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Category: Reviews

The Sprawl volume 1-3 — graphic novel review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

The Sprawl was reviewed with a creator interview a year ago: “my favorite furry webcomic and certainly ranks among my favorite webcomics of all time” — so enjoy a fresh take. Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers. See Roz’s tag for more reviews.

The Sprawl volume 1-3 
Written and Illustrated by Snowdon
Published by Ringtail Café productions

I picked these three volumes up at AnthroCon last year. There are not a whole lot of new furry comics coming out, particularly if you’re looking for something other than porn, slice-of-life or gay interest, so I decided to give this series a try.

The back blurb describes this as “Sci-Fi/Horror meets Dark Fantasy on a dead world. It’s only inhabitants are  the descendants of an ill-fated colonization mission, now huddled together in an ever-growing mega-city known as The Sprawl.” But the story turns out to be closer to Bladerunner meets The Thing, with something from the original Heavy Metal movie thrown in for good measure.

Volume 1 is pretty simple: a survey team is sent to a distant part of the dead planet (referred to as the “South Pole”) to look for another survey team that vanished. You see boobs early on, as the female characters are either topless or wearing really skimpy clothing. The two female surveyors are apparently along solely to hump the guys, which they get to doing as soon as they leave on the mission. When there’s an explosion on the ship and they have to evacuate, the guys are all fully dressed, but the bunny girl bails out wearing nothing but bikini panties. When they arrive on the frozen, snowy surface of the South Pole, someone gives her a jacket that she never bothers to zip up, so she’s wandering around Antarctic cold in panties and an open jacket with her boobs hanging out. I think this is known as ‘pandering to the audience,’ which might have worked if the bunny girl was attractive, but all the characters are squishy lumpy with big Bugs Bunny-type feet.

While I waited for the bunny girl to either die of hypothermia or her bare feet to turn into frozen blocks, the team reaches the prerequisite spooky mysterious abandoned ruins with dead bodies. The previous survey team is dead and one of the characters– without even touching or examining the bodies–declares that they killed each other.

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Animosity #4, The Walled City — graphic novel review by Roz Gibson

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers. See Roz’s tag for more reviews.

Animosity #4, The Walled City (graphic novel compilation of issues 14-18)
Written by Marguerite Bennet, art by Rafael De Latorre, Ornella Savarese and Elton Thomas.
Published by Aftershock Comics

The  scenario of animals suddenly developing sentience has been used recently in at least two comics (Squarriors and Animosity) and two novels (The Awareness and the Mort(e) series). Animosity  has been ongoing for several years, chronicling the journey of young human teenager Jesse, her devoted bloodhound ‘father’ Sandor, and their group of companions, including a Pallas cat, goats, a bison, a ring-tailed lemur and Kyle, an adult human who may or may not have Jesse’s best interests at heart. 

The group is traveling from New York City to San Francisco, where Jesse can hopefully find her half-brother. Sandor is eager to make the trip as quickly as possible, since he’s old and is afraid he’ll die before getting Jesse to safety. The landscape is typically post-apocalyptic, and they encounter various obstacles and allies along the way. While this is volume 4, you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the other chapters to pick it up, since it does contain a complete story arc and there’s a helpful synopsis of ‘what has gone before’ at the beginning of the book.

During their journey Jesse and Sandor encounter groups where animals are dominating humans, animal-only enclaves, and, in this volume, a place where humans still own animals. At the end of the previous volume, Kyle has kidnapped Jesse, ostensibly to ‘save’ her from Sandor, whom he does not trust. Kyle has heard of a human-only enclave called the Walled City in the south, where he thinks Jesse will be safe. Now, in volume 4, when they arrive at the Walled City, and find the inhabitants are eager to take in any female of childbearing age—and not so interested in taking single adult men. Too bad for Kyle.

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The Snow Cat Prince by Dina Norlund — graphic novel review by Roz Gibson

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers. See Roz’s tag for more reviews.

The Snow Cat Prince
Written and illustrated by Dina Norlund
Published by Hushbird publications

The Snow Cat Prince is a gorgeous hardcover graphic novel by Scandinavian artist Dina Norlund. I received my copy through a Kickstarter campaign, but it is available from her website: Hushbird.com (and the furry book sellers would be smart if they picked this up for sale at conventions). Unlike most of the graphic novels I’ve reviewed, this is not a zillion-volume series that will never get done — story is self-contained in this one book. What a pleasant surprise that was!

The plot is a standard “Prince searching for an artifact so he can reclaim his kingdom.” And it is definitely an all-ages title, with minimal violence (but some threat and peril).  After a short introduction setting the background, the titular Snow Cat Prince is introduced. Syv, the youngest of seven brothers, will probably not inherit the throne, and he’s okay with that.  But his six ne’er do-well brothers are concerned because he’s popular with the human inhabitants of the city, so they decide to send him on a wild goose chase to find the lost crown.

In the introduction we’re told how the evil shapeshifting foxes stole the crown from the first, mighty snow cat king, and if the crown can be found and returned the snow cat’s city will once again flourish. Syv is kind but very naive, and doesn’t question why his more powerful brothers would send him off on this important quest. Almost as soon as he leaves the city he comes across Kit—a red-haired elfin sprite who invites herself to tag along. The rest of the story follows their adventures and perils, as Syv learns a lot about the world and the real history of what happened to the crown.

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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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Rukus movie review

by Patch O'Furr

This unusual movie got 5 support articles before I was ready for a personal review. It’s hard to nail down, so the work got really labored over, but it deserves the effort. – Patch  

Rukus was an artist from Florida who committed suicide in 2008 at age 23. He was a mercurial muse to his friends. Linear storytelling about him could make a sad movie, but Rukus comes from many directions. It overlaps documentary of him, with his boyfriend reflecting on their relationship, and his friendship with film maker Brett Hanover. His enigmatic presence weaves through Hanover’s personal life, which goes from trouble with OCD to finding completion in relationships and art. The life of Rukus becomes points on a trajectory of escape from pain.

The directing style frames lo-fi video with dramatized memories, daydreams and fiction from Rukus. They’re re-enacted by younger and older stand-ins for him, and voiced with animation. It’s one of those arty movies that doesn’t easily boil down to one commercial line, but it’s directed with purpose. When the pieces don’t fit together neatly, the negative space holds a chewy assortment of themes.

There’s repressed abuse, disconnection, and love outside of hetero norms. It touches on conflict with anti-gay religion in the Southern US, but it’s more involved with a setting in furry fandom. Furries have a loveably eccentric subculture of fans for talking-animal media that appears in fantasy art by Rukus, internet role-play, a hotel convention, and a stage play. Those feed the human connections in the movie. You also get to see a costumer called a “whore bear” and a moment of tender toes-in-nose contact that turns into crosswired love.

The movie is outstanding for merging fiction and documentary while drawing from a subculture rarely seen in any feature film. It premiered at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, where furries came for group fursuiting (with full body costumes that make unique “fursonas”). That’s sort of like how Comic Con cosplayers emulate Hollywood superheroes, but those don’t keep their powers when the movie ends.

Rukus casts animal shadows behind misfits who play muses for each other, and delivers bittersweet satisfaction. You can see it now on rukusmovie.com.

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Murder: All Edge, No Cut — comic review by Enjy

by Enjy

Sometimes review books come here from outside of furry fandom. ‘Murder’ is a comic about an animal-rights antihero, where “animals mysteriously begin linking telepathically” and there’s a “powerful new plant-based badass”. It’s now in issue #2. “‘Murder’ takes readers into the darkest corners of animal agriculture, as one species at a time they begin to hear each other’s thoughts. Only one human, The Butcher’s Butcher, is able to hear their thoughts. As the animals revolt and the world’s food supply comes into jeopardy, the animal-rights activist is forced to decide between his vegan ethics and a world dependent on meat.”

Thanks to Enjy for big effort as always, check out her past writing, and remember we’re fiercely independent enough to be critical sometimes, but with hugs! – Patch

Murder: All Edge, No Cut

Murder is a comic created by the folks at Collab Creations (https://collabcreations.bigcartel.com/) which is billed as an “animal rights antihero” work centering on a vigilante activist and his wife, who fight to inflict the same pain on food company CEOs and ranchers as they inflict on animals ready for slaughter. It is written by Matthew Loisel with art created by Emiliano Correa, who also did work on the excellent Hexes series by Blue Fox Comics. We at DPP were given the first two issues for review.

The first thing you will do, when you open page one of Murder #1, will be laying eyes upon someone gassing an entire building of innocent people because they are working at a meat plant. In the next few pages, you’ll see something that’s meant to be taken seriously, but is unintentionally hilarious to the point where you have to read it over a few times to make sure there isn’t a joke being set up. The protagonist who just committed a literal war crime brutally murders a CEO with a steer, and then we’re led to believe this is the man we should be rooting for.

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The Masked Singer: One of those mainstream crossovers with furry appeal?

by Patch O'Furr

Crossover with the mainstream can make great furry news, like when dogwhistles to fandom pop up in things like Disney blockbusters. That’s why I did an interview with Vulture, the culture and entertainment site. Here’s their articles about the Masked Singer. This one’s worthwhile for fursona design inspiration: The Masked Singer’s Costume Designer Breaks Down All 16 Egg-cellent New Looks.

We barked about performances from Season 1, and sniffed at the costumes for Season 2. Looking at the lineup made me want to know more about them as characters. If they have a backstory with each other… Whose Egg is that? Does the Eagle hang out in the Tree? And who pollinates that Flower?

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Ironclaw: The Book of Monsters, by Tempe O’Kun and Ursula Vernon – Review by Sha

by Pup Matthias

Welcome to Sha of Red Furros — the Spanish language furry news site out of Mexico City, founded in 2009. Some articles will be translated for other readers to enjoy, with light editing to make it smoother. – Patch

Here’s an addition to our articles about Ironclaw, the anthropomorphic role-playing game in it’s 20th anniversary. Recently, Ironclaw’s “The Book of Monsters” was presented at Anthrocon. It’s a bestiary for the base game.

This book originally began its Kickstarter on Aug 21th, 2018 where it quickly reached its funding goal.

It’s a collaboration between Tempe O’Kun (Windfall, Sixes Wild) as the writer, and Ursula Vernon (Digger, Dragonbreath series) for illustrations.

For Sanguine Games Book Of Monsters, Tempo and Ursula reimagine the world of Ironclaw with the premise that in a world where animals can talk and form societies, why wouldn’t plants be able to walk and hunt?

Imagine a tree that can walk and transform into any other character, or fungi that attacks using toxic mist. These imaginative scenarios can make for very funny situations (like being chased by a maniacal, murderous onion), to very creepy ones with a tree-clone of a recently-deceased loved one following you around.

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What’s Bred in the Bone: Not Quite Reaching Liftoff — book review by Enjy.

by Dogpatch Press Staff

A request came in for furries to review a non-furry author’s book. Many thanks to Enjy for offering her thoroughly attentive writing. Find What’s Bred In the Bone at Amazon, see the author’s art and writing at her site or read a brief cover summary and another short review in the Twitter thread. (- Patch)

Enjy’s review:

Cover art by Jody A. Lee

What’s Bred in the Bone is a novel written by Jan S. Gephardt, a multi-talented artist and author who has been in the science fiction fandom for most of her long life.

The story, which is the first part of a trilogy, centers around canine police officer Rex Dieter-Nell and his human partner Charlie Morgan as they attempt to solve an explosion on a ship. Rex is a sort of genetically engineered canine resembling a German Shepherd, but much larger, called an “XK9”. Through harrowing and abusive training, he and his Packmates, the other XK9s, gain insane amounts of intelligence alongside their normal dog abilities. This all takes place in a campy future setting, as shown by the cover art done by Jody Lee. It has an aesthetic that reminds me of the old Mega Man boxart from the NES, so this sci-fi is less Alien and more Logan’s Run or Flash Gordon. It has outlandish alien species, gadgets like brain links and vocalizing collars for the dogs, and outfits for the higherups that are described as garish and colorful, Fifth-Element style.

While these ideas can all combine into something great, Gephardt leaves a lot of ends loose to the point where it can leave the reader feeling left behind as we are zoomed from half-idea to half-idea.

Indeed, Gephardt has put quite a bit of effort into world building. Aliens have their own pronouns, there are inter-stationary politics abound, and the author does an excellent job of setting a scene visually. One of the most frustrating things holding back this world building is that it does not seem that we, the reader, are ever allowed an explanation for things Gephardt knows, but we do not. For instance, she is very gender-inclusive in the book, in one instance having Rex address a gathered assembly as “Gentlepersons”. However, this also leads to a sense of confusion with the other aliens, with pronouns like “k’kir” and “nem” that are never fully explained and hard to keep track of. On top of this, there are concepts like a capital-F Family that seems to differ from what we now consider one, although how I could not tell you because it is not explained, and also an “Amare,” which I assume is someone you love, but this is also not delved into.

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The Sprawl: Review of the Sci-fi/Horror Webcomic – By Enjy

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome to guest author Enjy. Yesterday’s post was Enjy’s interview with comic creator Snowdon – now here’s how it rates for reading. – Patch

Now that we have spoken with the artist, we can look at his work and tell you, our readers, how it stacks up with the other furry webcomics out there. Is Snowdon’s dedication to his work and his storytelling skills enough to place The Sprawl at the top of the pile?

The Artwork

First and foremost, the most important thing about a comic is its artistry. This can go from amazing technical skills, such as the painting in Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido’s Blacksad, to the striking feeling of a style that is incomparable, like Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. The Sprawl offers heaping helpings of both, especially in the latest chapters where Snowdon really finds his stride in creating a cohesive aesthetic. The amount of detail that goes into his backgrounds, the vehicles, and especially the space ships, is something to be marveled at and inspired by. I can only gape in amazement as I count every individual pipe, every screw, every seam of every piece of complex machinery that the artist created. Every character he creates, even ones that are used as cannon fodder in his Game Of Thrones-like glee for shredding people left and right, have personality and individualism that shows from their clothing, to their faces, to their body shapes. I believe this sets Snowdon quite apart from the crowd, because one trope I seem to see in furry media is that there is usually a character or characters in a central focus that seem to be always front and center, always paid attention to, like the world revolves around them. He also is quite proficient at the basics of comic paging, using great bubble and panel placement and lots of creative setups for his page layouts. You can tell at first glance that this comic was definitely created by an industry professional.

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