Courier Life’s

‘The Animation of Ralph Bakshi’ at BAM

Drawing from Brooklyn: Ralph Bakshi is still making films about his home borough

Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Daily on Facebook.

Brooklyn is about to get a little more animated.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is screening a series of films by Brooklyn-raised animator Ralph Bakshi from May 9–20. The groundbreaking filmmaker is credited with creating the first X-rated cartoon (1975’s “Fritz the Cat”) and bringing independent animation into the mainstream.

But the seven films showing at BAM will not be a definitive collection of Bakshi’s works — the 75-year-old director is currently working on an animated noir called “The Last Days of Coney Island.” Bakshi said the flick will be the ultimate expression of his style, which he likened to a scratchy record.

“Old blues is what I animate,” said Bakshi. “In fact, I’ve gotten rougher than before — I’ve learned some things since my last project.”

The film will give viewers a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of the People’s Playground in the 1960s — a setting inhabited by prostitutes, gangsters, and the men who chase them. But it is not a detective flick, Bakshi explained.

“There’s a bunch of detectives running around, but they’re all bastards,” he said.

Bakshi said he is drawing from his experiences growing up in Brooklyn.

Raised in Brownsville, Bakshi was fascinated by flawed people who try to do the best with what they have — and he channels their ethic in his work, he said.

“What I loved most was the different characters,” he said. “Everything that I do stems from these people that I love.”

Apparently, the film will also stem from the streets he loves. Bakshi said he is creating the movie’s backgrounds from stacks of photos he has taken wandering Brooklyn’s sidewalks over the years. It is a ritual he first employed in his breakout “Fritz the Cat,” and later used in New York City films “Hey Good Lookin’ ” and “Heavy Traffic” — all of which are screening at the BAM retrospective.

The Brooklynite-turned-New Mexican will be on hand for an artist’s talk on May 9 at 7 pm, before returning to work on his Coney Island flick, which he expects to finish before the end of the year.

Bakshi said he doesn’t know what will come next once “The Last Days of Coney Island” is wrapped up, but he plans to draw until his own last days.

“A good artist that’s alive — he keeps going until the end,” he said.

“Cool Worlds: The Animation of Ralph Bakshi” at BAM Rose Cinemas [30 Lafayette Ave. near Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100,]. May 9–20. $13 per film.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Daily on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group