Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: graphic novel

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.

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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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Myre: The Chronicles of Yria volume 1, by Alectorfencer – 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 1 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.

Myre: The Chronicles of Yria volume 1 

Art and story by Claudya (Alectorfencer) Schmidt
Story and Dialogue by Matt (2 the Ranting Griffin) Davis

One of the most popular artists working in the furry genre, German Alectorfencer ran a very successful crowd funding campaign to produce her graphic novel magnum opus: Myre: the Chronicles of Yria #1. It was published in January 2017 as a hardcover and trade paperback. Sometime this year a spin-off graphic novel called Haunter of Dreams will be released, and in the autumn of 2019 production will begin on chapter 2 of Myre. 

Now I’ve pointed out many times that the fandom is littered with carcasses of epic multi-part graphic novels that fizzled out after 1 volume, when the artists realized what a huge amount of work it is for basically no money. (I will give props to Heathen City for actually lasting 3 issues before dying, which is 2 better than most of them). Even if Alectorfencer manages to get #2 done, I’m not sure how much momentum she or the public will be able to maintain if it takes 4 or 5 years between volumes. 

So how is Myre? The production values are great—rich color printing on heavy stock. Unfortunately it suffers from a very common problem with digital printing—everything is too dark. Art that looks good on the screen often prints dark. I’ve seen this in other color comics, particularly ones that use the fully painted technique. I assume there’s ways to avoid that issue, since most of the pro published books look OK, but that’s not my area of expertise. 

The story is a western with fantasy trappings. After a brief world-creation and downfall myth involving dragons at the beginning, the rest of Volume 1 is the protagonist Myre (dressed in a poncho, hat and perpetually dangling cigarette like Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name) wandering around a desolate landscape with her faithful dragon steed. When she runs out of ‘fuel’ for her cigarette lighter (I guess they don’t have matches here…) she ends up getting injured by some thugs while trying to buy more, taken to a wise old man for healing, sent on an errand to a distant city, runs into more trouble there, and that’s basically volume 1. 

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“You can only carry so much”- Kristyna Baczynski’s ‘Vessel’

by Bessie

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)

Being of modest means, in the past I have shamefully bought comics due to page count alone. Quantity counts when strapped for cash and I’d usually choose comics with a bit more meat on their bones. Although I’m slowly collecting Hellblazer trades they’d always be at the top of my list when they came out due to their huge wodge of pages and densely written style that would take me a few weeks to chew through. Recently being a little bit more financially relaxed and delving deeper into the small press and independent scene I’m discovering more often that the best comics can be both beautiful and brief. Vessel is an independent comic from Leeds artist Kristyna Baczynski. It stars an unnamed anthro protagonist who completes her education and finds herself immediately stuck in an all too familiar procession of banal and ultimately interchangeable jobs. Baczynski captures the feeling of quiet mundanity here perfectly in a series of repeated patterns, her character stood in the same pose and expression in each and every one, with only the hats name badges changing. She finally realises after what could be years of these jobs that her own inaction, that she has to make her life happen as she rushes out into the world. While the subject matter is as well travelled as her heroine by the end of the comic, Baczynski’s unique voice and artistic style ensures she still has something fresh to say on the matter. It’s powerful and deeply affecting, especially to someone like myself who might be realizing that life doesn’t happen on it’s own.

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Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz. Illustrated.
Keston, Kent, UK, United Publications, June 2017, hardcover, $22.95 (unpaged [148 pages]).

This large (8½” x 11”) collection presents the last half – the last ten years — of Eric Schwartz’s Internet Sabrina Online comic strip: four strips per page from November 2006 (annual collection 11) through the end of the annual collections with #14, and the following individual strips through the end of December (Xmas) 2016. “835 strips in 20 years? I guess it’ll have to do.” But wait! There’s more! The last 24 pages of this book are Schwartz’s history of Sabrina Online, gag strips of Sabrina’s Transformer toys, and some of the better art tributes by Sabrina’s fans like gNAW, Steve Gallacci, Shawntae Howard, Max Black Rabbit, and Brian Reynolds.

Schwartz explains in his “Brief History” that he began Sabrina Online in September 1996, after becoming a Big Name Fan in furry fandom thanks to his animation short films produced on his primitive Amiga computer (done partly just to prove that he could create animation on an Amiga). This is where his first popular character, Amy the Squirrel, appeared. He had ideas for a more detailed, continuing storyline featuring Amy and her best friend and roommate, Sabrina the Skunk, so Sabrina Online was born. It was a monthly comic strip in an unusual presentation; all four weeks online together on the first of the month. It was basically a comedic slice-of-life rambling story about Amy and Sabrina. Amy gets married to Thomas Woolfe and has a son, but Sabrina remains sharing her and Thomas’ apartment; Sabrina gets a secretarial job with Zig Zag, a producer of adult entertainment; Sabrina develops a long-term relation with her boyfriend, R.C. (a raccoon), and eventually moves in with him; and finally Sabrina and R.C. get married. Sub-themes and characters include Sabrina’s parents, R.C.’s parents, Sabrina’s collection of Transformers toys (which are often anthropomorphized), Zig Zag, an extroverted zebra-striped skunk (a tiger-skunk hybrid – Schwartz doesn’t have any trouble with interspecies romances and hybrid children), Amy’s infant son Timmy who Sabrina often babysits and Sabrina’s little sister Tabitha, Thomas’ workmates, R.C.’s workmates … lots!

“I created the Sabrina Online comic strip to tell the story ideas I had built up. These were used up after the first few years.” After that he continued the strip on a day-to-day basis for a long time. “That was when I noticed that the twentieth anniversary of the first Sabrina Online comic strip from 1996 was on its way, and looked into the prospect of finishing the strip. Suddenly I had a definite purpose and goal again.” Unfinished story ideas were finished; floating story lines were tied up; and Sabrina Online was brought to a final conclusion with Sabrina and R.C. (Richard Conrad) getting married.

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French anthro comic: Solo, T. 2, by Oscar Martin – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Solo. T.2, Le Coeur et le Sang, by Oscar Martin.
Paris, Delcourt, January 2016, hardcover €16,95 (109 [+ 1] pages).

Oops. This volume 2, The Heart and the Blood, almost got away from Lex Nakashima & me. Volume 3 is out already. Expect a review of it soon.

I said of volume 1, “The setting: a bleak, war-destroyed future Earth. Think MGM’s/Hugh Harman’s 1939 animated Peace on Earth, where the last humans on Earth kill each other and leave the world to the peaceful funny animals; or the similar sequence in Alexander Korda’s 1936 live-action feature Things to Come, where England (and presumably the whole human race) has been bombed and shot up back to the Stone Age. It’s Mad Max with furries.”

That’s still true of vol. 2. Quoting from my review of volume 1 again, I said, “Solo is a brawny teenaged rat-equivalent of the young Conan the Barbarian, but a lot smarter. In the first few pages, he and his warrior father are shown fighting giant, mutated monsters in a freezing winter landscape for food for their family, and killing rival mustelid warriors ready to eat them. Solo and his father win, but it is obvious to all that Solo’s family is slowly starving. Solo, a huge teenager, decides to leave so his parents and siblings won’t have to share their food with him.”

Solo spends most of volume 1 as an almost brain-dead gladiatorial warrior in a human-run arena. It’s clear that he could escape whenever he wants, but is there anyplace else in the world worth escaping to? He finally finds such a place; a new home and a wife. He finds that life is worth living again.

Of course, this now gives him responsibilities – to his wife and to his community.

The Heart and the Blood is divided into two sections; the story of 73 pages, and a mixture of “technical notes” (some of the other intelligent species of Solo’s “cannibal world”) and short independent stories.

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Les Ailes du Singe. T.2, Hollywoodland, by Étienne Willem – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Les Ailes du Singe. T.2, Hollywoodland, by Étienne Willem.
Geneva, Switzerland, Éditions Paquet, June 2017, hardbound €14,00 (48 pages).

The Lex Nakashima-Fred Patten plot to make American furry fans read the best of new French-language animalière bandes dessinées strikes again. This is the second album of Étienne Willem’s over-the-top thriller Les Ailes du Singe (The Wings of the Monkey), set in a funny-animal America during 1933, the depths of the Depression. Things got so desperate at the time that there were serious worries about a Communist revolution. That’s one theme of this album.

The stars of Les Ailes du Singe are Harry Faulkner (macaque monkey), a top pilot in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I, and the owner of his own barnstorming and movie stunt-flying Jenny biplane; his mechanic-friend Lumpy (pig), apparently Italian since he regularly swears in Italian; and his girlfriend Betty Laverne (deer), a newspaper reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune. In t.1, Wakanda, Harry gets involved in and prevents the skyjacking of the U.S. Army’s zeppelin Wakanda by unknown enemy agents led by a sultry night club singer, Lydia Lessing (jaguar). However, Harry could only prevent the enemy from unleashing poison gas over NYC by crashing the Wakanda into the Hudson River. He is blamed for wrecking the zeppelin and, to escape warrants for his arrest in New York and New Jersey, Harry and Lumpy flee to Hollywood where Harry becomes a stunt pilot for Paramount. (In real life I think he could be extradited – isn’t it illegal to cross state lines to avoid arrest?)

Hollywoodland contains so much hugger-mugger that, frankly, it destroys the suspension of disbelief for me. The Depression has gotten so bad that the South is threatening to re-secede, setting off a second Civil War – or, as Harry finds out, that’s what Communist agents are trying to make the public believe. There’s a plot to assassinate President Franklin D. Roosevelt that only Harry, Betty, and Lumpy can foil, in stolen Paramount stunt planes. There are lots of real famous people as funny animals: FDR is a goose (Willem seems to show him as unparalyzed, as he was popularly believed to be at the beginning of his administration; but take a close look at the bottom panel on page 46), Howard Hughes is a Doberman, Cecil B. De Mille is a Boston terrier, Douglas Fairbanks is a – cougar? (A Big Feline of some kind.) Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a star yet, so Hollywoodland substitutes a fictional Clara Palmer – that’s her on the cover. (There’s a nude shot of her in the story.) Willem takes advantage of the urban legend that Howard Hughes may have been a spy for someone, or at least working against America’s best interests, to put him into suspicious situations. There are car chases all over Los Angeles, gunfights, a major character is killed, and Harry’s & Friends’ pursuit in old World War I warplanes through the New Mexico desert of the presidential streamlined train to prevent the president’s murder

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