Unearthing a cool fossil — A 1980’s letter shows furry fandom before the net.
by Patch O'Furr
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News tips from non-furries are often worthy. They won’t suck you into fandom-gossip, and they’re more likely to use the Dogpatch Press Facebook page than Telegram or Twitter. That’s how I heard from a New Jersey estate liquidator (someone contracted to sell off goods when someone dies or can’t do it themselves). They had binders of furry art, and I had experience in brokerage (my other fursona is a pack rat.) Was there worth in them?
They didn’t smell like money, but I knew they might have at least curiosity value for a handful of sources like Confurence.com, so I broadcast it and tagged them.
I see dates 1985-1999. I wonder if any of these are unavailable or are they photocopies of nothing too uncommon? @Skiltaire_Party @Bengaley @CulturallyFd pic.twitter.com/GD6uClFeuC
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) February 13, 2020
Indeed it was just sentimental-value stuff — not even original art, just photocopies — but Jerry Collins tied this to old guard furry fandom. I thought about how scrapbooks of gay culture from pre-1960’s had high curatorial value, and was reminded of a contact with an archive for 8mm home movies that were picked up this way and sometimes licensed for documentaries. I smelled news!
I asked about reaching the family to find out more about the collector, or make sure it was OK to share:
The house had Manga stuff and role play games. Owner was in his 50’s. Unfortunately the estate was handled by an attorney who had no personal knowledge. I do not see any issue with sharing the binder contents. Enjoy.
We arranged mailing to Summercat (news writer, furry historian, and curator of the Furry Library), who received four huge binders. There were copies of parts of 1980’s zines someone liked and kept. A binder of misc anime stuff, a binder of (colloquial) furry anime stuff, and a binder each that looked like a collection of work from artists Jerry Collins and Juan Alfonso. Among the photocopies, there was a hand written artifact.
Chat with the Furluminati of furry news:
Summercat: I found this letter circa 1988 and it’s amusing. I was given permission to share this publically. Publicly. I don’t know why I keep adding the extra “al”.
Summercat: No need to get crotchety with me.
Dralen: But I love crochet!
Summercat: Yeah but you keep needling us.
Dralen: Just trying to inject a little humor.
Changa Lion: Who is that letter addressed to?
Summercat: The person these came from. Whomever it is, I think they’re deceased.
Patch: This is original fandom ephemera? Got ID for the 2 people?
Summercat: The letter is signed J. Alfonso (I’m talking to him on Twitter). Person who received the letter is… unknown. I did ask Juan if he would be able to remember.
Changa Lion: I do wonder if it is somebody we knew at Confurence.
Patch: This letter is a story itself. It was before most people used email and tweeting, when there was already a full fledged fandom. 1988 furry stuff not on the net = like finding a cool fossil to the kids.
Thanks for the letter! I’m well and in excellent spirits, I hope you are too! I’m glad the Furry Party was a success! And I’m sorry I’ve never met Noel Tominack, I’ve heard a lot about him (none of it true I hope!)
I work for the post office, so I usually see the letters ASAP – your must have wended its way to another world, I bet! Occasionally it happens, some folk also write my address as “1141” or mistype my zip as 33168. But then you would have got it back “No Such Number.”
Having only heard of it second-hand, I mistook it for prudishness or worse that the bondage scene was “panned”; goes to show you what the real article does. I think you were definitely not prudish! I do tend to go overboard sometimes for some, heck, there are people who think me a demon or worse!! For my drawings, THE thing to realize is, these are FUNNY-ANIMALS, Do Not Take It SERIOUSLY!! Like a Toon in a cartoon, it is a separate ‘reality’. I tend to equate sometimes ‘cuteness’ with ‘sexiness’ — which makes watching those sweet, cute-to-the-max critters on animated cartoons an inspiration. Unfortunately, they’re so restrained by their kiddie format it makes me want to dress ’em up in leather, and then… well, you saw the end result! I’m definitely not offended by your comment.
So it was you! I met at the Furry party! My apologies, I thought it was Rune I met in SD — or was he there too? So many people! By the way “Huihui Lotl” is a dove (and a loose woman in slang) in Nahuatl (Mexican Indian Language). The Sambar in our own Metrozoo was the inspiration — and very nice, friendly doe she was, too! She licked my glasses off! Gottem a bit dirty. I’m glad you like the Wabbit party, but I don’t think I will send pencils again — they xerox badly.
Roxy Squirrel’s tunic wouldn’t be difficult, but how would it hold up in flight? I think the dragons also didn’t have skin down to the feet — such as Roxy. Maybe a small pinching of the skin (like an earring post hole) to hold it? Of course, when she wants cover, she also does this.
The Petroglyphs were from Bishop Landa’s simplified alphabet of Maya symbols – and the message is in spanish.
I’m glad you enjoy my drawings, here’s some more!
I think this is about sci-fi con furry parties (before the first ConFurence) and a San Diego location, and how some of Juan‘s art was seen by judgy fans who “looked on furries attending their cons as both intruding and beneath contempt. This view did not improve when the earliest examples of sexualized furry art and stories started to appear at the scene.” Thanks to Summercat for images and handwriting transcription.
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I’d love to see the contents of those binders scanned and put online somewhere.
I wish I’d been involved in the fandom back in the day.
Juan used to be a great correspondent. (I mean, maybe he still is, but we haven’t been in touch for a quarter-century.) I remember a letter or two like this. Juan’s art did unsettle people occasionally, in that his style tended to be very toony and his subject matter tended to be very, ah, adult. 🙂 Even so, he actually helped come up with the appearance I wanted for a once very-famous character of mine, Revar the vampire bat, when Juan drew a half-dozen bat heads of different styles in two or three minutes. (Juan was an incredibly fast artist — I’m pretty sure he could have given Sergio Aragones a run for his money!)
Noel Tominack was a very early furry fan who I think may have been loosely associated with the Burned Furs at one point. He was known for being hard to get along with, argumentative, and just prone to find the dark cloud for every silver lining. Even so, through various odd circumstances a friend and I actually stayed with him overnight and… I liked him. What can I say. IIRC, my friend and I both found his ostensibly non-furry brother more personable and easier to get along with, though. Even so, I liked Noel, and thought it was a bit of a shame that he was part of an early exodus from furry that included some great writers like James Charles Lynn and Waverly Pierre III. For my part, I’m awfully glad I stuck around.