Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story

Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story In the s animation boom, The Ren Stimpy Show stood supreme Through draftsmanship, charismatic voices, irreverent sight gags, crass humor, and stellar character acting, animation s most talented and disturbed artists created an entity for the Nickelodeon cable network that pulled the art form out of ayear rut The world has never been quite the same since and we re eternally grateful Now you too can join the rollercoaster ride that is the fascinating, insane real life story of art, money, and ego that gave birth to Ren H ek and Stimpson J Cat History Eraser Buttons need not apply No stone has been unturned, no magic nose goblin unpicked, in this extensively detailed history of the show that defined a generation and changed an entire medium Fully revised and bursting with new information, interviews, and illustrations it s everything you wanted to know about Ren Stimpy but were afraid to askA compelling cautionary tale of rags to riches success in Hollywood, Thad Komorowski s book documents the entire story behind Nickelodeon s first cartoon hit, The Ren Stimpy Show, utilizing extensive interviews with the program s key players including the cartoonists, network executives, and voice actors justifying the show s important role in the recent history of animation A great read Jerry Beck, Animation Historian and Co Founder of Cartoon Brew

13 thoughts on “Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story

  1. Warren B. Warren B. says:

    I was warned by a few reviews of this book, that it was too dry and technical I wish it was too dry and technical, compared to what it is.This book claims to lift the lid on all the drama that went with Ren and Stimpy s unveiling to the world, and the drama behind the scenes as John Kricfalusi was fired from his studio and his creation And it does That s why I give it as many as two stars It s also written to brown nose Kricfalusi in such an off putting way that s only matched by Kricfalusi himself.That s a fair comparison, I think Despite the moans in the introduction that John K didn t contribute to the book and that he and Thad exchanged harsh words, this book reads like it could have been lifted from John K s own stream of consciousness Right from chapter one There s the fetishisation of the Warner Bros animation studio system of the 1940s, leading to a lot of obnoxious, catty asides that everything in animation since then was terrible and worthless, until that brief, shining moment in the early 90s when Saint John shone out from among the dungheap, and then the darkness closed round again until the present day There are even specific phrases, weirdly parroted from John K s writing, in particular several sneering references to non drawing writers As if to say, Guys You ll never guess There are these people called cartoon writers , and they re hired to WRITE Not to draw Isn t that nuts Thad tries to explain and soften that stance towards the end of the book, but that s way too little and too late to dispel the petty art snob impression Course, like I say, Thad has to talk about the stupid stuff John K has done The book would be a complete laughing stock otherwise But he can t just lay it out like a sensible researcher or historian Somehow, among all of those failings The egoThe expulsion from animation collegeBeing fired by Ralph Bakshi for being uselessDestroying the legacy of the last thing Bob Clampett createdGetting his own studio back into animation despite being by his own admission bad at all aspects of animationCoasting on the talents of better animators he tricked into working for him or that he outsourced work to Being a complete control freak, while also being completely indecisive, so that work had to be redone, and redone, and redone, until it was way over time and way over budgetRescuing miserable animators from factory studios with no creativity to be miserable under his ludicrous demands and mismanagement, and do things exactly as he wantedVirulent harassment of anyone and everyone who dared to leave the Spumco compound and return to their old lives in the material worldAll that and , and somehow somehow it was all worth it because John was a unique rebel , and once in a blue moon, when he tore himself away from tracing 1950s comics, he managed to present the man with an eleven minute cartoon about a fat farting cat that is totally a tear jerking apotheosis of art and western culture and much better than that icky Tiny Toons anyway you guys Strewth, I wish I was making this up Thad does manage to open up on those faults a bit when the book gets around to John s messy removal from Spumco, and points out all the unfair demonisation of those who stayed with Nickelodeon to keep making the show I hear Bob Camp has trouble talking about John at cons, 30 years later This feels honest at least, and fair enough, Nickelodeon should shoulder some of the blame for the fallout But not for being too lenient on his extreme procrastination, I think.Even then, when the time comes round for Spumco s revival with the Ren and Stimpy Adult Cartoon Party and the George Liquor Show, featuring Kricfalusi unleashed i.e with no one to prop him up and temper his legendary daddy issues and the enormous trashfire those were in almost every aspect Thad still has to scratch his head to wonder where the visionary genius went.No, Thad The genius was in front of you the whole time A never was who rode a wave as it was created, thanks to his juvenile mythologising of a 40s studio that he never realistically understood, forgetting that even Bob Clampett had to answer to big bad capitalist Leon Schlesinger.I liked Ren and Stimpy I did This book just about killed it for me, a one two punch along with finding out about John K s pederasty That s in here too, years before he got MeToo d and dropped by everyone like a hot potato Can t really leave without mentioning it, can I It s glossed over fairly quickly One little line about a breakup and zip moving alongBuy this if you want a few juicy stories about about what a disjointed headcase John Kricfalusi is Just don t expect it to read like a book so much as a cynical hipster s blog Frankly, with all the Kricfalusi worship it contains, you d get much the same by searching for Kricfalusi s own blog, and getting the dirt from the John K thread at Kiwifarms

  2. Steffu Steffu says:

    I rarely read books nowadays that aren t fiction, but this one, I can hardly put it down, it s just getting me gripped even as the chapters go on From post production stories to how it all started to even the downfalls of this masterpiece I highly recommend it to anyone who s a huge fan of Ren and Stimpy or cartoons in general.The delivery was perfect too, arrived safely and no tears or dents, a perfect to read and pass the time with, I ve never been so hooked on a book in a long time like this one.Go buy it, you will not disappoint, a terrific read.

  3. S. Nelson S. Nelson says:

    Ren and Stimpy changed animation for the better The show as a whole doesn t hold up, but some skits are still genius While many have used this book as a way to show John K wasn t the mastermind behind the series, the book actually proves otherwise It says that even after he was ousted the series continued to be problematic for Nick and was constantly late and behind schedule Everyone continued thinking, What would John K do They should ve just left the madman in power and ordered a realistic number of episodes I understand Nick was new at making original content but they definitely botched this series Regardless, I don t think a high concept show like this can actually produce very many meaningful episodes I honestly believe we got everything good that could come from the original show.

  4. Dee Dee says:

    I picked this up and hastily read through it after allegations of John K surfaced This is very insightful to the production of Ren genius that is John Kricfalusi Can t watch R S the same way any.

  5. Joshua Marchant Joshua Marchant says:

    Meticulously researched and authoritatively written, the fascinating real story about one of the most unique and important tv cartoons ever produced without interference from ego or bias, finally extending due credit to ALL the creative geniuses who made Ren and Stimpy unforgettable For former fans reevaluating how they think about The Big Shot John Kricfalusi, this book is impartial and honest in its detailing of how his legitimate genius and serious personal dysfunctions lead to the breakup up one of the most talented creative families ever assembled Highly, highly recommended

  6. Tyson Tyson says:

    I m a big fan of animation history, and this book is a great pick behind the scenes of a legendary chaotic work environment I feel like the book does a good job of balancing viewpoints and giving a fair overall view of events.I ve read a bunch of these types of books and this one was one of the most gripping John K is such a strange character and reading about how his studio, friends, and enemies viewed him was very interesting.

  7. Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson says:

    Thad Komorowski s opus Sick Little Monkeys is pretty much the closest we ll ever get to having an official Sp mc book a most thoroughly researched and extensive attempt to shed real light and clarity on the animation industry s most controversial event in the last few decades Even if the book doesn t chronicle the studio that much, nor is it an actual love letter to John though, if you know Thad, his opinions on John are..decidedly mixed, to say the least , It still very much celebrates the show itself and geniuses behind it, creator or otherwise.Information involved in this book is everything you could ever imagined For years there have rumors and misinformation spread around on who finished what did Sp mc finished this episode or did Games took over the whole thing and who s credit actually mattered John had nothing to with certain episodes that credited him in the later run most of them were based off outlines he layed out, i.e Stimpy s Cartoon Show and Ren s Brain Both the original and revised editions goes into much detail on insight into a number of areas that had not been fully explained, some leaning toward the trivial for the benefit of geeks like myself John K himself requested that the Created By title card be remove, The secret meaning behind the Games logo, episodes like Sv n H ek, Fake Dad, and The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen were originally envisioned as half hours, scrapped episodes, legend Mark Kaulser animated a scene, etc and so on.I m one of those few folks who actually enjoy the Games seasons as much as Sp mc s I m one of those few folks who seem to enjoy anything without the creator s input , thanks in part to reading Ian L s old Ren blog, which try to inform it s readers that, hey, not EVERY episode was awful, there s some hidden gems in there, you know Thad continues that by taking his time in highlighting some of their best episodes and cast the spotlight on Kricfalusi s crew that stayed behind to make them possible He also gives perhaps the most thorough and keenly observed analysis on the short lived Adult Party Cartoon revival something that nobody really bothered to do.If you love the entire history of Ren Stimpy , controversies and all, warts and all, and you still haven t got this book, book it man You won t be disappointed Especially the revised edition with a few extra pages, you get bang for your buck..

  8. Roberto S. Roberto S. says:

    As someone who has received highly valuable drawing advice directly from John via Blogger messages and e mail correspondences, I was not expecting this book to be a blind eulogy of one of the most important artists behind The Ren and Stimpy Show, John Kricfalusi There is so much behind the scenes information and history behind the production of the show that I had not read elsewhere, even on John s own blog or the blogs of his close associates Even if you re a diehard Spumco fan, there is much to be gained from reading Thad Komorowski s latest book and if you read the book closely, you might gain a greater appreciation for what John went through, but simultaneously learn about underrated artists that contributed plenty to the show itself when it was still in production and the struggle between trying to deliver a perfect, high quality product and meeting the demands, realities and deadlines of television production and the respective audiences.I call John K the Buddy Rich of cartoons because so much of this story reminds me of what I heard on those infamous Buddy Rich bus tapes from the early 1980s, where Rich chewed out and vulgarly cursed young, inexperienced band members for disrespecting him or playing a tune in a way that didn t meet the professionalism and standards that Buddy had set for his big band A lot of the bandleaders of the Swing Era had a similar attitude, but were not quite as vocal about it as Buddy was during those tapes I recall a passage in Thad s book where he describes how John would soften his criticisms of his artist s drawings with something like your pal, John at the end of a brutally honest and possibly harsh evisceration of what the artist had drawn I suspect that was one of the reasons why certain artists felt alienated and crushed when they worked on Ren and Stimpy and Bob Camp himself described his experience as being the best of times and the worst of times A modern example I can think of the image of John that I am attempting to convey would be the British chef and television personality Gordon Ramsay, whose quick temper and perfectionism quickly earned him his reputation as being a highly vulgar and aggressive chef who could produce high quality food nonetheless Ramsay s Kitchen Nightmares, Hell s Kitchen, and even the American versions of the programs demonstrate the no holds barred criticism and attacks that Ramsay launched on his fellow chefs and inept owners of the culinary disasters that he was trying to save, even though many of those restaurants ended up closing and much of the owners ended up making bitter claims about the hypocrisy of Gordon Ramsay and the production system that he used at his own restaurants, among claims that their businesses did worse with Ramsay s help by making them look absurd and ridiculous Other people that really came to my mind when I read about John in this book were libertarian icons and figureheads like Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard the latter influenced former U.S Congressman Ron Paul the most and the Mises Institute, which got plenty of flack for past racism Same with Ron Paul and the infamous newsletters , and how they were criticized for their ideology and dogmatism, but that s another story.John took this sort of perfectionism even further and attempted to apply this to the world of producing animation for television even prior to R S with the productions of Mighty Mouse The New Adventures and The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil in the late 1980s From what I can understand, John was trying to get animation out of the doldrums it had been in for decades and certainly had a grand vision of what he wanted to accomplish, even when the budgets for the shows that he worked on limited this vision to a certain degree, which was part of the reason why Ren and Stimpy often went overbudget, even during the Games Animation era It was like he was trying to deliver a sort of theatrical cartoon like product but for the small screen and not truly understanding the limitations and budget that Nickelodeon had established The reality is that the original home for animation was in the movie theaters and especially before block booking was outlawed during the 1948 United States vs Paramount Pictures One could argue that during this time period, animation grew and innovated than any other time in its history John certainly tried to bring that sort of innovation back in animation, even if that meant breaking Nickelodeon s budget and going to whatever lengths necessary to achieve this He even had a session between the first and second seasons of R S where he tried to get the skills of potential artists up to speed so that the second season would be much better drawn and less prone to flaws as the season prior Thad writes that this was about having control over the artists rather than trying to educate them, but I sort of see the situation in a different light The mistake that John made here was trying to sandwich an education session and deadlines for a show that was exploding in popularity It was very poor timing on his part, but understandable when you acknowledge that the kind of funny drawing and acting that set the show apart from the rest of the competition at the time It seems to me that Kricfalusi was trying way too hard to balance getting the most out of his artists and meeting the demands of executives over at Nickelodeon, while not realizing how limited Nickelodeon s budget was towards making these sorts of cartoons John would also make this same mistake during the production of the Adult Party Cartoon, which reportedly caused Spumco to go bankrupt and tanked the budget that Spike TV had established for these new shorts Ironically, the crew at Games Animation had made several of the same mistakes that John and others had made at Spumco and at the same time, had much unneeded pressure.At the end of the day, I can t really defend or attack John based on what I ve read in a third person account of what happened, but I wanted to offer some thoughts and interpretations of what likely happened based on what I ve read over the years What is far important is not the feuds developed between the egos of various cartoonists, but how the medium of animation can progress and simultaneously inspire people with skill, energy and talent to breath new life into animation itself, especially with all this new technology has been created and developed over the years, the many DVDs of older animation and other kinds of films from the 1920s 1960s that have been released, how far accessible this kind of animation is with a simple Google, Dailymotion, or YouTube search and the plethora of blogs dedicated to providing cartoonists with immense resources and tools Will there be someone from the cream of the crop of the new generation of cartoonists and animators who can bring out the very best in all these talented artists like John K., Bob Camp, Chris Reccardi, and others arguably accomplished Only time will tell.

  9. Ian L. Ian L. says:

    Simply put, if you re a Ren and Stimpy fan, this is a must have book It offers all sorts of behind the scenes tidbits about one of the best shows to come out of the 90s Don t let the word unauthorized fool you despite not having cooperation from John K., this book is rich with quotes from former staff members and details that, let s face it, probably wouldn t come out in an autobiography or an official studio sponsored book Sick Little Monkeys give us an idea of what it was like to work at Spumco, but it also provides a fair critique of the man himself, John K Too many opinions of the Ren and Stimpy creator are either blind praise or seething venom, but Thad does a good job of treading the middle ground He does praise some of his cartoons and admires what he brought back to TV animation i.e the creator driven approach , but isn t above pointing out his flaws, as well as offering ways he could ve better succeeded on the show in a hindsight is 20 20 kind of way So if you re a John K fanboy and are concerned this book is nothing but a bashing session, don t be.Favorite parts of the book The animator breakdowns for two famous episodes the party story about setting meats on John K s head that would later be used in the episode Reverend Jack Cheese the episode guide which provides accurate info on airdates, something which has been sorely needed on the internet for over a decade, and also provides a good idea of which episodes were laid out in the U.S and which were laid out overseas and the chapter on Spumco s firing, which is worth buying for that alone.

  10. Customer Customer says:

    This book is an amazing conversation starter.

  11. Beverly Nerd Beverly Nerd says:

    A delight for anyone who is a fan of animation, studio politics, or, of course, Ren Stimpy Astutely written and very informative.

  12. Steven Stilley Steven Stilley says:

    For anyone who is interested in hearing about Ren and Stimpy and learning about its troubled production, this book is completely fascinating I highly recommend it

  13. kendaviscartoons kendaviscartoons says:

    I was there, and lived and worked through some of the series, and knew some of the principals personally A good behind the scenes albeit, shallow look at the travails of this trend setting cartoon There was some new info here for me and some confirmation of old tales told about some of the dramas that went on There s heaps stories and anecdotes that can be told of the day to days, many of which are hysterically funny and some poignant, and a few that are even disturbing, but that would call for a book at least double in size of this.The book is an easy read, and looks to be well enough researched.Its not a typical story though, so as an insight into animated productions it is VERY skewed towards a particularly troubled series and thus has very specific views about TV animation.One could say it functions as a kind of cautionary tale about the excesses of ego and perhaps passion.Still the book does also celebrate a cartoon that literally single handedly changed attitudes about cartoons, and set the stage for other wacky shows.

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