John Kricfalusi

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John Kricfalusi
JohnKricfalusi.jpg
Kricfalusi at the Castro Theatre in July 2006
Born Michael John Kricfalusi[1]
(1955-09-09) September 9, 1955 (age 62)
Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada[1]
Other names Raymond Spüm
John K.
Raymond S.
Alma mater Sheridan College
Occupation Animator, voice actor
Years active 1979–present
Notable work The Ren & Stimpy Show
The Goddamn George Liquor Program
Weekend Pussy Hunt
The Ripping Friends
Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon"
Website johnkstuff.blogspot.com

Michael John Kricfalusi (/ˌkrɪsfəˈlsi/; born September 9, 1955), better known as John K., is a Canadian animator, voice actor, creator of the Nickelodeon cartoon series The Ren & Stimpy Show and foundior of the animation company Spümcø.

After being fired from The Ren & Stimpy Show by Nickelodeon in 1992, Kricfalusi went on to direct and produce animated television commercials and music videos for entertainers such as the singer Björk and comedy rock duo Tenacious D. In the late 1990s he created the first cartoons made exclusively for the Internet: The Goddamn George Liquor Program and Weekend Pussy Hunt. He returned to television with The Ripping Friends and the adult animation spin-off Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon".

Early years[edit]

John Kricfalusi was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada[1] to a father of Ukrainian descent and mother of Scottish and English descent.[2](32m) He spent his early childhood in Germany and Belgium while his father was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He'd watch weekend screenings of European feature-length cartoons such as The Snow Queen at Air Force cinemas, at age seven he returned with his family to Canada. After their return they moved from Montreal to Ottawa in the middle of a school season, and Kricfalusi spent much of his time that year at home, watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons and drawing them.[3] Kricfalusi's interest in Golden Age animation crystallized during his stay at Sheridan College, where he attended weekly screenings of old films and cartoons at Innis College held by film archivist Reg Hartt, among them the cartoons of Bob Clampett and Tex Avery, which left a deep impression on Kricfalusi.[4][5] He soon left Sheridan College and moved to Los Angeles, intending to become an animator.[6][7]

Career[edit]

Entering the animation industry[edit]

After moving to Los Angeles, Kricfalusi was introduced to Milt Gray by Bob Clampett, suggesting he should join Gray's classical animation class. Gray was working for Filmation at the time, and soon Kricfalusi found work there as well,[8] getting his start on the shows like Super Friends and The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show.[9] His first independent cartoon was a short called Ted Bakes One, which he produced with Bill Wray in 1979 for a cable channel,[10] from 1979 to the mid-1980s, Kricfalusi worked for Filmation and later Hanna-Barbera and DIC Entertainment on various shows that he once described as "the worst animation of all time".[7][11] However, he did enjoy his work as a layout artist on the 1985 series of The Jetsons as he was able to train a team of Taiwanese animators to draw characters more emotive and wild, which at the time was considered radical.[12] He recalls being "saved" from having to work on these cartoons by director Ralph Bakshi, who'd worked with him before in 1981 and 1982,[13][14] they began working on the designs for the film Bobby's Girl, which was sold to TriStar Pictures but was later cancelled.[14][15][16] Under Bakshi, Kricfalusi directed the animation for The Rolling Stones' 1986 music video "Harlem Shuffle".[17]

Mighty Mouse[edit]

The team's most successful project was Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures for CBS, based on the classic Terrytoons character. The series was well-received, and it is considered the forerunner of creator-driven cartoons.[18][19] Kricfalusi directed eight of the twenty-six episodes and supervised the series,[1] at the beginning of the second season, Kricfalusi left the show. The production of Mighty Mouse was very different from other cartoons at the time, gaining creative and artistic leeway thanks to the success of the irreverent Pee-wee's Playhouse on CBS a year before, the animators had much more creative input, driven by Kricfalusi's production system that emphasizes artistic contribution in every step of the process, from outline to storyboard to layout to the animation.[20]

Mighty Mouse was cancelled amidst controversy for allegedly depicting the main character snorting cocaine. Ralph Bakshi maintained that neither he nor Kricfalusi had the character sniffing cocaine, and that the character was sniffing the crushed petals of a flower, which were handed to him in a previous scene in the cartoon.[21][22][23] In 1994, Kricfalusi pitched a revival series of Mighty Mouse to Paramount, which would have featured other Terrytoons characters such as Deputy Dawg, but they rejected the idea.[24]

Beany and Cecil[edit]

Kricfalusi left Bakshi's studio to work on The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil for ABC, where he teamed up with many of the people who would later work with him on many of his Spümcø projects.[25] ABC had been negotiating for the production of the show with the Clampett family, who insisted that Kricfalusi be part of the production as he was a strong proponent of Bob Clampett's cartoon style, the long negotiations delayed the start of production to mid-July, causing much of the animation to be rushed in order to meet the September deadline. Tensions rose between Kricfalusi and ABC over the tone of the show, leading to an uncomfortable atmosphere for the show's crew, the more ABC strove to soften the show, the more Kricfalusi pushed for shocking and offensive material. The Clampett family were ultimately not very happy with the cartoon, but remained supportive of Kricfalusi.[20] ABC cancelled the show after six episodes, finding the humor not suitable for children's programming.[7]

Ren & Stimpy[edit]

Kricfalusi formed Spümcø animation studio with partners Jim Smith, Bob Camp and Lynne Naylor,[26] they began working on a pilot for The Ren & Stimpy Show on behalf of Nickelodeon, after the eponymous characters were favored by Nickelodeon producer Vanessa Coffey in a presentation by Kricfalusi. The pilot was very well received, leading to the production of the first 13 half-hour episodes of the show,[27] the show came to garner high ratings for Nickelodeon,[6][26][28][29][30] and at the time was the most popular cable TV show in the United States,[31] but the network disagreed with Kricfalusi's direction of the show, and disapproved of his missed production deadlines.[30][32] Kricfalusi points specifically to the episode "Man's Best Friend", which depicts the character George Liquor as an abusive father figure,[27] as the turning point in his relationship with Nickelodeon.[33] One of the episodes, "Nurse Stimpy", did not meet Kricfalusi's approval[34] because of the low quality of the rough cut of the episode that they received from the overseas studio, leading him to use the alias Raymond Spum in its credits.[35] Nickelodeon terminated Kricfalusi's contract late September 1992,[30][36] leaving it to Nickelodeon's Games Animation studio, which continued producing it for three more seasons before its cancellation.[37]

The Ripping Friends[edit]

Fox Kids started airing the TV series The Ripping Friends in 2001, created by Kricfalusi and Jim Smith. Kricfalusi had previously tried pitching the show in the late 80's, but networks considered it "too extreme" so did not pick it up.[38] Kricfalusi felt the show's supervisors were doing away with the Spümcø style, and was displeased with the direction of the show,[39] he was not fully involved in the show until half-way through production[40] and considers the episodes he was involved in to be experimental.[38] One of his contributions to the show was directing the voice-actors, which he "really worked-out" so much that he was afraid he'd give one of them a heart-attack.[13]

Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon"[edit]

In 2003, Spike TV produced a new show featuring Ren & Stimpy, which was written and directed by Kricfalusi.[41] The first three episodes were based on fan ideas and scripts that were rejected by Nickelodeon during the original show's run.[13] According to Kricfalusi, Spike pushed for more South Park-like themes in the new show. While he was initially pleased with the added freedom afforded to him by Spike, he later expressed disappointment in the series due to its slow pacing and overuse of toilet humor.[42][43][44] Only three episodes aired before Spike's entire animation block was "put on hold",[45] and the complete series was ultimately released in 2006 on DVD including three additional episodes that never aired. Kricfalusi also wanted to release an episode titled "Life Sucks" straight to DVD, but the episode remains unproduced.[46]

Other projects[edit]

Collaborations with Fred Seibert[edit]

After leaving The Ren & Stimpy Show, Kricfalusi consulted, and other Spümcø animators worked for Donovan Cook's 2 Stupid Dogs, which was put into production by Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert. The cartoon's credits read "Tidbits of Poor Taste Supplied by John Kricfalusi" for the three "Little Red Riding Hood" episodes: "Red!", "The Return of Red" and "Red Strikes Back".[47] In 1994, Hanna-Barbera and Seibert started production on What A Cartoon!, also known as World Premiere Toons for Cartoon Network. Siebert approached Kricfalusi for advice and for recommendations for personnel to head the shorts, among them David Feiss, Tom Minton, and Eddie Fitzgerald.[48][49]

Music videos[edit]

Kricfalusi directed Icelandic singer Björk's animated music video for the song I Miss You in 1995,[50][51] which features Björk and the character Jimmy the Idiot Boy.[52] Jack Black of Tenacious D approached Kricfalusi to produce a music video for the song Fuck Her Gently from their debut album, released in 2001.[53] Black browsed Kricfalusi's website and, since both he and his bandmate Kyle Gass held Ren & Stimpy in high regard, he asked Kricfalusi to produce the video. The costs amounted to $40,000.[54] Initially, Sony Music did not allow the video to be placed on Tenacious D's website and instead placed it on the record label Grand Royal's website, but later relented;[53] in 2006, Kricfalusi directed two music videos, and served as art director for an animated musical segment. The first music video, for Close but No Cigar by "Weird Al" Yankovic, was released in September,[55] on the DVD side of the DualDisc album Straight Outta Lynwood, which features Kricfalusi's character Cigarettes the Cat.[56][57] The second music video was for Classico by Tenacious D, starring the band members as cartoon characters, he animated them again in a THX logo parody for the band's feature film, The Pick of Destiny.[58][59][60] Kricfalusi served as art director for a musical segment in the show Class of 3000 entitled Life Without Music, which first aired on November 3, 2006;[61] in 2014, he produced art for Miley Cyrus's Bangerz Tour.[62]

Internet cartoons and Hanna-Barbera shorts[edit]

Venturing into Internet cartoons, Kricfalusi created Weekend Pussy Hunt in 1996 for MSN, which was billed as "the world's first interactive web-based cartoon",[63] the cartoon, which was released in segments, was scheduled to be completed on June 1997,[64] but production under MSN stopped before it was finished. Production later resumed under Icebox.com after the release of Spümcø's own web-based Flash cartoon, The Goddamn George Liquor Program.[65][66] Between 1998 and 2001 Kricfalusi worked on several Hanna-Barbera cartoons for Cartoon Network: three Yogi Bear cartoons he directed and animated, Boo Boo and the Man, A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Runs Wild, and two Jetsons cartoons he produced, The Jetsons: Father & Son Day and The Jetsons: The Best Son.[11]

Cartoon commentaries, magazines, and other media[edit]

Kricfalusi contributed several articles in 1993 and 1994 for the magazines Film Threat and Wild Cartoon Kingdom under various aliases.[67][68] Kricfalusi appears in several bonus featurettes and provides audio commentaries for the Looney Tunes Golden Collection volumes 2, 3 and 5,[69][70][71] for cartoons directed by Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones. On February 13, 2006, Kricfalusi started his own weblog, John K Stuff, posting about cartoons and the animation industry, the site was originally intended for other artists and entertainers, and specifically other cartoonists.[72]

Commercials and freelance work[edit]

Kricfalusi directed commercials for Comcast[73] and Voice over IP company Raketu[74] in 2007. He was developing a series of cartoon commercials in 2008 for Pontiac Vibe starring George Liquor and Jimmy The Idiot Boy,[75] but the series remained unreleased after General Motors discontinued the Pontiac Vibe auto line in 2009.[76] He developed and animated a series of bumpers using Toon Boom Harmony for Adult Swim in 2011 and again in 2015.[77][78] He animated the opening couch gags of two episodes of The Simpsons, "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts", which aired in October 2011 and "Treehouse of Horror XXVI", which aired in October 2015. He collaborated with streetwear brand Stüssy to create a short series of apparel based on his designs in 2012, which he promoted with a commercial featuring some of his characters. Also in 2012, he funded through Kickstarter a cartoon short entitled "Cans Without Labels" starring the character George Liquor,[2] with the initial delivery date of February 2013, the cartoon was due to be screened at the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival for the first time, however at the last minute it was announced that it wasn't ready.[79][80] However, on August 6, 2017, the Kickstarter has been updated finally announcing the film's completion,[81] the advertising agency Muhtayzik-Hoffer hired Kricfalusi in 2013 for an ad campaign for F'real milkshakes.[82] He was involved in the early development of many Reel FX projects such as the 2013 film Free Birds, a pitch for a film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book Happy Birthday to You! and a pitch for a film he created with Jim Smith. He posted the concepts for these projects on his blog.[83][84][85][86] He partnered with animator Mike Judge to produce a series of shorts for UFC that aired on Adult Swim throughout 2016.[87]

Influences[edit]

Kricfalusi says he is mostly self-taught, having only spent a year in Sheridan College, barely attending class, he acquired his skills largely by copying cartoons from newspapers and comic books as a child, and by studying cartoons and their production systems from the 1940s and 1950s.[6][3][10][7] His main influence is Bob Clampett,[20][88] and he also names Chuck Jones, Frank Sinatra, Kirk Douglas,[89][90] Milt Gross, Tex Avery, Peter Lorre, The Three Stooges, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Don Martin and Robert Ryan.[91] Michael Barrier, an animation historian, said that Kricfalusi's works "testify to his intense admiration for Bob Clampett's Warner Bros. cartoons" and that no cartoonist since Clampett created cartoons in which the emotions of the characters "distort their bodies so powerfully".[92]

Sexual abuse allegations[edit]

Animators Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice alleged in a BuzzFeed report on March 29, 2018, that they were sexually harassed and groomed for sexual abuse by Kricfalusi while they were underage.[93] Byrd said that she was in a sexual relationship with Kricfalusi in 1997, when she was 16, and moved in with him, in California, when she was 17. Rice said that she was sexually harassed by Kricfalusi when she turned 18 and began working at his animation studio, Spümcø. Documents they had saved from those years corroborate their stories, and several people who worked with Kricfalusi referred to his sexual harassment as an open secret in the animation industry. Kricfalusi was also alleged to possess child pornography on his computer. Kricfalusi's lawyer confirmed that "for a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend", but denied that Kricfalusi's "avid pursuit" of Rice was sexual harassment or that he had ever possessed child pornography.[93]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Animation
department
Notes
1979 Ted Bakes One Yes Yes Yes Short film
Animator
1981 American Pop Yes Animator (uncredited)
1982 Hey Good Lookin' Yes
Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase Yes Storyboard artist
1988 The Thing What Lurked in the Tub Yes Short film
Character color key assistant
Background color key assistant
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Yes Animator and layout artist: Opening titles
2006 Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny Yes Animator: THX logo sequence
2009 Al's Brain Yes Short film
Character designer

Television[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Animation
department
Voice actor Role Notes
1979 Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Yes Storyboard artist
The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle Yes Storyboard artist
1979–1982 The New Adventures of Flash Gordon Yes Storyboard artist
1981 Super Friends Yes Layout artist
1982 The Little Rascals Yes Layout artist
Episode: "Rascal's Revenge"
Pac-Man Yes Layout artist
1984 The Smurfs Yes Character designer
1985 The Jetsons Yes Layout artist
Layout supervisor
1986 Galaxy High School Yes Graphics designer
1987 Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures Yes Yes Senior director
Layout artist
1988 The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil Yes Yes Yes Character designer
1990 Tiny Toon Adventures Yes Model designer
Episode: "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?"
1991–1993 The Ren and Stimpy Show Yes Yes Yes Yes Ren Höek
Additional Voices
Also creator
Character designer
Storyboard artist
Animation director
1993 2 Stupid Dogs Yes Consultant only
1999 He-Hog the Atomic Pig Yes Yes Yes Yes Professor Mole Pilot; also creator
Concept artist
Storyboard artist
Animator
1999 Boo Boo Runs Wild Yes Yes Yes Yes Boo-Boo Bear
Tree
Television short
Character designer
Layout artist
Animator
Recording director
Music editor
1999 A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith Yes Yes Yes Yes Boo-Boo Bear Television short
Character designer
Layout artist
Animator
Recording director
Music editor
2000 Boo Boo and the Man Yes Yes Yes Yes Boo-Boo Bear Television short
Character designer
Layout artist
Animator
Recording director
Music editor
2001–2002 The Ripping Friends Yes Yes Yes Yes Citracett
Jimmy the Idiot Boy
Additional Voices
Also creator
Character designer
Storyboard artist
Key animator
Voice director
2001 The Jetsons: Father & Son Yes Yes Television short
Outlines
2002 The Jetsons: The Best Son Yes Yes Television short
Layout artist
2003 Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" Yes Yes Yes Yes Ren Höek
Additional Voices
Also creator
Original character designer
Storyboard artist
Animation director
2006 Class of 3000 Yes Guest art director
Episode: "Home"
2011, 2015 The Simpsons Yes Guest Animator
Episodes: "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts"
"Treehouse of Horror XXVI"

Online[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Animation department Voice actor Role Notes
1997 The Goddamn George Liquor Program Yes Yes Yes Yes Jimmy the Idiot Boy Web-series
Also creator
1999 Weekend Pussy Hunt Yes Yes Yes Dirty Dog Unfinished web-series
Also creator

Music video[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Animation
department
Notes
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" Yes Yes Yes Animation segment only
1997 "I Miss You" Yes Yes Yes
2001 "Fuck Her Gently" Yes
2006 "Close but No Cigar" Yes Yes Yes
2006 "Classico" Yes Yes Yes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Quest for the Shaven Yak Starring Ren Hoëk and Stimpy Ren Höek Also producer
2003 Go! Go! Hypergrind Producer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Result
1992 Annie Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Field of Animation The Ren & Stimpy Show Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)
Shared with Bob Camp, Vanessa Coffey, Christine Danzo, Mary Harrington, Bob Jaques, Mitchell Kriegman and Will McRobb
Nominated
1993 CableACE Award Animated Programming Special or Series
Shared with Bob Camp, Vanessa Coffey, Christine Danzo, Mary Harrington, Mitchell Kriegman, Will McRobb and Vincent Waller
Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)
Shared with Jim Ballantine, Bob Camp, Vanessa Coffey, Mary Harrington, Bob Jaques, Richard Pursel, Frank Saperstein, Libby Simon and Roy Allen Smith
Nominated
1994 CableACE Award Animated Programming Special or Series
Shared with Peter Avanzino, Bob Camp, Vanessa Coffey, Christine Danzo, Jim Gomez, Mary Harrington, Ron Hughart, Mitchell Kriegman, April March, Will McRobb, Chris Reccardi, Frank Saperstein, Jim Shaw, Roy Allen Smith, Gregg Vanzo and Vincent Waller
Nominated
2008 Annie Award Winsor McCay Award Won

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Thad Komorowski (2013). Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story. BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593932343. 

External links[edit]