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Quotes / John Kricfalusi

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Quotes by John K.

"Taking the cartooniness out of the cartoon does not make it realistic. It just makes it bland. This is my biggest complaint about modern animation and it goes back to Disney. If you are going to go to great lengths to take the cartooniness, magic and imagination out of your cartoon characters, then you better replace it with something else - like maybe good specific designs and and an understanding of human nature and individual multi-layered characters. Rich personalities derived from observation of real life humans interacting the way they really do in the actual world around you. This never happens."
—John K, quote excerpted from one of his posts. on John K. Stuff.

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"A lot of characters in modern cartoons are simply mouthpieces for the writers. They speak in the writer's voice rather than the character's voice, tell the jokes that the writer and his writer friends think are funny, but are totally out-of-character for the character who is actually saying them. This common writer's flaw is known as "writerspeak". "I'll bet that asteroid will burn out in the atmosphere and shrink to the size of a chihuahua's head". That's writerspeak. It's informational, a setup for a gag that is supposed to happen at the end of the cartoon. A gag that the audience will predict the second they hear the writerspeak setup and congratulate themselves when they find that they were duped into being right. A gag that the cartoonists are not allowed to actually make funny by drawing the payoff funny. This is a line of dialogue that could be read by any character in the story."

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"I mean, it’s a visual medium – it’s the most visual medium, even more than live-action. Even old, classic live-action movies, most of the directors were artists – John Ford, John Huston, these old directors were artists, they really were visual people, and in cartoons it’s even more so. Everybody in a cartoon production in the 1930s to the 1950s was an artist. They didn’t even use scripts, if you went to Walt Disney and said “Hey, I’ve got this great script for a cartoon” he’d look at you like you were crazy. This is animation, you have animators with a story sense write the stories on storyboards. As soon as scripts took over the animation business, it was kind of the end of the visual part of animation, and since the sixties it’s just become more and more inbred."
—John Kricfalusi, quoted from interview "A Conversation with John Kricfalusi"

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"Roger Ramjet cartoons deals in only the essentials - which are much cheaper than the fancy expensive polishing process that goes on in the big studios. In fact Eddie (Fitzgerald) and I often cleanse ourselves with Roger Ramjet cartoons right after watching a spectacular well polished, pore- filled blockbuster."

"The animated features today and most TV cartoons are written by comittees of people who try to figure out what entertains an audience. They should instead be written by entertaining people who already know because they entertain people everywhere they go in real life. That's why we have so much insincere non-entertainment crap like "Character-arcs", bad puns, ripoffs of famous movies in the guise of "parody", contrived pathos, characters who try to find themselves, bland protagonists, one-shaded villains, broadway style tuneless songs that "move the plot forward", in every damn feature. Anyone in the world can learn how to "write" this kind of stuff. It's not "story" or writing. It's just stuff."

"Tom and Jerry is about as uninspired a cartoon series as was ever created. It's pure generic cartoon thinking of the time. What is a cartoon? Uh... it's where a cat chases a mouse and there is lots of hurt and noise and mayhem. It's hard to be more basic than that, so Bill and Joe didn't fix something that wasn't broken for 15 or 16 years. For that whole period they didn't even try to create new characters."

"For decades, we've have endless repetitions of a small handful of stock stylized cliched characters. Why is this so? It all started with Walt Disney himself. It took him years to get to the point where his characters evolved even one superficial trait. His first star character had not a single trait. Mickey is the ultimate bland character. His appeal completely depends on how cute the individual artists can draw such simple shapes. He's made of circles and ovals and has no personality. He doesn't even have a distinct voice. It's just Walt in falsetto — which sounds exactly like anyone else doing a falsetto. He's very cute though and is a good character to train your youngest kids to understand cartoons with. He makes a good logo."

"Nickelodeon said I could keep him [George Liquor] so long as he doesn't become a child molester or mass murderer. Exactly how many people do you have to kill before you're a mass murderer?"
— John K. in the DVD extras for the Ren and Stimpy Show.

Quotes about John K.

If you thought some of his writing there was off-putting, imagine him yelling those things at you! He wasn't just musing in his own head on the blog. He actually talked to people at the studio like that, insulting and degrading them if they drew flat or "uninteresting" drawings. His anger isn't just reserved for imaginary Filmation animators. It's real, it's ugly, and it's devastating. The "nice" John you read on the blog, who just happens to have a curmudgeonly streak, is an anomaly we rarely saw. The whole thing is the streak. Some of his online fans got the Dr. Jekyll version of him. Others had a whole crew's worth of Mr. Hyde unleashed on them.
—Animator Robyn Byrd on working for John Kricfalusi

Genius is the twin brother of madness—both live in a world created by their own EGO. When I go to work for someone I NEVER bring my personal problems to the arena. The creators of most of the shows I've done don't seem to do that either. John K. wasn't a little bit difficult to work with. He was darn near impossible to work with. His abuse of actors including myself is legendary and was not so much about the search for perfection—it was about borderline sadism and control. His whole fixation with hell dads and boys and torture and punishment... well, I've made millions and millions of people laugh but I don't get what's funny about endless repititions of that crap that he dotes on. There's a difference between cries for help and comedy
Billy West on working for John Kricfalusi

Like many other people, I’ve grown accustomed to thinking of your Ren & Stimpy cartoons as Clampett-flavored theatrical cartoons that have been squashed inside TV budgets. You've relied on "acting" through outlandish drawings, rather than through comic movement of the kind that made Clampett’s cartoons unique, and what you've done has seemed like an inevitable limitation, given TV budgets. I've come to doubt, though, that your budgets are most to blame. What your cartoons really are, I'm afraid, is true TV cartoons—that is, cartoons as deliberately mechanical as The Flintstones—but with a Clampett-like veneer. As a kid, you loved the early H-B cartoons; in your early twenties, you discovered Clampett's Warner cartoons. Now you've created a peculiar amalgam of the two, but with Hanna-Barbera as the dominating influence.

Even "Stimpy's Pregnant" is a conventional TV cartoon at its heart. The business with Ren as the chauvinistic, thoughtless father is pure sitcom, and when your characters pause between fits, they lapse into expressions as blank and "generic" as anything in Huckleberry Hound. You give your characters too much dialogue, using voices as a crutch, just as Hanna-Barbera and other TV cartoon makers have always done.

Your comments about Mel Blanc's voice for Piggy Bank Robbery are revealing in this regard. You say that Rod Scribner in his animation "is completely listening to every inflection in Mel's voice—every single phoneme gets its own unique drawing to go with it". You don't acknowledge the possibility—actually, the likelihood—that Blanc created those inflections in response to Clampett's direction, and that Clampett wanted those inflections because he had already envisioned the kind of animation he wanted from Scribner. That kind of subtle interplay among a director and his artists is what makes all the great cartoons so good, and I see scant evidence of it in your recent films.

All of this is not to say that your best cartoons, some entries in the original R&S series especially, aren’t important, and often tremendously enjoyable. I still think that they open up all kinds of exciting possibilities. But I’m increasingly skeptical about whether you will ever realize any of those possibilities yourself.
-Animation historian Michael Barrier in a 2004 debate with John.


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