|The Completely Uncensored Unbelievably True Ren &
Written, Compiled by Brandon Finkler
(See end of page for list of stuff I used to write this)
First a little animation industry background on how
cartoons turned to crap an' stuff.
What is a Cartoonist?
Cartoonists are your
best friends. They are Full-grown adult-type people. Kinda like your mom
and dad except funnier lookin'. Big, goofy people with buck teeth and glasses
and hair all over 'em in places where you probably wouldn't wanna have
hair! They like the same kinda stuff you do- they think BOOGERS are funny,
they watch the Three Stooges and they spend every cent they get on comic
books, toys and cartoon videos. And you know what they do for a living?
They draw funny little pictures of characters doin' stupid stuff that can't
happen. And they actually get paid to do it (not too much, but they
take what they can get).
So, back zillions of
years ago, a buncha these kinda guys- with names like Bob Clampett, Tex
Avery, Chuck Jones and Walt Disney- used to sit around cartoon studios
thinking up BUTT JOKES and creating all kinds of these cartoon characters,
like Bugs Bunny, Goofy, and Daffy Duck (even though their moms probably
disapproved). And these cartoons were FUNNY, so funny that we're still
laughing at them today.
So all these guys who
made the cartoons were cartoonists. They not only thought up the
jokes and the stories, but they DREW them as well! Kinda makes sense doesn't
it? Still think all cartoons are made by cartoonists, don't ya? Oh no!
Dawn of the Dark Ages
After the Golden Age,
something terrible happened to cartoons. The Dark Ages descended. Back
in the 1960's, cartoons were taken away from the cartoonists and put in
control of a NEW type of person: Mean, Old, Rotten,
Or, as they are more commonly known in the cartoon world: MORONS. Unlike
cartoonists, these people don't like the same kinda stuff you like. They
like funny pictures. They
don't like booger jokes. They don't
like violence in cartoons. They don't even like JOKES in cartoons!
fact, they don't like cartoons PERIOD. They think cartoons are bad
for you because they're too much fun These people would pee in your ice
cream and make you hold your farts. But worse than all of that, even more
amazingly, none of these Morons can even DRAW. That's right. The people
that make most of the cartoons now couldn't draw a funny lookin' butt to
save they're lives.
Cartoonists Abused and Tortured
Now, because the Morons
aren't smart enough to be able to master the sophisticated skills you need
to be able to draw, they still need the cartoonists to draw their moronic
ideas for them. The problem with this is, Morons HATE cartoonists! Even
more than they hate cartoons!
In order to not have
to deal with the cartoonists, the Morons invented a new life-form, even
lower than themselves: the cartoon scriptwriter. This persons job is to
write scripts for cartoons. But did you know that NONE of the great
cartoons were written on scripts? Not Bugs Bunny, not Droopy, not The Flintstones,
not Bambi- ALL these cartoons were written and drawn at the same time
on storyboards. Storyboards are like comic strips. Not only are they
written funny but they also LOOK funny. Just like cartoons used to.
Since Morons don't like
funny pictures and they don't like cartoonists, they really don't
like to read storyboards because they don't understand them. Hence, the
need for the cartoon scriptwriter. Cartoons since the mid 60's have been
written by cartoon scriptwriters who ALSO don't like cartoons, instead
of being written by cartoonists, who DO like cartoons.
The Cartoon Scriptwriter,
improving on th Morons lack of skills, not only can't DRAW, he can't WRITE.
In fact, a prerequisite for a cartoon scriptwriter is to not be able to
spell or construct a sentence. Cartoon scriptwriters are well-known for
being the most illiterate entertainment medium today.
So once the Morons found
their willing puppets, they created a really stupid way to make cartoons.
Here's how it works: The Morons tell their moronic ideas to the scriptwriter,
who write a moronic script ant hen hand it over to the cartoonist, who
has to somehow turn it into a cartoon. This saves the Morons the distastful
experience of having to speak to the cartoonist, an infinitely more advanced
You can imagine what
this must feel like for your friends, the cartoonists, who just want to
make you laugh, and know how to make you laugh. The cartoonist is NOT allowed
to make the cartoons funny. Many cartoonists have been fired for just trying
to make you laugh! Heck, why not KILL them?
So for years cartoonists
were forced to make stinky cartoons, like Gummi Bears and Smurfs. They
were forced to read huge, illiterate scripts written by people who didn't
like cartoons. Hey kids, imagine what it's like to be beaten with whips
with fishhooks on the ends. Well, that's exactly what it feels like for
a cartoonist who has to read a cartoon script!
Yessir, many of these
poor, noble cartoonists lived in shame and degradation, hiding away in
caves, longing for the day when the could make REAL cartoons. Secret underground
societies were formed where tortured cartoonists would speak in hushed
whispers about the torment they endured at the hands of the oppressive,
cruel enslavers. And while the cartoonist suffered, so did the kids. As
the Dark Ages pressed on, the cartoons got worse. Gilligan's Planet
scalded your eyeballs out. He-Man came and went. Just when it looked
like cartoony cartoons were doomed to extinction, and all hope seemed lost,
a ripple happened in the cartoon world.
Madman from the North
Out of the north woods
came Ontario, Canada native John Kricfalusi (pronounced Kris-fa-loo-see),
an uncommonly head strong man determined to reinvigorate the art of animation
and make cartoons funny again. A Cartoonist with an attitude, John K. as
he is known to his pals, had been drawing since he was a small child. The
now 37- year-old cartoonist has confessed an early admiration of the syrupy
cartoons produced by the disney factory.
"When I was a kid, I loved Disney cartoons, but I wasn't looking at the
content," he says. "I just liked the pure and inherent form of the cartoon."
His love for Mickey and his friends didn't last, however. "As I got older,
I rebelled against Disney. I started realizing how insipid they were."
John K. instead found himself drawn to the mean and witty ministrations
of Bugs Bunny. "I liked Warner Bros. cartoons because they were rude and
nasty, like REAL people!" he says.
In 1980, John K. took a job at Filmation Studios,
the worst cartoon studio of ALL TIME! This was the cartoon studio that
gave us The Archie Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, He-Man and Snow
White and The Seven Giants. It was here that John K. met fellow hairy
cartoonist Eddie Fitzgerald and Tim Minton. These and other oppressed artists
were hired by morons to work on rehashed versions of famous old cartoon
classics such as Tom & Jerry, Droopy, Mighty Mouse and Heckle and
Jeckle. Their job, as John K. once put it, was to "destroy these cartoons
that we all loved when we were kids. We did a pretty good job of it to,"
Over the years, Kricfalusi worked on what
he called "some of the worst crap in history." He and other cartoonists
constantly complained about the sad state of the animated cartoon. At every
studio they tried to improve the product, tried to make the cartoons funny,
tried to give the cartoonist some say in this art form created by cartoonists.
Everywhere they went they ran into brick walls; they were hated by the
morons and the scriptwriters, yet bravely they marched on. John K. in particular,
was determined to see the day when cartoonists made cartoons again.
In 1987, John K. met up with animation mogul
Ralph Bakshi, and a crack in the wall formed. Bakshi, himself a cartoonist,
and a "Great cartoonist" in Kricfalusi's words, was famous for the raw,
X-rated, feature length cartoons Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic
(go ask your dad). Bakshi had retired from animation in the early 80's
because of the hopeless state of the art form. By this time, it was impossible
to sell cartoons based on original ideas, particularly by cartoonists.
All the cartoons being made were based on toys or were butchered rehashes
of old cartoons.
Bakshi sold one of these rehashes to CBS.
He and John K. produced The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse. It was
almost cool, but sorta crummy at the same time. But it was the first cartoon
in 25 years to be made by cartoonists! You can tell by all the butt jokes,
cow teats and neat stuff in it. A bunch of the guys who worked on this
show later went on to do some really cool shows, like Bruce Timm, of Batman:
The Animated Series and the manly Jim Smith of the Ren & Stimpy
In 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
was a smash hit. It was a very cartoony cartoon and set the stage for something
Animation's Bad Boys: The Origin Of Spümcø
Despite breakthroughs like Roger Rabbit and
The Simpsons (even though it sucked), the rest of the cartoon business
got to be so disgusting and oppressive that some of the cartoonists just
couldn't take it anymore. For years John K. and Lynne Naylor had created
original cartoon characters and developed stories and television series
and taken them around to the major networks to try and sell them. Ren
& Stimpy was one of these shows It was promptly turned down by
all three major networks. In 1989, John K. and the other maverick cartoonists,
Lynne Naylor, Jin Smith and a relative newcomer to the animation world,
Bob Camp, quit working for the established cartoon mills. These people
had come to be considered bad boys(and Girl) for their considerable anger
at the degraded animation form.
They opened a tiny office in the heart of
old Hollywood and christened it "Spümcø"
after animation pioneer Raymond Spum. They lived hand-to-mouth, helping
each other on freelance projects untill the day they could sell one of
Kricfalusi's many cartoon series.
Spümcø's Noble Cause
had a purpose: to create a home for cartoonists. To create cartoony animation
that cartoonists could be proud of instead of being ashamed of! To make
cartoons for people instead of morons. To make cartoons that
piss your mom off! To make cartoons FUNNY again! HOORAY!
Kricfalusi's Flying Circus
wanted to attract other misfit cartoonists like themselves, who were willing
to quit or had been fired from the animation establishment. This is one
of the qualities that first attracted John K. to Bob Camp, who technically
speaking, was not an animator but definitely fit the misfit bill. And what
a misfit! An eccentric Southern fellow, Camp has long, strawberry blonde
hair that flows down his freckled back (girly length!) and a Colonel Saunders
billygoat beard decorating his sparkling pinched face. Wise network and
studio executives steer clear of this gifted cartoonists wrath.
Camp's rage with Steven
Spielberg's Tiny Toons was bravely defiant. "I had a real problem
with the managment," he once said. "We had this real strong mutual hate
going on between us. The producers castrated the directors so they didn't
have any power. The writers had all the power and none of the talent. You
couldn't change things, it was all scripted out. The writers were writing
sight gags, which is something you need to work physically by drawing-
not by some guy at a typewriter who doesn't know how to draw."
Hence the rigid Spümcø
rule: If you can't draw, you cannot write. This rule is a
godsend to cartoonists, who for years had no say in the cartoons and were
treated with disdain by talentless employers. John K. on the other hand,
swore that "at Spümcø, only cartoonists will make cartoons."
John K. gave opportunities
to cartoonists who never stood a chance at an established cartoon studio.
Camp, who just previously had gotten a break in the cartoon business storyboarding
under top Hollywood cartoonist Eddie Fitzgerald, was considrered by Kricfalusi
to be one of the most talented raw cartoonists (and funniest) he ever met.
And so Camp, with six months of solid experience under his belt, went from
being a freshman storyboard at Tiny Toons to being one of the key
members of Spümcø's creative team. Kricfalusi, Camp and seasoned
animation veterans Jim Smith and Lynne Naylor vowed to carry on the tradition
of giving artists opportunities based on their raw talent rather that their
Nickelodeon To The Rescue
A few short months after Spümcø was formed, Nickelodeon, the
cable network for kids, announced that they were looking for new cartoons
invented by CARTOONISTS! Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne
revived a concept long familiar to cartoonists, but forgotten by humankind:
the concept of creator driven cartoons. What she meant by this was
that she wanted cartoons whose inspiration came from the cartoonists who
created them and not from toy companies or Morons. She made it clear to
the world that Nickelodeon, unlike the other networks, would encourage
the cartoonists; she didn't want to tell the artists what she wanted,
she wanted to let the artist create their own ideas and cartoon world.
It was this kind of free creativity that led to the creation of Bugs Bunny,
Daffy Duck and all the other great cartoon stars, and she wanted her artists
to create lasting characters that she could own!
John K. flew to Nickelodeon
headquarters in New York and showed the Nick brass five different ideas
for cartoons. Ms. Laybourne was so impressed with John's enthusiasm that
she picked to concepts she liked, Your Gang and Jimmy the idiot
boy. "I just knew at the regular networks there was no way in
the world they would buy my stuff undiluted," Kricfalusi says. "So I diluted
it. I hid the Ren and Stimpy characters, surrounding them with a bunch
of kids in a show called Your Gang. And I made up a bogus pitch
about it being socially conscious." Nickelodeon's vice president of animation,
Vanessa Coffey, immediately saw through Kricfalusi's creative static, to
his great satisfaction, and zeroed in on the undomesticated duo. Laybourne
particularly liked the idiot concept, and at first wanted Jimmy. John didn't
want to give away his best character, so he sold Nickelodeon his second
best creations, Ren & Stimpy, and everybody lived happily ever after...IN
A PIGS EYE!
...Onward to Part Two!
I used a buncha magazine articles, John K.and other Spümcø
bigshots interviews to write this lil' thing. Here's what I used-
- "Cel Out- The Plot to Kill Cartoons" by Chris Gore and
his Magic Gremlins
Wild Cartoon Kingdom #1, 1993 (I shamelessly
copied about 90% of the the story from this)
- Wild Cartoon Kingdom #3, 1993
- Spumco News #2, August 1994
- Spumco News #4, January 1996
- Hero Illustrated #15, September 1994
- Cinefantastique Double Issue Vol.26 #6/Vol.27
#1, October 1995
- Ren & Stimpy: The Definitive First and Second
Season Episode Log by Michelle Klein-Hass
-A bunch of Interviews with John K., Jim Smith, Bob Camp