The Laws of the Furry Webcomic Jungle

furryOne of the awesome things about the Internet is that you can find a webcomic that deals with pretty much any subject you can think of.  As many furries are artistically inclined, there are naturally a number of furry comics out there on the tubes.  Since ‘anything goes’ on the Web, there are a few that allow the predator/prey relationship to exist even though they otherwise take place in a ‘civilized world.’  I’ll be talking about two in particular that take contrasting approaches to their ‘dog eat dog’ worlds.

“Kevin and Kell” by Bill Holbrook is a comedy strip that takes place in a furry world and focuses on the mixed marriage of the title characters (a rabbit and wolf) and their family.  “Doc Rat” by Jenner is a furry humor strip about a rat physician who has a clinic in what could be called furry Australia.  If the two strips were movies, Kevin and Kell would be given a ‘G’ rating compared to Doc Rat’s ‘PG.’

Both comics take place in worlds that are similar to our present-day one, but for the fact that the “civilized world” is populated by anthropomorphic animals instead of humans.  While on the surface that is nothing new, the fact that predators can devour prey makes for some interesting reading.  Holbrook and Jenner handle the relationship in different ways, which makes sense given that the different tones that their respective strips possess.

April 23, 1997
“Kevin and Kell” April 23, 1997

Kevin and Kell is a comedy strip which takes place in a world where social classes are defined by whether a person is a carnivore, herbivore, nocturnal, avian and so on and so forth.  Despite this, many, if not all of the lead characters in the strip defy their roles.  Kevin is a rabbit.  While lurking in a carnivore forum, he meets Kell and falls in love with her.  Unbeknownst to him, Kell is a wolf.  Of course, love conquers all, and so they are married despite the fact that their relationship is not the norm in their world.  Even more iconoclasts are introduced into the cast as it progresses, and one would be hard-pressed to find many ‘normal’ characters.

In Kevin and Kell, the predator/prey relationship is mostly played for laughs.  Indeed, many of the jokes in the strip involve animals.  An early running gag involved Kell’s brother Ralph (and Kevin’s brother-in-law) constantly trying to eat Kevin.  As Kevin is an usually large rabbit, he is able to easily repulse Ralph’s attempts.  While one-off characters are constantly eaten for laughs, members of the main cast that are prey species have occasionally come under attack from predators.  Like any good sitcom, though, everything ends up being okay in the end, and life goes on.  Thus, in the grand scheme of things, predation really isn’t that a big of a deal.

"Doc Rat" March 8, 2011
“Doc Rat” March 8, 2011

Doc Rat is also a humor strip, but it has a more serious tone than Kevin and Kell, and so its treatment of the predator/prey relationship is also more serious.  In the world of Doc Rat, predators can eat prey, but there are limits.  In instances where this has happened, the characters will often speak about the kill ‘being legal’ and in one instance the eating of prey species is referred to as ‘cultural tradition.’  Incidentally, a wolf and a rabbit are also married in Doc Rat (curiously enough, the roles are reversed in that strip) but the topic of the predator having to eat meat is treated in a more sober manner.

SPOILER ALERT

In a recent story arc (that begins with this strip) a venomous snake bites someone with the intent of eating them, but the victim gets away to the hospital.  The victim has a sixty-hour window to (I presume) ‘get away’ before the predator comes to claim the ‘wild meat’ as he is now referred to.  The legalese is little tricky for me, because the author’s experience is with the Australian legal system as opposed to the USA’s.  As near as I can figure out, once a predator decides to hunt, they file paperwork of some sort and can then begin to hunt their intended prey.  Children are also not protected either, as happened in this arc.

END SPOILER

For all the talk of legality, the ‘law of the jungle’ is a part of life in the world of Doc Rat, prey characters refer to victims of predators as ‘being taken’ or ‘becoming meat.’  The titular character’s role as a doctor also exposes him to aspects of predation that most members of their society probably don’t have to deal with.  In one strip, the lead character and a fellow doctor muse over having to prepare a patient to be eaten: “Not the most fun part of being a doctor, mate.”  Unlike Kevin and Kell, predation in Doc Rat is a very serious matter and has impacted the lives of some of the characters.

Kevin and Kell and Doc Rat take markedly different approaches to predation in their furry worlds, and they both work because they match the tone used in their respective strips: Kevin and Kell plays it up for laughs whereas Doc Rat treats it in a more serious manner.  Indeed, both comics are highly enjoyable reads whether you are looking for sitcom-esque laughs or the story of a doctor and his patients…who just happen to be animals.

Apple Does Not Like Files

technology2As my iPad mini is my first iOS device, I have had to learn it and adjust to its idiosyncrasies. Some of the new things I’m discovering are good, like the ability to swipe up with four fingers and bring up a list of currently open apps and volume/brightness controls. Of course, there are bad things to discover as well, such as the ‘locked down’ nature of the device. In particular, I was initially miffed that I could not work with files like I could on desktops or Android devices.

I like files. I know how to work with files. I like to make folders for my files and organize them and e-mail them and sort them and rename them and open them and edit them and do all kinds of fun stuff with them.

Apple does not like files.

Apple likes objects. On an abstract level, apps are objects in iOS,not files.  Instead of having files scattered all about, like in Windows or Android, your stuff lives in the app that uses it. If you’re going to work with a picture, you open up Photos, select the picture you want to work with, and get to work. Music lives in iTunes, documents live in Pages, and so on and so forth. The app comes first.

iOS gets irritiating for people like me because unlike Android, where I can get an app like Astro and poke around at the underlying file system, iOS does not let you get ‘under the hood’ at all.  I can’t put stuff where I want it because Apple won’t let me, and coming from a world where files rule and I can do whatever I want to with them, that is frustrating.

Case in point: I use Dropbox to store stories that I am working on. Indeed, one of the first apps I downloaded onto my iPad mini was the Dropbox app.  I also got the Pages word processor because it had totally knocked my socks off on the iPad demo units. Awesome. I quickly learned that Pages does not talk to Dropbox. My file-centric brain then said: “No biggie, I’ll download a copy of my latest story via Dropbox, open it in Pages, do some editing, save my changes, then upload the newest draft back to the cloud. After all, that’s how it had worked on my Acer Iconia Tab A100.”

In response, Pages threw the finger at me and said, “NO SAVING FOR YOU.  You’re going to open the file in Pages and I’ll make a copy there. Its staying there after that, too, because I don’t like Dropbox and I ain’t giving it back.” So I end up with two copies of the story floating around, one in Dropbox and one in Pages. So much for keeping things in sync.

Ultimately, I found a Microsoft Office-compatible app talkd to Dropbox direclty, so that fixed that, but its just one an example of how I have had to work around iOS because it ‘thinks different.’  Its methodology is awesome for end-users because files are icky things and people don’t like dealing with them.  I think its because most folks can’t make the mental leap from objects (like documents, pictures, and music) to files. They can’t wrap their heads around the abstract concept like ‘computer people’ do.

If everything lives in the app, then they don’t have to deal with files at all.  If they want to do something, they open the appropriate app, and everything is there.  Instead of a list of files, they see pictures, songs, and documents, and that’s what they know.

Those of us that are more ‘computery,’ on the other hand, have a few options: muddle around iOS as best we can, jailbreak our devices, or just not bother with it altogether. Unfortunately, I think I’ve taken one step too far into the rabbit-hole, because for all that fuss, I’m still loving my iPad mini…even if it doesn’t want me to have my precious files.

When Do I Start?

A question I often have to ask myself when writing a short story is just when do I start the story. “Well, at the beginning, DUH,” you’re probably thinking to yourself, but things often aren’t that simple.

Since I often have a word limit that I can’t go over, that often doesn’t leave me with enough space to set things up, so the story ends up starting somewhere after the characters, setting, situation, etc, have been established.  Oftentimes, though, those details are not all important to the point I’m trying to make in the story, so that’s okay.

Whenever I’m doing a ‘gag’ story, which is fairly often, I really can’t start at ‘the beginning’ (wherever that may be) because starting near the end makes it easier to hide information that is critical to the punch line. The challenge there is making sure that I give the reader enough information so that they understand what is going on.

Start at the beginning?  If it were only always that simple!

Don’t Make It Worse

She forgot to mention 'hot water'
What about hot water heaters, Fate?

Its not quite a Rule of Tech Support (I’ll have to check the list to make sure) but a good rule to follow whenever you’re fixing something is “don’t make it worse.”  If you can’t fix something at least try to get back to where you were when you started, it just makes life easier down the road, even if it is for the next guy that’s going to be looking at whatever it is you’re trying to fix.  If its someone else’s thing you’re fixing, be up front and honest about what is happening.

The poor handling of an unfortunate situation is one common thread that I see over and over again whenever someone takes to the Internet to air a legitimate grievance, like the musician who recently had a guitar damaged by incompetent baggage handlers after he was denied the right to carry it onto the plane with him.  Something unfortunate happens, the person seeks remedy from the company that wronged them, and the company completely blows the opportunity to prove they’re really all about the customer.  Instead they blow them off, or insult them with a feeble attempt at compensation and look like a bunch of non-caring jerks.

I wouldn’t have been so riled up about the recent hot water outage in my apartment but for the way the staff handled the situation.  The first time it happened, I was upset, but the email I received after the fact offered an apology and explained the situation.  I read it and was satisfied to know that the problem was being taken care of.  If they had sent a properly worded email the second time it happened, I probably wouldn’t have gone onto this blog to open up a can of Internet Wrath™.

Stuff happens, and I believe that most people are willing to accept that stuff happens as long as you don’t insult their intelligence by ignoring them, insulting their intellgence or being condescending.  Own the problem, let your customers know that things are being attended to, and most folks will accept that.  Don’t make it worse.

In any event, the hot water is back, so its time for a bath.  I ain’t dipping my big toe in that tub until its good and ready, though!

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Click to see what awaited me after work.
Click to see the good news and poor comma usage.

Final Update: 1/9, 1030PM: Looks like the hot water’s back, w00t.

2nd Update: 1/9, 620PM: Still nothing, purchased a “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot to assist with bathing. Not bad for two-fifty or so, though I wish they had tops for them.

UPDATE 1/8, 430PM: After sending a link to this blog to the regional manager via Venterra Realty’s website, I got a call from the complex at about 4PM. I was unable to answer because I was busy at work. They left a message essentially saying they’re really sorry (again) but they don’t have an ETA for a fix. Whoopee. I called back but got a message saying they’re weren’t available. They called me back again and apparently the entire boiler went kerplotz, so they need to get a new one…yeah, I think that’s going to be awhile.

If you’ve lived in an apartment for any decent amount of time, it’s a question that you get to ask yourself every year or so. As the day your lease ends gets closer, you think it over and think it over until finally the ‘renew your lease’ letter drops into your mailbox or gets left on your door. If you’re lucky, your rent stays the same, or only goes up a few bucks, so assuming things haven’t been too crazy, you re-up, and stand pat for another year or so.

If you aren’t lucky, your rent goes up just enough to make you think over whether you want to pay more to stay in a place that you are not completely happy living in. My renewal letter came in the mail about a week ago. I opened it to learn that my rent is going to be going up $50 a month. Crap.

I initially had a few issues with my current apartment complex after I moved in. The buildings are a bit on the older side and so it seemed that the maintenance guys were coming in at least once a month to fix or do something or other. I also had problems with the office hours not being consistent, I would occasionally have to go to the office to pay my rent during my lunch break to find it closed. Things did seem to be getting a little bit better as time went on, but still I winced when I saw that fifty dollar increase and thus began the internal debate.

Then last Saturday the hot water went out. On a 40-degree morning.

After making that discovery and stewing in my own juices for an hour, I boiled a bunch of water, took a hot bath, and life went on. I received an email later that day containing the management’s apology for the outage. It also said that there was a temporary fix in place and that the boiler would be fully repaired on Monday.

I think to myself: “Okay. These guys have got a handle on this. The boiler will be fixed on Monday. Awesome.’

I spoke too soon. I got home to find the lovely e-mail above waiting for me in my inbox. I turned on the tap, and of course, no hot water. No telling when its going to be fixed, either. All I have is a poorly-written message about ‘a part that needs to be ordered’ that I’m sure was hurriedly banged out by someone before they got out of Dodge.

Last straw, meet camel’s back.

2013 Convention Schedule

Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com
Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com

Another year means another bunch of conventions to attend and enjoy!  Unlike previous years, where I was either just an attendee or assisting with other folks’ tables, I will be peddling my wares at some of these events.  Buy or die!

While this isn’t a convention per se, I plan on showing up and selling my books at the St. Phillip’s Anime Club Anime Show held every weekend at Bubblehead Tea just south of downtown San Antonio on the first Friday of nearly every month.  I don’t know that I’ll have a table every month, but its a fun free event to go to and hang out at.

Ushicon, Feb 8-10, Round Rock, TX – Ushicon is an 18+ only anime convention, this will be the first time that I am attending, so I’ll be curious to see how different it will be without the usual Pocky and Ramune-fueled teenagers running around everywhere.

Furry Fiesta 2013, Feb 22-24, Addison, TX – After gushing over Furry Fiesta last year, coming back is a no-brainer, but this time I’m hoping to do a panel on e-book publishing, maybe sit around in Artist Alley for a day or so and have fun.

Mizuumi-Con 6, March 23, San Antonio, TX – San Antonio’s second biggest anime con should be loads of fun again, hopefully the gym won’t become a sauna like it did last year.  I plan on having a table at this one also.

Wild Nights, April 25-29, Robber’s Cave State Park – Despite Oklacon being an ‘okay’ event and not a ‘knock my socks off’ one, I am eager to try another outdoor convention.  Wild Nights takes place in a different part of Oklahoma and as there aren’t very many other furcons near Texas, let’s give it a shot!

Texas ComicCon 2013 June 21-23, San Antonio, TX – I like Texas Comic-Con, and I want to like it more, but its venue is a dump and the show has become the ‘same thing every year’ for me, so I’ll probably go just for a day to hang out with friends.

Anthrocon 2013, July 4-7, Pittsburgh PA – Anthrocon is the world’s largest furcon, and something I’d really like to go to, but I’m on the fence on making the trip because of the money involved.  Stupid car payment and rent going up.

San Japan 6, Aug 16-18, San Antonio, TX – The 500-lb gorilla in San Antonio, San Japan is a blast.  I’m not 100% sure of my plans for it right now, but I’m fairly certain I won’t have a table so I’ll get to actually have fun.

As most of these conventions take place in the first half of 2013, I may add another event late in the year, money permitting of course.  Hope to see you somewhere!