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John Kricfalusi

John KricfalusiBorn: 9-Sep-1955
Birthplace: Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Cartoonist

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Ren And Stimpy

In 1987, celebrated animator Ralph Bashki (Fritz the Cat) secured John Kricfalusi to reintroduce Mighty Mouse to television audiences on the Cartoon Network. Kricfalusi's creative team promptly engaged a Mad magazine approach to the new series: anything funny, strange or successfully weird made the final cut. Unfortunately, in one of the earliest episodes, Mighty Mouse plucked and sniffed a wildflower to get his superpowers, prompting uptight suburban moms and dads around the country to protest this "clear reference" to cocaine. The show was cancelled immediately by CBS, Kricfalusi (also known as John K.) lost his job, and the character of Mighty Mouse -- forever tainted -- hasn't been seen on television since.

Kricfalusi, whose primary influences include veteran animators Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, formed the creative organization: Spumco in Canada, reportedly named after a long-forgotten acronym. The company motto was "The Danes call it quality".

Kricfalusi went on to create The Ren and Stimpy Show, a cartoon series for Nickelodeon featuring an asthma-hound chihuahua named Ren Höek (voiced by Kricfalusi), and a cat, named simply Stimpson J. Cat (voiced by Billy West). Many consider Ren and Stimpy to be the first serialized children's cartoon of its kind to feature shamelessly gross physical humor, flatulence and horrid slapstick. It also accomplished something more important: it devised colorfully new narrative techniques seized upon by animators around the world, such as the sudden incorporation of a hyperreal watercolor freeze-frame of an object or character which effectively telegraphed an important point or gag to the audience. Guest stars on the program included Gary Owens as Powdered Toast Man, Frank Zappa as The Pope, Soleil Moon Frye, and Randy Quaid. Ren and Stimpy is single-handedly responsible for annoying .wav files like Happy Happy Joy Joy and the Log Slinky parody.

This was all happening way before the Comedy Channel became Comedy Central, where sanctioned programs like South Park or Crank Yankers could out-bleep the censors. Executives at Nickelodeon, still finding their own way, had lots and lots of problems with Kricfalusi's technique. They didn't like it when Ren got upset, for instance, because they felt it scared children. The slapstick was too much like violence. Interoffice memos attempted to further a link between Kricfalusi's signature "violence" and child abuse. After continuous battles over script content and control, John Kricfalusi was fired from his own show in 1992.

After Ren and Stimpy, Kricfalusi made efforts to develop cartoon entertainment products for the web, such as the short-lived series The Goddamn George Liquor Show and Weekend Pussy Hunt. With Matt Groening as head writer, John K. directed a Yogi Bear short for Adult Swim sanctioned by the Cartoon Network: Boo Boo Runs Wild. When Yogi transgresses Ranger Smith's laws, one punishment involves standing on his head on a tree stump, corn cobs in his ears, holding out a sign which reads I AM BAD. The sign was supposed to say I HAVE SINNED, but that didn't make it through Hanna-Barbera.

In 2001, Adult Swim secured the rights to John K.'s serialized superhero/comedy/video game franchise The Ripping Friends. Their mission: to "rip", or destroy anything which stands in the way of freedom and justice. When Kricfalusi revived Ren and Stimpy in 2003, he acknowledged that his main motivation was that he didn't have any work. Judging from graduate students' portfolios, Kricfalusi believes art and animation schools don't teach useful fundamentals to their pupils. "Fully animated by itself doesn't make a good cartoon," John K. once said. "Like Don Bluth films. It's just a bunch of guys flailing all over the place. What the hell is that? That's not acting. It's inbetweening."

    High School: Brookfield High School, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    TELEVISION
    Ren and Stimpy


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