Ralph Bakshi's second animated feature (after "Fritz the Cat"), this film was also given an X rating by the ratings board before being recut for an R rating. The story centers on a young animator who draws his inspiration from the world around him...and what a harsh world it is. Bakshi made the film as a sort of semi-biography of his own ordeals in trying to get his animation and drawings out to the masses. The central character of Michael has to deal with living in a bizarre household (where both parents threaten each other with knives) and a harsh environment with even harsher people populating it (Mafia thugs, pimps, corrupt cops, etc).
Michael's ambition to elevate animation to a respectable adult level gets pushed aside as he falls into criminal behavior when he meets Carole, an African-American barkeep. At first, they plan to work together on his artwork with Carole selling Michael's stuff but soon Carole has Michael act as her pimp and setting up customers for robberies.
The movie and its scenes of graphic violence and explicit sex was pretty shocking at its time as animation was still regarded as stuff for kids. Bakshi populated the film with some pretty depraved characters such as the transvestite who gets off on getting beaten up by a construction worker. It also took animation to a surreal level with all of the colors and bizarre situations, including the one where Michael pitches his "kill God" story to a producer.
One has to wonder whether Bakshi ever got his point of developing edgy animation across to the American film industry. The most successful animated film was Disney's "The Lion King" which, while good, was still a film made primarily for children. The closest thing to edgy animation that we've got here is "The Simpsons". Oh, well...I suppose we'll always have anime.