Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: science fiction

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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Oldest science fiction book store burns in Minneapolis uprising, fandom feels the heat

by Patch O'Furr

Dr. Peter Venkman This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

Mayor What do you mean, “biblical”?

Dr. Raymond Stantz What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.

Dr. Peter Venkman Exactly.

Dr. Raymond Stantz Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

Dr. Egon Spengler Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…

Winston Zeddemore The dead rising from the grave!

Dr. Peter Venkman Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

Mayor All right, all right! I get the point!

– Ghostbusters (1984)

Can you feel it? The Covid-19 pandemic makes it dangerous to give hugs (the furry handshake.) A new Great Depression might be on the way with millions unemployed. People are rising for justice while cities burn.

Uncle Hugo’s burned. It was a book store in Minneapolis, the oldest independent science fiction book store in the USA. One of the furry fandom’s original members worked there since it opened in 1974. Ken Fletcher was co-founder of Vootie, the voice of “The Funny Animal Liberation Front”, which helped to launch the furry fandom. He’s out of work for now (and might do a Q&A with me soon).

Directly south of the store, nine blocks down Chicago Street, was where the fire got a reason to start. On the corner at East 38th, Officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Viral video of the incident showed bystanders begging for help while other police stood in the way. It spurred national outrage against a white-on-black power flex. Soon, nothing could hold back the wrath of half a city rising against injustice, and burning a police station and more.

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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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Fursuit Animatronics: the future is now with Ocelynk of Feliform Labs

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Thanks to Ocelynk for this guest post. To submit for public access, get in touch from the About page.

As night falls in the South American jungle, an ocelot comes out to hunt. The small spotted cat’s ears perk at the sound of a snapping twig in the trees above, and the pursuit begins. Eighteen razor-sharp claws extend to grip a branch for an effortless ascent, and a tail balances every movement. With its prey in sight, the ocelot pounces, its fangs glistening in the moonlight…

Imagine if the furry fandom could develop fursuits that do all that, in addition to being friendly. Since the summer of 2018, I’ve been working on animatronic technology to make it possible.

It all started when I came across a post about fursuit technology that opened my eyes to the possibilities of fursuit animatronics. This was an opportunity to apply my experience with electronics and robotics to a new and exciting area.

Before long, inspiration struck. I decided that I would make a realistic fursuit with all the animatronic technology I could build. I wanted the animatronics to work without anyone actively controlling them. To decide which projects to start with, I thought about my favorite features of cats: the ears, eyes, claws, and tail. Since then, I’ve developed working prototypes for all four features.

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Fred Patten’s FURRY TALES — put this on your holiday gift list!

by Patch O'Furr

Furry Tales is now available here from McFarland Books.

Fred Patten, a fandom historian and one of the best supporters that furry literature ever had, passed away one year ago at age 78. Here’s a rememberance post for Fred. But he left more than good memories and a lot of his news and reviews here at Dogpatch Press. His last book is finally here.

From McFarland Books:

Tales featuring anthropomorphic animals have been around as long as there have been storytellers to spin them, from Aesop’s Fables to Reynard the Fox to Alice in Wonderland. The genre really took off following the explosion of furry fandom in the 21st century, with talking animals featuring in everything from science fiction to fantasy to LGBTQ coming-out stories.

In his lifetime, Fred Patten (1940–2018)—one of the founders of furry fandom and a scholar of anthropomorphic animal literature—authored hundreds of book reviews that comprise a comprehensive critical survey of the genre. This selected compilation provides an overview from 1784 through the 2010s, covering such popular novels as Watership Down and Redwall, along with forgotten gems like The Stray Lamb and Where the Blue Begins, and science fiction works like Sundiver and Decision at Doona.

Inside is a Foreword by Kyell Gold, almost 200 pages about the books, and lists of Nonfiction Works, Author and Chronological Lists, Awards, and Furry Specialty Publishers.

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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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The Sprawl: Webcomic Creator Interview with Snowdon – By Enjy

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Welcome to guest author Enjy, who goes above and beyond for any writing mission. I would have tackled this myself but couldn’t have done so well because comics aren’t my forte and neither is music reviewing (Enjy’s previous piece.) The opportunity to work together is part of the magic of fandom. Tomorrow, expect the comic review. – Patch

The Sprawl is a webcomic created by Snowdon. He was the lead artist for a small animation studio and worked on the Teen Nick show Alien Dawn, where you can spot some of his artwork in the series’ titular comic book and unique motion-comic scenes. Needless to say, Snowden has been working on comics for quite some time. His whole life has been spent drawing and creating. Before and after working at Nickelodeon, he was a high school art teacher, a private tutor, and a graphic design consultant. In recent years, he has turned to freelance comics like his creation The Sprawl. Making connections, having a good portfolio, and taking internship opportunities whenever you can get them are Snowdon’s tips for artists like him to get into the animation industry. I got to speak with this creator to help his fans learn more about him, his comic, and where he sees his art taking him.

(Enjy): My first question is, why did you choose for The Sprawl to be a comic featuring anthropomorphic characters?

(Snowdon): The original concept for The Sprawl was an idea I’d had all the way back in art school, in the late 90’s. A lot of my art school friends wanted to make comics and a lot of them were already making anthro art, so I thought it might be fun if we all worked on some comics set in the same world, as like an anthology. The idea didn’t go anywhere, unfortunately, but some years later, one of my art school friends was doing comics for one of the anthro adult sites and offered to put a pitch in front of the people running the site if I could come up with one. I remembered the old anthology idea and still wanted to do something in that setting, so I dusted it off and wrote an outline that included what would eventually be the first chapter of The Sprawl.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 3)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Part 1 looked at the roots of fandom, with fans being “fans of each other”. Stigma and undermining showed how the fandom didn’t just follow the path of least resistance, it broke out under pressure. A sense of outsiderness and self determination has stayed ever since.

Part 2 looked at conventions making a platform for industry and expression that keeps the group untamed. Relations with the media got better while making a certain fandom identity (instead of letting others make it). It can even connect to deeper identity of members, because it lets them be who they want to be.

Furries care about fandom identity with a kind of tribalism. When members say they’re prone to “furry drama,” it can come from conflict about who defines it or benefits from it. That’s how The Daily Beast noticed conflict about a luxury “designer fursuit” brand, which usually wouldn’t matter to anyone except furries.

I told the reporter: “I think it really struck a nerve. It really got to the root of this possessiveness that the subculture has about itself and what it built for itself.”

It’s a case for looking at resistance to commercialism. Backlash at the brand was provoked by tone-deaf marketing, where bringing a mainstream approach wasn’t workable with art based on unique personal identity. Also, luxury brands don’t get made from scratch when others go back 100 years. (Fans in-the-know could compare this with furry brand Hyena Agenda, whose stuff speaks for itself without rubbing the wrong way against a certain fandom identity.)

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Fandom is big business in the mainstream – but furries have their own place apart. Why does this fandom grow independently? Let’s look at unique expression at the heart of it. Of course furries do a lot more things than this story can look at, but one aspect brings insight about decentralized structure.

Some subcultures rise and fall with media they consume. But the influences seen in Part 1 didn’t make one property in common for every furry. They didn’t rise with a movie like Zootopia. Instead, this fandom is fans of each other.

Part 1 looked at the roots and growth of their conventions. Furry cons make a platform for the specialized craft of fursuiting, with bespoke, full-body mascot costumes that cost thousands. They’re uniquely original expressions of identity. They’re tangible, huggable products of imagination. They put the fur in furry.

A lot of the fandom’s rock stars are fursuiters, who give it a photogenic face. Unlike stars of other fandoms, their original characters usually aren’t promoting something else — and fursuits can’t be downloaded or easily pirated — they’re for live experiences. It matters because online community can be temporary, but live events glue it together. They can show why this fandom is independent, here to stay, and not tied to certain media.

Rather than naming great works tied to their activity, you could say that the group is its own greatest creation. And if writing, art, or other creativity in the fandom didn’t rise out of a certain type of event, fursuiting did.

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