‘The Animation of Ralph Bakshi’ at BAM

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

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

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.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Epiphany from Ex-Brooklyn says:
May 5, 2014, 7:21 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: