Writer, director, and producer Ralph Bakshi got his start in animation at 21 in 1959, working for Terrytoons Animation Studio on low-end titles such as Heckle & Jeckle and Deputy Dawg. Over the next decade, he produced cartoons for a number of companies, including Steve Krantz Productions, where he directed the first Spider-Man TV series in 1967. But he didn’t come into his own as an animator until, with Krantz’s financial backing, he wrote and directed America’s first X-rated animated feature, 1971’s Fritz The Cat. A series of highly textured, idiosyncratic urban pieces followed: Heavy Traffic, Coonskin (a controversial parody of Disney’s Song Of The South that’s ironically available to the public while Song is kept under wraps), American Pop, and Hey Good Lookin’. Bakshi also directed three high fantasy films–the Frank Frazetta-designed Fire And Ice, the tanks vs. elves cult favorite Wizards, and the animated screen adaptation of Lord Of The Rings. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he worked on a variety of projects, including The Rolling Stones’ “Harlem Shuffle” video and the New Adventures Of Mighty Mouse series for CBS. But after his last feature film, 1992’s Cool World, flopped and the 1997 HBO series Spicy City was summarily canceled, Bakshi left animation to become a full-time painter.