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The Fuzzy Princess, Vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, February 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (175 pages).

The Fuzzy Princess, volume 1, was reviewed here last September. These are the adventures of interstellar Princess Katrina of St. Paws and her bat (Chiro) and bear (Kuma) escorts, and the humans on Earth that she moves in with (Jackson, a boy wizard, & his older sister Jordan) and their friends (highschooler Gladdie, her little sister Tara, and Rick). Kat and her companions come to Earth in a flying box (cats love boxes) that has her large interdimensional room inside it. Kat has a detachable tail that can be magically turned into anything. Kat, Chiro, and Kuma use magic/alien technology to make other people see them as normal humans. Kat’s ongoing adversary is Krisa, a rat spy from Mousechester who is usually locked inside a birdcage.

The Fuzzy Princess is Charles Brubaker’s Internet humorous comic strip, in color (this reprint volume is only in black-&-white), updated three times a week. It’s not gag-a-day; there is an ongoing story line.

But! Brubaker also publishes The Fuzzy Princess as a series of independent comic books from 24 to 36 pages, printed on demand by IndyPlanet in Orlando, Florida. This volume 2 reprints the comics from #8 to #11, with some new material. These also appear on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday online strip.

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Scurry: The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Scurry: [Book 1] The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith. Illustrated.
Vancouver, WA, Easy Prey Entertainment, November 2017, hardcover $30.00 (unpaged [104 pages]), softcover $20.00, Kindle $11.99.

This is the first collection of one of the best, largest (13.7” x 8.3”), and most beautiful anthropomorphic-animal comic strips on the Internet. Mac Smith, a graphic designer in Portland, Oregon, began Scurry: A Post-Apocalyptic Mouse Tale on January 17, 2016, and has been posting about two pages a week. The Doomed Colony contains Part I, Lingering Light, Part II, Beasts of Winter, and Part III, Grim Shadows. These add up to 84 pages, and an Afterword, an extensive Cast of Characters, and samples of Smith’s working process bring The Doomed Colony up to 104 pages.

Smith ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,000 to publish this book. He got $101,230 from 2,129 backers in a month. Smith says in his Afterword that he has not read any of the anthro-animal books that readers have been recommending to him. His influences are 1980s movies like The Secret of NIMH, The Dark Crystal, and The Neverending Story.

Scurry is set in a “post-apocalyptic” world in which the humans are dead or gone but their cities are undamaged. There has been no explanation yet of what happened to the humans (despite the book’s cover, no bodies or skeletons are around), or whether what happened is responsible for the animals’ intelligence (although probably this is just a talking-animal fantasy). The mice in the colony wonder whether the humans could return, or whether there are still some left elsewhere. The setting could be Smith’s Pacific Northwest; the fauna and flora fit it. The rusted and decayed look of the buildings and vehicles, and the overgrown lawns implies that humanity disappeared about a year earlier. Food in the houses has run out. Pets like cats have turned feral and hunt the mice for food.

The Doomed Colony is that of the mice in a house in an unnamed suburban neighborhood. They have eaten all of the food that they can find in their own and other nearby homes. The local ex-pet cats are growing increasingly dangerous. Feral wildlife is moving in; some like beavers and moose are harmless, but others like hawks, wolves, snakes, and owls eat mice. The colony is divided between those who want to stay put and explore farther for food, and those who want to move the whole colony into a nearby city where there may be more food and shelter from wild animals.

Politics makes the debate more convoluted. The mice have been ruled well by an Elder Council, but the Council is literally dying of old age. Is the Council’s preference to stay put based on wisdom, or a refusal to consider new ideas? Is Council Leader Orim’s wish to be replaced by his daughter Pict, whom he has trained to replace him when he dies, a good one, or is it pure nepotism? Is Resher, who leads the faction to move into the city, really working for the colony’s benefit, or does he plan that the colony’s upheaval will give him the chance to take over its leadership?

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“You can only carry so much”- Kristyna Baczynski’s ‘Vessel’

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 reposted here.  (- Patch)

Being of modest means, in the past I have shamefully bought comics due to page count alone. Quantity counts when strapped for cash and I’d usually choose comics with a bit more meat on their bones. Although I’m slowly collecting Hellblazer trades they’d always be at the top of my list when they came out due to their huge wodge of pages and densely written style that would take me a few weeks to chew through. Recently being a little bit more financially relaxed and delving deeper into the small press and independent scene I’m discovering more often that the best comics can be both beautiful and brief. Vessel is an independent comic from Leeds artist Kristyna Baczynski. It stars an unnamed anthro protagonist who completes her education and finds herself immediately stuck in an all too familiar procession of banal and ultimately interchangeable jobs. Baczynski captures the feeling of quiet mundanity here perfectly in a series of repeated patterns, her character stood in the same pose and expression in each and every one, with only the hats name badges changing. She finally realises after what could be years of these jobs that her own inaction, that she has to make her life happen as she rushes out into the world. While the subject matter is as well travelled as her heroine by the end of the comic, Baczynski’s unique voice and artistic style ensures she still has something fresh to say on the matter. It’s powerful and deeply affecting, especially to someone like myself who might be realizing that life doesn’t happen on it’s own.

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“You let your ghosties get the best of you”- Chatting with comics creator Mark Kalesniko

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 reposted here.  (- Patch)

“You can either stay and rot, or you can escape and burn. That’s OK; he’s a songwriter, after all, and he needs simple choices like that in his songs. But nobody ever writes about how it is possible to escape and rot, how escapes can go off at half-cock, how you can leave the suburbs for the city but end up living a limp suburban life anyway. That’s what happened to me; that’s what happens to most people”

High Fidelity- Nick Hornby

Years back, after heavily getting back into comics, I was gifted with the book 500 Essential Graphic Novels and surprised by the breadth and depth of the selection set about bookmarking and ordering a few dozen titles. Amongst them was Mark Kalesniko’s Alex, a character I instantly fell in love with and creator who’s work I quickly consumed. Having moved back to his home town of Bandini in Canada, with his tail between his legs, after abandoning his dream of animation at ‘Mickey Walt’, Alex wakes up on a park bench, groggy from another night of alcohol fuelled self destruction. Hungover, high school yearbook in his jacket and with an expressionistic painting of the town he has no memory of. The frustrated Alex fills his time wrestling with his past, struggling with artists’ block, hard drinking, and Gilligan’s Island whilst avoiding old school friends and facing up to the unthinkable. Having to be an artist, rather than a cartoonist. Freeway, drawn over ten years features a younger Alex in his animating career. Stuck in a seemingly never ending traffic jam he reminisces about his uncertain start in LA , whilst he imagines himself living an idyllic life, back in the golden days of animation.

Although optimistic now, I spent most of my teens and twenties as a shamefully stereotypically moody and sullen sod, even now I’m drawn to characters like Alex. Back then my favourite book was High Fidelity, which is the reason for the quote at the start of the review which pretty much sums up Alex’s story. Both books features a downtrodden lead character, stuck in their ways and unhappy with the way life turned out. Kalesinko’s work is great for wallowing in self pity and misery, in the same way that we’re drawn to sad songs, knowing full well they’ll bring us yet deeper into sadness. Tackling themes of depression, self destruction, inner peace and the death of a dream, they are both hugely moving and funny reads. Kalesinko can tease out the comedy of even the most disastrous and destructive events of Alex’s life, presented with his sparse fine line with the pacing and sense of movement that clearly comes from his own stint in animation.

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Iris Jay Hacks The Planet With 90’s Infused Anthro-Cyberpunk In Crossed Wires

by Bessie

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with the devoted curation of a fan doing exactly what they love. It’s my favorite kind of writing – thoroughly researched, thoughtfully presented, in magazine style long form. I suspect it may be underexposed considering the high quality, so if you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)

Each and every single one of Iris Jay’s comic creations sounds like one of the greatest film that was never made, ever. The descriptions of each read like the fevered elevator pitch of some fresh-faced starry-eyed youngster who has grown up on a diet of the trashiest entertainment, 90’s nostalgia and a deep love of forgotten films. Comic worlds inhabited by gun totting robots, gangster piloted mechs and laser-firing wolves partnered with grizzled FBI agents, all armed with the perfect action movie one liners. You are kidding yourself if you didn’t want to see a hulking supernatural fluorescent rat declaring “I  couldn’t free your minds. But I can free your teeth!”

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Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz. Illustrated.
Keston, Kent, UK, United Publications, June 2017, hardcover, $22.95 (unpaged [148 pages]).

This large (8½” x 11”) collection presents the last half – the last ten years — of Eric Schwartz’s Internet Sabrina Online comic strip: four strips per page from November 2006 (annual collection 11) through the end of the annual collections with #14, and the following individual strips through the end of December (Xmas) 2016. “835 strips in 20 years? I guess it’ll have to do.” But wait! There’s more! The last 24 pages of this book are Schwartz’s history of Sabrina Online, gag strips of Sabrina’s Transformer toys, and some of the better art tributes by Sabrina’s fans like gNAW, Steve Gallacci, Shawntae Howard, Max Black Rabbit, and Brian Reynolds.

Schwartz explains in his “Brief History” that he began Sabrina Online in September 1996, after becoming a Big Name Fan in furry fandom thanks to his animation short films produced on his primitive Amiga computer (done partly just to prove that he could create animation on an Amiga). This is where his first popular character, Amy the Squirrel, appeared. He had ideas for a more detailed, continuing storyline featuring Amy and her best friend and roommate, Sabrina the Skunk, so Sabrina Online was born. It was a monthly comic strip in an unusual presentation; all four weeks online together on the first of the month. It was basically a comedic slice-of-life rambling story about Amy and Sabrina. Amy gets married to Thomas Woolfe and has a son, but Sabrina remains sharing her and Thomas’ apartment; Sabrina gets a secretarial job with Zig Zag, a producer of adult entertainment; Sabrina develops a long-term relation with her boyfriend, R.C. (a raccoon), and eventually moves in with him; and finally Sabrina and R.C. get married. Sub-themes and characters include Sabrina’s parents, R.C.’s parents, Sabrina’s collection of Transformers toys (which are often anthropomorphized), Zig Zag, an extroverted zebra-striped skunk (a tiger-skunk hybrid – Schwartz doesn’t have any trouble with interspecies romances and hybrid children), Amy’s infant son Timmy who Sabrina often babysits and Sabrina’s little sister Tabitha, Thomas’ workmates, R.C.’s workmates … lots!

“I created the Sabrina Online comic strip to tell the story ideas I had built up. These were used up after the first few years.” After that he continued the strip on a day-to-day basis for a long time. “That was when I noticed that the twentieth anniversary of the first Sabrina Online comic strip from 1996 was on its way, and looked into the prospect of finishing the strip. Suddenly I had a definite purpose and goal again.” Unfinished story ideas were finished; floating story lines were tied up; and Sabrina Online was brought to a final conclusion with Sabrina and R.C. (Richard Conrad) getting married.

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Support Furry Nation by Joe Strike, out October 10 – with exclusive offer here for a free comic!

by Patch O'Furr

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

Finally, there’s a formally published book about furry fandom and its history. I think it’s overdue by a decade. It comes with excellent cred, being written by long time insider Joe Strike (who joined the fandom in 1989) and published by Cleis Press. Find out more from furrynation.com.

To support the book: sign up to their Thunderclap campaign. Join fast, the launch is approaching!

Signing up concentrates support with one blast on social media.  Why help? Success of the book will support more and better plans. One commenter asked why the book says “America’s most misunderstood subculture.” It has to do with an American publisher focused on domestic readers, and much of the early history is tied to a few American places.  The book had to be kept inside a certain length, leaving wider topics out, but if it does well…

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Ask a Cat [and] The Fuzzy Princess, by Charles Brubaker – Book Reviews by Fred Patten.

by Pup Matthias

Ask a Cat, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, June 2017, trade paperback $9.99 (127 pages).

The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 1, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, July 2017, trade paperback $10.99 (184 pages).

Charles Brubaker is a fan and expert of comic strips and Japanese TV anime. He has been drawing his own comics for several years. Both The Fuzzy Princess and Ask a Cat currently appear on the internet, the former in color and the latter in black-&-white. Now he is producing collections of them through his own Smallbug Press.

Brubaker says in his Introduction to Ask a Cat that it began as a minor throwaway panel within a comic strip about a little witch that he was preparing to submit to a syndicate. It was a parody of the “ask a character” fillers in other strips where readers can send in questions about the strip. Since Brubaker’s strip about the witch hadn’t come out yet, he filled the “ask” panel with a cat, and asked on a message board for silly questions about cats for him to answer. He got more questions about cats than he expected, and the syndicate liked his throwaway panel better than his strip about the witch. Ask a Cat began on June 22, 2015. The solicited message board questions were soon replaced by genuine questions submitted by his readers. Now, after two years, here is a collection of his panels.

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Les Ailes du Singe. T.2, Hollywoodland, by Étienne Willem – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Les Ailes du Singe. T.2, Hollywoodland, by Étienne Willem.
Geneva, Switzerland, Éditions Paquet, June 2017, hardbound €14,00 (48 pages).

The Lex Nakashima-Fred Patten plot to make American furry fans read the best of new French-language animalière bandes dessinées strikes again. This is the second album of Étienne Willem’s over-the-top thriller Les Ailes du Singe (The Wings of the Monkey), set in a funny-animal America during 1933, the depths of the Depression. Things got so desperate at the time that there were serious worries about a Communist revolution. That’s one theme of this album.

The stars of Les Ailes du Singe are Harry Faulkner (macaque monkey), a top pilot in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I, and the owner of his own barnstorming and movie stunt-flying Jenny biplane; his mechanic-friend Lumpy (pig), apparently Italian since he regularly swears in Italian; and his girlfriend Betty Laverne (deer), a newspaper reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune. In t.1, Wakanda, Harry gets involved in and prevents the skyjacking of the U.S. Army’s zeppelin Wakanda by unknown enemy agents led by a sultry night club singer, Lydia Lessing (jaguar). However, Harry could only prevent the enemy from unleashing poison gas over NYC by crashing the Wakanda into the Hudson River. He is blamed for wrecking the zeppelin and, to escape warrants for his arrest in New York and New Jersey, Harry and Lumpy flee to Hollywood where Harry becomes a stunt pilot for Paramount. (In real life I think he could be extradited – isn’t it illegal to cross state lines to avoid arrest?)

Hollywoodland contains so much hugger-mugger that, frankly, it destroys the suspension of disbelief for me. The Depression has gotten so bad that the South is threatening to re-secede, setting off a second Civil War – or, as Harry finds out, that’s what Communist agents are trying to make the public believe. There’s a plot to assassinate President Franklin D. Roosevelt that only Harry, Betty, and Lumpy can foil, in stolen Paramount stunt planes. There are lots of real famous people as funny animals: FDR is a goose (Willem seems to show him as unparalyzed, as he was popularly believed to be at the beginning of his administration; but take a close look at the bottom panel on page 46), Howard Hughes is a Doberman, Cecil B. De Mille is a Boston terrier, Douglas Fairbanks is a – cougar? (A Big Feline of some kind.) Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a star yet, so Hollywoodland substitutes a fictional Clara Palmer – that’s her on the cover. (There’s a nude shot of her in the story.) Willem takes advantage of the urban legend that Howard Hughes may have been a spy for someone, or at least working against America’s best interests, to put him into suspicious situations. There are car chases all over Los Angeles, gunfights, a major character is killed, and Harry’s & Friends’ pursuit in old World War I warplanes through the New Mexico desert of the presidential streamlined train to prevent the president’s murder

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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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