It’s a local story, but in spirit, it touches furries anywhere who love to dance and have their own paw-hold in the nightlife.  Having their own established club doesn’t happen easily for an isolated niche of maligned yet super loveable young people.  Frolic set the bar high for that.  It isn’t your average family-friendly daytime convention – its power comes after dark.  Talking animal-people look and feel better to dance with in the magical murk of a club from an alternate fantasy dimension.  Have a drink and hug one for an experience better than drugs. Or pick one up.  Say: “knock knock” – “who’s there”? – “knot me…” Read the rest of this entry »