Ralph Bakshi apparently loaded some sneaky images of Mighty Mouse snorting coke in the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon. Hey, look, how do you think those poor animators work all night? Oh, I’m sorry, unless they’re chained to a desk in Southeast Asia… and hey, even then. Probably especially then. How else are they going to think like 8-year-olds constantly?
Fans of edgy animation and cartoon vice rejoiced this week, as the infamous 1987-1988 Saturday morning series “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” finally hit DVD. From the warped minds of Ralph Bakshi (“Fritz the Cat”) and John Kricfalusi (“Ren & Stimpy”), the show is often cited as a precursor to the era of wacky, subversive TV animation. So why the hold up on the DVD release? Well, it might have something to do with a controversial episode where the superhero mouse sniffed a very suspicious-looking white powder.
Premiering on CBS in November of 1987, “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” stood out in a field crowded with the mediocre likes of “Foofur” and “The Pound Puppies.” (This was a time when “The Smurfs” dominated two hours of prime Saturday morning real estate on NBC.) Bakshi—who began his animation career at Terrytoons, home of the original Mighty Mouse—assembled a team of future animation stars like Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series”) and “Wall-E” director Andrew Stanton, and granted them the creative freedom to poke fun at classic animation and superheroes (with characters like the Dark Knight stand-in Bat-Bat) in the guise of an innocuous Saturday morning ‘toon. As Kricfaulsi recently told Wired, the era of edgy, “creator-driven” animation that many credit “Ren & Stimpy” with starting actually kicked off two years earlier with “Mighty Mouse.”
But the show often veered into territory too risque for the Tiffany Network, including having characters shower together and hinting in a dream sequence that Mighty’s gal Pearl Pureheart had an illegitimate child with nemesis The Cow. The biggest controversy (and perhaps part of the reason why the show is remembered today) arose from the episode “The Littlest Tramp,” where Mighty Mouse is shown sniffing what appeared to be cocaine.