In the '60s and '70s, animated cartoons were on the wane. Theaters no longer showed the shorts before the feature presentation, and the TV cartoons were cost-cutting affairs that had no sense of art and less of story.
That's when Ralph Bakshi arrived, determined to show a new way. His cartoons were definitely not aimed at the kiddies, not just in their images, but their sensibilities as well. They could be crude, but highly personal as well. They were controversial, but highly praised too. They fired the imaginations of thousands, and their influence can't be overestimated.
His first film, Fritz the Cat, was the first X-rated animated film. There are a good few bits of it on YouTube, but I'm putting up this one, even though little happens in it, because I'm just such a sucker for the Bo Diddley beat.
This is the trailer for Heavy Traffic, a look at inner-city life that mixed live-action footage with animation. It's one of his best.
He would do a lot of work with rotoscoping, a process of animation traced over live-action for a realistic look, making this sweet little scene in American Pop possible.
And then there's his take on Lord of the Rings, but that's another story for another day.