John Kricfalusi

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"Everybody's ugly in real life. You just have to look close. Look inside anybody's nose."
—Excerpted quote from a 90's magazine interview with him.

John Kricfalusi (pronounced as kris-fa-LOO-see) is a well-known animator, the creator of such series as Ren and Stimpy 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 defunct animation studio Spumco.

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 an egotistical has-been. (This is not the place to debate either of those things.)

He maintains 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.

Shows he has worked on / Works of his include:

Also see the YMMV and Trivia tabs up top.

John Kricfalusi provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All Animation Is Disney: He has never worked for Disney. Despite this, there are a few products out there which have a similar style to his, which is where the confusion comes from. Most of the products were made by former workers of Spumco (or people inspired by Spumco) such as Flintstones: On the Rocks, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, The Looney Tunes Show. The list could go on.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: He did commentary for the Ren and Stimpy DVDs ... including the episodes after he was fired from the show. Much bile ensued.
  • Alan Smithee: John once did this to an episode of Ren and Stimpy. See Creator Backlash in the Trivia tab.
  • Animated Music Video: Make one in a collaberation with Bjork.
  • Author Appeal: Where do we even start? Among them: Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, old comics, classic superheroes, Ub Iwerks, Hanna-Barbera, The Beatles, Popeye, Max and Dave Fleischer stuff in general, Mighty Mouse, Beany and Cecil, Woody Woodpecker, Milt Gross, Frank Frazetta and even Disney to a degree.[1] He also has a real fondness for Off-Model toys, which he's made quite a big collection of over the years.
  • Canada, Eh?: A native of Ottawa, he poked fun at Canadian stereotypes in pieces like "The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen".
    • He also dealt with at least one censorship attempt by Nickelodeon by saying "You let Les Lye say this on your network, and I'm from the same city as him". He got his way.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: His cartoons are full of them, almost all based on people or actors John has observed throughout his life.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Judging by this content of his shows...
  • Caustic Critic: He often refers to the makers of any cartoon he doesn't like as either "retarded" or "evil" - sometimes both.
  • 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 anime).
  • Creator Breakdown: He seemed to suffer this after he was booted off of Ren and Stimpy. Billy West and Gary Owens have told horror stories of John chewing them out over the phone for still working with Nickelodeon and not leaving with the other retaliating Spumco staff.
  • 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: All of his work is pretty weird or crazy. His Bjork music video is full of this.
  • 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.
  • Dirty Old Man: He has a reputation for openly lusting after the young female animators he hires. (This can be heard in DVD commentaries).
  • DVD Commentary: Did several interesting 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 the Sailor DVD sets, and Thunderbean's Wartime Cartoon sets.
  • Flame War: Just saying his name can stir up pages of bile directed towards him. On that note, just being a fan of him or even associated with him, or even trying to defend him will automatically guarantee you to be labelled as a troll or fanboy of him on countless forums.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Before founding Spumco, he was fired from almost every major animation studio in America. He especially went through this during the production of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, claiming that he lost count of how many times Ralph Bakshi fired him and rehired him from the show.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
  • The Golden Age of Animation: While not a full-fledged historian, he is a huge nut for this era, and is very knowledgeable about it as a result, helped by collaberating with some historians such as Steve Worth.
  • Gross-Out Show: Trope Maker is The Ren and Stimpy Show. He took this Up to Eleven in Adult Party Cartoon. Nowadays, he's become tired of grossout gags and wishes to focus more on personality and acting in his cartoons.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A rumor is circulating that he deliberately slowed down production of Ren and Stimpy episodes so that the censors would have less time to go over them. While this apparently did work, Nickelodeon ultimately fired him for not meeting his deadlines.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: A John K trademark. Used all over his cartoons, especially Ren & Stimpy - in fact, in Adult Party Cartoon, they go ahead and... do the nasty. He's also a specialist on finding such content in other cartoons, particularly Disney films.
  • Jerkass: Can and does descend into this, as his employees can vouch for.
  • Kitsch Collection: John LOVES Off-Model toys.
  • Let's See You Do Better: Some of his blog posts profess a belief that if you're not an artist yourself, you have no business criticizing them. And evn if you are an artist, you have no business criticizing artists who are more accomplished than you.
  • Mars Needs Women: When John fondly recalls how old sci-fi comics had lots of scantily clad women in them that the aliens were always after in the post "A Universal Truth".
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: His character Ren is a jerk, but John can be a pretty nice guy in person. That said, he can and does descend into Jerkass territory—some of his former employees like Billy West can vouch for this.
  • Multiple Choice Past: There are at least four different stories for as to why John was fired from Nickelodeon: John himself claims that it was the "Man's Best Friend" episode, Billy West claims that it was slipped deadlines (Jossed by John, who claims he was only late with one or two episodes, wheras Games was late with almost every episode they made) and one commenter on his blog claimed that an executive told him that John was fired for insulting one of them. The short lived magazine Wild Cartoon Kingdom also claimed that the Dog Show episode was what got him fired.
  • Nostalgia Filter: John apparently refuses to accept that anything after 1970 could possibly be better than anything from before.
    • On the other hand, he did say Toy Story was "pretty good" for its well constructed plot, specific character acting, and "cute, well-balanced designs". He claims Pixar is (relatively) the best studio out there right now. He also likes Cow and Chicken, the color and timing of Genndy Tartakovsky's cartoons, Gorillaz, Aeon Flux, and King of the Hill—or anything by Mike Judge, for that matter. He also described the unused Plastic Man pilot offered to Cartoon Network as "pretty good", "visually interesting and appealing" and that it "stands out from most of what's out there right now". Also, what may come off as a surprise, he doesn't hold even half the contempt for Anime that he does for modern American animation. He claimed that "he can't watch the stuff" (due to not being heartfelt and alive in his opinion), but he loves the color schemes Japanese cartoonists use and encourages their giving the audience what it wants. Also "Wallace and Gromit".
  • NSFW: Some of the imagery from his blog entries. It'd probably be in your best interests to wait until you get home to browse.
  • Off-Model: John took this trope to the extreme—he never used model sheets, 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.
  • Pet Peeve Trope:
    • Disney School of Acting and Mime: He has strongly expressed his disdain for "Disney acting", feeling that it encourages formulaic, "in-human" acting, to the point where he forbids his artists from drawing anything that he considers a Disney expression.
    • Dreamworks Face: He hates this expression so much that he won't let his staff draw anything that even remotely looks like it, including non-cocky smirks or eyebrows raised out of curiosity.
    • Executive Meddling: He does not like having his works tampered with. In fact, he swore off one project and gave up on two others because of it.
    • Filler: Specifically, he considers things like phony pathos scenes and character arcs to be a waste of the audience's time and having zilch to do with entertainment.
    • Lazy Artist: John strongly insists that solid drawing is (almost always) the backbone of nearly any worthwhile cartoon or comic, claiming that poor drawing or lazy artistry will severely limit what you can do creatively with animation, hence why he has high standards for his artists.
    • Rotoscoping: Strongly discouraged by him, with one comment telling a student to just learn how to draw on their own, and that it doesn't help anything and it looks terrible.
    • Tear Jerker moments: He hates Pathos scenes in general, at least scenes that use staging, mood tricks and music instead of emotions to trigger them, since they strike him as a cheap, sleazy way of getting audience symphathy, instead of using the characters acting. He even made "Son of Stimpy" to show just how easy it is to get people to cry over a scene when you use the right tricks, as he discusses here.
    • Writers: John makes no mystery of his contempt of using scriptwriters for cartoons, feeling that cartoons should only use storyboards instead—this is probably because he feels that scriptwriters have no understanding of how to use animation other than as a literal interpretation of a script, or because he thinks they make things more of a burden for animators by having them do things that don't work well in animation, like writing crowd shots or frustrating drawing angles. His "Bobby Bigloaf" pitches and an interview in Heroes Illustrated show a contempt for comic book writers as well.
  • Prima Donna Director: John is a very tough person to work for, as many of his students and employees can attest to. If you ever want to work for him without stirring bad blood, it's in your best interest to be willing to work completely on his terms.
  • Properly Paranoid: Not today, but certainly in the 90's. It was probably due to an incident where Time Magazine forged many quotes he didn't say from when they did an interview with him—at least, according to the long defunct magazine Wild Cartoon Kingdom.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: He joked in an interview with Mike Judge that he's probably gonna go to Hell.
  • Shown Their Work: Love or hate the man, his blog is an impressive collection of artistic skills and influences, as well as theories on animation, including a seperate cirriculum. However, he has slowed down his posts in recent times, due to him feeling that many other animation blogs have surpassed his own.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Peter David had some choice words to say about John's disdain for comic book writers.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Considering that the man is a walking encyclopedia of The Golden Age of Animation, this is rather appropriate.
  • The Social Darwinist: He thinks the world is a man eat man world and was such "until the [2] made us lie about ourselves."
  • There Are No Good Executives: With the exception of Vanessa Coffey, the first one he worked with on Ren and Stimpy, and Fred Seibert of Cartoon Network, John seems to pretty much think this.
    • He also enjoyed working on music videos for Weird Al and Tenacious D, with those musicians as execs. According to John, they gave him pretty much complete creative control - except for Tenacious D's Kyle Gass, whose only request was to "make me look sexy" (according to John, had no problem with following that simple request).
    • Read about his trip to Dreamworks Animation (see What Could Have Been on the Trivia page). It explains a lot.
  • 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 and Stimpy.
  • 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 and 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. However, 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.
  • You Keep Using That Word: He frequently refers to executives as "Hippies".
  1. Surprisingly, he admitted in a response to a poster that he doesn't hate Classic Disney -- he likes watching Disney productions for certain scenes and their animation and art, and even likes some of their features to a degree like Bambi, Fantasia and Song of the South. However, he just finds their stories and characters inane and boring. He is no fan of modern Disney, however.
  2. By "hippies", he means Executives, not actual hippies