A furry look at an abuse story about John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy.
by Patch O'Furr
The animation business joins the
#metoo movement, a campaign for awareness of sexual harassment that started with powerful people in Hollywood.
John Kricfalusi, creator of the Ren & Stimpy show that gained a cult and influenced many 1990’s TV cartoons, is subject of a report about grooming and sexual abuse of young girls. They were taken under his wing as aspiring artists.
These aren’t just allegations; when he was around 40 he had an underage girlfriend, as mentioned in a book about him, and his attorney admits it was true.
Ren & Stimpy played at the Spike & Mike Animation fest in the 1990’s. I remember getting my mind blown when the fest toured to my town. It inspired me to do indie stuff (like this news site.) There’s more of a furry connection than just fandom, though.
There’s a general industry connection. Since the #metoo campaign came out in October 2017, I’ve been holding on to an animation story by request due to sensitivity about the climate (nothing more than that). Pro talk on a furry site can be a bit tricky because of general stigma.
There’s a personal story too. I didn’t expect this in 2018, because I hadn’t thought about John K. in a while – but I’m not surprised. In the early 2000’s, I saw blog commenters joke about him being a Svengali to pretty young girl artists (I had no idea about the underage part). 15 years ago, give or take, I went to a party at his house in Ontario and saw something myself there.
Oh, we’re arguing today because the guy who made Ren & Stimpy groomed minors and had a 16 year old live-in girlfriend when he was in his 40’s, despite the fact the age of consent in California has been 18 since 1970?— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) March 30, 2018
...What exactly are we arguing about here?
Does 2 Gryphon know it's the lawyers job to defend people? What does he know about John K, whose lawyer confirmed he had a 16 year old girlfriend in his 40s. Calling foul isnt the same as court guilt, there are times to both-sides it but this isn't one. https://t.co/tOmMczokh4— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 30, 2018
There are actual furry artists in this community who have worked for John K, saw this first hand, and mentioned seeing it while it was happening. Even without his lawyer saying so, we know this is true, I met witnesses at Further Confusion who were -there-.— Chakat Slamfire (@ChakatSlamfire) March 31, 2018
back in 2007—ELEVEN DANG YEARS AGO—i wrote a humor column AS John K. to make fun of him. it's incredibly fucked up that the allegations against him are so much more extreme than my actual jokes pic.twitter.com/OC7Fw74Bqw— Wow, Bob Mackey! (@bobservo) March 30, 2018
Background to my story: in 2003 I was in Canada, in a sort of punk collective and the animation scene. (That’s how I knew the director of the Furry Force animation I was in for a second; he’s a great friend and we shared space at one point.) I was noncitizen, so I couldn’t take offers of animation studio jobs. That left me homeless and looking for a path while sleeping in boiler rooms, closets or on couches of people I was helping to start projects. Then there was crashing parties – (and sometimes dumpster diving clothes and even food, freegan-style, because sell-by dates aren’t use-by dates on good sealed stuff. But that’s another story!)
John K. was at an animation event I was at. I got his address for the afterparty. His house was 1960’s bachelor-pad style, with vintage kids toys, wrestling vids and a shag carpet party basement thing. I got fed, had some beers, looked at some stacks of intern art submissions, and watched girls get rounded up to a closed room where John was going to play ukelele for them. Only the girls, including hopeful young students. It was a bit odd.
Only in 15 year hindsight does it click into a pattern. Now I can suggest that what I saw is a supporting detail for info that just came out. In 2003, it appeared to be no more than “this stranger is weird”. I neither owned a computer, had a presence online, or was professionally or personally connected enough to follow up, so it was useless info without context.
Also, talking to police was dangerous. I’d been caught in a cop’s spotlight after midnight, diving in a dumpster and retrieving bagged day-old bakery stuff. (Call me if you ever need garbology for investigative journalism.) The cop took my business card for ID, trusted my talk and let me go – unaware that my student visa was expired and I could have been deported across a border and away from people I relied on. That was a scary feeling, and a very small clue about challenges for reporting things.
Now if you can imagine yourself in furry animal paws, think about being brown or a non English speaker in the USA, or underage with a story that’s hard to tell.
John K. was a boss and mentor to people speaking up now, including artists Katie Rice and Robyn Byrd. Cartoon Brew is one of the most active sources for insider news, and the founder (Amid Amidi) had worked with them and John K. In 2018, Amid is praising these women for speaking up. He says the reporting has many details he didn’t know. They’re also commenting on the story in their own words.
I wonder if this has anything to do with 2017 news that Ren & Stimpy were rejected from proposed movies? They cited poor reception for the 2003 “Adult Party Cartoon.” (It could be another furry topic, maybe, about stigma on adult stuff and whether or not abuse was in the equation at the time.)
This is a story about people who misuse power, and fandom knows this well, or it should. Another thing we know well is supporting others. Check out the art and comics of Katie Rice and Robyn Byrd.
Maybe it's perverse but for now I'm just going to keep lobbing the photo "receipts" at the universe. John's 16-year-old girlfriend was really a thing! It was me! (And at 17, 18, 19, 20, 21...) #johnk #JohnKricfalusi #MeToo pic.twitter.com/RQSY6fEN38— 🏹Robyn with a Why⚔ (@TopographicFish) March 31, 2018
Deepest love and respect for @TopographicFish. We were brought together as girls with the same weird, funny ambitions. Instead of nurturing our friendship we were pitted against each other by an egotistical pervert. He's not in control anymore.— Katie Rice (@katiejrice) March 31, 2018
Hey also, @arianelange of Buzzfeed deserves a huge shout out. For six months she's been doing countless interviews, scouring blogs and books, and wading through giant piles of emails and transcripts, all to corroborate our stories and keep us safe by making our case air-tight.— Katie Rice (@katiejrice) April 1, 2018
Thanks @DogpatchPress for doing this writeup with followups from your perspective! https://t.co/DkFx2qiH26— 🏹Robyn with a Why⚔ (@TopographicFish) April 4, 2018
March 31, 2018
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I was a big fan of the original season of Ren and Stimpy back in it’s original broadcast and a huge animation fan. Over those later decades I would follow the Animation industry and I would read articles from John K and I slowly sowered over his opinions. He would act like his style was the only style worth talking about and how all animation sucked except for his. He would talk about old termite terrace stuff but with a lack of understanding of the history of the references. He would take way too much credit for the boom in animation and while he was the first to get sick and twisted on the network he couldn’t keep it going as a job.
I had felt that the success of the R&S was from the whole group with Bob Camp and the others tempering his tendencies. Animation is like that, unless you are the sole creator and animator, this stuff tends to be a group effort. I was kinda vindicated when the “Adult Party Cartoon” showed up and it was more John K and it was a bit of a road accident.
Other people I knew in Asifa Hollywood also had the same opinion of him and the stories I would get were not flattering. Watching him over the years and now hearing these stories I can say I’m not shocked.
I think my feelings on him can be best summed up by this parody of Cartoon Brew done on Something Awful about 11 years ago:
Probably unrelated to the harassment stuff, but there’s a rumor coming from a well informed source that his brutal dismissal of Charla Trotman’s style and portfolio (he was an art teacher of hers in the late 90s) was the real spark that started the whole Burned Furs drama. I learned a lot for Kricfalusi’s blog but there’s no denying that he has an irrational hatred for furry art which gets fairly hypocritical at times.
This is a super interesting comment. Thanks Scale.
Wikifur on Charla/Squee Rat: http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/This_Sordid_Little_Business
“No specific singular triggering event was ever mentioned that could have gave the reason for Squee Rat to pen this letter in the first place, at that time. A suggested incident that involved a bad meeting with a known animation director, Squee Rat, and the subject of furry art, that could have resulted on this response, was never fully confirmed.”
Note added in 2012 (check revision history to see it): “As having worked on Animation, I did hear about the event, who with, and why, from several sources, backed up by several animation artists. Online source are nowhere to be found.–Spirou–”
I remember John’s unfriendly “Furries” short. https://youtu.be/rJAfwXauA_4
2011 seems like an interesting year for it to come out, why then instead of 8-10 years earlier? I’d say the Jerry-Springer style media hate peaked 2000-2003 and had momentum thru the 2009 Tyra Banks thing, and thawed around 2014 when Vice started publishing worthwhile stuff. Coinciding with how con attendance had steady mild growth but accelerated to steeper around 2008-2010 and ongoing.
This is worth looking into. Spirou and Charla could be ones to talk to, though I’m not expecting response; how about your source? Email me. She said some things about John K: https://twitter.com/search?q=%40Iron_Spike%20john%20k