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Fund This Film: Ralph Bakshi’s ‘Last Days of Coney Island’

bakshi last days still

Tired of animation that makes you happy and stupid? Then return that ticket for Escape From Planet Earth and spend that $10 on a new, comeback effort by Ralph Bakshi, famed animator behind Fritz the Cat, Wizards and the 1978 version of The Lord of the Rings. It’s been more than 20 years since his last feature, the hybrid Cool World, but a new series of shorts in the works could wind up leading to another. The series is titled Last Days of Coney Island, a noir-ish political toon set on that edge of New York City during the ’60s. The $10 you could put towards the crowdfunding campaign will get you an pre-release look at the result online.

That’s if the first installment is fully financed. And with less than half the goal reached at the half-way point, that might not happen (the deadline is March 3). It does seem that $165,000 is a pretty steep amount for a seven-minute product, but this isn’t just anyone’s project. Bakshi is a legend. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of his work, but I love that he exists. And I want to see his animation continue to exist because it’s bold and different and, as he implies, we need artistic entertainment that might bring us down and should make us think, especially about ourselves. Is it weird to want to put money into something I don’t like? Why not, I pay my taxes every year…

One reason I’m surprised Last Days of Coney Island isn’t doing better on Kickstarter is that has some of the greatest incentives on the site right now. Even for non-fans. Who wouldn’t want, for only $150, an original production drawing from LOTR or American Pop? I might not love all of Bakshi’s films, but I think the artwork by itself is always amazing. And it’s not all Bakshi’s work. There are cels and posters and drawings by storyboard artists Mike Ploog (LOTR; Wizards; Ghostbusters; The Dark Crystal; Carpenter’s The Thing), Louise Zingarelli (American Pop; Cool World) and Barry Jackson (Cool World; The Nightmare Before Christmas).

Update: Just before this edition of Fund This Film was scheduled to post, Jen Yamato reported via Deadline that actor and longtime Bakshi fan Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises) is now on board the project as an executive producer and will be voicing the lead character, a mafia collector. His involvement is also said to be to help the campaign reach its goal. He apparently found the Kickstarter page accidentally and, as a fan, must have been very disappointed in its performance thus far. Yamato says Modine is planning to get Hollywood friends (names mentioned include Quentin Tarantino, Abel Ferrara and Jack Nicholson) to voice other characters.

You can see a whole lot of production and concept artwork from Last Days of Coney Island on the Kickstarter page, as well as a new video showing additional drawings. Here’s the original campaign trailer narrated by Bakshi:

Rather than a reject, Christopher Campbell is a film school dropout. But he has since gotten a master’s degree in cinema studies and has been blogging about movies since 2005. Earlier, he reviewed films for a zine (a what?) that you could buy at Tower Records (a what?). He is married with two children.

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