Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

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Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by Kunzait_83 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:18 pm

So I'm sure a great many of you are probably wondering: who the fuck is Fred Patten, and what the hell does he have to do with Dragon Ball?

Well I'll spell it out as plainly and simply as possible: without Fred Patten, its almost a certainty that very exceedingly few (North Americans) among you all here would have ever heard of Japanese anime, to say nothing of Dragon Ball.

That get your attention? I hope so. So... a little history then.

Frederick Walter Patten was just an ordinary Librarian who grew up and worked in Los Angeles California in the 1960s, and who also happened to be a massive fan of science fiction and fantasy media, having even written for numerous early fanzines and publishing stories of his own throughout his college years. During that same time, he was also a fan of an animated science fiction show about a heroic robot called Astro Boy. As it turns out, Astro Boy was indeed a Japanese anime, one of THE most foundationally important Japanese anime shows of all time. But of course at first, Patton had no idea that Astro Boy was of Japanese origins (sound familiar?).

It wasn't until a chance encounter at Westercon (one of the then-largest sci fi conventions in the country) in 1970 that he'd come across some raw copies of the Japanese manga adaptation of the then-popular U.S. spy thriller TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (drawn by Golgo 13 creator and manga industry legend Takao Saito) and recognizing the distinctive art style, put two and two together that shows like Astro Boy and Speed Racer were indeed of Japanese origin and were clearly tied to Japanese comic books.

I'll let Patten describe it himself in his own words (from an interview with Pulp Magazine circa 2001):

"One of the exhibits [at the con] had the Japanese manga version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Takao Saito, which was totally different from the American comic book. It went on for about three or four volumes and was very cinematic, and even though I couldn't read Japanese, I could pretty much follow the plot through the pictures....So I went to the Japanese community in Los Angeles, and I not only found that but I discovered all the other manga they had on the shelves."

Fascinated and taken with the vivid art and storytelling style, Patten used his resources as a librarian to get in touch via mail with actual manga publications in Japan (something he had also done with European publishers to acquire French comic books from other strikingly brilliant, trailblazing artists like Philippe Druillet and Jean "Moebius" Giraud). Two Japanese manga publications to be precise: Akita Shoten and Mushi Productions, the latter being of course owned by none other than Osamu Tezuka himself.

Osamu Tezuka and Fred Patten circa the 1970s

Patten not only became an instant fan of Japanese manga who wanted to order for his own collection, but he also had a more ambitious idea: not content to simply keep these buried treasures from overseas to himself, he wanted to share them with more Americans throughout the local SoCal area. With the Japanese publishers' permission and approval, Patten began ordering larger quantities of manga for the purpose of selling them in the United States, alongside the French/European comics he'd also begun directly ordering and collecting prior. Partnering up with his longtime friend Richard Kyle, the pair set about creating Graphic Story World in 1971, the first ever official newsletter for Japanese manga (and other foreign comic books) in North America.

Among the earliest manga titles acquired for the fledgling outlet were works from manga artists as important and distinguished as Go Nagai, Mitsuteru Yokoyama, Kazuo Umezu, and Shotaro Ishinomori. Amusingly enough, while most other manga publications had turned down their business proposal, the sole primary reason as to why Akita Shoten agreed to do business with them was due to one of the executives being an Americaphile.

By 1972, Graphic Story World had expanded from a newsletter into an ordering catalog for American comic book fans of the time to order all kinds of striking and exotic foreign comic books (in their raw original language) from Europe and Japan. While the French comics were an early hit, it wasn't long before Japanese manga began quickly overtaking them in sales, as more and more Westerners immediately began to draw the comparisons between the art styles of manga and familiar dubbed anime shows on TV that few to no one at the time were originally aware were from overseas.

As Patten himself describes:

"We were ordering titles pretty much blind. As I recall, the manga fans were definitely a distinct group. There were a few customers who ordered a sampling of everything, but the majority of those who were interested in manga were those who had already discovered Japanese cartooning through the TV cartoons of the 1960s and were aware that they were from Japan. Most of these fans were very disappointed that we could not get the manga versions of Speed Racer, Astro Boy, and Jungle Emperor Leo. Our most popular sellers were Tetsujin 28-go [Gigantor], 8 Man, and Wonder 3 [The Amazing Three], simply because they were the comic-book versions of the TV cartoons. We did not get too much feedback, but what little we did get tended to agree that Tezuka's art was felt to be the cleanest, most dynamic and dramatic, and the best at pantomime (that is, Americans who did not read Japanese felt that it was easiest to guess what was going on in the story)....Wendy Pini [creator of the famed cult comic book Elfquest] was always a big fan of the Japanese comics, and she was one of our first customers."

By 1973, the Graphic Story World catalog had been successful enough to expanded its operations into a physical, brick and mortar store located in Long Beach California, while changing its name to Wonderworld. With circulation for the newsletter/catalog growing, and ads for Wonderworld's Japanese manga showing up in fanzines and at sci fi/fantasy conventions throughout the country, Southern California had quickly become known as the epicenter of the spread of Japanese comic books and awareness of Japanese animation.

1975 would then of course see the market debut of one of the most important tools for the further spread of anime into North America: the first commercially available VCRs. With a growing interest now present and still building for Japanese cartoons thanks in great part to Wonderworld's efforts, fans such as Patten were able to gather up raw taped airings of Japanese animation straight from Japanese broadcast, and screen them for a small, but still ever growing audience of interested fans at science fiction/fantasy conventions across the country.

From these raw VHS screenings of Japanese anime at sci fi conventions, Patten had helped found the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization in 1977: the first ever fan club for Japanese anime for English speaking fans in all of North America. From this fanclub would grow the first ever bootleg VHS distributors for anime in North America, and the earliest seed for the fan translating and later fansubbing community for Japanese anime that would continue to grow like a fungus throughout the 1980s.

An aged vintage copy of a Cartoon/Fantasy Organization newsletter. Note the familiar character in the upper right corner. :wink:

Other important Japanese anime fanclubs inevitably followed suit from the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization's lead, including the now legendary and landmark Books Nippon Japanese Animation Fan Club, an official North American branch of the Japanese company Nippon Shuppan Hanbai, and which was literally THE staple Japanese anime fanclub that virtually EVERY 80s and early 90s U.S. anime fan is more than well familiar with and has no shortage of fond memories of (and was an INVALUABLE resource for ordering and obtaining official Japanese anime releases and merch from in a more legal and official capacity).

Patten's importance in this new and ever growing fandom for Japanese cartoon media in the United States lead him to writing countless articles on the subject for major science fiction and fantasy magazines and outlets throughout the country. What started out as just a lone curious librarian stumbling across and rummaging with wonder and fascination through some used manga in a back corner of a SoCal convention hall in 1970 had within 7 years time blossomed and grown into what we now know today as the earliest ever prototype for modern U.S. fandom for Japanese anime and manga.

This fandom would only continue to grow and grow throughout the 1980s, as commercial VCRs would only gain further cultural and societal ubiquity, and a black market of bootlegged VHS material of a dizzying degree of scope internationally would continue to fester and grow into something that had considerable reach into most every corner of every city that had a local hole-in-the-wall mom & pop video store of some kind. In the early-early days, it was much more rare and difficult for fans to add captions/subtitles to their VHS tapes (a situation which would gradually improve and change as the 1980s wore on), so what many translators would do was type up the scripts onto physical paper and mail them out to fans (for only the cost of the postage) who would then read along with it to their raw taped VHS shows/films. As crude as this was, it worked, and it furthermore helped the viability of fansubs continue to grow as the technology to create them became more widespread during the latter half of the 80s.

Further Japanese anime would be adopted for commercially syndicated U.S. broadcast as the 1980s wore on, including Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Beast King GoLion. Or as they would be renamed and better known to mainstream U.S. audiences, Robotech and Voltron. However, unlike in the 1960s and much of the 1970s where the Japanese origins of along with the localization changes and alterations made to such shows would be completely alien and unknown to most U.S. viewers... in a post-Wonderworld, post-Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, and post-VHS fansubbing world, fans were now armed with something they never had previously: information, insight, and deeper perspective into the real cultural roots and artistic depths of these Japanese works.

It wasn't long before Robotech had blown up into a massive success on U.S. television, albeit one marred by an INCREDIBLY ugly backlash from fans who were now more than able and contextually equipped to view the original Macross series and see firsthand all of the censorship and seemingly pointless and arbitrary, not to mention creatively damaging, changes and alterations made to this show by its U.S. distributor Harmony Gold.

Fans were BEYOND pissed and angry at what Harmony Gold had done to this series, along with several other notable anime titles it had taken up for U.S. localization and distribution. Comparisons between both versions were shown and discussed not only in the halls of science fiction conventions across the country, but also on what was then in the mid-1980s the earliest incarnation of what we now know today as the internet.

Before long, the now landmark newsgroups rec.arts.anime and rec.arts.manga - which the 1980s internet equivalent of message board forums such as this one we're on now - were formed by the ever-growing Western/U.S. fanbase for Japanese comics and cartoons, and quickly became the central hubs of both international fan discussion about these mediums among English speakers as well as the continued spread of raw and fansubbed VHS tapes for Japanese anime. Particularly around college and university campuses, which thanks to their early 1980s adoption of modems and online access along with foreign students from around the world (including Japan, and other Asian territories where anime and manga were popular and more easily accessible) were some of the biggest focal hubs for North American anime fandom's spread, with many major anime fanclubs starting out as local college campus clubs.

As Robotech continued to grow in success and popularity on mainstream U.S. television and the creative changes made to Macross increasingly apparent, Harmony Gold's name soon became toxic throughout many corners of the still ever-growing U.S. fandom for Japanese anime, and Carl Macek, the head of Harmony Gold's Japanese animation licensing and localization and the brains behind Robotech, became quickly pilloried as "the anime anti-Christ" as he was soon widely known.

A good portion of fans however, still enjoyed and preferred Robotech over the original Macross series though, most particularly if their first exposure to Japanese anime was through regular U.S. syndicated airings of the show's Harmony Gold edit/dub rather than through catalogs like Wonderworld or through VHS bootlegs of raw anime... and sure enough this soon sparked INCREDIBLY heated and bitter sub vs dub wars all across American anime fandom, both in real life convention halls and across the 1980s Usenet newsgroups.

By around this point, some of this story MIGHT be starting to sound at least the tiniest bit familiar to some of you. :P

What went sadly overlooked by most U.S. fans of the time who were greatly embittered over the treatment of Macross though, was that Carl Macek himself had a genuine and deeply profound love and respect for Japanese animation and was himself a sincere fan of it. Macek even began receiving death threats from some of the more disturbingly unhinged corners of fandom for what was, for him, a genuine passion project of bringing the wonders of Japanese anime to a wider U.S. audience.

Let us quickly put a pin in Macek's thread in this story for a moment, and move our attention briefly over to another key figure in 1980s U.S. anime fandom: a software programmer by the name of Robert Woodhead. Woodhead was one of many fans of Japanese anime in the very, VERY early prototypical period of its U.S. fandom. Particularly taken with a cyberpunk OVA called Bubblegum Crisis, Woodhead initially began creating fansubs for the OVA before developing a crazy idea on a similar wavelength to Fred Patten's Wonderworld: why not do as Patten had done for manga more than a decade earlier, but with Japanese anime? Instead of dealing in the underground back market, why not simply take the most direct approach and go to Japan, speak directly with the studios and producers over there to legally acquire the license for mind blowingly unique and wildly envelope pushing anime such as Bubblegum Crisis, and sell them with English subtitles and translations in an official, above-board fashion?

Woodhead went ahead with this venture and founded a company called AnimEigo: one of the two very first official North American licensors for uncut, unedited, and bi-lingual releases of Japanese anime for the U.S. video market. Starting with the one-shot mecha OVA Metal Skin Panic Madox-01 (the title of which would later on become better known as the internet handle for the mid/late 90s internet personality Maddox), AnimEigo quickly grew as a company and expanded into an impressive catalog of well chosen and curated gems and oddities in Japanese animated films and OVAs (full anime television series were much more expensive and cost inefficient for a small, independent company like AnimEigo to pursue at the time).

At this same exact time, our friends over at the earlier mentioned Books Nippon Japanese Animation Fan Club had begun to expand themselves into growing from simply mail-ordering raw official Japanese anime releases and merchandise (over time specializing particularly in official anime soundtracks, wherein they were unquestionably one of THE key sources for North American distribution) for its club members into taking on actual anime titles for wider national U.S. licensing and distribution.

Calling itself U.S. Renditions, they were a joint crossover venture between the U.S. staff of Books Nippon Japanese Animation Fan Club and Japanese staff over at the parent company Nippon Shuppan Hanbai. U.S. Renditions began licensing and distributing officially/professionally translated and subtitled (and uncut/unedited) Japanese anime VHS releases roughly side by side and concurrently around the same time with Woodhead's own AnimEigo, and like AnimEigo they had found quick success with their early subtitled/uncut straight to video releases.

By their formation in 1987, both U.S. Renditions and AnimEigo were historical landmarks in the early growth of anime and anime fandom in the United States, proving that the niche little audience that guys like Fred Patten had started in sci fi convention halls in Southern California a decade prior had grown large enough to financially support the growth of legitimate, independent straight to video ventures that cut out the corporate TV advertising middleman entirely, and allowed for untampered, untouched Japanese anime to be directly sold to an ever-growing and expanding audience of North American English speakers, ravenously hungry for more. A whole new marketplace was born.

Coinciding with all that and further fueling the growth of this new market also were another two companies that were also being formed in the California-area during the same 1985-1987 timeframe: one by a Japanese immigrant named Seiji Horibuchi who originally came to the U.S. to sell and export American products back home to Japan and the other by Toren Smith, a U.S. comic book writer for several major comics studios (including subsidiaries of Marvel Comics) who was himself a manga/anime fan who was first brought into the fledgling North American fandom by fellow comics writer James Hudnall in 1982 through the very same fast-expanding underground convention circuit and newsletter catalog cottage industry that had spawned from Patten's Wonderworld and Cartoon/Fantasy Organization.

Horibuchi and Smith's stories would eventually collide when both saw the new market that was brewing in the U.S. and both traveled to Japan at the same time to speak to Japanese publishers about licensing their titles for official U.S. translation and publication for the very first time ever (as Wonderworld's pioneering manga catalog was solely for raw volumes imported straight from Japan). Horibuchi and Smith would have a chance encounter with one another at one of these business meetings, saw their mutual shared interest and goals for bringing Japanese manga to the quickly growing U.S. underground market and fanbase, and struck up a partnership:

Smith created Studio Proteus, a translation company focussed on professionally adapting Japanese manga lettering into English, and Horibuchi went on to create a little comic book publishing company called Viz Media, focused likewise on licensing and publishing Japanese manga in the U.S. While Smith and Horibuchi had a strained professional relationship and eventually had a falling out that would eventually dissolve the partnership between Viz and Proteus, Smith's influence on Viz's publications in its early years was tremendous (and in many ways, very similar to Patten's effect on Streamline Picture's anime selection/curation) and HEAVILY focused on cerebral and adult-skewing titles that were in many ways a marked contrast from the more Shonen-heavy direction that the company would someday eventually end up going and become famous for placing their predominant focus in future decades' time.

Outside of Smith and Proteus' relationship with Viz, Smith was also expanding the prevalence of manga via other U.S. companies: during the late-80s, Smith had managed - after a very long and complex series of business negotiations - to secure for Marvel's adult-focused Epic imprint (with whom Smith had worked with for years prior) the rights to publish an English language and colorized adaptation of a little manga called Akira (overseen partly by its own creator, Katsuhiro Otomo). The breakout success of Marvel/Epic's Akira translation helped spark the original seeds of U.S. interest and notoriety for Otomo's cyberpunk magnum opus, that will very shortly become of great importance to the stories of both Fred Patten as well as the birth of modern American anime fandom as we know it today.

Alongside snagging Akira for Marvel/Epic, Toren Smith had also managed to secure the rights for a manga called Outlanders for another small fledgling little independent comic books imprint that was just starting up and starting to find its own footing at around that time: Dark Horse Comics, thus kickstarting the VERY long publishing relationship between Dark Horse and numerous major Japanese manga publishers that would continue help define Dark Horse's brand and output for decades after up through to this very day.

And on top of ALL THAT, Studio Proteus (thanks to Smith's immense dedication to quality and refusing to work from nothing less than the original art from Japan rather than photocopies) had also helped to pioneer the earliest techniques used for the lettering replacement for sound effects/onomatopoeias in North American manga.

Between Proteus, Viz, and Smith's own behind the scenes workings with other publishers throughout the mid to late 1980s, pretty much the entire core fundamentals of North American manga licensing and publishing was born: something which wouldn't have happened had Smith and Hudnall not been pulled into the fandom originally via the early convention and fan club scene that guys like Patten had all but singlehandedly pioneered and helped begun.

We return now to Carl Macek, who at around this time was still being tarred and feathered by angry nerds throughout the country for what he'd helped do to Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. As a fan himself, Macek sought to do something that would further promote anime to a wider U.S. audience as well as possibly help ease some of the bad blood between him and the rest of Western anime fandom in the wake of Robotech: taking a cue from U.S. Renditions and AnimEigo, who'd both proved that there was a financially viable straight to video market for this stuff, Macek recruited none other than Fred Patten himself (who by this point was a beloved public figure in North American anime fandom) to found Streamline Pictures, one of the most singularly important and influential North American licensors for straight to video, unedited anime releases in North America.

With Patten acting as a curator of sorts, Streamline's selection and catalog of anime film and OVA titles were by and large nothing short of impeccably well chosen and carefully curated, specializing predominantly in art house and otherwise incredibly challenging, avant garde, and genuinely "adult" titles that took a sledgehammer and a chainsaw to most Westerner's preconceptions of what animation was and could accomplish as a medium. Most of the anime titles that Streamline had dealt in wouldn't be accepted by even much of today's fandom as "real" anime because so much of it was so utterly foreign, experimental, and alien in their style to just about every sensibility of what animation of any kind was and could creatively accomplish.

One of Streamline's biggest weaknesses and drawbacks however was its lack of bi-lingual releases. While AnimEigo initially started out releasing subtitled-only tapes before quickly growing enough financially to move into producing their very own English dubs for their releases (released side by side along with subtitled alternatives), Streamline was notoriously adverse to subtitled releases and were stringently dub-only for much of their entire history. This was tied to Macek's fixation on "accessibility" and wanting to see Japanese anime as an industry in the U.S. grow beyond the boundaries of "geek" culture and the underground, as something that would be embraced by mainstream culture. Subtitles he thought were too offputting a hurdle for most "regular" folks, and elected to stick to dubbed releases.

This decision would come around to bite Streamline on the ass (somewhat) with their 1989 license and release of a little anime film based upon a manga that had already seen success and U.S. interest thanks to the earlier efforts of Toren Smith...


Streamline of course was the original U.S. licensor to first release Akira in the United States, dubbed in English. Akira obviously needs no introduction: its not only the most landmark Japanese anime film in all of U.S. history for the medium, its among one of the greatest animated films of all time PERIOD, from ANY corner of the globe. The U.S. release of Akira from Streamline was, it can never be over-stated enough, MONUMENTAL. Akira was, and remains, a cultural icon as much for North American anime fandom as it is for Japan. What was already a fairly big and quickly growing market and fandom subculture throughout the 1980s beforehand was now officially a thing in Western culture.

By 1990, the number of U.S. licensors for straight to video, unedited Japanese anime had multiplied considerably. Soon companies like Central Park Media, ADV, Manga, Pioneer, and countless others were joining into this new market originally spearheaded by AnimEigo, U.S. Renditions, and Streamline, and having its doors blown open by the latter's release of Akira. The fandom's growth had also SKYROCKETED, with Akira bringing in countless new fans (including yours truly over here :) ) and further blossoming North American anime fandom from a growing niche in Southern California sci fi conventions and university campuses into a national video store juggernaut, giving even many of the most successful B movie straight to VHS releases a run for their money in popularity and notoriety, and throwing open the doors of anime fandom from the fringier side of sci fi cons to massive crossover and overlap with other subcultures and fandoms (such as fans of live action horror, cyberpunk, martial arts/wuxia, independent art house films, etc.)

However with regards to Streamline's release of Akira, there was one considerable snag: its English dub. While Akira itself as a film received (justly deserved) praise and celebration for its astounding and visionary craft and artistic ambition, Streamline's English language adaptation was found to be considerably lacking, primarily in its odd casting choices (while employing some talented actors, many were grossly mismatched vocally to their characters) and some very shaky translation.

It should be noted that many of Streamline's OTHER dubs fared considerably better than Akira (albeit still with some notable flaws); but thanks to their missteps with Akira, considerable damage to their reputation was done among fans, and while Streamline's selection of titles would continue to be largely well received, their continued stubborn decision to remain a dub-only licensor frustrated fans who wanted bi-lingual releases; something which literally every other notable U.S. licensor of the time was offering.

Up to its bitter-most end, Streamline refused to offer subtitled alternatives to ANY of their releases... with the one and only lone exception being Akira, which by the mid 90s had FINALLY received a subtitled VHS release from Streamline (their only such release to ever do so) due almost entirely to the severity of the backlash against its dub.

These decisions further did little to endear Macek's name to U.S. anime fans of the time, and along with some awful public comments from Macek himself (who's ego had grown and who made little secret that he fancied many of his English language dubs and adaptations over the original Japanese versions), Fred Patten ended up taking the lion's share of the praise and goodwill for Streamline's curation and licensing choices, while Macek was further tarnished as a corporate profit-driven egomaniac who saw himself and his U.S. brand as bigger than the Japanese art and work of others that he was building said-brand off of.

Macek and Harmony Gold would become, in many ways, the original archetypes to what later companies like FUNimation (in their earlier days) and 4Kids would be to later generations of U.S. anime fans, spawning the very first ever sub vs dub divide in U.S. anime fandom as well as much of the negative stigma against English anime dubs: a divide and a stigma that has persisted to this very day. Though it should be noted that neither FUNimation nor 4Kids would ever come within LIGHTYEARS of doing anything that so much as touches the colossal risk-taking that was Streamline's licensing catalog: no one working in EITHER company was anyone even remotely comparable to a Fred Patten among their ranks.

Streamline eventually stopped acquiring new licensed by '96, thanks largely to a distribution partnership with the notoriously financially shady Orion Home Video that went south, but still sold their back catalog before finally folding for good in 2000. Even in the early advent of the DVD-era though, when bi-lingual releases for anime became more easy and prevalent than ever before, Streamline's DVD releases (Akira aside) still remained dub only.

Almost by cosmic coincidence in some ways, the collapse of Streamline coincided almost directly with two other key, notable milestone moments in U.S. anime history: the final and complete break between Viz's working relationship with Studio Proteus, as well the onset of anime making its way from the video store shelves onto the TV screens of millions upon countless millions of North American children via Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block. And just to put a further cherry on top of the whole "end of an era" theme here, Wonderworld's brick and mortar store in Longbeach had also finally closed down shortly around this point also.

I trust that most of you know how the rest of it goes from here. However, sadly, most modern day fans (including a depressing many on this very forum) have long been under the mistaken and incorrect assumption that THIS is the point where the story of anime and anime fandom in the U.S. started, rather than merely as a turning point in a MUCH larger and farther reaching history than extends FAR before their introduction into the fold.

And what of Fred Patten? The man who's pioneering curiosity and work in bridging the East/West divide separating us Westerners from Japanese manga and anime that had, in many ways, originally started all of this nearly 50 years ago? He continued to spend the remainder of his life throughout the 2000s and 2010s still diligently writing excellent articles, reviews, and retrospectives about Japanese anime and manga (with many of his articles collected and archived on the website Cartoon Research) before his passing as of yesterday.

So... that's a LOT of history and info to digest. So let me sum this up as plainly and simply as I possibly can: Fred Patten may well be - and without the slightest exaggeration or overstatement - the single most important, key figure to the entire foundational existence of North American/English speaking Japanese anime and manga fandom as we have always known it.

Without Fred Patten's work... simply put, NONE OF US would be here reading, watching, and talking about any of this stuff. Certainly not in anywhere near THIS well informed a capacity. I certainly never would've found Japanese anime & manga through Akira's release back in '89, nor through that would I have found Dragon Ball shortly thereafter. Neither for that matter would have the COUNTLESS other thousands upon thousands of other, older anime fans before me who had found Dragon Ball (and anime/manga overall) even earlier long before me, and who had begun its very first/earliest ever North American fanbase that had given most all of you reading this all of the earlier internet information and access to Japanese fansub VHS tapes during your formative years in this fandom.

Furthermore, while Dragon Ball would have almost undoubtedly still received SOME sort of a U.S. adaptation and release no matter what (it was simply FAR too internationally popular and profitable NOT to have), it also almost just as assuredly would have NOT had the foundational underlays of mass U.S. interest in Japanese cartoons, comics, and pop cultural media for so long prior to its official U.S. license to buoy consistent interest in its original version.

Thus, its fair to say that its highly possible that without the far-reaching impact of Fred Patten's incredible fandom legacy, America very well may have just been stuck with whatever chopped up, hacked apart edited version of Dragon Ball we'd end up with (be it through FUNi, Saban, or whomever else) and THAT would remain the "definitive" version than anyone stateside would know of or care about. There'd be nothing whatsoever like DBZ Uncensored, VegettoEX's Homepage, Daizenshuu EX, Kansentai, or Kanzenshuu, no Daizex/Kanzenshuu Podcast or con panels, and certainly not an uncut, bilingual release (which was spurred on ENTIRELY by fan outcry stemming from the older fansub-era fanbase), no Steve Simmons translations/subtitles, and almost DEFINITELY no U.S. Dragon Box release of any sort.

And that's all just for Dragon Ball alone. Just that ONE title. Its fair to say that the U.S. Toonami explosion of anime very well may have also never happened without Patten's impact: and if it somehow did, there certainly would not have been the cushioning fallback of the decades upon decades worth of built up momentum and exposure from the VHS/fansub era of fandom to help bolster it and lend badly needed knowledge and context to the new younger fanbase that was coming up at that point.

Simply put: if you're an American/English speaker, and you've EVER loved ANYTHING related to Japanese anime or manga in any way, including but certainly not limited to Dragon Ball... then you owe quite literally EVERYTHING of ALL of that to Fred Patten.

And as of yesterday, at the age of 77, Fred Patten has left us. He leaves behind however, an unbelievable legacy of cultural enrichment and the bridging of a gap between the art of two very different cultures. If you love anime and manga of any kind, to any degree, if you've ever cultivated a lasting friendship or bond with someone on the basis of your shared love and appreciation for Japanese anime and manga, or hell even if you simply just love Dragon Ball alone and that's that... take a moment at some point in your day to pay your respects to this guy. His impact and legacy will forever live on in all of us who love this whacked out medium/art form, and his impact on all of our lives can simply never be overstated or summed up in full.

Thanks for everything Fred. From the bottom of my heart. A tragically large number of people will never know it and never appreciate it, but you changed all of our lives for the better.

December 11th, 1940 - November 12th, 2018


Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Journey to the West, chapter 26 wrote:The strong man will meet someone stronger still:
Come to naught at last he surely will!
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by Gaffer Tape » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:03 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. While I'm definitely familiar with Carl Macek, Fred Patten was a name I did not know, and I'm glad to know his story. As always with your posts, a fascinating read.
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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by BlazingFiddlesticks » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:56 pm

Thank you so much for putting that together. Count me for one who knew jack all about the very genesis of all this (but never claimed to know anything he didn't, either! :wave:), amazing how little things work out. He actually got to meet Tezuka, that's so cool! Will check out archive for sure!
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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by Cure Dragon 255 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:19 pm


This will forever be THE MOST EPIC AND AWESOME KUNZAIT POST EVER, even if only I think so. I have always dreamed of working in the anime industry to make anime more known and accepted in Lat America. Mr Kunzait's post are always great but this one is the most special.

Thank you Mr Fred Patten, and thank you Kunzait for bring this to our attention.
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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by ShadowBardock89 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:28 am

Within a short period of time, two influencers of popular culture have passed away: Fred Patten and Stan Lee.
I think we all can safely say our lives would be vastly different without their contributions.

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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by Paulo Gabriel » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:18 am

You have way too much patience to write. Congratulations. I could never do that myself. :P

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Re: Fred Patten has passed away (12/11/1940 - 11/12/2018)

Post by JohnnyCashKami » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:24 pm

You're right that most people have no idea who Mr. Fred Patten was and that barely anyone would ever associate him with the Dragon Ball franchise, but thanks for posting that so it helps out.

Mr. Patten made almost to his 80's so I'd say, he had a good run. Some die in their 50's and 60's. RIP.

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