Legendary animator Ralph Bakshi has circulated a touching tribute to the late Thomas Kinkade, who worked with him on FIRE AND ICE. And here it is:
Thomas Kinkade was for me at his very young age already a brilliant painter. That’s why, with no prior professional training, I gave him the job of painting backgrounds for my movie with Frank Frazetta, “Fire and Ice”.  He nailed it, which really was impossible for anyone else with no experience – but not for him.  
It was also Kinkade that negotiated for himself and his partner James Gurney, all salaries and vacations.  He was good at that too, and that got my attention. He was also all country – “aw shucks”, he would laugh.  I liked Tom so much, I kept telling him that his “aw shucks” wasn’t fooling me, and that there’s something about him I really like – and it has to do with how much he know’s already.
Now a few years ago, I met billionaire Kinkade at my booth at the SDCC. We hugged and laughed and spent a long time together but he did not look good – I shrugged it off.  As far as the art world, the CRITICAL ones shrugging Tom off, as they sell l shark in oil, and polka dots, in, 12, count them, 12 galleries at once in one opening -and all the other mindless hype…  

They miss the true brilliance that is Kinkade.  
Kinkade painted the brilliant landscapes of the religious right, Tea Party and all the other Rush Limbaughs in America.  He’s selling back what Americans’ want.   This is the most homespun vision of the distorted right, and nostalgia looking Americans reaching for purity without knowing what it really is – all through his landscapes.   
ITS BRILLIANT, and goes by every art critic and major museum in the world.  I love it.  And its just that that I made my movies about  – the blind, pretentious and ugly.  
Tom Kinkade was a great, a good friend of mine and I will miss him. As an artist he nailed it  – and that’s rare.
Ralph Bakshi


Tom Kinkade on Right, James Gurney on Left (At Bakshi Productions,1982)


  1. I had no idea Kinkade was involved in that. I do have a stack of his puzzles though. And to think he pulled off such landscapes pre-digitally…that just gives traditionalists like me a glancing pain in the chest.
    Sad news, all in all.

  2. I am genuinely shocked that Kinkade actually worked on interesting stuff like this. I thought all he ever did were mawkish landscapes that make grandmas wistful and nostalgic for an innocent time in America’s past (that never really existed).

    I guess he was more of a business man than anything. Good on him…I think.

  3. Wow! Never would of guessed he worked on this- and sat along side Gurney. Its strange to see how far his career took him. I’m now a little more intrigued by the man who was Thomas Kinkade.

  4. If I recall correctly, Kinkade was college friends with Gurney and another artist who would make a significant mark in the comics’ world— Paul Chadwick.

    Might be interesting and insightful to hear directly from James Gurney and Paul Chadwick their stories about Thomas Kinkade.

  5. I’ve always respected Thomas Kinkade, not only for his abilities as an artist, but more for his abilities as a businessman — a skill most artists never possess.

    Some artists I’ve spoken with would look down their noses at Kinkade’s craft, but that’s what made his ability to market himself so effectively all the more admirable.

    Alas, we hardly knew you Tom.

  6. Perhaps Mr. Bakshi is trying to be kinder to the recently deceased but talented kid he first met when he said in a previous interview: “Will he paint anything to make money? Oh yeah. Does he have any sort of moralistic view? No. He doesn’t care about anything. He’s as cheesy as they come.” …(vulture.com interview)…I also knew Thom from Art Center and ran far, far away from him, I believed as Bakshi did, that Thom had the capacity to be a “cult leader”…scarey and I knew it then.