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The Asian ApertureThe Original Anime Fanboy
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, September 16, 2012    Share

There are millions of anime fans all over the world thanks to the Internet, Blu-rays, DVDs, and manga sold at any given Barnes and Nobles, but I have often wondered what anime fandom was like decades ago and about the people responsible for spreading fandom. This thinking, combined with a love of reading, brought to my attention, Fred Patten.

Fred Patten was born in LA back in 1940 and like a lot of fanboys from that era, developed an early interest in Sci Fi thanks to Ace and Ballantine Books. At the end of the 50’s, Patten enrolled at UCLA, eventually acquiring a degree in Library Science. In 1960 he became active in his love of Sci Fi by getting involved with the LA Sci Fi Society this led to a writing career with local fanzines.

Then something happened to Patten that would change his life. Patten attended the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference, known as Westercon, where he discovered manga. Soon after he opened the Graphic Story Bookshop and began writing to publishers in Japan asking for manga that he wanted to import to his store. He was the first to sell Japanese manga in the US and this turned out to be a successful business venture. By 1977, Patten started the first ever anime fan club called Cartoon/Fantasy Organization. Now anime clubs exist at nearly every University.

Through his bookstore, writing for fanzines, and also writing articles for animation and comic magazines, he became a guest speaker at cons throughout the world.

If all that wasn’t enough to secure his position as the ultimate anime fan, he quit his library job to work for Streamline Pictures. Streamline started in 1988 to sell anime that was from Japan and uncut. The company was founded by Carl Macek who combined three anime series and created a new storyline for Robotech. Streamline produced many great products including Akira on video, and several Hayao Miyazaki works such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, The Castle of Cagliostro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the most beloved anime throughout Japan, My Neighbor Totoro. On a side note, I remember seeing Streamline ads in Starlog and this led to attending the Necronomican Sci Fi Con in Tampa back in 1991. It was there I bought a $5 dollar bootleg of Akira. I was a causal anime fan up to that point and then I became fanatical after seeing Akira. Patten was Streamline’s first employee, which just goes to show that if you love something and stick with it, anything is possible.

Sadly in 2005, Fred Patten suffered a major stroke and was forced to give up his personal collection. 40-years of collecting Sci Fi, comics, anime, and manga were donated to the University of California for the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection. According to Wikipedia, this included “900 boxes” containing “220,000 items of comic books, records, tapes, anime, manga, programs from science-fiction coventions dating back to the 1930’s, convention T-shirts, paperbacks, and an array of sci-fi fanzines.”

Currently I am reading one of Fred Patten’s books called Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews.”

Just as most fans of my generation who grew up as Sci Fi fans and later became Anime fans, thanks to the awful dub of Battle of the Planets broadcasted on American TV and the engaging space opera, Starblazers, Fred Patten paved the way and he was there first.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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