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Spike And Mike’s 20th Anniversary Sick And Twisted Festival of Animation

Meet ‘Ren And Stimpy’ Creator John K On Saturday

Credit: Nickelodeon

Above: "Ren and Stimpy" was created by Canadian animator John K.

Spike and Mike’s various festivals of animation are a homegrown San Diego treasure. This Saturday (at 5:30pm and 7:30pm at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at La Jolla) meet “Ren and Stimpy” creator John K at the latest edition of Spike and Mike's 20th Anniversary Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.

Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation has developed a passionate cult following and long lasting popularity. Craig “Spike” Decker scours the globe for the best and most audacious animated films. On Saturday, he pays tribute to “Ren and Stimpy” creator John K (Kricfalusi). The Canadian animator will be on hand for both the 5:30pm and 7:30pm screenings on Saturday.

I spoke with John K by phone and he laughed when he recalled submitting the “Ren and Stimpy” pilot to Spike and Mike.

“A funny anecdote, “John K said, “When I made the ‘Ren and Stimpy’ pilot, I made it for Nickelodeon, it was eight minutes long, it was called ‘Big House Blues,’ and I had a film print of it. So I called Spike and Mike, and asked them if they wanted to run it in their Sick and Twisted Festival, and they looked at it and they said they thought it was funny but it was too commercial for what they were doing. So I thought that was funny.”

“Ren and Stimpy” debuted in 1991 as part of Nickelodeon’s block of kids programming that included “Rugrats” and “Doug.” The cartoon served up an unstable Chihuahua named Ren, and a not too bright but likable cat named Stimpy. The show quickly developed a cult following and might have even paved the way for later animated shows like “South Park.”

John K has affection for Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted show despite his initial rejection.

“We definitely need a venue like Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted,” John K said, “because they show the cartoons that animators would like to make but would be very hard to get on television or in the movies or anything. Since TV and movies are kind of, the animation in TV and movies is pretty formulaic. So you need some kind of outlet where you can do things that you want to do.”

“Ren and Stimpy” gained attention for its sometimes off-color humor, sexual innuendo, and violence (some of which lead to run ins with Nickelodeon's Standards and Practices department).

“It’s amazing that I actually got it on the air,” John K recalled, “It wasn’t meant to be edgy or anything. When I created it, I basically just thought up stories that I thought would be funny, and I was aiming it at kids, I wasn’t aiming to be edgy or anything. If it was at all edgy, that’s just a side effect or something. In fact, the problem that I generally have trying to get stuff made is that maybe I’m a bit too edgy for television but not edgy enough for festivals. I’m sort of stuck in the middle.”

John K cites older cartoons from the 20s to 50s as his personal favorites: “I love the Fleischers, I love the old Looney Tunes, Bob Clampett cartoons, Tex Avery, I love Terry Toons, I like the old ones.”

He enjoys meeting fans and hopes that there will be time at this Saturday’s screenings for him to do something he loves – draw caricatures for people wanting autographs.

Spike And Mike's 20th Anniversary Sick And Twisted Festival of Animation is an 18 and older show. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for seniors. The screenings are at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at La Jolla. Call 858 459 8707 or email for details.

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