Fred Patten Special Collection on Science Fiction and Animation
In my previous four posts on this blog, I wrote about American fandom cultures surrounding Japanese comics and animation as they currently stand in 2015. How would one go about investigating the early days of anime and manga fandom in the United States?
One of the best library resources available is the Fred Patten Special Collection on Science Fiction and Animation, which is part of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy at the University of California, Riverside. Fred Patten was a central figure in encouraging interest in anime and manga in the United States, and the Patten Collection includes magazines, newsletters, and fanzines from the late 1970s onward, as well as flyers and program guides for anime conventions held around the world. As Patten was involved in importing material from Japan for purchase, the collection also contains a large quantity of advertising circulars and Japanese toys.
To save time before you visit, it is recommended that you create an account on Aeon, UCR’s Special Collections request system. You can access in the Special Collections holdings via UCR’s Scotty Catalog, which features Special Collections Request button on individual listings. If you request items in advance, the library staff will have the items pulled and ready for you when you arrive at the reading room.
Social media scholar Alex Leavitt has written a short post on his experiences with the collection, emphasizing that it is well worth contacting the library staff before you visit. He also links to an archive of material on Flickr pooled under the group Artifacts of Anime Fandom (from which the header image of this post was borrowed).
If you can’t make it to the Eaton Collection, the next best thing is getting your hands on a copy of Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews, which collects Patten’s writing from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. These essays have been drawn from magazines, fanzines, CD liner notes, convention programs, and conference papers. Some are retrospectives on fandom gatherings, while others are responses to fandom debates. A significant number are reports on industry developments in Japan and the United States from a fannish perspective. All of the these short essays function as snapshots of anime fandom history in an era when most news and communication was spread in the form of printed writing.
We tend to think of “global popular cultures” as having sprung up alongside the internet; but, as Fred Patten’s legacy demonstrates, international exchange between fans has a long and fascinating history.