Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: animation

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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A furry pilgrimage to the Adult Swim Festival and the Prancing Skiltaire house, Part 3.

by Patch O'Furr

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Here’s Part 3 for yesterday’s article, which asked: If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? When I got invited to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles for their second animation/comedy/music event, I added a side trip to the nearby Prancing Skiltaire house. That’s a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open it to fans by the hundreds. It was all started by an invite from “Dr. Girlfriend.”

Fan video screening at the Prancing Skiltaire

House resident Changa showed parody videos where he recut Disney’s Zootopia to emulate iconic TV show openings. There’s a channel of them that goes with curating videos for Furry.Today, one of many projects run from the house including The Confurence Archive, InFurNation and the Ursa Major Awards.

What Dr. Girlfriend says about visiting:

Going to the “iconic” furry house was interesting. Rod gave Patch & I the “nickel tour” which was awesome! What stood out to me was the vast collection of animal characters, including: ceramics, plushies, anime, drawings, zines, videos & so much more.

They told me that they have furry parties every month that have gotten to around 300 people! Whoah. Also that the local In-N-Out restaurant banned the furries from congregating there because their patio was so small. Hehe. I know a little about being kicked out of venues (public spaces?) as someone who helps organize Bike Parties, which sometimes get into the thousands of bicycle riders having a dance party on the street.

Anyways, everyone was super friendly and they even had Christmas furry art up (before Thanksgiving, but who’s counting?) These guys are immersed in the culture, and there’s even a documentary coming out about the fur-dorks that I got a mini sneak peak of! Look forward to The Fandom in 2020!

The self-proclaimed “dorks” and originators of some of the first furry cons and Prancing Skiltaire house gave us an interesting and informative look into the heart & love & art that goes into a fandom. Also we got dinner together and it was delicious and full of great conversation and good vibes.

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A furry pilgrimage to the Adult Swim Festival and the Prancing Skiltaire house, Part 2.

by Patch O'Furr

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Here’s Part 2 of yesterday’s article, which asked: If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? It could include conventions, mainstream destinations, and special stops that a non-furry wouldn’t think of. When I got invited to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles for their second animation/comedy/music event, I made it a mainstream AND fandom mini-tour, with a side trip to the nearby Prancing Skiltaire house. That’s a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open it to fans by the hundreds. It was all started by an invite from “Dr. Girlfriend.”

Festival review from Dr. Girlfriend:

The Adult Swim Festival in Los Angles was sooo much fun! I went with Patch (who was in fursuit) as Dr. GirlFriend from the Venture Brothers cartoon. I had a blast! He was the only one among thousands of goers who was fully fursuited, in his punk-rat suit, and much to my delight and laughter he got a lot of people asking if he was Chuck-E-Cheese (more like Chuck-E-Cheese’s evil twin).

One thing that stands out in my mind is when we both went to the bathroom, he was taking a whiz and someone told him, while he was in suit, “Nu-uh, we aren’t doing this in here”. Hahaha. Such a stigma with fursuits.

Another person said and pointed, “oh hell no!” , to which I quickly took out my laser gun from my garter belt and blasted him away. Other then those two haters, the festival was SUPER receptive to the giant furry rat. Multiple people came up and said they were furry too! There were even several people who recognized Patch from his blog (jeez, soooo popular… what? ever!) I’m not gonna lie, I spend hours upon hours on my costume and he still got more requests then me for pictures (jealous, not jealous).

The highlight of MY night was when someone had asked me where I bought my hat? Biiiiiitch – I made it!!  And that is one of the things I love about the furry community, that people put so much time and effort into their fursona/costume/cosplay/outfit/whatever you call it, that it is truly a work of art.

I loved dancing to music and getting to see a few of the creators of my favorite animations, like Dethklok/Metalocalypse, the new season premiere of Rick and Morty, and some Squidbillies live in action. Overall, it was a total success and we even got a picture together on the official Adult Swim twitter feed!

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A furry pilgrimage to the Adult Swim Festival and the Prancing Skiltaire house, Part 1.

by Patch O'Furr

Part 1Part 2Part 3

If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? Try some big conventions and mainstream destinations like Disneyland or the Mascot Hall of Fame, and some special stops that a non-furry wouldn’t think of. California has ones like the Prancing Skiltaire house, a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open their house to fans by the hundreds.

A travel story wasn’t my plan when I got an invite from… let’s call them “Dr. Girlfriend”, to go to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles on November 15-16, 2019. The opportunity just fell on me, so I made it a casual mini-tour including a stop nearby in Garden Grove, CA to visit the Skiltaire friends.

Dr. Girlfriend had tickets to the second live festival for Adult Swim, a now almost 2-decades old TV programming block for absurdist comedy and alternative animation. Cartoon Network hosts it at night while young audiences sleep, unless naughty kids are sneaking it (like I used to do for MTV Liquid Television). The leading show is Rick and Morty and it rarely has anything furry. But the show creators definitely know about us, and festival goers gave fist-bumps to a 6-foot rat scurrying among them. As “Patch Packrat” (I’m usually a husky dog) I was the only fursuiter in sight at the 22,000 capacity Banc of California Stadium.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 3)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Part 1 looked at the roots of fandom, with fans being “fans of each other”. Stigma and undermining showed how the fandom didn’t just follow the path of least resistance, it broke out under pressure. A sense of outsiderness and self determination has stayed ever since.

Part 2 looked at conventions making a platform for industry and expression that keeps the group untamed. Relations with the media got better while making a certain fandom identity (instead of letting others make it). It can even connect to deeper identity of members, because it lets them be who they want to be.

Furries care about fandom identity with a kind of tribalism. When members say they’re prone to “furry drama,” it can come from conflict about who defines it or benefits from it. That’s how The Daily Beast noticed conflict about a luxury “designer fursuit” brand, which usually wouldn’t matter to anyone except furries.

I told the reporter: “I think it really struck a nerve. It really got to the root of this possessiveness that the subculture has about itself and what it built for itself.”

It’s a case for looking at resistance to commercialism. Backlash at the brand was provoked by tone-deaf marketing, where bringing a mainstream approach wasn’t workable with art based on unique personal identity. Also, luxury brands don’t get made from scratch when others go back 100 years. (Fans in-the-know could compare this with furry brand Hyena Agenda, whose stuff speaks for itself without rubbing the wrong way against a certain fandom identity.)

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