I'm unsure about Bakshi. Heavy Traffic is one of the great works of feature animation -a personal favorite, Coonskin is good -but not as good the chatter says it is, most of all HE GETS IT DONE. Many animation directors will let "the man" and their own neuroses prevent their films from crossing the finish line. Not Bakshi, he gets it done.
On the other hand, I just don't know. The art direction rubs me wrong, I guess. But I always hope to have that transcendant moment in his films -like in Paul Fierlinger's Drawn From Memory, or Sita Sings the Blues. The moment comes close but never arrives.
The book is very nice. Professional. Competent.
Swap out the pictures and you could easily have a coffee table John Lassetter or Brad Bird book.
Bakshi's work unquestionably deserves the highest treatment, but I have to admit -the book, its a little disappointing. Reverant, polished -two things its subject has never been.
A few spreads like this are amongst the graphic highlights
Stranger still the author tries to take on the tone of Bakshi, throwing around "balls" like it's Spring Training. One ill-conceived foray into expressive voice incongruously name drops Henry Rollins. The attempts to take on Bakshi voice are cringeworthy, but point a greater problem. This is a book of adulation (deservedly so, as Ralph Bakshi is at least the Teddy Roosevelt of American animation's Rushmore), but the artist demands more than adulation -his work deserves critique.
Bakshi's films should get the same type of serious treatment his 1970s cohorts have gotten. Coppola, Lucas and Scorsese have dozens of volumes dedicated to the study of their work -Bakshi's achievements trump them all yet this volume is the only book dedicated to him.
As complaints that is unfair -it's a good book, worth twice its price, and I don't know how I would have packaged it better. As criticism, though, I see a missed opportunity. This could have been the Illusion of Life for the independent animator.
More than anything, this volume makes you crave a "Complete Bakshi" DVD collection. Something like the Kubrick Collection would be appropriate. He has a few titles I've never seen (Hey Good Lookin' -just ordered on VHS) and some that are degenerated dubs of dubs (Coonskin, Fritz the Cat).
We never got to meet Natasha Richardson, but we did share screen time with her:
James Ivory was a pleasure to work with. Even though he wasn't familiar with the animation process, he has a great eye. The producer, Ismail Merchant, died during production so we never got to meet him either and we never got to enjoy one of his legendary dinners.