There have been quite a few people who have put the “furry” label on me for the stories I write. I’m not particularly fond of this, but I don’t hate it either; over time I have come to accept that what audience I may have someday will at least be partly comprised of this group, and that the label will only stick harder when that time comes. However, the concept behind The Revelation–and The Deathscape Mythos as a whole–predates my knowledge of the fandom for well over a decade, and while some ideas I have in the works will also be a target for that particular label, it does annoy me that The Deathscape Mythos is occasionally lumped into that category.
There is a reason for this. The idea for The Deathscape Mythos does not have its roots in the traditional “funny animal,” like most furry media does. Instead, it is a hybrid of two loves I had while young–cheesy, B-movie horror flicks that were so bad that my family didn’t see them as harmful, and a love for writing stories in comic book format. In fact, for a long time I wrote “horror” comics that were rather poorly drawn and featured humans, but they had little dialog at all and were done with one “panel” taking up the entire page of a Composition notebook. Admittedly, these comics were usually rather violent and graphic, but this was based on what I saw horror as at the time–cheesy, B-movie schlock with obviously fake gore and acting so awful that it was funnier than it was scary.
I eventually slowed down on this style around 1994, when I began being treated for mental illness. Due to the difficulties in treating children, I found myself frequenting hospitals and residential homes. This meant I had long periods of time where I could not see my family, my friends, or my pets. To cope, I began drawing a corny slice-of-life panel comic on notebook paper. This comic placed my pets–-as normal animals–-in situations that reminded me of home.
As I grew older and my hospitalizations became shorter and less frequent, I found myself continuing to draw these comics instead of my horror comics. Over time, the strip added new characters, based on both new pets as well as two original human creations, Roderigo and Yvonne; the feline characters went from being normal animals to intelligent, sapient creatures who lived more human like lives, despite still very much being otherwise ordinary cats. Eventually I began to shift away from these comics and toward writing short fiction featuring these characters instead, and around 1999, I began work on my first novel featuring these characters. The primary characters that would form the cast of The Revelation were largely there by then, and had established personalities, but as time went by and new animals entered my life, they were given their own minor roles in the story as well. This story, which was never published, would feature new changes to how the feline characters worked–now panther-sized, they had short, opposable thumbs and wore clothing, despite still very much existing on four legs; with the assistance of tools, they could operate cars, work on ships and even dive to the depths of the oceans and dig for fossils. The darker, more action-oriented and far less comedic plot would eventually form the basis of the New Year’s Siege, and while this story lacked the horror and weird fiction influences that would soon return to my work, it established the characters of Arnold Gibson, Elisabeth Hassan, Simon Carlton and many others who would eventually join the cast of The Revelation.
Although I didn’t like the story enough to publish it, this work was the first step toward the creation of The Deathscape Mythos. I quickly began working on an even darker tale, one that would become the prototype for The Revelation. This new story, which abandoned the human villains of the previous one, brought forth malevolent gods, disturbing monsters, strange and otherworldly weapons and an even darker tone that leaned heavily into horror. But the cast was still mostly comprised of the same oversized, intelligent four-legged felines; although I was unaware, I was creating a cast that had no business surviving the new story I was creating–they simply could not defend themselves in this dark new world.
And with a strange bit of luck, this would soon be resolved in a way that made the story as it was written unusable.
I fell victim to a vanity publisher. For seven years, my characters were in limbo–I couldn’t use them in any new works, and I couldn’t take this idea further. While this story languished, I realized that a simple change would allow me to take everything in a different direction: my characters, who were essentially intentionally mutated felines, could be hybridized humans instead. And with a stroke of luck, I got the rights to the story back, and I began to go to work.
And that goofy comic about my pets would soon become The Deathscape Mythos.