Holiday drawing by John K
Holiday drawing from John K's blog, published on 7 December 2015.

John Kricfalusi, often shortened to "John K." because of his complicated name, is a Canadian animation director. He is most famous as the creator of 'The Ren & Stimpy Show' (1991-1995). Kricfalusi is one of the most influential and experimental animators of all time. As a nostalgic fan of the Golden Age of Animation (1930-1960) his own style is very retro. He mimicks the look of classic theatrical shorts and early animated TV shows with a strong focus on physically impossible gags and overall cartoonyness. At the same time he also subverts the innocence with absurd plot lines, disgusting gross-out comedy and mentally unstable characters. Unfortunately Kricfalusi has always been a perfectionist, which made him miss his deadlines. After being fired from his own show he has worked on various modest projects, none which ever matched the success of 'Ren & Stimpy'. Most were cancelled or discontinued prematurely. But his style and particularly his vision about cartoony animation still inspire young animators.

Early life
John Kricfalusi was born in 1955 in Chicoutimi in the Canadian province Québec. His father was from Ukrainian descent and a strict disciplinarian. He forced John to become a "real man" by making him do chores. His macho attitude was such that he once hid a stack of Hugh Hefner's Playboys in John's bedroom out of fear "he'd become a sissy." John was never told where these magazines came from until years later and thus lived in constant fear as a teenager that these nudie mags would be discovered by his dad. John's father was also highly unsupportive of his son's artistic aspirations. One time John had spent the entire summer working on a self-made comic book for his father. When he gave it to him his father shouted: "You worked the whole summer on this?!" and threw it in the fire! To him John wasted his time reading comics and cartoons, except for one which both of them enjoyed: Bob McKimson's 'Foghorn Leghorn'. Naturally this upbringing had a strong effect on John's personality. Many authoritarian characters in his work, like George Liquor, are inspired by his father. The dad in the 'Ren and Stimpy' episode 'Anthony's Dad' (1993) is even completely based on him. While many of Kricfalusi's colleagues acknowledge John's daddy issues some have wondered whether he possibly exaggerated some of the past events? Whatever the case, John doesn't dislike his father and actually had him voice Ren's dad in 'Ren Seeks Help' (2003).

Jimmy the Turtle Food Collector
'Jimmy, the Turtle Food Collector', from the first Spumco Comic Book (Marvel Comics, 1995). Art credited to Jim Smith and John K.

John Kricfalusi's main graphic influences are comic artists like Milt Gross, Milt Stein, George Lichty, Dick Shaw, George ClarkGene Colan, Gene Hazelton, Jack Kirby, Marie Severin, Chester Gould, Al Capp, Jimmy Hatlo, Jack Cole, Walt Kelly, Johnny Hart, Brant Parker, Bud Blake, Charles M. Schulz, E.C. Segar, Virgil Partch, George Baker, Floyd Gottfredson, Carl Barks, Dale Messick, Howard Post, Dan Gordon, Gus Jekel, Billy DeBeck, Harvey Eisenberg, Mel Crawford and Mad Magazine (particularly Harvey Kurtzman, Basil Wolverton, Paul Coker, Mort Drucker and Don Martin). In the field of animation he looks up to Looney Tunes directors like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Bob McKimson, Frank Tashlin and especially Bob Clampett, who is his personal hero. He admires his wackiness and experimental spirit. Clampett allowed his animators to draw scenes in their own styles, rather than slavishly stay on model, something that Kricfalusi tries to do in his own work as well. Kricfalusi is even largely responsible for making Clampett's cartoons more generally known among modern-day audiences. He additionally loves Pat Sullivan & Otto Messmer ('Felix the Cat'), Max Fleischer ('Betty Boop', 'Popeye') and Jay Ward ('Rocky & Bullwinkle'), but has defended less critically lauded animators too, like Ub Iwerks, Walter Lantz ('Woody Woodpecker'), early Hanna-Barbera (especially 'Tom & Jerry', 'Huckleberry Hound', 'Yogi Bear', 'The Flintstones' and 'The Jetsons'), Paul Terry ('Mighty Mouse', 'Heckle and Jeckle') and the aforementioned Bob McKimson. Kricfalusi has also praised animators who worked for some of these directors, like Ed Benedict, Preston Blair, Bob Cannon, Ed Love, Grim Natwick, Rod Scribner and Jim Tyer. To him all these pioneers used impressive technical draftmanship to create funny "cartoony" pictures. Kricfalusi feels that cartoons should concentrate on doing things which can't be duplicated in live-action. He prefers caricature, exaggeration, physically impossible gags and overall goofiness. Therefore he also likes less technically elaborate animators like Terry Gilliam's 'Monty Python' cartoons and Gene Moss and Jim Thurman's 'Roger Ramjet' for their pure simple fun.

The man is less enthusiastic about Friz Freleng and Walt Disney, whose cartoons he considers to be too generic. Kricfalusi once named Disney a very conservative man who was ashamed of being a cartoonist. As a result Uncle Walt made all his cartoons more realistic and downplayed the cartooniness. Other studios copied this style and soon it spread to most of the industry. But Kricfalusi still considers all cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation to be miles ahead anything made today. To him even Freleng has his moments and he still respects Disney from a technical standpoint. Not only is the animation beautiful, dynamic and impressive, but Uncle Walt was also skilled in organizing his ideas in a hierarchical pattern to make everything read clearly. He also admires his talent for haunting moods and atmosphere, or as John put it: "No one could touch Disney for those kind of scenes, then or now."

Kricfalusi has always stressed the importance of looking beyond cartoons and comics for inspiration. He has equal admiration for illustrators like Al Hirschfeld, Frank Frazetta, Norm McCary, Hawley Pratt, Al White, Mel Crawford and Gustaf Tenggren. He also loves Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa (who once voiced the Pope in the 'Ren & Stimpy' cartoon 'Powdered Toast Man', 1992), Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Burl Ives, Johnny Winter, 'The Honeymooners', 'All In The Family', The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, Monty Python, Pier Angeli, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Peter Lorre (on whom the voice of Ren was based). Most of his passions lie in the past, though. He is very fond of old cartoons, comics, movies, music, illustrations, toys but feels that most of it went downhill halfway the 1960s. He dislikes most modern-day cartoonists, except for Peter Bagge, Bill Watterson, Jamie HewlettJeff MacNelly and Berkeley Breathed. In terms of post-1960s animation he respects Ralph Bakshi, Terry Gilliam, Bill Plympton, Mike Judge ('Beavis and Butt-head', 'King of the Hill'), Genndy Tartakovsky ('Dexter's Laboratory', 'Samurai Jack'), David Feiss ('Cow & Chicken'), Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz), Stephen Hillenburg ('SpongeBob Squarepants'), Brad Caslor's animated short 'Get a Job' (1985), some Pixar films and even some anime for their use of colour and giving audiences occasional "cute girls" fan service.

Weirdo comic page
Comic page drawn anonymously by Kricfalusi during his Hanna-Barbera days, and published in Weirdo #9 (Winter 1983).

Early career
Kricfalusi studied at Sheridan College in Ontario, but dropped out after a year. In his opinion the teachers focused too much on free experimentation, rather than learning pupils any practical graphical skills. He therefore had to rely on self study. Unfortunately this wasn't the only disadvantage of becoming an animator after the Golden Age was over. Since 1960 most cartoons were made cheaply as throwaway children's entertainment on TV. Many studios, even Disney, started recycling the same clichés over and over again. The artwork became stiff, bland, amateuristic and devoid of any fun or innovation. John experienced these horrors personally, as he worked for Filmation, Hanna-Barbera and DIC Entertainment throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Since commercial interests were put before entertainment value or experimentation Kricfalusi called it the most depressing period of his life.

Cave Nudes comic strip
At Hanna-Barbera, Kricfalusi once drew a one-page comic named 'Cave Nudes', starring The Flintstones. It featured the familiar running gag where the mail boy throws a stone newspaper at Fred, knocking him down. Here, however, Fred falls K.O. while the paper boy has sex with Wilma, much to her delight. Kricfalusi signed the work with a pseudonym, "Billy Bunting" and hung a copy on every wall of the studio's producer's wing as a way of rebellion. According to legend all copies were collected by his colleagues in less than an hour. The comic gained wider notability when it was published in Weirdo issue #9 (Winter 1983). 

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
In 1979 Kricfalusi and Bill Wray made an animated short, 'Ted Bakes One' (1979), which was sold for cable but failed to make an impact. Kricfalusi found other kindred spirits when he met his idols Milt Gross and Bob Clampett, who both became his mentors. But in 1981 he met the cartoonist who would launch his career: Ralph Bakshi. In the previous decade Bakshi has revolutionized animation with animated feature films strictly for adults. Now he returned to TV animation and founded his own studio. Kricfalusi and Bakshi worked together on the film 'Bobby's Girl', but the project was eventually cancelled. Their first succesful mutual project was 'Harlem Shuffle' (1986), an animated music video made for the Rolling Stones. Bakshi managed to buy the rights to Paul Terry's animated character Mighty Mouse, which he developed into an animated TV series: 'Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures' (1987-1988). 

'Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures' started out as a basic adaptation, but quickly evolved into something wildly different. Bakshi allowed Kricfalusi to become a main director and reorganize the studio the ways cartoons were made during the Golden Age of Animation. This meant that several directors worked on different episodes in different units. The artists, rather than writers, became the creative force behind each cartoon. They thought up characters, gags and stories. Just like in Bob Clampett's unit at Warner Brothers, Kricfalusi let the artists experiment. The plots of 'Mighty Mouse: The Adventures' therefore had strange animation, which often went "off model". The storylines were sometimes surreal, with gags breaking the fourth wall. Various episodes made reference to stuff the target audience probably wouldn't understand, like TV reporter Ed Murrow, Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Ayn Rand's novel 'The Fountainhead'. One episode, 'Don't Touch That Dial' (1988), was a big attack at meddling executives and featured specific parodies of uninspired TV cartoons such as 'The Flintstones', 'The Jetsons', 'Scooby-Doo' and 'The Real Gostbusters'. Mighty Mouse's original stinger line, "But enough lies and hypocrisy - now a word from our sponsor!" had to be altered to "Here's what television is all about... a word from our sponsor!"

Although 'Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures' may look somewhat underwhelming and hit-and-miss today, it received good reviews at the time. Kricfalusi's style and vision had the chance to grow and evolve. Together with Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', which had debuted half a year earlier as 15 second animated shorts on the 'Tracey Ullman Show', it looked vastly different than any other cartoon series on TV at the time. Ralph Bakshi gave his studio crew creative freedom, while defending them against censors and executives. Unfortunately Bakshi's fame also worked against them. In 1987 moral guardian Donald Wildmon noticed a scene in which Mighty Mouse appears to be sniffing cocain. In reality it were just flower buds, but given Bakshi's notoriety in adult animation, Wildmon and other conservative activists were convinced that he deliberately wanted to corrupt young viewers. It therefore didn't take long before Mighty Mouse was cancelled.

Beany and Cecil: The New Adventures
Meanwhile Kricfalusi had already found another classic cartoon show to reboot, namely Bob Clampett's 'Beany and Cecil' (1988). Produced by DIC Animation and broadcast on ABC, the series was nevertheless cancelled after six episodes. Kricfalusi tried to take an offensive route, while the executives wanted to keep everything child friendly. Clampett had passed away four years earlier, so it will always remain a mystery what he would've thought of this reboot. His relatives weren't too pleased with Kricfalusi's version, but still remained loyal to him in his quarrel with executives and censors.

While 'Beany and Cecil' was quickly forgotten, it did leave Kricfalusi with a whole team of like-minded and skilled animators: Jim Smith, Bob Camp, Mike FontanelliGabe Swarr, Bill WraySherm Cohen, Scott Wills, Vicky Jensen, Bruce Timm, Glenn Barr, Jim Gomez, Bill White and Lynne Naylor. Together they founded the studio Spümcø, which - despite its slogan - really isn't the "Danish word for quality". With a dedicated team at his support Kricfalusi could finally bring his vision to the screen in the best possible way. Another animator who once worked for his studio has been Mark O'Hare

Ren & Stimpy
Still from the Ren & Stimpy episode 'Sven Hoëk' (1993).

Ren & Stimpy
In 1991 Kricfalusi and his crew pitched an animated series for the brand new children's channel Nickelodeon: 'The Ren and Stimpy Show' (1991-1996). The show revolves around Ren Hoëk, a grouchy chihuahua, and his dim-witted friend Stimpy, who is an obese Manx cat. The program is a stylistic parody of a typical 1950s-1960s cartoon show. During its half hour run it featured two episodes of seven minutes each, complete with fictious commercials running in between. Just like classic cartoons each episode features an illustrated title card to set the mood. The soundtrack consists of famous classical melodies and happy 1950s & 1960s muzak. In a tribute to Rocky and Bullwinkle, Ren and Stimpy salute their young viewers at the end of every episode.

Yet despite its retro feel, 'The Ren & Stimpy Show' was far more demented and subversive. Ren and Stimpy undergo all kinds of bizarre adventures alongside equally strange side characters like Mr. Horse, Powdered Toast Man, Muddy Mudskipper and the ultraconservative neighbour George Liquor. Characters move in strange ways, distorting their faces in extreme expressions. Backgrounds sometimes shift to odd, spotty colours, an idea borrowed from Bob Clampett's 'Baby Bottleneck' (1946). Certain scenes are punctuated by gruesome close-ups, which were literally painted to contrast with the animated scenes. The series broke new ground for a children's show by featuring a lot of gross-out comedy. Jokes about farts, belches, nose picking and icky body fluids were one of its trademarks. Whenever scenes weren't disgusting, they are quite disturbing. Characters often yell at each other or experience extreme nervous breakdowns. In 'Space Madness' (1991) Ren goes insane from being in outer space too long. In the same episode Stimpy erases history. In 'Son of Stimpy' (1992) the cat thinks his fart cloud is his lost son. Mr. Horse shows the duo a walrus in 'Rubber Nipple Salesmen' (1992), while the mammal begs them to "Call the police...". In 'Ren's Toothache' (1992) Ren pulls out the nerve endings of his teeth with pliers. The most often discussed nightmarish scene can be seen in 'Stimpy's Fan Club' (1993), where Ren lies awake at night because he wants to murder Stimpy. In 'Jerry the Bellybutton Elf' (1994) Stimpy climbs inside his own bellybutton and meets a psychotic elf inside. 

Ren & Stimpy: success
While some parents and moral guardians were concerned, 'Ren and Stimpy' effortlessly became a cult show. Especially when MTV started rerunning episodes, since the channel had a far more global viewership. Children loved the gross-out comedy and were intrigued by the unpredictable plots. Some older viewers were excited by the wackiness and the scenes that got passed the censors. It was certainly incomparable with any other children's program. It attracted notable celebrity fans, including Kurt Cobain. According to Billy West (voice of Stimpy), the Nirvana lead singer once wrote a song for 'Ren & Stimpy'. He went to Nickelodeon's office, but was refused entrance because the executives had no idea who he was? In another version of this anecdote it was Kricfalusi himself who showed no interest. He was more willing to help out another celebrity fan, Björk. He animated the music video to her song 'I Miss You' (1995). Other famous fans starred as special guest voice in certain 'Ren & Stimpy' episodes. Among them Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in 'Star Wars'), Phil Hartman (the voice of Troy McClure in 'The Simpsons'), TV host Rosie O'Donnell, comedic actors Gilbert Gottfried, Dom DeLuise and rock composer Frank Zappa. Zappa named one of his compositions 'Ask Dr. Stupid', after a segment from the show. Matt Groening also loved 'Ren and Stimpy' and hired the animators to create a 'Ren & Stimpy' parody in The Simpsons episode 'Brother From The Same Planet' (1993). Clips from 'Ren & Stimpy' were also used in the live-action comedy films 'Clueless' (1995) and 'The Cable Guy' (1996). 'Ren & Stimpy' enjoys a notable popularity in Eastern Europe, no doubt because the animation is very reminiscent of classic (and surreal) Eastern European animation. 

Ren & Stimpy comics
In December 1992, Marvel Comics launched a 'Ren & Stimpy' comic book series. The very first book was originally sold in a polybag with a few "scratch and sniff" air foulers. In total 39 issues were released, with the last one hitting the market in 1995. The stories were scripted by Scott Benson, Steven Boyett, Martin Reilly, Dan Slott and Barry Dutter, with artwork by Darren Auck, Stephanie Gladden, Matt Maley, Ken Mitchroney, Rick Parker, Mike KazalehTy TempletonBill Wray and Mike Worley. Inking was done by Buzz McKim and veteran artist Fred Fredericks, coloring by Ed Lazellari, Paul Mounts, Chia-Chi Wang and Evan Skolnick, while the lettering was provided by Susan Crespi, Brad K. Joyce, Jeff Powell and Loretta Krol. The comics were also translated in Dutch by Juniorpress. Kricfalusi himself had no involvement in Marvel's 'Ren & Stimpy' series.

Ren & Stimpy: problems behind-the-scenes
Although 'Ren & Stimpy' enjoyed high ratings, there were lots of problems behind the scenes. Kricfalusi was a notorious perfectionist who spent many hours trying to get his cartoons just right. He wanted his crew to "never repeat the same drawing twice" and avoid animation clichés at all costs. He focused on the backgrounds, colours, opening credits, voices, music... Film historian Jerry Beck recalled that he once visited the studio and saw Kricfalusi looking at no less than 50 (!) differently coloured animation cells from the same scene from 'Stimpy's Invention', because he just couldn't decide what colour would look "the best". Although often depicted as a difficult boss, Kricfalusi was just as hard on himself as his crew. Out of all 17 episodes he directed, co-wrote and co-animated, there's always something he felt unsatisfied with. The only short he considered near perfect happens to be all fans' favorite episode too: 'Stimpy's Invention' (1992). In this memorable episode Stimpy make a helmet for Ren which forces him to be happy forever. This leads to a crazy dance set to the Burl Ives parody 'Happy, Happy, Joy Joy'.

Kricfalusi often had to convince executives, producers and censors to put in certain insane and disturbing scenes. Often they were rejected for being too weird, disgusting or frightening for young viewers. The episode 'Man's Best Friend' was refused airing because of a scene in which Ren beats George Liquor with an oar. 'Sammy and Me' was rejected because Stimpy gouges out his eye and puts a fake one in his socket. As a result several episodes missed their deadlines or went over budget. On 25 September 1992, during the second season, Kricfalusi was therefore fired from his own show. He lost the rights to Ren and Stimpy, but kept his characters George Liquor and Jimmy the Idiot Boy for future projects. 'The Ren & Stimpy Show' continued for three more seasons, eventually ending in 1996. Since it had many other creative talents behind it, the quality was still decent. Only the amount of gross-out comedy and psychotic scenes were toned down, in favor of weirdness for weirdness sake.

Yet, when the show made a comeback in 2003 on SpikeTV, with Kricfalusi back in full creative control, it was a colossal disappointment. The reboot, 'The Ren & Stimpy Adult Cartoon' (2003-2004), had a far more adult tone. Characters openly smoked and there was more gratuitous nudity, shouting, sadism, gross-out comedy and sexual innuendo. It all went such an extreme route that nobody was entertained. After only three episodes 'The Ren & Stimpy Adult Cartoon' was quickly cancelled. Kricfalusi afterwards claimed that the network had pushed him into making the comedy more "mature", while others have disputed this. 

Post 'Ren & Stimpy' projects
After being fired from 'Ren & Stimpy' in 1992, Kricfalusi made several attempts to launch new cartoon shows. He was among the first people to make Internet cartoons, namely 'The Goddamn George Liquor Program' (1997) and 'Weekend Pussy Hunt' (1999). Both lacked enough interest and crowdfunding to continue their storylines after the first few episodes. Though one episode, 'What Pee Boners Are For', attracted a remarkable celebrity fan: Michael Jackson. According to Kricfalusi the "King of Pop" found it quite hilarious. In 2001 a new show by Kricfalusi premiered on Fox Kids: 'The Ripping Friends: The World's Most Manly Men!' (2001-2002), which was a superhero parody. Despite having his name attached to it Kricfalusi only got involved half-way production and therefore lost creative control over it. Once again it was cancelled after only one season. 

The best received work of his later career were his extreme parodies of the Hanna-Barbera shows 'Yogi Bear' and 'The Jetsons'. In 'Boo Boo Runs Wild' (1999), 'A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith' (1999) and 'Boo Boo and the Man' (2000) Ranger Smith is depicted as a forest ranger obsessed with the rules. Yogi's sidekick, Boo Boo (voiced by Kricfalusi himself), therefore decides to return to his roots as a "drooling, wild bear". In 'Father and Son Day' (2001) and 'The Best Son' (2002), the Jetsons are depicted as a dysfunctional family. Surprisingly enough, Hanna-Barbera allowed him to use their trademark characters and reimagine them in his own style. The shorts premiered on Cartoon Network's sister channel Adult Swim and have often been repeated since. Matt Groening absolutely loved 'Boo Boo Runs Wild' and on 22 May 2002 he played it during the 'Animated Encounters' event in Bristol, England, as one of his favorite animated shorts. 

Spumco comic bookSpumco comic book
Spumcø comic books. 

Comic books
Between 1995 and 1997 Kricfalusi and his team published four comic books under the title 'Spümcø Comic Book' with Marvel and Dark Horse. The comics showcased the same zany humor as the original 'Ren & Stimpy' shows. Among its writers and artists were Stephanie GladdenMike KazalehJim Smith, Vincent Waller, Mike WorleyMike Fontanelli, Shane Glines, Rich Pursel, Gabe Swarr, veteran artist Fred Fredericks and Kricfalusi himself. In 2013 a hardcover collection, edited by Craig Yoe, was released by IDW. Not present in the book was Bill Wray, one of Kricfalusi's main animators on 'Ren & Stimpy', who later did become a succesful cartoonist in his own right.

Graphic contributions
Krifcalusi directed various animated TV commercials for Comcast, Raketu, Pontiac Vibe, Stüssy, F'Real, Old Navy Flare Jeans and Nike. Kricfalusi designed the album covers for 'Oh Joy!' (1993) and 'Famous Recording Artists' (1995) by the punk band Shitbirds. He additionally helped out former 'Ren & Stimpy' animator Elinor Blake, who recorded a musical single, 'Voo Doo Doll/ Kooky' (1993) under the name April March. Kricfalusi wrote the liner notes and made a caricature of her for both this single and the cover of her album 'Gainsbourgsion' (1995). The opening track from the latter album, 'Chick Habit', would later be used in Quentin Tarantino's film 'Death Proof' (2006). He also animated the music videos for 'I Miss You' (1995) by Björk, 'Fuck Her Gently' (2001) and 'Classico' (2001) by Tenacious D and 'Close But No Cigar' (2006) by "Weird Al" Yankovic, while also producing artwork for Miley Cyrus 2014 Bangerz Tour. He also designed the poster and opening credits of the film 'Utopia Means Nowhere' (2020). Kricfalusi animated two couch gags for Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', namely in the episodes 'Bart Stops To Smell the Roosvelts' (2012) and 'Treehouse of Horror XXVI' (2015), where the yellow family is remodelled in a Kricfalusi-esque style. 

Written and audio commentary contributions
Between 1993 and 1994 Kricfalusi wrote several articles for the magazines Film Threat and Wild Cartoon Kingdom under pseudonyms. These later got criticized for mostly being sockpuppet writing to promote his own cartoons. Kricfalusi provided audio commentary for DVD releases of classic 'Popeye', 'Betty Boop' and 'Looney Tunes' cartoons, though refused to do more out of anger over the modern recolorisation of some of the shorts. In 2012 he wrote the foreword to Bob McKimson's book 'I Say, I Say... Son!' (2012), a triple biography about his father Bob McKimson and uncles Chuck McKimson and Tom McKimson.

In 2006 Krifcalusi launched his own blog, 'John K. Stuff', which features interesting advice for young animators on various principles and skills. They are illustrated with pictures, frame grabs and screen shots from specific illustrated books, comics and animated cartoons. He also pays tribute to many of his influences. While highly subjective and occasionally somewhat tedious ranting about modern times, the blog provides great insight in Kricfalusi's background, vision and how to interpret his own work. 

In 1992 Kricfalusi won an Annie Award for 'Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Field of Animation' . His animation for Björk's music video 'I Miss You' won the 1997 Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject, while 'The Goddamn George Liquor Program' won the 1999 Annie Award for 'Outstanding Achievement in an Interactive Production'.  In 2008 Kricfalusi won a special special Winsor McCay Annie Award for his entire career. A year later he received an Inkpot Award (2009). 

Since the end of the original 'Ren & Stimpy', Kricfalusi tried to revive his career multiple times, but to little avail. All his attempts suffered from budget restrictions, executive meddling and his painstaking perfectionism. Krifcalusi has an obsessive disdain for cartoon scriptwriters and feels that plot isn't all that important in animation. Many people would disagree and have pointed out that this is a major reason why his later cartoons often met with lacklustre or bad reviews. The shorts look and feel underdeveloped. Kricfalusi was so demanding to his crew that they never got anything done to his satisfaction. As a result many of his series missed deadlines and got cancelled prematurely. Some former employees have stated that Kricfalusi opened their minds about what animation could be, yet at the same time sabotaged every new project with this erratic behaviour. Some feel that most of what they learned from him just wasn't useful at other cartoon studios. A few have even bluntly stated they "wasted their time". Even fans of Kricfalusi's cartoons only single out the original 1991-1995 'Ren & Stimpy' show as his best work, alongside 'Boo Boo Runs Wild'. 

Kricfalusi also made himself highly unpopular in the animation industry. In interviews and on his blog he bluntly criticized most modern-day animation. He focused on the abundance of stock clichés and lack of cartooniness, "great" drawing and dynamic animation. In some cases he just based his opinion on publicity stills, without even watching the films and shows. More than one observer has pointed out that most of his criticism feels like professional jealousy and frustration. Particularly considering Spümcø was shut down in 2005, leaving him with even less possibilities to fund new projects. Suffering from alcoholism and heavy fatherly issues Kricfalusi went into therapy in 2008. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD and put under medical treatment. Since then he found more stability in his personal life and even reopened his animation studio as Spümtwø in 2016.

Unfortunately bad press caught up with him on 29 March 2018, when he became the second animation legend after Pat Sullivan to be accused of indecent acts against underage girls. Former animator Robin Byrd was only 15 years old when she was employed at Spümcø. At age 16 she had a relationship with John, who was already 39 years old at the time. According to an article on BuzzFeed News, one time he allegedly took photos of them having sex and showed these to other people. Another former animator, Katie Rice, never had an affair with John, but was victim of sexual harrassment. She was 14 to 15 years old when they started communicating by phone and e-mail, while he made sexually suggestive comments. At the time she thought nothing of it and still went to work for him when she was 18. There he continued making lewd advances to her, though she claimed he never did anything physical to her. Kricfalusi's attorney has denied most of the allegations, except for the relationship with Byrd. Nickelodeon removed John's portrait from their business hall. 

On 11 May 2018 Kricfalusi issued a personal public apology, 11 pages in length. He acknowledged that there is some "general truth" about his "inappropriate behavior in the late 1990s and early 2000s", though he stressed that he remembered some things "somewhat differently, some not all. The writer exaggerated and presented some things out of context for tabloid consumption." He revealed that he too was victim of a public harrasser for about 4 years which "helped me to understand how these girls I admired might have felt." Kricfalusi stated that he didn't expect forgiveness, but did want to explain his "obsessive and possessive behaviour" in the past which "drove the people I loved best away." He spoke openly about his mental issues, for which he takes medical treatment since 2008. He concluded his text by apologizing to Robin and Katie and his family and loved ones.

Legacy and influence
While John Kricfalusi may be a polarizing artist, he remains influential. His work inspired the look and the style of several other TV cartoon shows (often because his former animators worked on it), like '2 Stupid Dogs' (1993-1995), 'The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show' (1995), 'Dexter's Laboratory' (1996-1999, 2001-2003), 'Cow and Chicken' (1997-1999), 'The Powerpuff Girls' (1998-2005), 'SpongeBob Squarepants' (1999- ), 'The Grim Adventures of Bill and Mandy' (2001-2008), 'Invader Zim' (2001-2006) and Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon's 'Rick and Morty' (2013- ). Many other cartoons of the 1990s and 2000s started using simpler graphics, looser animation and an overabundance of gross-out comedy. Famous cartoonists who admire John Kricfalusi's work are Matt Groening (who placed 'Ren & Stimpy' on nr. 36 in his personal list of '100 Favorite Things'), Cal Schenkel, Ralph Bakshi, Mike Judge, Matt Furie and Tom Borremans. Other celebrity fans are Björk, Frank Zappa, Kurt CobainDef P, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Robin Williams, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Scarlett Johansson. In 1997 the Sojourner Mars rover inspected various rocks on the planet Mars. Two rocks were named after Ren & Stimpy.

Books and info about John Kricfalusi
For people interested in Kricfalusi's work and opinions about classic and current animation his personal blog is highly recommended. An unauthorized book about the history of 'Ren & Stimpy' was written by Thad Komorowski: 'Sick Little Monkeys. The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story' (2017), with a foreword by Billy West.  In 2020 Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood directed a documentary film, 'Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story' (2020), which featured interviews with former staff members, including Kricfalusi himself. 

Remote Control Jimmy
'Remote Control Jimmy', with art credited by Mike Fontanelli and John K (Spumco Comic Book).

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