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