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?