About that main page rant...

Postby Rennen on Mon Sep 09, 2002 3:54 pm

By no means was I deriding Kevin & Kell in it's entirety. If nothing else, I'm much impressed that Holbrook can write and draw three daily strips, where most onliners can barely squeeze out the time for a 'mere' three strips a week (and still have occasional late uploads or delayed strips.)

What I meant by inane are the jokes like giving the sheep girl four plates of grass, since, naturally, she has four stomachs. (But one mouth?) The lame jokes about high forum-member turnover because most of the visitors are mayflies. Turning up the brightness of a PC monitor to "freeze a deer in the headlights". Rabbits watering the lawn with ranch dressing. And so forth.

Admittedly, drawing three strips means that you can't always have a hilarious zinger each and every day...

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Postby JimRob on Mon Sep 09, 2002 5:21 pm

Rennen wrote: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?

Probably not. But I consider that more an inadequacy of my strip than the concept of using different species; AF did originally arise from a few characters I'd doodled and abruptly decided to use, without much planning. I'll be thinking it through more thoroughly next time.

Rennen wrote: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?

No... but that seems to imply that there's no room for anthropomorphisation to have real-world significance, which surely can't be true. I agree that a very large proportion of strips do fall into the two categories, and make a big thing of doing so (for example, Cedric Henry's Post-Modern Musein the former, and, yes, Kevin & Kell in the latter). But I reckon there's room to be a great deal more subtle, and more comprehensive, about how animal characteristics are used; drawing on the implicit associations of each animal, so that they 'resonate' with character and plot, rather than drawing attention to obvious traits.

I suppose my model is Spenser's Faerie Queene; an epic poem brimful of complex moral ideas which are expressed through the allegory in such a way that you almost pick up on them without realising. Not that I'd be trying to teach moral values myself, as Spenser declared he was.

I should also probably add that much of what I'm saying hasn't really been brought into effect in Albion Fuzz itself; I'm currently trying to develop my ideas for other projects. And, of course, I'm enjoying the discussion.

Rennen wrote: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?

Absolutely. They'd be fun to argue with :)

Tim Tylor wrote:Gorey's Inanimate Tragedy

I have to pick this out, as it's possibly my favourite Gorey book. It seemed to me a perfect distillation of (real and theatrical) tragedy's conventions, with the emotional aspect rendered insignificant: a gods' eye view of human affairs, really. (And the Greek chorus of Needles & Pins is a stroke of genius.) It's a good example of another use of anthropomorphism, in that it forces us into viewing familiar actions from an unfamiliar perspective.
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Postby Rennen on Tue Sep 10, 2002 5:06 am

Probably not. But I consider that more an inadequacy of my strip than the concept of using different species; AF did originally arise from a few characters I'd doodled and abruptly decided to use, without much planning. I'll be thinking it through more thoroughly next time.


Inadequacy? I think not... you're focusing more on the characters as people rather than animals. That's not an inadequacy... at worst it's perhaps only a little early. One must create a great many pewter tankards before one attempts the burnished silver teapot.

The line between using the animals as identifiable representatives of the human condition yet still to an extent acting like animals, and using their quirks as Holbrook does for a quick joke, is rather blurry and vague...

No... but that seems to imply that there's no room for anthropomorphisation to have real-world significance, which surely can't be true.


I didn't say that. But the fact is, most of us hairless apes won't readily identify with things like musk glands or mating only in certain seasons. And using characters that are, for all intents and purposes, humanoid but with an animal head, a tail and odd coloration, all but erases a great deal of the animal essence.

By "significance" I presume you mean to illustrate some sociopolitical aspect- similar to how Holbrook uses species in place of race, domestication in place of disease, and the food chain in place of religion.

Use the anthropomorphization to make the proffered idea palatable, don't make it the idea itself.

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Postby ZOMBIE USER 5169 on Mon Nov 04, 2002 2:18 pm

Before this thread gets lost in the heap, there's a strip worth mentioning. Lacunae has beautifully eerie artwork, with the "furs" having non-human faces that add to the strangeness of it.
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Postby Tarliman on Sat Nov 16, 2002 2:55 am

Three bits that got missed thus far:

1. Albedo Anthropomorphics. The main storyline, revolving around a feline named Erma Felna, an officer in the defense forces, dealt with the search for the Creator(s) of an obviously artificial society, and what happened when evidence of the Creator(s) was found, if I recollect properly. Essentially, a world of anthropomorphic animals looked around one day, and said, Hey! There's no way we evolved naturally! And so they expanded into space, looking for who had made them, having not found any trace of such a person or entity on their homeworld. Some deep issues dealt with, looking into the search for a Creator, people's expectations of deities, and the possibility that the deity is both more and less than you expected. Really quite well done, and the roleplaying game that was derived from Albedo gave the potential for a lot of social exploration. Contrasting the socially-monitored Inner Sphere with the freedom-loving Outer Rim types, one of whom felt nervous away from the cameras and the other who felt nervous under their gaze, provided some of the conflict in the campaign I ran.

2. Japanese traditional art. Long before manga, Japanese artists were depicting peasants as monkeys and nobles as tigers. There's all sorts of spiritual and social implications to the use of anthropomorphic creatures in place of human characters. The comic series Usagi Yojimbo addressed this to some extent, and discussed the traditional origins of the storyline in essays in the back of each issue.

3. The Mediterranean cultures had a tradition of animal fables. You recollect a fellow name of Aesop, probably heard far too much about him as a kid? While the physical forms of the animals weren't anthropomorphized, the actions and motivations of the animals certainly were, and done to make a point without offending, as several people have discussed in this thread.

Just my two cents, or .15 Euro if the current projections play out before end of year.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 6611 on Sun Nov 17, 2002 11:31 am

Rennen wrote:That also well illustrates the... less popular aspect of the topic at hand.
It's interesting to describe this as "less popular". It seems to me that Freefall is, as webcomics go, one of the most popular around. I can guess at other phrases you might have been trying for, but won't attempt to put words in your mouth. ;)
Rennen wrote: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.
It may well be that I fit your criteria myself. ;) I have written a fair amount, even in this forum, about Florence as a "Noble Female Character". But I confess that I find the bikini business to be a bit, oh, perhaps inappropriate is about the right word. Missing the point, perhaps.
Rennen wrote: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.
Curious that Florence Ambrose has such a following--and she does--considering that she is one of the few anthropomorhic canines drawn without human-style breasts.
Rennen wrote: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.
You can't be Sirius! ;) In all, ah, seriousness, what attracts me is the manner of thinking that she represents. She is re-popularizing doing the right thing--an activity that has lost favor in recent times. The fact that she is the one facet that makes Freefall a "furry" strip, although non-traditional, simply makes this good medicine easier to accept. I certainly support that.

I missed this post earlier; sorry for the late response.
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The importance of species

Postby Dkinged on Tue Nov 19, 2002 7:10 am

With regard to whether or not AF would be the same if the species of the characters were mixed up, am I the only one who's noticed that the characters at the center of society are all domesticated species -- rabbits, dogs, cats -- while the ones at the fringe are all wild -- badgers, foxes? And here I thought this was using the species of the characters to make a social comment.

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Re: The importance of species

Postby ZOMBIE USER 6611 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 8:48 am

dkinged wrote:With regard to whether or not AF would be the same if the species of the characters were mixed up, am I the only one who's noticed that the characters at the center of society are all domesticated species -- rabbits, dogs, cats -- while the ones at the fringe are all wild -- badgers, foxes? And here I thought this was using the species of the characters to make a social comment.
You're right on all counts, except for being the only one to notice. ;)

I think that the "undomesticated" and "wild" aspects have been explicitly mentioned when describing the fringes of society, although this gets complicated; it indicates that in order to go "mainstream", i.e. to move in off the streets successfully, it would somehow require you to change species.

It would be, in the world of Albion Fuzz, a form of racism. I think that it was being exhibited full-blown at the office party that Frances attended during Christmas.

From the context explained by Maxion, we know what the cricket-chirper in the Christmas Eve story is complaining about.

Maxion spoke of "every wild creature in the city ... we're terrified of you."

The use of "domesticated" animals for city-dwellers is no accident.
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