Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: animation

Q&A with Christopher Polt PhD., who teaches a Talking Animals course at Boston College (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

We’re back after Part 1 of the Q&A with Christopher Polt, PhD., from Boston College. His Twitter is full of art and animation history that welcomes furry fans.

Rate My Professor loves him.

(Dogpatch Press:) It was interesting that you mentioned teaching a course in talking animals. Tell me all about it! Since when, and how unique is that, and how is it being received? What sort of students are in it and what are they studying in general?

(Christopher Polt:) I love that course — the material is so fun and weird and meaningful. The basic question we ask is, “What are we doing when we speak by using animal voices, and what does that say about our attitudes towards humans, animals, and the lines we draw between them?” It’s also my chance to teach some cool, off-the-wall art and literature. We read Apuleius’ Golden Ass, which is a novel about a guy who accidentally turns himself into a donkey and goes on a journey through the Roman provinces (think The Emperor’s New Groove, but much sexier and more violent), and Nivardus’ Ysengrimus, which is the earliest major collection of stories about Reynard the fox, an archetypal animal trickster.

Sometimes I also take students on field trips to tie historical material we’re learning to lived experience. One of my favorites has been to a local pet cemetery. We spend a few days talking about how Greeks and Romans use animals to think about divinity, mortality, and the afterlife, and we look at epitaphs and funeral poems for dead pets, which are often written from the animal’s point of view. There’s a great example in the British Museum, which commemorates the life of a dog named Margarita (“Pearl” in Latin), who died while giving birth to puppies:

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1756-0101-1126

She talks about chasing other animals through the woods, how she used to nap on her humans’ laps and sleep in their bed, and how she barked a lot but never scared anyone. So after we read a range of things like that, we go to the pet cemetery and read modern grave markers, and we compare how people grieve for animals differently and what they choose to celebrate and memorialize about them. My favorite is this one for a cat named Useless:

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Looney Tunes gets a reboot (Part 3): How an iconic cartoon forged a wacky and lovable side of the furry fandom — By Rocky Coyote

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Meet “Toon Furs” in Part 3: Charlie Tinn, Zen Fetcher, and Toothpick the Woodpecker. This story features the side of fandom where you can watch NEW cartoons with classic animal characters, and even turn into one! HBO Max has 80 eleven-minute episodes of fresh-but-faithful animation from WarnerMedia. Furries discuss their influence in this 3-part story by Rocky Coyote. (Rocky previously covered fandom in America’s biggest city on his tag here.)

Charlie Tinn is a monochromatic mustachioed mutt, self-proclaimed hat enthusiast and classic cartoon lover. He discusses how the toon side of the furry fandom drew him into it.

I grew up watching them a lot as a kid, they were on basic satellite TV during certain hours of the day usually in the middle of the day or late at night. The theme song was always memorable, you can always tell what kind of cartoon is about to play even if most of the ones I watched were Tweety and Sylvester. Anytime it was a heavy emphasis on Bugs and Daffy it was a delight.

I enjoyed the unique ways of slapstick and visual humor like with Wile E. Coyote and his signs along with the word trickery that Bugs would do to Daffy, just so Elmer would shoot him in the face. Duck Amuck is a really good episode, I loved how they broke the fourth wall and they did a lot of elements like that.

I wasn’t really fully interested in the fandom until I discovered there was a toon side to it. Definitely made me interact with more people and got more friends from it and all while getting to enjoy just the wacky and zaniness that is Looney Tunes.

Honestly so far it’s a perfect successor from what I can see from the two episodes. I was able to watch the Porky and Daffy cement short, and Bugs running away from Elmer Fudd. They seem like great honorary successors; they got the right slapstick comedy, and the pacing and timing of the gags are all great from what I’ve seen.

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Looney Tunes gets a reboot (Part 2): How an iconic cartoon forged a wacky and lovable side of the furry fandom — By Rocky Coyote

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Meet “Toon Furs” in Part 2: Billy the Collie, Clawy the Cat, Chaos Coyote, and Dunhall the Dingo. This story features the side of fandom where you can watch NEW cartoons with classic animal characters, and even turn into one! HBO Max has 80 eleven-minute episodes of fresh-but-faithful animation from WarnerMedia. Furries discuss their influence in this 3-part story by Rocky Coyote. (Rocky previously covered fandom in America’s biggest city on his tag here.)

Billy the Collie is an artist who grew up watching Looney Tunes with his younger brothers. He talks about the flexibility the toon world gives him when depicting his characters in various scenarios.

I do have strong nostagic feelings towards Looney Tunes, and as a result the show has played a significant part in developing my toon persona and toon art as a whole.

Looney Tunes is definitely the king when it comes to executing that classic ‘toon gag.’ The show wasn’t entertaining because it had silly slapstick, it was entertaining because it set-up a comical scene with wit and personality that concluded with silly and creative slapstick. That’s what I enjoyed about the show, and is a big reason why I do enjoy cartoon stuff to this day.

Considering my fursona is a toon border collie, I’d say that it’s had a pretty big influence on me! The creativity that toon-stuff lends me in playing around with the toon physics, effects and logic is highly entertaining as an artist. The toon concepts pioneered by shows like Looney Tunes has also been a fantastic way for me to connect with other furries in the community, as the majority of furries are familiar with a lot of these ideas and concepts so it’s been fun engaging with them on this innocent but silly level.

Despite very clearly being computer-drawn, I do appreciate that the reboot keeps the original character designs rather than going down the current animation trend of using a “Cal-Art” inspired art-style. I do worry that the show will overly-focus on slapstick and cheap throwaway jokes, rather that the wit and personality which made the silly slapstick far more entertaining. But, I think the show is worthy of a chance to prove itself.

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Looney Tunes gets a reboot (Part 1): How an iconic cartoon forged a wacky and lovable side of the furry fandom — By Rocky Coyote

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Meet “Toon Furs” in Part 1: Duino Duck, RomeTwin, and James the Duck. This story features the side of fandom where you can watch NEW cartoons with classic animal characters, and even turn into one! HBO Max has 80 eleven-minute episodes of fresh-but-faithful animation from WarnerMedia. Furries discuss their influence in this 3-part story by Rocky Coyote. (Rocky previously covered fandom in America’s biggest city on his tag here.)

Looney Tunes gets a reboot: How an iconic cartoon forged a wacky and lovable side of the furry fandom.

Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang found a new home on May 27 as WarnerMedia launches its newest streaming service HBO Max.

Looney Tunes Cartoons is the latest show to marquee the iconic characters that have entertained viewers around the globe for over 80 years. Unlike recent reboots such as The Looney Tunes Show (2011) and Wabbit (2016), HBO’s series will closely resemble the format and art style of the original shorts crafted by the likes of Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson.

Naturally, the show’s wacky yet lovable characters have had an influence on the furry fandom, but this goes beyond the cartoon’s anthropomorphic nature. Shows like Looney Tunes paved the way for a subculture within the subculture, where furries create their own characters in the ‘toon mold.’ This includes big eyes and exaggerated body proportions, personalities that range from goofy to outright insane, and a penchant for slapstick comedy aided by an endless supply of mallets, dynamite and anvils.

To get a better idea of Looney Tunes’ impact on the furry fandom, Dogpatch Press reached out to a number of self-identified toon furs and let them describe how the series influenced their love of cartoons and helped them find a place within the fandom.

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A brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, America’s first anime fan club — by Sy Sable

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Courtesy of Changa Lion and the Confurence Archive, cover art by Ken Sample. 5 years after it was founded, the club newsletter covered news from 9 American club chapters and the 1982 release of Don Bluth’s Secret of NIMH.

Sy Sable co-founded the first furry con and helped grow a new worldwide furry fandom, with 1970’s roots in a small clubhouse in Los Angeles.

On 4/4/2020, Sy Sable (Mark Merlino) sent this brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, founded in 1977. His story comes from recent message trading with someone interested in the C/FO and those involved. He couldn’t connect her to people out of contact for over 20 years, but he could tell how the club started. 

Today, there’s a worldwide network we could call capital-F Furry fandom, but some key founders were “proto-furries” who met at the C/FO. The club introduced new and unusual imported Japanese anime that was starting to reach America through rare home video tech. Club members loved anime for featuring adult, science fiction and action themes unlike 1970’s American animation aimed at kids (then dominated by studios like Hanna-Barbera.) There was a lot of “giant robot” anime, but certain fans preferred to combine adult themes plus traditional “funny animal” comics and animation that eventually spun off their own, new hybrid fandom.

Sy was a founder who went on with partner Rod O’Riley to host 1980’s science fiction convention room parties, then ConFurence in 1989, and longstanding monthly parties at The Prancing Skiltaire in Southern California (when not under quarantine in 2020). The C/FO had other chapters and there were other fan groups, but this is a major root. Another founder, Fred Patten, wrote about the C/FO in How Home Video Created Anime Fandom — or check Fred’s review of Joe Strike’s Furry Nation history book that covers this. (Fred was also a writer with Jerry Beck, East Coast C/FO chapter founder and animation historian, tying in much more history.) Sy says: “This is from my perspective and drops names something fierce… but it IS my personal take on things.” ( – Patch)

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Forget depressing news, watch these 90’s animated bunnies who help kids stay safe!

by Patch O'Furr

Current news got ya bothered? Take a break with a forgotten 90’s cartoon of total radness!

For many suburban kids in the 80’s and 90’s, riding a bike to the mall was living the dream, along with going to the video store and renting popcorn sci-fi movies, miniature golfing, or playing the TMNT arcade game at the pizza parlor (maybe while rocking out with Chuck E. Cheese.)

Let all of those vibes come at you from Bert and Gert, the bunnies in kneepads with flipped up hats who ride hoverboards, like in Back To the Future Part II. They’re a brother and sister on a mission, but who sent them? Whoever it was, they trust these bunnies to spy on kids using radar wrist watches more advanced than any smartphone yet invented. WHOAH!

Why do they spy on kids? During the boppin’ theme song, we learn that it’s to protect them — from snakes, lightning and optical illusions (??) — but keep watching. This is the 80’s/90’s Stranger Danger genre. It’s not the boring After School Special kind with terrible acting though; this is pure, uncut cartoon magic. It has neon “wonky” aesthetics with the mellifluous voices and irresistible coolness of cereal mascots you wish were your best friends forever.

What kid wants to get in trouble if these bunnies teach them how to stay safe? I know I’M never talking to a stranger again. I love this so much, I wish I had a fursona like this (and it can happen, because that’s what furry fandom is for!)

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40th anniversary of Animalympics: The “Rocky Horror Show” of furry fandom – by Sy Sable

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Here’s a guest article from Sy Sable, AKA Mark Merlino, a founder of furry fandom and its first convention ConFurence. Sy, Rod O’Riley and Changa Lion host monthly parties at their house (The Prancing Skiltaire) in Southern California. The parties screen animation like Animalympics. It became popular at 1980’s fan parties, where furries adopted it as their own cult favorite like Rocky Horror and kept it alive when it might be forgotten. Last week I hosted a furry movie party where the furry-made version (C/FO Cut with rare lost scenes) got a fresh look as an original fandom root. The Youtube video is at end of article. – Patch

To go with the story, Changa Lion provided his scans of a vintage TV Guide from when Animalympics first aired (Jan 26 – Feb 1, 1980). “NBC was at the time in the dumps in ratings and very desperate. It had been this way for some time. They would not dig themselves out until the Cosby Show.” (full issue on Archive.org.)

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SCADfurs: These furry animation students will make shows you love one day

by Patch O'Furr

Continuing from Furry college clubs — a place for artists and animators with dreams and fears.

Fall Fest 2019

Yesterday’s article looked at college clubs for furries being a new movement in a growing fandom. It covered clubs at art and animation schools being a special place for people who haven’t always been in synch with the mainstream. It could involve stigma with jobs, but the upside is pro artists making good ties to fandom, and indie artists finding opportunity.

Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design is a top rated school near Furry Weekend Atlanta, and a place to find furry talent. SCADfurs is a club for them you can see on Furaffinity or Twitter. SCAD furs president Bucky is a Sequential Art major, and here’s our Q&A.

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Furry college clubs — a place for artists and animators with dreams and fears

by Patch O'Furr

A staple comic, 1998-2000

Furry College Clubs are a new movement

Furscience, the group researching furry fandom data, say the majority of members are around college age. By law, they can only track ages 18+, so this growing subculture may have an army of new lurkers just finding their whiskers and tails.

Looking back, furries at colleges are nothing new (check big furry comics of the 90’s) — but having enough members at the same schools to start official clubs is a new chapter in fandom.

A 2005-era Livejournal-connected list has a few dozen college furries — in the world, not the same place. A 2008 forum topic mentions handfuls finding each other (but more likely at anime clubs.) Then during a watershed time of mainstream media turning from mockery to fascination with the fandom (between MFF 2014 and Zootopia), a USA Today headline says: Growing community of ‘furries’ finds acceptance on campus.

Student newspapers love the topic now. It’s a common reason for alerts about furries in the media. And in big online forums, college location lists get hundreds of responses. Looking into it gives an impression that many are majoring in tech, science, or arts. But one subject stands out the most.

Pro animator dreams

Furry fandom overflows with art talent. And the animation industry is a hoped-for destination for many. For a guiding light, they can look at artists like Joaquin Baldwin (Disney’s Zootopia) joining furries as a popular convention guest.

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Bojack Horseman: Animals being more human than real life — review by Candy

by Dogpatch Press Staff

(Patch): It’s a special time to be a fan of this alcoholic, washed-up actor who’s also an anthropomorphic horse. With 5 seasons under his belt (saddle?) Bojack Horseman’s show is in the middle of its sixth, and final, season. 8 episodes arrived in late October 2019, with the final ones coming on January 31st, 2020.

I have to confess to being a bad furry reviewer, because I only got half way into the first season before I heard it got really good. I got too distracted to keep up and it’s been bugging me to watch everything. It’s not just for enjoyment — If I had hooves, I’d be able to kick myself extra hard for missing an interview opportunity with show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. He asked in 2015 when I interviewed Adam Conover, show cast member (and his former roommate), but I was too busy covering other furry stuff to reply in a timely way.

Which reminds me that the show designer Lisa Hanawalt‘s spinoff show, Tuca & Bertie, had a single season this year. It was canceled to fan dismay. This would be a good time to ask her what upcoming projects she may have — let’s see if her agent gets back to me. I can pay in carrots!

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