Animator, director, and all-around firebrand Ralph Bakshi is still astounded that 35 years ago he was able to get his fantasy feature Wizards made (my review). Made for a then fairly steep animation budget of a cool million (part of which Bakshi had to front himself to finish the film), a victim of studio politics when distributor Fox went through a regime change, and released directly against Disney's Fantasia, the road to the big screen for Wizards wasn't an easy one. "The fact that it's still around after 35 years is absolutely shocking and amazing," Bakshi tells me.
But it has survived and if you haven't seen the movie, there's still a good chance that you've seen the distinctive cover art featuring assassin-turned-hero Necron 99/Peace astride one of the strange beasts that populate Wizards' post-apocalyptic fantasy landscape. Or maybe you've seen some of his other animated work, all of it in way way or another subject to a cult following: Heavy Traffic, or the brilliant homage to our homegrown music, American Pop. It's likely many of you have seen his Lord of the Rings, for which Wizards was kind of a dry run.
Over a good half hour, I spoke to Mr. Bakshi, who was vacationing in New Mexico a week before WonderCon, about the continued legacy of his work, getting the damned movie made in the first place, and his hopes for revisiting the Wizards universe in a sequel.