Remembering Fred Patten
There is a balding man with glasses, standing in the corner, cradling a book against his stomach, reading. You saw him a lot. At the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting hall, the APA collation room, in the library, at science fiction conventions in function rooms and room parties, at San Diego Comic Con in the Rowrbrazzle contributor parties, at furry parties.
His name is Fred Patten, and was in no way the passive participant he seemed. With a partner he opened a book shop in Long Beach, California that not only carried SF and Fantasy books, but comics from all over the world. He reviewed SF and Fantasy literature for fan and professional publications. His apartment was literally wall-to-wall books. He collected SF/F art, storing paintings in his bed frame. I don't think anyone knew where he slept... or if he did.
I believe I met him at a LASFS meeting, and later when I was showing Japanese animated shows (like Yusha Raideen and Getter Robo G, both examples of the popular giant robot genre) in a room at LOSCON, our local literary SF convention. People liked the shows, and he suggested I might screen them regularly at the LASFS clubhouse.
Not long after, Fred, with Wendell and Judy (both animators in LA), and Robin (a special effects creator), and myself met in a park and founded the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization. It was the first animation fan club to feature Japanese animation (Anime as it is known now) in the U.S.; Fred handled the newsletters and membership directory. I provided the video tapes.
Fred became a promoter of Japanese animation in the US, working for studios that translated shows for syndication on US television. He also wrote the book(s) on Japanese animation and manga comics for US fans. Fred often rode shotgun on our drives to out-of-state conventions, and we shared lodging to save money. At SF conventions I presented video screening rooms which included Japanese animated shows and features.
When the premier funny-animal APAzine Vootie was replaced by Rowrbrazzle, Fred took on the responsibility of editor/publisher when the original founder retired. Besides keeping track of the membership and waiting list, he handled shipping and kept an archive - which was donated later to the science fiction library at the University of California Riverside.
When furry fandom became a thing, Fred became the most scholarly fur. His articles in Rowrbrazzle researched funny animals from around the world. He was basically furry Google. If it had anything to do with funny animals, he knew about it, and wrote about it. His experience in literature made him the perfect choice for editing furry fiction anthologies for exclusive furry publishers. He also wrote articles and books about the fandom, including his history of furry conventions.
Fred was a super-fan, and when he suffered a stroke many years ago, he recovered and continued to write and attend conventions, with the help of his friends. Sadly, Fred Patten passed away, the same week we lost Stan Lee, a comics and popular culture giant. I knew Fred. I worked with him and was aware of his accomplishments, and I hope that others in the fan community realize how important he was to the things we all love. And I have the feeling, sometime in the future, at some party at some fan event, I'll catch out of the corner of my eye...
A balding man with glasses, standing in the corner, cradling a book against his stomach, reading.