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Tag: graphic novel

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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French anthro comic: Solo, T. 2, by Oscar Martin – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Solo. T.2, Le Coeur et le Sang, by Oscar Martin.
Paris, Delcourt, January 2016, hardcover €16,95 (109 [+ 1] pages).

Oops. This volume 2, The Heart and the Blood, almost got away from Lex Nakashima & me. Volume 3 is out already. Expect a review of it soon.

I said of volume 1, “The setting: a bleak, war-destroyed future Earth. Think MGM’s/Hugh Harman’s 1939 animated Peace on Earth, where the last humans on Earth kill each other and leave the world to the peaceful funny animals; or the similar sequence in Alexander Korda’s 1936 live-action feature Things to Come, where England (and presumably the whole human race) has been bombed and shot up back to the Stone Age. It’s Mad Max with furries.”

That’s still true of vol. 2. Quoting from my review of volume 1 again, I said, “Solo is a brawny teenaged rat-equivalent of the young Conan the Barbarian, but a lot smarter. In the first few pages, he and his warrior father are shown fighting giant, mutated monsters in a freezing winter landscape for food for their family, and killing rival mustelid warriors ready to eat them. Solo and his father win, but it is obvious to all that Solo’s family is slowly starving. Solo, a huge teenager, decides to leave so his parents and siblings won’t have to share their food with him.”

Solo spends most of volume 1 as an almost brain-dead gladiatorial warrior in a human-run arena. It’s clear that he could escape whenever he wants, but is there anyplace else in the world worth escaping to? He finally finds such a place; a new home and a wife. He finds that life is worth living again.

Of course, this now gives him responsibilities – to his wife and to his community.

The Heart and the Blood is divided into two sections; the story of 73 pages, and a mixture of “technical notes” (some of the other intelligent species of Solo’s “cannibal world”) and short independent stories.

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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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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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Franko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Franco_front-cover_SC-lgFranko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2016, hardcover $39.95 (v + 128 pages), trade paperback $19.95.

Franko: Fables of the Last Earth is a collection of six cartoon-art fables written by Ángel Bernier and illustrated by Cristóbal Jofré, printed in full color on glossy paper. The word “fables” is carefully chosen; these are gentle, mystical adventures in the tradition of “magic realism” favored by many Latin American authors.

Franko is a young anthropomorphic lion adolescent living in the Atacama Desert of Chile at the “end of civilization on Earth”, with his slightly older lion friend Shin. The Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth, but as backpackers and other travelers will tell you, the deserts have their own special beauty. These six short fables display it with a quiet wonder.

Franko and Shin are lion farmers at the opposite ends of adolescence – Franko appears to be a thirteen-year-old, while the more irresponsible Shin appears about nineteen (and is addicted to gambling). Both embody the exuberance of youth. They and Mana, the ghost of Shin’s grandmother, are the only recurring characters. Mana is the voice of wisdom who tempers the rashness and naïvete of the two youngsters.

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Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions, by Rick Griffin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

housepets_book7_cover-preview-237x300Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions (Book 7), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Here, right on schedule, is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Book 7 contains the strips from June 16, 2014 to June 1, 2015; story arcs #78, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 2”, to #90, “All’s Fair, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.

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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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Zen: Meditations of an Egotistical Duck, by Phicil – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

5193RSt5quL._SX349_BO1,204,203,200_Zen: Meditations d’Un Canard Égoiste (Zen: Meditations of an Egotistical Duck), by Phicil
Paris, Éditions Carabas, November 2015; hardcover €16,00 (80 pages).

Google’s automatic translator says that “un canard égoiste” is “a selfish duck”, but in this case “egotistical” is a better translation than “selfish”. Jean Plumo sees everything as revolving around himself, but he’s not particularly selfish once the needs and desires of others are brought to his attention.

The Patten-Nakashima conspiracy to get you to read French funny-animal bandes dessinées that aren’t likely to be published in English has probably let you down this time.

Jean Plumo, a mallard office-worker in a funny-animal world, is fed up with not only being yelled at by an unsympathetic boss, but at not getting the respect he feels that he’s due from his fellow deskmates. When he sees a copy of Bronzage (“Tanning”) magazine on his boss’ desk with an article about a luxurious vacation retreat to study zen meditation all day (implied under the sun; a good way to get a tan), he decides to sign up for it.

It’s not what he expects.

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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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Housepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), By Rick Griffin, Book Review By Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

HousepetsHousepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), by Rick Griffin.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, November 2015, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Another year passes, and here is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Umpty million thousand furry fans can’t be wrong.

Book 6 contains the strips from June 19, 2013 to May 30, 2014; story arcs #70, “Mice To Meet You” to #77, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! is the story of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff. Read the rest of this entry »