The Filming of Fritz the Cat, Part One
Reprinted from Funnyworld No. 14, Spring 1972.
II. Up from Brownsville
Ralph Bakshi was born in Brooklyn and grew up there in a section
called Brownsville. Brownsville is now one of New York's most desperate
black slums, but as recently as 1960, it was still ninety per cent
Jewish. It was tough; one writer has said that Brownsville was known
locally as Spearville, because "if somebody says how about
going for a walk, you say first let me get my spear."
Kazin, the critic, was born and raised in this ghetto, too, but
he left not long after Ralph Bakshi was born. He wrote a book about
Brownsville twenty years ago, when Bakshi was in his early teens,
and in its pages he described a community made up mostly of working-class
Jews who abandoned hope for themselves early, and poured their lives
into their children.
When Kazin returned to Brownsville years after he had moved away,
it was as if nothing had changed: "The early hopelessness burns
at my face like fog the minute I get off the subway. ... It is in
the faces of the kids, who before they are ten have learned that
Brownsville is a nursery of tough guys, and walk with a springy
caution, like boxers approaching the center of the ring."
Ralph Bakshi was once a boxer, in his teens: "I boxed for
the Police Athletic League between the ages of thirteen and sixteen.
I don't think it's on record; I was too young for them to put me
on record. But because I was the only Jew in the neighborhood who
was willing to fight the Italian and black kids, they let me fight.
To keep us from fighting in the streets, they got us in to the gym.
I love fightingboxing, you know; switchblades weren't my thing."
Bakshi has a little of the look of a boxerdark, bulky, rumpledand
he alternates between a cocky self-assurance and a distracted, sometimes
frantic grasping for words and ideas as they drift past him ("My
English can't compare with what is going on in my head"). The
animators who worked with him on Fritzall of them men
who have worked with the tired, cynical old pros in charge at most
studios todayfound Bakshi a "most unusual" director,
much younger and more talented and enthusiastic than what they had
been used to. Marty Taras, who worked on Fritz in New York
and is one of Bakshi's admirers, remembers Bakshi as "nervous
and fretful, like a mother hen trying to lay an egg on a hot pavement."
Bakshi is an artisthis love for what he does is palpablebut
he is an artist who speaks in the urgent accents of Brownsville.
The well-bred inanities of a filmmaker like Stan Vanderbeek are
alien to him. Bakshi is sensitive about his Brooklyn veneer ("People
expect me to drive a cab"), but at times he recognizes that
his roots are a source of strength, and that without them he might
not have made Fritz. He says: "My backgroundthe
fights, the way I grew upmight have been the best thing in
the world to prepare me for one of the biggest fights in this industry,
to get animation talked about again. ... I am the right man for
the right time in this business. Maybe it needs a fighter to revive
it, because no one else can."
Bakshi was born on October 29, 1938; his father was a Russian
immigrant who worked in a sheet-metal factory, his mother worked
in the garment district. He has one older sister. Brownsville was
not exactly fertile soil for a budding artist, and in Bakshi's case,
the urge to draw was late in coming. In his adolescence, he remembers,
"it was the usual bullshitguys, gangs, basketball, broads.
I was playing the part, with my blackjack and things, and whatever
the guys were doing, I was doing. I went to Thomas Jefferson High
School, and one day, I was walking around, really depressed, I don't
know why. I got a lot of girls, my hair's combed back in a d.a.
... The academic thing was okay; I was able to skin by without doing
much work, so that was cool. I was walking on the second floor and
there were some drawings up, by kids in the senior class, that had
all gotten blue medals and green medals and red medals. I just looked
at them and I said, man, I can do better than that. Mind you, I
had never drawn in my life. Sometimes my ego is unreal.
"That afternoon, I was sitting on the steps in front of Thomas
Jefferson, in front of these doors that lead to the street. There
was this banging on the door behind me; they couldn't open, it because
I was sitting there. The door was banging against my back, and I
was slamming it shut because it hurt, but I wasn't budgingthat
kind of thing. I'm getting ripped in the back and I keep getting
angrier and slamming the big steel door shut. I stepped back, and
I was going to rap this kid in the mouth when he stepped out of
thereand the principal steps out. He said, 'Young man, you'll
be in my office tomorrow.'
"I went to his office the next day, and he tells me I'm nothing,
I'll never be anything, I'm a typical hoodlum, etc. He told me there
was nothing I could do, and I said, bullshit, I can draw. He said,
'If you can draw, you don't belong in this school, and we'd like
to get rid of you anyhow. There's a school uptown called the School
of Industrial Art that takes guys like you.' The School of Industrial
Art started in the eighth grade; it was a vocational school, but
it was highly specialized training. So, if you were a really good
artist, you could leave junior high school to go there. The last
chance to get in was coming up; you had to take a test. I got very
excitedsomething really hit my head. I almost started to tremble.
I couldn't explain it. I went up the next day to the principal with
my cards saying I was allowed to take this test. There were about
thirty kids in this auditorium, all latecomers like me for various
reasons. There was this model up there, and the test was that you
had to draw the model in different poses. Out of the thirty kids,
they took ten, and I was one of the ten.
"I transferred out of Jefferson the next week. Everyone laughed.
My mother flipped, my father broke up. It was ludicrous. I took
cartooning and illustration all day; I dropped all my academic courses.
That's what the principal had meant at Thomas Jeffersonif
you don't want to work, you go to Industrial Art, too. You could
spend three years drawing all day. You could sit there and do zero,
get your diploma and split. You were allowed to take as many art
courses as you wanted, and for every art course you took you had
to drop an academic course. So I dropped all my academic courses,
and took art all day. I drew day and night, day and night, around
the clock. I never hit the streets any more. Guys used to come up
and call for me, and I'd tell them to forget it. During my last
two and a half years at Industrial Art, I lost thirty or forty pounds.
I was working like a madman. My mother got very nervous. I wasn't
drawing that well; I just loved it. For the first time in my life,
I was doing something-something I really enjoyed. Anyway, to make
a long story short, I walked out of the school with the cartooning
medal. It was the first and only thing I ever won in school, and
one of the few things I'm really proud of."
Bakshi graduated from the School of Industrial Art (now the High
School of Art and Design) in June 1956. In November 1956, a few
weeks after his eighteenth birthday, he went to work for the Terrytoons
studio in New Rochelle, a New York suburb, as an "opaquer,"
painting the cels on which drawings of the characters had been traced
in ink. At that time, Bakshi didn't plan to make animation his career;
he wanted to draw comic strips, and he took the job at Terrytoons
as a way of marking time. However, his rise up the ladder at Terrytoons
was very rapid, for reasons having as much to do with unsettled
conditions at the studio as with Bakshi's own talent.
Terrytoons, for most of its life, has not been a studio that nurtured
budding animators. The "stars" of Terrytoons were characters
like Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose, and Sourpuss,
who, when they had personalities at all, were pale and derivative.
So were most of the cartoons in which they appeared. The late Paul
Terry, who founded the studio and ran it until he sold it to CBS
in 1955, was an important figure in the history of animation (the
young Walt Disney studied Terry's cartoons when he was learning
the craft), but that doesn't make most of his cartoons any easier
to look at. When animators who worked for Terry reminisce about
him, they remember him talking about money. "We are turning
out a five-and-ten-cent store product," one veteran quotes
him as saying. The cartoons look it. Terry did not seek quality,
and he only rarely got it. At their best, the Terry cartoons have
a loose-jointed, springy quality that can be appealing, at least
in small doses. But most of them are coarse and formless, lacking
the precisionof timing, of movement, of expressionthat
made the best Hollywood cartoons of the thirties and forties so
Bakshi went to work for Terrytoons at a crucial point in the studio's
history. After Terry sold the studio to CBS, Gene Deitch was named
"creative director" in June 1956. Deitch set about turning
Terrytoons upside down, and that was his downfalland Bakshi's
Deitch's assessment of the old Terry studio is harsh: "That
studio must have surely ranked the next-after-1ast on any roster
of cartoon studios. For thirty years they had been making the crassest
of unadulterated crap. I was trying to make a renaissance on the
most moldering foundation to be found anywhere." (Veterans
of the old days at Terrytoons would probably agree with that; one
former Terrytoons director, who moved to the West Coast a number
of years ago, says of the studio, "I am still trying hard to
live down my association with them.")
Deitch, who was thirty-one when he took charge at Terrytoons,
had worked for UPA's studios in Hollywood and New York, and he tried
to reshape Terrytoons into the UPA image: great sophistication in
drawing and stories, limited animation, an emphasis on color and
design over movement. Such distinctive artists and writers as Ernest
Pintoff, Jules Feiffer, and Bob Blechman joined the staff.
Under Deitch, Terrytoons made some exceptionally attractive films,
including the Tom Terrific television series and a number
of theatrical cartoons, among them The Juggler of Our Lady,
Flebus, and the first few cartoons in the Silly Sidney series.
To get what he wanted, Deitch took unusual measures. He exercised
strong control over all the studio's cartoons from start to finish,
to the point that the director's function was significantly altered.
It was not just that all decisions on stories remained in Deitch's
hands; his control extended beyond that. He recalls:
"I developed, with Tod Dockstader [his sound effects man],
a completely new way of making a cartoon sound tracks by mixing
[music, voices and sound effects] in advance of animation. In this
way, I was able to control the total, detailed timing of the film
before it ever got to the animation director. He and the animators
got a complete reading of all dialogue, sound effects and music
cues to work to. With the general level of staff I inherited, this
was the only way to set a new style and tempo of action."
[A 2004 note: As I didn't realize at the time, Deitch's method
was actually a refinement of the method Paul Terry had used from
the beginning, recording the complete soundtrack for a cartoon in
advance and requiring the directors and animators to adhere to the
timing established by Philip Scheib's score and the accompanying
In other words, the directors really were "animation directors"they
were in charge of the animation, and nothing else. They would prepare
layouts and hand out assignments to the animators, but that was
about where their responsibilities ended. The timing of a cartoon
is probably the director's single most important job, and that was
taken out of the Terrytoons directors' hands by Deitch and his story
men. When Ralph Bakshi became a director, a few years later, Deitch's
innovation had been transformed from a device to ensure quality
into a straitjacketat least from Bakshi's viewpoint.
The most important holdover from the Paul Terry era was not a
director, or an animator, but a man named William Weiss; by 1956,
he had the title of general manager. Weiss was in charge of getting
the old Terrytoons onto television, a job at which he was highly
successful. While Weiss was bringing money in by peddling the old
cartoons, Deitch was spending money making new ones. CBS (with,
Deitch says, the help of a few nudges in the ribs from Weiss) noticed
the difference. Deitch lost his job in April 1958, and Weiss took
Terrytoons' brief flowering ended with Deitch's departure. Under
Weiss, the quality of the studio's cartoons sank rapidly to depths
never explored even by Paul Terry. The talented men brought into
the studio by Deitch began bailing out, and that gave Ralph Bakshi
the chance to show what he could do.
In the flux after Deitch left, Bakshi remembers, "the place
was in a panic. They were in the middle of this television series,
and they needed animators. They asked everyone if they could animate,
and I said I could. This is insanity, right? There was so much going
on in this crazy transition that if you said you could, they said
go ahead. I didn't know exposure sheets, I didn't know anything.
But I figured if you keep it moving, it's going to move. The checkers
climbed the wall, the cameramen quit on mebut after six months,
it was like sink or swim, I started to animate. I still don't know
if I could be an assistant animator.
"Consequently, in a year, people thought I was the best animator
in the place. I was totally uninhibited, no one taught me. There
were no rules I went by, and the things looked kind of crazy on
the screen. Some of it was terrible, some of it was fine. I'm sorry
houses like Terrytoons aren't around any more, because whatever
you could do they'd let you do. They were interested in saving money.
Guys would tell me I was crazy for staying there when I could work
in other studios, but I was getting more experience, and getting
a lot of things out of my system that were wrong. I locked myself
in my room and had a wonderful time. People would tell me to go
here or there, and I'd say, 'Forget it, I'm learning.' Basically,
I had a ten-year apprenticeship."
Marty Taras, who was a director at Terrytoons when Bakshi was
climbing the ladder, remembers that Bakshi "was imbued with
an almost religious zeal in learning. He had an amazing drive to
learn plus an indefatigable capacity for hard, round the clock work.
It's part of his makeupDrive! Drive! Drive!"
Bakshi began animating in 1959, working on theatrical cartoons
with some of the new Terrytoons charactersDeputy Dawg, Hector
Heathcote, Hashimoto. In 1964, he became a director of cartoons
starring such dreary and short-lived characters as Sad Cat and James
By then, the word "director" as used at Terrytoons didn't
mean what it has traditionally meant in animation. As in Gene Deitch's
day, the complete soundtrack would be delivered to the director,
with the timing fixed. The director would also be given the storyboards
for the picture, with the story broken down into a series of rough
sketches. The director's function was to prepare layoutsthat
is, drawings showing how the action would be stagedin each shotand
then to animate the entire cartoon from his layouts. The traditional
concept of the director as the supervisor of the picturesetting
the timing for the cartoon and overseeing the story, the layouts,
the animation, the voices, the backgrounds, and so onhad been
abandoned, and the man who had the title of "director"
was, in fact, merely a layout man and animator combined.
Tom Morrison, a Terrytoons veteran who was head of the story department
under both Deitch and Weiss, was the director in fact if not in
name. Morrison remembers Bakshi now as "particularly enthusiastic,
with a unique talent and style all his own. He was a prodigious
worker and completely believed in his own judgment in everything
he did. We had the usual differences of opinion but I felt we got
along very well."
Bakshi is not so gentlemanly when recalling those "differences
of opinion." "When I directed my own pictures, I broke
up the timing," he says. "They'd time the storyboards
and deliver you tracks that were fixed. And everyone else in the
place didn't care, they just did it that way. I broke up the tracks,
retimed, re-directed, and consequently got in a lot of trouble."
It's surprising that anyone cared, since the Terrytoons studio
under Weiss must have been stifling for anyone who cared much about
animation. The footage requirements Bakshi cites are astonishing,
at least for theatrical cartoons: "They expected seventy feet
a week; I had some weeks of a hundred and eighty, and I'm sure they're
very embarrassing. But at any decent studio I would have been out
on my ass, so I have mixed emotions."
The budgets, he recalls, were as low as the footage requirements
were high. "Eight thousand dollars was what they wanted you
to bring them in for, and sometimes we brought them in for six,
because we got into so much damned re-use [of animation]. We just
started doing re-use at some point, we just didn't care. The footage
requirements were very high, and Weiss was very strict on them.
You were young, you panicked, you just wanted to hold your job down,
to learn. Eight thousand up to twelve or fifteen was the highest
budget you had for any five- to six-minute short. It came in at
about a drawing and a half a foot. The only way I could rationalize
it was to give the illusion of motion, to see how much motion I
could get from those few drawings. It never worked. You ended up
fooling yourself, endlessly."
In 1966, after a year and a half as a director, Bakshi became
Terrytoons' creative director (or supervising director, as he was
called on the payroll records), in effect stepping into the position
Gene Deitch had vacated eight years before. He was twenty-six. "CBS
made me creative director upon seeing some of the films I had done
by myself," he says. "They saw the theatricals and they
flipped because there was something different. I don't say it was
much different, but anything a little different at Terrvtoons was
A title is one thing, but the reality is another, and the reality
evidently was that Bakshi had less power than Deitch did. Bakshi
began colliding with Tom Morrison and William Weiss: "I wanted
to go upstairs and do my own recordings, and they wouldn't let me
do that. Then I sat in on Tommy's recordings and then I retimed
the stuff." The conflict extended throughout the studio: "There
were key groups of guys who had grown up with Weiss at Terrytoons
and weren't about to do me any favors." The depth of the animosity
can be measured by Weiss' attitude; his response was surly when
I asked him about Bakshi last year.
Bakshi, for his part, soon decided that the game was not worth
the candle, and he remembers that in his gloom he began drifting
into Negro bars in Brooklyn, spending hours drinking there. He recalls:
"Even if I had managed to be able to change the style and
get the guys the way I wanted them, it still was unimportant to
me. I don't mind the fight if the fight has some meaning. But the
thing we were geared for was television sales; in other words, CBS
wanted me to break into television, and do good work for television,
and try to improve the theatricals. But the subject matter. . .
I'd get very excited about a storyboard for the first three days,
very excited about trying to do something different. But it just
wouldn't be there. Whether I did a better cartoon or not, it didn't
matter. The cartoon itself was geared for a very young audience.
I didn't know what was wrong at the time; I wasn't that clear on
what was bothering me so much. I rationalized and thought it was
the fighting with Weiss, but it was twofold. One, the fighting with
Weiss, and two, even if I did a great Bugs Bunny, what did I have?
Another great Bugs Bunny, and I still would probably enjoy the old
ones better. That was the kind of funk I was in."
After eight months as creative director, Bakshi left Terrytoons
to become director of cartoon production at Paramount Pictures'
cartoon studio, the only other studio of any consequence in New
York that was still making cartoons for theaters.
Whatever Paramount's merits as a refuge from the office politics
at Terrytoons, it didn't have much to offer for a cartoon director
aspiring to better things. Throughout the forties and fifties, Paramount's
distinction was that its cartoons were a notch or two better than
those Paul Terry was making.
Paramount's origins were more promising than that. The studio
began as the Fleischer studio, in the early days of animation. The
Fleischer brothers, Max and Dave, distributed their cartoons through
Paramount Pictures Corporation, starting in 1929, and lost control
of the studio to Paramount in 1942. Although the Fleischers' cartoons
were mostly as earthbound as the other New York cartoons of that
period, their Popeye series had some vitality, and a rough charm,
and the Fleischers were the only cartoon producers of the time to
challenge Walt Disney's supremacy as a maker of long cartoons; two
Fleischer features appeared before the studio changed hands, and
at least three Popeye cartoons were double the usual length for
After the studio became Paramount's, and cartoons began appearing
under the direction of Seymour Kneitel and Isidore Sparber, any
suggestions of quality rapidly vanished. By the fifties, Paramount
cartoons were providing a sort of fever chart for animation. To
learn what was wrong with animation at any point during that decade,
it is necessary only to watch a handful of the Paramount cartoons
made at the time. There are the imitations of UPA, devoid of any
of UPA's wit and visual elegance; the Popeye cartoons, with their
stale, overworked plots; the cartoons with Baby Huey and Herman
and Katnip, geared to children, as earlier cartoons had not been.
And so it went. Pencil tests were abandoned, and the animation became
hard and crude. In the early sixties, Paramount turned to television
cartoons; it made some for King Features, and then, in the mid-sixties,
made the Mighty Thor segments for the sixty-five half-hour shows
that starred five of the Marvel comic book charactersIron
Man, Sub-Mariner, et al.
By that time, Paramount was enjoying a small renaissance, under
the supervision of Shamus Culhane, a former animator for Disney
and director for Walter Lantz who had become director of production
for the Paramount studio in 1965. Under Culhane, Paramount made
not only Marvel cartoons but also a cartoon called My Daddy the
Astronaut, which was designed to resemble a child's crayon drawings;
it was the first Paramount cartoon in years to receive any serious
The Marvel cartoons were made for Steve Krantz, a TV producer who
had made a deal with Marvel and then had farmed the work out to
Paramount and a California studio, Grantray-Lawrence. Krantz had
begun his career as a producer for NBC. He was director of program
development and then head of international sales for Screen Gems,
finally leaving to form his own distribution and production company.
In 1967, his subcontractors were at work on three animated television
seriesthe syndicated Marvel super-hero cartoons, a Saturday-morning
network program about another Marvel hero, Spider-man (spelled "Spiderman"
for television), and a syndicated show called Rocket Robin Hood.
In May 1967, Culhane left Paramount to go to work directly for
Krantz, and Bakshi stepped into Culhane's job-an event that was
to be repeated with Culhane's new job in about six months.
The same month that Bakshi took charge at Paramount's cartoon studio,
Charles G. Bluhdorn, the head of Gulf and Western Industries, became
president and chairman of the board of Paramount itself. Bluhdorn's
stay with the company was destined to be a lot longer than Bakshi's.
As Bakshi tells the story, it sounds apocryphal, but he insists
that it's true: "Bluhdorn came to the studio for the first
time, he's walking through the studio and he says, 'What the hell
is this?' They told him it was a cartoon studio, and he says, 'I
never bought this. I make films, what is this?' They said, 'Of course,
it comes with the whole package.' Fade out. Fade in, three months
later, they closed the place down."
The doors closed at Paramount's cartoon studio on December 1, 1967,
putting Bakshi out of a job; he says he refused to take more than
four weeks' salary after the studio closed, even though he had a
three-year contract. Bakshi had time to finish only a handful of
cartoons before the closing, perhaps only two. One, called The
Opera Caper, had originated with Shamus Culhane; it was to have
been drawn in the style of My Daddy, the Astronaut, but Bakshi
made it in traditional line animation instead, a switch that precipitated
the firing of an artist who disagreed with Bakshi's decision. The
other was more significant; it was called Marvin Digs, and
it was, as Bakshi says, "a flower-child picture."
Marvin Digs is an offensively bad picture, the kind that
makes people who love animation get up and leave the theater in
disgust. Bakshi himself doesn't have much good to say about it ("I
saw the picture once somewhere, vomited and left") and says
that it was not finished the way he wanted. But he attaches importance
to that cartoon because "that basically is when I started to
get involved with things that are happening. Marvin Digs
was going to have curse words and sex scenes, and a lot more than
that. Marvin was a hippie kid. Of course, they wouldn't let me do
that. The procedure was, I ran the studio, and no one was there
except me and my crew, but I had to send my storyboards up to the
main office, two blocks away.
"Had I been the same guy then that I am now, and if the new
job hadn't been so exciting to me that I wanted to go a little slowI
thought I had three yearsI would have done whatever I wanted
to, anyway. The beautiful thing about animation is, no one knows
what you're doing until it hits the screen. It's not like live,
when you can see the rushes the next day. But I did what they told
me to do, and watered Marvin Digs down to a typical 1967
limited-animation theatrical. But I was still very excited; it was
one of the best times of my life. I felt very good from gaining
confidence from running a studio without Weiss. I was flying by
myself, and that felt good."
In the meantime, Shamus Culhane had gone to Canada for Steve Krantz,
to oversee the production by a Toronto studio of a science-fiction
series called Rocket Robin Hood. The problems that confronted
Culhane in Canada apparently were staggering, and he and Krantz
quarreled and parted in the fall of 1967. Krantz turned to Bakshi,
after learning that he was available; Krantz says that he had met
Bakshi at Terrytoons, when Bakshi was creative director there, and
later had heard good things about him from the executive in charge
of Paramount's cartoon department. Bakshi says he was reluctant
to take the job when Krantz offered it to him, but "the next
week, I was in Canada. I learned that I really could not stay out
of a cartoon studio for more than a week without getting real sad."
Rocket Robin Hood was one of those projects that is doomed
from the startBakshi remembers working with Italian and Spanish
animators through interpretersbut Bakshi evidently made the
best of hopeless circumstances, as he had done at Terrytoons and
was to do again when running a studio for Krantz in New York City.
One artist who worked on Rocket Robin Hood says that "Ralph
was in tune with the science-fiction needs of the series and the
further need for a more cinematic approach." Bakshi provided
that "cinematic approach" by bringing in comic-book artists
Gray Morrow and Jim Sterankoboth highly regarded as illustrators
of stories of the science-fiction and "swords and sorcery"
varietyto draw layouts and storyboards. Bakshi recalls: "My
attitude there was, okay, screw motion; I made the animators trace
the layouts, to try to maintain at least a good drawing quality."
The Canadian studio folded in the spring of 1968, and Bakshi returned
to New York after six months in Toronto. Meanwhile, Krantz had been
having problems with Spiderman, which was being made for
him by Grantray-Lawrence in California. Grantray-Lawrence had gone
bankrupt late in 1967, after completing twenty half-hours of Spiderman,
and so the demise of the Canadian studio left Krantz with two homeless
television series on his hands.
Krantz said in a letter that he had learned his lesson about subcontracting
"We did not have satisfactory performance from subcontractors
in the animation field. There is natural enmity. The producer and
the subcontractor are absolutely at opposite poles. The producer
wants the best in the picture and the subcontractor wants the least
in the picture. So we learned, after experiences that were in some
ways unpleasant, that if we were going to be in animation, we would
have to do it ourselves. Ralph struck me as not only creatively
able, but also administratively able, and so we decided to start
a studio and not put ourselves in the hands of others."
The new animation studio got off to a shaky start. Bakshi remembers
a desperate search for the necessary animation equipment, until
finally some ancient desks were found in a loft in the garment district
("Guys did Mutt and Jeff on this stuff, would you believe").
The new studio finished work on Rocket Robin Hood and cranked
out Spiderman half-hoursthirty-two in allat the
rate of one a week, with a fifteen-man crew. That was a small crew
to be doing that much animation that quickly, and Bakshi says that
it was "very, very difficult. I thought I was insane sometimes.
Terrytoons looked good at one point."
In order to spew out Spiderman at the required rate of
speed, Bakshi made as much use as possible of Grantray-Lawrence's
animation, stuffing each half-hour full of scenes of Spider-man
swinging from building to building. The Bakshi-Krantz studio "was
built on leftovers," Bakshi says. "Quality wasn't my objective
then, it was getting the studio started." As in Canada, Bakshi
was willing to throw animation to the wolves in order to get his
After Spiderman, the Krantz studio made a variety of films,
none of them distinguished; there were commercials with Peter Max,
and a "Max the Mouse" series of five-minute educational
films that mixed a smidgen of animation with photos and drawings
of historical events.
This was not the sort of stuff that required an animation director's
intense concentration, and Bakshi remembers getting restless. "It
was so easy to do, it was such a nothing, I didn't really care that
much about it, I started thinking about what I'd really like to
do in animation." That eventually led to Fritz.
[Click here to continue to the next section
of "The Filming of Fritz the Cat."]
[Original article © 1972 Michael Barrier]