John Kricfalusi has been making completely hilarious cartoons for about two decades. Most people are familiar with his work on ‘The New Adventures of Mighty mouse’ in the late 80’s and of course, ‘The Ren and Stimpy Show’. Lately, you can catch his brilliance in animation and story telling in two ‘Ranger Smith’ shorts on Cartoon Network, and his on-line cartoon web site and company, SPUMCO (that’s at www.spumco.com, ladies and gentlemen). At Spumco.com, you can watch the daily talking comic strips of the ever-lovable redneck, George Liquor (who, incidentally, was intended to be Ren and Stimpy’s owner in the original series) and George’s web cartoons, featuring his buddy, the slobbering Jimmy the Idiot, among others. John K. and his partner in crime, Jim Smith, will be bringing us a new cartoon series on FOX kids very soon, entitled ‘The Ripping Friends’. When I heard the news that he was going to be hitting TV Land again with a new series, I got off my ass and tracked down his. I tried asking as many good questions as I could think of, so I hope you can get the low down on what he’s up to. Here’s what I managed to think of:
Jason R: Do a lot of people mispronounce your last name? (I know I did until I heard it on one of your Spumco cartoon commercials)
John K: I did for 16 years. I just learned to spell it last year.
What schooling did you receive for animation and cartooning?
I went to Sheridan College for a year, but mostly I learned by studying old cartoons on video tape. Cartoons from the 1940’s and 50’s. The old Clampett and Jones Warner Bros. cartoons and the Tex Avery MGM cartoons. When I was a kid I used to copy cartoon drawings from newspaper comic strips and from comic books. I also used to copy all the old Hanna Barbera cartoons designed by Ed Benedict. Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, etc.
What was your first cartoon?
It was called ‘Ted Bakes One’. It was a 1 minute short cartoon for a cable TV show called ‘Channel One’ in 1980. It was about a chicken who had something stuck in his ass and he ran around screaming until he could squeeze it out. My first foray into intellectual animation. Bill Wray and I produced the cartoon. We were about 24 years old.
When did you start Spumco?
Spumco was formed in 1989.
Has Spumco.com gone the way you envisioned? I sure have seen a lot of things on it that you never were able to do on network television (like the super hero pooping in a toilet, and Jimmy the Idiot pissing himself, among others).
Spumco.com was started about 4 years ago. It’s going about the way I envisioned except a lot slower. I figured once we put up the first Internet cartoon 3 years ago, everybody would have jumped to give us money to produce more. People only now have realized that Internet content is going to be huge. I always have these ideas way before businesses are ready for them, then I have to wait for the world to catch up. It drives me crazy. It took me 9 years to convince someone to buy Ren and Stimpy.
What is the story behind “The Ripping Friends” ?
The Ripping Friends is about 4 manly heroes who rip things that stand in the way of freedom, justice and manliness. Vigilante types. Somewhat like superheroes except that they don’t have any fancy-ass powers. They’re just really manly and they like pain.
When and where can we (your faithful viewers) expect to see it air?
It’s been picked up by Fox Kids and will air next year before summer.
The George Liquor cartoons crack me up. I finally saw episode 8. How often will they continue to come out or when can we expect episode 9?
We are negotiating a contract right now to have the George Liquor program and two spin-off series financed. Once that happens we will produce them so that they appear on a weekly or at least a bi-weekly basis. The reason they are slow right now is that we produce them without a regular sponsor. I just wanted to demonstrate to the world that internet cartoons are possible.
You definitely have proven it. Do you retain the rights to any of the characters from Ren and Stimpy?
George Liquor and my Dad. George Liquor was originally an integral character in the Ren and Stimpy show. He was their master. He only appeared in 4 episodes, because the ex-hippie ladies that ran Nickelodeon hated him. My Dad starred in ‘Visit To Anthony’ an episode from the second season.
(Forgive my lack of research but…) You have a band, correct?
I don’t have a band. Jim Smith was in a band called Der Screamin’ Lederhosen and another one called Freehead. He now plays with the Carter Bros. Blues Band. I wrote some songs for The Ren and Stimpy Show. Jim was the one who played the killer guitar.
What are your favorite comic books?
Milt Gross Funnies. 1960’s Jack Kirby Fantastic Four and Steve Ditko Spiderman. Also Gene Colan’s 60’s comics for Marvel. Bob Hope comics drawn by Owen Fitzgerald in the 1950’s. Supermouse. Terrytoons comics. Old funny animal comics in general. World’s Finest comics from the 1960’s-the ones where on the cover Batman was always trying to kill Superman. Then you’d buy the comic and find out it was a lie. The story inside didn’t have anything to do with the cover. Don Martin comics in Mad Magazine. Hey Look by Harvey Kurtzman. Comic Strips: BC. Peanuts in the 1950’s. Wizard Of Id. Dick Tracy. Any Milt Gross strips. Polly and Her Pals. Popeye.
Were you happy with your Spumco series that came out from Marvel comics?
Only one came out from Marvel. The next 3 were published by Dark Horse. Unfortunately the comic book business crashed just as we got into it, so we gave up and started doing the stories on the web. It’s a shame, because I love comics.
Favorite cartoon characters or series?
Bob Clampett Looney Tunes. Fleischer cartoons: The early Betty Boops before they used model sheets and the black and white Popeyes. Early HB cartoons as I mentioned above. Roger Ramjet.
Millions. Almost all music I like occured before 1970. 30’s to 50’s Country and Western: The Louvin Bros. Hank Williams. The Sons Of The Pioneers. George Jones. Ray Price. Patsy Cline. Many more. Swing Music: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Louis Prima, Louis Jordan, etc. Vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Brook Benton, Dinah Washington, Buddy Greco, many, many more. Rock and Roll: Elvis, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Cream, Led Zeppelin’s second album, all the people that everyone steals from now.
Wow, what a list. So, if you were on death row, what would your final meal consist of?
Meat, Ice Cream and Pussy.
Are there any modern animated cartoons that you enjoy?
Beavis and Butthead is hilarious. Powerpuff girls has great color styling. Cow and Chicken is drawn beautifully.
In your essay, “Video De-Enhancement: A Special Editorial”, you explain that many of the great classic cartoons are being ruined when transferred to the digital medium, and that if they continue at the present rate, there will be no way to see those films the way their creators intended. “Somehow, cartoon fans have got to work together to stop it.” Have you come up with any workable solutions? What can I, or one of our readers, do to try and curtail the destruction of cartoon originals?
Well, you as a writer could write about it. That might help. The more people who do, maybe someone will listen.
So, uh, what do you think of Pokemon cartoons?
Not much. It’s a good scam.
What can we expect in the near future from Spumco?
We are starting a cartoon network online. We are going to develop new animation software to improve the quality of what you can do with cartoons, because the software that exists now is pretty primitive. We want to continue making quality toys of cartoon characters.
Wow! Thanks John K. I can safely and most assuredly say that you totally kick ass! Don’t forget, even if you don’t have internet, you can head down to public library and browse for free. So what are you waiting for? Go check ‘em out!