• Nolan Schmidt

FILM CORNER - RALPH BAKSHI: THE GODFATHER OF ADULT ANIMATION



A couple of weeks ago, I republished my old column from the Seguin Gazette that covered the adult-aimed animated film, Fritz the Cat. This week, I felt that I should cover the man behind the film: Ralph Bakshi.


I have to admit that I am a huge fan of this animation legend since the storytelling in his films has influenced me as a filmmaker, and he has inspired many individuals in the animation industry. Unlike the animated films of Disney, Ralph's films were raw, socially aware, and both the atmosphere and characters are down to earth.


Despite getting his big break with Fritz the Cat in 1972, Ralph's career started at Terrytoons (who was famous for characters like Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse, which Ralph made a television reboot in the 1980s). Despite some of the issues he had while working with the company, he did create The Mighty Heroes while he was there.


After the success with Fritz, he made his second feature, Heavy Traffic (which he originally wanted to make as his first animated feature before Steve Krantz, the producer of both Fritz and Heavy Traffic, told him to create a film based on an existing property as his first feature as no one would see an original animated feature film). Like Fritz, it was a success, but after having production problems with Krantz (as well as being temporary fired by him at one point), Ralph went on to make his modern day take on the Br'er Rabbit stories, Coonskin (which received much controversy during its release), as well as his sci-fi/fantasy film, Wizards (which he aimed to be his first family film).


Ralph would later go on to make the first film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, his ode to music, American Pop, and to the 1950s, Hey Good Lookin'. He even went on to collaborate with fantasy and science-fiction artist, Frank Frazetta, with the 1983 film, Fire and Ice. Ralph would later retire from doing feature animated films after the release of Cool World in 1992.


Ralph did return to do an animated short called Last Days of Coney Island in 2015 after it went through a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. I was honored to be one of the 1,290 backers on the project.


For anyone who is interested in animation history or adult animation, I highly recommend taking a look at Bakshi's work! The grand majority of his films are available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as On Demand. There was even a great book by Jon M. Gibson and Chris McDonnell entitled Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi (which features a foreward by award-winning filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino). One of my favorite YouTubers, Mat Brunet (known as AniMat), did a very well-done series of videos on Ralph and his films (which I also recommend checking out).