Working in the Archives: Researching Fred Patten, furries, and counter-culture media at UC RiversidePosted by Brandyjlewis on Sun 20 Feb 2022 - 10:11
Located at the University of California's Riverside campus is the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, a world-renowned archive of books, film, fanzines, and ephemera documenting and evoking the history of sci-fi and fantasy fan culture. Originally formed in 1969, when collector and physician Dr. J. Lloyd Eaton donated his library consisting of "about 7,500 hardback editions of science fiction, fantasy and horror from the Nineteenth to the mid-Twentieth centuries", the Eaton is considered one-of-the-world's largest collections of papers and documents entangled with its subjects. While much of the collection remains to be processed - COVID-19 notably limiting work since early 2020 - both students and staff see the archive as a hidden treasure, with the collection holding such things as first-editions of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Fahrenheit 451.
Picking up from where the 2020 documentary The Fandom left off, Ash "Coyote" Kreis' new 44-minute film, Hero: A Furry Story takes a deeper look into the fandom's disability community, particularly its less-looked-at subset with cancer and chronic illness, where people have found that fursuiting and its networks can create a source of happiness during a time of pain and illness. Hero is the film's star, a canine-identifying fan, diagnosed with cancer at age 22, who receives a new fursuit from the talent at Waggery Costumes.
As viewers are slowly introduced to all of the different people it takes to make a fursuit, Hero's story demonstrates what furry fans have already come to know: affirming that people in the fandom can be as family, loved ones, and mentors. Pulling itself away from the criticism that Kreis received after The Fandom, this new film's attention to disability, illness, and networked connections provides another interesting gateway into something that will surely be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike.