Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Journalism

Furbuy goes offline, fandom organization issues, and a need for constructive criticism.

by Patch O'Furr

Flayrah covers a tech problem with a longstanding fandom auction site: FurBuy down for ‘months’ after spat with security researcher.

Furbuy says they’ll be back with a completely new site. The old one relied on software mostly written in 1999, offering a service that drew some complaints for security problems or less-than-modern functionality, complicated by some conflict with a site owner about expected handling of complaints.

Furbuy also offered a valuable free service, accommodating fandom high points like record auction prices for creators without taking a cut like nonfandom markets. (It earned some donations, but not as much as it cost to run). With a hobby/not-for-profit project, accommodating demands might not always be fast or easy or welcome to the providers. Still, security issues can’t be dismissed and complaints can come with feelings about less-than-professional standards.

Sound familiar? Like every complaint ever about management of Furaffinity, the biggest fandom art site.

I think it’s a structural thing. It comes with the benefit of a decentralized fandom, where most commerce is self-owned and fan-to-fan without middlemen, with DIY-ness for love as much as money. Making a living that way is rare, and rarely enriching, and it makes limited resources to do better. Professional service is a must in many ways but “pro-fan” can be an oxymoron. It’s a furry paradox.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 2)

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.

Fandom is big business in the mainstream – but furries have their own place apart. Why does this fandom grow independently? Let’s look at unique expression at the heart of it. Of course furries do a lot more things than this story can look at, but one aspect brings insight about decentralized structure.

Some subcultures rise and fall with media they consume. But the influences seen in Part 1 didn’t make one property in common for every furry. They didn’t rise with a movie like Zootopia. Instead, this fandom is fans of each other.

Part 1 looked at the roots and growth of their conventions. Furry cons make a platform for the specialized craft of fursuiting, with bespoke, full-body mascot costumes that cost thousands. They’re uniquely original expressions of identity. They’re tangible, huggable products of imagination. They put the fur in furry.

A lot of the fandom’s rock stars are fursuiters, who give it a photogenic face. Unlike stars of other fandoms, their original characters usually aren’t promoting something else — and fursuits can’t be downloaded or easily pirated — they’re for live experiences. It matters because online community can be temporary, but live events glue it together. They can show why this fandom is independent, here to stay, and not tied to certain media.

Rather than naming great works tied to their activity, you could say that the group is its own greatest creation. And if writing, art, or other creativity in the fandom didn’t rise out of a certain type of event, fursuiting did.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 1)

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.

Why is commercialism a topic for an often disparaged subculture? Compare furry fandom today to its roots. Times change, and hindsight can help to see why. Let’s look at how industry and media influenced the American roots in the 1970’s, how it grew, and changes that come with bigger scale than ever.

The 1970’s could be a hungry time for fans with a taste for comics and animation of the 1940’s-50’s Golden Age. As it faded, funny-animal comics died off while the business suffered under the Comics Code. In movies, the fall of the studio system contributed to a dark age of animation. Hanna-Barbera reigned on TV with cheap formulaic product. Disney’s feature studio almost went bankrupt with barely any new artists hired for a generation. Robin Hood (1973) spread the furry virus before it had a name, but the movie wasn’t well loved by the studio. Then a new wave of artists (such as Tim Burton and Don Bluth) came out of Disney while it had a rebirth, peaking with The Lion King (1994), which launched a thousand furry projects. But by the early 90’s the furry fandom was already fully fledged to take off on its own. It happened under the influence of the ups and downs of industry, but also in spite of it.

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The conspiracy of Beto O’Rourke, AOC, Sex, Politics, Furries, Hackers and the 1980’s internet.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

Hang on, this will be a weird ride. Start with recent furry news about this guy:

The story goes like this – this dude was deep in Jesusland and high on snake venom and arm-wrestled The Zodiac Killer, and … OK, I can’t do serious writing about political battles here, but Beto almost won a Senate seat from Ted Cruz in Texas. I think it’s kind of unusual for a Democrat to do so well there. It’s unusual enough that he joined the 123547 people who want to unseat Trump in 2020. That made some Republicans want to embarrass him with typical anti-sex, anti-gay stone age bullshit, so they dug up an old video of him wearing a sheep costume on stage when he was briefly in a punk band, and called him a furry with insinuation about freaky sex. (Like that’s bad? Could anything else make him seem cooler? Yeah, wait for it…)

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Representing furries in 2018: Good news on CNN, Sonicfox, and a tiger on Jeopardy. (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

In 2018, fandom had so much going on that this needs two parts. Part 1 has the media, and Part 2 is for conventions, charity, art, celebrities, awards, spending, and more. 

Pic: Cecil Shepherd (center) with Mr. Disko and Patch

Ever been on an aircraft carrier? The USS Hornet, in Alameda CA, is docked across the bay from San Francisco. It’s a fearsome wedge of rust-flecked metal bigger than most city blocks, and bristling with guns, planes and artifacts from WWII to the Apollo Space Program. Now it’s a national historic landmark and museum, but if you walk down the cavernous hangar deck and look at photos of Pearl Harbor in flames, it almost tingles with the smells and sounds of a global struggle against the evil of fascism. It made me think of my grandpa in the South Pacific, taking islands from Japan. It could make the world’s biggest hippie feel a sense of pride and humbleness from the history there.

Look ahead a few months, when this ship will be full of furry animals throwing a rave. That’s the cutting edge of turning swords into plowshares!

The second Space Camp Party is coming. On 12/9/18 it started with a photoshoot on the ship that drew a whopping 130 fursuiters just for a pre-planning meet. Previously in March 2018, over 500 went to the first party at Faction Brewing (a converted aircraft hanger on the same navy base). From early demand, the followup is likely to reach the size of a single-day con.

While I was doing silly poses in my rat suit against a giant ship anchor (does Bad Dragon make one of those?) – I thought of furries taking over the ship and conquering the nation. Next, the world. Then the blue skies above, and then the moon.

2018 is an intense year with many furry news stories topping ones that just happened. It’s too much to easily keep up with, and Fred Patten’s death affects publishing here, but on the plus side, I’m now paying for articles. Get in touch about submitting your story. And check out how much cool furry stuff there is to share.

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CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling: Furry Nation – review by Joe Strike

by Patch O'Furr

Here’s a guest article from Joe Strike, a first-wave furry greymuzzle, writer about animation for Animation World Network, and author of Furry Nation, the first history of fandom in mainstream bookstores. His website shows work with TV cartoons you may know. He sent this in around the time of MFF. (- Patch)

Our community had been buzzing for months about the “furry” episode of CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling before it finally aired on November 18th. I kept my fingers crossed; like most other furs I’ve been watching the media get us wrong for years. (The primary reason I wrote Furry Nation was to correct the record; as I occasionally told people, “I’m tired of outsiders getting it all wrong—I decided it was time for someone in the furry community to get it all wrong.”)

But what really piqued my curiosity was that several people told me the episode was titled… “Furry Nation”!

Okay, what’s going on here? Shortly before the episode aired, I emailed the production company to ask, wazzup? how did you happen to borrow my title?, to which they responded:

Thank you for reaching out!  Your book sounds amazing! We actually learned about this community from Lisa’s viewers. It was a suggestion someone sent in. Our research and facts came from FurScience. 

Well, thank you “someone” for the free plug for Furry Nation The Book. (Said title never appeared in the episode by the way; I assume it was only used in the episode’s listings, although a search of cnn.com failed to discover it.)

Lacking cable, I caught up with the episode later via a relative’s DVR. After taking a few days to digest a second viewing, I’m finally ready to share my take on Lisa Ling’s take on Furry.

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CNN’s This Is Life is amazing TV – relations with the media – and more positive furry stories.

by Pup Matthias

CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling: Furry Nation aired last Sunday. As Furries do, some loved it and some hated it. That’s not surprising. When the critically acclaimed show (built around exploring the different corners of people’s lives) tweeted their season five episodes, fandom freaked out. Furries were tweeting about how CNN would cover them in the same season with MS-13, meth, screen addiction, and gender fluidity. Or how Furries complained that Anthro Northwest was letting TV do recording at their convention. Or how this episode was either the second coming, or the dawn of the apocalypse.

Boy, that changed overnight. If it sounds like I’m salty, I am to a degree. The reactions leading up to the premiere were just tiring. Many furries painted all journalists as TMZ tabloids looking for the next juicy clickbait headline, but looking at an episode shows Lisa Ling being a thoughtful reporter who wants to show the human stories behind the topics she covers. (You can see all episodes legally with a TV subscription here.)

It’s funny to see Furries wanting to share their stories and promote the good this community can do; yet push away anyone wanting to report on it. It lets rumors continue to define us. Of course, as I’m writing this, the BBC has done a piece about the hacking of an adult furry site many haven’t heard of. It’s actually a relatively neutral story in comparison to what happened to Ashley Madison (the website devoted to helping people cheat in their relationships), but with buxom zebras and scantily clad lionesses instead of mistresses/guys on the side (or whatever). Beyond the furry aspect, it’s neither positive nor negative, it’s just there. Perhaps those rumors are losing power just from becoming old and familiar.

It’s not without merit to be skeptical about the media covering this fandom. YouTuber Quartz Husky did a video about cable news coverage:

The issue as I see it, isn’t pointing out that there are people who will use us for sensational clicks. The issue is then finding positive examples to compare and contrast for what we, as a community want. The dialogue about the media vs. the fandom is so black-and-white, that any form of coverage is seen as bad. It leaves very little room for us to showcase who we are because there are no “good” reporters.

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“Last Mutt Standing”: Dogbomb inspires the world through his courageous battle against ALS

by Patch O'Furr

Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine is a 2011 profile of a fandom-loved personality written by Kijani Lion. Kijani himself gets love here for bringing excellence to furry news (see his 2016 interview). By request, his Dogbomb article was reprinted with a plan for a fresh 2018 update. It was delivered with this note. (Your fluffy editor – Patch) 

In my 6+ years of journalism this was the most challenging, emotional yet inspiring piece I’ve ever written and I’m very happy at how it turned out. At the bottom I added an additional Q&A with Dogbomb and his friends and also some links. I chose the headline “Last Mutt Standing” as a homage to his favorite artist Jimmy Buffett and his single “Last Man Standing,” I know Dogbomb will appreciate that. I really look forward to seeing this online and it was my honor and pleasure to share the uplifting story of a true inspiration to many in the fandom and beyond! (- Kijani)

Dogbomb (Tony Barrett) and Trip E. Collie share a laugh at Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC) in Reno last May. Barrett was diagnosed with ALS two months prior and said this would be his last appearance at BLFC. Photo courtesy of AoLun

“Last Mutt Standing”: Dogbomb inspires the world through his courageous battle against ALS

 By Kijani Lion

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes you also can’t tell a mutt to lie down, even in the face of the most grim diagnosis. For Tony Barrett – affectionately known as “Dogbomb” in the furry fandom – giving up was, and never will be, an option.

After experiencing gradual loss of muscular function about two and a half years ago starting with his feet and lower legs, then progressing into his hands, neck, back and throat, Barrett was officially diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in early 2018. The disease kills motor neurons, effectively blocking the nerve path to the brain that makes muscles work, rendering them weak and eventually unresponsive.

“Walking is becoming extremely difficult, and my swallowing and speech are rapidly worsening,” Barrett said. “With ALS, each day is slightly worse, and it becomes difficult to plan for the future. What is easy today may be impossible in a week or a month, and that’s just frustrating.” 

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Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine – by Kijani Lion

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome back to Kijani Lion, who I previously interviewed in 2016. Kijani’s bio includes being a con Guest of Honor and organizer for FurLifeNW and their bowling meet that set a world record for attendance. And he’s been a journalist who contributed to Furry News Network, writing profile articles about outstanding fursuiters in 2011-2013. FNN’s articles seem to have fallen off the web in 2015, but I asked to bring this back.

FNN Fursuiter of the Month (August 2011) was Dogbomb. In 2018, Dogbomb has gotten a lot of love from the fandom with a serious story that you should know before moving on to this reprint. I asked Kijani to write a new update, and that’s in the works. Look forward to it soon. – Patch

Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine (2011)

By Kijani Lion 

As long as he can remember, dogs have always been a big part of Tony Barrett’s life.

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Wat ‘n Wolhaarstorie! – A South African Article on Furries – and a radio show.

by Duncan R. Piasecki

Submitted by guest Duncan R. Piasecki – don’t miss his articles The Forgotten History of the Furry Musical – and Talking Animal Films In South Africa (Part 1) and (Part 2.)

As some of you might know, South Afrifur happened quite recently, the biggest one yet. Unusually for furries from this part of the world, however, was the media coverage: the convention was featured in an article in the Afrikaans magazine Huisgenoot, in their July 26th issue. Of course, being Afrikaans (quite an obscure language outside of this country) means the readership potential is limited internationally, but it’s a pretty big deal for local furries: the magazine is one of the most popular in the country.

So, for all the international furries out there, I present to you a reproduction of the print article, and then my own translation. Please keep in mind that Afrikaans and I don’t agree (it was my worst subject in high school), I’m very far from fluent in it, so this was done with Google Translate, a dictionary, and my own extrapolation. The results might not be exactly accurate, but I feel they give the general idea if not the exact translation. As you will see, some things just don’t cross-translate.

But first, a new development: furries on the radio.

A couple of the people covered in the Afrikaans article went on to one of Pretoria’s biggest radio stations to talk about being a furry (it sounded like it was because of the article, in fact), and I thought the interview went quite well (if ticking off a few of the usual boxes of annoying “but it’s a fetish, right?” questions the media loves to ask). Quite weird, this sudden boost in interest, considering everyone’s ignored this community in this country before now.

Article: https://www.jacarandafm.com/shows/scenic-drive-rian/furries-take-over-scenic-drive/

Videos of the interview:

I ripped an audio recording of the whole interview. It comes to about 24 minutes and has quite a bit more than the videos (a lot is not in English). Here’s a Google Drive folder of it, including videos from Facebook: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Rkcm6dNAIxfe0p-lMj9WdtcwzY3AuNU5

Tweets:

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