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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 Kricfalusinote  (born September 9, 1955), also known as John K., is a 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.

Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Kricfalusi attended Sheridan College for exactly one semester in 1978 before getting expelled for poor attendance. After moving to Los Angeles, he spent several years bouncing around various animation studios, most notably working for Ralph Bakshi on his mid-1980s Mighty Mouse revival. However, Kricfalusi openly hated most of the projects he worked on, and generally split from these studios acrimoniously. Having burned too many bridges to keep getting animation work, Kricfalusi founded the illustration company Spümcø. Around this time, the cable channel Nickelodeon put out a call for creator-driven cartoons — "Nicktoons" — and Spümcø was one of the first on their call list.

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In 1991, The Ren and Stimpy Show was unleashed upon the world. Its Vulgar Humor, violent slapstick and Deranged Animation simultaneously made it an immediate controversy and a huge hit with audiences who, like its creators, longed for the kind of jokes and visuals which were previously only seen in Golden Age-era theatrical cartoons. It went on to become one of the most popular and influential cartoons of the decade, making Spümcø 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 own animation studio.

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Over the next few years, Spümcø would create several smaller projects, most notably 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. Spümcø also produced the superhero spoof The Ripping Friends, which Kricfalusi considers a bit of an Old Shame, for Teletoon.

Kricfalusi's next major project saw him return to Ren and Stimpy for the raunchy revival, Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon". Now with carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, Kricfalusi cranked everything about the series Up to Eleven, taking a somewhat transgressive children's cartoon and heading full speed into Animated Shock Comedy territory. Unfortunately, this new project would also be plagued by even longer production delays than its predecessor. The show was canceled after three episodes following unanimously negative reception from critics and fans.

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, delays were constant, and the money was terribly mismanaged. The short was eventually released, albeit seven years after the fact, and was met with abysmal reception over the poor quality of its animation as well as its content.

By this time, Kricfalusi's reputation for mismanaging projects and being an abrasive, caustic personality was public knowledge, and had already damaged his career to the point that a comeback was very unlikely. In March 2018, however, former Spümcø employees Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice publicly accused Kricfalusi of grooming them, multiple instances of statutory rape, and possession of child pornography — some of which featured himself as the abuser — and several of Kricfalusi's coworkers came forth to support their claims. While Kricfalusi was never taken to court due to the statute of limitations, his reputation took such a tremendous hit that he announced his semi-retirement from animation soon thereafter.

Not to be confused with fellow Canadian and Steppenwolf lead singer John Kay, nor with Florida pop singer John K. or American actor John Krasinski.

His personal blog can be found here.


Shows He Has Worked On / Works Of His Include:

  • Animated Music Videos for the Tenacious D songs "Fuck Her Gently" and "Classico". According to Katie Rice, John didn't 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, although he was pre-occupied with Adult Party Cartoon to work on the game and dismissed his involvement on the game and assumed young cartoons who draw 'tude "worked on it when he wasn't looking".
  • Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon": Creator and voice of Ren Höek.
  • I Miss You: Music video for Björk, from her album Post.
  • Three 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.

John Kricfaluci's works provide examples of:

  • 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 Toon Boom 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 Chicoutimi, Quebec, 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 Kricfalusi 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 has 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 Ruegger 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:
  • 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. Kricfalusi 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.
  • 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: Kricfalusi 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.
  • 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 Kricfalusi 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: He did several commentaries for the second and third volumes of 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 the fifth volume. 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.
    • 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 usually said that they are only gay "when it's funny."
  • God Does Not Own This World: Nickelodeon owned the rights to The Ren & Stimpy Show, so they continued production without Kricfalusi after they terminated his contract. He actually got another chance to helm control of his creation when he was brought back for the Adult Party Cartoon revival, but it was the last time he would have any official involvement with the franchise, as it has been confirmed that, in light of the statutory rape scandal, the Comedy Central reboot is being made without any involvement from Kricfalusi whatsoever.
  • 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.
  • He Also Did:
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: He loved mining hardass child-rearing for all the comedy it is 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 Kricfalusi's family wanting to inherit them in the future.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance:
    • He is best remembered for Ren and Stimpy, but Kricfalusi considered George Liquor to be his strongest character.
    • While he is as critical of APC as the next guy, he considered the APC episode "Altruists" to be the best episode of Ren and Stimpy he has ever made. Needless to say, the fandom disagreed with him. Hard.
  • Off-Model: Kricfalusi 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 Kricfalusi's idol, as well as the fact that Kricfalusi 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. Kricfalusi, 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 Kricfalusi 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 Kricfalusi'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 Kricfalusi 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:
  • Schedule Slip: Nearly every production he has 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, Kricfalusi 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 Versus 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 of 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 was every bit as nihilistic as you would 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 Versus Performer: Split right in the middle. He strongly believes that you should be a very skilled artist to be an animator, but also believes that 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 to 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 Kricfalusi was working on Mighty Mouse, Ralph Bakshi had recognized Kricfalusi's talent. Bakshi and Kricfalusi 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 Kricfalusi'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 Kricfalusi 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
    • Kricfalusi 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.

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