In the original “Welcome to Claw & Quill” article from a year ago I said, with unintentional foresight,
Part of what’s made Claw & Quill tough to get off the ground is that it’s hard to describe just what it is. It’s a magazine for furries—but not a fiction magazine or a news magazine, not art or comics. It’s not about furry-as-a-noun, in the sense of lifestyle and identity. It’s not necessarily even a “magazine for furries” the way most people might take that phrase.
You may not be shocked to learn that this kind of nebulousness makes it tough to write for.
So, after a lot of behind-the-scenes shuffling, C&Q is relaunching using WordPress rather than its own custom back end. The rationale for this is two-fold, both relating to making it easier to generate new content.
- As much as I like the notion of issues, it’s going to be easier to get new articles up if I don’t have to wait to collect four or five in batches.
- It’s also going to be easier if I don’t personally represent a single point of failure, bluntly. WordPress allows me to give contributors their own accounts at various access levels. As much as a control freak as I may be, this isn’t going to be sustainable unless I let other people into the control room.
Also, it’s pretty clear the main focus is going to be reviews; that’s what a lot of people have indicated they wanted, and it’s one of the things furry really does need.
I have a few now long-overdue articles to return to and get up within the next few weeks, and new people to start bringing on. I promise there will be more here shortly—and that it won’t be a year between reviews.
The furry fandom originated, according to most accounts, back in the late 80s, when a group of cartoonists got together to share their love of drawing anthropomorphic animals. Many old-time furries cite Steve Gallacci’s Albedo Anthropomorphics as the earliest “modern furry” comic, and Gallacci’s table at a southern California science fiction convention as the focal point that led to ConFurence Zero. Wherever it started, furry fandom diverged quickly from science fiction in practice, if not in theory. Furry tracks at SF cons quickly grew to the point that organizers chose (or, according to some accounts, were asked) to start their own conventions. This began a divide between furry and SF/F fandoms that only grew as furry began to generate its own stories and novels more specifically relevant to its fans.
On the face of it, furry fiction would appear to be inseparable from science fiction. The main characters of furry stories are anthropomorphic animals, creatures that do not exist in the real world. What can that be but science fiction or fantasy? And yet SF/F has been as reluctant to embrace furry as furry has been to return to SF/F. There are SF/F stories with anthropomorphic animal characters, I am often reminded, but they do not seem to be as popular in the fandom as the home-grown furry books.
Astrosaurs. Cows In Action. Ninja Meerkats. Spy Dog. If you happen to be under nine, you’re spoiled for choice in the anthropomorphic literature department, with a range of sci-fi, adventure and action stories starring a whole zoo of creatures. There’s even alternate history: the Spartapuss series explores a feline Rome ruled by Emperor Catligula, while Beowuff, by the same author, applies the principle to doggy Vikings.
You may already have guessed that none of these works take themselves terribly seriously. Expect an onslaught of appalling animal-related puns and silly names (the leader of the Pigs in Planes rejoices in the name of Peter Porker, while the ranks of the Space Penguins include Fuzz Allgrin and Splash Gordon). The action usually revolves around a crack squad of heroic critters saving the day with their collective abilities.
War Dog & Marginalized Populations
Jane, Jill and Jasie
(Two ebooks, $2.99 each)
Stories by Malcolm Cross
Cover Art by Meesh
Bad Dog Books, July 2013
Anthropomorphic animal characters have been around as long as stories themselves, yet how to justify them—especially if they’re assumed, implicitly or explicitly, to be attractive to humans—has long been a preoccupation in furry fandom. Are they aliens? Uplifted animals? Genetic crossbreeds? Magical constructs? Do we even need to justify them, or is just showing that they’re distinct races—not merely “humans in animal costumes,” as the charge goes—enough?