Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: history

More Animal Impersonators From Theater History

by Patch O'Furr

Don’t miss the series of stories about animal impersonators.

George Ali as Nana in Peter Pan (1924)

Yesterday’s article revisited the history of animal impersonation for theater. It’s the study of how animals move and behave, for acting with emotion and character. Beautifully crafted costumes were used on live stages before cinema matured, from artists forgotten by time. It’s deep rooted “Paleofurry” inspiration.

Previous stories here looked at British Panto-animal actors, but overlooked other actors in American Vaudeville (which fed talent to Hollywood). An expert covered some of them to round out this history. (Thanks to Trav S.D. who is linked here; a theater director, producer, and author.)

George Ali: Critter for Hire, and Arthur Lupino

Trav’s short article adds a little about George Ali, who played the dog in the first filmed version of Peter Pan. But in 1904 the role was played by an actor who I haven’t found much about. There’s just a very short blurb from Encyclopedia Brittanica saying Arthur Lupino was an “incomparable animal impersonator” and chosen personally by Peter Pan playwright JM Barrie.

Fred Woodward: What an Animal

Mules and creatures from Oz. It’s another short mention of how “Animal impersonation was a whole sub-specialty in vaudeville… This was an era when fairy tales were frequently presented on stage for audiences of children and their families, so it’s not as odd as it may seem at first blush.”

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Animal Impersonators of Vaudeville and Pantomime: call them Paleofurries.

by Patch O'Furr

Check out this “fursuit” acting from 1924. That’s George Ali as Nana the Dog in the first silent-movie version of Peter Pan. (Here’s a longer clip).

In 1924, there were no archives for movies, so many were destroyed or disappeared when they stopped making money from screening. The first Peter Pan movie was believed lost, but two copies were found including one at Disney Studios (who must have studied the innovative special effects.) A restoration in 1994 was added to the US National Film Registry. It makes a rare recording of this kind of performing.

George Ali was an Animal Impersonator — much more than just a costumer, but a specialist artist. There must be tons of forgotten lore about this. It was featured in my furry history series about Panto-animals (with beautiful photos, but no videos I could find until now!)

What were animal impersonators?

Fred Conquest and Charles Lauri appear in those stories as British Pantomime theater players. Panto had roots as old as Shakespeare — a mash-up of clowning, burlesque, satire, and lower-class popular theater for the masses. It was for live stages, not permanent Youtube-ready media, so the actors may be barely remembered today. They were huge stars in their heyday 100 years ago. Most were known as human characters, but ones like Ali, Conquest, or Lauri won stardom in their own right as animals.

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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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Great accounts to follow: Unintentional Furries

by Patch O'Furr

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

If you’re a talking animal on social media, Furry Twitter is the place to be. And if you aren’t on there yet, or if you’re new, it may seem like a perplexing jungle of stunning art, cute fursuits, drama, social commentary, memes, nature videos, hitting on corporate mascots, and crazy happenings with a huge fandom of friends who have fun like nobody else. Finding the good stuff could use a guide to bushwhack through the wilderness. Wouldn’t it be cool to get an article series about entertaining and well curated accounts?

These will ask the account owners a few short questions about what they do. Enjoy whether they’re new, or you like learning more about stuff you already love.

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A tribute to Fred Patten, 1940-2018

by Patch O'Furr

Fred in 1993 at a furry party at San Diego Comic Con. Lizard unknown. Photo by William Earl Haskell.

Fred Patten passed away on November 12, 2018 at age 78, leaving a legacy as historian and founder for the anime and furry fandoms. He was the star guest poster here. It’s hard to think of having no more Fred posts, but easy to say how much he influenced everyone. I’m really going to miss him sending in news tidbits or emails from curious fans, and asking if I can use them, then working out collaboration posts from his prompts. This was one of many, showing how he was sought out as an authority on anime and furry by people as far away as Malaysia.

Fred is remembered by many outside of furry. A memorial post on File770 highlights author David Gerrold calling Fred a “classic old-school fan”.  The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s memorial page has Melissa Conway saying: “He was, without a doubt, the dean of Furry Fandom.”

From fellow furry fans, Dronon posted a rememberence of Fred at Flayrah news.  So did Mark Merlino, cofounder of the first furry convention (ConFurence) and organizer of science fiction con parties that paved the way. Shortly before Fred’s passing, I ran into Mark and Rod of The Prancing Skiltaire (the long-running fan house in southern California) at PAWcon in San Jose. They had a table set up to remember gone but not forgotten fans. I think Fred deserves a place of honor in the middle of them all.

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Furry is Punk | Culturally F’d

by Arrkay

Guest post by Arrkay from Culturally F’d, the furry youtube channel. See their tag on Dogpatch Press for more.

Furry and Punk have a lot in common, way more than you think! Arrkay discusses the parallels of the two movements, their philosophies, their work ethic and more! We’re really excited for this episode as it’s been on the list of suggestions for over a year!

This episode came together with the help of a lot of different furs! This article is going to look at some of the research we used, and a shoutout for everyone who helped.

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2 Gryphon punches down on a critic – what can we learn from this?

by Patch O'Furr

Quick: What’s the difference between a car driven into a crowd by a terrorist, and a swimming pool? That’s a question about the video below from 2 Gryphon.

He was reacting to a video criticizing his beliefs about hate groups. Like neo-nazi marchers who murdered a woman in 2017 by driving a Dodge Challenger into a crowd – (with participation by haters from the furry community, leading one to kill himself in March 2018.)

2 Gryphon claims to be respectful of the critic Tantroo McNally, AKA Sonious. a furry news writer and Youtuber. At the same time, his reaction was punching down on an easy target with 369 subscribers in front of his 28,000.  That’s unusual. Sonious doesn’t get other ratings like this, and it pushes down search results. With so much unbalance, it’s hard to get both sides. Everyone likes both sides, right? So let’s give a deeper look to what Sonious was criticizing. This was the source of it all:

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Fursuit History 2: Skin Parts

by Arrkay

Guest post by Arrkay from Culturally F’d, the furry youtube channel. See their tag on Dogpatch Press for more.

It’s #FursuitFriday which means twitter floods with pictures of our fluffy creations. It’s also the time for us at Culturally F’d and Dogpatch to look back at some Fursuit History. Make sure to catch up on Part 1: Masks and start your own exploration of animal costume performance with Culturally F’d.

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The truth behind a famous, misinterpreted “nazi furries” photo.

by Summercat

[Note from Patch:] Thanks to Summercat for this guest post. It’s a follow up to: Ever hear that Altfurries are just trolls? A real Nazi leader is taking them seriously. More than a few commenters had a mistaken impression that Dogpatch Press was original poster for a photo of “nazi furries”. We weren’t. That was a screencap, and it wasn’t posted to endorse the contents. An automatic feed to Twitter made it the cover image there. 

UPDATE (late 2018): This article keeps being linked to debunk the photo *completely*, and I’m kind of sick of it. YES, the photo itself was taken out of context – but in fact, that’s only part of the story. Read to the bottom and see that Nazi furries ARE part of the local scene of the photo – and may not tell you the truth about it. – Patch

Summercat continues:

We’re creatures of the internet. We all know that images and photos can be ripped from their context and spread around with new interpretations that show them in a different light than intended. Context matters, even for items that appear to be clear cut.

A prior article I wrote about Altfurs includes a photo shared by Neo-nazi Andrew Anglin. It shows three fursuiters posing happily in front of a Nazi flag.

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Fursuiting: A History – a video miniseries by Culturally F’d.

by Arrkay

Guest post by Arrkay from Culturally F’d, the furry youtube channel. See their tag on Dogpatch Press for more.

Yesterday we posted a sneak peek of our multi-part miniseries. It looks at animal-costume history from the basics of the mask, theatrical outfits, Hollywood rubber-suits, fandom cosplay, and our very own fuzzy army of unique performers.

Now here’s Part 1: Masks. This video explores the very idea of the mask itself and its ancient origins. Of course we focus on animal-masks, since we’re talking about Fursuit History, not just costuming in general.

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