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John K with his two most famous creations.

"Everybody's ugly in real life. You just have to look close. Look inside anybody's nose."
John K, "Film Threat #7".
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Michael John Kricfalusi (pronounced as kris-fa-LOO-see, born September 9, 1955), also known as John K., is a well-known Canadian animator, the creator of such series as The Ren & Stimpy Show and The Ripping Friends. He worked on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures with his friend and mentor Ralph Bakshi, as well as the very short lived revival of Beany and Cecil, with the offspring of his hero and mentor Bob Clampett. He has also dabbled in webtooning with "The George Liquor Show" and "Weekend Pussy Hunt", being a pioneer of Flash-based cartoons. He was the founder of the now-defunct animation studio Spümcø.John K is a fan of “classic” cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation, such as Looney Tunes. He is a controversial figure in animation history, with some seeing him as the man who brought back “cartoony” cartoons to television, while others see him as Small Name, Big Ego. (This is not the place to debate either of those things.)

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He formerly maintained a blog, John K. Stuff, wherein he posts information on classic cartoons and practical knowledge for aspiring animators. There is also a more distilled version with advice and lessons on cartooning and animation, John K Curriculum. Note that both are home to John K’s notoriously controversial opinions regarding animation, including his belief that good drawings are the back-bone of a cartoon's success (rather than it being the story, which is the common contemporary belief). He is very opinionated, and some rants may be a little overwhelming. However, if you're willing to look past his opinions, you can find some pretty useful information about animation technique and history that's sure to interest any budding animator.

On March 29, 2018, word got out that Kricfalusi had sexual encounters with multiple underage girls and that he may possess child pornography. As a result, Nickelodeon has effectively erased Kricfalusi and Ren & Stimpy from its history, going as far as to never again air the series on their NickSplat programming block, nor streaming it on their service of the same name on VRV. (Although they don't seem to be above posting clips of it on their YouTube channel, however...)

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Not to be confused with John Kay, the lead singer for Steppenwolf.


Shows He Has Worked On / Works Of His Include:


John Kricfalusi and his works provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: He loves mining hardass child-rearing for all the comedy they're worth, especially in the form of "traditional" fathers like George Liquor.
  • 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 has always drawn and animated with his trademark style, moving to 2D computer animation with Flash clearly had an effect on it, as he was recreating the same type of cartoons 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 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 has 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 seems to be hardest on is himself:
    • John has been critical of his early work, particularly on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and The Ren & Stimpy Show. He even warns 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 claims 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 shows success go to his head and losing his longtime girlfriend 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 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 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, allowing 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 characters 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 - pretty much 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 most recent project, "Cans Without Labels," reached it's goal on Kickstarter in 2013. Nothing was heard about it since. And now with the pedophilia allegations, it's most likely never going to be finished.
  • Digital Destruction: Trope Namer is one of his articles which goes into how the "restorations" of older cartoons are 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 considers 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.
    • He has been quoted as saying that he didn't know or care if they were gay (saying it was "none of his business"), but it's pretty clear that they are if APC is anything to go by.
    • He's usually said that they're only gay "when it's funny."
  • 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 makes censors cry and has 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: Trope Maker is The Ren & Stimpy Show. He took this Up to Eleven in Adult Party Cartoon. Nowadays, he's become tired of gross-out gags and wishes to focus more on personality and acting in his cartoons.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Pioneered 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:
  • Jailbait: His character Soda Pop is a shamelessly sexualized teenage girl. His appearance on The Howard Stern Show had him outright bragging that she was underage. A sign of things to come, perhaps?
  • Lying Creator: To say the least, many of his stories about Spumco and his career in animation have been called into question by his animation contemporaries, especially in regards to his views on the history of Ren and Stimpy. And that is all we're saying on the matter.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: A John K trademark. Used all over his cartoons, especially Ren & Stimpy. He's also a specialist on finding such content in other cartoons, particularly Disney films.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: His recent cartoons from around the 2010s and on 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 have anything resembling plots or narratives. He claims 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 considers George Liquor to be his strongest character.
    • While he's as critical of APC as the next guy, he considers the APC episode "Altruists" to be the best episode of Ren and Stimpy he's ever made. Needlessly to say, the fandom disagrees with him. Hard.
  • Old Shame: The Ripping Friends. He also dislikes about talking 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.
  • Not So Different: Former colleagues are quick to point out that he may have been just as creatively stifling at the "non-artists" (executives, writers, etc.) he demonized. While he accused the Nick executives of neutering too many jokes and making Ren and Stimpy too soft, just as many former Spumco employees will say 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 distain for model sheets and stock poses which were the norm in The Dark Age Of Animation (when he started working), his 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 (notice Ren's horn-rimmed glasses, the same kind Kricfalusi wears).
  • Off-Model: John took this trope to the extreme — he never used model sheets beyond establishing a general idea of what the character looks 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.
  • 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 has made no mystery that many of his cartoons are based on or are 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 considers vulgarity to be the most human source of comedy, made this a big part of the shows appeal.
    • Its 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, are John's way of venting his anger at his own hyper-masculine father. The cartoons in which they appear are largely based on ways that his father bullied him as a child. The elder Kricfalusi even voices 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.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: After John K's sexual predator behaviour towards his underage female employees came to light, he was immediately fired from the new cartoon studio he tried to launch in Florida, and its safe to say that his career, already in shambles as is due to his notorious reputation, has been deep sixed 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: The often-cited reason Nickelodeon fired him from his own show, although the man himself jossed this and insists "Man's Best Friend" was what got him booted off. He also backhanded the claims of not meeting deadlines, claiming that Executive Meddling kept forcing him to retool the episodes over and over until they were accepted. Everyone else present at the time, however, said it had more to do with his perfectionism and refusing to wrap production on cartoons until they were 110% to his liking.
  • 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 has no tact when it comes to discussing offensive subject matter or the hardships of life and being a cartoonist. His definition of a real cartoonist (using cartoonists like Virgil Partch and Robert Crumb as examples) is basically that it requires 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 is 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 its every bit as nihilistic as you'd expect.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus 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 do 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 play up the surrealist gags and animation even more.
  • Taught by Experience: The closest formal training he ever received was one year at Sheridan College, from which he was expelled for his poor attendance. He's otherwise entirely self-taught, learning primarily from studying cartoons and comics he enjoys on his own time, simply because he didn't feel like anyone was teaching him what he wanted to know.
  • 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, pointing 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 has been experimenting with full animation in the name of funny movement, due to now being bored with pose-to-pose animation like he did on Ren & Stimpy.
  • Vulgar Humor: 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 cranks 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."
  • 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 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.
    • Cans Without Labels, which currently only exists as an animatic with minimal animation. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, it languished in Development Hell and is now most likely never going to be finished.
    • The kickstarter campaign for Cans Without Labels proposed a campaign for a follow-up short starring Sody Pop if Labels was finished. Not only does it seem as though Labels will never be finished, but it's incredibly unlikely that anyone would fund a short by an accused pedophile staring 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 doesn't like) and even moderation not helping matters of people getting somewhat out of hand, he dropped this method of communication altogether.
    • He later would created his own self-moderated blog to talk about various subjects and drawing and animated character theories, and does participate in comment discussions there. He has lessened considerably himself from making as many overt statements about cartoons he does not like quite as much, focusing more of his attention on simply praising the inspirations he does admire.
    • After the pedophilia accusations, he shut down all commenting on his blog, deleted his Twitter account, and is only sporadically active on Facebook and Instagram now, where the only thing he does is sell his art via Spotify and his old blog, and he deletes any comments and blocks any users that challenge him about the scandal. As of this writing, there is a petition to get him banned from Instagram.

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