A frame from “Svën Höek”, the cartoon in postproduction at Spumco when the split between Nickelodeon happened in September 1992. Or was it?
I guess it’s because I wrote a book trying to clear up misinformation about The Ren & Stimpy Show
that further misinformation annoys me. The Huffington Post article published over the summer
is of the most common sort: John Kricfalusi is in the news for some reason (this time for animating a backdrop for Miley Cyrus’s concert tour), so give him another soapbox. Easy click-bait, little work.
Lauren Duca, the writer of the article, never responded to my e-mail addressing how troublesome her piece was several months ago, but she has updated it today to incorporate a few quotes from Vanessa Coffey, the Nickelodeon executive who had to fire Kricfalusi in September 1992. Not September 1993, as Duca has it, regardless of her response to me on Twitter: “That’s not the information I have from John K. or Vanessa Coffey.”
I don’t know what John K. is saying these days, but Coffey and I spoke at length in December 2009 about the “nuclear fallout” (her words), and there was no question that it happened in the fall of 1992. (She also said in that phone interview that the plan to set up Games Animation to continue Ren & Stimpy went back to August 1992, probably around the time Nickelodeon saw a finished cut of “Man’s Best Friend,” the infamous ‘banned’ episode with George Liquor.)
As animation history has proved, memory can be fleeting. So why not look at a few primary sources? (Not the dumb Splitsider article Duca linked me to, citing a phony September 1993 date for Kricfalusi’s termination.)
The Hollywood Reporter
September 23, 1992
“Nick ticked by late Stimpys”
Nickelodeon is reportedly trying to separate animation whiz John Kricfalusi from his runaway hit “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” which has drawn high ratings and reams of publicity for the cable kids network since its premiere last summer. Kricfalusi’s reported inability to meet deadlines in delivering the new season’s episodes of “Ren & Stimpy” is said to be the primary source of discontent for Nickelodeon, which owns the show the independent animator created and produces through his Hollywood-based firm Spumco.
September 24, 1992
“Ren & Stimpy run into trouble at Nick”
The future of Nickelodeon’s cult hit The Ren & Stimpy Show is in doubt after reports that creator John Kricfalusi was ousted for failing to produce new episodes in time.
September 28, 1992
“Nickelodeon and John Kricfalusi reach agreement on production of The Ren & Stimpy Show“
Nickelodeon and Spumco’s John Kricfalusi, creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show, have reached an agreement to reorganize production responsibilities for the animated show.
“I felt confined by the rigors of this particular animated series and wanted to pursue projects with more artistic freedom,” said Kricfalusi. “I am thankful to Nickelodeon, especially Vanessa Coffey, for giving me my first break and I hope the show will continue to be a success.”
Those were three of a few dozen press clippings I have related to the Spumco-Nickelodeon split, and I could easily post several more. I spent an enormous amount of time sifting through the paperwork of Spumco, Games, Carbunkle Cartoons and Nickelodeon to figure out the minutiae of the series: when certain people were hired and left, how much a cartoon cost, when a cartoon was in animation, etcetera. You can have your debates on who’s insane and who sold out whom (for my own assessment, read my book), but facts are facts, and The Huffington Post has one wrong.
At times, I wonder if that research was worthwhile, and if correcting Ren & Stimpy misinformation is simply futile. Duca has not yet corrected the date error and seems clueless about the existence of Sick Little Monkeys, which I’m sure warms certain people’s hearts. But since she is actually writing for a widely read website, I feel compelled to keep at it. Any attention is good attention.