About that main page rant...

About that main page rant...

Postby Big Bad Al on Mon Jul 08, 2002 4:38 am

The reason I used "furry" (God I f**king HATE that word now!) characters is two-fold:

a) When I started drawing these things I couldn't draw for crap (and I still can't) and all my human characters all looked the same. Using animals made it easier to tell them apart.

b) A standard comic convention is to take something cute and make it un-cute! It's a well known fact that evil bunnies are funny so I'm milked that for all it's worth and then some!

As for "furries" themselves their the same as any type of fan base: You get the semi-normal and you have the complete freaks. I have no time for the later but I will entertain the former if their not completely insane.

Myself, I find it hard to get excited about any drawing, let alone one of cartoon animals...


Saying that the picture of Sible in the second panel of today's strip is kinda cute!

*mmmmm* "vales!"

< /joke >
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Preponduan.

Postby Gloria on Mon Jul 08, 2002 8:14 am

Why do I draw furry comics?

Well, it's not because I have any desire to be great in the fandom *gag*

However.... I'm really what you might call "furry sympathizing" by nature.
I've always loved animals (not in the veteranary sense, more in the pure aesthetic sense). I've always been drawn to anyhting that had talking animals in it. It's.... a part of who I am. I can't escape that.

The reason for a furry comic? Well, come of the characters in Untitled! go back almost further than I can remember. Well, Twap does, anyway. Xe and Snitter also go back to before I ever heard the word "furry" used in it's current form.

However, I'm also very spiritual in my thought patterns. I'm more interested in the "why" than the "how" (as you can tell by reading my comic). Thus, my animal characters have a deep spiritual and emotional aspect to their lives.
Also, having a somewhat humanoid form to their bodies makes it easier to simply tell the story without getting bogged down in details. Plus, Untitled! isn't really a sci-fi story. Though it could become that, I guess. But it becomes harder to draw parallels between my real-world life and my Untitled! life when the setting is COMPLETELY different.

Okay, that was confusing. However, I intend to explain some of it in the comic someday....

Suffice to say, my furry comic is an outlet for both my imaginitive and spiritual sides.

However, it's also a means for me to cogitate and try to think through problems on the rational level. All this convoluted relationshippy stuff is pretty much in one way or another based on my own problems.

And all these systems are so intricately intertwined that sometimes it's impossible to tell them apart.

Anyway... I do furry comics because I have to. It helps keep me sane.

And anyway, in case you can't tell, I view Untitled! as more of a literary epic than a simple comic strip. Sort of like a graphic novel, only in strip format.


It's kind of funny, though. Before I could even read, I read books of Peanuts and Garfield stirps. I said I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up (though I think at the time I actually WANTED to be an animator)... then that idea was discarded... and now I've come full circle and... lo an behold. I'm a cartoonist. Sort of.

Oh well. That was a ramble, eh?
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Postby JimRob on Mon Jul 08, 2002 9:54 am

What in hell's name? I didn't upload that front page yesterday, I'm sure of it.

Wait a minute.
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Postby JimRob on Mon Jul 08, 2002 9:58 am

Okay, I've worked it out. I'm such a fool. I mistakenly uploaded an index page from a year ago rather than the new one. Which is why it has the wrong date.

And re the rant: I also wrote that a year ago, and I've changed my mind considerably since then, which is why I took it down and why it's no longer linked to on the front page. Basically, ignore it; I'm trying to write a revision at the moment.
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Postby Big Bad Al on Mon Jul 08, 2002 10:27 am

Ha! It only get worse if you get to Keenspot! That runs on a number of servers so it takes a little while for chages to take effect on all of them. So when you make a mistake it'll take ages for the system to sort it sometimes!

I still find Sible hot in that dress tho! :D
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Okay, here's that 'revision'

Postby JimRob on Mon Jul 08, 2002 11:29 am

All right. I might as well outline where I stand now. I've given up on trying to encapsulate what furry comics are all about, as I've since learnt that it's a far larger and messier field than anyone can satisfactorily deal with.

I started drawing furry comics largely for the same reasons as Al gives; I couldn't draw people in a distinctive or likeable way. And I also used to play a lot of computer games. But the initial reasons were on the whole prosaic and insubstantial. I suppose there might be subconscious reasons I'm only faintly aware of, but I tend to think it's something I just fell into; it could easily have been RPGs, or break-dancing, or any other pastime. I'm not really an animal lover, and in everyday life I try to avoid anthropomorphising animals by imposing human values on them; I have two cats but I don't imagine they live with me for any more reason than that I give them food and tickle their heads every so often.

I wasn't aware of there being any kind of furry net-culture until about a year ago, when I discovered it and spent solid hours looking around with a mixture of fascination and fear. At the time I instinctively felt - and I still occasionally get this feeling - that, although fun, there was something inpermissibly strange about the whole sphere... that these chimeras were kind of monstrous, and that the blossoming of the sub-culture was rather worrying. But after racking my brains, I couldn't find any rational justfication for thinking that, so I put it aside. And of course I remained interested. Now I reckon I was taking it all rather too seriously.

My reasons for drawing anthropomorphic characters now are slightly different, although the biggest reasons reason are simply because it'd be unnecessarily confusing and time-consuming to switch back; I've started so I might as well go on. But I also want (perhaps not so much in AF, but certainly in the side-project I'm considering) to take advantage of the metaphorical possibilities of animals; what they stand for, how they reflect or hide character, what associations they carry in language, and so on. I've only done that in a fairly limited way in AF - some slightly half-hearted (although it seemed very clever at the time) allegory and the odd joke - but I really want to make it stand up rationally; so that someone who'd never read a furry comic in their life and was entirely unaware of the culture could see what the point was, as I couldn't when I first came across furry comics. So it's going to take some working through.

Anyway. I hope that doesn't sound too negative; it's just that I've always had a fairly precarious intellectual relationship to furry comics, and that tends to come across when I talk about them.

Big Bad Al wrote:I still find Sible hot in that dress tho!

Nothing a cold shower won't fix.

I was at my local designer outlet on Saturday; that's where the extravagantly layered kind of design comes from. I can't remember the shop though.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 8454 on Mon Jul 08, 2002 1:12 pm

my story is basically the same: i started working on my strip last summer when i didn't know how to draw, so it seemed like a great idea to make the characters animals... i also didn't know about the "furry fandom," and when i found out about it, i had similar inhibitions about being a part of it.

the great thing about cartooning, though, is that you can get away with foggy reasoning. why are my characters anthropomorphic? why does dilbert's necktie curl up? why is Opus' nose so huge? the answer to all these is the same: IRRELEVANT. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

i tell myself this, but still the "furry" issue lurks in the back of my mind. perhaps there's some kind of charge we get from giving animals faculties of complex thought, giving them relationships and societies that makes us look at our own humanity. humanity is, after all, what most of our strips are about.

even if this topic was a mistake, i'm really glad it came up!
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Re: Okay, here's that 'revision'

Postby Big Bad Al on Mon Jul 08, 2002 2:38 pm

JimRob wrote:I was at my local designer outlet on Saturday; that's where the extravagantly layered kind of design comes from. I can't remember the shop though.


Do I dare ask about the inspiration for the second from last panel (which I've only just noticed looking at the strip for a second time)?
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Postby Tek Roo on Tue Jul 09, 2002 9:24 am

PROKOFIEV2000 wrote:even if this topic was a mistake, i'm really glad it came up!

I too am glad this topic came up! Very interesting! I have been debating some of these very ideas ever since falling head first into the seemingly all-encompassing label of "Furry", and have more or less entirely failed to come up with a universal definition that everyone might be able to agree on. It seems like everyone has their own idea, but is perfectly willing to tolerate those that don't match that idea, even though there are elements of it that can be seen as damaging to the genre as a whole.

Okay, that was the short teaser post. The several-page essay will follow at a later date, once I have succeeded in setting aside some time. I do admit that it is far easier to develop a wide range of characters based upon differing breeds of anthropomorphic characters, than it is to create a range of humans without resorting to exaggerating various features which could, in some circumstances, give the resulting comic too much of a light-hearted feel, especially when a more serious note may be desired.
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Yep

Postby JimRob on Tue Jul 09, 2002 9:41 am

Big Bad Al wrote:Do I dare ask about the inspiration for the second from last panel (which I've only just noticed looking at the strip for a second time)?

That's really taken from the episode of The Simpsons where Marge and Homer are attempting to revive their love life and end up trying to creep home naked. And yes, they were doing that.

It's not an experience I've ever had, I should add.
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Re: Yep

Postby Big Bad Al on Tue Jul 09, 2002 3:50 pm

JimRob wrote:That's really taken from the episode of The Simpsons where Marge and Homer are attempting to revive their love life and end up trying to creep home naked.


Can't say I've seen that one! ... possibly the ONLY one I've not seen more then five times! :p

JimRob wrote:And yes, they were doing that.


Bad Jim! No biscuit for you!

JimRob wrote:It's not an experience I've ever had, I should add.


Aw! Poor boy! :D
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Postby Rennen on Sun Sep 08, 2002 2:06 am

Doing what? Trying to sneak home or trying to spice up their love life? :D

Anyway, yes, as you've found, there are more than a few shades to the "furry" rainbow. You have the simple, nonoffensive animals of Buckles and Garfield at one end, the somewhat more bestial fare of Suburban Jungle or Kevin & Kell (though their eating of other species is occasionally mentioned, it's well hidden and used jokingly) and so on through to the less-popular (at least publicly so) blood-and-gore fare, or the dark storylines that happen to feature animals, such as Jack.

Some artists use animals for meaningful reasons. A felt kinship, perhaps. Others, as mentioned, because a "funny animal" is often easier to draw than a human.

Still others use the animal in place of the increasingly-non-PC-to-use human. You can, for example, depict herds of rats or badgers or whatever living in slums and wearing gang colors, but heaven forbid you depict a family of african-americans in the same situation. Doing so would be a stereotype, although it's perfectly okay to "stereotype" a shark or a snake as a lawyer, for a counterexample.

Some draw it because, well, that's what the fans want. I recently learned of a fellow who makes a fair living drawing what is basically "furry erotica". I believe the colloquial term for people who enjoy that sort of thing is Furvert. :D

Davis drew Garfield because at the time, the comics had several dogs, but no cats, and, of course, to have a successful 'toon, one has to have a "hook", a gag or character previously unseen or unused. Breathed added Opus to stir up the pot, so to speak. To add a measure of silliness... although the character was meant as a short-lived throwaway gag, he grew on Berke and allowed some previously-unallowed jokes. (See the part on PC-ism, above.) Watterson's Calvin was less a "furry" gag strip and relied more on the dichotomy of Calvin's real world and the imaginary one.

Strips like Gene Catlow rely heavily on having both humans and "furries" in the same world, and have gone to great lengths to explain the hows and whys of evolution thereof.

The reasons vary as much as the individual artistic styles. Friend of mine writes a strip and says he used animals simply because the gags are based on him and his shop, and the characterization of the bear allows a little more separation, a little more freedom. The jokes are now not so much "here's what happened to me" and more "loosely based on my experience".

(And, he just mentioned, that when the strip's character tells a strip customer to 'walk west 'til your hat floats', a somewhat polite term for get lost, the actual customers, who read the strip, are somewhat less likely to take it personally.)

All in all, it's best not to think too heavily about it, unless great thought was put into the original decision. There are, indeed, those fans- and artists- who will argue at length sociological details such as predation and "inter species relationships", as well as more biological conundrums. Can a fox and a 'possum have kids? Why do the females have only two breasts?

To me, forget it. Enjoy it as is and where is. If you started worrying about that sort of thing, you're starting to worry about how they came to walk upright and then you start to worry about do they eat meat, and if so, whose, and then you wonder about the dolphins and whales and why cats are the same size as dogs, why a rabbit outweighs a wolf by a hundred pounds, why don't the females go into estrus cycles and why foxes and hedgehogs have hands while cows and moose have hooves and so how the hell do they hold a pen, or, for that matter, get dressed in the morning.

The movie directors call it "suspension of disbelief". It lets us believe that Xander can outrun an avalanche on a snowboard, and it lets us believe skunks can either read poetry or run an Amiga PC.

Don't worry about it.

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Postby Tek Roo on Sun Sep 08, 2002 3:53 am

The several page essay I promised above is still pending, so I think its time I added a few more pence to the pot.

The "furry" genre appeals to me because it is not reality, and does not pretend to be. It has the option of either representing reality, or just an analogy thereof, but certainly cannot be mistaken for reality itself. There is a tendency for traditional fantasy to present itself as a history that once was, and I have run across a few scary people that believed it.

I like what Rennen says about, "The reasons vary as much as the individual artistic styles. Friend of mine writes a strip and says he used animals simply because the gags are based on him and his shop, and the characterization of the bear allows a little more separation, a little more freedom. The jokes are now not so much 'here's what happened to me' and more 'loosely based on my experience'." That pretty much says it all, along with the bits about Political Correctness and immunity from same.

As for the furry erotica, I just don't get it. I'm a fairly intelligent type, and insist upon understanding everything, but this one has been a constant puzzle to me. I don't care about the lifestyles that other people chose and stuff like that, but I'm particularly annoyed by the fact that stuff like that is being posted publicly, and it's quite easy to find, either accidentally or intentionally. The problem it creates is that those who know nothing about the anthropomorphic genre are literally afraid of it, and assume that it's by definition some form of fetish or perversion. I can't even carry an Ozy & Millie coffee mug around at the office without someone assuming I'm some sort of nutcase because the characters on it aren't recognised as any of the typical mass-marketed characters (okay, it only happened once, but you get the idea...)

The funny thing about how I relate to Dilbert is, that even though it involves talking animals, there are still people involved, so even though it's still funny, I also find it a little bit depressing! That of course can't be helped by the fact that I worked for a company that operated much like the one Dilbert works for, and which had plenty of informants feeding story ideas to Scott Adams on top of it!

More to follow......eventually.....
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Postby JimRob on Sun Sep 08, 2002 7:03 am

Rennen wrote:All in all, it's best not to think too heavily about it, unless great thought was put into the original decision. There are, indeed, those fans- and artists- who will argue at length sociological details such as predation and "inter species relationships", as well as more biological conundrums. Can a fox and a 'possum have kids? Why do the females have only two breasts?

To me, forget it. Enjoy it as is and where is. If you started worrying about that sort of thing, you're starting to worry about how they came to walk upright and then you start to worry about do they eat meat, and if so, whose, and then you wonder about the dolphins and whales and why cats are the same size as dogs, why a rabbit outweighs a wolf by a hundred pounds, why don't the females go into estrus cycles and why foxes and hedgehogs have hands while cows and moose have hooves and so how the hell do they hold a pen, or, for that matter, get dressed in the morning.

The movie directors call it "suspension of disbelief". It lets us believe that Xander can outrun an avalanche on a snowboard, and it lets us believe skunks can either read poetry or run an Amiga PC.

Don't worry about it.

Oh, but I do... not when reading comics, but when writing them. It's fine for readers to enjoy the furry genre for its own sake, but comics' creators really ought to think through what they're doing and why. If there's no reason for introducing something so obviously fantastic as talking animals, then it merely panders to people with a fondness for them and confuses those who don't. Which isn't a bad thing in itself, but it's a narrowing, rather than a broadening, kind of creative process.

I don't really bother with explanations of how a furry society could come to exist and sustain itself (although I used to). Barring a Creationist God with a quirky sense of humour, I very much doubt it could. I'm more interested in the metaphorical side - how it can be used portray character, illuminate prejudices, and so on - and I feel very dissatisfied with myself if it doesn't do any of that.

(That said, I do like talking animals for their own sakes, and all the above is probably just an attempt to justify this to my higher faculties, which are furious that I could be wasting time on anything so silly. So perhaps you're right :))

Tek Roo wrote:The "furry" genre appeals to me because it is not reality, and does not pretend to be. It has the option of either representing reality, or just an analogy thereof, but certainly cannot be mistaken for reality itself. There is a tendency for traditional fantasy to present itself as a history that once was, and I have run across a few scary people that believed it.

Bingo.

Tek Roo wrote:As for the furry erotica, I just don't get it. I'm a fairly intelligent type, and insist upon understanding everything, but this one has been a constant puzzle to me. I don't care about the lifestyles that other people chose and stuff like that, but I'm particularly annoyed by the fact that stuff like that is being posted publicly, and it's quite easy to find, either accidentally or intentionally. The problem it creates is that those who know nothing about the anthropomorphic genre are literally afraid of it, and assume that it's by definition some form of fetish or perversion. I can't even carry an Ozy & Millie coffee mug around at the office without someone assuming I'm some sort of nutcase because the characters on it aren't recognised as any of the typical mass-marketed characters (okay, it only happened once, but you get the idea...)

Well, I'd say that those who judge the whole genre based on its murkier ends (which invariably get the most publicity) are more at fault than those who generate the murk, whether or not we approve of the latter.

It doesn't really bother me so much. At least, not any more. I was actually one of the afraid when I first came across it, but after various cold, hard looks at it, I don't see that there's anything to be afraid of. It's that age-old instinctive defence mechanism, fear of difference, again...

I think it also has something to do with the fact that the furry community (although I wonder how much it, like most others online, really constitutes a community) is mostly composed of adults: it's disturbing to some to see the imaginitive conventions of their childhood reading transposed to an adult environment and, unavoidably, taking on some of the characteristics of an adult world.

I was reading Ralph Hayes Jr's Livejournallast night (as I do increasingly frequently - my views are challenged every step of the way), and he commented, along rather different lines, about the same thing.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 5169 on Sun Sep 08, 2002 7:16 am

Somebody ought to mention Freefall's Florence Ambrose, a genetically engineered wolf living in a society of humans and robots. A lot of the humour runs around her canine nature and people's reaction to it .
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Postby W.M.Y.L.G. Joe on Sun Sep 08, 2002 8:22 pm

I read through a bit of that livejournal you offered and looked at the articles he had posted on the Burned Furries. I noticed some similarities between the furry culture and the skating culture.
Even though there's a lot about the skating culture I enjoy, there's just as much that makes me upset or desire to disassociate myself with it. The world has a very limited vew on skating (no thanks to the X-games and pop culture). It can't make me give up skating. It can't take away the joy I get from skating. I let it be what it will be because the rest of the world won't truly understand skating until they truly delve past the kooks and people who claim being a skater is a "look" or "style."
Yes there are many things in the furry community I dislike and think degrades it. Because of a few bad apples, many people have a skewed view on what a "furry fan" is and does. I just be me and enjoy what I enjoy despite those that distort the rest of the world's view on furries. There will always be people that make you want to detatch yourself from a culture you once felt a part of. But in the end, you are always your own person. And letting the opinions of other overcome your passion is betraying yourself.

Okay, now that that's outta the way, my two cents on trying to figure out WHY we like anthros...

You're thinking too hard. Just enjoy it. The more time I try to rationalize why I like skating, the less time I'm actually out doing it.
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Postby Rennen on Mon Sep 09, 2002 3:41 am

Tim Tylor wrote:Somebody ought to mention Freefall's Florence Ambrose, a genetically engineered wolf living in a society of humans and robots. A lot of the humour runs around her canine nature and people's reaction to it .


That also well illustrates the... less popular aspect of the topic at hand.

Nothing wrong with the strip itself, it hasn't even hinted at any sexuality, but the fans... oh, boy, the fans. The FreeFall forum is awash in those deeply enamored with the character Florence, an obsession often bordering on dementia.

The "fan art"- that Mark doesn't post in his "art by others" page- includes dressing her in bikinis or other semi-revealing clothing, or any number of "seductress" type poses.

It's actually somewhat interesting to watch, kind of like Pitt's performance in the movie 12 Monkeys. They take this bright, intelligent engineer type, the fixer of nuclear reactors and spacecraft plumbing, this robotics expert... and dress her in "Sailor Moon" suits and Lara Croft outfits.

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Postby Rennen on Mon Sep 09, 2002 4:28 am

Oh, but I do... not when reading comics, but when writing them. It's fine for readers to enjoy the furry genre for its own sake, but comics' creators really ought to think through what they're doing and why. If there's no reason for introducing something so obviously fantastic as talking animals, then it merely panders to people with a fondness for them and confuses those who don't. Which isn't a bad thing in itself, but it's a narrowing, rather than a broadening, kind of creative process.


Well, that depends on what you're trying to do.

All Jim Davis wants to do is give people a good belly laugh with their coffee in the morning. (And marketing, don't forget the marketing.) The guy who draws Jack wants to mess with your head, manipulate your feelings, and make you think about deep metaphysics.

Case Yorke just wants to mess with your head, period.

I agree that, if you have a "higher meaning" or a "greater purpose" in mind other than just telling jokes in a visual format, yes, you need to have some thought involved with the characters. But would it honestly be all that different had you started out with Sybil as a rabbit? A wolf? How about a hedgehog? What if Fen was the fox and Syb the badger and Alex the cat? All else being equal, would it really be any different?

If you don't use the species in the story- a'la Holbrook's frequent, if often inane, snide references to large Fennec ears, rabbits' penchant for gnawing and jokes involving porcupine quills- then the species is more or less irrelevant. You're just drawing "funny animals". But on the other edge of the blade, if you DO use the species' quirks- skunks spraying in defense, dogs barking at cats, ad nauseum- you're really not making much of a sociopolitical statement most of us can relate to, are you?

And as for confusion, I think not, actually. We've lived with anthropomorphized animals since Steamboat Willy in what, 1932? Bambi in 1941, Schultz' Snoopy since the fifties, and Davis' Garfield since 1978. The use of animals in comic and cartoon no longer confuses anyone, save for the possible exceptions of religious fundies or those who can't figure out butterfly ballots. And, I'll further the argument, do you really want them reading your work anyway?

I believe that the use of an animal character in the strip sets the tone- it automatically and immediately tells the reader that anything can happen, without saying a word. But beyond that...?

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Postby ZOMBIE USER 6611 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 11:36 am

Rennen wrote:
...And as for confusion, I think not, actually. We've lived with anthropomorphized animals since Steamboat Willy in what, 1932?
Indeed. And the Egyptians made their gods as anthropomorphic animals--"therianthropic" is the correct term for this I believe--going back 5k years or so.

The concept seems pretty natural for the way humans are wired to find patterns and connections in things, including a strong subsystem to perceive and recognize faces.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 5169 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:24 pm

And don't forget all the anthropomorphic machines (Rev Awdry's locomotives, the Brave Little Toaster, robots in general), candy (kid's telly-time ads), household items (Edward Lear, Gorey's Inanimate Tragedy) and 2-D shapes (Roger Hargreaves' Mr Men.)

Vince of The Class Menagerie points out in his FAQ that animals have "longer snouts, bigger ears, and fur/tails that help emphasize emotions", and he proves the point wonderfully by showing one of his characters in human and animal form with the same expression. Ironically, the expressions that cartoon animal's faces express so well are mostly human ones - but well, that's just the universe being freaky as usual. :D

At the risk of starting something, I've a lot of time for Holbrook's Kevin and Kell. I love the way he's built up the characters and their world. I think there's some courage in the way he occasionally gives a character a radical and permanent change of appearance as part of the plot, for example the sudden eruption of Fiona's fennec ears or Ralph's eruption in all directions. The reader's challenged to accept those changes and to recognise and accept the continuing person beneath them. And he probably couldn't pull off those stunts with human characters - we vary a lot in dress and pigmentation and minor facial characteristics, but we've nothing to match fennec vs non-fennec ears.
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