Comic art by Mike Fontanelli
'George Liquor in The Butcher Shop' (Spumco Comic Book).

Mike Fontanelli is an American animator, lay-out artist and animation producer. Since the late 1980s, he has collaborated on many animated TV series, most visibly John Kricfalusi's subversive show 'Ren & Stimpy' (1991-1995). He has also worked for Kricfalusi as a comic artist for stories in the 'Spümcø Comic Book' series.

Early life and career
Michael Fontanelli was born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York City. From a young age, he loved to draw. Among his graphic influences are animators like Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Max Fleischer and Chuck Jones, the magazine cartoonists Eldon Dedini, Al Hirschfeld, Erich Sokol and Ronald Searle, as well as the comic artists Will Eisner, Milt Gross, George Herriman, Walt Kelly, Harvey Kurtzman, E.C. Segar, Cliff Sterrett and especially Al Capp. His love for the latter's work is so strong that he helped collecting information for Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen's biographical book 'Al Capp. A Life to the Contrary' (Bloomsbury, 2013). Between 1979 and 1983, Fontanelli studied at the School of Visual Arts, where he obtained his Bachelor in Fine Arts.

Storyboard drawing by Mike Fontanelli.

John Kricfalusi
As an animator, Fontanelli is best known for his work with John Kricfalusi's Spümcø studio. He was lay-out artist on Kricfalusi's reboot of Bob Clampett's classic animation series 'Beany & Cecil', titled 'Beany & Cecil: The New Adventures' (1988). While this new series was cancelled after only six episodes, Fontanelli found a longer-running stint with Kricfalusi's signature TV series 'The Ren & Stimpy Show' (1991-1995), serving as storyboard artist and character/lay-out designer on many classic episodes. Fontanelli got along well with his taskmaster, sharing a similar taste for old-fashioned media and memorabilia. On his personal blog, Kricfalusi once described Fontanelli as "a curmudgeon who's even more intolerant of modern culture than me."

When the Nickelodeon network fired Kricfalusi from 'Ren & Stimpy' in 1992, Fontanelli was one of the few animators who supported Kricfalusi by signing a petition against this decision. However, 'Ren & Stimpy' went on without Kricfalusi, but Fontanelli continued to work with Kricfalusi on some of his later animation projects. In addition, he pencilled some stories for the 'Spümcø Comic Book' series. The Fontanelli-pencilled stories, starring Kricfalusi's characters George Liquor and The Idiot Boy, were inked by Shane Glines. Three issues were published in 1996 and 1997 by Dark Horse Comics, followed, still in 1997, by a fourth one by Marvel Comics. In 2013, all issues were reprinted in one single volume in IDW's Yoe Books line, completed with a previously unpublished story.

Further animation career
Apart from Kricfalusi's series, Mike Fontanelli was also storyboard artist, character designer and lay-out designer on 'Tiny Toon Adventures' (1990-1992) and 'Animaniacs' (1993-1998), produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment. Other 1990s TV series with his designs were 'Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog' (DIC Animation City, 1993) and 'Beethoven' (Northern Lights Entertainment/Universal Cartoon Studios, 1994). He was also character and lay-out artist on a couple of mid-1990s episodes of Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', storyboarded episodes of Genndy Tartakovsky's 'Dexter's Laboratory' and provided character designs for Stephen Hillenburg's 'Spongebob Squarepants' series (2019-2020). Since March 2022, he is character designer for Nickelodeon Animation on 'The Patrick Star Show', a spin-off of the 'SpongeBob SquarePants' series.

Fontanelli additionally designed characters for 'The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show' (1995) and wrote episodes for 'The House of Mouse' (2001-2003), both produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. Between 1997 and October 2019, he was senior character artist for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Among his later character design jobs was for 'The Cuphead Show!' (2022- ) on Netflix.

During the 2009 Annie Awards, Mike Fontanelli - along with Amir Avni, Kathy Turner and Alex Vassilev - received the "Certificat of Merit", which is awarded to an individual or organization for service to the art, craft, and industry of animation.

'Remote Control Jimmy' (Spümco Comic Book, 1996).

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