Influences: Ralph Bakshi

I’m an unusual guy who was an unusual kid. And I like it that way.

Those of you who have read any of my novels or novellas are well aware of my fascination with mutants, monsters, wizards and cyborgs, as well as other phantasmagoric and post-apocalyptic imagery.

My love of animation – specifically, dark, strange and kooky animation – has provided endless sources of inspiration for this arena of expression over the years. Here are some of my favorite weird cartoons from my childhood. (And yes – I expect that some of you may argue that I was too young to see any or all of these movies when I did. Maybe so, but if I hadn’t seen these at such an impressionable age, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today.)

I’ve seen a few of Bakshi’s movies, and this remains my favorite. (Full disclosure: I still haven’t seen Fritz the Cat, and I didn’t care for Fire and Ice.) I admire the scope of American Pop, but for me, Bakshi’s imagination finds its best voice in Wizards, which combines two of my favorite things – fantasy and science-fiction – into one post-apocalyptic tale that pits technology against magic. Peppered throughout his story are a series of eerie rotoscoped battle sequences. All of these elements support an intriguing hook: What if an evil wizard used ancient Nazi propaganda to unite his dark forces in a bid to take over the world?

On the downside, the movie’s pace is one step too leisurely, but Bakski’s influence on my writing remains potent. Unforgettable images abound in Wizards, from the incredibly detailed, hectic backgrounds in the evil land of Scortch – what a delicious name! – to the aforementioned rotoscoped battle scenes. Bakshi’s hero, the bumbling, good-hearted wizard Avatar, provided the inspiration for a great many of my own leading characters.

That said, the movie’s most iconic character is probably the robotic assassin Nekron-99, who later changes his name to Peace when he’s reprogrammed to join the forces of good. My fourth novel, The Remnants, includes a bounty-hunter who shares some DNA with Bakshi’s creation.

Those of you who know me also know that I often use the mild oath “Holy Crom!” I first heard it in this wonderful movie. Here’s part three. The whole feature’s available on YouTube. Enjoy.


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