Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: 1980’s

A brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, America’s first anime fan club — by Sy Sable

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Courtesy of Changa Lion and the Confurence Archive, cover art by Ken Sample. 5 years after it was founded, the club newsletter covered news from 9 American club chapters and the 1982 release of Don Bluth’s Secret of NIMH.

Sy Sable co-founded the first furry con and helped grow a new worldwide furry fandom, with 1970’s roots in a small clubhouse in Los Angeles.

On 4/4/2020, Sy Sable (Mark Merlino) sent this brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, founded in 1977. His story comes from recent message trading with someone interested in the C/FO and those involved. He couldn’t connect her to people out of contact for over 20 years, but he could tell how the club started. 

Today, there’s a worldwide network we could call capital-F Furry fandom, but some key founders were “proto-furries” who met at the C/FO. The club introduced new and unusual imported Japanese anime that was starting to reach America through rare home video tech. Club members loved anime for featuring adult, science fiction and action themes unlike 1970’s American animation aimed at kids (then dominated by studios like Hanna-Barbera.) There was a lot of “giant robot” anime, but certain fans preferred to combine adult themes plus traditional “funny animal” comics and animation that eventually spun off their own, new hybrid fandom.

Sy was a founder who went on with partner Rod O’Riley to host 1980’s science fiction convention room parties, then ConFurence in 1989, and longstanding monthly parties at The Prancing Skiltaire in Southern California (when not under quarantine in 2020). The C/FO had other chapters and there were other fan groups, but this is a major root. Another founder, Fred Patten, wrote about the C/FO in How Home Video Created Anime Fandom — or check Fred’s review of Joe Strike’s Furry Nation history book that covers this. (Fred was also a writer with Jerry Beck, East Coast C/FO chapter founder and animation historian, tying in much more history.) Sy says: “This is from my perspective and drops names something fierce… but it IS my personal take on things.” ( – Patch)

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Forget depressing news, watch these 90’s animated bunnies who help kids stay safe!

by Patch O'Furr

Current news got ya bothered? Take a break with a forgotten 90’s cartoon of total radness!

For many suburban kids in the 80’s and 90’s, riding a bike to the mall was living the dream, along with going to the video store and renting popcorn sci-fi movies, miniature golfing, or playing the TMNT arcade game at the pizza parlor (maybe while rocking out with Chuck E. Cheese.)

Let all of those vibes come at you from Bert and Gert, the bunnies in kneepads with flipped up hats who ride hoverboards, like in Back To the Future Part II. They’re a brother and sister on a mission, but who sent them? Whoever it was, they trust these bunnies to spy on kids using radar wrist watches more advanced than any smartphone yet invented. WHOAH!

Why do they spy on kids? During the boppin’ theme song, we learn that it’s to protect them — from snakes, lightning and optical illusions (??) — but keep watching. This is the 80’s/90’s Stranger Danger genre. It’s not the boring After School Special kind with terrible acting though; this is pure, uncut cartoon magic. It has neon “wonky” aesthetics with the mellifluous voices and irresistible coolness of cereal mascots you wish were your best friends forever.

What kid wants to get in trouble if these bunnies teach them how to stay safe? I know I’M never talking to a stranger again. I love this so much, I wish I had a fursona like this (and it can happen, because that’s what furry fandom is for!)

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Unearthing a cool fossil — A 1980’s letter shows furry fandom before the net.

by Patch O'Furr

Ursa Major Awards voting is open through March, vote now for the best creators.

News tips from non-furries are often worthy. They won’t suck you into fandom-gossip, and they’re more likely to use the Dogpatch Press Facebook page than Telegram or Twitter. That’s how I heard from a New Jersey estate liquidator (someone contracted to sell off goods when someone dies or can’t do it themselves). They had binders of furry art, and I had experience in brokerage (my other fursona is a pack rat.) Was there worth in them?

They didn’t smell like money, but I knew they might have at least curiosity value for a handful of sources like Confurence.com, so I broadcast it and tagged them.

Indeed it was just sentimental-value stuff — not even original art, just photocopies — but Jerry Collins tied this to old guard furry fandom. I thought about how scrapbooks of gay culture from pre-1960’s had high curatorial value, and was reminded of a contact with an archive for 8mm home movies that were picked up this way and sometimes licensed for documentaries. I smelled news!

I asked about reaching the family to find out more about the collector, or make sure it was OK to share:

The house had Manga stuff and role play games. Owner was in his 50’s. Unfortunately the estate was handled by an attorney who had no personal knowledge. I do not see any issue with sharing the binder contents. Enjoy.

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40th anniversary of Animalympics: The “Rocky Horror Show” of furry fandom – by Sy Sable

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Here’s a guest article from Sy Sable, AKA Mark Merlino, a founder of furry fandom and its first convention ConFurence. Sy, Rod O’Riley and Changa Lion host monthly parties at their house (The Prancing Skiltaire) in Southern California. The parties screen animation like Animalympics. It became popular at 1980’s fan parties, where furries adopted it as their own cult favorite like Rocky Horror and kept it alive when it might be forgotten. Last week I hosted a furry movie party where the furry-made version (C/FO Cut with rare lost scenes) got a fresh look as an original fandom root. The Youtube video is at end of article. – Patch

To go with the story, Changa Lion provided his scans of a vintage TV Guide from when Animalympics first aired (Jan 26 – Feb 1, 1980). “NBC was at the time in the dumps in ratings and very desperate. It had been this way for some time. They would not dig themselves out until the Cosby Show.” (full issue on Archive.org.)

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The conspiracy of Beto O’Rourke, AOC, Sex, Politics, Furries, Hackers and the 1980’s internet.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

Hang on, this will be a weird ride. Start with recent furry news about this guy:

The story goes like this – this dude was deep in Jesusland and high on snake venom and arm-wrestled The Zodiac Killer, and … OK, I can’t do serious writing about political battles here, but Beto almost won a Senate seat from Ted Cruz in Texas. I think it’s kind of unusual for a Democrat to do so well there. It’s unusual enough that he joined the 123547 people who want to unseat Trump in 2020. That made some Republicans want to embarrass him with typical anti-sex, anti-gay stone age bullshit, so they dug up an old video of him wearing a sheep costume on stage when he was briefly in a punk band, and called him a furry with insinuation about freaky sex. (Like that’s bad? Could anything else make him seem cooler? Yeah, wait for it…)

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“Don’t dream it – be it!” Interview with Robert Hill about early fursuiting and fandom.

by Patch O'Furr

Art of Robert Hill

Continuing from: Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

Furry fandom has many members who were born after Robert Hill’s ahead-of-its-time (but perhaps underrated) role in its late 1970’s-1980’s formation. My previous introduction promised an interview. That involved some convincing to start it (so maybe others wouldn’t have gotten it?) That makes me extra happy to share it now.

For a little more background, you could browse his (very fetishy and hot) Fur Affinity gallery, or his Wiki that mentions successes in getting media notice. Some was for costuming, and some for art (like in the badly intentioned, but well exposed) MTV Sex2K documentary “Plushies and Furries.

When I say “ahead of its time” and mention MTV, the 90’s were a different time than now. Drama raged between furry fans about whether sexy stuff was acceptable, especially in reaction to media exploitation that overemphasized the fringes. A lot of the bad attention came with a nasty streak of homophobia.  In 2018, I think we know who won. It’s not about furries being indecent, it’s about radical self-expression with all kinds of supportive benefits. I’d say change didn’t come from pleading with outsiders to be nicer, but from the power of building a great community within. And the media followed along with some change from exploitation to a gentler view of loveable eccentricity.

All along, there were members who dared to explore what they wanted to express without taming it for outside recognition, but who were fiercely talented enough to get some of that too.

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Furry Awakenings

by Patch O'Furr

Where do furries come from? Here’s how ones who answered were zapped. Below: A picture is worth 1000 words. Classics & nostalgia (blame the 80’s!) Born This Way. Self Discovery and forbidden curiosity. A community or even family, and a fascinating hobby. – Patch

A picture is worth 1000 words

Classics & nostalgia

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Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

by Patch O'Furr

(Don’t miss the interview with Robert!)

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

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NEWSDUMP: Four cons for Pacific Northwest, history and scandal in the fandom – (9/15/16)

by Patch O'Furr

Tips: patch.ofurr@gmail.comHere’s headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  

FOUR cons for the US Pacific Northwest? (Tip – Fuzzwolf.)

apkjwqsxFurvana (2018). Anthro Northwest (November 9-12, 2017). Pacific Northwest Fur Con (Spring 2017). And a rebirth for Rainfurrest (under parent organization RAIN, who actively runs other events year-round.)  All of these are intended for one region.  Amazingly they seem cooperative, with none replacing another.

On Reddit’s r/furry, a con staffer explains more about all the activity.

In late 2015 Dogpatch Press looked at five regions for “One Town, Two Cons: Let’s compare and ask organizers about Furry community growth.” It was about fan support, competition and cooperation, with questions about how to sustain more than one central event. But four is unprecedented ambition.

It could only come with 2016’s amazing Year of Furry.  From Zootopia’s billion-dollar success, to Fursonas (the first movie about furries with mainstream distribution), to the continued explosion of cons, there’s much more to come.

Furry party posters from the 1980’s. 

In the 1980’s, sci-fi cons gathered fans of funny-animal cartoons for room parties. Mark Merlino and Rod O’Riley have the Prancing Skiltaire furry house in So Cal that has posted some of their party flyer collection.  There was drama about the “furries” being weird, because that stuff isn’t for grown-ups is it?  So in 1989 they got their own con, ConFurence.  Look at how they multiplied like bunnies. Now it’s too late to stop them. Just don’t let anyone with a time machine go back and change the flyers to send them to Floor 13.

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Early Furry Fan Photos – by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Greymuzzle Stickmaker (Rodford Edmiston Smith), an attendee and photographer of many World S-F Conventions and other s-f conventions of the 1980s through the 2000s, has been posting his photos on Flickr since late September.

Most are of interest to s-f fans, but some contain pictures of furry fans at bygone s-f conventions. (I’m in there, but never mind where – I don’t photograph well.)

A fox fursuiter (but the word “fursuit” didn’t exist yet) at the 1991 Worldcon in Chicago.  (link)

w91m003

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