This was a take-home order from AnthroCon 2016, which I had to put on hold for a couple of months while I moved to Bend. I was doing a lot of yoga in defense of my sanity, and the affirmation of eagle pose (Amidst life’s storms, I stand serene) resonated with me. Well, I aspired to it, anyway. Combined with the fact the Sanskrit name for eagle pose, garudasana, comes from Garuda, the Indian Phoenix, and I found myself incorporating it into this work. Looks a little funny with bird legs, but then, it looks a little funny with human ones, too.
Promo art for Matthew Ebel’s 2017 Live Concerts. 12″x9″ watercolor. Commercial commission.
Jumping forward: this is from just before AnthroCon 2017, when Matthew Ebel asked me to do artwork for his 2017 season live show promo posters. He gave me loose enough prompts that I was able to run with them to somewhere I felt was evocative of the feeling of his live shows, if not their exact appearance. I went to my old ally, the Hubble Site, for background reference pictures, but the Ebel Ship, and his costume, are my own creation. Matthew Ebel is a geek piano rock artist, and his next show is on August 25 in Herndon, VA.
Commissions are currently closed due to pre-existing workload, but if you’d like to commission me in the future please read my terms of service. You may also let me know that you are interested, and I will keep you in mind the next time I open for commissions.
As previously described, AnthroCon is a furry convention, which means it’s about three times as fun as any other kind of convention. It has a special place in my heart, as it was my first ever fur con, and my first time meeting one of my personal heroes—the comedian, 2 the Ranting Gryphon. The story of how we met has been told many times, by both of us, but since my readership on this blog may not have heard it yet, I see no harm in laying it down here. First, it is a good idea to be familiar with 2’s sense of humor. To do that, please take a few minutes to watch the video below. (Warning: contains some swearing.)
Since 2003 2 has had an on-and-off internet show called 2 Sense whose archives got me through long hours of sketching, cleaning, and inking comics. So when the show began a new season in early 2008 I decided it was time I gave something back (as the show was free). So I drew him a picture. It was, by my standards, a rushed job. It was a sketch of a scene from the end of the last show. I put it up online and emailed him a letter with a link to the picture. In the email I told him in no uncertain terms that he would be getting a cartoon sketch inspired by the show for every new show he did.
Imagine my surprise when I heard this same email read out aloud on the very next show, URL and all.
I have not missed a show since. (Barring vacations and holidays, for which I always gave him advance drawings, and did covers afterwards.)
I have since learned that 2 was skeptical about my ability to keep my promise. However, early on he offered to send me shows in advance so I could do covers for them. This more than anything cemented my resolve, and I have come to be best known in the fur fandom as the 2 Sense artist. It is not a bad gig.
2 and I did not meet in person until summer of 2009, when I had been drawing covers for 2 Sense for over a year. Though we corresponded regularly in email, I was still quite shy of him—within the fandom he is a proper celebrity, and carries with him that same sort of celebrity aura that puts him in a class somewhat above and beyond the average person—and when I approached him at his table I was so nervous I could barely speak coherently.
However, I had not got two disjointed sentences out when he peered over the table, read my badge, recognized my name, and fairly demanded that I come around and give him a hug.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The author and 2 (and Dafydd) at AnthroCon 2011
There is a special feeling for me, flying into Pittsburgh. AnthroCon consumes the city like a benevolent virus. Furries, easily recognizable by their bright colors, tails, collars, distinctive badges and general air of congenial queerness, fill the city, casting the locals very much in the shade. And it starts early: waiting for the shuttle in the wee hours of Thursday morning I found myself sharing the sidewalk with two young fursuiters. For each this was their first AnthroCon, and we spent a most enjoyable van ride from the airport to downtown. AnthroCon literally starts and ends in the airport: leaving on Monday I can still find furries wandering forlornly around the terminals, waiting for their flights. This is known informally as “AirportCon” and can make the long waits much more enjoyable.
Technically, AnthroCon is a Friday-Sunday event, but since so many members arrive on Thursday or even Wednesday, the con is practically week-long. As a dealer, I spend the majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday metaphorically chained behind my table, so Thursday is the day I get to visit with friends. As previously mentioned, 2 is an exceptionally busy person, and at AnthroCon it is impossible for him to go more than twenty feet without being accosted. When we are at our tables we are too busy selling things to share more than a few jokes and requests for change, so practically the only time we get to relax is Thursday, before the con, in the sanctity of his hotel suite.
Except this year the sanctity was most gloriously ruined by a gentleman called Fossil. Fossil is a tattoo artist (you can see his work here http://www.fossiltattoo.com/ ), responsible for a number of very interesting body decorations. This year he was sharing a room with 2, 2’s friend Tally, and 2’s fiancé who has so many fandom nicknames I will just refer to him by his real one and call him Dan. I had never had the pleasure of meeting Fossil before, though I had heard of him (he did a tattoo for 2—not a tutu, sorry—a year or so ago). And when I say it was a pleasure, I really mean it was a pleasure to meet him. Fossil is a laid back, soft spoken, fiercely professional but easy-to-get-along with kind of person. In short, a pleasure to meet. I’ve never seriously considered getting a tattoo, but if I did, he would be the person I’d go to.
This year the person getting inked was Dan (and, I would later find out, a string of other happy furries who kept Fossil in business, filling the little suite with the sound of his tattoo needle all weekend). What made it special for me, was that the tattoo in question had been designed by yours truly. The original artwork was an enormous thing done with ink and Copic markers on A4 bristol board…
But was re-sized and simplified by Fossil to something more realistic…
Because I had to leave to man my dealer’s table, I did not get to see the tattoo finished. However, I was present for the beginning…
And left them with my own interpretation of the scene:
I was, altogether, awed and amazed and honored.
Now, the first thing people say when they see Dan’s tattoo is: “Hey, that looks kind of like a Lincoln logo.” They are right, it is a modified Lincoln symbol. It had to be modified to allow the kangaroo to be draped over it and for the thing to fit on his arm. But the Lincoln bit is important. Many years ago Dan brought his battered and scratched up Lincoln to AnthroCon and invited everyone to draw on it. It became known as the AnthroCar and is the subject of epic ballads to this day. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but it was a bit of a phenomenon.
In a piece of serendipity, as I was leaving their hotel who should I run into but this gentleman, recently returned from active duty, with his own battered truck, inviting people to draw on it.
Needless to say, I immediately dubbed it the AnthroTruck and added a piece of my own scribbling:
Then it was time to sit in the Dealer’s Den for the rest of the day.
I do not remember much; it was a blur of faces and friends and sales and order-taking and in between, frantic work. One of the perks of commissioning an artist at AnthroCon is getting the result of that commission before you go home. So as well as having to be at my table in order to sell anything (which applies to most dealers) I also had to be working. The only chances I got to see the rest of the room (which was enormous this year) was during my mad dashes to use the bathroom. On the first of these trips I picked up a friend from a dealer of stuffed animals.
Everyone, this is Sally.
Sally is an Octopus, but for some reason a lot of people called her a squid, which was disappointing. Sally is only the second of my traveling companions, the first being my little fuzzy Welsh dragon, Dafydd, who took Sally’s arrival with his usual good humor.
They soon found common ground, however, when it came to posing with fursuiters. Here they are with my friend Reylith (not sure who the photo-bomber was, though).
Sally, however, is a bit more aggressive than Dafydd when it comes to being held. Here she is attacking my friend Susan in her sun-dragon costume, while a melodramatic skunk watches in horror.
The sonic screwdriver, it does nothing!
Sally was great fun to have at my dealer’s table. Matthew Ebel, who in addition to being my roommate was also my den neighbor, had fun play-acting with her.
And there was much rejoicing.
However, once the Dealer’s Den closed, I got to tear up the evening. Few pictures exist of these antics (thankfully), though videos may surface on YouTube later. One never knows.
2 does a new stand-up show every AnthroCon, and this year he was put on Friday night. They give him the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom, the biggest room of the house, and he all but fills it. To get anywhere close to a decent seat you need to show up at least an hour ahead of time and stand (or sit) in line. Having to close down my Dealer’s Table and then eat dinner quite prevented me from doing this, so one can imagine how pleased I was to find a front-row seat reserved for me. It’s not something I like to ask for—I would happily watch his show from the very back of the room, sitting on the floor—but the thought means worlds to me.
The show was hilarious, as always. 2 has a cathartic kind of humor. It’s a little sharp-edged, yet relaxing at the same time. There is a lot of magic in AnthroCon, and I think a big part of it is his show. It puts you in the mood to see the humor in everyday life, and once you can do that you are ready to really enjoy yourself.
Now I should talk about Fernando. You may remember him from my last journal. His little café was going to be shutting down the month before AnthroCon, but the furries rallied, raised him a truckload of money, and he was able to stay open. He might have been able to stay open indefinitely, but the owner of the building he leased had already decided to sell it. The upshot, however, is that the new owner will allow him back for a week next year. In the meantime, the money raised by the fandom will allow him to settle his debts and close out in style. For my part, I presented him with his very own distinctive character badge (I believe I was not the only one).
I also got one of the T-shirts.
As a part of the fund drive, 2 and Dan offered to host a little party for people who donated over $100.00. Of course, once news of this got out, there were many who donated just to get in. I didn’t have that kind of cash (I did sketches for those who donated $5.00 or more), but a kind and generous donor gave me one of his extra invitations so I was able to go anyway. However, I was made to swear not to speak about what happened, so here is a picture of Dafydd riding a the adorable Nexus Folf:
There was much rejoicing. Dafydd also came with me to Dr. Jenner’s cocktail party on Sunday evening. He even helped me drink my cocktail.
Dr. Jenner is an Australian fellow who writes and illustrates the Doc Rat http://www.docrat.com.au/ webcomic, and the party was co-hosted by the chairman of MiDFur, Australia’s largest furry convention. It is difficult to hang out around Australians without desperately wanting to go visit their country. Something about their accent makes one forget the 13-hour flight. Evil little buggers. Also at the party was a very cool lady who had a little blue griffin which was kind enough to sit on my shoulder long enough for this picture to be taken.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable con, and I was desperately sad Sunday evening when I had to go into the deserted Dealer’s Den and pack up my table.
Among my other regrets was missing out on Matthew Ebel’s concert on Saturday afternoon. Something about having six commissions to finish by 3:00 PM the next day prevented me from going. Nevertheless, he is a world class performer and the decision was not an east one. Happily, I was still able to close up shop early on Sunday to go see the Charity Show.
AnthroCon, like many furry conventions, is a non-profit organization that picks a charity every year to hold fund-raisers for. This year it was Hello Bully, a bulldog rehabilitation organization. In addition to onsite donations there is also a charity auction, and 2 and the chairman of AnthroCon, Dr. Samuel Conway (known in the fandom as Uncle Kage, which is pronounced “KAH-gay” no matter how much the newspapers get it wrong), do a duo stand-up show which costs $10 a ticket. This year they were moved to the biggest ballroom, and last I heard the numbers for the amount raised for Hello Bully was somewhere in the $20,000 neighborhood.
The Charity Show is always fun. Everyone is relaxed and Kage can start to decompress from the stress of running the con. This year was extra special, as in the middle of the show 2 invited Dan up on stage and proposed to him.
There was much rejoicing. And a good deal of high-pitched screaming. Dan had to shout his “Yes!” over the noise of the audience.
Because of my time spent behind my table, for all intents and purposes working, AnthroCon tends to speed past at an alarming rate. Every year I am sad to go, afraid that the magic is gone for good. But so far, every year, it always comes back.
For someone such as myself, who spends most of her time thinking in magical, unreal places, AnthroCon is unusual in that it brings a little of that magic, for a little while, into the world of the real and the tangible.
Goldeen Ogawa has been active in the furry fandom since 2008, where she is better known by her furry handle, Agent Elrond. Her fursona is a chimera, and she keeps an active art blog on her FurAffinity page. If you have any specific questions about furries or the furry fandom, you can send Goldeen an email at email@example.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets.