The other day I was watching the new DC animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham, and while I thought it was generally a subpar film in general, I remember watching a scene between Harley Quinn and Deadshot that features a pretty explicit sex scene between the two; now by 'explicit' I by no means mean that it trumps anything you'd no doubt see on Rule 34, but it definitely pushes the limits.
Watching this reminded me of two of my favourite comic book movies, Fritz the Cat and its sequel The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat. A very liberal and forward thinking comic strip that focused on Fritz, an anthropomorphic cat that essentially stumbled into precarious and yet hilarious situations.
Fritz the Cat is set in a "modern 'supercity' of millions of animals." Stories begin simply and become increasingly chaotic and complex as the narrative responds to uncontrollable forces. The look of Fritz the Cat comics was characterized by the use of the Rapidiograph technical pen and a simple drawing style Robert Crumb used to facilitate his story telling. Crumb states that much of the comic books he enjoyed as a child were funny animal comics, particularly those of Carl Barks. Crumb was later influenced by Walt Kelly's daily anthropomorphic funny animal comic strip Pogo; Crumb did not copy Kelly's comics directly, but states that he imitated his drawing style closely; Crumb admired Kelly's storytelling style, which "seemed [to be] plotless and casually done. The characters talked to each other and nothing much happened. Just a lot of foolishness takes place".
What the strip, and subsuquant films did was certainly push the limits for what was allowable at the time in both mediums. Drugs, violence, sexual content; it was all there and in a way that placed the character in a context that spoke to socio-econimical issues.
In this sense, the strip and films share a lot with what we see today. Take for instance, The Walking Dead. A show and graphic novel that continuously touches on various socio-economical issues while also pushing the boundaries for violence. What we see on The Walking Dead on AMC is certainly something we wouldn't see on any other network aside from HBO or Showtime.
At the time, the first Fritz movie received an X-rating, a first for animated movies. The sequel received an R-rating, but make no mistake -- both movies push the envelope. While it's easy to focus on why the film receieved these ratings, it's also worth noting that the film achieves much of its success in portraying its message honestly and without fear of reprisal. How many companies out there would change their adaption to appeal to a wider audience? Many. Too many in fact!
I've always appreciated the two Fritz the Cat movies not so much for being great movies, but being pioneers. They changed how we view adapted content and has given us a new hope for comics being adapted faithfully, graphic content at all. It's certainly a product of its time with many sterotypes and all, but if you take these films as they are, they can be well worth a viewing.
Hello men... everybody all busy studyin' for their goddamn exams and all? Hey Fuz, how'd it go with that Dee Dee chick, huh? She's got some bod' you have to admit... ol' Charlene isn't bad either... like, wow! Heinz, you swine, ol' buddy pig, ya groove behind Alvina and get some kicks tonight, huh?
Bastards... you'd think the goddamn exams was the be-all end-all of existence... the cosmic life-force or somethin'. Can't even say a few decent words to a guy... th' bastards... What a bore... take some bennies an' stay up all night with your face stuck in a bunch of books an' your thumbs up your ass... Yes... yes... I remember the time when it was all very inspiring and enlightening... all this history and literature and sociology shit... You think learning is a really big thing an' you become this big [frick]in' intellectual and sit around tryin' ta out-intellectual all the other big [frick]in' intellectuals... you spend years and years with your nose buried in these goddamn tomes while out there the world is passin' you by... and all the stuff to see and all th' kicks an' girls are all out there... an' ME, a writer ad a poet who should be havin' adventures an' experiencing all the diversities and paradoxes and ironies of life and passin' over all the roads of the world and digging all the cities and towns and rives and oceans... and making all them chicks!
As a writer and poet it is my duty to get out there and dig the world... to swing with the whole friggin' scene while there's still time!
My farting around days are over! From this day on I shall live every day as if yit were my last! Yes! Yes! I must do it! No more the dreary boring classes, the dismal lectures, the sitting around bullshitting with pretentious fat-assed hippies, no more the books, the spoutings of a bunch of old farts who think they know the whole goddamn score!
Oh God! What have I done? I've set all my notes and books and stuff on fire and now I can't study for my exams... I'll flunk out and my folks'll be pissed off as hell... I'll get a blanket... the blanket's on fire. We'd better call the fire department.