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Category: Reviews

Tim’rous Beastie, edited by Amanda Lafrenais – review by Roz Gibson.

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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

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. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 6. Read in order as they were posted: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Tim’rous Beastie

Edited by Amanda Lafrenais
Story and art by a whole lot of people

This is an anthology put out by a name that should be very familiar to older fans—Charla Trotman. She’s moved from being an anti-furry gadfly and troll to publishing indy graphic novels using Kickstarter to fund them, under the name of C. Spike Trotman or Charlie Spike Trotman. This particular anthology is not supposed to be furry per se, but closer to RedwallWind in the Willows and Watership Down.

The book has 18 stories, and I’m not going to give detailed reviews of all of them, just brief comments on the art and specific comments on the ones I did read. A lot of stories fell under the blanket of “too long; didn’t read,” (People really need to take to take to heart the ‘less is more’ school of storytelling.) There was also a repeated theme of cute animals with a “surprise!” twist ending where something awful happens, or the characters discuss profound philosophical ideas.

The first two stories, A Pig Being Lowered into Hell in a Bucket and Better Nature are both philosophical discussion. The first is exactly what the title says, with very toony style art, and the second has some nice art but a ‘meh’ story, unless you’re into philosophical discussions. The third story, Burrows, has some very nice artwork of Watership Down-style rabbits. This falls under the “Surprise! Something grotesque happens to cute animals” theme. The story after it, Chosen Ones, also follows that trope, but has dialogue spoken in rhyme which was kind of neat. That was one of the handful I actually did read.

Chimera, about a colony of ants, has a very interesting art style. It’s a bit too busy, and it’s difficult to tell what’s happening in a number of the panels, but still… cool art. The story is another variant of the “Surprise!” one. The Flavor of the Sky was “Too long; didn’t read,” but seems to feature the world’s fattest mouse, and I kept thinking of An American Tail when I saw it.  The Farthest Shore was also TL:DR, although it did have some neat art. What I could make out of the story, which stars some interesting critters that are either goats or deer or deer-goats, would fall under the Philosophy umbrella. It also has one of the tiny deer-goats somehow being able to push a giant catfish the size of a whale into the water by itself.

The first page of A Long Way shows a white rabbit in samurai armor with a samurai sword, but unfortunately the art does not have the clean line and appealing characters of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. This was definitely a TL:DR, so I have no idea what the story was about. Track, featuring a bunch of rats, looks like it was drawn with a grease pencil during an all-night binge, but at least it was easy to follow and not overly long. The Long Bridge is also TL:DR, but it has an appealing stark black-and-white style that’s reminiscent of Russian folk art.

Rainmaker was overly long as well, with an art style that skirts very close to too busy. From what I could tell from skimming the story, it’s a variant of “Surprise!” featuring frogs, toads, mice and bats. Myths of the Wild Bassets is probably the best story in here, with excellent art and a compelling SF story about a family of basset hounds struggling to survive on their own. The plot shares a lot with Angelic, including an enigmatic cat character.

The Tadpole Twins was another TL:DR, with very toony art that is reminiscent of either Spongebob Squarepants or The Amazing World of GumballThe Feasting Star is about dogs in a lab (ala The Plague Dogs), and has a very nice art style. The story is definitely of the “Surprise!” variety. Lost and Found is a wordless story with excellent, sharp artwork. The story, such as it is, is mostly an excuse for playing around with designs and is best described as a surreal experiment.

The Silk Crown has really cute artwork and stars a really cute jumping spider. The spider reminded me a lot of that cute jumping spider that’s been in a number of animated shorts on the web (pun not intended) but I guess there’s only so many ways to draw a cute spider. The story is yet another variant of “Surprise!” A Tail of Trouble has some good cartooning and a snake that looks like a cross between Sir Hiss and Kaa. This just seems to be a fun little romp about a semi-powerful lizard witch. Pests has excellent grayscale art, although the ‘possum is a bit huge compared to the (coyotes? dogs?).

Tim’rous Beastie might be worth getting just for the sheer variety of art styles, but since the average person will find only a few of the stories interesting (bearing in mind each person will find interest in different stories) it’s probably not the best bang for your buck.

– Roz Gibson

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Cinderfrost (volumes 1 and 2)  Story and art by Demicoeur. – review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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

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. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 5 of 6 on the way. Read in order as they post: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Cinderfrost (volumes 1 and 2) 

Story and art by Demicoeur. 

Of everything reviewed here, this is the type of book people think of when you mention ‘furry comic:’ slick digital art with a distinct manga influence, and lots (and lots) of dick. Along with cock, more dick, and one naked chick. Artist Demicoeur has an extremely successful Patreon, which has been serializing Cinderfrost for years, along with other stories that are outright pornography (or ‘erotica.’ Choose your label). 

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Shanda the Panda #50, by Mike Curtis and Razorfox – review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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

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. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 4 of 6 on the way. Read in order as they post: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Shanda the Panda #50 

Written by Mike Curtis 
Art by Razorfox 

Part of the furry comics boom in the early 1990’s, Shanda the Panda recently published its fiftieth and final issue. Written by Mike Curtis, illustrated by a dozen or so artists over the years, it was one of the longest-lived furry titles. Following the life and loves of the titular character and featuring a large cast of friends, family and neighbors, it was the quintessential slice-of-life furry comic. Each issue featured a main story, with one or two back-up comics focusing on the supporting characters. 

Over the 50 issue series there was a lot of stuff going on, with side plots and a cast of thousands. The main story followed Shanda (the panda) and her courtship with Richard (a Cajun raccoon). This is complicated by her lesbian best friend Terri, who wants to be more than just friends, and Richard’s very vindictive ex-wife.  Shanda works as a movie theater manager, and the other employees (mostly high school kids) provide a lot of the supporting cast. Shanda’s very traditional Chinese family, who doesn’t want her dating anyone other than another panda,  Richard’s nasty ex-wife and a misogynistic panda from Hong Kong provide some antagonists to keep things interesting. 

And “interesting” is certainly a word to describe this series. A furry soap opera is probably closer to what Shanda the Panda is than simple slice-of-life. Among the issues the characters deal with: domestic abuse, incest, unplanned pregnancy, kidnapping, murder and alcoholism. There’s also lots of sex among the cast, particularly the randy high school kids and the lesbian Terri. One of the kids is nicknamed “Tripod” because he has an enormous penis, and the main character attribute for a rabbit girl is that she’s extremely promiscuous.  

Characters grow and evolve over the course of the series. Enemies become friends, couples break up and form new relationships, people die or move on.  Despite the lack of plausibility with some of the events or character motivations (Richard is unrealistically tolerant of Terri’s pursuit of Shanda, for example) I always found the book to be extremely readable. There were several distinct multi-issue story arcs, as well as stand-alone issues that made it easy for new readers to jump into the series, with the back-up stories adding extra depth to the world. 

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Marney the Fox, by Scott Goodall and John Stokes – review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 3 of 6 on the way. Read in order as they post: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Marney the Fox 

Story by Scott Goodall
Art by John Stokes

I discovered this by accident in the local comics shop. Other than the fact it’s about a fox, it probably wouldn’t appeal to the average furry fan. All the characters are ‘regular’ animals (although the fox does have thoughts and can talk to other foxes), the traditional pen and ink art is in black and white, and I’m sure it all looks terribly dated to people used to slick digital work. It was originally done as a magazine serial in the UK during the early 1970’s, so it plays fast and loose (to put it mildly) with real animal behavior, and some story elements may grate on modern politically correct sensibilities. 

Still… considering the success of the modern French “Love” graphic novels about realistic animals, there may be a place for Marney the Fox.  The book reads very much like one of those endlessly ongoing manga comics—short story arcs that end with weekly cliffhangers, but with no particular goal until the writer simply decides to end it. 

Poor Marney is subjected to just about every injury and indignity a fox could experience during the course of the book. His mother and siblings are killed by hunters in the first few pages, and that’s just the beginning. A partial list of things he endures includes: nearly drowning (several times), being attacked by dogs, otters, birds of prey, ferrets and weasels, bitten by a poisonous snake, being buried alive, snared, trapped, shot at, blinded by chemicals, captured by evil gypsies and nearly blown up by the military. 

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Angelic book 1: Heirs and Graces – review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 2 of 6 on the way. Read in order as they post: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Angelic book 1: Heirs and Graces 

Story by Simon Spurrier
Art by Caspar Wijngaard

Comics giant Image has been dabbling in the furry genre. First with the excellent Autumnlands series, and now with Angelic.  The first story arc was collected in a graphic novel last year, which I finally got around to picking up. The basic premise is a familiar one — uplifted animals in the ruins of a human civilization trying to discover what their purpose is. But just because something’s been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done again if it’s done well, which this is. 

The protagonist is Qora, an adolescent winged monkey (yes, just like from Wizard of Oz) living with her tribe in a ruined city by the seashore. They fight occasional skirmishes with mechanized dolphins under the control of equally mechanized manatees. Qora chafes under all the rules and rituals of her tribe, including the suppression of any dissent or questioning of why things are done a certain way. While all the monkeys are born with wings, the females lose their wings when they become adult and mate, something that (obviously) Qora is not looking forward to. 

With that unpleasant fate looming over her, Qora is talked into a dangerous journey into the toxic city by the manatees, with one of them accompanying her. The majority of the book is the duo going deep down the proverbial rabbit hole, as Qora slowly discovers the history of her people and what happened to ‘the makers.’ They are followed by a dangerously unbalanced ‘Fazecat,’ whose motives and designs towards Qora are unknown. 

Other creatures encountered are giant squid augmented into fighter planes, and cormorants that work as fishers for the monkeys. There’s lots of action as the war between the monkeys, dolphins and manatees heats up after Qora leaves, and the plot contains a number of twists to keep things interesting. 

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Contraindications by Pen Darke – Book Review by Summercat

by Summercat

Contraindications by Pen Darke. Illustrations by Ash FinleyPublished by Furplanet

TLDR: Erotic gay muscle growth. If that interests you at all, I 100% recommend this.

Matt Stafford is a perfectly normal looking otter, lithe, slightly toned, and adorable. He hates it. Several years at the gym have been for naught, and even his libido is weak. His boyfriend Stetson, a more muscular rabbit, sticks with him, but both wish that Matt’s sex drive was bigger.

One accident at a nutrition supplement store, Matt’s question of when will he start growing quickly changes to “Will I stop?”

Contraindications, by Pen Darke, is a story of muscle growth, some character development, wish fulfillment, and just about everything I love in a story. Originally published on Sofurry, the story got an editorial revamp and illustrations from artist Ash Finley. Illustrations that are wonderful, incredible, and mesh well with the author’s lovely use of descriptive language for Matt’s growth and larger form.

As a writer of muscle growth erotica myself, Contraindications has been one of the gold standards I wish to someday equal. Each chapter drives both the plot and the growth further, without a single wasted scene or moment.

I may be a bit biased because like Matt, I too am a small twig of an otter who wishes to be big, but this story has been one of my favorite stories for years, and I am glad to see it in print.

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So You’ve Become A Taur, by Johannes Knapp – Book Review by Summercat

by Pup Matthias

So You’ve Become A Taur, by Johannes Knapp. $6, Jarlidium Press, 2018. Webcomic Archive #13. 24 pages, color.

Statement: I received a free copy of this comic for the collection of the Furry Library. My review was not influenced by this.

A comic about the challenges a taur face in a world meant for bipeds,  Johannes Karpp’s (aka Cervelet) takes us through the challenges a newly-taured individual faces, mixing in humor and well thought out and reasoned solutions to problems that would result from suddenly having an additional set of legs.

Originally posted online in 2015, this 2018 release from Jarlidium Press’s Web Comic Archive line includes new material, such as a backstory showing how our hapless hero became a taur, as well as a few new still images.

The worldbuilding is right up my alley, and something I think about constantly just for bipedal characters with tails. How do mass-produced store-bought pants work for digitigrade legs and tails of all sorts of shapes? What about chairs or vehicles?

Cervelet extends this “Well, what about” question to taurs and those with six limbs, and does so interestingly. It is something I will consider in the future.

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In Flux, Edited by Rechan – Book Review by Summercat

by Pup Matthias

In Flux, from Furplanet and edited by Rechan, is an adults-only story anthology with four stories that feature transformation, which is, ahem, a personal favorite of mine. Yet despite two of the stories featuring kinks of mine, that are rarely touched upon, I find myself hesitant to recommend the anthology to the general transformation fetishist audience because I feel it may miss the mark.

This is not a knock on the technical writing skills of the four authors. Each story is well written and clear in their descriptions. The authors know their craft well and it shows. However, in terms of making subject matter for their audience, I can’t help but feel the anthology is lacking.

In Flux contains four stories.

Aesop’s Universe: Savages In Space, by Bill Kieffer, is a science fiction story involving a colony ship on its way to a new world that will be colonized, in part, by a tribal society of lions who are well aware of their technological setting. Huntress Thandiwe is horribly injured while hunting due to the ship becoming damaged from an accident, and her body becomes regenerated using her genes and DNA. This results in a fix to her eyes, but also an androgyn issue that went unnoticed, turning her male. This threatens to complicate issues with her Crewman boyfriend, the lion Bobby.

I love this story. Female to Male is something I enjoy, but more than that, the story goes into how the Thandiwe handles her new body and the changes, set in a backdrop of a major problem with the ship that she helps Bobby with. The story has a satisfactory, for me, ending, and manages character growth in the short few pages it has. The transformation itself isn’t described as much, but there is a video timelapse the character watches.

Wild Dog, by Franklin Leo, is a first person modern day story told from the perspective of Riley, an African Wild Dog. Shifting in this universe is common apparently, as any anthro can infect another anthro with their species. This serves as the center of the drama with his relationship with the dalmation Samantha when she nips him.

I did not like this story. The opening was promising, but the outcome when Riley confronts Samantha about the change being forced on him when he has tried to be courteous about not changing her just upsets me, and the ending feels like an out of character action for both Riley and Samantha. While transformation was at the core of the story, the actual transformation was minimal in description as it served as a plot device for the conflict.

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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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Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors) – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors).
Paris, Éditions Delcourt, June 2018, trade paperback, €23,95 (187 [+ 5] pages), Kindle €16,99.

Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima strike again!

“Built in 1740, at the far northern end of the isle, the Canon Zoo is the oldest and greatest zoo in the world. Founded in the XVI century by the monk Sylvestre Marie, it is today managed exclusively by its occupants.

“Aimed at an instructive goal, it offers its visitors, through its presentation of natural habitats, the chance to see how they have lived, over the centuries to the present, “animals in a state of nature”.” The sign is defaced with a graffiti-scrawl saying, “Obey!”

The first pages, a general meeting in the director’s office (a tapir), establish that things are different today. (Also that the dialogue is full of French puns and double-entendres.) Something is causing some of the animals to mutate into forms that are embarrassing at best, potentially fatal at worst. The director has hired two private detectives, Octopus and Beaver Burma, to find the reason and stop it.

“Eight months ago, some employees began showing the first symptoms. I think the otters were the first.”

“What do you mean?”

“They became covered with spines.”

“Like porcupines?”

“Exactly.”

“Like ‘otter-pines?’”

“If you like. They’re incapable today of running their stand in the zoo.”

“What are they selling?”

“Balloons.”

[…]

“Next it was the turn of those that your colleague would call the ‘polar urchins’, who are living today in the canteen’s freezer.”

“Then the ‘cat-pony’ that we put into the Asian animal enclosure.”

“And the ‘oyster-constrictor’ who spends his days trying to swallow the ‘rat-engale’ trying to find its voice.”

“The affair took a nasty turn when we found the “serpent-pie-thon’ dead, of self-asphyxiation. The animals began to get scared.”

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