Ralph Bakshi

I was a Disney kid.  I grew up with Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio,  and Jungle Book.  But then I grew up and went to college and all my Disney dreams were dashed.  The world is not Disneyland.  The world holds many wicked wonders, some beautiful, some dangerous, some downright deadly.  In 1977 I saw a movie that changed my world   That movie was Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards.  I saw it in the college-town theater in Ames, Iowa.  I scraped up enough money to see it three times in the week that it played there.  It was the Fall Semester after having read the entire Lord of The Rings Trilogy a year ago that summer.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then here it is from YouTube.  You should take a look, if not watch it all;

Ralph Bakshi is the chief artist/animator behind some of the raunchiest, weirdest, and wildest cartoons of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.   You may have seen some of his work.

1425578_374356942699292_1586842201_n  Fritz the Cat was groundbreaking in that it was actually an X-rated cartoon, something that a Disney kid could never have imagined until he had his goofy little cartoon brain got corrupted by the colorful collage of experience you get as a farm-boy in college.  I never actually saw such a profane perversion of what a cartoon was supposed to be until they had a special free showing at the student union.  I went with a couple of guys from the dorm house and was flabberghasted that we could watch such a thing and not be in jail the following day.  I would’ve gone back a second time, but free student union movies only occurred one time a month and were never replayed again, ever.1397150_365752950226358_1015440499_o


And then came The Lord of the Rings.  Bakshi was the first one to create a film version of the novels they said could never be filmed.  It appeared in the theaters in college town and I was forced to see it five times in the two weeks it stayed in the theater.  I never loved anything so much in animation before.  It was better even than Pinocchio.  I would in later years be devastated by the fact that the movie only covered one and a half of the three books.  The rest of the story never got made.

After college there were other black-magical Bakshi films.  I would later get to see Fire and Ice, American Pop, and Cool World.  Ralph Bakshi, and one of his lead cartoonists, Mike Ploog,  would rock my world until he finally stopped making animated films.  I have actually seen all of his films now, and have copies of most of them.

1381458_364600730341580_717903061_n This is a scene from the history of music cartoon, American Pop.

Here’s another scene from that movie.1376511_362962520505401_512024308_nHe called it a “moving painting in honor of American music.”

1426702_371578419643811_1630501743_nCool World was a combination of live action and cartoons that was loosely modeled on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  It was a foofy story that made a half-decent excuse for wonderful artwork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Fire and Ice was Dungeons and Dragons and Boris Vellejo brought to life.


Let me end with a couple of connections to Ralph and Mike that you should check out.  Their artistry has a profound effect.

http://www.facebook.com/RalphBakshi    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Ploog/103982309772668

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Filed under art criticism, artists I admire, humor

2 responses to “Ralph Bakshi

  1. I love “Wizards”. I bought it when Blockbusters went out of business and I make Bakshi-virgins watch it whenever possible. I had the same reaction as you to “Fritz the Cat” – am I going to get arrested for watching this X-rated porn?!
    It’s not Ralph Bakshi, but I also love the purple-haired heroine in “Heavy Metal”. Risque.

    • Bakshi-virgins… there’s a term I bet Ralph Bakshi loves! He had other X-rated cartoons too. I had a devil of a time tracking down Heavy Traffic, and the VHS tape I finally got hold of got mysteriously run over by a friend’s car. I only watched it once.

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