by Quentin Long
©2006 Quentin Long
This issue, #6, completes Anthros first year of existence! Thats why, in addition to having given the site a facelift, Im working up something extra special for #7, the zines first honest-to-God anniversary. And its also why Im going to do something unprecedented with this editorial. You see, one of the things that distinguishes Anthro from my other zine, TSAT, is feedback. From Anthros readers, I get the occasional e-mail of comment; from TSATs, by and large, I get bupkiss. But since I do have feedback from readers Im going to respond here, in the netzine, and not via private e-mail (as I ordinarily would)!
My editorial in #3, Are We Having Fun Yet?, outlined some of furdoms intrinsic annoyances and invited readers to explain why they put up with said annoyances. Quoth one who is known to the wise as Nadan, He of the Watching Stone:
Hello Cubist. Thank you for the mild rant in your editorial this edition. I am a writer who mainly writes furry themed stories. I, too, have dealt with not being noticed. One day, several years back, someone did send me an email about a story I wrote. I was so thrilled and invigorated by the positive response that I finally finished the sequel (which had been sitting half done on my hard drive for at least a year.)
What do I love about being the way I am? How do I deal with the lack of recognition? Two ways. First and foremost, I have learned I must write for myself. If I wrote for recognition then I would never continue. Second, I started up a writing contest this year which is based on my website and getting a good response among authors. We all write, and then invite people to read and vote, thus giving proof that our work is being read (even if most of the ballots come from other authors). For their sake, I'm trying to advertise as best I can. For my sake, I started including the option for folks to tell me what they think of my sample stories, which I provide at the beginning of each season.
Just knowing one person read makes me feel good. I just hope that I don't have a bomb seasonI don't want to let down other writers. I know how they feel.
And heres what Loremaster Mike, prototype rap star of Middle Earths Third Age, had to say on the subject:
Like you said, theres lots of things that we moan and groan about that happen in the fandom. But you gotta look at the good side. Sure, most of the folks reading comics or stories we write wont leave feedback, but what about those that do? Stuff Ive posted up on FF.net didnt get a lot of feedback, but those few reviews from an obviously little kid who just says something like Thanks for brightenin my day today, even if its only one, makes it worthwhile.
While I dont Fursuit (just not my thing), Ive seen pictures of little children posing with Fursuiters at various cons. They looked so excited! Certainly thats worth the high temperature and loss of peripheral vision?
As for the Furry Artists, sure we get tons of weird or repetitive requests. But you gotta remember, theres usually some people out there who are just happy to see your artwork. Maybe it perks them up, or maybe it gives them an idea that will make the world better? Who knows? As long as it does good, makes someone feel goodand the artist counts as someone!then it is worth it.
I sure know that the comics I draw brighten both my own and my friends faces when I show them the latest strip Ive drawn up. Thats good enough for me.
Reading this pair of letters, I am struck by the common thread they share: Namely, that you create spiffy stuff, not for anybody in the audience, but, rather, for yourself. Nadan affirms this explicitly, and the Loremaster strongly implies it (see also: the artist counts as someone!). Sure, its nice to know that someone else enjoyed a picture/story/song/whatever that you createdbut the other-people-enjoyed-it thing is secondary. Icing on the cake, as it were, and sometimes not even that. Among authors, Franz Kafka was perhaps the archetypal I do it for me, damnit! creator. Only a few of his works were published during his lifetime; Kafkas will (which was ignored by his literary executor) dictated that those few never be re-issued, and that all of his unpublished manuscripts be destroyed.
Most people dont go as far as Kafka, of course, but Id be willing to bet that pretty much any creator can understand, and perhaps sympathize with, Kafkas position. Which begs the question: Why, then, do so many creators actively strive for public recognition? It seems that a lot of creators have conflicting goals
Responding to issue 5s Circadian Musings, which explored the topic of sources for interspecies conflict, the esteemed Phil Colbert accepted the invitation to extend my (rather short, actually) list of such sources:
Having lived with a dog and cats (at the same time), Instincts certainly hits home. A happy cat raises its tail; a canine sees a raised tail as an assertionIm the Alpha here!it can rarely tolerate from a smaller creature. Household devastation ensues
Some less-obvious sources:
- Environmental requirements (temperature, humidity, breathing medium [air vs. water], salinity [for water-breathers]) and tolerances
- Hibernation/estivation (extension of sleep?)
- Symbiotes/parasitesI haven't seen this one used, yet! (As a primate who attracts all manner of biting insectsa matter of health as well as comfortI keep wondering when Donnie Sinclair will add flea collar to his list of house rules, if only out of self-defense. Or would that repel Dr. Derksen?)
With respect to the TBP setting in particular, I honestly dont think fleas (parasites in general) are a problem, because those buggers tend to be highly species-specific. There are cases on record of fleas crossing over to a different host (see also: the Black Plague, spread to humans by the fleas of rats), but these generally require a large, pre-existing population of hosts. Since each animorph SCAB is a species unto itself, to a first approximation, it follows that animorph SCABs should be largely untroubled by fleas and other such parasites.
Of course, the above rationale does not apply to any setting in which furries are a natural part of the world, with a natural evolutionary history
- Language (regionalisms, dialect, or no common language at all). In extreme cases (e.g., squid/octopus dynamic color displays, references to unique forms or depths of perception [e.g., porpoise sonar]), no translation may be possible, making negotiation extremely difficult.
- The unmentionables (sex, politics, religion, parenting decisions, choice of computer/OS/text editor, etc.)
- Personal (not species) habits, interests, phobias and obsessions
Hmmm Im not at all sure that quirks of a strictly personal nature belong on this list. They exist, yes, but they generally arent what youd call vitally dependent on being a furry, as such?
- Experience (e.g., more vs. less)
- Custom and belief (the proper viewpoint or behavior)
Cultural differences can definitely be a source of disharmony, no question; Lord knows there are more than enough examples of that sort of thing here in the Real World. Mind you, that does mean there's nothing especially furry about cultural conflict. So if youre going to write a story in which the conflict springs from some sort of cultural clash between two groups of furries with incompatible customs, you might want to think about making sure that at least one of the groups customs is firmly rooted in their biologytheir furriness, that is.
- Unexpected sensitivities is not limited to pheromones or other material secretions. Specific patterns of energy (light, sound, other) or force (electrostatic, magnetic, air pressure, etc.) might have unanticipated side effects on some people. (Imagine some poor visitor to the Blind Pig discovering that he/she is abnormally sensitive to Jubatus time-distortion fieldor that he/she unexpectedly distorts said field )
- Time scales: experience of time (cheetah vs. sloth), life span (Galapagos turtle vs. mayfly)
There you goand hopefully, youve got something to think about. See you in two months!