Associated Student Bodies 2019 Reprint – Review by Summercat
Associated Student Bodies Yearbook Softcover Collection
Lance Rund, Chris McKinley. 2019, Rabbit Valley $35
“…Everyone has their own story of how they discovered and engaged with the fandom. For myself after finally stumbling upon the fandom and discovering that this strange collection of interests had a name, Associated Student Bodies was one of my first experiences of anthropomorphic fiction that wasn’t connected to a TV show or a movie. The college based coming of age story told from the point of view of Daniel, a young lion away from home for the first time and discovering himself and reconciling his faith with his sexuality. In the early days and the rush of finding this new community it felt thrilling, exciting and deliciously naughty to read. I’d be the first to admit that it seems innocently and oddly quaint by today’s standards as well as indulging in a lot of tropes. It’s a little dated and my fondness for it stems from mostly nostalgic reasons…”
– Bessie, Marfedblog
“As someone who was a kid during the AIDS crisis, I was ‘taught’ that the role of a queer man was to get HIV and die. ASB was one of the first narratives I found that posited a life beyond bars, sex, and an inexorable spiral into illness and death.”
– Syn Fawkes, via Telegram
“It was the second comic I read in the furry fandom after I heard it inspired Circles. It’s honestly a classic read, I think it’s something almost every furry should check out as a part of furry history.”
– Linea ‘LiteralGrill’, via Telegram
“It’s a fun fantasy exploration of coming out, self discovery, and free love, but often feels like a coming of age story written by someone who hasn’t, yet.”
– Dralen Dragonfox, via Telegram
First published in 1998 and completed in 2000, across 8 issues and six artists ( Co-Author Credit Chris Mckinely, Baron Engel, Terrie Smith, Jonas Silver, Chuck Davies, Zjonni), there is little to say about Associated Student Bodies that hasn’t been already said over the last two decades.
Released to rave reviews, Associated Student Bodies helped shape the mold of Furry Comics within the fandom, inspiring many to take the college slice of life format that became common afterwards. At the right time, at the right place, ASB spoke to many people – and still speaks to people today.
As Bessie of Marfedblog said, the story of Associated Student Bodies mainly follows the young lion Daniel at his first year of college in the dorm of Hillard East as he discovers his homosexuality and navigates learning about himself with the help of his dormmates, sometimes sexually. The story sounds well worn, and a modern read through the comic would show a lot of familiar tropes and clichés being used, but for the same reason that Shakespeare’s work does: It originated many of them within the Furry Fandom.
The artwork is done by a selection of experienced artists, adding character and emotion to the scenes. It’s not hard to figure out at a glance what a character is feeling, with expressive faces and body motions across multiple styles.
And of course there’s the sexual stuff. Yeah, there’s a lot of porn in this comic, a lot of eyecandy for those who like dudes. However this is the late 90s character design, so the body shapes and sizes are realistic, if probably more in shape than the average American college student is. Not everyone is muscular, there’s only a few heavyset characters, but everyone at some point in the story’s run gets some naked screentime.
There are some things in ASB that do come off as dated or questionable, such as one character’s constant pursuit of a straight man, but even today there are young people who have read Associated Student Bodies recently and been touched or inspired by the story its told.
In the end, Associated Student Bodies remains a relevant story to be read, and has been probably will continue to be so… if it wasn’t out of print for the last 15 years, making it difficult to find.
Luckily for everyone, Rabbit Valley decided to reprint the Associated Student Bodies Yearbook as a softcover collection. The softcover yearbook includes all 8 issues, some additional side stories, sketches and notes, and the tounge-in-cheek Queerman comic originally published in Rabbit Valley’s own Spoo Presents line.
Above: Issue 1, 2nd Reprint from 2000
Below: Same panel, 2019 reprint
The image quality is nearly identical. The original comic is on brighter yet thinner paper, meaning you can easily see what’s on the other side of the page. The new reprint is on thicker more yellow paper. My opinion is that the reprint wins out on this comparison, as the bleeding can make some pages hard to follow.
The entire publication is interior grayscale, including the reprints of the original comic covers. The Yearbook’s cover is a glossy full color image, originally done by Baron Engel in 2002, and still shows up well.
All in all?
Associated Student Bodies is a classic of the Furry Fandom. Even if the story isn’t your thing and you don’t like gay porn, I still highly recommend it. ASB inspired so many successor stories and touched so many people that it’s hard to get away from its influence in the Furry Fandom.
There’s no quibbling here. Go get the Associated Student Bodies Yearbook.