Guess how many furries there are in the world? I’d say at least the population of a medium-to-large city. That’s a lot of members to remember for the holidays. Santa Claws couldn’t deliver all the plushies and bones you need with just one trip on Christmas Eve. Of course instead of Christmas dinner, some of you might be having lox or falafel (or fruitcake pizza). Anyways, whether this is your holiday or not, it’s a good time to look back at 2017 and appreciate things shared in common. I’ve been wondering what kind of gift to give the fandom for supporting this site and each other, for having a successful year of record-breaking cons, and for being my favorite thing. I decided that instead of pleasing everyone, let’s pick one furry who gives a lot and give thanks back to him.
That’s Fred Patten, who helped make it all happen. It started 3-4 decades ago when there were only handfuls of people who couldn’t get enough stuff like this…
Funny animal comics that were huge in the Golden Age but mostly went extinct (except in newspaper strips like Pogo that spoke to adults too.) 1960’s counterculture-inspired, untamed underground comix like Fritz the Cat. A renewal of Disney excellence that suffered in the 1970’s “dark age” of animation after Robin Hood. An adult side to anthropomorphics with action and sci-fi stories seen in anime, leading to 1980’s alternative comics like TMNT and Usagi Yojimbo. Those are roots that grew into a thriving scene that’s now full of young creative people who can learn from founders like Fred.
Fred’s fan activity started with comics in the 1940’s. He joined science fiction fandom in 1960, and in the 1970’s he helped import Anime to North America. It found a place at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society clubhouse where fans shared movies, writing and art. That led to funny-animal fan organizing. They gathered in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago, with house parties, room parties at sci fi cons, and APA’s and zines. Fred’s 17 years of editing Rowrbrazzle put him at the center of it while furries started their first con in 1989 and expanded overseas. He’s won lots of awards, written countless book reviews and animation columns, and edited a dozen furry story anthologies.
Fred also makes Dogpatch Press what it is. He’s a keystone from the past to now, so the bookish beginnings don’t get forgotten with the rise of costuming, bigger events and social media. My part with the site is building “Furry Media” for a more direct line than what outsiders publish. That involves looking for the pulse of fandom, sometimes on the street level with fursuiting, partygoing and event organizing, as well as muckraking or occasionally even being featured in spicy rumors. But meanwhile, without playing a fursona, Fred tells the history, and dives into quiet concentration to review books that furries pour their hearts into writing.
Fred stays in a convalescent hospital and isn’t likely to be at cons (although he does see movies sometimes in a wheelchair), so I hope your messages are like a window on a happy view that you made for him. Smile and wave!
Many furs answered the request I put out. Whether it’s for Christmas or otherwise, it’s a birthday gift too – Fred turned 77 on December 11.
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