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PeterAndCompany's avatar

The ''Furry'' Problem

Note: This was originally posted to Tumblr before posted here. Please consider helping to spread the word by reblogging the original Tumblr post here.

Fair warning: there is some slight language in this post.

My name is Jonathan Ponikvar. I’m the creator of Peter & Company and an avid cartoon fan; I have been trying (successfully or not) to draw them since I first discovered the magic of crayons and markers. Like most kids in the 80’s I grew up watching a crazy amount of cartoons. My favorites were the cartoons and films of Warner Brothers, Disney, and Don Bluth, so my earliest and crappiest of doodles always revolved around those characters in some way.

As I grew older and began seriously getting into cartooning, I noticed something odd going on around me: the cartoon animal was quickly becoming an endangered species. The animal designs of the 80’s and 90’s TV cartoons were being seen less and less in modern times within the industries that they helped create.

How could this happen? Are people just no longer interested in funny talking animals?

Not quite. Thanks to the internet-at-large and various programs that have fed into it, the term “furry” has now been assimilated into the mainstream culture. To those who actually take the time to learn the origins of the fandom, it means simply an appreciation for cartoon animal characters and the series that featured them throughout our lives. To everyone else, it roughly translates to a fandom entirely focused on sexual deviancy, including sexual activities that incorporate elaborate animal costumes.

I’m putting this out immediately: yes, there are those in the fandom who draw/do things that I won’t describe here. But you will find that same deviant minority in literally ANY fandom across the entire spectrum. In truth, the furry fandom is completely benign and filled to the brim with legitimately good people. Its members are artists, illustrators, animators, craftsmen, costume designers, puppeteers, musicians, writers, professional mascots, or just simply fans of all of the above.

When I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I majored in Sequential Art and earned my BFA in 2007. I intended to finish my Master’s, but had to abandon those plans in 2010 when my funds ran dry. I never was able to complete my thesis, for which I had planned to cover this very subject.

So to answer one of the questions I will inevitably receive, yes, I have definitely done my homework here.

What is the problem, exactly?

The problem lies in the fact that animation companies, game developers, and film directors now seem to be actively avoiding animal character designs because of the public stigma that has been attached to the concept of “furry” characters. It’s this association with sexual deviancy that has been brought into mainstream culture and given life thanks to shows like CSI, My Strange Addiction, and even Hardcore Pawn.

This is not something that directors and studios take lightly. History has shown that those who produce original content legitimately do listen to their audience. Thanks to the advent of social media, a production studio can now release concept art or a trailer and get immediate feedback from their fans. This has been proven to often lead to drastic changes in a product’s final design, even from massive companies like Microsoft (case in point: the XBox One’s drastic shift in DRM policies).

Every comment that is left on Youtube, Kotaku, IGN, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other channels is visible to those who create these products. Animation studios, game developers, comic publishers. Everyone.

So what do you think goes through a Director’s head when the new project trailer goes up on Youtube, and gets inundated with comments like the following:

 - “Goddamn furries, they ruin everything.”
 - “I was into it until I saw the furries. Nope.”

This situation is not hyperbole. It is a situation that is actually happening in today’s creative industries. Modern video game projects like Dust: An Elysian Tail, Freedom Planet, and even WildStar all encountered the anti-furry sentiment, even though the latter barely features it at all.

So what happens when a studio caves in to these comments and decides to create a cardinal rule that cartoon animals are to be avoided altogether? This is also happening, and I encountered it firsthand.

When I began drawing Peter & Company in 2005, I initially planned to push it for newspaper syndication — this is why the first 75 comics in the series are in a standard four-panel newspaper strip format. During the period of time between 2005 and 2007, I probably sent out close to 30 submission packets to various publishers and syndicates across the country. They all came back as rejection letters, but one of the last ones I received included a hand-written note on the letter from one of the editors. In it, he wrote the following:

"Well done, but we’re not currently accepting talking animal strips. Thank you!"

Essentially: We love the concept and the writing! Just a shame you had to go with cartoon animals, though. Make them human and we’ll talk.

You could argue that it was silly of me to not bend to the pressure and just make Peter & Company an all-human cast, but that is precisely the problem. There shouldn’t be anything WRONG with cartoon animal characters, nor should there have to be a plot-specific reason why these animals can walk and talk. I have heard the question “Why do the characters have to be animals?” so many times over the years, both from editors and from fellow artists/students, and each time I say the same thing:

Why not?

So how do we fix the problem?

People think that the internet is so massive and limitless that their comments couldn’t possibly have any effect on things on a larger scale. What they fail to realize is that every comment is visible to everyone, and yes, content producers do read them.

Every time someone immediately replies to a product with animal characters with a knee-jerk anti-furry response, they are perpetuating the problem and adding to the reasons why modern studios tend to avoid the cartoon animal archetype. Every single one of these comments is keeping alive the false and unfair stigma of the anthropomorphic animal being a mascot for a sexually-deviant fandom.

This needs to stop.

I’m not expecting this post to start a revolution or anything. I’m just hoping that those who read it will understand the problem and put forth an effort to help stop others from keeping it alive. Whenever you see someone making one of these blind comments, they need to understand what they are actually doing, and that they are the reason why modern kids aren’t growing up with the same quality of cartoons as we did.

Thank you.
-Jonathan Ponikvar

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Gulliver63's avatar

I like this picture - the lines are very nicely done and clean.

AlistorCatYt's avatar

I was threatened multiple times by anti furries saying we should all die. Not only are people not accepting us, they are trying to "Purge" us. I keep stating we are just like them except we actually accept other cultures and hobbies. Then I get called a karen or a degenerate (guilty of being a degenerate) and shunned away from comments. I think that your comics are amazing. Good luck with newspapers.

kanjikamehameha's avatar

the question is are they less common? modern cartoons do not seem to feature alot of anthropomorphic animals however the type has not gone away. it seems the modern generation repackaged it with influences from Adventure time and Pokémon. example the amazing world of gumball. Japanese animation is also producing more anthropomorphic animals with BNA and Beastards because of the furry fandom. furrys are creating anime

NecryoNics's avatar

I know this is a very old post, but I also wanna say my piece. About 6 years ago I avoided anything that was related to furries because of how media represents it, so naturally I was like “Oh damn I should stay away from that“ . 3 years later and I find myself watching furry YouTubers and and all of them were very nice people. Seeing how they blog about their day at convenation made me want to join them too, it seems so fun and everyone was nice! Soon I started to think that maybe I might be a furry, I’ve always absolutely loved cartoon animal characters, they were always my favorites in every show I watch, or comics I read. Eventually I accepted myself into the fandom. While I don’t necessarily draw a lot of anthrow, since my Main forte is still drawing humans. Embracing anthro characters just made me realize how much I loved drawing anthros. Recently tho I’ve been drawing them less and less all from the fear of being called a lot of names. It frustrates me that people see them that way. I really want to make a comic centered around animal characters, sadly I don’t have the talent or experience for it yet but someday I will! I want people to know that anthro characters aren’t just something sexual or something to avoid! The good thing is that these days there have a been a lot of shows showcasing these characters, Beastars, BNA. I hope people would see the potential of anthro characters more! they make such good stories qwq

im NOT a furry myself, but i absolutely love anthro design since it´s a very easy way to convey personality and make designs unique, and youre right, videogames, cartoons, comics, they all gotten pretty generic over the last few years because "FURRY" all i see is just a bunch of grumpy old guys crying about their life problems, (Japan is so far the only ones who still make fun games) the fun thing left is stablished mascots like Mario, Kirby, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet & Clank, and indie game characters like Shovel Knight and Hat Kid, and the ones that were brought back, we dont know if some characters like Megaman, Spyro, Sir Daniel and... Bubsy will be here to stay or will die again, but besides bringing back old ones i woud love to see more efforts to make new mascots again...

i think besides the whole furry BS, it being "kiddy" is an issue too, most gamers nowdays are way too insecure about their masculinity, so they´ll shove any mascot to the side, many series have been dead outside their neiche (pretty much all the series i mentioned, including succesfull ones like Mario, Sonic, Crash & Kirby, are hated on for different reasons like being to kiddy or being furries) or are straight up dead.

same goes for Cartoons to a lesser extent, while we still have stuff like... Mao Mao (a mediocre Adventure Time ripoff), we barely have any good serious adventure cartoons (that arent reboots, see: Ducktales) with anthros...

EmmetEarwax's avatar

Note: This is attempt 2 in posting this comment. The unwanted Eclipse craparama scragged my first attempt.

I used to do furries.


I downed pen about 25 years ago, for a number of reasons. not acheiving my vision in drawing , was one. See my personal gallery here to see what I mean.

I turned to text fan-fiction, but eventually walked away from that. Most stories have contradictions and need heavy rewriting, which I am NOT able to do now. Abiut 1400 pages. The last 3 issues may not be salvagable,

BARTELBY or THE RETURN OF BARTELBY is the last effort I made, and is not finished, The characters are NOT mine,...check with AlexReynard on InkBunny for data. I had temporarily rejuvenated but am slumped down again...

BTW, a GIF is an offensive pic I understand...

Logan-groupie91's avatar

Furries are one of the few fandoms left that doesn't tolerate fascists. MLP got ruined by the right. The Elder Scrolls got ruined by the right. Rick and Morty got ruined by the right. Fallout got ruined by the right. Furries are one of the fandoms left that haven't decided to give the right a chance.

you know the right didnt have anything to do with the fandoms being ruined rather than the fandoms themselves became full of toxicity and cringe from fanboys? plus there´s tons of alt-right furries regardless, politics literally have absolutely no involvement on a fandom being good or bad, keeping out of other opinions and veiws (because being right doesnt make you a nazi or a fascist),only turns the fandom into a shitty SJW echo chamber, some of the absolute worst fandoms out there are full of SJW´s and femtards (like Steven Universe to put an example).

and before you say anything, i dont consider myself right, i just advocate for free-speech, and freedom of opinion.

When I was little my big sister was abused and raped by her boyfriend who was a furry, I've been afraid of them for awhile. Now I'm 13 and my friend is a furry and he invited my to furcon. I think it was great. I really got to learn how fun it is to be a furry and considering becoming one.
AnimeArtBoi's avatar
That’s great to hear, glad you got over your fears, and I am also very sorry
SlagarCruel1's avatar

Personally, I love being a part of the furry fandom, and I am a huge fan of the Peterverse as well as other great animal webcomics. All those problems caused by a poorly done episode of a show called CSI. That's what sent all of this trouble to the furry community. If you ask me, a lot of things are better within the furry community compared to 'normal' society. Even Japan is beginning to understand that there's more to the furry fandom than just sexuality. To prove it, I recommend checking out the manga and anime BEASTARS by Paru Itagaki. Also, check out my channel on deviantart as well for updates on my own comic series. !!!!!SHIZOKU!!!!!

ps: sorry about the ads. there's nothing I can do about them.

28118's avatar

I'm sorry that you got those rejection letters from the newspaper editors. The mainstream media always portrays the furry community in such a negative light. It's quite sickening, actually.

DKPaladinX's avatar
Totally agree (I just now discover this strip through DA "recomendations"). What are your thoughts about Skynamic Studios' recent success on funding the pilot episode of their "True Tail" concept?

That seems like a promising sign.…
masteryboi420's avatar
PeterAndCompany's avatar
Thank you for your insight on this five-year-old submission. lol
WhIppIng-b0y's avatar
I laughed harder than I should have at this.
Dragonman2455's avatar
Honestly, i don’t see anything wrong with furries. Hell, i’d be bullshitting if i said i wasn’t into the whole thing. If someone got me one of those fursuit things, i’d be happy to at least give it a shot.

Sure, there are those furries that try to sexualise things, but they are just outliers. If they want to do that, let them get on with it. Its their business. At long as they are not hurting people, they should be allowed to do it.

So, all in all, if you are hating on furries because of them, not all furries are like that. Pull your heads in.
SortaSteampunkWolf's avatar
Sad but true. Takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch, am I right?
pookiesaurus4's avatar
I liked anthropomorphic animals since Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse!
Animalz1267's avatar
I like anthropomorphic animals ever since Zootopia
wolfgoohootaj's avatar
will ppl hate us cuz of the NSFW furry art shit 
I'm a furry gamer memer
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