Monday, September 13, 2010

Ralph Bakshi and Sad Cat

Ralph Bakshi is an animation icon known for adult-oriented cartoons he directed in the 1970s such as Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. Of course, like all great cartoonists one has to start somewhere in a lowly position. In Bakshi's case he entered the field at Terrytoons as a cel painter. Within 10 years Bakshi was promoted assistant animator, then animator, and finally a director.

Bakshi dipped his toe in directing on the made-for-TV Deputy Dawg but his first major work as a director was on a forgotten character called Sad Cat.

Leonard Maltin described Sad Cat in Of Mice and Magic as "the dreariest character ever created." Can't say he's far off; the character's name is very fitting. The premise of the series is that he's in a Cinderella situation where Sad Cat has to take care of his two mean brothers Letimore and Fenimore. Like Cinderella, he has a godmother-like figure. In the first five cartoons (directed by Bakshi) that character was Gadmouse, the apprentice fairy. However, on the final eight cartoons (directed by Art Bartsch, as Bakshi had left the studio), Sad Cat was instead aided by his "Super Ego", a musculer, tougher version of himself. Bob McFadden voiced all the characters.

Bakshi was never satisfied with how the director function was done at Terrytoons. By then directors had little control over the storyboards and voice tracks (Tom Morrison handled both). According to Maltin, the Terry directors would not even know what the cartoon is about until after the voices were recorded. Bakshi, wanting to leave a mark on his cartoons, would re-cut the soundtrack and retime it. This may have something to do with the rather off-beat timing style the cartoons he directed for the studio had.

Below is the first Sad Cat cartoon, Gadmouse the Apprentice Good Fairy, directed and animated by Bakshi.


Gadmouse the Apprentice Good Fairy (Terrytoons, 1965)
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The following is a much later entry, directed by Art Bartsch, featuring Sad Cat's super ego.


All Teed Off
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3 comments:

Chris Sobieniak said...

I found a whole tape of these though it was recorded in EP mode from Video Treasures years ago. I think it only had 6 of the 8 cartoons Bartsch directed on it, nothing from Bakshi at all.

Chris Sig said...

One cannot admit that Bakshi's style is, to describe his animation, "very strange". Just one viewing of his What A Cartoon entry, for example (Malcom and Melvin), was more than enough for me...

Still, can't help but admit that he has left an impact in the animation biz during his career. Personally, though, I enjoyed the second Sad Cat short more than the first - I think it was the golf gags that did it for me ("He Got a Birdie!").

Anonymous said...

On Gadmouse the Appentice fairy, from 4:30 to about 4:46 The Music Sounds Exactly like the end of the TV prints of Several Terrytoons!, But Anyway, The Backgrounds and Ralph Bakshi's Drawings are Very Beautiful and Gorgeous!.

As For The Much Later Entries, Compared to the Ralph Bakshi visuals, The Bartsch Visuals are Rather Sloppy, But they are still Watchable and Well Made and Story-wise they are Better than the Older Entries.

Asim.