Digital Strips Comic Update: Furries?

I’m sort of sneaking this one up there by updating outside the normal show posting schedule. This comic is mostly a self indulgence. I’ve been watching my Thundercats season 1 DVD set and I just had to find a way to work it into the strip. Take note that I did draw the logo myself, but I totally cheated on the wording. I found a font online and used that. Any way, here it is:

I may have been trying to work the Thundercats into the comic, but I think this still brings up an interesting topic of conversation and I’ll refer you to the article written by Eric Burns for Comixpedia about sex in web comics. We have gotten some very sexually interesting, weird, and downright scary web comic submissions here at Digital Strips and we’ve kept away from talking about that sort of stuff so far. Terms like “Furries” and “hentai” were things I had never known about until we started this site. It’s been an odd kind of education I guess.

Where do Furries come from any way? Sexualizing comic art is one thing, but Furries? It’s such a specific, non-natural fetish for one to obtain. The idea of sexualizing cartoon, anthropomorphic imagery is so outside the realm of nature I have to conclude that such a thing must come from cultural influence, right? I will bet that the Thundercats cartoon from the early 80’s had a hand in creating the current generation of such Furry enthusiasts. Just look at the opening scenes of the first episode. A very well endowed, and totally naked, Cheetara creeps into the room of the sleeping, adolescent boy Lion-O. Hey, I’m just saying. That sort of thing could be somewhat confusing for a young mind to come across. It was either that or all the times Bugs Bunny dressed in drag.

It’s a little weird to see it now knowing about Furries and what not. Hard to see it in an innocent light again. Am I way off? Chime in by posting a comment or head over to the forums.

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18 thoughts on “Digital Strips Comic Update: Furries?

  1. Chicken or the egg? The Thundercats imagery may have affected a new generation, but it was also evidence that this kind of fetish was already there in the Eighties. It goes back at least as far as Tijuana Bibles and it was frikkin\’ ALL OVER the underground comix of the sixties. And hell, Ancient Egypt.

    \”Furry fandom\” proper didn\’t really seem to organize until the widespread use of the early text-based Internet. Make of that what you will.

  2. I think it\’s also worth pointing out that while there is a lot of libido in the furry fandom, \”furry\” does not automatically mean \”anthropormorphic porn\” any more than \”anime\” equals porn or \”superhero\” equals porn.

    I\’m neither for nor against \”furry\”, per se, but I do understand how frustrating it can be when someone uses an overly broad brush to paint something you take an interest in.

    Like, say, comics, which are made only for kids and mental defectives.

  3. See, that I don\’t buy that at all. \”Furries\” has a pretty specific sexual fetish association. While it may not automatically mean porn those who are into it are getting some sexual excitement out of it. Just like a foot fetishist doesn\’t need the person who\’s feet they are admiring to be naked, so to does a \”furry\” not need the images to be necessarily naked or engaged in sex for it to be sexually exciting to them.

    T, while I am aware of animal/human body parts in artwork being interchanged throughout mythology, I don\’t think it was meant as sexual titillation. You\’re stretching it with Egypt comparisons. Although, you may have a good point with the \”underground comix\” scene even back into the 70\’s. Fritz the Cat was one frisky fellow if I remember correctly.

  4. \’\”Furries\” has a pretty specific sexual fetish association.\’

    Maybe, but to whom? I submit to you that to most of the people who actually consider themselves part of the community, \”furry\” is a catch-all phrase for \”anthropomorphic animals\”. It\’s people who catch an episode of CSI with people dressed in animal-slut suits who decide that the entire furry community is sex-driven.

    From personal encounters and conversations I know that some people merely identify with animalistic characters more than human characters – and some feel themselves to be \”animals trapped in human bodies\” – and, yes, many do derive a fetishistic thrill from it – perhaps even the majority. But not everyone who considers him or herself a \”furry\” is in it for the sexual aspect.

    If you don\’t believe me, ask some furries…

  5. Zampzon, I\’m curious for your thoughts on how characters such as the Ninja Turtles, Warcraft\’s Tauren race, or the Wolfman fit into all this.

    Like you, I had no idea what \”furry\” was until somewhat recently. Perhaps \”furry\” should be used only as a descriptor for sexually charged animal-man imagery, while characters such as the Turtles or ancient Greek minotaurs should be considered more as variations within their respective genres?

    -dt

  6. The term \”furry\” often maps to a more mature treatment of anthro characters and because of that association with some particularly icky images that people have seen, the whole genre of anthropomorphic comics gets maligned.

    It\’s unfortunate, I feel, because there are a lot of great comics that just happen to feature anthropomorphic characters that are ignored or treated with derision simply because of the bad things people have seen in a similar vein.

  7. \’Perhaps \”furry\” should be used only as a descriptor for sexually charged animal-man imagery\’

    It\’s my contention that Zampzon is already doing that, and that he\’s mistaken in doing so…

    I would also suggest that is is not quite proper for people to decide on the definition of things that they themselves are not wholly familar with.

    Is is either fair or accurate to label all \”furries\” as fetishists when your experience with the same only amounts to a year of exposure? Two years? Does casual contact with the work and not the people qualify one to accurately judge those people and what they may or may not be about?

    I\’m doubtful.

  8. \”The term \”furry\” often maps to a more mature treatment of anthro characters and because of that association with some particularly icky images that people have seen, the whole genre of anthropomorphic comics gets maligned.\”

    Well said Peter, I totally agree with this statement.

    Anon, I don\’t think the Ninja Turtles fall into the same category since they aren\’t \”furry\” and minotaurs have been a myth figure for ages without being sexualized. I wouldn\’t put those two examples in the same category.

    Stop Him, I think you\’re really splinting hairs and getting too hung up with the term. You\’re right, I\’m not a furries expert, but I\’ve seen enough just through running our site here and you don\’t have to look very hard to find many other references to the term using it describe the fetish aspect to anthropomorphic erotica, so I don\’t think I\’m off base in using it that way too. Even many of the creators who have submitted their work to us use the term that way.

    Regardless, The point to what I\’m talking about is the sexualization if this sort of thing and where it comes from. If you want to call it something else, fine, but terminology isn\’t what I wanted to focus on.

  9. Wikipedia\’s entry for \”Furry\” defines it as either \”A character or artwork depicting anthropomorphic or zoomorphic characeristics\” or \”A member of the furry fandom\”. The entry for \”Furry Fandom\” says, \”Members of the furry fandom, known as furry fans or simply furries, particularly enjoy media that involves anthropomorphic animals: that is, fictional animals with human traits (such as walking on two feet, talking, wearing clothes, living in houses, etc.). Such media includes popular animated cartoons, comic books, and stories and novels.\”

    Just based on that, it would seem that \”Furry\” is not exclusively \”sexualized/fetishized animal people\” even though it includes that sort of thing.

  10. I think I\’m going to have to agree with Stop Him about the terminology of furry. The word itself refers to any dipiction of and animal using human characteristics. Technically Garfield is a furry and no one would think it is sexually charged.

    The combining of sex and furries has actually beeen somewhat of a hot topic in the past as the \’normal\’ furry lifestylers can be offended by those who think they are only interested in idea of animal sex. There have even beem groups trying to attack these \’furverts\’ but it\’s hard to get past some of the blatant use of furries combined with erotica.

    The sudden emergence of furry erotica as being more common is probably more a byproduct of internet as T mentions above. The more people who band together the more likely others who share the same interests will speak up. I think this concept has always been around, just bottle up until recently.

  11. Er, and as for how the whole \”animal people => sex\” thing came about, I\’d say the roots of it are almost certainly older than the 1980s. I don\’t know about the Egyptian gods, but Zeus would frequently take animal forms (swan, bull, snake, etc.) in order to seduce women.

    For me, though, the most messed up part of the whole Lion-O thing was the fact that he went to sleep a prepubescent kid, and woke up with the body of a 25-year-old Mr. Universe contestant. Poor Cheetara could never seem to figure out if she was flirting with him or babysitting him. Then again, they\’re cats, so maybe it isn\’t weird for them.

  12. Andrael, HA! No kindding, what was up with that? Too bad there isn\’t any special features on DVD that talk the people who were writing that stuff.

  13. First, a procedural comment – Notice how everyone\’s commenting here and not the forum?
    I suspect as long as you have 2 venues, in the case of topical news, people will go for the venue that\’s easiet to access (which tends to be the \’post\’ button right after what they just read). So you may be better served in directing people just one way or ther other, depending on what the topic is.

    I am not well versed in furrydom at all, but if I was to step back and consider the issue of the sexualisation really broadly – as humans, we are capable (and have the tendency to) sexualise anything that either resembles us or seems to be able to represent us physically or symbolically. Dolls are an interesting case because while we can find them sexual, the same doll presenting as a real person and looking the way it does would be found grotesque by us. It\’s the symbolism and ideas we bestow upon the doll, and what it signifies and caricatures about the human form, that attacts us – not its raw form.

    Animals are the creatures in the world which most resemble us physically, scale-wise and behaviourally, to varying degrees. We relate to them in a way such that we bestow our human way of perceiving the world upon them and we like describing their behaviour in human terms. They\’re out pets, they live and die, we strive not to treat them cruelly, etc. This is probably also why they\’re the easiest choice of cypher for us in a comic.

    I think given our age-old close relationship with animals, it\’s not surprising that a percentage of the population would sexualise them at times. This isn\’t really a comparable phenomenon to feet, since feet are just a part of the body, and any part of the body can be \’partialised\’ as the psychs say, the way I like breasts.

    In bestowing sexual meaning on an animal, you\’re looking to deeper ideas about what the animal represents, how its form might represent aspects of ourself we might deny or wish we had, or we may simply wish animals had the full range of abilities we have, because we like them that much and wish we could interact with them as we do with humans.

    I guess that when comics and animation started giving voice to animals (literally) that provided a more vivid depiction of such fantasies for people who relate to them.

    But we\’ve had stories involving (talking) animal cyphers for much longer than we\’ve had comics. So I don\’t really know. Is it just that in this age, every single niche interest achieves a voice, so what was previously not expressed by people can be expressed? Apologies for ugliness, but people have been literally screwing animals for a lot longer than we\’ve heard about the phenomenon of furries, for instance.

    So after my pop psych, I guess I disagree that it\’s actually so unnatural to sexualise animals. They may tend to be our first port of call after humans. I don\’t mean that in terms of literally having sex, but in terms of us being able to attribute sexual meaning to them, because they\’re kinda like us and we keep them around us.

    I have no clue about Thundercats. Muuuuumraaaaaa theeeeeee dreeeeeeeeeeeeam-….maaaaaastuuuuuh!!!!!!….. spoke so ****ing slowly I couldn\’t bear to sit through even one episode.

  14. \’Stop Him, I think you\’re really splinting hairs and getting too hung up with the term.

    Regardless, The point to what I\’m talking about is the sexualization if this sort of thing and where it comes from. If you want to call it something else, fine, but terminology isn\’t what I wanted to focus on.\’

    The furries have their own words like \”spooge\” and \”yiff\” to suggest erotic material – but even if you were to simply use \”furry erotica\” or something similar to indicate it as a subset of \”furry\”, and not the entire genre, I wouldn\’t be \”hung up\” on what you call it.

    The following anecdote may be a bit long and involved, but here\’s a demonstration of why I think it matters:

    You may remember a story going around the news a while ago where some guy abducted his neighbor\’s kid, drove her off in a motor home, and raped and killed her. Terrible stuff. But they caught the guy, and brought him to trial.

    I saw an excerpt of the court proceedings, and as the prosecutor was making his case, he brought up the fact that the guy had a lot of porn on his computer. As he was questioning one witness, he stood there in court and said:

    \”And what do you understand the term anime to mean?\”

    Here\’s the deal: The guy had been collecting images from Japanese comics and cartoons, of a paedophiliac nature. And there is a bunch of it out there. In Japanese terms, \”hentai\” (literally meaning \”perverted\”) is the word used for porn, and \”lolicon\” (derived from \”lolita complex\”) describes erotica of pre-pubescent subjects. But the prosecuter and the investigator who opened up this guy\’s computer fixated on the term \”anime\” to mean primarily \”kiddie porn\”.

    Anyone who actually has any knowledge of \”anime\” knows that the word simply means \”animation\”, or \”cartoons\”. But someone hearing the word for the first time in that courtroom might come away thinking all anime was filth, and throw a fit if they hear their child express an interest in \”this cool anime show\”.

    And, as this whole exchange demonstrates, once someone gets an idea into their head, it can be extremely difficult to convince them that they\’re wrong. (After all, a prosecutor defined anime as child porn – he\’s in a position of authority, he must be right!)

    As for the sexualization of anthropormorphic animals: You might as well as ask \’why humanize animals at all?\’ Wade\’s post deals with that somewhat, but once you get to the point of giving animals human traits, human sexuality naturally comes in as a part of that package.

    You pointed out Bugs Bunny dressing in drag, but all the classic cartoon characters were prone to human sexual behavior. Tom the cat was often trying to impress a lady cat (who would often be dolled up with very human-like lipstick). Droopy wound up having human women fawning over him at the end of many cartoons. The wolf who howls and goes mad as the voluptuous woman sings and dances on stage – it\’s not explicit sex, but it is aspects of human sexuality transferred to anthropomorphic animals.

    Once you get to that point, I don\’t think it\’s really all that much of a stretch to attribute outright sexual behavior to anthropomorphic characters. Humans have sex – and things that act like humans might have sex like humans as well.

  15. Even though I brought up Bugs Bunny in drag just to be funny, you do have some interesting points at the end there.

    From what you seem to be hinting at and what Wade was talking about are we connecting \”anthropormorphic erotica\” with beastiality? Do you guys really think there\’s some connection there?

  16. I don\’t know if you specifically are connecting the two – but I do know that\’s one of the things that a lot of the anti-furry crowd seems to do, and it\’s probably one of the factors that makes furry porn so distasteful to certain people. It\’s also one of the reasons I think it\’s worth clarifying the distinction between furry and furry porn – to avoid instant jumping to conclusions. I\’d hate for someone to avoid reading, say, Maus or Usagi Yojimbo because \”that furry crap is all porn\”.

    Further complicating the issue is that there isn\’t a strict agreement on just what qualifies a character as being \”furry\” – not in the sexual aspect as we\’ve been discussing, but in an anatomical sense.

    For instance: In my own case, I draw characters with some animal charactaristics. They aren\’t too far off, biologically, from the Thundercats, interestingly enough – they are overall pretty much human-shaped, but with, say, cat ears and a tail, and different colored skin and markings.

    I do not consider myself or my characters part of the \”furry\” art community, and in fact, many people would not classify those characters of mine as \”furry\”, since they are more human than animal. There\’s actually a term for it. I think it\’s \”zoomorphism\”, but as I\’m typing this I can\’t swear for sure that\’s what it is. In essence, it\’s giving a more-or-less human character animal characteristics – as opposed to giving an animal human characteristics… Technically, Thundercats would also fall under the \”zoomorphic\” category – except maybe for Snarf, whatever the hell he was supposed to be.

    A lot of people consider a \”furry\” character to have a much more animal-like aspect – snouts, for instance, or crooked legs. A lot of what passes for \”furry\” these days derives from artists like Steve Gallacci, who was one of the first artists I saw (in the \’80s) drawing in what could be considered a \”modern\” furry style. He and others like him set the tone and trend for what\’s become the furry fandom of today.

    (Digression: I think Gallacci and others may have been strongly influenced by things like Walt Disney\’s animated Robin Hood movie, which was released during one of Disney\’s less-successful periods. The characters in that movie bear a strong resemblance to a lot of today\’s \”furry\” art…)

    Anyway, if you peek into the community, you can see arguments raging to infinity and back again about where the \”furry\” line is drawn in this respect, and whether things like anime \”cat-girls\” are actually considered \”furry\” or not (majority opinion in that case seems to be \”no\”).

    I suspect that, the more a character resembles an animal, the more that issues of bestiality will crop up, and it\’s one of the reasons some people have a knee-jerk \”OMG THAT\’S SO SICK\” reaction to the idea…

    There\’s a range, I guess, and each person will find his or her own cut-off point of personal dislike. At one end you\’ll have things like the anime cat-girl (which you could see just as a normal girl with ears and tail stuck on – like Catwoman, if you want to bring American characters into it) – at the other you\’ll have characters that can only be distinguished from animals by a few minor details – a more expressive face, or fingers, or some other thing.

    Where you or I might draw the line and say \”ew\” is not necessarily where the next person draws that line. But I will say this: most of the furries I\’ve spoken to do not really consider sex with furry characters (either between two furry characters or human-furry pairings) to be beastiality – the most elegant reason I\’ve heard is because by bestowing human-like intelligence on the characters, they are not considered \”dumb beasts\”, despite their animalistic qualities… it\’d be comparable to having sex with aliens – both sides being sentient.

  17. One other quick point about all of this. It was mentioned earlier that a lot of mainstream cartoons had animals with human characteristics and often displayed innocent sexuality. We have Pepe LePew kissing his girlfriend, Taz going ga ga for a she-devil, etc.

    And these depictions all draw a line at a respectible point in the sand. They never go so far as to discuss the act of sex, show genitalia, or even broach matters of sexual orientation.

    Of course not, these cartoons were made for kids.

    The real challenge, I think, is how do we make anthropomorphic comics that adults can appreciate and enjoy without introducing ick-factor 9?

    Of course, this is an idiom that I work within on a weekly basis. I like to think I\’m succeeding at it, but I don\’t know.

  18. I like furry comics (STH, the pokémon manga) so long as there is no mention of porn. That is for evil bastards who want to go to hell.

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