John Kricfalusi The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Nov 01, 2005What are your upcoming activities?
I am working on DVDs - Ren & Stimpy, The George Liquor Show and John K's Saturday Morning Block (the last two opening up the straight-to-DVD market).
What are your current fixations?
I love old movies - I watch Turner Classics all the time. Old music and singing around clubs in Hollywood; I sing country, rockabilly and yodelling.
Why do you live where you do?
[Los Angeles] is warm and this is where the business is.
Name a mind-altering work of art:
Bob Clampett's "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves."
What has been your most inspirational or memorable concert or event?
My career retrospective in Austin, Texas, where I showed a bunch of my cartoons - 15 years worth of stuff. Some of it will be featured in the Lost Episodes coming out in March.
What have been your career highs and lows?
High: Ren & Stimpy, inventing internet cartoons. Lows: Watching everyone get rich off of the things I invented.
What is the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you?
What should everyone shut up about?
That Eminem has the gift of rhyme.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Like: That I am creative. Dislike: Pec size and lack of more erections (like when I was 17).
What advice should you have taken but did not?
I did not sell out and make a cartoon for prime time, which was the advice of my agent. I should have been more like Mike Judge with King of the Hill.
What would make you kick someone out of bed?
Trying to convince me that Eminem has the gift of rhyme.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Snow, and the beauty of Ottawa.
What is your vital daily ritual?
I get up and tap dance, eat a low carb breakfast and go out and pump some iron.
What are your feeling on piracy, internet or otherwise?
I wish the internet would take advantage of what it is - a vehicle that frees artists to be more creative. Artists hook up with sponsors and attach commercials to it directly, much like how radio and television was born. As far as internet piracy, I am against copyrights whatsoever. I don't believe that Disney should be able to hang onto Mickey Mouse and Snow White. They ruined those cartoons! It should be a lot easier to get your stuff to people.
What was your most memorable day job?
I worked for the Canadian government a lot on the advice of my dad. Other than being an artist, I wasn't smart enough for any other jobs.
How do you spoil yourself?
I spoil myself with too much pizza and ice cream. I overindulge on The Three Stooges all the time as well.
Finish this sentence: "If I wasn't an animator, I would be":
A rock star. Or destitute.
What do you fear the most?
Being ground up in a wheat thresher.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Girls who like The Three Stooges.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Michael Jackson. Michael's handlers arranged a meeting with Michael and me at Neverland. This went on for months and months and months until finally it happened. The deal was that Michael wanted to start a family network: The Michael Jackson Family Network - but real family entertainment that both kids and adults loved. Michael loved my cartoons because kids and adults loved Ren & Stimpy. You see, when you put "family" in front of entertainment, it is generally everything but. My animation partner Kevin and I went to Neverland and waited for a while. You see, Michael really likes to build suspense. The other weird thing about Neverland - it has a lot of fake people all around: a fake butler and maid and fake kids on couches and such. But the real treat of Neverland was the paintings on the wall. One was a painting of Michael holding hands with kids of every race walking down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Another one was of Michael as Joan of Arc. And these paintings must have cost a ton of money. Eventually someone came and got us and brought us into a room with a bunch of guys with dark hair and big brown eyes. All of these guys had all met Michael when they were really young and they all were going to be executives in this new network. Michael eventually showed up in the room wearing pyjamas. I found out really quickly that the guys in the room where all hangers on and wanted me to animate all ideas. Michael loved the cartoons, especially the "Pee Boner" cartoon. Michael was doubled over in laughter saying that: "This guy knows what the kids want." Interestingly enough, none of the "hangers on" thought that my work was funny - it probably brought back too many traumatic childhood experiences. I will save the Steven Spielberg meeting for later.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest and what would you serve them?
The Three Stooges. I would serve them meat and pie.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
At home in Ottawa with a regular career.
Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
The inquisition or having my nipples torn out.
The recent release of The Ren & Stimpy Show as a series of DVD collections was met with a resounding cry of "Joy!" by devotees of one of the truly great cartoons of the past 25 years, if not ever. Combining affection for the golden ages of comedy and animation, along with a generous heaping of juvenile gross-out humour, Ren & Stimpy took TV animation out of the dreary pit of blandness that was the 1980s and left its mark on many of today's cartoons. While creator John Kricfalusi and his studio, Spümco, have had their share of ups and downs in subsequent years, they continue to forge on, constantly experimenting with new ways to get their work to audiences. Known for his often-scathing opinions on the state of the industry and for clashes with networks over content issues, Kricfalusi is often viewed as being difficult and stubborn. Worse still is the perception that he's somehow ornery and bitter over the greater success of the many shows that have aped the Spümco formula. Owing less to an inflated ego, this trait is driven by a genuine passion for his craft and a desire to have it treated more as an art form than a disposable medium that sells new toy lines to kids. It's made him an outsider in the business, but one whose work will have more staying power than many of his contemporaries.