Ralph Bakshi: Tips on Surviving In Tough Times

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 3, 2009 in Animation, Design |

Ralph Bakshi: Surviving In Tough Times

Back at Comic Con in 2008 Ralph Bakshi gave an amazing interview on how to survive in tough times. As a creative working person this inspires me a great deal, so I’d like to share some of my take away points from Bakshi’s insights.

But first you have to understand something about Ralph Bakshi: He started his career in the 60s after Disney had passed in both the physical and creative sense. The 30s and 40s were a golden age for theatrical animation, and in the 50s television killed all of that. Also Alfred Hitchcock killed the theatrical short by insisting that there be no cartoons before his film Psycho — the result killed an already pressured animation industry.

By the 60s opportunities looked bleak — the field was already packed with established artists who had payed their dues, and the big companies were in decline. Ralph Bakshi’s solution was brilliant: Instead of dreaming of the past he made his own films that were aimed at adults (example: Fritz the Cat). By doing this Bakshi created a career that lasted into the early 90s while Disney almost went under in the early 80s. So here’s what I’ve learned from Bakshi:

• Tough Times are a Chance to Reinvent an Industry

• Don’t Work for the Big Studios, Work For Yourself

• Technology Allows You To Take on the Big Guys

• Develop New Markets for Your Work

• Creatively Zig When Everyone is Still Zagging

• What’s Been Successful For Years Can Become Stale

And here’s the video for your inspiration:

By the way it should be noted that the animation industry itself hit a high point during the great depression. In the early days of the 20s the industry was crowded with many startup studios, but the 30s thinned the heard and forced the survivors to innovate. It’s out of this period that we see Snow White which was the first full length feature animated film — in a sense Disney reinvented the medium. What’s interesting is that Bakshi sort of acknowledges this when he’s putting down the Disney shorts of the early 30s which were quite dull (Mickey was a much more fun character in his black and white films).


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