A Month of Bakshi: Part One

Whoever said that cartoons are immature and juvenile was right, just take a look at Spongebob. That doesn't mean, however, that they're strictly for children. In fact, there are a number of 'toons that have been specifically targeted at an adult audience thanks to early pioneers such as Ralph Bakshi.

For the uninitiated, Bakshi is a phenomenal American director whose credits include such cult classics as the animated version of Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat (1972), Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), and the reality-bending Cool World (1992). In addition to his animated films, he also produced a Mighty Mouse tv series. Suffice it to say Bakshi's work record is both diverse and provocative. To celebrate both his impact and influence on animation, Strange Kids Club is hosting a month Bakshi all throughout January beginning with the first ever X-rated cartoon, Fritz the Cat.

A heavy mix of Crumb's adult-laden satire and Bakshi's grindhouse-era set pieces, Fritz the Cat follows the oversexed escapades of a college-aged feline (Fritz) as he explores the darker side of his hedonistic philosophies. Being the first animated feature to receive the MPAA's X-rating, Fritz the Cat suffered from criticism on all sides including Robert Crumb and Bakshi himself. Except for in the case of Crumb, who couldn't tolerate what he called the animated character's repressed fascism, this criticism doesn't so much stem from the content itself but from an exploitation of the film's supposedly lewd sensibility.

In the end, despite the criticism, Fritz the Cat stands as a progenitor of future animated efforts to explore the cultural taboos of Western civilization that grants us an ambitious view of subversive 70s culture.

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