- Black Book: Everyone from Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee to Peter Jackson and Matt Groening claim to have been heavily influenced by your work. How would you like to be remembered as an artist?
- Ralph Bakshi: You do something because you love it, and you do it with everything you’ve got. And then you die. What you leave behind doesn’t matter. How much money you make doesn’t matter. What people think of you doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how you spend every fucking day of your life, how you feel about yourself — and not in the narcissistic, egotistical way. It doesn’t matter how I’m remembered, because I’ll remember everything myself. I’ve drawn every day of my life since high school and that’s a pure victory.
The truth is, I walked away from Hollywood — no one threw me out. I never wanted to succeed in the sense that people wanted to succeed. It never even occurred to me that success was an issue. I wanted to find something that I loved, that I could be proud of, that could take up my time. I didn’t like the vacuum of not doing anything, so I turned to cartooning, then drawing, and then I got my first job at Terrytoons. I never for a minute thought, Ralph, you’re broke, and you can’t compete with Disney …
People throw away their lives today on that shit. I know guys in L.A. who have hundreds of millions of fucking dollars, and I think, when are you going to stop this shit? I mean, what are you doing here? Jeffrey Katzenberg still gets up at five in the morning to run this shit at DreamWorks, and gets 300 fucking million dollars for Shrek 5. What is that? He’s a billionaire, and he directs Shrek 5 and 6 and 7, like he’s trying to prove something. The short answer to your question is I don’t give a fuck.
- Black Book: You grew up very poor. Given the chance, would you have taken a ticket out?
- Ralph Bakshi: That’s a good question. I think being poor now is much more difficult than being poor then. Back then, no one was telling us that we were poor, that we needed more stuff. The kind of commercialism kids face today wasn’t apparent back then. We made our own toys—everyone did. We played with wooden guns, built our own skates. We sure didn’t need 260 fucking dollar sneakers to play basketball. If you wanted to play basketball, you went and robbed a ball and went to the park. We played in the streets from morning until night, and the city became a tremendous, beautiful playground of alleyways and fire escapes. The whole thing was so rich; I wouldn’t give it up for a second.