Surrounded by Furries are, left, kneeling, Moses Blount and standing, Deshawn Legrand Lynndale Mosley, all of Braddock who came out to see the Furries. (Courier Photos/J.L. Martello)
by J.L. Martello
For New Pittsburgh Courier
The Anthrocon convention (or con for short) is dedicated to anthropomorphic people with animal traits and animals with human traits. The con was started in Albany, N.Y., in 1997 and didn’t come to Pittsburgh until 2006. Anthrocon has grown every year in Pittsburgh with record breaking numbers and has become the largest con of its type in the world.
5-year-old Dra Thompson of Swissvale plays ball with a Dog fur suiter called “Scrubs” outside the Westin Hotel. Dra ran up to many of the furries getting photos taken by his mother of all of the ones he could.
As most people would think, this con is not just about furries and or people dressed up as animals. Suiters, who dress up as different animal-human characters, are the best known. There are several different things that make up Anthrocon. There are artists, cartoonists, video game designers, musicians and comic writers just to name a few.
There are artists who sketch and draw characters–their own they create and other people’s who want what is called a badge (a small drawing with the name of the character on it drawn in a different way than it has already been done).
17-year-old Morgan Taylor from Baltimore, character name “Meri Ympyra,” made her own suit and draws other furries as well as many animal human characters. She stands holding the head of her character.
An African-American artist, 17-year-old Morgan Taylor from Baltimore, talks about how she got into Anthrocon saying, “It started when I was young. I used to draw furry critters and stuff like that and I thought that I was the only one until my dad brought me to Pittsburgh last year and I found out that there was a whole bunch of other furries and people like me.”
Morgan made her own suit in about a week and only cost her around $100. Morgan or “Meri” shares how it feels from being herself and how it feels when she gets in her furry suit by saying, “I’m usually shy and now I feel like I am kind of outgoing, I can talk to people, actually, and that is kind of a huge relief for me so I love doing this a lot.”
Morgan Taylor, character’s name “Meri Ympyra” in her full fur suit.
Known as “Hixbi Fox,” a 27-year-old African-American male and “Jazz,” a 23-year-old African-American female cat woman, pose for a photograph together.
Many of the furries like to stay in character like a 27-year-old African-American male from Louisiana that goes by “Hixbi Fox” and a 23-year-old African-American female from Boston that goes by “Jazz.”
Hixbi Fox says, “What got me into fur suiting was I come from an Anime background and you dress up as other people and you’re famous for being someone else. In this fandom you are popular because you are yourself. This is my character and I designed it and I am popular because people like that character.”
Jazz is dressed like Catwoman as a joke. She is a fur suitor during the day and a cat woman at night. Jazz explains why she got involved in the con saying, “my friends showed me this con–I am usually a Boston Anima person–but I always felt a connection into being a cat, being like a cat, acting like a cat, doing things like a cat identifying basically with cats and cat people. So this is like, oh, there are actually people who do this for a living where they literary make themselves in the form of anamorphic beings and I said, ‘oh, I am going to find this’.”
Hixbi Fox explains his suit took a month to design and about six months to build and cost around $2,200. Hixbi says, “Only about 20 percent of the fandom is suit, other people support by doing artwork, music, stories–so this is not a big part of the fandom and usually it all comes to a common goal. We are trying to help other animals and have a good fellowship.”
“Jazz” in her fur character.
The Anthrocon Convention picks an animal or animal-related charity to raise money for every year. This year the charity was Equine Angels Rescue who rescues horses from being mistreated. The con raised more than $31,000 for the charity this year.
The con has so many different parts to it besides what they call suiting. There are several different concerts that help benefit the charity of the con for that year. There are workshops on puppet-making as well as puppetry, table game competitions in full suits, video gaming, panels from designing to making and wearing a fur suit, to animation. There are always special guests and panelists. Some of this year’s guests were Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon and Tom Minton.
Artist only known as “Kizzy” holds up some of her work at the artists’ alley.
You cannot see who many people are because of the fur suits, however, there are a large number of Blacks involved in the con at all levels. An artist named “Kizzy” from Sacramento, Calif., was one of the hundreds of artist in what the con calls the Artists’ Alley which is a hall in the convention center set up for artists to draw characters and sell their work.
“Kizzy,” a 23-year-old African-American woman at Anthrocon for the first time says, “My friends said, ‘Hey, you draw and you draw pretty well and you like animals. Why not come down to this furry convention?” So I was a little freaked out by the costumes at some point but everybody here is so fun and nice and I love letting them see my art and seeing everyone else’s art was really amazing.”
Artist Cooper Bogan known as “Keyoki” working on piece.
Another African-American artist, Cooper Bogan “Keyoki” who draws characters, designs and makes suits, and has come to has come to five Anthrocons says, “There seems to be more families coming to cons and it is nice to see young people having fun with their families doing family activities and family bonding. You know, it is really nice to see.”
Artist Cooper Bogan known as “Keyoki” holds up a finished piece.
Kids with furry “Black Wolf” are, left: Henry, 5 years old, right, Jordan, 7 years old, and being held by “Black Wolf” is Alea Coleman, 4 years old. The kids are from Morningside.
Meri Ympyra, middle, with friends “Ollie”, left, and “Quincy” acting playful and funny as they are in character.
Furries dancing at one of the several dances.
Doing an one-handed balancing act on top of four chairs and a table is an anamorphic called “Sardyuon.” He is a Japanese furry that performs in the street and on stage juggling and balancing himself.
Furries attempt to break the Guinness book world record at the David L. Lawrence Covention Center.
To find out more about Anamorphic, Anthrocon and furries click on the Anthrocon website: http://www.anthrocon.org/