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.

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