Late 1991 I was looking to see what was airing on MTV through the preview guide when a show caught my eye. "Ren & Stimpy". What is this? I read the description. It’s a cartoon. Color me confused. I never heard of it. Had no idea why it was airing on MTV. My curiosity was piqued. I had to tune in just to see what it was about. 30 minutes later, I had never laughed so hard at a cartoon in my life.
John Kricfalusi created Ren and Stimpy as part of pitch to Nickelodeon in a show titled "Your Gang". The show didn't spark any interest, but these 2 characters caught the eye of the network. A lot of begging and persuading to the bigger cheeses to give it a chance led to a 6 episode deal. John K. and his Spumco crew didn't know it yet but they were about to make animation history. "Ren & Stimpy" pushed the boundaries of animation further than imagined.
Before this time, cartoons were primarily for kids and occupying their time and attention. John K. set out to actually entertain and catch the attention of the adults forced to watch the shows with their kids. The misadventures of a scrawny chihuahua and a dimwitted cat were an instant phenomenon. It had grown a cult following with adults as well as children. Everyone was talking about the show and the scattered cameo appearances of Powdered Toast Man and the Log commercial.
The craze set the network on fire wanting a 20-episode 2nd season. This also increased the pressure. John K. had unconventional ways of working and was often very critical of his artists and would have to oversee everything. That also meant rejecting some art leading to missed deadlines. Episodes were getting turned in late, missing airdates by months sometimes. This was something the Nickelodeon just couldn't deal with anymore. They only ended up with 14 episodes in season 2 and also resulted in John K. getting fired, which was actually a relief to him.
Decisions had to made. Stay with the show under the new company head Games Animation or leave with John K.? Bob Camp, a writer and the voice of Stimpy stayed on to direct rather than turn it over to others who would sugarcoat their product and turn it into something it was never meant to be. It lasted for 3 more seasons under Bob's close direction. For some, it just wasn't the same as it was under John K.'s watchful and critical eye, pushing the limits and boundaries, always sneaking things into what was supposed to be a kids show. As short lived as it was, it went on to inspire much of today's animations in style and content.
Dave Christy loves horror, music, documentaries and more. He is also the co-runner of several fan based groups including Morningstars (THE Lucifer fan group also run by Melanie), and now is a member of the VIPers Spotlight Lounge team for Melanie's Muses. Other than "In The Spotlight" Features -check out his "31 Days Of Halloween Movies"