A present from furry fandom to Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
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.
Any furry have some christmas appreciation to give Fred Patten for all he does for fandom? Please email to patch.ofurr (at) gmail, I'm assembling a post full of it. He doesn't read Twitter so it will be a surprise!— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 21, 2017
Fred gave me my first publishing break and has done a lot for the fandom; show him some love!! https://t.co/cnUcS0ptvX— Seagull Greetings (@gullwulf) December 21, 2017
I want to give a big thank you to Mr. Patten. Without him, I wouldn’t know know what furry fiction is. More to the point, I wouldn’t know what good furry fiction is. I owe hi my literary life. So big thank you, and much love to him <3 I don’t have anything I can give physically but he deserves so much and then some. Give him a big hug, even if digital.
Tryp the Wolfyote:
I just wanna give my best wishes and thanks to Fred Patten, and thanks to all your contributions you’ve made for the fandom. Merry Christmas.
Cassidy The Civet:
As someone who frequents Flayrah, it’s hard to not notice the work you put in with your reviews and detailed content. I can still count on one hand the amount of years I’ve been in this fandom, but even I know the sheer scope of all you’ve done. And I really thank you, for your passion helps inspire and drive new content creators, myself included.
Merry Christmas! May these well wishes find you merry, holly, and jolly.
Dear Fred, Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement you’ve given me. I’ll never forget the positive review you gave my very first published story, ‘Magnificent Dogs’ back in ROAR 4 – it made me feel I must be doing something right, and helped me to keep at it. Later you were kind enough to accept my stories into some of your own anthologies, and two of them went on to win an Ursa Major, which was a huge compliment and confidence boost. Wishing you all the best!
Your work for the community I’ve grown to love is legendary. I feel as though it wouldn’t exist without you and everything you’ve done. If you are not the foundation of the fandom, then you, as a historian, are the glue that holds it together. Without you, I don’t think we would be what we are today. From your collection to your writing, you have given us a place to be ourselves in a world where that may be hard to come by. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mr. Patten.
All my warm wishes,
I loved talking to you at FC. You were so full of information, and I always like seeing you still around. Even if we haven’t spoken in years, I really appreciate all you’ve done for the fans
Also i really enjoyed your stories where-ever I found them in old Albedo or Furrlough. Anyway, thank you for everything.
Around 2013, 14, a fellow MK writer found me and said that Fred was looking for me. But when I finally reached out, it was too late. Fed's Ursa Major book was at the printers.— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables now available! (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017
I told Fred, because I no longer felt compelled to write, that he could just reprint anything, any time
Except, I was just killing time. I wasnt building anything for a future. My meds were destroying my liver. We started weening me off the meds, found a maintenance dosage.— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables now available! (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017
My ego found its spurs.
I started and failed to create stories. I read a few MK stories from my time away.
So, I rewrote a bit of The Good Sport to get rid of a shared NPC. And that was easy... no ego hang ups. That was a new experience, which I owed to the meds.— Cold Blood: Fatal Fables now available! (@Greyflank) December 21, 2017
Fred wasn't poetic about it, he just matter of factly, handed my pride to back me, told me my worth, and I believed him.
If you study art long enough, even if your study is done in a casual manner and limited to the resources of library books, local public displays and exhibitions, and online, you will see that the production of art is everywhere and neverending. Millions of us humans make artistic creations in one form or another. But art, like glory, is a fleeting thing. The drawings and writings of our youth are easily lost as we move through life, and are often deliberately discarded by the creators. To have one’s art viewed and recognized by another person is a small step toward finding some meaning in our existence. To have widespread recognition of our life’s works may be more than we can hope to achieve.
In the folk culture of modern fandoms, writers of literature have some people to help their work become recognized, and these people are reviewers and critics of literary works. These people are relatively few in number, often work for little or no compensation, and may in fact have only basic education in literature. What matters most is their personal hands-on experience of literature that gives them the ability to discern the good from the bad and the good from the great. A handful of individuals and websites over the past twenty years have given us reviews of the literature of the furry community and the most prolific and successful of these individuals is Fred Patten.
When a furry author gets to the point where they can bring their work to public attention, they still have a road ahead of them. If your work is good enough in the eyes of a publisher, your book or other literary work may get some real world, on-paper publication, then a listing on the publisher’s and/or a retailer’s website. If your name is previously unknown in furry literature, good luck. That good luck may actually arrive when Fred Patten gets a copy of your book, reads it, writes his review and publishes it on such popular and credible websites as Dogpatch Press and Flayrah. Fred makes the effort to look through a book and tell prospective readers whether or not they may find it worth some amount of money to purchase some author’s stories. The furry writers community may be relatively small but we still generate enough books that it can be a challenge to choose one that’s worth our time and coin. Fred’s work, accomplished despite a serious physical disablity, and at a time in life when many people are just going from one day to the next, is producing his reviews and commentary greater than persons half his age or younger. Fred, you make other people greater than they are alone, you lift our literary works above and beyond where we ourselves can take them. Your writing saves ours from being “washed away like tears in the rain.”
I hope the holiday season finds you well! It’s weird to think you’re not on Twitter, because I see your influence on there pretty much daily. There isn’t a single moment that I’m not grateful for the time and consideration for your reviews of my books, and for what you do for furry authors generally. It’s honestly an enormous honour and encouragement to me to look back on them. It feels amazing to be part of the platform and community you’ve helped build among furry writers to help bring them recognition in a fandom that can so easily dismiss something that isn’t presented to them visually. It’s allowed me to grow in huge amounts, professionally and personally, and meet so many other amazing like-minded people to help them do the same. I would have very little right now if it weren’t for your tireless, extensive, and historical work to put all this in place.
Wishing you all the best for Christmas and the New Year; I hope it brings you health and happiness.
I’ve made some great friends among the furrydom whom I’ve learned are also anime and manga fans like me. Fred is one of them, having been at the epicenter of fandom back when my boyhood fascination with Disney’s Robin Hood drove me to find authors/artists like Steven A. Gallacci, Monika Livingstone, Stan Sakai and Eastman & Laird. I think Fred’s tireless support of these creatives is in part what allowed me to find them and come to enjoy their work.
I still have a copy of Amazing Heroes #75, July 15, 1985 featuring Fred’s interview ROBOTECH: Japanimation Invades Comics With a Trio of Comico Titles with Carl Macek (not to mention all of the Comico comics themselves.) Fred recently shared with me the story how he and Carl under the auspices of Streamline Pictures continued to make Robotech available to a new generation of fans at the closing of the VHS age. My time and experiences in the fandom have been enriched by people like Fred, who used their time and treasure to share the joy these stories and characters brought them.
Thank you Fred. But for people like you I would have never taken notion to write paranormal sci-fi thrillers featuring the modern-day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats in the first place.
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin USA
My debts to Mr. Patten are manifold. His efforts in bringing anime into popular awareness are part of what allowed me to take a lifelong interest in it. And when I began to publish stories within the furry fandom, he was the first one to review them. That let me know, at least, that someone was listening, that I wasn’t throwing my fiction out into the void. That simple fact helped to keep me going.
Looking back, long before I knew his name, his work in the nascent anime fandom of decades past means that he has played some role in my development as a creator since I was a child. Now, all these years later, we have reached a point where he has edited and published my stories directly. What were the odds?
But while the turns of life and fate are mysterious, I doubt my testimony is unique. So, Fred, from all of us whose lives you’ve touched, thank you, and best wishes.
I started off this email five times.
Each time I had to delete it and start over because it just felt wrong. Some of them felt like they were about me than him, one was almost accusatory, and one was full of saccharine.
I don’t know Fred personally – I only first heard of his name in 2006, shortly after his stroke. We’ve met twice, during some brief trips to Califur, but it was only a fleeting greetings.
What heartfelt thing can I say to a man I only know professionally and culturally? How can I craft a message of “Seasons Greetings” that isn’t ripped off from a Halmark Card for a man that I can only feel comfortable addressing as “Mr. Patten” out of respect for everything he’s done?
Fred has been in this since the start, and has been involved in so much that I doubt that there is much that does not bear his influence even indirectly. His professional tone is such that I can only dream of ever being on his level.
Fred is the reason why I demur when people call me a Furry Historian, because to me that means Fred, and I don’t think I’d be a good stand-in for him.
I keep saying, to borrow from Asimov, that there is but a single light of Furry, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere. Fred has spent decades in the fandom, often working behind the scenes, to brighten that light.
I wish him a Happy Hannukah (although that’s passed), a Merry Christmas, a Fabulous Fetisvus, a Sublime Solstice, and a Happy New Year.
Fred’s sister Sherry wrote in with news about…
…always bringing MORE and MORE BOOKS to Fred every afternoon (from our local libraries; those sent to him by authors or publishers; AND, ALL THE BOOKS Fred orders on Amazon.com… since most all FURRY BOOKS are not in libraries).
Also… now that movies of interest to Fred are coming out we recently saw COCO and FERDINAND. Fred has a long list of movies he wants to see in 2018 (including PADDINGTON 2 and SHERLOCK GNOMES that I do look forward to seeing, too).
Fred’s longtime LASFS friend, Kay Shapero, very kindly MAINTAINS the Fred Patten Website… and, she just sent us the “link” to this wonderful PHOTO MONTAGE she assembled from ALL the photos Fred had received over the years (most all “candid pix” taken at various venues):
At the top, click ABOUT FRED, and then on PHOTOS to PLAY the VIDEO MONTAGE of “Fred Patten thru the years”.
And… while I’m “waxing nostalgic”… this is my most cherished photo, Fred and me at his junior high school graduation June 1955 (Fred is 14; I am 7). My dress was PINK but obviously FADED in this photo… and, each subsequent copy of it (62.5 years ago was a long time). FYI, Audubon Junior High School was RAZED after one of the South CA earthquakes (I think in the early 1990’s).
Fred chatted with me before reading all these messages:
My sister just took me in my wheelchair to a theater to see the animated Ferdinand. I also keep up with animation news, and there is a lot of speculation right now if the Blue Sky Studios in Connecticut will survive no matter how successful Ferdinand is. Blue Sky is wholly owned by 20th Century-Fox, and Disney has just bought 20th Century. Disney already has itself and Pixar; it doesn’t need another animation studio, no matter how successful.
Coco is one of my favorite Pixar movies. I tried to get someone to write a story about Mexico and a xoloitzcuintli when I was editing Symbol of a Nation, but nobody was inspired to.
My birthday is on December 11 (I just turned 77), so I am also getting many birthday and Christmas greetings at the same time.
Happy birthday and Merry Christmas Fred, the site couldn’t have a better partner. Best wishes for 2018 from me and fans around the world.
Update 12/26 – Post shared by the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy plus more appreciation:
Fred is so important to the anthropomorphic community -- and he's been kind and supportive to this writer, too! He personally invited me to submit to the Gods With Fur anthology. https://t.co/szFoX4xAps— Heidi lives again (@hcvlach) December 27, 2017
He quite literally is, though. Also so for anime fandom in the west. He was literally the first anime importer for fans+commerce. He was organizing funny animal fandom events at sci-fi events for years before institutional foundations like Rowrbrazzle, etc.— ꙮ 🐉 🐃 Bahu 🐃 🐉 ꙮ (@BahuWrites) December 26, 2017
Yo furries. ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T KNOW WHO FRED PATTEN IS.— ꙮ 🐉 🐃 Bahu 🐃 🐉 ꙮ (@BahuWrites) December 26, 2017
This here is mandatory reading. Genuflect, respect. Fred Patten is the reason we have so many nice fandom things today. https://t.co/Yu0LwZIRKb
If you want to enjoy some of Fred’s writing, he works with Dogpatch crew to list his work published online here, at Flayrah and elsewhere. Here’s what’s listed so far (there’s more that isn’t added yet, any volunteers?) Also check his latest posts.
- The State of Furry Publishing – Fred Patten gives the inside story of eight groups.
- How did Disney inspire Furry fandom? A look at early influences by Fred Patten.
- What the Well-Read Furry Should Read.
- More of What the Well-Read Furry Should Read.
- What The Well-Read Furry Should Read: Early 2016 update.
- Fred Patten Presents his articles about Furry publishing, animation, and history.