Mistigris

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Mistigris
Ts-mist.rip.png
Formation 1994
Extinction 1998
Purpose ANSI art/tracking
Location
Founders Cthulu
Products GoldView, PabloDraw, DDir
Affiliations KiTHE diskmag, KiTSCHNet, Omlet diskmag, New Media Productions, TrackerFix, Dream Factory, Concrete Magazine
For the animated TV series with the French title Les Mistigris, see Lulu's Islands.

Mistigris (pronounced "misty-gree") was an artscene group founded in late 1994 by Cthulu of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The group primarily operated out of BBSes within the city's area code 604 (with a significant outpost in Quebec's area code 418) joined across suburbs and provinces by the group's echomail network known as KiTSCHNet. In addition to numerous music disks, games, loaders, BBS utilities, applications (such as the PabloDraw ANSI art editor), issues of their house diskmag KiTHE and other one-off projects, Mistigris released thirty-five artpacks between October 1994 and June 1998. Though initially identifying with the card-playing conceit of a variant of poker after randomly selecting the name from a dictionary, in later years its mascot became an alley cat.

History[edit]

Mistigris artwork in ANSI format.

The group emerged to fill a vacuum left by the collapse of local supergroup iMPERiAL in September 1994, immediately striving in a semi-anarchic fashion against the similar efforts of competing local groups RAiD and Wild Buffalo Tamerz (WBT). While these competitors ceased operations in fairly short order, in RAiD the foundations were laid for the January 1995 founding of ANSI-only supergroup Integrity — an immensely popular project which would serve to be an ongoing slow leak deflating MiST of its upper-level ANSI artists, leaving it primarily known for its specialty focus on tracked music (courtesy, early on, of members of local netlabels Digitallusions and EuphoniX) and "lit", mediums generally overlooked or passed over by the artscene's text-graphics enthusiasts but eventually leading Mistigris to its highest achievements in domination of the 1997 "Blender" IRC competitions.

(The tradition of the "April Fool's Pack", an annual prank release where members would produce material far outside of their area of expertise, doubtlessly did nothing to assuage opinions regarding the quality of Mist's ANSI art division.)

In an attempt to address the rash of defections to Integrity, Mistigris experienced a tentative, abortive and ultimately unsuccessful merger with American group Fire in March 1995, and later a far more successful wholesale incorporation of local group kRAP. Mist's history was also rife with borrowings from postings and material created by members of the local TABNet (The Adopted Bastards Network) community.

Diversifying its portfolio in the event of its uneasy relationship with textmode art finally and catastrophically concluding, Mistigris adopted collaboration as an external policy as well as an internal one, pursuing co-operative releases with local music-tracking and demo groups such as Digitronic (later known as Trideja), Sonic Equinox and The Immortal Syndicate, and fielded representatives at numerous demoparties such as New Media '95, Naid '95 and '96 (where the massive six-group 604 Music Disk collaboration was to debut), Crash '97 in Calgary (where Mistigris members placed in four categories, winning in two) and even at Assembly and Evoke in '99, following what hadn't yet been acknowledged as the final official release.

Thinking outside of the box, in 1997 Mistigris engaged on what they called the "Mistigris World Tour", where instead of releasing their members' art within their own packs, the artists released en masse in other groups as a virtual tour of sorts, each successive tour stop to be indicated by an illustrated riddle-poem. Groups who cooperated in this tour concept included Blade, Fire (as well as its music division, Radiance), Dark and Fistful of Steel (FOS) (and, some time after the fact, the Project). Cthulu had plans to tour with several smaller groups as well (Ophidiac, TeklordZ), to help mutually raise each other's profiles, but as he put it, "the groups kept dying" before tour arrangements could be finalized.

Mistigris itself ultimately came to a close in mid-1998 due to numerous factors, among them mass graduation by its membership from high school into a world of distractions, disagreements between department heads regarding quality control, and an ongoing inability to retain the membership of its most talented active textmode artists. (An over-full final pack was actually assembled, some of its contents even today queued up and awaiting packaging, but its release was delayed until more textmode art could be drummed up... a condition that would never be met, complicated by irrecoverable data loss following a hard drive crash during a botched Linux installation.) Proving most lethal, however, was the undermining and final collapse of the 604 area code's bizarrely long-lived BBS scene due to the new local availability of affordable dial-up internet access — when Mist's first world headquarters The Screaming Tomato BBS (TST) went down, it was replaced in short order by The Jade Monkey (TJM), but when TJM went offline there was no longer anywhere relevant for the local members to call in to. Mistigris' members had a longstanding strong presence on the EFnet IRC (channel #mist protected, served and entertained by the bots Mr_Gris, Ms_Degree and daGRIZ), but a lack of an effective web strategy restricted group InterNet activity to idling, lurking and fruitless chatter, and in the absence of Cthulu's input during an offline spell following a change of address, the final few ounces of momentum were lost.

In its wake several disgruntled former Mistigris senior staff soldiered on for some months as Hallucigenia, achieving unprecedented success in the acceptance of incorporation of traditional "real-world" artforms into computer art pack releases. Cthulu had already been seeking a local offline equivalent to the dynamic and creative computer artscene, networking with established adult artist and "iconographer" Dwight Atkinson and ushering Mist's cadre of poets into public readings conducted through the Sugar Refinery's Scrambled Angst series, the Edgewise Cafe's Teen Telepoetics program, and Hermit Books; from there he began coordinating performers for The Living Closet, lurking at the Vancouver Poetry Slam, and started a long career in event production at the Butchershop Floor and beyond.

Notable releases[edit]

  • imp-0894.zip - Final iMPERiAL release, August 1994
  • mist1094.zip - First MiSTiGRiS release, October 1994
  • raid1194.zip - First RAiD release, November 1994
  • int-0195.zip - First iNTEGRiTY release, January 1995
  • wbt-0195.zip - First Wild Buffalo Tamerz release, January 1995
  • fire0295.zip - Final FiRE release, pre-merger, February 1995
  • fire0895.zip - First FiRE release, post-merger, August 1995
  • blde9612.zip - "Mistigris World Tour", Blade, December 1996
  • fos-0197.zip - "Mistigris World Tour", Fistful of Steel, January 1997
  • fire0497.zip - "Mistigris World Tour", Fire, April 1997
  • dark0597.zip - "Mistigris World Tour", Dark Illustrated, May 1997
  • mist1197.zip - Compilation of Mistigris Blender entries, November 1997
  • m-9806-a.zip - Final Mistigris release, textmode art disk, June 1998
  • hal0698.zip - First Hallucigenia release, June 1998
  • artdisk-.zip - Mistigris "Best-of" anthology distributed on floppy diskette at a Living Closet event at the Church of Pointless Hysteria, July 23rd, 1999
  • prjct006.zip - "Mistigris World Tour" April Fool's release, The Project, August 1999

External links[edit]