Furries, The Other F-Word. An Outsiders View

I’ve been around the sci-fi/fantasy con circuit a time or two. I know that furries are generally the most panned sect of the fandom. I know that since childhood most people wind up rejecting the very same imagery and characters that they grew up with. However, as a neutral outsider, I want to throw my two cents in with this great community. I had a chance to sit down with Anthrocon’s chairman Dr. Sam Conway the other day (full video will be available later in the week) and basically came to the consensus that furries, as the youngest organized member of the fandom, really take the hate because they are the new kid on the block.  There is so much love for the individual and fan here, so much giving back to the community, and such a pure love of what brings these fans joy; to question it would almost seem sacrilegious.

That being said, and not being super religious myself, I questioned it anyway. While the media seems content to sensationalize furry activities and reduce the fandom of cartoon animals to the absolute fringes of human psychology and sexuality; I must say that if these things are happening:
1) Why don’t I know about it, and
2) Why wasn’t I invited?

We all grow up with fond memories of Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, or other assorted WB/Disney/Hannah Barbara cartoons; and are then expected to throw all these formulative images and memories away simply because “grown ups” aren’t supposed to like cartoons. If our generation has proven anything it is that childhood isn’t necessarily regulated to the time of “childhood”. While previous generations have been content to leave behind the trappings of youth in search for the almighty dollar; ours has sought to preserve it, box it up and wrap it like something precious on the shelf of life. I personally have a collection of vintage battle beasts, was taught to always save the box, and knew that from my first comic book and baseball card that everything was collectible if you could find the right buyer. To constrain the anthropomorphic fan to the media impression of “furry” would not be unlike holding every reader of comic-books in the same light as the Google search results for “erotic cosplay”.

And while we’re drawing the comparison to the comics industry, the furies too have their own writers and luminaries and stars. Mention Geoff Jones, Grant Morrison, or Jim Lee (all superstars); but outside of comics fans you get blank stares. Same goes for Tani Dareal, Blotch, and Dark Natasha here at AnthroCon. This is a con like any other, attracting some of the best in the business, and pulling guests most people would have a fond feeling of nostalgia for; this year; the standout being Dev Madan, of Sly Cooper Fame!

Guests of honor here are usually someone that your average sci-fi fan might not know by name, but has enjoyed their work and unfortunately perhaps forgotten about along the way.  This happens inconsequentially and unintentionally as bigger and more important things loom into ones life. The  memories for the cartoon or character last the fan a lifetime, meanwhile the creator slips into anonymity. I suppose that’s the way the world works when the world itself seems more focused on worshiping a ‘snookie’ or ‘kardashian’ than an actual “god”. That, however, is another rant for another day. I will just wrap up saying that the furries I met this weekend, on the whole, are some of the most creative, passionate, caring, and honest individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Remember this blog is all about unabashedly embracing your passions; and no group does it with more pure honest love than that of the furries.

Stay Nerdy My Friends!

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Posted on June 18, 2012, in Events, Nerdy Shit and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. thatgeekchick

    Thanks. Now I want a dragon costume. 😛

  2. You should see some of the other guests of honor (list is http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Anthrocon#Guests_of_Honor here); the list includes names like Peter Beagle, Stan Sakai, Jim Martin, and Peter Laird. And previous guests of honor will sometimes show up at later AnthroCon conventions.

  3. On behalf of the furry fandom, we want to make you an honorary member! Pick an animal and join the fun!

    • Thank you! I think Kage did at our interview the other day; but it feels awesome to have the fanbase support behind me too! I hope you keep reading; and keep an eye out for that interview with Kage and Cynwolf later this week!

  4. Loved this article (and the Sly Cooper Cosplay! Best game ever!~)! I gotta say, as a Christian fur, this sums up the fandom pretty well in the sense that we’re not as sexual as everyone thinks (Not everyone, anyway…). Great work again!

  5. Sorry for being a Grammar Nazi, but you spelled “Furries” wrong in your title…

    Furies and Furries are two VERY different things, my friend. Other than that, great article!

  6. I’m an old time fan and True.  I’ve been around the Fannish block enough times to wear out the concrete.  My first con was Starcon in 1973 in Detroit, I was 13.  Since then I’ve been to quite near 400 cons, help ever position there is on concoms, though thinking back I’ve never run a consuite.  I’ve been to most of the WorldCons since the mid-80’s.  I’ve counted Heinlein, Asimov, Asprin, Dickson, and Ellison as my friends. I’m married to a multiple Hugo nominated artist and I’m a member of the Dorsai Irregulars.  I think I can be counted as a TruFan.

    My fellow Dorsai and I have been providing security at Anthrocon now for 11 years and do the same for several other Furry Cons around the country.  When we first contracted the gig, we had heard most of the rumors about Furry Fandom but very quickly discovered they were simply not true.  What we found was a community of Fans as loyal to each other and enjoying themselves as any Trek Fan, or Anime Fan, or Corflu Fanzine fan or any other flavor of Fandom you care to name.

    I see that same smile and gleam in the Furries’ eyes that I had when I discovered Fandom all those years ago, a place full of like minded friends, a community.  There is no difference between that young man over their in hid wolf fursuit and younger me in my home made TOS Starfleet uniform.  No difference in his desire to let his inner cartoon wolf out than me letting my inner Vulcan out.

    Every one of the various sub-sets of Fandom as been looked down on by some other sub-set, yet Fandom prevails.  There’s room for cheetah tails along side of propeller-beanies.

    Have I become a Furry? No.  But I certainly Grok them, to use an old term.  I am a fan of Furry Fandom.  They are a fun, entertaining and talented addition to the greater Fannish community.  Fans have been banding together since the 30’s to build a pretty amazing family, so now, maybe, we’ve got a few pets.

    • Well spoke sir indeed!

    • I’m an active furry and have taken part in many of the fur cons every year for the past decade. I have made a few friends amongst the Dorsai at these events too!

      If there’s one thing I’d want Fandom as a whole to realise about the furries, it’s that we’re not at all separated by a proverbial line in the sand from our other sci-fi brethren. Most furries are trekkies! …along with Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Firefly fans. When we’re not wearing fox costumes, we’re usually watching Captain Janeway blow up Species 8472 or getting drunk in front of a VHS copy of the Star Wars Christmas Special. We watch Anime, read comics and play D&D. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a furry anywhere who wouldn’t fit right into any sci-fi or fantasy convention. In our case, we’re just expressing our biggest sci-fi passion, anthropomorphics.

      Like it or not, we’re your family. Without science fiction, intelligent, humanized animal creatures could not exist! And given the chance, we want to be a helpful and fun part of that family.

      One of our famous furries once said, “Shakespeare said, ‘All the world is a stage and each must play their part’. Furries are the ones who’d rather play the animals.”

      So it is with an outstretched paw and a sense of pride that I say, if you will play the Starfleet Captain, we will play the tribbles. If you play the medieval hero, we will gladly play the dragons. Need dinosaurs for your time travel adventures into the past? We will be happy to oblige. And, if you need a friendly and sympathetic group to support, defend, understand and stand by you, your furry cousins are here. Don’t forget us!

      • I forgot to add ‘intelligent’ to the list of positive descriptive words at the end! As creativity and brain smarts usually go hand in hand, and as evident from that truly remarkable comment above, the level of discourse and conversation I had at anthrocon (again, on the whole) was enlightening and a true pleasure!

        Seriously, that post above may just be the smartest, most well reasoned comment ever posted on the Internet!

    • Proof! We already have a few tauntauns running around.

  7. Its the little things at a convention like Anthrocon that people wont find until they are curious enough to come inside to check it out. I was serenaded by a pair of singing cats in the lobby and poked a super scary gargoyle on the nose within hours of Anthrocon ending.

    It was only then that I realized how precious those moments are going to be in my memory. Anyone who only knows what other people have said about being furry only has a tiny portion of the story because no one can truly capture the whole experience. Every single individual will have a different story to tell and all of them will be wonderfully unique. I can’t wait for the pictures and videos to flood in. I’m going to watch all the things I missed so that I can use them to weave a whole new experience next year.

  8. Anthrocon organizer here. Thanks for the kind words!

    Hope you’ll be able to make the convention next year!

  9. Awesome journal, well written.

    Also, props for the Ecto-1 border that adorns the top of this page. As a furry artist AND a Ghostbuster franchise member/cosplayer, you get a highfive for that.

  10. I used to be in the SciFi fandom. Today, I’m totally involved with Furry Fandom, even to the point of writing furry Scifi, staffing cons or putting on puppet shows.

    Some have asked me why I’d “debase” myself to being a part of something as frivolous as this. Basically, Furry is reliving the golden age of SciFi, even if they are not conciously doing so. We write our own stories. We make our own movies. We run our own conventions. We aren’t passive consumers of whatever dreck Unholywood wants to barf up — we the fans are also the creators, and we have fun making what we think is fun! This was what the Science Fiction fandom enjoyed back in the 40s. And here we are, doing the same things the fandoms of yore did, and loving every minute of it.

    Furry is in its Golden age and makes no apologies for making its own fun. And I make no apology for all the fun it has brought me, and the fun I have then created for others. If you ever wondered what SciFi Fandom was like before all the conventions were run by profitteering corporations who care more about money than fun, Furry is reliving those glory days here and now.

    • Of all the things i was most blown away by in the vendors area was the amount and quality of not only custom artwork, but actual media properties! You can find an assortment of the most popular things like Usagi Yo Jimbo or Mouseguard in any comic shop; but there is just so much great stuff out there! I picked up a book called ‘Dream Keepers’ that was both cute and scary, funny and expressive; just all around great comicbook making and it’s great to see that there’s a venue and outlet for independent stories/artists like this!

    • If you’re the Shockwave I’m assuming you are, I can think of at least one person you’ve created a whole lot of fun, and less directly rather more than just “fun,” even.

      Looong time back now, I was an interested outsider in the fandom, but it wasn’t until the first time I read a certain story about kitsune that I started really exploring, started creating the character that eventually became who my friends know me as today, and eventually started to get involved instead of just watching from the sidelines…

      I don’t know if you were at AC or Kage’s story hour, but he had in it a great line about how much many of us learn about ourselves through the furry fandom. That couldn’t possibly be truer in my case; it’s without a doubt shaped my life more than anything else I’ve ever done or been a part of.

      In short, I really need to buy you a drink someday.

  11. Thanks for writing this, I totally agree! I always loved drawing cartoons and as I posted my stuff online (on blogs, deviantart and such), I slowly became part of the community. It’s amazing how many friends I’ve made through this group, and how much inspiration I get from them every day. Many people know eachother and over the last few years I traveled around the globe with my boyfriend (who I also got to know thanks to this), becoming friends with people from many nationalities. I think the vast majority of the people I know are artists, but even the ones that really don’t draw at all are still all creative in one way or another. And the artists… many of them are GOOD!
    Maybe you noticed that art is a really important aspect of the community. The general idea is that (almost) everyone, also people who don’t draw, think up at least one character. Then you get your friends or artists you love to draw your character, and if you draw, you can draw things for them in return! I love drawing for friends, and I love having my character drawn… I think by now I had one of my characters drawn by over 200 people.
    The costumes are a thing in itself. It’s not for everyone, I’d think that maybe 10-20% of furries owns a costume. You can commission one, but they are expensive, so many people actually build the costumes themselves! Like many others, at first I was reluctant and couldn’t imagine myself wearing one, but once I tried I got hooked. It’s terribly hot and awful, but at the same time incredibly fun! I also love the challenge of building costumes from scratch, and seeing your own character come to life. It really puts a smile on people’s faces.
    All in all, despite all the negative media attention and ‘drama’ that may go on, I love the furry community and I’m incredibly happy I got to know these people. They know how to have fun!

    • Yeah, as i mentioned I was just blown away by the level of creativity! In my interview with Kage I believe he gave a number around 20% actually dress up in full fursuit.

      • I think that’s about the right number for the cons, I have no clue ofcourse how many people are only active online and don’t visit cons. I wonder what the total amount of costumes was at AC, I read there were 5179 attendees and 1044 fursuiters the parade, but many people who own costumes actually own more than one and bring them all to the con.

  12. Greetings, I am the maker of the Sly Cooper costume, community liaison, and 15 year organizer of Further Confusion, the smaller counterpart to AC on the west coast with a mere 3200 attendees. As as an organizer and Media Relations director … I must say, well done!

    You have captured the essence of Fandom and Furry Conventions with an honest and open eye.

    Anthrocon is definitely a very well run convention with a master of gab at the helm.

    Hats off to AC and yourself for keeping it real, positive, and legit.

    Creatively yours,

    Chairo

  13. One of the few articles that put furries in good light. I loved the post and wish I could go to AC. Keep up the good work PureNerdNip!!!

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