Son Of Stimpy. In The Hollywood Reporter for January 13, 1993, the trade paper reported on a press conference called by animator John Kricfalusi about his last Ren and Stimpy cartoon for Nickelodeon that was airing that night even though Kricfalusi had been fired in September. Originally entitled Stimpy’s First Fart, the title was changed to Son of Stimpy. Kricfalusi complained because he felt the entire story “depends on the title”.
“I wrote and directed and produced the cartoon and I want people to see all the hard work we’ve done,” said Kricfalusi. “This is something that hasn’t been done to this extent in cartoons before. I want them to act like human actors, not like cartoon characters, very exaggerated humans, lots of subtleties in their expressions.
“Basically all the cartoons you’ll see this year were produced by me and Spumco and being post produced at Games Prods to varying degrees. Bob Jaques’ Carbunkle Studios added expert animation to this episode. It is hard to distance myself while they are still airing episodes that I killed myself on. This episode is my first sellout. I came up with the idea in an effort to please Nickelodeon president Gerry Laybourne and vice president of animation Vanessa Coffey. This is my gift to Nickelodeon.
“This episode was my effort to compromise. I said, ‘Look, we’ll make some shows you like and some you don’t, but we can’t make shows that please everybody, otherwise you just end up with mush’. This was one of the ones I did for them and I ended up falling in love with it.
“I was on a phone conversation with Coffey and I said, ‘let’s start working on some of these heartwarming stories. I know you don’t like all these booger jokes and fart jokes’ and she said, ‘No, I like the fart jokes’. So, I said, ‘Okay, I’ve got a story for you’ and I basically just starting making it up.
“The softness in itself would not have worked but instead we also tried to make the acting more believable. The characters act more like humans in this episode than cartoon characters. The emotions are deeper. It took complex drawings, and a lot of them, to make the complex emotions needed.”
The story deals with Stimpy abandoning Ren to pursue his newfound friend, Stinky, that resulted in his first experience in passing gas. Not surprising, Nickelodeon and Coffey had no comment on the press conference.
For much more information about Son of Stimpy – please check Devon Baxter’s incredible Cartoon Research post from last year.
Bobby London. In the St. Louis Dispatch in 1993, cartoonist Bobby London who wrote and drew the Popeye comic strip for quite some time said he was a fan of Fleischer’s Koko the Clown and Disney’s Silly Symphonies. “You have to appreciate early Disney’s almost perverse cheerfulness. Everyone is always smiling. Something horrible happens and then they all sit down and play the piano. And Disney production values are really excellent. Ub Iwerks is the patron saint of all cartoonists. If he’s not the creator of Mickey Mouse, he’s certainly the designer.”
Roadrunner Tribute. In the movie The Villain (1979), the intent was to do a live action version reminiscent of the old Roadrunner and Coyote Warner Bros. cartoons. Two of the characters were named Avery Simpson and Parody Jones in homage to Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. It has been suggested that the stuttering telegraph agent (Mel Tillis who was a fan of Porky Pig) was a reference to Porky Pig.
Things We Never Saw. In 1991, Sullivan Bluth Special Projects (for Landmark Entertainment) were working on animation of a 9th century Japanese fable called “Princess of the Moon”. The animation was meant to be projected in a huge screen format (the same image on three large screens) that had to be integrated with the audio-animatronics characters and props on a custom made stage. The Tokyo amusement park where it was to be shown was called Oita’s Harmony Land.
Bruce Smith on Bebe’s Kids. Bebe’s Kids (1992) was advertised as “It’s animation, with an attitude” and promoted as the first animated feature with an all black cast and primarily black staff distributed as a joint venture between Hyperion Animation and Paramount. Warrington Hudlin was executive producer. Reginald Hudlin was executive co-producer, and as screenwriter fleshed out what was originally a stand-up comedy sketch by comedian Robin Harris.
Warrington Hudlin said, “We visited other companies and asked, ‘Where are the black animators?’ They were already here at Hyperion.”
Director Bruce Smith said that Tom Wilhite, president of Hyperion, brought him a book dating back to the Harlem renaissance. “There was a different sense about color and its roots which was very Afro-centric, full of reddish-browns, deep greens and blues. There’s nothing quite like it. In Bebe’s Kids, I designed the characters and other animators gave me ideas on how they should move. Then I laid down the foundation on how the feature will look.
“Then there’s the scoring of the film, which in this case involves a lot of rhythm & blues and rap. (The character representing) Robin does a blues rap number, and a love song. It’s a very eclectic mix.
“When I was a kid, I grew up with the kind of humor Robin had, talkin’ about someone’s feet, or like the fat lady who goes into Lane Bryant and says, ‘I’d like to see a dress that’ll fit me’ and the saleslady says, ‘Me too.’ I can remember doubling up in tears when someone’s roasting someone else. The humor of the street was all we used to do as kids.”
Animated Women. In the Los Angeles Times December 31, 1990, it was reported that Working Woman magazine in its January 1991 issue consigned Jane Jetson of the animated series The Jetsons to its Hall of Shame for reinforcing stereotypes that hurt girls including not working but “shopping, primping and nagging her husband”.
Other animated characters that came under criticism were Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble (“archetypal passive wives”), April O’Neill of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“How does a competent career woman keep getting into so much trouble?”) and Janine of the Real Ghostbusters (“a whiny, gum-cracking secretary who is always trying to shirk her responsibilities and never participates directly in the exorcising work of the firm”).
On the positive side, Working Woman praised She-Ra who was “so brave and tough, even the boys admired her!”