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The Influence of Ralph Bakshi

The latest issue of Arthur Magazine has an article by illustrator Arik Roper who recounts his personal memories of discovering the animation of Ralph Bakshi during his teenage years. Despite the personal nature of the piece, there are some incisive thoughts on Bakshi’s work, like this discussion of Coonskin:

“I had read that it was considered offensive, so I was expecting shock value, but Coonskin was more than shock, it was from some dark place that I hadn’t visited before. It was relentlessly raw and visceral, the violence was staggering, and presented in the goriest of detail. I had some understanding of the laborious task of creating an animated film, and was amazed that anyone had put this much time and effort into making something so willfully disturbing. Where did this movie come from, who was it for? I didn’t quite get it at the time. I wasn’t really sure if the racism was being parodied or promoted, although the fact that no race, religion or sexual orientation was left unscathed was a clue that this was some form of harsh social satire. But there was much more to the movie than shock value…”

I’ve scanned the two-page article below. Click on it for a readable version. Or just order the entire issue (#29) at

Ralph Bakshi
  • Funny there’s no mention of Bakshi’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ ;The Butter battle Book’

  • This is a wonderful piece. I think it perfectly sums up my feelings about Bakshi. One of the things I find about Bakshi’s films, particularly his most personal films, was that they weren’t films so much as EXPERIENCES. His personal work like “Heavy Traffic” and “Coonskin” almost seem to transcend the medium. That’s just my feeling anyway.

  • Brian Kidd

    So many times critics of Bakshi focus on his use of rotoscoping as an excuse to dismiss his films. Personally, I look at Bakshi first and foremost as a filmmaker. Regardless of the methods used to tell the story, his films are almost all strikingly original and fascinating. There are the misses here and there like COOL WORLD, but they are certainly in the minority. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, period.

  • Stanley Martin

    Bakshi at his best delivered personal stories, sorely missing in this age of corporate garbage. And his best films were animated by pros for less than nothing.

  • Dock Miles

    Bakshi was a cerebral, taboo-busting animator. But, at this date, you have to temper praise for him by noting how much more of a landmark he could have been. (For example, Fritz the Cat could have presented the poetry and subversion of the original intact.) By instinct, he aimed low and hit the target. Sometimes.

  • julian

    hey coonskin is one of my favorite films by bakshi……i got it.

  • Dean Cavanaugh

    Bakshi’s films were never perfect, but at least he did things other animated feature makers never even tried, and I ain’t talking about the nudity.