While the fandom itself has yet to go mainstream, furries’ influence on mainstream animation is almost impossible to ignore. It pops up everywhere from children’s television like Cartoon Network’s Amazing World of Gumball to Netflix original anime like Beastars. However, the furry fandom seems to be distant from these wildly successful shows, so what’s going on here?
For one, what we deem furry art in mainstream media predates the furry fandom, before the term furry was even coined. Don’t believe me? Bugs Bunny, the anthropomorphic rabbit we all know and love today made his film debut in 1938, before television was readily accessible. But that’s not just a one off, look 33 years later in the lesser known Bedknobs and Broomsticks featuring a whole cast of walking, big cats. The point here is that the popularity of furry art in the 21st century wasn’t out of the blue, a lot of it is rooted in the countless talking animals in the animations of the 20th century.
While the prior examples definitely played an important role in laying the foundations of what the furry fandom would be built, it’s hard to give them complete credit because the creation of the internet was the catalyst that really started to give the fandom some traction around 1990. Although the term “furry” was coined in 1980, the fandom wasn’t that big a deal as there weren’t many of them and they were scattered around the world with little means of creating a community. But through the internet, text-based, virtual environments such as MUCK were created, connecting furries from all around the world.
Fast forward about 20 years and now YouTube has been around for 5 years, Newgrounds has been around for an additional 10 and the furry fandom is only growing. Independent content creation is more accessible than ever including independent animators looking for a platform to put their content on. It’s not quite the most reliable job in the world yet but furries now have an outlet for the content creation which would take some time to grow in popularity.
Around that very same time, Fiverr was founded which completely legitimized freelance artists as a career path and this is great for two reasons. One, furry artists now have a platform to promote their work and take on commissions and two, the demand for fursona commissions can be satisfied with just a few clicks. Today sites like Fursonafy have modeled entire businesses around just creating furry art.This made the fandom ever more present in the subconscious of mainstream media with people literally making a career out of creating furry art.
Now let’s jump ahead about another 7 or 8 years to about 2018 and animators have become one of the most popular and wildly successful genres of content on YouTube. Just look to channels like TheOdd1sOut or Jaiden Animation for the most popular examples. But with this success also came the rapid growth in success of independent furry animators like Sashley or Crunnchy who are still making content. At the same time of this, television shows like Bojack Horseman and several furry anime on Crunchyroll are being released and growing in popularity.
Now we reach today and furry art is more popular than it ever has been thanks to the age of the internet where anyone can create and share whatever content they like.