Welcome to Fang, Feather, and Fin: A Furry History Blog
Introducing Fang, Feather, and Fin: A Furry History Project!
Hello and welcome to Fang, Feather, & Fin! This blog post marks our official launch, and we wanted to take a few words to introduce ourselves and outline what we’re planning for the coming months and years.
At its heart, this project’s mission is to collect, preserve, discuss, and make available as complete a record of the furry community’s history and culture as we can. It was begun and is managed by Chipper Wolf, Gale Frostbane, and Tofte Alpaca, though we intend it to be a collaborative effort that the entire furry community can contribute to and benefit from. You can find fuller bios and statements of FF&F’s three founding members below and on our About Us page, but here are some core beliefs that we all share and that motivate this work:
We believe that:
furry-ness is meaningful. It is fundamentally meaningful to us, and we know that it means a great deal to many of you reading this blog.
furry culture, history, and experience is complex and worthy of understanding, remembrance, and sharing with others.
furries — ourselves included — are interested in and passionate about research, preservation, and outreach related to our community.
Part of what makes furry history so fascinating is that the fandom originates within and across different media – comics, zines, fandom websites; conventions, books, and news media; room parties, MUCKs, and blogs; and the list goes on. Furry’s diversity of media also presents challenges. Furry culture has always been a labor of love and has been developed and transmitted by the most tenuous threads. Furries found each other and created something unique one photocopied zine, snail-mailed comic, IRC chat, and room party at a time. The fact that we have a culture at all is a miracle, and we are at a point where all of us are seeing holes in the knowledge of our community and history opening up. Stories are being lost or not being retold, early furry artists and writers are becoming unfamiliar, websites are shutting down, and links are breaking.
In addition to acknowledging and trying to account for this fascinating yet tenuous history, we are also acutely aware that we are living at a critical inflection point in furry history. The earliest generation of furries is now reaching retirement age, and we are beginning to lose the wonderful, creative, bright greymuzzles on whose shoulders all furries today stand. These losses have been brought into even sharper relief in the past two years on account of COVID and a growing sense of precarity about public health and the environment. We believe that we owe it to our furry elders to preserve and carry forward the traditions and stories they gifted us with. We also want younger furs to be able to know how things developed and to feel a real sense of connectedness to a rich, complex culture and history. And now that there are indeed multiple generations of furs, we believe that furry has developed enough of a critical mass of culture that we can say and learn something meaningful about it by preserving and studying and understanding it. We think that there’s a genuine desire and need for that kind of understanding. We are all in this community, we believe, because we want to know ourselves and each other better. And we three want to contribute to that goal by helping everyone access and know our collective past.
To pursue this mission of preserving and bringing furry history to life, we are focusing our efforts around four project areas:
Archive. Gather, record, and preserve as much of the furry community’s physical and digital presence as possible. This includes mainstream published material, underground and private material, print and digital media, audio and video, clothing and fursuits, and coverage by non-furry sources such as news and entertainment media.
Oral History. Interview as many furries as we can to create a diverse collection of reflections on what it means to be furry and to create a lasting record of stories and perspectives from every corner of our community. Audio recordings and text transcriptions of these interviews will be archived and made publicly available so that everyone can learn from each other.
Blog. Curate our oral history and material findings into informative posts on every aspect of the community. These posts will be part of an ongoing effort to tell the story of furry in a way that is accessible and objective.
Public Outreach. Share the results of the above work with the furry community at large. None of the above does any good if it’s just sitting in someone’s basement, and we aim to develop ways for furries to interact with and learn about what we’re doing through con panels, traveling exhibits about specific aspects of furry history, asking other furries to contribute their insights and perspectives, and making the online archive as accessible as possible.
While Fang, Feather, and Fin is managed by a team of three furries (learn more about us below!), it is ultimately a project for our community and by our community. We need everyone’s help, whether that’s by donating furry materials to the archive or by volunteering to be interviewed or sharing the research and writing we’re undertaking.
So, now that we’ve introduced the project, what comes next? We’re still getting set up, but soon we’ll begin posting articles on the blog, and we’ve got some exciting ones lined up! A brief history of furry dance competitions, an interview with artist Mike Kazaleh, a discussion of how TF and furry became intertwined, and a history of police raids of furry comics and how early furry NSFW helped protect free expression in the mainstream comics industry will roll out over the next couple months. For a taste of what’s to come, check out our first post, an overview of the history of furry cons and their growth since the 1980s!
We’re also always looking for donations of materials to the archive. Folks have already generously contributed various conbooks and newsletters, room party posters, comics, badges, clothing and other bits of furry culture. If you’ve got *anything* furry that you’d like to donate, no matter how big or small, we’d be grateful — just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter.
FF&F is currently in the process of obtaining non-profit status as a 503(c) organization, and we will update everyone when that is complete! As a community-minded organization, we also think it is important to get consent from the artists and creators who own copyright to the physical materials in the archive before we share them digitally. As we work on obtaining these permissions, the digital archive will expand. If you’re a creator of furry media who would be willing to distribute your materials online, please contact us!
Fang, Feather, & Fin is a community-oriented project for furries, by furries. It is and will also always be a work-in-progress. We are planning and working on this project with accessibility and longevity in mind, which means we’re always looking for ways to build the collection, stories to tell, and contributions and feedback. We are in this for the long haul, and we are both sincerely grateful for your interest and delighted to have you along with us. Thanks for reading, and please reach out to us at any time!
Chipper Wolf (he/they), who also suits as the stellar were-space-bat Zubeneschamali, has been involved in furry fandom since 2013. In addition to being an avid suiter, they volunteered at Anthro New England from 2015-2021, serving as head of Con Store and as one of the convention's Directors. When not TFing into a derpy wolf or an imperious bat, they pursue academic teaching and research — part of the drive to help document furry history. Furry history comes from all of us, and they can't wait to help preserve that history while making it widely available.
Gale Frostbane (she/her) is a little saber kitty with big dreams. Since finding the furry fandom in January 2011, she fell madly in love with it and has made furry her life. Prior to finding the furry fandom, Gale was a mascot for her college and wound up working for years in the MiLB and MLS before focusing professionally on her Environmental Engineering work. As such, Gale is an avid fursuiter and performs multiple characters. Her biggest passion besides fursuiting and mascots is learning everything she can about the furry fandom and its rich history. She now spends countless hours weekly watching old furry videos, tracking down obscure websites and media, and obsessing over every amazing old-school fursuit she can find!
Tofte Alpaca (he/him) is an Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston College, where he teaches courses on Greek, Latin, and ancient Mediterranean civilizations. His favorite course to teach is “Beast Literature,” which explores anthropomorphic and talking animals in ancient, Medieval European, and modern cultures (and which he enjoys sharing with folks other than his students at furry con panels). His academic research focuses on Latin poetry, Roman theater and spectacle, and animals in the Greek and Roman world. For Fang, Feather, and Fin, he’s particularly eager to document furry media, especially comics and literature, and to record and understand the personal experiences of furries and their relationship to furry-ness.