Edit

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (25) | Personal Quotes (31)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 9 September 1955Chicoutimi, Québec, Canada
Birth NameMichael John Kricfalusi
Nicknames Raymond Spum
John K.
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Canadian-born cartoon cartoonist Kricfalusi began his career by working on low end Saturday morning cartoons like The Jetsons (1962) revival and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972). In 1987, Kricfalusi's mentor, Ralph Bakshi, "saved" him by hiring him as supervising director on his show Mighty Mouse, the New Adventures (1987). The show was cancelled after a scene where Mighty Mouse sniffed a flower to get superpowers and some people thought he was using cocaine. Soon afterwards, Nickelodeon bought his twisted brainchild The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991). But after continuous battles over script content and control, he was fired from his own show in 1992. After he was fired, he furthered his fight for creative freedom by founding a website where he sold dolls of his other characters. He then hired some of his old Ren and Stimpy co-workers and produced the first 'made for the web' cartoon series The Goddamn George Liquor Program (1999). He also created and produced "Weekend Pussy Hunt" another 'made for the web' series. Other work includes directing a Yogi Bear short for Cartoon Network, directing a music video for Björk. And in 2001 he returned to TV with the Saturday morning cartoon for Fox Kids called The Ripping Friends (2001), which he created and produced.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: C. Allen Smith Spaz13_88@email.com

Trade Mark (4)

Abstract expressionist backgrounds
Makes references or tributes to the cartoons from the 1940s-1960s
Almost always has his cartoons set in a retro or modern retro era
Uses public domain music for the soundtrack of most of his work.

Trivia (25)

When approached by Nickelodeon to do a cartoon series, he gave them the characters Ren and Stimpy because he didn't want to risk losing the rights to his original two characters, George Liquor and Jimmy the Idiot Boy (Ren and Stimpy were originally the two characters' pets). In fact, he was right-- after 'Ren and Stimpy' was a big hit, Nickelodeon fired him and kept the show.
In March of 2003, it was announced that the TNN cable network had hired him to re-start the series "Ren and Stimpy" with new episodes (He had been originally fired from the project when it ran on Nickelodeon due to production and budget disagreements). Since the resurrected "Ren and Stimpy" series will be on prime-time and NOT on the child-friendly Nickelodeon, there will be greater creative freedom in the show's writing (and presumably, content). Kricfalusi has promised his fans that "Ren is still an asshole and Stimpy is still a retard."
When he acts, writes or directs in a cartoon that gets edited in a way that he feels ruins it and robs it of his "artistic vision," he uses the name "Raymond Spum' as an alias. The same way a major Hollywood director uses the moniker "Alan Smithee" when the studio has ruined his original intent.
Kirk Douglas is his favorite actor.
His mentor was animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi who employed John K. for his TV venture Mighty Mouse, the New Adventures (1987). In return, John had Bakshi play the voice of the angry fire chief on John's own TV venture Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon' (2003).
Identifies Robert Clampett as one of his strongest influences, in particular his short film The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946).
While he doesn't keep up with much anime, he has mentioned a liking for Astroboy (1980).
Last name is pronounced: "Kris-fa-loo-see."
He based the voice of Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991) on Peter Lorre. While that of Stimpy (voiced by Billy West) is based on Larry Fine of The Three Stooges.
Does not use scripts, he uses storyboards.
His father supposedly never had a high opinion of his interest in becoming a cartoonist instead of taking up a "manlier" profession like sports, and regularly made fun of his shrimpy stature. Any time he portrays father figures (such as Anthony's Dad or George Liquor), he's clearly working some issues out.
He's best remembered for Ren and Stimpy, but John considers George Liquor to be his "strongest character".
He claimed that he went into cartooning because it was the only job he could do well enough to get paid for.
He refused to give himself credit for his directorial role on The Ren & Stimpy Show: Robin Hoek/Nurse Stimpy (1991). He thought it was so bad that he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" instead, out of embarrassment.
He claims that he can barely watch The Ripping Friends (2001), since the whole show was meddled with by the network.
He has deeply regretted some of the decisions he made in his works, such as his use of eyes that squish in the middle to form a ) shape (which he only meant for the storyboards and never actually wanted them in the final cartoons) as well as many of the mistakes he made in his cartoons, such as one scene of Stimpy's eyes defying proper perspective (which was a sloppy mistake, but "everyone thought it was on purpose") and claiming that many TV cartoons (such as Animaniacs (1993)) had made "whole styles out of his mistakes.".
He has warned his fans to not study his cartoons, but rather all of his influences-"For everything I did right, there were a ton of mistakes.".
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.
Nearly sued Trey Parker and Matt Stone, because the South Park (1997) character Mr Hankey was similar to his cartoon short, "Nutty the Friendly Dump". It was eventually proved to be a coincidence.
He disliked Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon' (2003), because of how he was (supposedly) forced to add strong adult themes. That being said, he considers Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon': Altruists (2003) to be the best episode of Ren and Stimpy he's ever made.
Billy West refuses to work with him ever again, citing having a bad experience with him on and off The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991). In particular, Kricfalusi demanded West quit the show alongside him in order to force the network to hire him back even though West needed the job and could have been blacklisted alongside Kricfalusi had he done it and failed.
While he liked working on The Jetsons (1962) revival he hated the character Orbity, and he would often try to work in scenes where he got abused, some of which actually made it into the show.
He dismissed his contributions to the video game Yoake No Mariko as "pretty bland".
He dislikes talking about his "embarrassing 80's flat period"-referring to his really early artwork, specifically. He is also not proud of his tenures on many 1980's cartoon shows such as The Snorks, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), etc.

Personal Quotes (31)

(The censorship of his work on the "Nickelodeon" kids network): "The main thing is that they never understood the show. Even the basics. I'm not talking about the outrageous stuff. Just talking about things like "Well, we'd like to do a cartoon with Ren and Stimpy in space." The response was, "What do you mean in space? How could they get in space?" Well, I'd say, "They're just in space in this cartoon." "That doesn't make any sense," they'd reply. "How will the kids understand it?" Well, I'd ask, "Haven't you people ever watched cartoons before? Sometimes Bugs Bunny's in space, sometimes he's a caveman, sometimes he's in a forest. It's a cartoon." They never quite got that."
Saturday mornings were hilarious in Ottawa because we didn't get Saturday morning cartoons until years after they were started in the States. So the poor kids growing up in Ottawa, man, you know what we got on Saturday mornings? We got Bowling for Dollars (1972). We got The Bingo Show - there was a show about Bingo! You would watch people sitting at a table filling out Bingo cards, but it had the coolest title sequence. It had all these balls going down the video tubes, flying around everywhere. It was mesmerizing. I think the best show on Saturday morning was wrestling. It was the Canadian wrestling. It had the Vachon brothers from Quebec - Mad Dog Vachon and all that. (Edouard) Carpentier, the French guy who did all these flips and things. He was always teamed with a guy who later changed his name to Andre The Giant, but I think he was called something else. I don't remember who he was.
I just knew at the regular networks there was no way in the world they would buy my stuff undiluted. 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.
The Ripping Friends (2001) is about the world's most manly men, four guys who go around the world kicking ass and taking the law into their own hands and making the world a safe place in which to be manly. They're kind of the opposite of what men are brainwashed into being these days. They're like old-fashioned men, before political correctness. You ever see young guys now, where they're all hugging each other and shit like that? Trying to convince the girls that they're sensitive so they can get laid? Pile of crap.
People deserve to have cruelty inflicted upon them, but animals don't.
("Was creator Jay Ward an inspiration to Kricfalusi?"): "I'll let you in on a secret: I can't stand Jay Ward. Well, I don't hate Jay Ward. What I mean is, I hate being compared to Rocky and Bullwinkle. It's just a different style of humor. In fact, I love the drawing style. I think it's a compliment to me, though (being compared to Jay Ward), because what they really mean is it's one of the few funny TV shows. There just haven't been any, so of course they have to drag the odd one there was in. But you might as well say we were influenced by Roger Ramjet. It's a totally different style.
("How he sold the The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991) to Nickelodeon"): "I tricked 'em! I told 'em it was going to be unfunny; that it would be wiggly lines, nobody would be able to follow the stories, and nobody could identify with the characters. And they said, 'Oh! That's exactly what we want!' And I totally lied."
It's beyond me how Mickey Mouse or Walt Disney ever became a success. Disney must have been the blandest human on the planet, it's like he was from another century. When you look at Disney's early cartoons they're the blandest things in the world. Then you see what Max Fleischer was doing, it's just leagues ahead of Disney.
I liked Cow and Chicken (1995). The drawings and animation were great. David Feiss is fantastic. One of the most talented guys I ever met. I told him I didn't like the voices though. I'm sure he doesn't like everything about my cartoons.
TV is too much of a chore to watch anymore. Too many commercials and stupid network logos over the picture.
I love the idea of the Internet but for some reason, business is too slow to realize how to exploit it. But... there's a surprising new medium taking off. I didn't believe it at first, but - cell phones. I'm doing a deal to release all of my Flash cartoons and some of my TV cartoons for cell phones. Supposedly you can generate enough money then to make new content with TV networks involved and then sell it straight to video. I love the idea of direct to video. I've been pushing it for 20 years.
Billy West is the best voice artist in the business. He really helped solidify Stimpy's character (and Sven and others) and he added gags in all the cartoons we did together. He was my first choice to do Stimpy again, but he did not seem interested so I had to find someone new. Luckily Eric Bauza turned out to be great and very direct-able.
I don't think animation is as good as it was in the 1930s, 1940s and 50s. To me the classic cartoons were much more skilled in every way: better drawings, great animation, better stories, way better characters and more appealing styles and much more imaginative.

Most cartoons today do not use the basic elements of what separates the cartoon from other mediums. They try to imitate other mediums and are not as good as the mediums they emulate. I realize these are very general statements, but in general there is a huge gap in quality and inspiration between today's cartoons and the classic cartoons.
You meet young artists now and try to teach them something and they say, 'I could do it that way if I wanted to, but this is my style. I draw club feet because it's my style.' Unfortunately, schools are really bad now. Schools are not only bad in reading, writing and arithmetic, they're worse in cultural aspects, like in music and art. They don't teach you anything anymore. I know this from twenty years of experience hiring artists out of the schools. They get worse every year. They're absolutely ridiculously retarded now. They don't teach you anything and the few things that they try to teach you are completely wrong. They don't teach you construction, line of action, nothing.

Illustration from the late-1900s up through the middle of the 20th century was absolutely amazing. In general, American culture was at its highest skill wise in every aspect of human life in the 1940s. It's all been downhill since then. You just open an old magazine from the 1930s and '40s and look at the illustrations in it. There's nobody alive that could touch the way they could draw back then. In old movies, the cinematography is a thousand times better than anything today. Writing, a thousand times better. The standards in the 1940s were extremely high in all aspects of American culture. And they had schools that were like boot camp. They made you learn things. You couldn't walk into a school and say, 'Well, it's my style to draw badly.' You wouldn't get into the school. You'd have to be pretty damn good before you came to the school and then once you get there, they were extremely strict about your learning every technical aspect of art. Not only the obvious things like life drawing, anatomy, perspective, but elusive hard to teach concepts like composition and color theory. You buy any book on color theory today and it's just complete poppy cock. Everybody comes out of school painting pink, purple and green. The whole damn cartoon industry has pink purple and green on their mind.
The animation business is really depressing. Cartoonists, for years, were really kicking around and oppressed, had no creative say in their business. It's a world of alcoholism and drug abuse. It used to be joyful. Bugs Bunny, maybe Mickey Mouse, was joyful; Tom and Jerry - all that stuff looks like it was a lot of fun to work on. Do Saturday-morning cartoons today look like people are having a good time? It's torture to do that.

That's the history of modern animation , the Scooby Doo mentality -- the most bland, ugly, lifeless characters in the world when it's so easy to do exciting-looking characters who're really fun and doing impossible things in animation. Instead, we do normal things. What's the point of that? And the normal things are much harder to do. To draw a realistic-looking human -- 12 of them for every second of film -- is insane. Why do the mundane when you could do magic?
Most cartoons you see today still have garish color; they're pink, purple, and green. Genndy Tartakovsky's cartoons are exceptions - they have great color.
(On the impact of The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991)): I think we are destroying the minds of America, and that's been one of my lifelong ambitions.
(On Aladdin (1992) ): Robin Williams does his regular wacky schtick, but the timbre of his voice is pretty normal. When you use voices like that you think about Robin Williams as he actually is instead of the character as a unique individual. The cartoon then can't live up to the real person, let alone surpass him.
(Addressing a fan who pointed out a mistake in his work): Everything I do is a mistake. I can't draw a character the same way twice, let alone remember what colors he is.
I don't know if modern-day furries even realize it, but this whole movement grew out of Disney fan art from the 1970s. Nerdy kids who loved Lady and the Tramp (1955) and Bambi (1942) and wished they could draw as well as Disney animators. They took the squirrel-mask face style, drew it poorly and stuck it on top of human proportioned bodies and then had nasty things happen. Who ever thought this would grow into a full blown cult? In the last 15 years or so, furry style has in turn influenced mainstream "decent" animation.
I can tell you I know from 20 years of experience that very few animators can draw natural expressions or draw in different styles. Disney animators draw Disney expressions and animate Disney gestures. I used some Disney animators or Cal Arts animators on various projects-including The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991) and they just couldn't draw the characters. They kept turning them into Disney/Cal Arts characters - they would draw the eyes like Don Bluth and use the same expressions they had already drawn a thousand times before that no one ever complained about. "No no!" I'd say, "This is Ren, not Mowgli! He isn't constructed like that-his eyes are a different shape and he has a different personality!" Two exceptions were Mark Kausler and Greg Manwaring who did great funny and specific animation for me. And of course, Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong always do fantastic custom animation. But these people are rare.
People always ask me if I'm influenced by underground comics and I'm astounded. It's the exact opposite of what I try to do.
(Comparing 1950s animation to 1940s animation): This is from a later Chuck Jones cartoon and is much more complex, but again it still is based on the same principles. It has angles and more complex forms-but the angles are all in sensible places - unlike today's angular cartoons that have arbitrary and inconsistent designs that don't work well for animation; think Mulan (1998).
(On the Ren and Stimpy short Marooned) Marooned had great ideas, but the execution fell short; the timing was horrible. We freelanced the timing on that one and it was just way too slow...We just rushed through it, and so you see a lot of really bad mistakes. You see the aliens at the end, the giant brain guys. They're on overlays, but we were rushing through it so fast that you can see the tear lines around them-they're on cut-out pieces of paper glued to cels. It looks awful.
I produced a cartoon that really suffered from poor structure: Black Hole. The premise of the story was simple. Ren and Stimpy get sucked through a black hole into another dimension where the physical laws are different than ours. Thus, they begin to mutate into weirder and weirder forms. Or...they should have. Instead they morph randomly and not in a building progression. The funniest morphs are early on, and then later they are less weird, so I considered that cartoon quite a failure. I've made other crap too, but my goal is always to have good solid structure and momentum.
(On the Ren and Stimpy short Black Hole) It's a complete failure. In every aspect it's bad; it's drawn bad, there's no direction to it at all, the timing's bad. It's a winner by default; somehow the premise managed to get through, even though the specific story points don't illustrate the premise very well. It was lucky.
(On The Ren & Stimpy Show: A Visit to Anthony (1993)) I directed the recordings of all the characters EXCEPT my Dad, ironically and was very disappointed when I heard it. It sounded like the actor didn't know the story and was reading it for the first time, so he didn't give it the meaning that the drawings conveyed. It was a professional live action actor and I think whoever directed him was afraid to actually give him any direction. And also didn't know my Dad." "I think the animation was done at Rough Draft and it was amazing. The fireplace scene was especially impressive with all the cool effects. The sound effects and music was clumsy and inappropriate as per usual in the Games episodes. That's something they just never got, even though I sent them a long treatise on how to make the sound match the moods of the story.
(On the Ren and Stimpy short "Nurse Stimpy) The timing was bad. The drawings are bad. The colours are bad. From an artistic standpoint, to me, it's a really ugly cartoon.
April March and I wrote The Ren & Stimpy Show: Stimpy's Cartoon Show (1994) and I had planned for that to be an epic, but the direction was pretty bungled. I explain it all on the commentary. The first Games DVD is coming out soon. I'd say it's definitely worth getting. Lots of good artwork, great backgrounds and some good stories-alas, no discernible direction.
(On South Park: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo (1997)) I got nine or 10 messages from friends screaming, 'I can't believe this! They totally stole your story! ... This idea of [poop] singing or dancing and being friends, well, that is my idea.
You can draw Family Guy (1999) when you're ten years old...The standards are extremely low.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page