Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture, by Joe Strike – review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer
Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture, by Joe Strike. Illustrated.
Jersey City, NJ, Cleis Press, October 2017. Trade paperback, $17.95 ([ix +] 342 pages), Kindle $10.99.
Here it is! What we’ve all been waiting for! The book about furry fandom!
Full disclosure: I’m quoted by name on a back-cover blurb, and cited as “a founding father of furry fandom”.
Is it perfect? No, but it’s probably better than any of us could have written. I gave up writing a book “all about” furry fandom long ago. If I may be permitted a moment of “I told you so”, I told those who asked me to write such a book in the late 1990s that it would take me around ten years to fully research and write such a book. They turned from me to find someone else who could do it right away. They couldn’t.
Joe Strike has been in furry fandom since the 1980s. He has been working on Furry Nation for at least fifteen years. It’s full of both his own knowledge and the interviews that he conducted. He has interviewed not only all the earliest furry fans, and the current leaders of furry fandom – Mark Merlino, Rod O’Riley, Jim Groat, Mitch Marmel, Dr. Sam Conway, Boomer the Dog, leading furry artists like Heather Bruton and Kjartan Arnórsson, fursuit makers like Lance Ikegawa and Denali, academics like Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, and so on – but those outside the furry community who have impacted it. The writers of newspaper and TV news stories about furry fandom? He interviewed them. The executives of Pittsburgh’s tourist bureau? He interviewed them. The directors of TV programs and theatrical animation features that have used furry themes? He interviewed them.
What Furry Nation covers: a definition of furry fandom, the influences that gave rise to it back to prehistoric times, the history of how it started, profiles of the earliest furry fans, how the rise of the Internet affected it, a description of furry fandom in North America today, with emphasis on its conventions and a profile of Anthrocon in depth, its artists and furry art, its fursuits, its public perception, an acknowledgement of its seedier side, and how it has grown from a tiny, unnoticed subgroup to an important influence on popular culture today. The book has 189 footnotes throughout it. There are over two dozen photographs and samples of furry illustrations from the 1980s (early fanzines and Furry Party flyers) to the present.