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.
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.
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.
This is a scene from the history of music cartoon, American Pop.
Here’s another scene from that movie.He called it a “moving painting in honor of American music.”
Cool 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.