Our story so far: Ralph Bakshi is asked by producer Steve Krantz to take over production of a troubled series, Rocket Robin Hood, which is being produced in Canada by Al Guest and a multi-national crew. He goes, having no idea what he’s walking into…
“I took over the studio, I was Krantz’s man, Krantz and Guest were now suing each other. Guest was suing Krantz for non-payment, but Krantz was not accepting any more of the films and not paying Guest because the stations weren’t accepting them. The movies were terrible, the worst things I’d ever seen. The stations weren’t paying Steve, Steve wasn’t paying Al, and I walk into the middle of this happy family. So I hired some New York animators and comic book artists – Gray Morrow, Wally Wood, Joe Kubert, Jim Steranko – the crème de la crème of Marvel Comics. I closed down the layout and storyboard department which couldn’t draw, and basically got these guys to do the layout and storyboards in New York, which were sent up to Canada to use as the basic starting point for where the drawing should be, because there wasn’t much animation in this stuff. Limited animation for television was so bad in the ’60s, and once you got a decent drawing up on the screen, it kind of held and you just move the mouth. So my theory was, let’s get the basics looking good.”
“Not only did the stuff get better, it got cheaper. Krantz was paying $14,000 a half-hour, and suddenly the cartoons were coming in for $10,000. Krantz is delirious, he’s beside himself, because now he’s making them cheaper and they’re better. The stations started to pay Krantz, and he’s making money. But now something comes down, something to do with business, and the Krantz and the Guest lawsuits are on again. I get a call from Krantz one day and he says, ‘Look, why don’t you pick up some model charts and some drawings and let’s do this stuff in New York.’ I say, ‘Okay, great.’ That was really my intent anyway, I won’t kid you. I was tired of Canada. I was there about six months, and Canada is cold. I mean, it’s fucking cold. You’d go in the cabs in the winter and the ice is up to your ankles. And I had a girl in New York, and I was commuting every weekend, flying a jet plane through these fucking storms in the East Coast in the winter. So I took the model charts and stuff and I said goodbye to Guest, and I went to my hotel, and the police are waiting for me, the Canadian Mounties. The word’s out to arrest me because I ‘stole’ Guest’s material! Krantz asked me to pick up the model charts, and I’m going to get put away in jail!”
How does Ralph stay out of a cold, cold Canadian jail? Find out next week in Part 3 of The Canadian Caper.