Michael John Kricfalusi (pronounced as kris-fa-LOO-see, born September 9, 1955), also known as John K., is a well-known, often controversial Canadian animator, best known as the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Throughout The '90s, he was famous for his brand of insane and insanely-animated cartoons which borrowed heavily from 1940s-era Golden Age shorts and was hugely influential on TV animation during the decade's animation renaissance. In addition to his own work, for many years, he was the go-to guy for critiques and opinions on Looney Tunes and classic Hanna-Barbera shows (whether said opinions were welcome or not is a discussion for another site).
A native of Ottawa, Kricfalusi attended Sheridan College for exactly one semester in 1978 before getting expelled for poor attendance. He uprooted to Los Angeles with a couple of colleagues, including Bob Jaques and his then-girlfriend Lynne Naylor, shortly thereafter to work on various shows for Hanna Barbera, Filmation and Ruby-Spears, most of which only for a single season. Being a huge fan of Bob Clampett and Fleischer Brothers cartoons, Kricfalusi was vocally hateful of the fact that the only work he could get was on bland, stiff TV animation and made it his goal to bring the aesthetics from the cartoons he loved to a new generation. His penchant for being opinionated became just as famous, if not moreso, than any of his actual work.
In the mid-80s, Kricfalusi was hired by Ralph Bakshi to work on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. It turned out to be a dream gig, not only because he was working for a respected animation legend but because it was a show in which all of the creative decisions (writing, design, layouts, etc.) were made by the artists rather than by TV writers or executives. Kricfalusi would direct eight episodes of the first season before quitting over Creative Differences with Bakshi.
Kricfalusi would attempt to recreate the success of Mighty Mouse with a similar revival of Beany and Cecil, a show created by his personal hero Bob Clampett, a year later. Despite support from Clampett's wife, Kricfalusi's refusal to cooperate with executives made them wary to meet his demands to produce the show without writers or model sheets or include raunchier humor like he wanted (and unlike Mighty Mouse, Ralph Bakshi wasn't there to shoulder the blows from Executive Meddling so he could do whatever he wanted). The show only lasted five episodes before he and the network acrimoniously parted.
Having burned too many bridges to keep getting animation work, Kricfalusi founded the illustration company Spümcø while occasionally doing freelance animation gigs. Around this time, a little cable TV station called Nickelodeon put out a call of independent animation studios to create pilots for creator-driven cartoons, or Nicktoons as they'd later be known, and Spümcø was one of the first on their call list.
In 1991, The Ren & Stimpy Show was unleashed upon the world. Immediately controversial for its Vulgar Humor and violent slapstick, its Deranged Animation made it a huge hit with audiences who, like its creators, longed for the kind of jokes and visuals they could only have seen in Golden Age-era theatrical cartoons. It went on to become one of the most popular and influential cartoons of the 1990s, making Spumco superstars of the animation world. Unfortunately, despite (or rather because of) its popularity, Kricfalusi's habit of biting the hand that fed him continued and his perfectionism worsened, famously delaying episodes anywhere from several months to a year. At the peak of the show's popularity, he and his studio were fired from production and the show continued production in-house at Nickelodeon's homegrown studio Games Animation (now Nickelodeon Animation Studio).
Over the next few years, Spümcø would create several short subject projects, including the groundbreaking web cartoon The God Damn George Liquor Program, the very first animated cartoon created with Adobe Flash and the first animated cartoon created exclusively for the internet, and its spinoff Weekend Pussy Hunt, as well as an Animated Music Video for Björk's 1997 single, "I Miss You" and a well-received series of Old Navy commercials. In the early 2000s, he created three Yogi Bear revival shorts: A Day In The Life of Ranger Smith , Boo Boo and the Man and Boo Boo Runs Wild.
At the Turn of the Millennium, Kricfalusi made something of a second career out of being a professional fanboy, appearing on DVD collections of and being quoted in books about classic cartoons, most of which at the request of respected animation historian Jerry Beck. He was also regularly quoted in animation magazines, often penning negative reviews of then-current animated shows and films, most notably a scathing review of Animaniacs (under the name Thomas Payne) before he'd watched a single episodenote in Animation Magazine and an inflammatory article about how Nickelodeon and the Games Animation crew ruined Ren and Stimpy in Wild Cartoon Kingdom. While his forceful personality and lack of filter earned him an almost literal cult of worship around himself among impressionable young cartoon fans, his derogatory hatred of non-artists and general tactlessness made him divisive among professionals.
2001 saw Kricfalusi's second attempt at an original TV show with The Ripping Friends. Creative Differences once again reared their ugly head, this time between Kricfalusi and the two Canadian animation studios animating the show - Red Rover Studios and Funbag Animation, respectively - who outright ignored his direction and eschewed his brand of Off-Model custom poses for a more standard-looking cartoon, resulting in a near-fist fight with Funbag head John Shaw when Kricfalusi visited the studio. The show ended up becoming another one-season wonder for Kricfalusi.
Kricfalusi's next project saw him once again taking the helm of Ren and Stimpy for the raunchy revival, Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon". Now with carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, everything both on screen and behind the scenes was cranked Up to Eleven: the Vulgar Humor, ultra-violent slapstick, sexual innuendo (if not outright porn) and especially the production delays. The show was canceled after three episodes, with three more in production, after unanimously negative reception from critics and fans, beginning the downfall of Kricfalusi's career. Spümcø was soon relegated to Kricfalusi working out of his apartment until it was sued into bankruptcy by former colleague Bob Jaques and his studio Carbunkle Cartoons for years of unpaid outsourcing work, officially closing in 2008.
In 2006, he started John K. Stuff, a blog which detailed practical knowledge for aspiring animators, analysis on classic cartoons and his unfiltered opinions on the medium, which include hostile, often overwhelming rants about what he considered good or bad animation, most notably his steadfast belief that story and character are unimportant to a cartoon's success and that it should rely on good drawings. There is also a more distilled version with advice and lessons on cartooning and animation, John K Curriculum. Though they usually advise taking Kricfalusi's rants with a salt mine, both are often recommended by animation teachers for its useful information about technique and history.
In 2012, Kricfalusi attempted to produce an indie short, Cans Without Labels, through Kickstarter. The project could not have been more of a disaster. Communication with backers was minimal, including delivering rewards, with Kricfalusi claiming that he'd somehow blown through the budget before production was even half-finished, if not outright lying to followers. The short missed its 2013 deadline, much to the uproar of fans. That same year, he took a hiatus from his blog to start plans for a new studio in Florida, which never came to be.
By the end of The New '10s, Kricfalusi's career momentum was greatly sapped. His only released work of note at that point had been graphics for Miley Cyrus's "Bangerz" tour and a handful of [adult swim] bumpers, all in a new, extremely abstract style which his dyed-in-the-wool fans did not take to, as well as selling drawing commissions and "phone doodles" (literally absent-minded drawings he'd do while talking on the phone) through his website. As a result, negative rumors about his poor work ethic had finally began to catch up with him, and it would be one in particular that would kill what little good faith anyone had in him outright.
In March 2018, at the height of #MeToo, Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice, two former Spümco employees whom he had hired when they were teenagers, accused Kricfalusi of grooming them, up to and including multiple acts of statutory rape. He was also found to have possessed child pornography on his computer, as well as Polaroids of himself having sex with Byrd, Rice and other underage girls. Former colleagues, who had held a professional stance on their opinions about him by that point, immediately came forward in abundance to confirm these and other rumors, including a general history of verbal and emotion abuse to his staff and variations on "I told you so." Former fans began pointing to hints of his preference for underage women throughout his later work, with jailbait characters like Soda Pop and the beach girls in the Adult Party Cartoon cartoon "Naked Beach Frenzy," as well as several questionable drawings on his blog and barely-concealed pederastic remarks he'd made in the past (most famously during an interview on The Howard Stern Show and a segment on the Adult Party Cartoon DVD of him making perverted remarks to Rice). Several female artists to whom he'd offered jobs at his Florida studio, most notably respected freelance artist Vane Flores, claimed to have been suspicious when they realized he was only offering jobs to young women.
To say all this news made Kricfalusi more unpopular than ever would be an understatement. His efforts to make a public apology, claiming that he had "poor impulse control", from living with ADHD and bipolar disorder, as well as a history of alcoholism, was dismissed by Byrd and Rice as a "non-apology" which deflected from their accusations and earned him even more ire from people suffering from these and similar illnesses, accusing him of perpetuating the stereotype that mentally ill people are inherently dangerous as a means to save his own skin for the consequences of a crime against nature. Kricfalusi closed all of his social media accounts (sans Facebook) shortly thereafter.
While legal action couldn't be taken against Kricfalusi due to the Statute of Limitationnote , the scandal stained his reputation beyond repair. Nickelodeon removed his photo from its wall of creators and temporarily pulled Ren & Stimpy from its streaming service and broadcasts on NickSplat for a year while also effectively erasing the characters from their history. Cartoon Network announced that they would never work with him again. One of his other victims, Hyde Goltz, started a petition to get him banned from Instagram (Kricfalusi's Instagram was deleted before said petition could reach enough signatures). Cans Without Labels was finally released a year later through Shopify to unanimously negative reception.
In 2020, he appeared an an interviewee in the Sundance documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story. Despite initially turning down an invitation to appear (presumably because he knew it would bring to light many unflattering stories about him the same way that Sick Little Monkeys had), he changed his mind once his history of abuse went public and the filmmakers decided to recut the already-finished film to address the matter. His interviews have him acknowledging and, at the very least, attempting to apologize for the allegations, though he doesn't quite get the last word on the matter. And that's all that needs to be said about it.
Shows He Has Worked On / Works Of His Include:
- Ted Bakes One: Indie short.
- The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle: Storyboard artist.
- The Smurfs Christmas Special: Layout artist.
- The Snorks: Layout artist on the first season. He was apparently kicked off for "drawing too flat." (This coming from Hanna-Barbera.)
- Richie Rich: Layout artist for the second season.
- Pac-Man: Layout artist.
- The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour: Layout artist for Laverne & Shirley with the Fonz segments.
- The Jetsons: Layout supervisor. He made his directorial debut with "Hi-Tech Wreck". Also considered to be one of the few 80s shows he worked on that he didn't hate.
- During his time at Hanna-Barbera, he contributed a pornographic Flintstones parody comic to issue #9 of Robert Crumb's Weirdo magazine under the alias of Billy Bunting.
- Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats: Character designer during the first season. He stated that the only fun part was coming up with new character designs.
- Galaxy High: Graphics.
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures: Senior director during the first season, and directed eight episodes himself. List
- The Thing What Lurked in The Tub (short): Character and background color key assistant.
- Bobby's Girl: A proposed animated feature which he would have been made with his mentor Ralph Bakshi. It never got off the ground, unfortunately.
- Troop Beverly Hills: designed the Animated Credits Opening.
- The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil: Producer/Director
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Did some early design work while the show was in Development Hell. Credited as a model designer in "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?"
- Harlem Shuffle, a music video by The Rolling Stones from their album Dirty Work.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Creator and voice of Ren Höek from the show's inception until his firing in 1992.
- 2 Stupid Dogs: Provided "tidbits of poor taste" for the "Red" episodes spoofing Little Red Riding Hood.
- The Goddamn George Liquor Program: Notable for being the very first cartoon series to be made using Adobe Flash and the first cartoon series created exclusively for the internet.
- The cast of this program also appeared in the short lived comic series Spumco Comic Book.
- Weekend Pussy Hunt: A Spin-Off of the George Liquor program, being another early Adobe Flash cartoon.
- What Pee Boners Are For: Flash animated short starring Slab and Ernie.
- Animated Music Videos for the Tenacious D songs "Fuck Her Gently" and "Classico". According to Katie Rice, John didnt actually do any work for the former at all— it was made in entirety by younger staff at the studio, and John didn't even watch it until 5 years after it was finished.
- The Ripping Friends: intended to be a Spiritual Successor to The Ren & Stimpy Show but Canadian television standards forced him to keep the characters on-model and recycle drawings, two things he is very much against, and he hates what it became.
- Yoake no Mariko (PS2 JPN): Designed and animated the characters in the intro, although he dismissed his work on it as "pretty bland."
- Go Go Hyper Grind: Designed the characters in the game with Spumco, as well as being the co-producer.
- Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon": Creator and voice of Ren Höek.
- I Miss You: Music video for Björk, from her album Post.
- Three made-for-tv Yogi Bear shorts.
- Two made-for-tv short based on The Jetsons. He made his directorial debut while working on the '80s revival.
- Heartaches: A flash series in the works of his.
- He Hog The Atomic Pig: A animated feature idea that he attempted to pitch.
- One particularly deranged Simpsons couch gag (A link on his blog about making it.)
- He returned to make another one for "Treehouse of Horror XXVI".
- "Close, but No Cigar" music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic.
- Cans Without Labels (2019): An animated short he used kickstarter to fund.
- Free Birds: Did preproduction work on the film, and posted much of his art for it on his blog.
- Doing art for Miley Cyrus's Bangerz tour.
- Doing short animated commercial bumpers for [adult swim].
- Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren And Stimpy Story: Interviewee.
His works provide examples of the following tropes:
- Alternate DVD Commentary: He did commentary for the Ren and Stimpy DVDs, including some episodes after he was fired from the show.
- Alan Smithee:
- The Ren and Stimpy episode "Nurse Stimpy," which John what wholly dissatisfied with, is credited to Raymund Spum.
- He contributed a Flintstones parody comic to issue 9 of Robert Crumb's Weirdo magazine under the alias of Billy Bunting, a reference to the literary character Billy Bunter.
- He also wrote notoriously inflammatory reviews of Animaniacs and We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story under the name Tom Payne, animator and historian.
- Animated Music Video: Made several, as listed above.
- Art Evolution: While he had always drawn and animated with his trademark style, his move to 2D computer animation with Flash clearly had an effect on it, as he was recreating the same type of cartoons he had previously made with a set of tools not at all intended for it. Once ToonBoom came along, allowing him to do paperless hand-drawn stuff, he vowed never to animate on paper again.
- Author Appeal: Kirk Douglas
- Breakthrough Hit: The Ren & Stimpy Show, without a doubt. Though his notorious reputation brought about by the same show meant he would ultimately remain a One-Hit Wonder.
- Broke the Rating Scale: He reviewed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on his blog, giving it a rating of "zero" despite liking a few things about it, such as the visuals. He adds that this was actually a good score, as he usually gives negative numbers to recent animated films.
- Canada, Eh?: A native of Ottawanote , he poked fun at Canadian stereotypes in pieces like "The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen".
- Career Resurrection: He attempted this when he tried to launch a new Florida animation studio in 2018, but it backfired when he was immediately fired from the studio, and then blacklisted from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Nickelodeon, when news broke out of his sexual predator behavior.
- Cast of Snowflakes: His cartoons are full of them, almost all based on people or actors John had observed throughout his life.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The characters in his work all seem pretty insane or dysfunctional.
- Color Contrast: He has written many blog posts detailing how to properly use color contrast in animation. He's also noted how anime is brimming with good color mixers (an unusual break from his general dislike for modern animation).
- Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: A rather infamous one regarding Animaniacs: under the pseudonym Tom Paine, he bashed the show before it aired, even admitting he hadn't watched a full episode (supposedly out of spite to Tom Rugger and the staff of Tiny Toon Adventures due to Creative Differences).
- Creator Backlash: For a guy infamous for his haughty critiques of popular cartoons, the one artist he seemed to be hardest on was himself:
- John has been critical of his early work, particularly on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and The Ren & Stimpy Show. He even 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 refused to give himself credit for his directorial role on the Ren and Stimpy episode "Nurse Stimpy". He thought it was so bad that he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" instead, out of embarrassment. He was quoted as saying, "The timing was bad. The drawings are bad. The colors are bad. From an artistic standpoint, to me, it's a really ugly cartoon."
- He disliked how he was (supposedly) forced to add strong adult themes to Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon.
- He claimed that he can barely watch The Ripping Friends, since the whole show was meddled with to death.
- He dismissed his contributions to the video game Yoake No Mariko as "pretty bland".
- Creator Breakdown: According to William Wray, a combination of John losing Ren and Stimpy, letting the show's success go to his head and losing his longtime girlfriend Lynne Naylor during its production were all factors in his career gradually spiraling downhill from then on. The fact that he was trying and failing miserably to cope with bad memories of his rough childhood (which often seeped into the show itself), was suffering from two undiagnosed mental illnesses (including bipolar disorder) and was a heavy alcoholic did not help with this."As far as I know what seemed to trigger the real acting out was the loss of his long time girlfriend, the rise of his power/fame and then the loss of Ren And Stimpy. This trifecta of emotional highs and lows seemed to open him up to a kind of total recklessness and plunged him into a bitter take no prisoners martyrdom. Spumco truly became the John K. House of worship, free of voices of reason. I do think he was brilliant and original visionary who was smart enough to know he needed a unique as him crew of artists and writers to make R and S great, but after he cracked, he forgot he had a great team, great timing in a low ebb in the Animation world, a great new network that believed in him and gave him the world and the love of millions of fans."
- Creator Killer: The failure of Adult Party Cartoon ensured he would never helm another mainstream cartoon show again, and the subsequent lawsuit with Carbunkle Cartoons over them not getting paid for work on it drove his company, Spumco, into bankruptcy. John was forced to stick to animation odd jobs like music videos and TV bumpers from then on. He attempted to launch a new cartoon studio in Florida, but it didn't end well as he was immediately sacked from the studio once news about his sexually predatory behaviour came to light in March 2018, destroying what little he had left of a career.
- Creator's Pest: While he liked working on The Jetsons 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.
- Darker and Edgier: His cartoons in contrast to what else was coming out in the 90's — what other cartoon of the early 90's can you name where characters go through nightmarish psychodramas, brutally beat up someone for playing mind games with them, or pluck the roots of teeth from their gums? His work after the original Ren and Stimpy tends to crank up the vulgarity and adult subject matter even more, and far more than even most modern adult cartoons are willing to go.
- Depending on the Artist: John took this trope Up to Eleven, having allowed his artists to experiment with their own individual styles on the show, as a callback to how Bob Clampett allowed his animators to deviate from the official character model sheets to make a specific pose or expression. Also see Off-Model below.
- Deranged Animation: He considers this to be the main appeal of cartoons - the biggest reason he got into the animation industry was to bring this back to what he considered the less interesting cartoons of the '80s.
- Development Hell: His last project, Cans Without Labels, reached its goal on Kickstarter in 2013, but wasn't finished and released until 2019.
- Digital Destruction: The Trope Namer is one of his articles which goes into how the "restorations" of older cartoons were actually making them worse than before. He apparently wrote the articles in response to poor "restorations" of the Ren and Stimpy DVD boxsets brought on by DVNR.
- Doing It for the Art: The whole reason John became a cartoonist was to bring back the wacky, anarchic, overall cartoony animation to the mainstream and put a stop to the stiff, soulless, formulaic TV animation that was prevalent at the time.
- DVD Commentary: Did several commentaries for Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 the Looney Tunes Golden Collection series, but refused to do any more of them due to his complaints about the Digital Destruction in those sets. Strangely, he supplied one more commentary for Vol. 5. He also supplied some commentaries for the official Popeye DVD sets, and Thunderbean's Wartime Cartoon sets. Obviously, he also provided commentaries for The Ren & Stimpy Show DVD sets, even for the episodes he didn't work on.
- Fanservice: His works, especially his post-Ren and Stimpy works, are loaded with curvy and busty, often skimpily dressed or occasionally nude girls, and he considered sexy girls to be an important part of cartoons. See "Naked Beach Frenzy" for just one example of this.
- Flip-Flop of God: On Ren And Stimpy's sexuality.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Whether you love him or hate him, you have to give Kricfalusi credit for reviving the kind of edge and audacity that made censors cry and had been lacking in cartoons since the late 1960s. The very name of his old company, Spumco, is this.note
- God Does Not Own This World: Oh, yeah. Unlike other examples, John would get another turn with Ren and Stimpy later on after being fired.
- Gray and Grey Morality: You won't be finding much clear cut morality in his works. All of his characters are either batshit crazy or have some serious vices or personality flaws that cause conflict between each other.
- Grossout Show: The Trope Maker is The Ren & Stimpy Show. He took this Up to Eleven in Adult Party Cartoon. He eventually became tired of gross-out gags and wished to focus more on personality and acting in his cartoons.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: Pioneered the use of this in Ren and Stimpy.
- Growing with the Audience: He tried this with Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, and didn't exactly get a positive response.
- He Also Did:
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: He loved mining hardass child-rearing for all the comedy they're worth, especially in the form of "traditional" fathers like George Liquor and Anthony's Dad.
- Homoerotic Subtext: A John K trademark. Used all over his cartoons, especially Ren & Stimpy. He was a specialist on finding such content in other cartoons, particularly Disney films.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Since his predatory behavior came to light, it's very unlikely that any of his cartoons (aside from The Ren & Stimpy Show) will ever see an official re-release in the future.
- This goes double for any of his independent projects, since these are still owned by him personally, and it's very unlikely anyone would pay royalties to officially release them; let alone John's family wanting to inherit them in the future.
- Already played straight with his take on Beany and Cecil, as his inability to work with network executives caused the show to be pulled after six episodes. Not helping matters is the show's copyright being up in the air between DIC Entertainment and Bob Clampett's estate.
- Jailbait: He's very fond of drawing sexy teenage girls, such as Sody Pop in The Goddamn George Liquor Program and the nameless female beachgoers in the Adult Party Cartoon episode "Naked Beach Frenzie," as well as numerous doodles on his blog. It unfortunately turned out to be a case of Write What You Know, as he was regularly committing statutory rape at the time.
- Lying Creator: To say the least, many of his stories about Spumco and his career in animation had been called into question by his animation contemporaries, especially in regards to his views on the history of Ren and Stimpy.
- Later Installment Weirdness: His cartoons from around the 2010s and onward abandoned the famous pose to pose Limited Animation and gross out humor style of Ren and Stimpy in favor of a very loose, downright surrealistic style of animation and humor, and rarely if ever had anything resembling plots or narratives. He claimed after he got to watch a ton of early 1930s cartoons, he had simply grown bored with his old style and decided to go in a different direction.
- Line-of-Sight Name: George Liquor was named for a liquor store that he and a colleague walked past in Los Angeles. John was immediately inspired to create a character around the name. Similarly, Rev. Jack Cheese was named after his culture shock of discovering actual jack cheese after coming to America (jack cheese is not available in Canada).
- Magnum Opus Dissonance:
- He's best remembered for Ren and Stimpy, but John considered George Liquor to be his strongest character.
- While he's as critical of APC as the next guy, he considered the APC episode "Altruists" to be the best episode of Ren and Stimpy he's ever made. Needless to say, the fandom disagreed with him. Hard.
- Not So Different: Former colleagues were quick to point out that he may have been just as creatively stifling as the "non-artists" (executives, writers, etc.) he demonized throughout his career. While he accused the Nick executives of neutering too many jokes and making Ren and Stimpy too soft, just as many former Spumco employees said that he was equally if not more demanding though his obsessive attention to detail and habit of outright destroying artists' work if they didn't meet his exact standards, which were often vague. Also, despite his disdain for model sheets and stock poses which were the norm in The Dark Age of Animation (when he started working), he forbid his artists from ever deviating from his layout drawings. Tellingly, after he was fired from Ren and Stimpy, the episode "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" was altered only slightly from his satire on Executive Meddling to a Take That! from his former employees towards him (notice Ren's horn-rimmed glasses, the same kind Kricfalusi wore at the time).
- Off-Model: John took this trope to the extreme — he never used model sheets beyond establishing a general idea of what the character looked like, and made it a literal rule to never, ever draw a character the same way, or with the same expression or pose more than once. He believes that characters ought to have just a few general rules on how they appear, and the rest should be up to the artists to exaggerate them as they see fit. Note that he does not mean "Draw Badly" — he still has his artists use essential skills like construction and line of action, because as he pointed out, something about the drawing has to make sense, or the artist will have no control over their work. Also subverted in that his animators were still expected to follow his layout drawings to a tee.
- Old Shame: The Ripping Friends. He also disliked having to talk about his "embarrasing 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.
- Rated M for Manly: His works are shamelessly chauvinistic and go out of their way to play this up as part of their un-PC nature. It should come as no surprise since Kirk Douglas is John K's idol, as well as the fact that John is a big fan of film noir and the absolutely brutal 90's period of UFC.
- Reality Subtext: His cartoons are full of this, and he made no mystery that many of his cartoons were based on or otherwise inspired by real life events.
- Ren and Stimpy premiered at the tail end of the AIDS crisis, and a big part of its controversy was American parents not only finding the show disgusting but fearing the ramifications of children laughing at bodily fluids at a time when most of the country was outwardly afraid of them. John, being the type of guy who considered vulgarity to be the most human source of comedy, made this a big part of the show's appeal.
- It's no accident that many episodes of his iconic show are centered around Ren's mental instability, considering the eventual discovery that John suffers from both bipolar disorder and ADHD, both of which he self medicated with alcohol.
- All of his depictions of abusive or overly-stern father characters, especially George Liquor, were John's way of venting his anger at his own hyper-masculine father. The cartoons in which they appear are largely based on the ways that his father bullied him as a child. The elder Kricfalusi even voiced Ren's father in "Ren Seeks Help."
- "Fire Dogs II" has been described by John K as being a documentary about what it was like working with Ralph Bakshi.
- "Stimpy's Pregnant" was based on a combination of a very early story pitch for a Ren and Stimpy episode and the real life pregnancy of Spumco artist Annmarie Ashkar Mccarty.
- On a more tragic note, his cartoons saw an influx of jailbait characters in the fifteen years that he was courting (read: raping) numerous teenage girls.
- Reclusive Artist: After his predatory behavior towards women and teens came to light in March 2018, he deleted almost all of his social media accounts and disappeared from the public eye. Kricfalusi's only work since then has been the infamous Cans Without Labels short. However, Kricfalusi later appeared in the Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story documentary, which was released in 2020.
- Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Kricfalusi's notoriously bad temper and abrasive demeanor resulted in this trope more than once for him, and eventually destroyed his career outright:
- While the envelope-pushing content of The Ren & Stimpy Show already made his relationship with Nickelodeon rocky, it had less to do with Kricfalusi's firing than he insists. Rather, it was the network's thinning patience with Kricfalusi's tactless attitude and refusal to cooperate. The misdemeanor in question which got him fired was the more mundane crime of sending Nickelodeon executive Linda Simensky a Strongly Worded Letter saying episodes would "cost what they cost and take as much time as necessary." Surprisingly, Simensky took this less as it was intended and more as sign that she needed to fire John from the show before things got even worse.
- After Kricfalusi's sexual predator behaviour towards his underage female employees came to light in March 2018, he was immediately fired from the new cartoon studio he tried to launch in Florida, and it is safe to say that his career momentum has been completely sapped for good. Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and [adult swim] have already stated that they will never work with him again in light of this news.
- Schedule Slip: Nearly every production he's been involved with has been fraught with production delays. While he insisted that episodes of Ren and Stimpy were withheld from broadcast because executives forced him to tone down the vulgar content, those present claim that it was more often because he refused to move forward with production on anything if it wasn't 110% to his liking. Inversely, Cans Without Labels was held up for six years for seemingly no other reason that he lost interest and didn't feel like finishing it until his backers started hounding him about it.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once the sexual abuse allegations came to light, John quickly decided to shut down all of his social media accounts except for Facebook.
- Signature Style: Grossout gags and surreal cartoon drawings, often combined with "psychodramas" (as Nickelodeon called them), although he eventually moved on from grossout humor after getting tired of using it.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His works land on the Cynicism end of the scale, especially in Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon. He had no tact when it came to discussing offensive subject matter or the hardships of life and on being a cartoonist. His definition of a real cartoonist (using cartoonists like Virgil Partch and Robert Crumb as examples) was that it required you to be a hard edged, salty person who has a no nonsense outlook on life, but plays its hardships and the faults and hypocrisy of humanity for laughs. This, more than any other reason, is why he was in favor of cartoon animation of the kind like Fleischer and Warner Bros. did as opposed to that of Disney, whose worldview and style of cartooning is as far as you can get from that kind of abrasive outlook. Heck, one of the unfinished episodes for Adult Party Cartoon was called "Life Sucks", and it's every bit as nihilistic as you'd expect.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: All of his works land on the Surreal end of the scale, especially his cartoons from 2010 and on.
- Surreal Humor: His works relied on this kind of comedy as much as they did vulgar gags. Take for example the living duck bill gag in "Altruists" or the visual gags present in the music videos he animated on. His works from 2010 and on played up the surrealist gags and animation even more.
- Taught by Experience: Nearly all of his skills as an animator are self-taught from tirelessly studying classic cartoons. The closest formal education he had was one semester at Sheridan College, from which he was expelled for poor attendance.
- Technician vs. Performer: Split right in the middle. He strongly believes you should be a very skilled artist to be an animator, but also believes said skills should be in the service of entertaining an audience and not just focusing solely on refining your skills in craftsmanship.
- The Twelve Principles of Animation: He feels only the first five (Solid Drawing, Appeal, Exaggeration, Staging and Timing) are truly essential principles, and pointed to shows like Roger Ramjet to prove that no matter how low budget your animation is, you can still make a great cartoon using these principles alone. With that said, he started experimenting with full animation in the name of funny movement, due becoming bored with pose-to-pose animation like he did on Ren & Stimpy.
- Vulgar Humor: All of his work was very, very much in favor of this and playing shocking, politically incorrect subjects for laughs. Ren and Stimpy is most famous for this due to its Grossout Show nature, but his work after that cranked it up even further. In an interview discussing Spumco Comic Book, he made it clear that his intention for it was to completely spit in the face of political correctness."There's this whole fucking Barbra Streisand movement to make people pretend they're not human; that they don't have human desires and they don't say human things in real life, and all it does is frustrate your natural urges. Eventually we're all going to become mass murderers. We're suppressing everything that comes natural to us. If there is any place where you should let out all of your frustrations, it's entertainment. Everybody has evil dirty thoughts. Most men love pretty girls; you're not supposed to love pretty girls anymore, which is like *insane*. If you hate all that stuff, you should buy our comic book. Our comic book is all about humanity. It's about the things that you really think about but you're afraid to say to anybody."
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He has a rather infamous complex regarding his father (who was a hyper-masculine man's man who hated that his son became a cartoonist) which bled into practically everything he worked on.
- What Could Have Been:
- During the 1980's when John was working on Mighty Mouse, Ralph Bakshi had recognized John's talent. Ralph and John were planning on teaming up to do an animated film called "Bobby's Girl". Which was set to be a parody of the teen comedies during the time. However TriStar canceled the project. But artwork of this proposed project can be seen in the Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi book. It's interesting to think what John's career would have been like if he were a film director, not a creator of television shows.
- He went into DreamWorks Animation to pitch a movie, and came back with an Executive Meddling horror story.
- When John was first fired, many cartoons he was working on were left on the cutting room floor. It's interesting to think how his career and show would have gone if he hadn't have been fired.
- One of the scrapped projects in particular was a pilot for a Disney animated series called Green Monkeys. This is ironic because he often bashes Disney.
- The kickstarter campaign for Cans Without Labels proposed a campaign for a follow-up short starring Sody Pop if Labels was finished. While Cans Without Labels was eventually finished, the fact that its release happened well after the revelation that he had sexually abused underage girls made it very unlikely anyone would fund a short created by him starring a blatant jailbait character.
- In the early 2010s, he started putting together a new studio in Florida, from which he got fired before anything could be produced (and this was before the pedophilia accusations).
- Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things
- John used to host regular AIM chats with the fandom, and post Q&A sessions on certain Ren & Stimpy message boards. Some chats and question sessions went well, at least at first. However, after a large amount of "heckling" and being drowned out with constant clamoring requests of "Do you like this show? What do you think of this show? What's your opinion on anime?", etc. (mostly done for the purpose of troll-baiting his opinionated statements against animated shows he didn't like), with even moderation not helping matters of people getting somewhat out of hand, he dropped this method of communication altogether.
- He later created his own self-moderated blog to talk about various subjects and drawing and animated character theories, and did participate in comment discussions there. He has restrained himself from making as many overt statements about cartoons he does not like quite as much, having focused more of his attention on simply praising the inspirations he does admire.
- After the pedophilia accusations first came to light, he shut down all commenting on his blog, deleted his Twitter account, and to this day, he only sporadically active on Facebook, where the only thing he does is try to sell his art via Shopify and his old blog, and he deletes any comments and blocks any users that challenge him about the scandal.