I found furry when 12, back in 2000. Eventually going site to site, communication to communication platform. I decided to reach out to Gene Catlow. Gene strongly supported and encouraged me to make art, and actually upload it. He was important and a mentor.
Now, here comes 2008. I have a LiveJournal, and have made a few posts, and eventually make a ref-sheet and start to make a little art.
I reach out to the furry community of LiveJournal, which, back then, was more active. Finding Ristin and Marko. Both furries, both, coincidentally, living close by.
Deciding to take a chance, and risk things, I invited them over. Cooked a dinner, and spent the night chatting and hanging out with both of them. They were the first furries I ever met in real life. This moment was immortalised in art as well: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/2102634/
After this point, got a lot closer with both of them. Visiting them relatively often. Even when moving around Australia, we kept in touch, meeting up every year, pretty much.
Marko and Ristin, through their encouragement, through their friendship, through their kindness, got me to join FA, make more art and be more active in the furry subculture as a whole. They are kinda my 'furry dads' in many regards. I did see them as... some kind of 'furry family' due to how I was treated by them, and I can't thank them enough.
Marko would... quite frequently use the excuse of "I'm just a rat" when something was going on. Like if the take-out food was bad, or he was forgotten in something. He would still eat it, or just sigh and accept things. Using the reason of "I'm just a rat" as the excuse to be humble to the point of... almost annoyance for those who wanted the best for him.
Marko wasn't just a rat, he was a great rat. He was THE rat, for me at least. The greatest rat on Earth, in fact.
Marko was a showman. He would always enjoy putting on a show for folks, getting them to enjoy themselves. Putting himself out there to ensure that Rattus was social and rather awesome in a lot of regards. He would take the stage, literally often times, but also of life, and try to be kind to others and show them a good time.
I was visiting Ristin and Marko, and Marko showed me the magic tricks that he had bought, and how he had gotten things and was planning to make a video the next day. I was inspired, and wanted to provide him a little bit more of a backdrop. So, staying up the entire night, with two six packs of beer, I created the poster behind him in that video. Watercolours and brush.
I also shot the video and was an assistant for the magic tricks. That was... an amazing memory and a good example of who Marko was. He was taken enough by the artwork, that by a couple of times later when I visited, he had had it professionally framed and it was hung up in the dining room.
Marko has recently passed away. And so... I NEEDED to make something. Something that I could explain some of the experiences with him. Express some of the worth that he had. Unfortunately things have been extremely tough the last couple of years and so haven't been the best at art, and this feels a little... less than what it should be. But still needed to make something. Just... because Marko was, and still is, so important. Not just to me, but to many.
Marko was never 'just a rat', he was THE RAT for me.