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File 770[edit]

File 770, edited by Mike Glyer (ISSUE 127 - NOVEMBER 1998) is down, here is a copy of just the section from Fred (not under CC-BY-SA/GFDL):

The Fur Frontier[edit]

Fred Patten agrees, "Yes, I am writing a history of furry fandom, and Joe Rosales is also planning a 'Brian Aldiss' history of furry/talking animals in popular culture." But he feels that Taral's comments about these projects, quoted in File 770:125, while accurate in general are erroneous in detail.

Neither Patten nor Rosales feel their books are "revisionist" views of the same topic, any more than one would claim that Aldiss' The Billion-Year Spree is a revisionist view of Harry Warner's All Our Yesterdays. Rosales will focus on literature and popular culture, and Patten will chronicle furry fandom.

Patten will only supply a broad overview of the history before moving on to his main topic, furry fandom: "There is an Egyptian tomb painting ca. 1500 B.C. of a lion and a gazelle playing whatever the Egyptian equivalent of checkers was. This is a bit more indisputably 'funny animal' than animal-headed gods, or neolithic cave paintings of what might have been anthropomorphized animals but could equally well have been tribal shamans dressed in animal skins. Parables featuring talking animals can be traced from the tales of Aesop and Terence through the Medieval ballads of Reynard the Fox to the refined literary fantasies of the 18th century French Court and the 'Uncle Remus' Afro-American folk tales of the 19th century. (And don't forget the Monkey King tales in the Orient.)

"Anthropomorphics have especially proliferated during the most recent 200 years, with the popularization of talking animals in children's' literature (Lewis Carroll, etc.); talking animals in political cartoons (which predate Thomas Nast's Democratic donkey and Republican elephant); advertising mascots like Tony the Tiger and the Trix rabbit; movie and newspaper funny-animal stars like Krazy Kat, Mickey Mouse and Pogo Possum; and so on. I will summarize all this in a very broad overview as the Introduction to my history of organized furry fandom. Rosales will concentrate entirely on the history of talking animals through 5,000 years or more of popular culture.

"My thesis is that furry fandom coalesced out of sf fandom and comics fandom, blending elements from both of them and achieving its own critical mass in 1983/1984. The first clear signs of the independent furry fandom were the creation of its first apa, Rowrbrazzle, and the decision by some fans to self-publish furry comic books because there seemed to be enough fans of stories with talking animals to support them (as distinct from earlier attempts to self-publish comics which had to hope for sufficient sales from the general public alone.) Some key titles in this evolution of 'furrydom' were Cutey Bunny (which first appeared in October 1982 but attracted attention during 1983), Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger novels starting in mid-'83 (influential in establishing funny animals as respectable reading for adults), and the Rowrbrazzle apa and the comics Albedo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Usagi Yojimbo all during 1984. Critters and Captain Jack weren't until 1986.

"Rowrbrazzle started in February 1984. Since it was specifically an apa for writing and drawing funny animals as a genre and discussing the new fandom that was forming about them, it is a handy landmark to say that 'furry fandom existed at this time.' I do not claim, as Taral implies, that furry fandom was started by the birth of Rowrbrazzle. But I have asked whether anyone can supply an earlier date that can be clearly identified as belonging to furry fandom, as distinct from being an isolated furry event within sf fandom (such as the preview of the Watership Down movie at the 1978 Worldcon) or comics fandom (such as R. Crumb's Fritz the Cat in 1968 or Marvel Comics Howard the Duck in 1976; and so far nobody has.

"Considering that the worthwhile histories of fandom such as Sam Moskowitz's The Immortal Storm and Harry Warner's All Our Yesterdays and A Wealth of Fable have each taken about a decade to write, I will be very surprised if my book (working title: Animal Masks) is ready for publication as soon as next year."