What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

The roughly mid-90's and earlier (generally pre-Toonami, pre-anime boom) era of anime & manga fandom: early cons, clubs, tape trading, Nth Generation VHS fansubs, old magazines & fanzines, fandubs, ancient merchandise, rec.arts.anime, and more!
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mbanu
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What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by mbanu »

The original C/FO having meetings at the LA Science Fantasy Society's clubhouse is part of the history now, but what if that connection had never happened? It's hard for me to imagine what a modern anime fandom would look like. The college anime clubs full of sci-fi loving STEM majors created the anime-internet which modern anime fandom depends on, and I'm not sure that anime would have made it to the internet so early without their influence.

My best guess is it would look similar to European animation fandom, revolving around film festivals and award shows. I also suspect that without the STEMish "I don't understand low-brow/high-brow" dynamic, there would have been a slow but steady peer pressure towards indie animation made by individual artists rather than group productions with a commercial audience.

Maybe I'm thinking about this too hard. (^_^)
mbanu: What's between Old School and New School?
runesaint: Hmmm. "Middle School", perhaps?
davemerrill
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Re: What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by davemerrill »

without science fiction fandom, it's hard to say what anime fandom - or modern fandom at all - would look like. The SF fans of the 30s and 40s built fanzines, self-published fiction, newsletters, fan clubs, and APAs. The SF fans of the 60s built connections with the mass media production companies and TV networks, and built fandoms around popular movies and TV shows. Anime fandom was able to insert Japanese cartoons into the already existing framework of newsletters, fanzines, fan clubs, and conventions. Without that already extant fandom training organizers, potential participants, and event spaces, it's hard to say what things would look like.

It's honestly hard to say what Japanese animation itself would look like. Without Star Trek's success as a syndicated re-run TV show, stations might not have taken the risk on other science-fiction themed shows, including cartoons. If Star Wars hadn't been a hit, we might not have seen Battle of The Planets and Star Blazers here. There's a complex inter-connected system at work where one piece affects another, which affects a third, and so on.

My best guess is, absent the existing world of fandom, Japanese animation fandom in the West would be limited to film festivals and film society screenings. The occasional children's show would be dubbed and syndicated. Every once in awhile a documentary might show clips of some obscure film nobody'd ever heard of. Certainly we wouldn't have the tape-trading networks that put anime in front of eyeballs at SF and comic conventions.
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Re: What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by usamimi »

davemerrill wrote: Tue May 25, 2021 6:07 am without science fiction fandom, it's hard to say what anime fandom - or modern fandom at all - would look like. The SF fans of the 30s and 40s built fanzines, self-published fiction, newsletters, fan clubs, and APAs. The SF fans of the 60s built connections with the mass media production companies and TV networks, and built fandoms around popular movies and TV shows. Anime fandom was able to insert Japanese cartoons into the already existing framework of newsletters, fanzines, fan clubs, and conventions. Without that already extant fandom training organizers, potential participants, and event spaces, it's hard to say what things would look like.

It's honestly hard to say what Japanese animation itself would look like. Without Star Trek's success as a syndicated re-run TV show, stations might not have taken the risk on other science-fiction themed shows, including cartoons. If Star Wars hadn't been a hit, we might not have seen Battle of The Planets and Star Blazers here. There's a complex inter-connected system at work where one piece affects another, which affects a third, and so on.

My best guess is, absent the existing world of fandom, Japanese animation fandom in the West would be limited to film festivals and film society screenings. The occasional children's show would be dubbed and syndicated. Every once in awhile a documentary might show clips of some obscure film nobody'd ever heard of. Certainly we wouldn't have the tape-trading networks that put anime in front of eyeballs at SF and comic conventions.
☝️☝️☝️ All of this! Anime fandom might still be a fairly niche thing if it hadn't been embraced pretty early on by sci-fi fans. Even nowadays, with the popularity of "isekai", fantasy often gets lumped in with sci-fi, so if that too was gone...does that mean we'd only get high school romance shows??? If that's the case, I dunno if I could see it being nearly as huge, even with the dedicated fans who really love stuff that'd fall into that genre.
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Re: What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by Guyver I »

I think alot of what helped it grow as it did was something of disillusionment within sf fandom at the time. Ever since the first fanzines in the 30s, fans had always argued that sf wasn't all it could be, and better stories were needed, and again more so in the 60s with the New Wave and all. But in the late 70s, you saw it too. Magazines were still the primary vehicle for printed sf, and were still guiding the medium much as they had since the 20s; John W. Campbell Jr., editor of the leading magazine, Analog, had died in 1972, but the stagnation many saw in sf and that may credited to his policies were seen across the board, with the legacy titles failing in popularity. His replacement, Ben Bova, while still instituting a lot of needed changes and discovering many great authors, still carried something of a "this Star Wars/ anything not in the mags stuff isn't real sf" mentality, possibly shown most clearly in one of his editorials about a year after Star Wars' release, where he's deriding it as rubbish, a small portion posted below.

“So although ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Close Encounters’ are delighting millions and making their backers rich, neither film can be regarded seriously as science fiction. In fact, they bear the same relationship to science fiction as the Nazi treatment of Poland bore to the Ten Commandants.” - Analog, June 1978

There's a lot of vitriol thrown to not only the media, but the fans of it as "not real fans." So while you see editors and many authors in sf fanzines saying this new stuff is garbage and below their attention, in the fanzines dedicated to Star Wars, Star Trek, etc., you see a really interesting change in that they are talking about how exciting it is, what the stories mean to them, etc. - I.e., they're simply enjoying it, as opposed to seeing what they like or don't like as a kind of status symbol in the sf community. While new authors were showing up then to reinvent written sf in a lot of ways, there were obviously a good number of fans looking for sf stories different from they were familiar with, inspired by Star Wars, and honestly kind of turned off by the whole "in my day, we read our sf and ate rocks, and we liked it" arguments coming from much of the "established sf." So, I think it was a neat mix of already having that fan "infrastructure" as mentioned, like fanzines and clubs, etc., as well as a readiness on many sf fans' parts to appreciate new avenues of storytelling, and probably more importantly, an enthusiasm for finding them.
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davemerrill
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Re: What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by davemerrill »

Guyver I wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 10:53 am I think alot of what helped it grow as it did was something of disillusionment within sf fandom at the time. Ever since the first fanzines in the 30s, fans had always argued that sf wasn't all it could be, and better stories were needed, and again more so in the 60s with the New Wave and all. But in the late 70s, you saw it too. Magazines were still the primary vehicle for printed sf, and were still guiding the medium much as they had since the 20s; John W. Campbell Jr., editor of the leading magazine, Analog, had died in 1972, but the stagnation many saw in sf and that may credited to his policies were seen across the board, with the legacy titles failing in popularity. His replacement, Ben Bova, while still instituting a lot of needed changes and discovering many great authors, still carried something of a "this Star Wars/ anything not in the mags stuff isn't real sf" mentality, possibly shown most clearly in one of his editorials about a year after Star Wars' release, where he's deriding it as rubbish, a small portion posted below.

“So although ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Close Encounters’ are delighting millions and making their backers rich, neither film can be regarded seriously as science fiction. In fact, they bear the same relationship to science fiction as the Nazi treatment of Poland bore to the Ten Commandants.” - Analog, June 1978

There's a lot of vitriol thrown to not only the media, but the fans of it as "not real fans." So while you see editors and many authors in sf fanzines saying this new stuff is garbage and below their attention, in the fanzines dedicated to Star Wars, Star Trek, etc., you see a really interesting change in that they are talking about how exciting it is, what the stories mean to them, etc. - I.e., they're simply enjoying it, as opposed to seeing what they like or don't like as a kind of status symbol in the sf community. While new authors were showing up then to reinvent written sf in a lot of ways, there were obviously a good number of fans looking for sf stories different from they were familiar with, inspired by Star Wars, and honestly kind of turned off by the whole "in my day, we read our sf and ate rocks, and we liked it" arguments coming from much of the "established sf." So, I think it was a neat mix of already having that fan "infrastructure" as mentioned, like fanzines and clubs, etc., as well as a readiness on many sf fans' parts to appreciate new avenues of storytelling, and probably more importantly, an enthusiasm for finding them.
What's delicious about Ben Bova's editorial is that without Star Wars I wouldn't even know who he is, let alone have read some of his work. Big, popular, crowd-pleasing things like Star Wars bring people into your fandom.

I've seen some of the same attitudes among old-school anime fans, who are hypercritical of new popular series because if you didn't have to send three blank VHS tapes and return postage to a stranger on the other side of the country to get your anime, then you weren't a "real" fan, or something. Sigh.
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Re: What would modern fandom have looked like without the sci-fi community connection?

Post by runesaint »

Building on to the 'everything is inter-related', one of the biggest movie things nowadays is super hero comic books...which, in most peoples mind -IS- 'comic books'..(setting aside manga for right now). But if you go back to the 50s and earlier, 'super hero' were just one part of comic books, there also being romance, western, horror, etc.
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