Watch the Trippy 1970s Animated Film Quasi at the Quackadero: Voted One of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time

There cer­tain­ly are a lot of weirdos out today. —Qua­si at the Quack­adero

Ani­ma­tion is a pro­fes­sion where­in child­hood influ­ences hold vis­i­ble sway.

Today’s young ani­ma­tors are like­ly to cite the for­ma­tive pow­ers of Sponge­bob SquarepantsAvatar: The Last Air­ben­derThe Ren & Stimpy Show, and the films of Japan­ese mas­ter, Hayao Miyaza­ki.

As a child of the 50s, Sal­ly Cruik­shank, cre­ator of cult favorite Qua­si at the Quack­adero, above, mar­i­nat­ed in Carl Barks’ Don­ald Duck comics. In The Ani­ma­tors, an early-80’s PBS doc­u­men­tary cen­tered on the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area scene, she mused that “the images of the mon­ey bin and Don­ald Duck and the nephews and Uncle Scrooge all sunk into my sub­con­scious and came out lat­er, not real­ly look­ing like ducks to any­one but me, but in my mind they are ducks—Quasi, Snozzy, and Ani­ta.”

Qua­si at the Quack­adero places two of those odd ducks, con­tent­ed loafer Qua­si and his con­trol­ling, lisp­ing ladyfriend, Ani­ta, in a bizarre amuse­ment park where the attrac­tions include oppor­tu­ni­ties to “Relive One of the Shin­ing Moments of Your Life” and “See Last Night’s Dreams Today.”

The fun house mir­rors in the 3:10 mark’s Hall of Time are a par­tic­u­lar treat, con­tribut­ing to a car­ni­val of sen­so­ry over­load that’s as old timey as it is trip­py.

“You don’t need to take acid to have weird thoughts and imag­ine weird things,” Cruik­shank, whose oth­er favorites, telling­ly, include Win­sor McCayMax Fleis­ch­er, and Yel­low Sub­ma­rine, replied to an admir­er on YouTube.

In 2009, Cruikshank’s dement­ed vision found its way into the Library of Con­gress’ Nation­al Film Reg­istryan hon­or she cel­e­brat­ed with a blog post toast­ing her late boss, E.E. Gregg Snazelle of Snazelle Films:

The job was to exper­i­ment with ani­ma­tion, and do com­mer­cials for him when the jobs came in. He also hoped I’d fig­ure out how to solve 3‑d with­out glass­es.

Need­less to say I did­n’t solve 3‑d. I did­n’t even do very many com­mer­cials over ten years, but I showed up at 8:30, took an hour off for lunch and worked till 5:30. I was paid $350 a month, and I could live on that then.

He encour­aged me gen­er­ous­ly with­out ever pay­ing much atten­tion to me. These days if an oppor­tu­ni­ty like that even exist­ed, you’d be forced to sign all kinds of rights state­ments for char­ac­ters and con­tent cre­at­ed, but this was before “Star Wars” and he just seemed to be hap­py to have me around. We were nev­er par­tic­u­lar­ly close. It spoiled me for any job after that.

I made all my “Qua­si” films while I was work­ing at Snazelle. Unfor­tu­nate­ly he’s no longer alive, but here’s to you, Gregg, with a big heart and much thanks.

Cruik­shank was indeed lucky to have secured a day job in her cho­sen field, pro­vid­ing her with access to pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive equip­ment.

Remem­ber that her 1975 short pre­dates per­son­al com­put­ers, afford­able ani­ma­tion soft­ware, and a pletho­ra of free shar­ing plat­forms. Cruik­shank says that Qua­si at the Quack­adero required two years of near dai­ly work, liken­ing its ani­ma­tion process to “some­thing from the Mid­dle Ages.”

Of course, 1975 was also a peak year for under­ground comix, anoth­er tra­di­tion from which Qua­si sprung, right into the arms of a recep­tive audi­ence. Ani­ta and Qua­si also appear in Cruikshank’s one and only com­ic, Mag­ic Clams. In addi­tion to her work at Snazelle Stu­dios, Cruik­shank cock­tail wait­ressed in a hang­out for San Francisco’s under­ground car­toon­ists, includ­ing then-boyfriend Kim Deitch, Quasi’s “Spe­cial Art Assis­tant.” Bob Arm­strong and Al Dodge of R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Ser­e­naders con­tributed the short’s score. Oth­er friends from the indie comix scene were enlist­ed to paint cells at 50 cents per.

Quasi’s inclu­sion in the Nation­al Film Reg­istry not only car­ries the impri­matur of cul­tur­al, his­toric, and aes­thet­ic sig­nif­i­cance, it sug­gests the psy­che­del­ic short is a sem­i­nal influ­ence in its own right.

We agree with KQED’s Sarah Hotchkiss that “the sat­u­rat­ed col­ors, hard edges, and con­stant move­ment of Cruik­shank’s ani­ma­tion could be source mate­r­i­al for the future real­iza­tion of Pee-wee’s Play­house.”

Both deliv­er us from real­i­ty into the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of an anthro­po­mor­phic uni­verse.

Explore more of Sal­ly Cruickshank’s ani­ma­tions on her You Tube chan­nel, includ­ing her  car­toons for Sesame Street. Some of her ani­ma­tion cels, includ­ing ones from Qua­si at the Quack­adero are for sale in her Etsy shop.

Qua­si at the Quack­adero–vot­ed one of the 50 Great­est Car­toons, in a poll of 1,000 Ani­ma­tion Pro­fes­sion­als–will be added to our list of ani­ma­tions, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Ani­ma­tions That Changed Cin­e­ma: The Ground­break­ing Lega­cies of Prince Achmed, Aki­ra, The Iron Giant & More

The Ori­gins of Ani­me: Watch Free Online 64 Ani­ma­tions That Launched the Japan­ese Ani­me Tra­di­tion

Bam­bi Meets Godzil­la: #38 on the List of The 50 Great­est Car­toons of All Time

Free Ani­mat­ed Films: From Clas­sic to Mod­ern 

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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