The Furry History Project, Part-8: The 1990's
In 1990, Samurai Pizza Cats became the last major Furry TV cartoon of the 80's explosion, as well as the first of a new wave of anime titles to be adapted for the American market.
As the 80's drew to a close, the first attempts to market manga in America took place. These attempts failed miserably, but a growing awareness of anime in America started a niche fan base, identical to the Furry Fan base at that time - small, unrecognized and hardly visible.
Moving into the 90's, the two movements grew together. Both Furry and Manga were considered part of an arsenal of styles available to independent comic artists. And soon artists who specialized in one or the other would find themselves working at the same companies, and sometimes on the same titles.
Comic stores soon began to think of Manga and Furry as part of the same art movement, and it was rare to see them separated into different sections. Throughout most of the 90's this proved a very pleasant and productive partnership.
In 1990, Nadia, The Secret Of Blue Water was first animated in Japan, featuring the mascot King The Lion.
In 1990, WB introduced Tiny Toon Adventures.
In 1990, Disney released The Rescuers Down Under.
In 1990, Disney adapted its Jungle Book characters for the TV series, TaleSpin.
In 1990, Caliber Comics offered Mack The Knife.
In 1990, ConFurence 1, the first official Furry convention, was held at the Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza in Costa Mesa, California. Membership was 145; attendance was 130.
The advent of the Furry convention provided a venue that had not previously existed for fans to entertain in ways other than creating art and literature. The fandom for mascot type characters now needed its own mascots. This would inspire significant advancement in the art of creating mascot outfits, as the demand for them became more consistent and the amounts of money that could be demanded for them went through the ceiling. Thus the art of creating fursuits and performing in them would become just as important a factor in Furry entertainment as art and stories.
In 1990, Yarf! The Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics was begun by Jeff Ferris, Kris Kreutzman, and others to replace the then dying Furversion. It became Furry Fandom's most reliable general magazine. It published comics, book reviews, text stories and pin-ups from dozens of artists. It was also the first prominent use of the term Anthropomorphics, which professional comic companies would take much more notice of than they did Furry.
In 1990, MU Press published its first original anthropomorphic title, Dwight R. Decker and Teri S. Wood's Rhudiprrt, Prince of Fur.
In 1990, Mythagoras, a literary Furry fanzine, was published by Bill Biersdorf and Watts Martin.
In 1990, FurryMUCK was established. The multi user Furry environment escalated the ability of fans to create and play their own characters and proved so popular in such a short amount of time that its servers could not handle the demand.
The advent of sites like FurryMUCK added yet another new dimension to the fandom, as well as to role playing in general. Not every Furry fan is creative to the extent that they can create a fictional character to play in an RPG. Yet RPG environments would, beyond this point in history, become the in places for Furry fans to socialize.
Being as socialization was the main objective in many of these environments, Furries were not only under unusual pressure to create an original character, but it just seemed practical to base such characters on themselves, which was quite convenient for socializing.
It wasn't long before these players began to realize that there were unexpected advantages to playing a Furry character based on themselves. For one thing, if they commonly had any hang ups about their physical appearance - POOF - that was all gone. All barriers which commonly shield others from the inner-selves of their companions were gone.
Thus, Furry was on its way to becoming something a little more substantial than it's surrounding fandoms. It was not only at the forefront of the new horizons in internet socialization. It was creating a new venue for exploration of the human condition. It had made it possible for fans to create allegories of themselves - utilizing that power which Aesop had recognized back in 500 BC to see life from a different angle through the eyes of an animal representation.
In 1990, Gary Sutton started the Furry Press Network as Furry Fandom's second major APA. Despite a successful start, Sutton killed it in early 1992 by refusing to allow its other members to continue it after he gave it up.
In 1990 the seeds of the internet news group alt.fan.furry were planted. Described as, "Fans of funny animals, ala Steve Gallacci's book." Throughout the 90's it was the main venue of communication between internet capable Furries. It's current blurb reads, "Do you like Bugs Bunny and "The Lion King"? Do you play games such as "Starfox" or "Sonic the Hedgehog"? Do you read science fiction novels like C.J. Cherryh's "The Pride of Chanur"? Do you enjoy adult-themed comic books including "Maus" or "Omaha the Cat Dancer"? Find out about furries in alt.fan.furry!"
In 1991, Piers Anthony began The Mode series, which dealt with a talking horse with the power to traverse time and space.
In 1991, Disney released Beauty & The Beast.
In 1991, Ren & Stimpy happened. This marked a new low point in the history of animation, reflecting the larger degeneration in world mentality, rising in parallel to the proliferation of cable TV, the internet, mass fandom communities, and other gatherings of young minds with no mature guidance.
Though Ren & Stimpy was one of the first Furry TV shows that was overtly offensive to parents, it didn't get the kind of complaints generally harmless 80's cartoons had gotten from parental and religious groups. Else it would never have survived. People merely decided it made life easier to let their children watch this offensive program, and this allowed a trend to follow of crude, offensive cartoons geared at children—most likely stunting the intellectual growth of a generation, aided my the simultaneous degeneration of music, movies and TV shows of that era, which broke new ground in emphasizing and glorifying the crude, the ugly and the inappropriate. All of which children tended to have free access to.
In 1991, Sega introduced Sonic The Hedgehog, the first Furry superstar of the video game world.
In contrast to the grungier entertainment of the day, video games remained bright and colorful. This was yet another fandom with close ties to Anime, and one of the leading suppliers of Furry characters. To this day Video Game Fandom remains a key factor in the three fandoms not being able to drift too far apart.
In 1991, Furrlough began publication, replacing Critters as the main Furry anthology series. It is still being published to this day. And though the use of Fur in it's title may have helped boost the popularity of the term Furry, to this day Furrlough bills itself as a Funny Animal anthology.
In 1991, Fred Perry began Gold Digger. A manga styled comic featuring a werecheetah that became a staple of both the Anime and Furry fandoms.
In 1991, Mu Press offered Wild Kingdom, an adults only anthology.
In 1991, Mu Press offered Mad Raccoons.
In 1991, Fate Comics offered Rockin' Rollin' Miner Ants.
In 1991, Leadbelly Comics offered Interplanetary Lizards Of The Texas Plains.
In 1991, Sideshow Comics offered Cheese Weasel.
In 1991, ConFurence 2 grew to an attendance of more than two hundred. Guests of Honor were Reed Waller, Kate Worley, Steve Gallacci, Vicky Wyman. as well as Carl Gafford and Len Wein of Disney Comics.
In 1991, The Tai-Pan Project was started, featuring stories set on a Furry-crewed tramp spaceship, written by many contributing authors elaborating on a developing theme.
In 1991, Mark Merlino and the ConFurence group published the fanzine called "Touch."
In 1991, The Furkindred: A Shared World was started by Charles Melville and Edd Vick at MU Press as a writers and artists project. Stories adhered to guidelines describing a Furry world, its nations and politics.
In 1991, Don Bluth released Rock-A-Doodle, in which Glenn Campbell voices an anthropomorphic parody of Elvis Presley. In the context of this essay, Rock-A-Doodle is historically significant in that it was the first feature length animated film to acknowledge the term Furry. The main character, upon being transformed into an anthropomorphic cat, rather than exclaiming "I'm a cat!" exclaims "I'm a Furry!"
Some say that isn't what was in the script. But it's what came out on the soundtrack. And to this day it causes viewers to do a double take.
In 1992, Disney released Aladdin, which makes this list for having a monkey and a tiger in supporting roles.
In 1992 Mike and Carole Curtis created Shanda The Panda. Though having some issues that are age restricted, the series is comprised mainly of Slice Of Life or soap opera type storylines. It is the longest running and best example of the Furry Slice Of Life series that deals with the problems of real life in an anthropomorphic context.
The creators profess to have been unaware of the Furry Fandom when they created Shanda, but upon attending their first Furry convention, they were overwhelmed by the response of the fans to their comic. And they have been fixtures of the Furry scene ever since. They were well appreciated in the Anime scene of the 90's as well.
In 1992, Mu Press offered Beauty Of The Beasts, a series that featured full page artistic renderings of anthropomorphic characters. Basically a black & white art gallery magazine that featured some of the top named artists in the field at the time.
In 1992, Mu Press offered Chuck Melville's The Champion Of Katara, which currently continues as a web comic. Interestingly, the title itself doesn't currently rate a Wikifur article. But the character, Felicia, rates several.
In 1992, Yu Yu Hakushont began on Japanese TV. One of the main characters is a spirit fox.
In 1992, Ko Century Beastketteers was animated in Japan, featuring Anthropomorphic Animals with mecha totems.
In 1992, Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, a sci-fi comedy in which the brain of a dying cat is transplanted into the body of an android, first appeared in Japanese animation.
In 1992, Tenchi Muyo was first animated in Japan, featuring the popular mascot Ryo-okki.
In 1992, Sailor Moon was first animated in Japan, featuring the popular mascots Luna and Artimus.
In 1992, Dwight J. Dutton turned Huzzah! (previously an Albedo fanzine) into an invitational furry artists' APA starting with its issue four. This format change was influenced by a number of Rowrbrazzle artists who had become dissatisfied with that publication's declining quality and the proliferation of text-based and x-rated material in it. Huzzah allowed no text-only contributions, and tried to limit the membership to professional artists, art students or high-level hobby cartoonists. It was one of the first furry fanzines to feature a color cover on every issue.
In 1992, Growl (Paul Groulx) in Frankford, Ontario started the FURthest North Crew as an APA for primarily Canadian Furry fans. It was almost immediately filled by former Furry Press Network members, and became furry fandom's third strong APA.
In 1993, WB introduced Animaniacs. From which the character of Minerva Mink would become a popular star in the fandom.
In 1993, the native Furry art of Japan, called Kemono, resulted in the video game series Star Fox. As with Minerva Mink and Gadget Hackwrench, the fandom would single the character Krystal out as a major star - the subject of fan art and fan fiction beyond counting.
In 1993, Biker Mice From Mars came to television.
In 1993, Hanna-Barbara created Swat Kats, which, along with Biker Mice From Mars, to some extent show that comics weren't the only venue where the concept of Anthropomorphic Animals was being re-evaluated as something for teens and young adults, rather than just small kids.
In 1993, Antarctic Press published the first issues of Katmandu, a Furry comic with Native American influences that sometimes went a bit far for the non-age restricted readership it was pitched at.
In 1993, Antarctic Press began Genus, a Furry anthology series that catered to the hentai side of Furry Fandom. Anime's hentai sub genre already had several titles available and was one of its favored selling points to attract adult interest. Therefore, it was no surprise that they tried the same thing with Furry. And many of the erotic concepts that would appear in such age restricted comics are a direct result of Furry's association with anime.
In 1993, Antarctic Press offered Hit The Beach, an anthology of Furry pin-ups.
In 1993, Golden Realm Unlimited Offered Tall Tails.
In 1993, Darrell Benvenuto started The American Journal of Anthropomorphics, an annual coffee-table-format collection of Furry art.
In 1993, Damien Cugley published the first British Furry fanzine, Furry Furry. This was followed by the more successful Anthropomorphine.
In 1994 Disney released The Lion King. Like Bambi, this all Talking Animal movie proved so powerful that it instilled The Furry Interest in many a viewer. The film also came with a uniquely Furry controversy.
In 1994, Tonde Buurin (Super Pig) began on Japanese TV. A super hero parody about a girl who transforms into a super powered anthropomorphic pig.
In 1994, Magic Knight Rayearth was first animated in Japan, featuring the popular mascot Mokona.
In 1994, Antarctic Press offered Aztec Anthropomorphic Amazons.
In 1994, the Felidae movie was produced. Film Noir for talking cats. It is one of the most serious Furry movies ever made, and by far the most disturbing. Not X-rated, but even less for kids than Fritz The Cat.
In 1994, ConFurence 5 had attendance of slightly more than six hundred.
In 1994, Martin Dudman launched the first major British Furry fanzine, the quarterly Fur Scene: The Anthropomorphic Newsletter. Dudman also started United Publications, a mail-order service to import American Furry books, comics, and fanzines for British fans, and vice versa.
In 1994, east coast Furry fans held Furtasticon I. It drew about 230 fans from across North America.
In 1995, Slayers was first animated in Japan, providing a number of anthropomorphic characters in the supporting cast, including Jillas The Fox and Filia The Dragon Girl.
In 1995, Yuichi Kimura began a series of Japanese Furry novels, beginning with One Stormy Night - later to be made into an animated feature.
In 1995, Saint Tail was first animated in Japan, featuring the mascot Ruby the Hedgehog.
In 1995, Nickelodeon introduced the Little Bear series.
In 1995, Disney released Pocahontas, which also manages to have talking animals in the supporting roles. Even in an adaptation of historical events, talking animals seem to be synonymous with Disney feature animation.
In 1995, Antarctic Press published Tank Vixens, a comic for mature readers intended as a spoof of Anime and Furry clichés.
In 1995, Marcus Lusk offered Tales From The Bog.
In 1995, Dark Horse Comics offered a selection of Tex Avery titles.
In 1995, EuroFurence 1 was organized as a house party at a vacation farm in Kaiser Wilhelm Koog, near Hamburg, Germany. Nineteen attended from Northern Europe and Britain.
In 1995, South Fur Lands was started by Jason Gaffney in Brisbane as the first major Australasian Furry fanzine.
In 1995, Furtasticon evolved into ConFurence East, Attendance was 449. The art show included 795 pieces of art; sales were near $11,000. An official charity was heavily promoted: Wolf Park nature study preserve at Battle Ground, Indiana. The Sci-Fi Channel covered the convention.
In 1995, Alain Ayroles offered De Cape et de Crocs, a French comic seeming far more ambitious than anything coming out of the American Furry comics scene.
In 1996, anime unleashed the last major Furry phenomenon on the world to date. It was called Pokemon. The incredibly popular video and card game, coupled with the TV show, took the world by storm and still has yet to completely run its course.
In 1996, Steve Gallacci And Taral Wayne offered Tales Of Beatrix.
In 1996, Tavicat Comics offered Reality Check.
In 1996, Bust-A-Nut Comix began.
In 1996, Eric W. Schwartz began the web comic Sabrina Online.
In 1996, ConFurence 7 spilled over into 2 hotels, with a membership of 999 and attendance of 875. Many fans arrived early to make it an informal four-day convention. The convention awarded its first Golden Sydney Award (statuette by Ruben Avila), "to a person in 'mainstream' media or publishing who has helped to create a more 'furry friendly' atmosphere for anthropomorphic material and fandom." The first recipient was Disney animation writer-director Jymn Magon (TaleSpin, A Goofy Movie, et cetera). Art Show sales reached almost $30,000.
In 1996, EuroFurence 2 was held in Linköping, Sweden, in a rented school building. About thirty fans from Sweden, Finland, Britain, and Germany attended.
In 1996, at the L.A.con III World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles, a Furry Fandom Lounge operated by the ConFurence committee became an impromptu five-day Furry convention within the Worldcon. Its panels, demonstrations, and evening Furry parties were integrated into and publicized within the general Worldcon program schedule. A glass-showcased History of Furry Fandom exhibit assembled by David Bliss was included among the Worldcon's exhibitions. A general SF trivia quiz included a block of "Fins, Feathers, and Furry" questions.
In 1996, ConFurence East attendance was estimated at around five hundred. The art show took in $12,400. Many attendees carpooled to a local theater for the premiere of Warner Bros.' Space Jam that weekend.
In 1997, The WB network brought out Road Rovers, which quickly became a favorite with the fandom at the time.
In 1997, Franklin debuted on Nickelodeon. One of the more popular and long running anthropomorphic kid shows of the 90's, it recalls the innocence of the 80's TV cartoons.
In 1997, Thomas K. Dye began the web comic Newshounds. A collection of strips entitled All the Newshounds Fit to Print won the Ursa Major Award for "Best Anthropomorphic Literary Work."
In 1997, the first Anthrocon was held with attendance of 500. It is held annually with constantly increasing attendance, having outgrown several venues. Its attendance in 2010 is expected to reach the 4000 mark. It is billed as the world's largest Furry convention.
The Furry convention is now a common event with one happening just about every month in one place or another. The ever increasing attendance features continuing to provide an astounding indication of just how large the fandom is.
In 1998, inspired by the success of Anthrocon, Camp Feral was started in Canada as an alternative form of Furry gathering with a more relaxed atmosphere.
In 1998, Disney released Mulan, with a talking dragon in the supporting cast.
In 1998, Radio Comics offered Havoc, Inc.
In 1998, being at the cutting edge of internet socialization, Furry Fandom demonstrated a negative aspect to electronic communication - the flame war. All fandoms have these, but few can claim one as legendary as Furry Fandom's Burned Fur escapade.
By this point in time, Furry Fandom was attracting numbers large enough to get some recognition. And, according to the originators of Burned Fur, it was the wrong kind of attention. They declared it was time the fandom put its collective foot down about being supportive of Furry artists, rather than a social thing for the exploration of odd ideas. And they weren't too crazy about the proliferation of the hentai equivalent of the fandom, either.
Basically it was a ploy by members of the fan base to gain control and dominance over something that was beyond anyone's control. All the resulting conflict could do was destroy the good will of the fandom and divide its members over issues that, in the end, proved to be of little consequence.
Of course, there have been many flame wars in the fandom. Though no other flame war had results significant enough to warrant a place in Furry history. This flame war was different only because it burned so hot that it caught the attention of the media. And the media, having no previous notion of what Furry Fandom was, took the arguing and groundless accusations flying around as fact, and subsequently used those misconceptions to construct it's own definition of what Furry Fandom was, and the cha-ching of shock ratings rang in their ears.
The ultimate legacy of Burned Fur was to become a buzz term used to instantly attack and silence anyone who dared to suggest any type of restraint, as well as anyone who suggested creating anything that would assist the advancement of fandom artists in their pursuit of mainstream success. And also to be the first shot fired in the most successful trolling of a fan community in internet history.
Furries figuratively ate themselves alive, doing untold damage to themselves and the reputation of the fandom in their paranoid fear of attack, both from trolls and the media, and their endlessly repeated explanations of what they were not. Until it all but got to a point where the fandom didn’t remember what it was, as it was inundated with new members drawn in by the controversy, looking for the fandom the media had fictionalized.
The shadow of Burned Fur would keep the fandom divided and at each other's throats for the better part of 10 years, when it finally fizzled out and was forgotten. At which point the fandom resumed it's positive disposition and momentum. The only positive thing to have been demonstrated by it all being a massive lesson in how the internet can be abused, which hopefully in this new decade will leave all internet communities less vulnerable to such things.
In 1999, Di Gi Charat was first seen on Japanese TV, with its bizarre little aliens who dress and talk like animals.
In 1999, Cartoon Network introduced Courage The Cowardly Dog.
In 1999, Isabel Marks began the web comic Namir Deiter.
In 1999, Susan Rankan, aka Susan Deer, began the web comic A Doemain Of Our Own.
In 1999, Disney released Tarzan. This being the first adaptation of Tarzan from a Talking Animal perspective.
In 1999, The Funday PawPet Show began on the internet.
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