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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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Of Cloak and Fangs Vol.12, If It Isn’t You…, by Alain Ayroles & Jean-Luc Masbou – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

De Cape et de Crocs. Acte 12, Si Ce N’Est Toi…, by Alain Ayroles & Jean-Luc Masbou.
Paris, Delcourt, November 2016, hardbound €14,50 (47 [+3] pages).

The Fred Patten & Lex Nakashima plan to bring you the best French-language talking-animal comics has a real winner this time: Of Cloak and Fangs. Vol. 12, If It Isn’t You…, the twelfth & final(!) volume of De Cape et de Crocs, the 17th-century swashbuckling series parodying Cyrano de Bergerac, Molière, Montesquieu, and Co. that has been running since 1995.

Confusingly, volume 10 was originally announced as the end of the series. The main characters through vol. 10 are two wandering gentleman-swordsmen, Armand Raynal de Maupertuis (French fox) and Don Lope de Villalobos y Sangrin (Spanish wolf). They are introduced in 17th-century Venice, then a powerful Mediterranean nation. In the first volume they are betrayed and sentenced to serve as galley-slaves in Venice’s navy, where they meet fellow-slave Eusèbius, the cutest bunny-rabbit in the world. They escape, bringing Eusèbius with them. Eusèbius becomes their loyal squire-valet for the rest of the series, through adventures in Europe and on the Moon; so naïve and self-effacing that you almost forget he’s there. Volume 10 appeared to wrap everything up with a happily-ever-after ending, but the ten albums never said what the cutest bunny-rabbit in the world was doing as a Venetian galley-slave when they met him. Did readers demand an explanation? Volumes 11 and 12 answer the question.

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Léonid T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Léonid. T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi.
Toulon, France, Soleil, May 2016, hardcover 10,95 (48 pages).

My thanks to Lex Nakashima, as usual for this French bande dessinée album.

Brrémaud is the author-artist of those French wordless “Love” animal albums that many fans collect, but in this case he is only the author. Turconi is the artist.

To repeat what I said about the first album, “The locale is the farming district of Deux-Sèvres, in central-west France. ‘Léonid is a cat, not yet an adult, but not a kitten, either. Just a young cat. He lives in a house in the district, in the midst of trees, pretty far from any city and close to a farm.’ Léonid is a young housecat, living with two other housecats (Hoa Mai, a Siamese, and Rosso, an elderly orange Pekinese) and a dog (Mirza, a toy terrier). His household is also the home of Atchi, a mouse constantly sneezing because he’s allergic to cat hairs. Léonid is allowed outside during the daytime to associate and play with the local feral cats; the female black-&-white Ba’on, and the males Bouboule (the fat one), Arsène (the nervous one), and an anonymous one (because he’s almost immediately killed). […] The Two Albinos is mostly the story of how Ba’on is kidnapped by the two albinos to be their slave, and how Léonid and Atchi, the sneezing mouse, venture outside to her rescue. They’re successful, but not really because Ba’on reveals that while she was in the albino cats’ power, they boasted that they are just the vanguard of ‘the horde’, ‘the avant-garde of the terror of Great Attila, our guide’ who will kill or enslave all the animals of the district.   Léonid, Ba’on, Aichi, Hoa Mai, Rosso, and Mirza are left wondering what to do when Attila and his horde arrive?”

In t.2, the Horde arrives. The animals in Léonid’s house – three housecats, Mirza the toy terrier, and Atchi the mouse are enjoying their daily life. Old Rosso, who is suffering erratic memory loss, sleeps most of the time. Young Léonid goes out each day to associate with the local feral cats, Bouboule, Arsène, and especially the female Ba’on. They are under the dubious protection of Zeus and Apollo, the farmer’s two large, fierce guard dogs who watch over his small flock of sheep. Before the coming of the Horde’s bloody outliers, Zeus and Apollo would tear apart any cat they could catch; but after the animals’ adventures together against the Horde’s scouts led by the two sadistic albino cats, the neighborhood pets and the guard dogs have made common cause against Attila’s coming Horde.

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La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, t.4, by Pau – French comic review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

album-cover-large-31145La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, t.4, by Pau.
Roubaix, France, Ankama Éditions, September 2016, hardcover €12.90 (60 + [3] pages).

Lex Nakashima & I again present our conspiracy to get you to read French animalière bandes dessinées; in volume 4 ET DERNIER of the Saga of Atlas & Axis!

If you’ve been following Jean-Marc Pau’s adventures of the two talking dogs since t.1 was published in August 2011, here is the conclusion.

Frankly, this isn’t at all what I was expecting – so much so that I’m tempted to ignore this ending and leave the series hanging. For two reasons. Firstly, it’s much more somber and melancholy than I’d expected. I don’t demand a happy ending, but this is depressing. Secondly, the whole purpose of Nakashima’s and my conspiracy is to present French-language anthro-animal comics that aren’t likely to be published in English; and the publication of this whole series in English has just been announced! More on this below.

For three albums now, Atlas (Afghan hound) and Axis (terrier mutt) have wandered the world of Pangea, searching for the Magic Bone of Khimera (whatever that is) that would prove whether wolves and dogs were created independently, or whether dogs evolved from wolves. It was easy to see Pangea as a funny-animal 10th-century Europe, with Viking raiders and the “where did dogs come from” controversy standing for the religious debates within Christianity of that time. The only thing that didn’t fit were the exploding sheep, and that could be dismissed as Pau being humorous.

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Furries get a look from popular German comic Erzaehlmirnix.

by Patch O'Furr

Want a change from intense American news?  German furry fan Stefan sends a tip (thanks!)  This is very nice to get, since otherwise it would be completely missed by American furs.  It’s from comic site “Erzaehlmirnix”.  It has 80,000 followers on Facebook and over 13,000 on Twitter – but likely no English-only followers for images that won’t translate easily. (Patch)

(Stefan:) A quite popular german comic site just made two furry-related comics in quick order.

First comic:comic1 Read the rest of this entry »

Les Ailes du Singe. T.1, Wakanda, by Etienne Willem – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

1969_couvLes Ailes du Singe. T.1, Wakanda, by Étienne Willem.
Geneva, Switzerland, Éditions Paquet, May 2016, hardbound €14,00 (48 pages).

This is another fine entry in Lex Nakashima’s & my project to bring American furry fans the best of new French-language animalière bandes dessinées. We covered Étienne Willem’s previous four-volume L’Épée d’Ardenois, set about the 13th century with knights in armor. Les Ailes du Singe, The Wings of the Monkey, is considerably different. It’s set in New York in 1933, with knights of the skies.

It’s March 1933, in the depths of the Depression. Tens of thousands of people are out of work, eating in soup kitchens and living in Hoovervilles. Harry Faulkner (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 during the ‘20s, has fallen on hard times; but he’s not so desperate that he’ll take a job as a common mechanic. He complains to his girlfriend, Betty Laverne (deer), a newspaper reporter for the Herald, and to his own mechanic, Lumpy (pig), that he wants a job that will let him fly.

Meanwhile, the mayor of New York (rabbit) is gambling on jump-starting a return to prosperity – and advancing his own political career – by sponsoring a fleet of high-profile dirigibles (which the mayor secretly owns a share of) powered by synthetic helium, that will replace the railroads in crossing America in comfort and speed. The first of them, the Navy dirigible Wakanda, is about to cast off from the Empire State Building on its posh maiden voyage to California. The flight is covered by Betty.

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It’s More Fun When You’re Not Allowed, by Isabel Marks – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

599841-1Fred writes: three or four reviews of furry books that I wrote in 2003 or 2004 have vanished from the Internet.  I wrote them for the first version of Watts Martin’s Claw & Quill site, which he has apparently taken down. Here they are back online.

It’s More Fun When You’re Not Allowed: Namir Deiter, Year One, by Isabel Marks. Fredericksburg, VA, Fuzzy Kitten Comics/Studio Ironcat, September 2004, trade paperback $11.95 (128 pages,.

This tidy little package presents the first year’s worth of Isabel Marks’ online Namir Deiter comic strip (November 28, 1999 through January 5, 2001), plus a lot of bonus goodies: biographies of 21 main and minor characters, an original ten-page story, a Fantasy Gallery showing the main gang in s-f and fantasy settings, a foreword by Bill Holbrook, and more. Almost as good as the strips themselves are Marks’ notes on practically each one describing the conditions under which it was written and/or drawn.

Basic advice for writers is “Write what you know about.” Marks appears to have done this to excellent effect. As she explains in her notes, she was a high school senior with some spare time in computer class. She had recently discovered on-line comics and wanted to try one of her own.   What about? High school dating! The first strip introduces four high school gals and a guy. The guy, Devlin, is just present to start the action (he asks Tipper out on her first date). The main cast is the girls: sisters Snickers and Tipper Namir, Blue Deiter, and Joy Satu. Snickers and Joy are relatively demure; Tipper, the youngest, is tomboyish; and Blue, who was neglected as a child and raised herself by watching TV, is self-centered and apparently attention-seeking. As Namir Deiter advances during its first year, Marks points out in her marginal asides the ways in which it begins to evolve. The art style shows her experiments with different computer drawing tools and techniques. The story starts with individual gag strips, and gains depth as her characters develop individual personalities and become involved in more serious human-interest situations.

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DreamKeepers, Volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

514FCHz6XFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille
Monroe, MI, Vivid Independent Publishing, July 2015, trade paperback $24.99 (117 [+ 11] pages).

“Dreamkeepers is a supernatural fantasy adventure series for teens and up.” (publishers’ advisory)

After two years and an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, here is DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, containing Chapters 10 through 12. By now, so much has happened that you have to first read What Has Gone Before; either page-by-page for free on the DreamKeepers website or as albums from Amazon.com.

To rephrase what I have said in my reviews of the first three volumes, “The Dreamworld is a mysterious reality that parallels our own,” inhabited by funny-animal DreamKeepers, one for each person in the world. They guard us from the nightmares that would drive us mad. “Everyone’s DreamKeeper is completely unique – your personality and subconscious influence your DreamKeeper’s appearance and abilities.” Since there are now over seven billion people in the world, that’s a lot of almost-all different funny animals; but David Lillie has shown in large crowd scenes that he can draw that many DreamKeepers. Most DreamKeepers live in “Anduruna, the largest DreamKeeper city in the DreamWorld.”

“The protagonist is Mace, a young puppy (or is he a kitten?) in Grunn’s orphanage, a Dickensian hellhole along Anduruna’s eastern seacoast. Mace, the equivalent of a ten- or eleven-year-old human boy, is always getting in trouble for his practical jokes. He doesn’t care that he makes it easy for the orphanage’s real troublemakers to blame their tricks on him. But when his best friend is brutally murdered and he is blamed, he is forced to flee with Whip, his little blue companion (don’t call him a pet) into Anduruna’s lower-class throngs. There he meets Lilith Calah, a female counterpart from the aristocracy’s elite Sabbaton Towers who has just escaped a murder attempt (with the help of her half-sister, Namah) that apparently is connected to a black magic plot (and believe me; Dave & Liz can draw really gory and frightening black magic!) by the Dark DreamKeepers to overthrow the DreamKeepers and bring the nightmare hordes into the ascendency.”

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