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Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi (The Force Behind Fritz the Cat, Mighty Mouse, Cool World, and The Lord of the Rings) Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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"...a loving behind-the-scenes tribute to a true American iconoclast." ~Playboy
"The artwork and honor are all contained within, chronicling the acclaimed career of this key animation pioneer that we have to thank for much of popular culture's influence." ~Juxtapoz
"The book, which features hundreds of rough sketches, doodles, and animation cells, is tremendously entertaining, if a little worshipful." ~Planet Magazine
"Stuffed with sketches, paintings and stills from the completed films, the book emerges an eye-candy tribute to an important and idiosyncratic creator." ~Sci Fi Magazine
"...a behind-the-scenes look at the legend from his childhood spent drawing the characters of Brownsville, Brooklyn to his bitter retirement after losing creative control of the...feature Cool World." ~Tokion
About the Author
Jon M. Gibson is a screenwriter, journalist, curator, and author. Chris McDonnell is an artist, designer, and publisher of Meathaus.
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Top Customer Reviews
Cartoonist and webmaster of South Africa's [...] Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi (The Force Behind Fritz the Cat, Mighty Mouse, Cool World, and The Lord of the Rings)
The book is insane! Everything you could ask for about his life, history, artistic phases from early cartooning straight through Harlem Shuffle and Spicy City. So pleased to have my Bakshi fix in one "huge" book!
Mostly enjoyed understanding his life and the doodles and art that is sprinkled throughout. Also enjoyed the dedicated sections tied to his movies. Heavy Traffic and American Pop are my favs here.
If you don't have it...get it. What a blessing...
The book reads as a biography strewn with various artistic pieces from his work and his films, as well as photos taken throughout his life.
The strong points of the book are many. The artwork contained within is absolutely stunning. Everything from concept art to storyboards to film stills are included. Beautifully crafted work by top rate artists including Frank Frazetta, Gray Morrow, and Mike Ploog (well-renowned comic-book/fantasy artists). My favorite pieces were Louise Zingarelli's portraits for "American Pop", as well as David Jonas's drawings of the main characters for "Hey Good Lookin". At the end of the book is filled to the brim with his paintings, which is highly influenced by Chaim Soutine, the Ashcan School, and early 20th century cartoonists.
Another plus are the stories of Bakshi's life and experiences. It tells of his life in Brownsville, his time at Terrytoons, his experiences working on his films, to his latest escapades in the world of fine art. The best story in here is one told about Ralph's experiences with J.D. Salinger. I won't spoil it for you.
However, this book does have weak points. While I love Bakshi, the book turns him into some kind of God. His films are good, but they do have story problems. The authors also tend to give Disney a lot of crap, many times unwarranted. The biggest problem is the book has no artwork from Bakshi's version of "The Lord of the Rings". The original pages had the art, but the published version is filled with Bakshi's fantasy doodles. However, you can find them at his website.
All in all, this a terrific tribute to "The Man" (as he is called on his site).
If you are an artist working in animation, whether you know it or not, Ralph Bakshi is the reason you're here. Don't believe me? Throw your mind back to 1970. Look at what the animation business had turned into... Disney was cranking out Robin Hood, a film without a single new idea. On TV, Filmation was lowering the bar so Hanna Barbera could play 'quality limbo' with them. Animation was dying, animators were choosing retirement over flogging the dead carcass of the art form they loved, and it looked like it the situation would never get any better.
Enter Bakshi. With his first three films, he turned animation upside down. He showed that it wasn't just a medium for big bears with Phil Harris's voice and crappy sitcom characters in outer space. His films shocked and terrified people... they were crass and sloppy. They were made on a shoestring, and sometimes it showed. But they had something honest to say, and that got noticed. Ralph showed that animation- the most collaborative art form ever- could be an intensely personal medium.
Ralph's first three films- Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin- came totally out of the blue. They are the animation equivalent of Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives. Great old time animators like Irv Spence, Ambi Paliwoda and Virgil Ross were offered the opportunity to cut loose and make films that weren't just cats chasing mice and dogs chasing cats. These films dealt with what it meant to be an artist, the battle of the sexes, race relations, and the unsenimentalized realities of urban life. They were improvisational and had no rules.
These three films, made in the darkest of the dark ages of animation, offered a glint of hope for what animation could become. If all you've seen of Ralph's work is Lord of the Rings and Fire and Ice you don't know what I'm talking about here. All of the adult targeted animation you see in the US today has its roots in Ralph's example in these three films. They stirred up controversy and caused riots at screenings back in the day, but now they seem to us like they could have been made yesterday, not three decades ago- except for the fact that today's world has trouble accepting brutal honesty when it comes to politically charged topics. Ralph has never been one to pull punches.
In the 1980s, Ralph did for television animation what he did for theatrical features, blowing the lid off of CBS's Saturday morning schedule with Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Ralph took a chance on the ideas of a kid named John Kricfalusi, and set up the studio after the unit structure model used at Warners. Artists were cut loose to create cartoons. Without Mighty Mouse, there never would have been Ren & Stimpy or The Simpsons. The artists who worked on Mighty Mouse have gone on to lead the TV animation industry. Ralph is an absolute genius when it comes to spotting raw talent. He can take a kid straight out of school and turn him into a pro faster than anyone else. Every film had its 'graduating class' of kids. Those kids now populate the animation business on every level, from the top Producer at Disney feature to the creative sparks at Warners. I know of Bakshi alumni who are top dogs at Dreamworks and the CGI companies too.
As a filmmaker, Ralph is one-of-a-kind. He doesn't make films for executives... he doesn't even make films for a specific audience. He makes them for himself. You can count the number of animators capable of using this unweildy medium for personal expression on one hand and still have fingers left. Ralph is one of them. But Ralph is not only the greatest living animation artist. He is the catylist that has more than once pulled the industry out of a hole so deep people had just about given up on cartoons. For that alone, he deserves the respect of any and all animators, whether they like his work or not.
If the animation business needs anything right now, it's another go round with Bakshi. The era of shi-shi 'distressed' animation desks complete with faux wormholes, and middle management producers driving Jaguars paid for by their bonus checks is over. That was great for the people lucky enough to hook up to the gravy train while it lasted. But times have changed. The people left standing will be the ones who REALLY CARE about the medium of animation.
You can take my word for the fact that no one loves cartoons more than Ralph. Read this book and hear him talk about Jim Tyer. (Ralph was Tyer's assistant...) Listen to what he has to say about Spence or Maltese or any of the other old timers he brought in to work on his films. Ralph lives and breathes animation. His drawings are imbued with the whole history of the medium. He announces his retirement every once in a while, and swears off cartoons forever, but it's in his blood. Just count the days till the bellowing voice out of the blue hollers 'BAKSHI'S BACK, YOU BASTUHDS!' over the studio intercom again.
It's time for Ralph to rent a warehouse, fill it full of kids with big dreams, raw talent and lots of ideas and crank out a film. It doesn't even matter if it turns out crappy. It'll be a shot in the arm to the whole business, and it just might lead to something even better. I know I'd love to be a part of it.
UNFILTERED: The Complete Ralph Bakshi isn't one of those 'art books' with postage stamp sized pictures floating in oceans of tasteful white space and huge text blocks of scholarly blather that crowds out the images. It's just pictures, pictures and more pictures... along with just enough text to put them in context. Artwork by Frank Frazetta, John Kricfalusi, Barry Jackson, Louise Zingarelli, Michael Ploog, Ian Miller, Irv Spence, Robert Dranko, Mark Kausler and Ambi Paliwoda. The book is organized to show Ralph's career from his earliest days at Terry-Toons, to his groundbreaking features, to his revolutionary TV work, to his most recent fine art paintings. BUY THIS BOOK!
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