Patch.com, a news source focusing on local communities, reported the death of Jimmy Harbin, AKA Scorch Dragon (not the same as another who uses the name.) The news was noticed with recent filing of a lawsuit to compensate his family. The 49-year old New Lenox, IL resident was the victim of a fatal accident with a semi-truck and trailer that crossed into oncoming traffic in the early morning of Feb. 19, 2019.
You may know Magnus Diridian (AKA Rob Shokawsky) as “The Confederate fursuiter” who’s banned from furry conventions. What happens after being arrested for trespassing at Midwest FurFest 2017, and featuring in a news article about troll activity? How about a challenge to clear the air and explain things. That is, if a simple case of people being bothered by unwanted behavior needs any further explanation at all.
There don’t seem to be many people asking for it. But long story short, Magnus got in trouble and wanted to explain. I took the opportunity to talk, but not in the way he hoped. Honestly I’m not interested in rehashing what everyone already read about the 2017 arrest. He’ll have his day in court. Something else was an open and bothersome issue, and I focused on that instead. The previous article only hinted about it. Now I’m going to be really direct.
Midwest Furfest 2017 broke the attendance record of all furry cons by the margin of a small con itself. It raised an eye-popping $86,000 for an animal charity that was previously in the red and is now funded for years. Twitter was on fire about the smashing success for the fandom. Among many ecstatic posts by attendees, of course there had to be some kind of drama too. It came with a fursuiter being arrested. Here’s the story pieced together by claims on twitter:
Scene: a hotel lobby. A black, red and white wolf fursuiter with a German WW1 style Pickelhaube helmet is parading around. People taking photos are greeted by offensive behavior like saluting with a “Sieg Heil” and shouting racist things. It causes hotel and/or con security to pursue him, and he flees and gets cornered in some bushes until the police come. They make him take off his suit, and he’s taken away in underwear. He was previously banned from the con and hotel, and the charges involve trespassing and assaulting a staff member before his arrest.
Some of those claims may be disputed (especially the nazi part), so let’s look deeper for the truth. Here’s an arrest record. Associates confirm the fursuiter who matches it is Magnus Diridian, AKA Rob Shokawsky (real name Robert Sojkowski). What is Magnus known for in furry fandom?
Grimace McWendy’s: Custom suits show that Magnus puts a lot of effort into these events. If it’s not just calculated to troll, isn’t that’s a loveable quality? The same is said by people close to him who are earnest about defending him as a nice guy. I have to admit that this fursuit makes me laugh and I have to admire the creative humor. (Suiting video).
Could a full time mascot-based tourist attraction include furries somehow? Maybe they will indirectly benefit. Imagine an exhibit dedicated to hobbyist costuming, and how it’s an institution in places like Pittsburgh. If that happened, Uncle Kage would surely be one of the first asked to help connect furries and pro mascots. And it’s interesting that the NMHOF is close to Midwest Furfest (imagine an exhibit coordinated with the con.)
I contacted Kage and MFF about this. Here’s followup to the stories above.
From Raymond Entertainment Group
Mascot Boot Campis run by NMHOF founder Dave Raymond (the original “Philly Phanatic”). It’s in Kutztown PA- 3 days for $399. Fursuiters, check that out. And you can hire it to come to you (wouldn’t it be amazing to have such a workshop hosted by a con? Although cost per person would be huge.) Check Dave Raymond’s group of companies for a look at professional mascot building and more – Raymond Entertainment Group.
Furry sports fans on national TV – have you seen this going around as a popular meme? (Tip: Chakat Shorttail.)
2016 has been labeled The Year Of Furry. Disney’s Zootopia is just the start. There’s a surprising amount of other films to come with anthropomorphic animals. From Kung Fu Panda 3, Ratchet and Clank, The Angry Birds Movie, Secret Life of Pets, Sing, The Boy and The Beast, and TMNT 2 (yes it counts)… there’s a wealth of films for furries to enjoy (or love to hate) this year.
There’s a film apart from those that has surprisingly flown under a lot of people’s radars. It’s not a big-budget blockbuster, and doesn’t have massive marketing. (With vast differences in “furry movies”, that’s what the headline references.) Few have talked about it… but for this tiny fandom, it has special quality above any other.
Fursonas is a documentary directed by Dominic Rodriguez. It looks at the fandom itself, to clear up fuzziness over what it’s about.
Mascot art, business, culture, and a Hall of Fame to celebrate it all.
Let’s peer into the strange, distant futureworld of 2017.
How much respect do mascots get? It’s kind of a stereotype that they deserve mocking and noogies from jocks. Some would say that enjoying mascots too much is like loving the sauce while ignoring the main course. They might consider it ridiculous to give sole focus for celebration of mascots.
Now there’s a whole institution for that. The Mascot Hall of Fame was founded by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic from 1978-1993. It’s been around since 2005 in online-only form. Now it’s getting a 25,000 square-foot building in Whiting, Indiana. (With the crowd capacity of this place, imagine a jock giving noogies to so many thousands of mascot lovers- his arms would fall off.) Read the rest of this entry »
Good examples of fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
I have to admit not knowing a lot about commercial mascotting. But here’s some quick comparison with the amateur hobby kind. At Amazing-Mascots.com, you can get a feel for how major teams and companies commission the pro makers.
Amazing Mascots is a company with a 15,000 foot warehouse, and a team of seasoned professionals boasting decades of mascotting and designing experience. They quote multiplied prices ($4000-12,000) compared to costume makers inside fandom.
Our own fursuit makers charge as little as $2000 and typically do it from a craft room at home. But their craft often beats the pros, doesn’t it? They do it for love as much as money. So value their skills and personal relationships with them, and give them love back.
On to the examples of how hobbyists are reaching the level of pros…
Wolf mascot for Moscow’s Dynamo hockey team – made in 2013 by Mixedcandy.
Even if the Dynamo NHL team was in the USA – I wouldn’t know anything about them. But I would know the work of Mixedcandy. There must be an interesting story about how they commissioned this and why. I wouldn’t expect a pro team to approach a hobby community just to save a couple grand! (Pic: LatinVixen on FurAffinity. More at the Dynamo Instagram page.)
The National Mascot Hall of Fame is coming in 2017. This mainstream event might deserve attention from furries. Will hobby costumers indirectly benefit from the millions of investment and hype?
Sci-fi costuming and mascots probably developed separately. But some fursuiting is showing up in pro sports. Anthrocon had the San Diego Chicken as Guest Of Honor. A mascot was a viral sensation of the 2015 Super Bowl. Can we look forward to more crossover? Is this part of mainstreaming furries, with stuff like Disney’s Zootopia?
I have to admit that sports isn’t my thing. Ritualistically chasing a stuffed spheroid doesn’t set my curiosity on fire. Whenever I see a sportsball game, it seems quite possible, even unavoidable that one of the teams or the other is going to win. What’s the big deal?
However, even if the physical spectacle isn’t my thing, I can at least admire the ideals of positive team competition, and strength and bravery.
In ancient times, feats of strength were amazing. Muscle helped you to build shelter to protect you from hungry lions or the angry gods. Bravery in the hunt was amazing too. It was better to feed the tribe with antelope steaks than with bugs and berries.
But in modern times, you don’t need strength for that stuff. Use a forklift or order a pizza. Physical feats don’t impress me as much as they should.
Of course, I’ll take an invite to hang out with sports-loving friends if there’s beers and chatting. I have nothing against a good spectacle or playing outside. I just have different priorities.
I like creative and intellectual pursuits that help us evolve beyond the stone age, or even the silicon age – towards whatever comes next. (Like maybe a Mad Max future, where the most popular sport is watching cyborgs with chainsaw arms do gladiator battle.)
Mascots are fun and creative. I like their designs and how they act. Let’s talk about what they mean and where they came from. Plug your brain into the matrix, and let me take you back to the Pre-Furry Past… and beyond the horizon of time, to the incomprehensibly distant futureworld of 2017.
Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag. Guest posts welcome. Tips: email@example.com.
Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race features Fursuiters.
I’m told that a minute of air time was recorded during a “furry scurry” in Chicago. (I’m pretty sure I have heard of such an event, but can’t find it at Lake Area Furry Friends.) I hope one day that term replaces “furmeet” for meets that get you out of the house, and maybe involve Street Fursuiting (my favorite thing.)
Cosplay celebrity Jessica Nigri wants to join the Furry side.
Nigri is known as a model/promoter for video games, and interviewer/correspondent at cons. It’s amazing when a subculture grows large enough to have it’s own hired sub-services… when is it no longer “sub” culture? (Imagine if “popufur” actually meant anything to anyone besides furries?) Popularity-wise, I suspect she’s famous-for-being-famous, but I don’t know enough to judge. I just hope this involves interest in what furries actually do. It’s a new item for the next “Celebrifurry” list:
OKAY REAL TALK. WHO DOES FURSUITS. Like really adorable well made ones..... I go down this path willingly.... I won't turn back.
SFGate looked at a map of the “most embarrassing Google searches” in the USA and found me.
(Appeared in photo #9.) “Furries” is supposedly searched a lot in Wyoming. The map also shows who searched for: Bronies, Nickelback Lyrics, Dog Clothes, Meth Recipe… Who knows if it’s really real data, but you can tell they had fun. But not as much as I did in the pic. Sorry guys, not embarassed in the slightest!
Playwright fictionalizes the 2014 MWFF chlorine attack, for a story exploring identity.
A film maker was commissioned to make a documentary for Seeker network- and he started at reddit’s r/furry.
In March 2015, Discovery launched a new network, Seeker. Their programming goes for the mysterious and wonderful fringes of nature and culture. Now that means Furries. Their piece is called “Furries Aren’t As Weird As You Think.”