Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

ArtworkTee issues and the heart of the furry economy

by Patch O'Furr

There was a lot of recent drama about Artworktee, an indie operation catering to furries. This video covers how it started, but there’s a lot more to say.

I had mixed feelings on watching it unfold on social media. “But Patch, isn’t reporting not supposed to have feelings?” I’m a fan like any other, and “objective fan” is an oxymoron.  I couldn’t pretend not to be one, or miss the point of having an independent subculture by fans, for fans that’s best written about from inside. For this story, I dug deeper into some of the issues involved:

  • Complaints about underpaid artists.
  • Questionable practices for the business of art.
  • The mission and allegiance involved in profiting from fandom.
  • The stakes of overlooking problems and calling it “just business”, vs. how formal business can solve problems too.

Let me try to bring understanding from several perspectives, including the travails of small-business, and the devotion of grassroots fans. This is a great case for that stuff, because it’s not every day that a business comes from this niche fandom that kind of resembles mainstream startup companies. Until now, the most successful commercial enterprise like that is probably Bad Dragon.

Pro-fans and profiteering

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Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson – Book Review by Fred Patten, who was born in the Year of the Dragon

by Pup Matthias

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

Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (i + 335 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon is dedicated “To Readers of Infinite Patience”. I assume that’s because this is Book 4 of Dickson’s The Rise of the Upper Kingdom series; and it’s been five years since Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat.

Has it been worth the wait? YES!!

To summarize, it’s 5,000 years in the future. Civilization has disappeared. In the Far East a new Oriental culture is forming, the Upper Kingdom, a blend of ancient Chinese and Japanese customs with bioengineered animal peoples. To quote the blurb for Book 1, To Journey in the Year of the Tiger:

“This is a powerful, post-apocalyptic story of lions and tigers, wolves and dragons, embracing and blending the cultures of Dynastic China, Ancient India and Feudal Japan. Half feline, half human, this genetically altered world has evolved in the wake of the fall of human civilization.”

In Book 1, Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, a genetic lion-man (yes, he has a tail) is the young Captain of the Empress’ personal guard. While the rest of the great Palace is preparing the celebrations to mark the turning of the Year of the Ox into the Year of the Tiger, he is assigned to leave on a long mission with four others (and several guardsmen). The Upper Kingdom is guided by a Council of Seven, revered Seers whose visions have infallibly led the Empire in wisdom and peace for centuries. Now something, or someone, is killing the Seers, one by one, by unknown means, always in their beds at the close of the Second Watch of the night. Kirin and his companions must discover the cause and stop it.

The four others are Kirin’s adjutant, an aggressive snow leopard woman; the Empire’s Scholar, a young and naïve tigress; the Empire’s Alchemist, an older cheetah-woman of dubious loyalty; and Kerris Wynegarde-Grey, Kirin’s twin but silver-gray where Kirin is golden, the Empire’s Geomancer but a drunken ladies’ man. They have more adventures than they expect, and are led outside the Empire’s borders, into the unknown West (Europe) where they awaken surviving scientists of the forgotten human civilization from suspended cold-sleep. In Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat, Kirin and the others return to the Upper Kingdom, and Kirin becomes the Empire’s Shogun-General to mobilize a defense against the awakened Ancestors and their weapons of mass destruction.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon contains action scenes, but it is worth reading for all of Dickson’s writing:

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The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Illustrated by the author.
London, Ontario, Common Deer Press, August 2017, hardcover, $31.99 (287 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Don’t be scared off by the price. There is also a trade paperback for $14.99. And most of you will get the Kindle edition, anyway.

The Great & the Small begins with a bustling marketplace scene:

“… in the weak December sun, the harbour city’s popular market was bustling with people looking for last minute presents. Middle-Gate Market was festive with its potted evergreen trees and strands of blinking coloured lights. Shiny red balls trembled on the boughs of the tinsel-dressed pinks as salt air gusted up the hill from the sea below and rattled the lights against the rafters where they were strung.

Watching over all of this, under the faux Gothic clock, stood Middle-Gate’s most famous tourist attraction: a brass statue modeled after the gargoyles of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. The monster stood on guard, a five-foot winged beast that stood meekly by while tourists thronged around it, snapped selfies, and rubbed the creature’s flared nostrils for luck.” (p. 9)

Then dips beneath it:

“That was the side of the market the tourists saw and the locals loved. They had no idea of the other side, the one that lay below. A distinct world, with its own ways, its own rules: a colony of rats.

Tunnels wound underneath the hill, tooth-carved thoroughfares, veiled from the eyes of humans. There were tunnels high up and tunnels below that snaked deep into the hill’s belly.

The Uppers were dug alongside the city’s swanky cafés and eateries, and food was never far away. But lower down the hill, below the heart of the market, it was different. Tangles of narrow tunnels limped through broken pipes, leaking sewers, and sodden earth, connecting scores of foul smelling, crumbling burrows.

No rat lived in the Lowers by choice. Except one, that is.” (ibid.)

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Exploring New Places – Fred Patten’s New Anthology (Press Release)

by Pup Matthias

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

Exploring New Places, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Anthrocon 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA over the July 4th holiday weekend (July 5-8). The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Exploring New Places is an all-original anthology of 19 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals venturing into unfamiliar places, in their own city, on their own world, in space, or in a different dimension. This anthology is designed to appeal to fans of science-fiction and fantasy.

Whether by the power of music to “send you right out of this world”, or a rabbit spaceship captain searching for the creators of her species; a galactic police agent called to a new planet to solve murders, or alien furries who enter a human university; a gorilla student wandering off in a museum, or two-tailed squirrels confronting interstellar explorers; these are stories for your imagination and entertainment.

Contents:

To Drive the Cold Winter Away, by Michael H. Payne
In Search of the Creators, by Alan Loewen
The Rocky Spires of Planet 227, by Mary E. Lowd
Defiant, by Joshua Carpman
Why Indeed, by Pepper Hume
Come to Todor!, by Fred Patten
You Are Our Lifeboat, by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
The Animal Game, by Vixyy Fox
Ashland’s Fury, by MikasiWolf
Legacy, by M. R. Anglin
Umbra’s Legion: Shamblers of Woe, by Adam Baker
Umbra’s Legion: Where Pride Planted, by Geoff Galt
Beyond Acacia Ridge, by Amy Fontaine
One Day in Hanoi, by Thomas “Faux” Steele
Welcome, Furries, by Cathy Smith
Back Then, by Frank LeRenard
Tortoise Who, by Mary E. Lowd
I Am the Jaguar, by Cairyn
The Promise of New Heffe, by Kary M. Jomb

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Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin. Illustrated.
Paris, Delcourt, October 2017, hardcover, €16,95 (123 [+ 5] pages).

Thanks, as always with French bandes dessinées, to Lex Nakashima for loaning this to me to review.

Or maybe not. Solo is a three-novel set, and I gave very good reviews to the first two albums. Solo is a bioengineered rat-man warrior in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to build a peaceful home for his wife Lyra and their children. It’s a Conan the Barbarian scenario, full of constant blood, ambushes, gladiatorial combats, rat-vs.-everybody-else warfare, and little else. The action and mood are violent and exhausting, but as long as each album ends with a “to be continued”, there is the hope of a happy ending.

Well, we can forget that about vol, 3, “The Cannibal World”. Solo returns home after an unsuccessful hunt to find it smashed open and Lyra and their three children kidnapped. He searches for them in the human meat farms. He always misses them by days. He’s constantly delayed by fights to the death with humans, monkeys, cats, and bloodthirsty mutants.

On page 67, Solo finds an orphaned puppy. He shifts from searching for his family to caring for the puppy, raising it to become a killer hound. When Solo is eventually killed, the dog avenges him. (But it’s only a momentary victory. We are left to hope that the dog will continue to survive as Solo had.)

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The 2018 San Francisco Pride parade, furries and parties – what’s happening and how to join!

by Patch O'Furr

Before you read about fun with the SF Bay Area Furries, remember why Pride matters. A local furry posted about being a target of an unprovoked homophobic attack this week with a photo of a black eye. He got a lot of support and hundreds of comments, but preferred to keep the post friends-only. And while there was one bad thing, expect hundreds of good things for everyone involved.

Now, here’s how to join us animals for one of our biggest events of the year. Let’s prowl and howl for an all-weekend rager!

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Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

by Patch O'Furr

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

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“If an idea resonates with you, there’s absolutely an audience for it”- the furry world of Lobst

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 from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

Growing up on a diet of sci-fi and fantasy, transformation stories were the ones I loved and could always rely on the writers of most shows to fall back on one of it’s most loved tropes. For me they were always the most frustrating though, as characters spent their time trying either freaking or trying to change back, usually both. Frustratingly they almost never explored a person staying that way, gaining a new perspective on the world. It’s something I’d find renewed interest in when encountering the Furry Fandom and finally found quite literally in the works of Lobst, a furry comics artist who uses their anthropomorphic characters and an individual take on magical realism to express their unique experiences as a trans person.

As with the bulk of their work two of my favourites, both adult comics, prominently feature transgender characters and story lines. A Slightly Different Role follows the exploits of two huskies, Connor and Alex, the latter of which with the aid of a suitably gothic book of curses, magically endows the other with a vagina. The second, more science-fiction orientated That Curious Sensation takes the subject in an entirely different, rarely explored direction. Distracted from work by unwanted erections red panda Clover strikes upon the idea of nullification, quickly achieving his goal with an easily obtainable injection. In both instances the initial transformation is dealt with quickly and often humorously, instead shifting the focus onto how characters react and adapt to the changes, rather than the change itself as a way to explore other parts of a trans individuals experiences and struggles beyond the post surgery aspects that a lot of mainstream representations fixate upon.

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Art for Tiny Paws con, and tail wags for graphic journalism.

by Patch O'Furr

What got me into furries was classic and TV cartoons and underground animation, and adventure and fantasy novels (Redwall, Spellsinger). I’d buy them by the armload at the used book store. It was all cool to me whether it came with critical approval or not. I just craved more. A good way to get more is DIY-style and from fandom. I found that in small doses with zines in the 1990’s.

Superhero comics were never my thing (I think the 90’s was a bad time for those). Then I found some indies where muscle-people were as seldom seen as they were for a real bookworm. Indies were a step closer to animation and fantasy stuff I loved. It still didn’t exactly register that there was a divide between supposed lowbrow and highbrow comics. I didn’t care that Art Spiegelman’s Maus got a Pulitzer prize and helped turn “graphic novels” into a regular section in book stores. I did get interested by their connection to that energy of zines.

Now I’d say “graphic journalism” (Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine) is a bit of an inspiration. It turned many heads this year when the New York Times got a Pulitzer for a nontraditional graphic story, instead of editorial cartooning.

Would you be into seeing illustrated stories like that here? I’d love to gradually give it a try. Not yet, but if a story really demands it. Up to now this site has been almost exclusively text writing. The visuals are really important and those usually aren’t custom made. But I have the power to give it to you!

Tiny Paws con is getting a little of it. They asked me to make some art, so here it is. If you’re near the con, you should come say hi in August!

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Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2018, trade paperback, $17.00 (319 pages), Kindle $4.15.

Once a Dog is told from the viewpoint of Jesse B. Collie, a young dog on the farm of Mister Overlord. He is no longer a puppy, but he is still too young to be trained to work like Mother, an experienced sheepdog, so he romps happily around the farmyard with his littermates Lil, Zac, Pixie, and Toby. Mister and Missus Overlord are too busy to play with him, but Oldmister Overlord – Mister Overlord’s father, now retired – plays fetch and other games with him.

The first chapter establishes the dogs’ vocabulary. The sun and moon are hot-ball and cold-ball; day and night are bright-light and slight-light; humans are uprights; dogs are packers; sheep are dumbfluffs; barnyard fowls are jumpfly-gabblegabbles, and so on.

One night there is a commotion in the farmhouse, and the next day Oldmister Overlord does not come out to play with Jesse. The reader can tell that he has died the night before, but Jesse only knows that he does not come out any more. Maybe he went away in the strange rolling-house (an ambulance or hearse) that came that night. When Mister and Missus Overlord soon leave in Truck, and Missus Overlord doesn’t close the farm gate tightly, Jesse sets out to follow them and find Oldmister Overlord. They lead him farther than he expects, into the nearby small town which has a bewildering confusion of uprights.

“He had made a big mistake and strayed into hostile territory. And for that, there was only one solution. He’d just have to try harder to smell his way out. So he lowered his nose to the ground, but that prompted an immediate sneeze. Just as he’d feared, the jumble of smells was awfully confusing. And he couldn’t trust his hearing all that well, either. His desperate attempts to single out the unique frequency of any one upright among the discordant sounds around him failed repeatedly, leaving him no choice but to continue down the road almost completely exposed and defenseless. Those packers who had signed at the bush [dogs that had urinated on a bush] had passed this way, too; he could still smell them sure enough.” (p. 29)

Jesse tracks Mister and Missus Overlord into the church where Oldmister Overlord’s funeral is being held. Mister Overlord leads Jesse into Truck (it’s the first time he’s ever been in Truck; he likes the wind blowing through his fur even more than playing ball with Oldmister) and drives him home. Jesse tells his siblings the exciting things that he saw and did, and when Zac doesn’t believe him, he jumps over the fence to prove it to Zac.

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