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Wednesday, April 11, 2018 

Ren & Stimpy's animator was abusive of teen girls

John Kricfalusi, the animator who created the Ren & Stimpy Show for Nickelodeon in the early 1990s, one of their first official cartoon ventures at the time, has been accused of sexual assault and harassing teen girls, two of whom spoke with Buzzfeed about their experiences. What one of them described is too repugnant for me to put in blockquote here, but I'll highlight what comes after it:
Although sexual abuse allegations against Kricfalusi have never been made public before, his relationship with Byrd has been an open secret within animation — so open that “a girl he had been dating since she was fifteen years old” was referenced briefly in a book about the history of Ren & Stimpy. Tony Mora, an art director at Warner Bros., and Gabe Swarr, a producer at Warner Bros., worked alongside Byrd at Spumco. The male artists said stories of how Kricfalusi sexually harassed female artists, including teenage girls, were known through the industry. “It’s always been there,” Mora said. Moreover, Kricfalusi made his fixation on teenage girls plainly obvious in his art, even as he worked on animated projects for the likes of Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, and Adult Swim. In an interview with Howard Stern in the mid-’90s, the radio host asked him about a character in the comic book anthology the cartoonist was then promoting. Stern called Sody Pop “a hot chick with big cans and nice legs.” Kricfalusi responded with a smile: “She’s underage, too.”

And yet Kricfalusi, 62, continues to be widely celebrated as a pioneer in the male-dominated field of animation. Creators of shows including SpongeBob SquarePants, Adventure Time, and Rick and Morty have cited Ren & Stimpy as an influence. After Nickelodeon fired the perpetually behind-schedule artist from Ren & Stimpy in 1992, he became an early proponent of art and shows made just for the internet. His output has slowed down, but he enjoys a living-legend stature that prompted 3,562 people to fund a Kickstarter campaign for his short Cans Without Labels, which he screened at a prestigious animation film festival in 2016. He made art for Miley Cyrus’s 2014 Bangerz tour; he animated two credit sequences on The Simpsons, the most recent in 2015. Until the publication of this story, his portrait hung on the wall at Nickelodeon.
So everyone he worked with knew, and did nothing about it. Hardly a surprise when you look at Hollywood under a magnifying glass. In fact, as the following notes:
As Byrd grew up in the studio, her coworkers, many of whom were not much older than she was, were aware of the teen’s romantic relationship with their boss. Mora got an internship at Spumco in 1997, around the age of 24, and when he first started seeing Byrd around the studio, “I was like, ‘Who’s that little girl?’” he said. The relationship was odd to him, but it seemed to be accepted at the studio, where former employees say Kricfalusi fostered a libertine atmosphere in which taking offense was itself offensive. They were making shows with sexual themes; there were raunchy nude drawings on display. Mora said Kricfalusi left out a drawing he made of Byrd, naked, with a dog ejaculating on her.
Now that is truly disgusting too. I watched several episodes of R&S in the early 90s, and the crude humor - including a wrestling match where either the cat or the dog bit a foot with a blister/wart on it - honestly turned me off. It was just so alienating, more so than what the Simpsons offered at the time (and I won't be shocked if Matt Groening's "masterpiece" got worse since the late 2000s), that I distanced myself from the whole mess and forgot about the cartoon for many years. As the new discoveries make clear, it was apparently the product of a very disturbed mind. One who even serviced the tours of former Hannah Montana star Cyrus, who's since come to be considered a bad role model. (And she even supported Hillary Clinton's campaign, go figure.) That Kricfalusi participated in illustrating some credits for the Simpsons only sends me an additional warning signal about what could've come since, and why it's best that I lost interest in that show too years ago.

I'd like to take a moment to make a point that, if sites like Buzzfeed would just concentrate on issues like these occurring inside the industry, as they did with Eddie Berganza last year, and not waste time smearing an entire fanbase as they did with Comicsgate, they'd be accomplishing a lot more without making themselves look like a petty outfit with poor research. Unfortunately, this is still a site that allows sloppy, biased coverage to dominate, and even some of their better items are undermined by elements that could be badly researched. They'd do well to start rectifying that if they really want people to take them more seriously and not overlook what news items they offer that could have substance. They'd also be advised to consider that, even if the entertainment industry were more female dominated, it doesn't guarantee the end of the troubles. There's bound to be more sex offenders in the comics medium besides Berganza, and if there are, they should be concentrating on how to weed out the guilty to protect the innocent, and not just worry about Twitter trippers.

Anyway, I guess Kricfalusi's career is washed up now, just like the other Weinsteins and Spaceys of Hollywood. And the reputation of R&S is bound to be drained for many years. But if the humor there is as crude as it was in those early days of "adult" cartoons for TV, and that's all they made them for, it's no wonder they date very badly.

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So are these verified accusations or just more harassment hysteria? Will he get his day in court or is he dead because he's been tried and found guilty in the social media? "Ren & Stimpy" was one of the few truly creative shows. Yeah it was gross, but also funny and had some interesting observations to make unlike the usual crap.

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