The executive summary is this:
There’s a furry in the babyfur community who goes by the name Friar, or @aquariusfriar and @thebabbylion on twitter, who has been fixated on me from basically the moment I started drawing babyfur art under the name Astolpho. He fetishizes my weight, copies my artwork, and uses my fursonas as templates for characters in the wish-fulfillment and revenge fantasies that comprise his comics. I have him blocked everywhere, so he creates sockpuppet accounts to try to follow my locked twitter accounts, interact with me on curiouscat, join my livestreams to drill me with invasive personal questions, and sneak into my discord server, and he encourages his friends to do the same, asking them to relay information about what I’m doing and share artwork I haven’t posted publicly with him, and to buy things from my store for him because he knows I refuse to interact with him.
This has been going on for seventeen years. The main reason I haven’t spoken very much publicly about this previously is because the first time I did, someone that I trusted at the time convinced me that I had a responsibility to stay quiet about it, and said that the more attention I drew to what was happening, the more I would encourage him to continue to antagonize me. This turned out to be one of the worst pieces of advice anyone has ever given me.
I’m not interested in knowing anyone in his social circle, because he tends to select friends who enable his behavior rather than encourage him to be better, and as I said, he has a habit of soliciting his friends to share stuff from my locked accounts with him, and sending them to hassle me. So, periodically I trim my social media accounts to remove his followers from it. Generally I don’t say why, nor do I tell them that I’m doing it, because I don’t feel like I have any business telling people who they can and can’t follow. I don’t think this is especially fair to people who don’t know about his years-long pattern of behavior toward me, though, which is why I’m telling it now.
That’s the shortest version of the story, and if you don’t feel like reading an entire goddamned novel, you can stop there, but I know that the pattern of behavior I’ve described might be difficult to believe if you haven’t witnessed it happening yourself, so if you want to know the whole story, I’ve laid the entire thing out with receipts below.
Friar has a very weird fixation on me
Since I started doing babyfur art, Friar has had this bizarre obsession with me, where he will pretend that we have some kind of relationship, and he will go to absurd lengths to fabricate something that looks or feels like a relationship to him. He also tries to mirror my creative decisions so that he can pretend to be me, because he believes I occupy some kind of position of prestige in the babyfur community that he feels that he’s owed, and so far as I can tell, he thinks that the only way he can achieve that is by attempting to copy literally everything I am doing – not just art, but cozying up to my friends, adopting identical business strategies, and even down to affecting the specific conversational vocabulary and turns of phrase that I use.
He’s stated several times that he finds me sexually attractive and wants images of me in diapers, and isn’t especially concerned about whether or not I’m willing to consent to him having them – if anything, the fact that I want him to leave me alone only makes the idea of transgressing boundaries I’ve set even more enticing:
If you only know me as Pebble, it’s useful to know the other names I’ve posted under, for context:
- I started posting babyfur art in 2004 under the name Astolpho.
- My legal last name is Root, and in non-furry spaces I used to post under the name Rootdown.
Finally – the name Astolpho is taken from a renaissance poem called Orlando Furioso. I’ve explained where the name came from on twitter before. On Curiouscat a few years back, I described his appearance as looking like a five year old, with cub spots that look like freckles on his cheeks, shoulders, and hips. Usually he’s got a bell collar on his neck. Here’s a drawing:
Friar has a webcomic that he uses for acting out fantasies of either having a relationship with me or getting revenge on me/punishing me for not wanting to have anything to do with him, using several very obvious stand-ins for me. Recently he had a friend of his create a nearly 1:1 knockoff of Astolpho and offer it as an ‘adoptable’, so that he could have plausible deniability about basing it on my character. In the comic, he named the character Gustafo, who follows his characters around and exists in the story largely to admire and be impressed with everything they do:
Prior to this character, he had a recurring stuck-up bully who was also very clearly patterned after Astolpho, named Orlando. The in-comic interactions his characters have with Orlando pretty accurately describe Friar’s intentions toward me – it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s supposed to be happening in the comics because of how they’re drawn, but they’re shown harassing Orlando with sock puppets; showing up on Orlando’s doorstep pretending to be missionsaries trying to invite their way into his house; and having Orlando get hypotized into falling in love with Friar in the middle of asking him to leave him alone. There are several more, but those are representative examples of how much effort he puts into the level of obsessive play-acting he does about me: his characters obsessively follow Orlando around, harassing him and trying to trick him into hanging out with them, and Orlando is portrayed as a mean-spirited snob for not being interested.
After I switched from lion to badger, he immediately added a badger character, Mr. Soot, changing my name by just one letter, and started just straight up plagiarizing my tweets for dialogue. He’s never drawn a badger prior to me switching fursonas. Now he draws them all the time.
And, again, he makes it clear that his interest in me is sexual:
Like. I hope at this point it’s obvious, but this is not a normal level of “inspiration.” There’s a lot going on here to unpack. He does his best to pass it off as something that all artists do, because I think on some level he knows if he told people the truth – that he’s obsessed with one person in particular and that this is the closest thing he can get to actually exercising control over me, they would of course recognize it as being an incredibly creepy pattern of behavior. He’s even confessed to doing it outright, more than once – he just doesn’t say who.
It’s really, really important to him to make sure nobody catches on to what he’s actually doing, so he plays it down and reframes it as “how art works”:
This sense of ownership and entitlement that he has to my life, to control my work and everything I do extends beyond just his webcomic. It comes out in other artwork he’s done. He’s frequently drawn his characters attacking and acting out violent fantasies toward mine in retribution for having him blocked.
He also likes to encourage people in his troll clique to copy my work, and laughs about seeing it reposted and used for rp:
He encourages his friends to help him gain access to my store – he knows I wouldn’t sell him anything, so he asked another friend of his who has similar boundary issues to order from me and ship to him:
I’m reluctant to do art trades or get commissions from other artists anymore, because when I do, he sees them as an opportunity to sidestep my blocks and interact with me. He still tries to pretend that we have some kind of relationship and goes out of his way to comment on them, because, as I said, he thinks anything of mine should also be for him:
I have never done anything like this to him. I’ve never drawn his characters being murdered, I don’t comment on his shit, I don’t insert myself into conversations he’s having with other people, I don’t gossip about him on twitter, I don’t make sockpuppet accounts to try to sneak into his discord to harass him, or join his livestreams to interrogate him, the way he’s done to me, over and over and over again.
The only thing I have ever wanted from him is for him to leave me the fuck alone, and he thinks that my refusal to interact with him justifies this years-long vendetta of his.
How it started
When I was new to the babyfur community, I was drawing comics with squiggly lined animated gifs on livejournal, and then started offering free icons in that style to anyone who wanted one. They got a lot of attention, very quickly, and I drew a lot of them. A lot of people asked for one, including Friar, who at the time was calling himself Ozzyfox. Quickly there was a backlog, because I was new and stupid and offered to do them for free. You might find the style familiar if you follow his twitter account. These are mine, done in 2004:
After two weeks in the queue, Friar decided that the wait was unacceptable and completely unprofessional, and he started drawing his own icons, attempting to recreate the same style for himself and his friends. They loved it – one of them commented that they were great because he’d completely sucked the novelty out of them and they were glad to see him knock me down a peg.
On a private livejournal entry, I remarked that clearly I’d arrived and was a Big Deal Artist now that my work had been art-thefted. I’d meant it as a joke, and my friends took it as a joke.
But, one of Friar’s friends, who had access to that locked entry and poor reading comprehension, immediately reported to him that I had accused him of being a thief in a private journal entry, and of course Friar went completely nonlinear over it. He wrote post after post, paragraphs long, calling me out for how stuck up I was and what a horrible person I was to hoard my ideas to myself and not think that anyone else should be able to draw squiggly icons. That it was my fault for being too lazy to draw one for him fast enough for his liking.
So I did what I thought was the responsible thing – I commented on one of these tirades to explain that I’d meant it as a joke, and that I had no problem with what he was doing, and apologized if it caused him any hurt feelings.
But Friar has never been someone who’s interested in talking it out. Instead, he and his friends all dogpiled on, saying that the apology wasn’t good enough, or making fun of me for apologizing, all while Friar goaded them on. I was new to the babyfur community, with very few friends, and so he must have felt empowered to treat me that way, believing he could do so without consequence.
However, I had only a year or so previously quit participating in a website called the Portal of Evil, which was an awful website not too different from Something Awful, and while I didn’t have many friends in the babyfur community, I did have a number of very rude friends from the Portal of Evil. I decided that I wasn’t interested in allowing Friar to bully me, and that if he liked participating in these dogpiles so much, he might re-evaluate how much fun that was if he knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of one. (It didn’t, I’m afraid – he’s gleefully led dogpiles on very nearly every single reputable babyfur artist since then. For someone who claims to love babyfur art, he really, really hates all of the people who make it.)
So, I came out to my friends about my fetishes and my alternate persona, explained what had happened with him, and we waited until the next inevitable paragraphs-long screed from Friar on his livejournal about what a chump I was, and then we all unloaded with our most creative cruelty. He left me alone for a good several years after that. It was really nice.
He’s never gotten over the fact that someone had the gall to stand up to him. He likes to tell a version of this story that omits everything but the part where my friends and I “raided” his livejournal, because, of course, bullies always act like they’re the victims when their targets hit back.
These are his, from 2004 and again in 2019:
He does this every few years, to try to get a rise out of me, believing that I won’t comment on it – while at the same time continuing to insist he’s grown since the first time he did this, in 2004. Here he did it again, in 2021:
I have tried to resolve this quietly and it does not work
The problem here isn’t that Friar doesn’t know his attention is unwelcome – he’s been told, privately, more than once, that his behavior is creepy and predatory and that I want to be left alone. In 2019 I wrote a lengthy thread about his behavior on my main.
Friar didn’t have a moment after this where he woke up to the realization that there was anything wrong with his behavior – he was enraged that I’d “made him out to be the bad guy,” even though very, very few people in the babyfur community follow or are even aware of the account that I posted that thread to – talking about my experiences on my main had zero impact on his reputation, but he still had to frame it as a completely outrageous act of hostility. He drew more squiggly icons, and then posted a drawing of his character leering at the viewer with a pair of binoculars.
See – the thing about creeps? It isn’t that they don’t know that their behavior is creepy. They know. They do it because deliberately transgressing other people’s boundaries is a power trip for them. They do it because it’s fun.
I mentioned a few times in that thread that there was a friend who urged me to just ignore him – the person who gave me this advice was, throughout this period, also friends with Friar, but had never suggested to him that he should leave me alone, he only had advice for how he thought I should handle the situation – which he did, he said, out of “respect” for me.
But the fact that he only ever intervened on Friar’s behalf, and never on mine, despite ostensibly being friends with us both, always felt deeply unfair to me, especially given that all it would take was one sentence from him to Friar to flip that from true to false. I asked him more than once why, if he had such strong feelings about harassment, that he didn’t seem to care much about the fact that I had been targeted for years by someone that he was friendly with personally.
He said he didn’t want to get involved, which probably sounds weird at first – after all, telling me how I should or should not respond definitely constitutes “getting involved.” But that’s not really what they were saying – what they really wanted was to just not have to think about it. It makes sense when you understand that when someone says “just ignore the bullies and they’ll go away,” what they’re actually saying, 100% of the time, is “please stop drawing this to my attention and let me ignore it.” No bummers, good vibes only.
After Friar commented on a trade I’d received, my frustration with this person’s inaction boiled over and I confronted them about it, and after scolding me for being upset at them (it’s always the anger in response to harassment that is inappropriate, after all, never the harassment itself), they, very, very grudgingly sent him this message:
I saw the comment that you left on the Skidoo pic and what you’re doing, even though it seems benign, is harassment. It’s not cool. Pebble has made it clear that he wants you to leave him alone, and if you want to be a good person, like you say that you do, part of that means letting him go.
Don’t put parodies of his characters in your comics, don’t show up in his livestreams under aliases, stop trying to insert yourself into his life. You’re not going to be friends with him.
Please leave him alone. that means even leaving “nice” comments on things. Can you do that?
They initially assured me that they were doing this because they felt a responsibility to be fair to me, but when doing this didn’t immediately repair our relationship, they changed their mind, told me that they did this strictly as a favor, and demanded that I never ask them for one again, and blocked me. No bummers, good vibes only.
And, again, Friar completely lost his mind over this. No matter how gentle the criticism, nor how kindly delivered, is something he can tolerate. He raged about it to anyone who would listen. The implication that he couldn’t be both a good person and a creepy stalker at the same time seemed to strike a nerve, in particular:
Obviously this is a bizarre and outsized reaction to what was in reality a very mild and reasonable request, but, again, it’s very important, in his mind, to push a version of the story where he is the victim, he is being persecuted, his rights are being infringed upon, and his voice as an artist is being stifled, that way he can continue to justify all of the shitty things that he does.
Friar’s behavior closely aligns with the symptoms associated with clinical narcissism
If you’re familiar at all with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you probably recognized all of the trademarks of it here well before this point. It’s absolutely vital to Friar that he remain in control of how he is seen by others, and to punish people when they try to establish boundaries with him. He’s obsessed with the idea of his own popularity within the babyfur community, to the point of scolding his followers whenever he sees that number drop a little bit. He’s a braggart and he surrounds himself only with people who praise him and enable his behavior.
Obviously I’m not a mental health professional, and I’m not qualified to formally diagnose him. Ostensibly, narcissists often go undiagnosed because the capacity for critical self-reflection is contradictory to the symptoms of the disorder, and as a consequence they don’t often seek treatment. It is typically upon people who are targeted by them to recognize the signs, and navigate around them. I am describing what I’ve experienced to try to make sense of his behavior and why this has been happening to me.
There won’t be an apology or any acknowledgement of wrongdoing that isn’t first preceded by a litany of crimes I’ve somehow committed against him and conditions I have to meet before he is willing to acknowledge the damage he’s done. Any attempt to talk it out like normal people will be, to him, just an opportunity for him to try to get his hooks in, and he will just continue to push for more and more leverage so that he can have a steady source of what’s called narcissistic supply. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, either a family member, friend, or partner, knows that trying to engage them in good faith is a sucker’s game.
Having a narcissistic stalker makes you crazy. It makes you sound crazy. It’s made it nearly impossible for me to feel like I can trust anyone in the babyfur community without first doing what feels like a completely ridiculous amount of vetting of their online activity. And I don’t really have the energy to do that, so I just kind of keep everyone at arm’s length instead, and stick mostly to friends I don’t share a fetish with, because at least with them, I can be sure that they’re safe.
I don’t have the vocabulary to adequately describe how emotionally exhausting and stressful it is to have to calculate everything I do online based on whether or not it’s safe to do so without drawing his attention, without alerting his buddies that I’m up to something.
Nothing I’ve ever made has been for him or about him. The only “influence” he’s ever had on my work is to make me want to make less of it. If I don’t draw anything, if I don’t make anything, if I can just be less interesting and take up less space, I think, maybe he’ll get bored and go away. When he bought my art pack so it could be displayed next to his on his itchio profile, I took it down. When he sent his IRC troll buddies after my ohnokttn tumblr, I took it down. I haven’t drawn any telegram stickers for myself because I don’t want him to use them. When he had his friend buy him a nursing knot, I thought very hard about shutting down my store, and it killed any motivation I had to keep working on pacifiers, because now I know he’s going to try get his hands on those, too.
How this is going to go from here
Regardless of what you think of my art, or think of me as a person, or whether you think how I handled his antagonism in the past was appropriate, I hope you can at least agree that I don’t deserve nearly two decades of being chased everywhere and obsessively harangued by an unhinged stalker for it.
If I’ve blocked, or softblocked you without giving you a reason why, there’s a pretty good chance it was only because you are friends with, or friendly toward him, and the reason I didn’t tell you is because I don’t have the kind of relationship with you where it would be appropriate for me to tell you who I think you should or shouldn’t be associating with. I know that being denied the opportunity to make an informed choice in that regard sucks, and I’m sorry. At the time it seemed like the lowest-drama option.
There’s only a few people who follow him that I told the whole story to, and those were relationships that I was invested in enough to try to keep. Of those, only one person told me that if never talking to Friar again was the cost of knowing me, that was a price he was happy to pay. Just one.
Everyone else either shrugged, did not believe me, both-sides’d me, or tried to convince me that they were a special case, and that I should make an exception for them.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assert the boundaries that I have. If you are aware of everything Friar has done and you still consider him a friend, that’s your prerogative – but I don’t care to know you. I don’t believe it is correct to say that you support or care about me if you’re cool with the way this man has behaved over the last 17 years, and you’re certainly not someone I am willing to make room in my life for. If you want to follow him, please leave me alone. Don’t buy things from me, don’t follow any of my accounts, kindly show the respect for my boundaries that your friend definitely will not.
If you’re following him and you had no idea what he was up to, and are willing to respect my wishes and want me to unblock you, please reach out privately and we can talk.
I’m not concerned about how he might try to escalate – I’ve prepared some contingencies if he attempts any kind of reprisal after this, and I’m not going to stay quiet about it any more – but there isn’t any kind of retaliation I can think of that isn’t worse than his current situation.
He’s already living the life he’s earned for himself, and in all likelihood he’s going to spend the rest of it in the care of his family, and once they’re out of his life, he’s going to have to spend every day trapped in his own head with himself, the one person he hates more than anyone else in the world.
And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.