Last week I subjected a friend to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. Bakshi calls this a "kid friendly" film. Because, you know, Nazi propaganda screams romper room to most people. Bakshi's feature film "Fritz the Cat" is the first animated movie to get an X rating. I'm guessing child appropriateness for Ralph is a matter of personal degree.

Both Wizards and Fritz should be on a cartoon junkie's must see list. However, in retrospect, I realized I'd never watched the Wizards completely sober before. Probably a mistake.

Today, in cartoon land, I happened upon this NPR review for The Secret of Kells. I also found their blog, where you can watch a trailer. I can't find a US release date, though it seems to be under consideration. I, um, watched the whole thing.

It's not as traditional as the reviewer seems to think; there's a lot of clever overlays and modern visual techniques. It is a flat style that's somewhat similar to Samurai Jack or some Spanish and French stuff. Every scene, every frame, is evocative of an illuminated manuscript in some way. There's a lot of visual liner notes; edging relating to the content. Even the snow flakes are little Celtic knots.

In spite of the subject matter, The Book of Kells, we are not beaten to death with it. I don't think the word "Bible" is ever used. If anything, the message is more about the importance of Art, rather than Religion. This is a charming film, good for both kids and adults, visually arresting in a refreshing way.

When I think of Bible cartoons, I realize I need to point out that R. Crumb has published an illustrated Book of Genesis. R. Crumb is best known for illustrations that are at times subversive, funny, pornographic, and racist. Thinking on this, he might be the best guy for the job. I've paged through it. The look on Eve's face when Adam throws her under the bus for the whole fruit of the forbidden tree thing is priceless.

Bringing us full circle, Crumb is also the creator of the "Fritz the Cat" comic, the source material for Bakshi's X rated film.


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