Bakshi Talk

Tied in to the release of the new book about his life, BlackBook magazine offers a no-holds-barred interview with Ralph Bakshi. I’m not a fan of the man, but I respect what he’s done for the art form. In a few sentences below, he explains quite well what separates him from the average joe who works in this industry:

“I never for a minute thought, Ralph, you’re broke, and you can’t compete with Disney. Go out and do a commercial film. Go out and do Mary Poppins 2, Bugs Bunny 3–you could make fortunes. But, not caring about money or merchandising allowed me to extend the medium. I mean, I did Heavy Traffic, and that’s not at all a commercial picture: a Jewish mother trying to chop the Italian father’s balls off and a kid who never got laid. So, what I’m saying is, success isn’t why I work. Money isn’t why I work.

“People throw away their lives today on that shit. I know guys in L.A. who have hundreds of millions of fucking dollars, and I think, when are you going to stop this shit? I mean, what are you doing here? Jeffrey Katzenberg still gets up at five in the morning to run this shit at DreamWorks, and gets 300 fucking million dollars for Shrek 5. What is that? He’s a billionaire, and he directs Shrek 5 and 6 and 7, like he’s trying to prove something.”


  • The Invertabrat

    this guy is awesome. tell it like it iz and keep it real do it for the love and the artform. I love guys like this, and I love cartoonbrew for posting this on the site. thank you Amid

  • http://weirdocorner.blogspot.com Weirdo

    Interesting interview. He does make a good case about R. Crumb though. Crumb has been bitching about the Fritz the Cat movie for over thirty-five years. In The R. Crumb Handbook and ther interviews, he’s called Bakshi a hustler and someone who wanted to be “A hip Walt Disney”. I’m guessing it takes one to know one. Anyway, very insightful words from “The Man”. It makes me wonder: Where can you get a coffee and a cigarette if you only have $5?

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    Ralph is scary. And awesome. Great interview!

  • http://educatedmetalhead.blogspot.com/ DanO

    Hah ha!

    That quote is WHY I’m a fan of the guy.

  • http://www.electricminstrel.com Brett McCoy

    Right on, Ralph!

  • http://checkeredgeekcartoons.blogspot.com Zach

    It’s so sad how all these hipsters are watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force on mescaline, thinking it’s so edgy. If you showed them Fritz the Cat, they’d totally relate to the characters and probably feel bad about themselves. Or not get it.

    It’s good to see Bakshi getting attention again– especially positive attention!

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Esn

    I didn’t like the one film of his that I’ve seen (“Wizards”), but that quote is awesome.

  • simon ampel

    There still hasn’t been ONE other majorly released feature american cartoon made with any artistic integrity for adults. Ralph directed at least four features that were made solely as an honest form of creative and social expression. I can’t respect him enough. Cool guy too, best teacher I ever had.

  • http://awprunes.wordpress.com/ Larry Levine

    One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Ralph Bakshi’s “The Mighty Heros”–watched it regularly without fail! I didn’t realize it until years later there were only 21 episodes.

  • http://tikirox.blogspot.com Nelson Diaz

    I just missed him leaving when I entered SVA but I have heard the legends.

    Ralph’s the Fucking man!

    In an industry filled with two-faced wannabe passive aggressive “creatives” who for some reason can’t get a job unless they “produce” it’s refreshing to here someone speak without sugar coating their words.

  • Jon Garaizar

    its nice to know he’s still out there doing what he’s doing.
    and really comforting to hear that stuff. he hit the nail on the head with the social stuff, and he’s the only director that really ever made me feel anything strong with an animated film.

    and it really is about time R. Crumb stop bitching, i watched his movie and it made me feel sorry for anyone who ever thought he stood for something.

    “[The film is] weird: it’s really a reflection of Ralph Bakshi’s confusion, you know. There’s something real repressed about it. In a way, it’s more twisted than my stuff. It’s really twisted in some kind of weird, unfunny way. [...] I didn’t like that sex attitude in it very much. It’s like real repressed horniness; he’s kind of letting it out compulsively.” – R. Crumb.

    such a hypocrite.

  • Prof. Widebottom

    I wonder, if Bakshi ever did sell out to “the man”, would he have made the kind of dough that Katzenberg does? That’s pretty presumptuous to think he would have been on financial par, if he’d only drove his artistic integrity into a commercial ditch.

    I like his bravado. His take on the state of the art is essentially true but he’s also full of his own s***.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    For those who are going to the San Diego Comic-Con this year… I’ll be doing an interview with Ralph talking about Terry-Toons. The date and time isn’t scheduled yet, but it’s something to look forward to.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    *Hugs Bakshi*

    Never been much of a fan of his films, but his drive behind them is what inspires me farther along to be a film maker, and helps some of us to see that you CAN do it for art’s sake. Great article link, and great friggin quotes in it.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    hmmm… he says he never thought for a minute about doing a commercial film and then he explains that he did the PG version of CoolWorld, that he hated, for the money.

    I hear a lot of rationalization in his voice. He’s saying he didn’t really want those grapes after all.

  • http://afrokids.com Floyd Norman

    Back in the eighties, I attended a screening at UCLA with three animation heavyweights. Bluth’s talk was sugary – - Disney was brain dead – - but Bakshi created real excitement.

    Say what you will, the guy makes things happen.

  • http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com Sherm Cohen

    That was such a great read, I can’t decide whether to frame that interview or have it tattooed on my drawing arm.

    It’s a real manifesto on keeping some artistic integrity while trying to earn a buck at the same time. LOVE it. Thanks for posting this!

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Thanks for the link to the interview. It reminded me of some stuff…

    Bakshi turned in a cool, weird, hyper performance on the single airing of FIREDOGS 2. He was in the live-action wraparound sequences. It wasn’t funny, or entertaining, and it seemed as if it wasn’t really scripted. The cartoon itself was disappointing. The show was a mess. Yet, I watched the tape a bunch of times.

    Another intrusive, yet oddly appealing Bakshi performance was in the Frazetta documentary, Painting With Fire. He was just sort of there for the whole thing, bumbling around in the background being loud and funny. I don’t remember if it was even explained why Bakshi was around, but his presence made a good film better. I guess it broke the tension and disrupted the sadness of seeing Frazetta in ill health.

    HEAVY TRAFFIC is one of the greatest cartoon movies.

  • to0m d.

    bakshi has worked with some of the greatest animators (people like james tyer).
    bakshi has worked with some of the greatest illustrations ( like the work of frank frazetta).
    bakshi has worked with some of the greatest writings (stories like lord of the rings).

    and yet everything he has ever done is absolute garbage.

    the sad truth is that bakshi is nothing more than a dumb uneducated kid from the ghettos of new york with no particular talent for the art of animation, and it shines through everything he does.

    and what he does in the field of animation is imitate.

    poorly imitate.

    look at the work that gene deitch did at terrytoons, and then look at bakshi’s poor imitation of deitch’s work that followed.

    look at crumb’s fritz the cat, and look at bakshi’s poor imitation of crumb’s work that followed.

    look at kricfalusi’s work on mighty mouse, and look at bakshi’s poor imitation of kricfalusi’s work after kricfalusi left.

    etc. etc. etc.

    bakshi doesn’t have the brains to do anything more than imitate, and he doesn’t have the talent to do anything more than imitate poorly.

  • http://www.markmcdermott.com Mark McDermott

    FP: That “Painting with Fire” appearance must have been because of Ralph & Frank’s 1983 collaboration “Fire and Ice;” did the doc not identify him as such? That’s the one Bakshi feature I have on commercial home video, aside from a broken VHS of “Mighty Heroes” . But that’s mostly because his stuff has been so hard to find. I was actually once able to rent “Coonskin,” though under the title “Street Fight.”

    I was thinking that it’s hard to get any Bakshi on home video, but I see Amazon does have quite a few of his features for sale; you’re just not going to see tham on any end-cap display at Target.

    Like or hate his work, ya gotta admit he actually had the ability to go out an get an independent animated feature made.

  • BigHorse

    What a wonderful philosophy of life and world outlook, made even more wonderful in that he actually lives his life by it, refuses to play the establishment’s games and is successful by his own measure.

    I think most people could learn a lot from Ralph.

    Keep doing your own thing!

  • Chuck R.

    Amid said:
    “he explains quite well what separates him from the average joe who works in this industry:”

    Ralph said:
    Jeffrey Katzenberg still gets up at five in the morning to run this shit at DreamWorks, and gets 300 fucking million dollars for Shrek 5. What is that? He’s a billionaire, and he directs Shrek 5 and 6 and 7, like he’s trying to prove something.”

    He sounds like an average Brew reader, if you ask me. :-)

    Seriously,
    I greatly appreciate the enormous contribution Bakshi has made for animation, even with just a few modest successes in the 70′s. I wonder what Ralph thinks of Mel Gibson —a commercially successful filmmaker who goes out on a limb to make very slick but very daring and personal films.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    I’ve already preordered his book. His work inspires me to want to break the barrriers in regards to content for my own work. Mighty Heroes was one of the pivotal cartoons I never missed as a kid. I wish I was going to Comic Con to see the interview – Steve you should tape it for the Archives!!!

  • http://www.shadowness.com/Novid Novid

    See, there is thing he says about how he grew up, and even if you didnt like his work or are on R.Crumb’s side of the whole issue with Fritz- Bakshi, is the epidome of Organic Cartooning. Now you can say he Took aspects from Ditch, Crumb, John K. But then, he was working with them…

    He, like Go Nagai in the east are the voice of the masses when it comes to animation films. They formed the Phycoanlitical work that later films and shows started to use. Bakshi was ahead of his time.

  • robiscus


    bakshi doesn’t have the brains to do anything more than imitate, and he doesn’t have the talent to do anything more than imitate poorly.”

    who was he imitating when he did Coonskin? when he went out on a limb with the Lord Of The Rings? when he put Frank Frazetta’s art on the big screen?
    sorry, your opinion is awfully uninformed.

  • JOSEPH

    i hate to say it, i really do, but Katzenberg has produced more good movies than Bakshi. id love this quote if Bakshi had made some ACTUAL movies that were good, but he hasn’t. hyper-sexuality and violence has ZERO value on its own, Bakshi gets a pass on poor film-making (and animation) because hes “edgey”.

    Bakshi has spent a career making WORSE movies for LESS money, and he has no friends, just sycophants that wouldn’t be able to stand him if they actually had to work under him. all so he can say he did it his way, sounds like a loser to me.

  • http://www.pseudopodium.org/ Ray Davis

    to0m d., you forgot about looking at Vaughn Bode and looking at Bakshi’s poor imitation of Bode’s work that followed. Also, what’s wrong with dumb uneducated kids? Otherwise, fair cop.

  • drmedula

    Wendy Pini once said that the secret to really getting Bakshi’s work was to look past the techinical crudities and the low-budgets and shortcuts and such, and try to imagine the way it must have looked in Ralph’s head when he started. Once you did that, you realised how spectacular his vision really was.(Pretty sharp for the creator of ELFQUEST!)

  • PCUnfunny

    The way I see Ralph’s body of feature film work is this: He’s made about 2 great films and the rest okay to just god awful. However, those two are greatest animated films of all time.

    Joesph: Oh I beg to differ. The only decent animated film he was involved in was Who Framed Roger Rabbit ?

  • http://incoherent-thought.blogspot.com Vincent

    I found working with Ralph to be a hell of a lot of fun.

  • Joe Smoe

    “I never for a minute thought, Ralph, you’re broke, and you can’t compete with Disney. Go out and do a commercial film. Go out and do Mary Poppins 2, Bugs Bunny 3—you could make fortunes. But, not caring about money or merchandising allowed me to extend the medium.”

    This coming from a guy that got his start animating Spiderman and a few other commercial cartoons. What a hypocrite!

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    Thanks for point us to the interview.

    I’m trying to figure out just why the interviewer seemed to insist on calling Bakshi a practitioner of “illustration” instead of “animation” or “cartooning”…? Did they get the terms mixed up or are these dirty words again?