INTERVIEW: Scott Kellogg of "21st Century Fox"

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Good morning, and welcome to Republibot! Today we're interviewing Kelloggs2066, known to the world of men as "Scott Kellogg." If you're a regular visitor to our site, you've no doubt seen him all the frack over the place in the past few weeks, cranking out lots of
conversations and insightful observations on pretty much everything on our site. He's a chatty one, but in addition to that he's also been running a successful and well-regarded Web Comic "21st Century Fox" for the last twelve years or so. (Website: http://techfox.comicgenesis.com/ )

Scott, thanks for talking with us today. And thanks for being such an active participant on our site, as well.

Scott:
Howdy, I'm glad to be here. It's great to meet other folks who really enjoy science fiction, especially when they're prepared to be a bit more thoughtful
about it.

R3:
Thanks! We try to be a little more insightful than the standard "Star Wars Ruwlz" sites. So first up, tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you? Where do you come from? How did you get into SF? "Who do you serve, and who do you trust?"

Scott:
Well, let's see: I'm an Engineer for a defense contractor. My educational background is in Physics. My wife and I run a small farm in West Virginia:
The Special K Ranch.

Who do I trust?
Fear God and Dreadnought!

R3:
The 'serve/trust' bit was a 'Crusade' reference, by the way. So how did you get into Science Fiction? What was the attraction, there? Your strip does some pretty hilarious wholesale stripmining of SF films as far back as the 50s, so obviously you've got a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of the genre.

Scott:
Well, Thank you! I've been into Science Fiction as long as I can remember. Growing up in the 1960's, Watching Star Trek, Stingray, Jonny Quest... My
three older brothers were all interested in it and in the real world Space Program. It also helps to drive my wife nuts by her tripping over my DVD collection.

R3:
So tell us about "21st Century Fox." Firstly, what made you wake up in the morning and say 'I'll start a comic strip that only people with computers can see!'
When it first went online, that was a fairly uncommon idea, yes?

Scott:
I started my comic in 1998. There were only a handful of comic strips online at the time. At the time, there was one I was reading only updated once a
week, it wasn't very well drawn, sometimes the jokes fell flat, but I realized I enjoyed it anyway. At that point, I realized, "Hey! Even *I* Can do *THAT!*

In real life, I'm always making jokes, but once you tell a joke, it's gone. There's no record of it anywhere.

R3:
Amen to that, brother.

Scott:
By putting stuff up on the web, anyone can get a laugh out of it, even years later.

R3:
Definitely. It's also a nice ego-boost. In my case, I tend to dash blog entries off without much thought, and then forget about them entirely. It's kind of fun to blunder into this stuff years later, and and find myself laughing at it. Sorta, 'wow, my mom was right! I *am* funny!'

Had you always been artsy? I'm always fascinated to know when people's gifts started to show up, and in what form.

Scott:
Not really. I always enjoyed doodling, but I was never particularly good at it. When I first started out, I had the ability to write, but everything else
was a struggle. A friend of mine observed that everyone has about a thousand bad drawings built up inside them. Once you get the bad drawings out of your system, the good ones starts to emerge.

It took me a year or two of cartooning to get to the point where I started being happy with my work. I keep trying to improve things, picking up new tricks and techniques. I'm actually kind of proud of the way it looks now.

R3:
So what was the inception, the point of inspiration, that made you do it they way you're doing it, as opposed to, say, a strip about people who used to
fight aliens, but now work in a toy store, or maybe a strip about an indy-boy with a tenuous love life and a baby-like robot? Or a precocious child with bad
hair, big glasses, and a duck?

Scott:
There's a quote from Douglas Adams out there, that I can't recall word for word. Basically, he said that people tend to achieve the sort of future you envision. If you envision a positive vision of the future, you're more likely to work toward it and achieve it than if you were expecting a dark, oppressive apocalypse and planning for that.

Most science fiction, or at least a lot of it, is cautionary tales:
"Don't do this, or the world will blow up!"
"Don't do that, or you'll trigger the wrath of the gods!"

I like stories about how the future will be better. The hopes and dreams of inventors,engineers, and just plain people. To me that's my favorite part of science fiction: What are inventors going to come up with in the future? How will they work? These types of stories are not told as much as I like, so, I have to be the one to tell them.

I keep writing it because I want to find out what happens next week!

R3:
Your strip is rollicking and fun, but there's just so *MUCH* of it that I've been having a hard time coming up with a way to encapsulate it for our readers in a way that wouldn't immediately swamp 'em with too much information. If *you* were going to sum it up form someone new - and obviously you must have done that a lot over the years - how would you do it?

Scott:
Hmm... The story is a Romantic Comedy Adventure about Engineers in the year 2066. They travel the world, solving problems, attempting to understand women, one mess at a time.

I try to keep the science and engineering correct, but at the same time, The characters are all talking animals. That just adds to the silliness of the
story.

A lot of the background details are gag references to science fiction TV and movies, but while those gags are present, you don't have to know the soda vending machine sitting in the corner of the room is a Nutrimatic Drinks Machine from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's just a soda machine. If you didn't notice it, it shouldn't take away from your understanding of the strip. But if you DO get it, keep looking around, 'cause you'll find more goofy gags in the margins and backgrounds.

R3:
You've been running a heck of a long time. That, too, is pretty unusual. I know a number of web strips that get abandoned within a year or two. What's kept you going?

Scott:
Mainly, it's fun, and I enjoy it. Also, I don't give up easily.

I have a group of supportive readers in a discussion forum that chat and speculate about what they think is going to happen next. Fortunately for them, most of the time, I'm able to surprise them.

Fortunately for me, Science Fiction Fans tend to be kind of loyal. When they find something they like, they stick with it, as long as it stays good. But, it takes up a lot of time. So, it takes a fair amount of determination to keep at it. (Or obsessive compulsive behavior, you take your pick.)

R3:
'Six of one...' So it still fun, or does it ever feel like work? If it starts to feel like work for a long period of time, how do you muscle through that until it starts to seem fun again?

Scott:
Sometimes it's a lot of fun. Sometimes it's a lot of work. When I have an abundance of time to work, it's a joy. When I'm pressed for time, it's work.

I keep up my determination to keep going, because:
A) I'm a kind of stubborn guy.
B) I enjoy the friendship of likeminded readers who enjoy the strip.

There is no pay, However, I have recieved the best possible reward for it:
I met my wife through it. She's also a cartoonist. To tell the truth, it's just about the only Internet Romance I've ever heard of that actually worked!

R3:
Wow, yeah, that is rare! The only thing I got out of my internet romances from the 90 was a stalker. Of course modems were much slower in those days...

Scott:
We've been married for 5 years now, and we're extremely happy.

R3:
That kicks ass! Congratulations!

Has the focus of the strip drifted over the years? How so?

Scott:
Perhaps. It took a while for me to find the right tone.

I have kind of gotten away from some of the influences I started out with. Originally, I was influenced by their ideas, and then rapidly found out
that those really didn't work in the world I wanted to describe, and ultimately those were not the sort of stories I wanted to tell.

Ultimately, I did a semi-retcon, by introducing a new technology that put the issue far into the background.

R3:
What's the thing you've done in your strip that you're most proud of?

Scott:
I think it's that I've written stuff that has really touched people. I once got an e-mail from a woman saying she couldn't believe that she was moved to tears over a story about two robots exploring the surface of Venus.

R3:
What's the thing you'd take back if you could?

Scott:
Well, I started building this little comic universe in the days before Wikipedia existed. I didn't have instant access to a research tool, and I got some details wrong. Some of that stuff, I had to Retcon over the years, and that's embarassing.

Then there are changes that I made due to stylistic decisions. Initially, I had my talking animal characters more close to human size. I've gone back
to where they're more the proper sizes for their species.

R3:
Ok, the anthropomorphic bow-tie wearing elephant in the room is the whole 'furry' thing. Do you mind if we talk about that a bit?

Scott:
Not at all. To be honest, a lot of people think that Furry fans are on the weird side, and again to be honest, some of them are. Like Science Fiction
fans, people know about them because News Stories about Nut-Cases sell.

R3:
Your strip revolves around talking anthropomorphic animals. Does that make it a 'Furrys' strip, or is it in the same vein with, say, Loony Toons, and we shouldn't attach any real significance to it?

Scott:
Well, I kind of view it as more a Looney Toons thing. But, like in other conversations on the Republibot site, folks are talking about how aliens in science fiction can represent minorities in our society. Some artists go that route. But the way I do it, the different species of animals in the strip are sort of shortcuts for different personality types: Proud lions, clever foxes, timid mice, friendly giraffes, that sort of thing.

It's pretty much same way you end up with intellectual Vulcans, brutal Klingons, warlike Kzinti, wise Minbari, slinky Green Orion Slave Girls or Apple iPad Binars.]

R3:
Do you consider your strip to be Furry? Do you consider yourself to be one?

Scott:
Let's say I like comics about talking animals. I don't really consider myself a Furry in the way I would say "I am an engineer" or "I am a farmer". Furry doesn't define who I am.

That's kind of like saying "I like science fiction" vs "I'm a Trekkie... Uhhh, 'Trekker'" if that makes sense.

R3:
Of course. You're saying you like the genre as a whole, as opposed to being interested in only one particular aspect of it.

Forgive me for being blunt, but in general society, Furrys are increasingly regarded as kinda' creepy, sexually deviant, freaky types with maybe an eye
towards bestiality. From your contact with the community, Is this reputation deserved? Is it a completely inappropriate? True, but malreported?Untrue, and over-reported? What?

Scott:
If you've ever been to a science fiction convention, I'm sure you've seen this sort of thing happen:

You're walking through the booths, finding old out of print books, and DVDs of the tv show you haven't seen since you were a kid. Maybe you're wondering if you can afford that Pirate sword your wife thought was really cool and then you notice, out of the corner of your eye, a News Crew interviewing some of the convention-goers...

Now, posing for the camera, there's a 5'3" guy, who's built like a twig, dressed up in full Klingon makeup and uniform announcing to the microphone:

"I am Gold-Dong! Proud Warrior from the Planet Klingon! And I am here to mate with your Earth Females!"

...And right behind him, waiting for his turn on camera is a 400 pound man dressed as Sailor Moon...

That's when you want to turn your head and just walk away.

Well, those same guys go to Furry Conventions.They're the ones that get in front of the cameras. Ever see the costume parade at DragonCon? Most of those folks are just having fun goofing around in costume. Same thing happens at furry conventions.

It's the extremists in any group that get the attention. They're the ones everyone sees. It's embarassing as hell, and hangs a cloud over the heads of the folks who just like it because it's fun.

Most of the folks are there because it's funny watching Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny argue over if it's duck season or rabbit season! (BLAM!)

R3:
So are there 'good' furrys, and 'bad' furrys? And how does one tell them apart?

Scott:
My comic is pretty much rated PG. (I use the old 1980 movie "Airplane!" as a guide to as far off color as I feel comfortable with.) That way it really
doesn't seem to attract much attention from, shall we say, the reality challenged. So, I really can't comment much on the seemier side of the genre.

R3:
You're somewhat politically conservative yourself. Does this ever put you at odds with Furrys, or the lifestyle?

Scott:
Some yes, some no. Like science fiction, a lot of the fans are liberal, but not all. I know some who are quite, quite conservative.

R3:
Basically, I guess, what I'm asking is, "Should Conservatives be afraid of Furries?"

Scott:
Naw! No more than anyone should be afraid of Science Fiction fans.

R3:
And that's all we've got time for, today. Scott, thank you so much for talking with us

Scott:
Thank You!

I really enjoy the interplay on the Republibot site, so I'm honored to have my stuff brought to people's attention!

R3:
Happy to do it! The comic is called "21st Century Fox" Scott feels that it all really starts to come together here
http://techfox.comicgenesis.com/d/20030627.html

And here's the whole megilla:
http://techfox.comicgenesis.com/

Go check it out now, everyone!

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