Gamepopper releases book Furtannia: The History of the Furry Fandom in the United Kingdom

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Hello, I’m Gamepopper, a British furry author of the newly released book Furtannia: The History of the Furry Fandom in the United Kingdom. Buy it at the link from Uncle Bear Publishing.

I’ve mentioned this book on Dogpatch Press in a guest article calling for preserving the furry fandom’s history, when it was under the (admittingly cheeky) working title of Furry Kingdom. This book tells a long and multi-faceted account of that history, but this time from the perspective of British furries.

The origins of the modern furry phenomenon can be traced to America — specifically, California — and it eventually grew and spread to other countries. The United Kingdom was one of the first places outside the United States to embrace Furry, but it wasn’t just a new discovery; a lot of media that inspired the modern-day fandom originated in England.

Furtannia covers that growth from the first housecons and furmeets in the UK, to conventions like ConFuzzled, and how they differ from American furcons. Along the way it covers unique British Furry media and events.

That growth was influenced by California fandom reaching towards an international presence almost since the beginning. In 1987, Mark Merlino, Rod O’Riley, and a few American fans hosted a furry hotel party in Brighton during the 45th World Science Fiction Convention. A handful of British science fiction and comic book fans travelled to the United States or purchased imported American comics, discovered the fandom, and kept in touch with each other.

An American group-wide visit to a comics festival in France led to half a dozen furry fans meeting some of these British fans at a house in Yateley in 1992. The event led to a regular furry housecon. The British fandom grew to the point where they could produce fanzines and comics and host furmeets, and eventually, their conventions began in 2008 with ConFuzzled, the second largest furry con outside of North America with 2,661 attendees in May 2023.

Furries in the United Kingdom have been known in online spaces, from FurryMUCK to chat rooms, mailing lists, discussion boards and web forums, all before social media, not to mention all the creative talent the British scene offers in art, writing, music, fursuit creation, and even furry radio. Furtannia collects this all into one background they share.

My writing process

This book has been a passion project of mine since 2019, after having an overwhelmingly positive reception towards a talk I did at ConFuzzled on the subject. I took my current two years of research and expanded further. I talked to more furries, visited libraries and archives, and read too many articles, discussion threads, and webpages than any furry would want to admit.

While I was writing the book, I learned a lot of aspects about the fandom I wasn’t aware of back during ConFuzzled 2019, such as how the furry fandom functioned when the world wide web was yet to be mainstream, or the ways furry fans produced fanzines.

It’s also had the fortune of recording and preserving some parts of history that would have been completely lost had I not done so. In that guest article on Dogpatch Press, I talk about how Yahoo wiped away mailing lists (a popular method for local furry groups to socialise through) from their databases. I managed to recover and archive a few that aided in my research.

Meanwhile, near the end of 2019, I got to speak with Ian Curtis, the organiser of the furry houses and one of the founding fathers of the British furry fandom, at his home in Yateley. He helped give insight into how the furry housecons ran back in the early to mid-1990s and shared various comics he had in his vast collection. It would shock most when his friends posted in September 2021 that he had passed away.

I initially planned to cover events up until the end of 2019. When COVID-19 hit, the emergency lockdown rules forcefully cancelled conventions. I had to record what happened in the furry community.

Overall, I am proud of myself for working my way to this book’s release so that furries worldwide can learn and hopefully expand the ever-growing knowledge of our fandom’s history. There were some hiccups near the end, a few delays, and online storefronts taking issue with our launch. Still, Furtannia can be purchased directly on Uncle Bear Publishing’s website below.

The book is also available on Amazon (Kindle and Paperback), Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and other online book retailers.

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