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What is a Furry?
To put it shortly, “furry” is an adjective.
However, for quite some time now, especially on the Internet, “furry” is a word frequently used in describing anthropomorphic animal characters. Over several decades, a fanbase for such creatures have grown, and many of its members like to call themselves “furries” as well.
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“Humanized animal” characters have been created by humans for as long as our history goes. Creatures possessing both human and animal traits were found in the earliest cave paintings. From that distant time period also come the first “anthropomorphic” figurines, made of wood and stone. Anthropomorphic animal characters and gods are an important part of many ancient cultures: Egypt, pre-colonized Americas, etc. The earliest cases leave us wondering what the purpose of such characters was. Where we have that knowledge, we can see that they were gods, familiars, escorts to the afterlife, demons, or just powerful beings. One of the earliest examples of anthropomorphic literature is Aesop’s Fables, which dates to around 500 BC Greece.
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Furry Fandom Roots
The 1980s saw the debut of several key comic book series starring humanoid animal characters, including Steve Gallacci’s Albedo Anthropomorphics (June 1984), Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (May 1984), and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo (first episodes appear in Albedo Anthropomorphics and Critters anthologies, circa 1984; standalone publications began in 1987).
Though all three series (and similar comic book works) gained much praise, partly for their use of “funny animal” characters in more mature and serious contexts, Gallacci’s Albedo series is the one regarded as being the most influential to the creation of the Furry fandom. An illustration of Albedo’s main character Erma Felna — presented by Gallacci at the NorEasCon II World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, Massachusetts on Labor Day weekend, 1980 — and accompanying written notes planning the Albedo Sci-Fi comic serial gathered significant attention at the convention, and generated much conversation about the use of intelligent animals in science fiction and fantasy. Subsequent conventions (such as Worldcon and Westerncon) featured informal gatherings to further the discussions about anthropmorphics, and to share other independent anthropomorphic drawings and concepts.
4chan and the Fandom
Furries and 4chan had been long time rivals on the Internet ever since 4chan launched. Many believe that because furry cartoons does not fit the anime-oriented 4chan when it started out. Furry porn has become a common thread topic on 4chan over the years. Unlike usual furry usage that involves no nudity, nearly all furry usage on /b/ is pornographic. 4chan is most often blamed for furry stereotypes.
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Occasionally members of the fandom will have small group gatherings in various places to exchange artwork, or simply hang out and do everyday activities, with or without fursuits. For those who do meet publicly in their fursuits it’s not uncommon of onlookers to take pictures with them, or take a liking to their fuzzy appearance and get a hug. These gatherings aren’t restricted to small groups however, there have been many conventions over the years. Some of the more notable conventions include: Califur, Eurofurence, and Furry Fiesta. But the largest and most well know furry convention is Anthrocon, which started back in 1997 and continues to be the most attended furry convention in the world.
Video: “Furries – An Inside Look”
References, Links & Further Reading
- Wikipedia articles: “Furry fandom”, “Anthropomorphism”, “Kemono”
- TV Tropes articles: “Furry Fandom”, “Petting Zoo People”, “Funny Animal”, “Civilized Animal”, “Sliding Scale Of Anthropomorphism”
- Wikifur articles: “Furry Art”, “Funny animal”
- Anthrocon website —“Just what IS ‘Furry’ fandom?” / 2006-03-28
- YARF! The Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics — A Chronology of Furry Fandom / 1999-02-02
- “The Furry History Project” by Perri Rhoades (in progress, occasionally revised).
- Fur Affinity [dot] net — the Furry fandom’s “largest online community”; hosts artwork, animations, literature and music
- ArtSpots — a Furry artwork gallery for general audiences; advertised as “a place for people who want to improve, hone, and share artistic skills and knowledge in a professional environment.”
- WikiFur, the Furry Encyclopedia
- Flayrah – “Furry Food for Thought” — Furry-relevant news, features, media reviews, opinion pieces, etc.
- The Fursuit Archive — a site which documents fursuit-related media (pictures, videos, Furry conventions and their public media coverage, etc.)
Public media coverage
- Pittsburg City Paper — “Animal Passions: The furries come to town … and our correspondent tails along” / 2006-06-29
- Pittsburg Tribune-Review — “Furries purr over Pittsburgh reception” / 2007-07-06
- BBC Magazine — “Who are the furries?” / 2009-11-13
- Bizarre Magazine — “Super Furry Animals” / 2008-05 (PDF)
- Hartford Advocate — “Hell Hath No Furries” / 2007-11-01
- Montreal Mirror — “Welcome to the jungle: Montreal’s furries and furverts defend their unusual lifestyle” / 2001