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.
Fred 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
Here is the easy link to buy this book:
I offered “Furry Fandom Conventions” to McFarland after it was rejected by the furry specialty publishers; FurPlanet, Sofawolf, etc. They said, probably correctly, that it would appeal more to high-school, college, and university academic and reference libraries than to individual furry fans; and they weren’t set up to reach that market. Also, a non-fiction book of solid text wouldn’t appeal to furry fans, and to include illustrations throughout the book, they would have to price it at $30 or $40 anyway. And none of them were set up to print a color section. So it’s just as well that it’s been published by McFarland, which specializes in reference books and can print a color section.
If any furry fans are going to high school or college, request this from the school library. If they don’t have it (which they probably don’t, “furry fandom studies” being a brand-new academic subject), request that they get it.
There are 116 different conventions around the world covered. I asked each convention or one of its organizers for information and a sample illustration. About half answered me. The other half ignored me, so I had to rely on WikiFur, online convention reports, or finding a convention member or ex-member who would talk. The chairmen of a couple of discontinued conventions dug out old artwork to send me. One fan, Higgs Raccoon in Liverpool, England, got some answers from conventions that never answered me.
The most cooperative convention was RusFURence in Moscow. Taffka Unicorn and a couple of other staffers bombarded me with information, and a half-dozen illustrations so I could take my pick. (RusFURence has some great T-shirts.) The strangest replies were from Camp Feral! and RainFurrest. Camp Feral! sent lots of information and art for its 1997 through 2010 conventions, and nothing for 2011 to 2015. They wouldn’t say why. Gene Armstrone, the RainFurrest chairman, sent me lots of information and answered my questions, but said he couldn’t send me any artwork because he didn’t have any. All the RainFurrest program book art, website banners, etc., were kept by a different staffer who refused to send me anything.
Most conventions that didn’t send me anything never replied to me at all, but FurWanted in Germany said that they not only refused to send me anything, they would sue me if I mentioned them in any way. They couldn’t keep me from including published news, though, so that was what I used. Too bad I couldn’t include any FurWanted art; they had at least one good banner.
I’m really curious about why FurWanted threatened to maybe sue. (That’s from Germany… sounds like an empty threat.) I see that their twitter is private friends-only which seems unusual for a promoted event.
I wonder if there was some breakup between organizers and fight over who got to run things?
Just wanted to say that I got my copy this week and it is indeed a wonderful book for anybody interested in the history of the furry fandom like me. 🙂 It also helps clear some common misconceptions around the events in the final years of Confurence.
WikiFur only has information on FurWanted through 2015. 2016 is “scheduled”. “FurWanted IV is scheduled for July 13-17, 2016, in Pullman City. The theme will be “Music Country Festival”.” Was it held in 2016?
Yes, it was held in 2016. And it is scheduled for July 05-09 in 2017. Again in Pullman City and with the theme “Back to the Nature”.
No idea why the organisers reacted so harsh.
There are, or were, apparently seven furry conventions in Germany: BerliCon, EAST, EuroFurence, FurWanted, H-Con, Mephit MiniCon, and Ruhrcon. BerliCon has been discontinued. FurWanted appears to be a genuine convention, although it is very small; not a furmeet or an invitational-only private party. Have I missed any?
Oh, there are / were a few more: HassiaCon, LDC, DieDrachenCon, LearCon, Wald Con, Socom, Fellig, CastleCon, TJiL…
But some of them are more like invitational-only furmeets, thats right.
[…] The book can be found at the publisher’s website, McFarland (link⇒), and on other bookshop platforms such as Amazon. More information at Dogpatch Press’ article on the book (link⇒). […]
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