Mark Merlino

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Mark Merlino
Merlino at Califur 3, 2006
Other names Sylys Sable, Sy Sable, Sy, Sylys Weezles
Born May 12, 1952
Birth place USA
Date of death February 20, 2024
Death place Garden Grove, Orange County, California
Residence Garden Grove, Orange County, California
Profession or hobby Fandom organizer/influencer, writer
Character species American marten
Convention GoH Eurofurence 7, Morphicon 2004

Mark Merlino, also known Sylys Sable, Sy Sable, or just Sy, also known as Sylys Weezles on Second Life, was a furry fandom organizer/influencer and writer who lived in Garden Grove, Orange County, California, USA.

Fandom Involvement[edit]

Mark Merlino shows manga revolutionary Dr. Osamu Tezuka a skiltaire illustration at a C/FO animation club screening in 1979. Photo by (?).
Merlino at Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Merlino became part of the fandom in 1971 by meeting science fiction convention attendees who also espoused an interest regarding funny animal characters in any media.[1]

He was also one of the founders[2] of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization (C/FO), a fandom organization initially created for the discussion and enjoyment of Japanese animation (anime) and manga comics, which is credited with propagating this genre via local chapters in the Continental US and overseas American military installation (Misawa Air Base, Japan), especially thanks to fellow C/FO member Patten's American anime and manga fandom.

Some of this anime/manga media imported for viewing by US fans (fur/non-fur) included such titles of furry interest as:

...Among others, which they heavily influenced furry artists, writers, and fans of that era and onwards.


Mark is recognized as one of the founding and pivotal members of the furry fandom[3][4][1] along with his long-time partner Rod O'Riley, at one point describing himself as the "Father of the Furry Fandom" at his Oklacon 2004 panel of "History of Fur".[5]

Mark owned the well-known furry household The Prancing Skiltaire, located in Garden Grove, Orange County, California, where it hosted a myriad of meets and events, and monthly furry parties since 2005. He was also active on FurryMUCK, Second Life, and VRChat, and helped maintain The Greymuzzle Archives.

Fursonas and characters[edit]

Mark had accumulated an enormous repertoire of furry persona characters and had a tradition of naming his characters with the prefix "Sy-", including the recom Sylys Sable, Sy the skiltaire, Sydney Fisher, and the silkies Sylvester Thomas and Syndy Skye (Sega the ratel was an exception).

Mark's representative species was the American marten.

Orange County Science Fiction Club[edit]

For a while, a skiltaire was the mascot of the Orange County Science Fiction Club (OCSFC), who Mark and Rod were participants ("presenters").[clarify][6]

Convention attendance[edit]

(*) Director
(**) GoH
(***) Panelist


Mark is the creator of the skiltaire (also known as skiltare) species, intelligent sentient weasel-like spacefaring aliens which were created in 1971[8] as a non-human sentient species for a series of science fiction stories.

Skiltairea have been depicted by numerous artists and were selected as mascots of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization and Mark's home, The Prancing Skiltaire.


As a writer, Mark was involved with several fandom periodicals, including Touch, In-Fur-Nation and the Western Weyr (a Chronicles of Per fanzine). He was a co-writer on the furry role-playing game Other Suns (which included his Skiltaire species), and had written non-fiction articles for FurVersion and Shanda Fantasy Arts's New Horizons.

Mark's stories for the First Light Pride appeared in comic form in New Horizons, and were reprinted in Four Footed Furries, another Shanda Fantasy Arts publication.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Mark Merlino was co-winner, along with his partner Rod O'Riley, of the 2022 Good Furry Award Lifetime Achievement. His influential role was also recognized in the 2020 furry documentary film, The Fandom, showcasing his significant contributions.

He is heavily mentioned on Fred Patten's non-fiction book about the furry fandom, An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996.[9]

Death and remembrances[edit]

After a series of brain strokes for which Mark Merlino was hospitalized, it was discovered during a screening on February 9, 2024, that he had Stage IV liver cancer.[10] He passed away in his sleep at home during the early morning hours of February 20, 2024.[11]

Merlino's passing was talked about heavily on social media, especially X to the point that his name trended on X's "What is happening" board.[12] A great deal of known furry figures, events, and conventions added their condolences online.[13][citation needed]

On FurryMUCK, a small memorial to Mark was placed at the base of his statue on Sable Street.

On March 23, 2024, a live memorial service (titled "A Celebration of Life") took place at the Prancing Skiltaire venue in California.[14] In June the same year, at the virtual Furality Umbra convention, a small tribute portrait of Merlino's VRChat avatar can be seen during the closing ceremony's end credits with the caption underneath the portrait saying "In loving memory of Mark 'Sy Sable' Merlino".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 #1 - Sy Sable (Mark Merlino), The Greymuzzle Archives. Podcast. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  2. Cartoon/Fantasy Organization entry on the Fanlore website. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  3. Who are the furries? article by Denise Winterman on the BBC News Magazine. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  4. The Fandom: A Furry Documentary FULL MOVIE video by Ash Coyote on YouTube. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  5. Oklacon 2004 Event Schedule page on Oklacon 2004's website. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  6. OCSFC Presenters page on the Orange County Science Fiction Club's website. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  7. Ask a Graymuzzle Anything panel page on Megaplex 2023's website. Retrieved February 22, 2024.
  8. Skiltaire in Traveller splash page on's website. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  9. An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996 article on Flayrah. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  10. Help a True Fandom Original. post by Rodney Stansfield on GoFundMe. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  11. He's gone. post on The Prancing Skiltaire's X account. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  12. So many people are mourning the loss of Mark Merlino right now. post on X. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  13. We at Furry Fiesta are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mark Merlino (Sy Sable) post on Texas Furry Fiesta's X account. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  14. Mark Merlino / Sy Sable: A Celebration of Life video on The Prancing Skiltaire's YouTube account. Retrieved March 23, 2024.

External links[edit]

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