John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Ralph Bakshi's newest animation deals with the "freaky midways" of Coney Island, as well as "Kennedy’s assassination, the mafia, Bobby Dylan, Vietnam, Dick Tracy, Miss America, and more."
By the looks of his IMDB listing, animator Ralph Bakshi's been largely out of circulation since the late 1990s. That's regrettable, as the man's been the force behind several controversial, groundbreaking films, like1972's X-rated Fritz the Cat and 1973's Coonskin. Say what you will about the later Cool World or his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings – these were still weirdly watchable slices of freaky-deaky cinema.
Now in his seventh decade of life, the erstwhile interpretor of Robert Crumb (and rumored inspiration for the Simpson's Comic Book Guy) has found himself a new project to pursue. It's a series of animated shorts called Last Days of Coney Island, and it deals with the famed amusement park's "crooked cops, broken hearts, jaded strippers, and singers" – not to mention "Kennedy’s assassination, the mafia, Bobby Dylan, Vietnam, Dick Tracy, Miss America, and more."
If that description sounds a bit scattershot, maybe that's why Bakshi is promoting his fetal movie on Kickstarter instead of in Hollywood. "To tell you the truth, I tried to sell the film to the studios but was told it wasn’t 'merchandisable' enough," writes the former Brooklyn native. "Well, they’re right. It’s not. But it’s the shot-in-the-arm that animation needs and it will knock your socks off!"
That's no empty promise, given Bakshi's track record animating weed-toking cats who are deeply into swinger parties. If you decide to contribute to the campaign, which needs $165,000 by March 3, the animator is offering rewards in the form of original cells, production art and (for extra-generous donators) your face as an extra painted into the background of Last Days. (H/t to Twitch.)
Background of top image by Ralph Bakshi, characters by Colleen Cox, via Kickstarter.