Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Specific Acting: Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy

Hey folks,

Lemme talk about two little concepts in my cartoons:
1) The "Spumco Style"
2) Spumco Acting

1) INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS LEND THEIR STYLES TO THE CARTOONS
OK first, as I've said before, there is no specific frozen Spumco style. The style of every scene in every cartoon I do depends on
who is drawing the scene (both storyboard and layout),
who painted the background,
what the scene is about and
how the artist and the characters are feeling at that particular moment.

In a very general sense the Spumco style is a combination of my style (which changes all the time) and the styles of whichever star artists happen to working on the cartoons with me. That's why not only do all the cartoons look different, but even from scene to scene characters and backgrounds change styles.

By star artists I mean the artists who have special talent - have a personal style, appeal and outlook. Not many artists have this but Spumco tends to attract them.

WE DON'T HAVE TO DRAW STRICTLY "ON-MODEL"
Now this very concept-of allowing individual artists to bring their own style to the cartoons is in this modern era of blandness unique to Spumco. Just about every other studio is completely anal about forcing all the artists to follow the model sheets and all draw the same. Every cartoon has to have the same look every week for 10 years running. To me, that is a waste of talent.

2) SPECIFIC ACTING AND EXPRESSIONS
The other important major aspect of the Spumco style is the specific acting. In other words, we try not to repeat stock expressions over and over again. I have a rule that you are never allowed to draw the same expression twice in your life at Spumco.

To make this task even harder, the expressions you have to make up have to also fit the particular character and the very particular emotion he or she is feeling at this one unique moment in his/her life.

Whew! Sounds impossible? It almost is but we try for it and that's where the most fun is for me.

By the way, you really have to have strong fundamental drawing skills if you are going to try to draw specific custom made acting. Ask any artists that have ever worked for me how hard it is to do.

So below are some frames from the Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy. These cartoons are further experiments in the specific acting we used in the original series.

The amazing thing is many of the artists who did this work were very young and for some it was their first job.

We also had Ren and Stimpy veterans Eddie Fitzgerald, Jim Smith and Vincent Waller drawing the show.

Look at the pics below and I will tell you who drew them and then see if you can define the Spumco "style" in simple terms.


me-although Ren is an inbetween...

Vincent



Helder Mendonca shows us duck lust


Fred Osmond has an eye theory for you...




This is a combo of me and I think Nick Cross...but it's a caricature of me.


This is a final drawing by Katie Rice inspired by a rough from Nick Cross. I enjoy combinations of different artists' styles. When you let people create and influence each other you end up with lots of new ideas and drawing techniques.

Here's Katie

Here's a layout by...(I don't know yet!) but it's from a tiny scribble I wrote on my timing notes.

Here's me. I make this face all the time.

This is Warren Leonhardt

Jessica Borutski.

Katie did the girls and Luke Cormican drew Ren.

Nick Cross drew this great stylish picture.

The Zone
I've talked to some of my artists about the "zone". This is a creative state we all want to be in all the time. It's when all the rules and restrictions that you need to be a good artist and to plan your scenes are lost for a sublime moment in your subconscious and then somehow out of nowhere weird things just flow out of your pencil that you could never think of using mere logic.

It usually happens at about 4 in the morning. I was in a zone when I drew that Ren above. His eyes don't make any physical sense, but you can tell exactly what he's feeling from the weird shapes. It's weird but specific at the same time.

Specific acting is not likely to happen for you until you get a good grip on the basics first. Drawing well constructed stock expressions is difficult enough. Specific acting is the next level up.

151 comments:

Satan's Sister said...

Wow. I am the first post! Hooray, I knew some day I would be here in the first.
since I am more architectural in thought concerning design- I think when you are young and you know you have great thing going you work twice as hard - I remember so fondly loving to draw all night long and most of the day under natural light or sometimes - I would use the weather as an excuse to draw if it was hot or rainy. When I walk down the corridor of come before - I think draw like a baby. Unlike me now who charges for sketches.

Kyle aka Scout said...

I love the shear sadness in Ren's eyes in the first screen. That tells a whole story right there. It makes me wish I could draw better than I do, but i'll stick with music as my creative outlet for the time being. John when you draw what are your biggest inspirations when you first start, and do you look at film for staging and expressions or more real life?

JohnK said...

>>John when you draw what are your biggest inspirations when you first start, and do you look at film for staging and expressions or more real life?

all of the above

Anonymous said...

John, where did you learn how to draw? By that I mean exactly which school did you go to? Also what's your inspiration for your unique art style?

nightwing said...

hahaha...these stills are great...which reminded me, i drew my own ren in class, take a look, i threw in what i think is an underbite, just because underbites crack me up, but i did it ala my own style

Ren

Brian Romero said...

Hmmm Spumco style eh? I don't know if it can be broken down easily. I've noticed that Spumco pushes the acting, poses and expressions to a more extreme/exaggerated/cartoony place than any other studio. After watching the APC episodes every other cartoon made for TV seems really bland, watered down and generic. The Spumco stuff just has more energy and life. Another thing about the APC stuff that blew me away is the shear number of funny drawings per episode.

Jeremy said...

awesome, awesome, awesome.

Im nowhere near the caliber for spumco. But, boy oh boy does it give you something to shoot for!

thanks again john for the great blog you have going on here.

nightwing said...

haha...i said, "what i think is an underbite" i need to stop editing my posts so much before i submit, because they end up like this, but oh well

JohnK said...

>>I've noticed that Spumco pushes the acting, poses and expressions to a more extreme/exaggerated/cartoony place than any other studio.

We also do very subtle stuff. Check those drawings again! Very intricate and subtle twists and turns to the lines and forms to give extra definition to the expressions.

Jeremy said...

do you guys follow model sheets at all? or do the artists just know how the character should look like and go from there?

also, how many people do you usually get to work on a single episode?

Chet said...

Show more Katie stuff!!!!!!!!!

Hahaha,its interesting to hear your ideas about art and animation.I have one basic theory too,want to hear it?

1.If it looks good it is good

hahahahaahahaha-thats all the theory's anyone ever needs.

Keep on posting John!!!!! Your giving me some cool ideas.

(ohh yeah,and i really like that drawing by Jessica Borutski.)

JohnK said...

>>do you guys follow model sheets at all? or do the artists just know how the character should look like and go from there?

We have model sheets to show you the construction of the characters, but we vary the proportions a lot.

I just gave away a big secret!

JohnK said...

>>
1.If it looks good it is good

That's a good theory if you are already really great, but not if you don't know anything. Then it'll cripple your progress.

Anonymous said...

I like how malleable all the forms are. For example Ren has a strong chin in some drawings and in others it's non-existant.

That's something I always struggle with. Breaking the model and keeping it looking on character.

Sometimes I get lucky, but you guys make it look easy.

Do you approach drawing them as silhouettes first? What do your thumbnails look like?

Brian Romero said...

We also do very subtle stuff. Check those drawings again! Very intricate and subtle twists and turns to the lines and forms to give extra definition to the expressions.

I have noticed that not everything is over-the-top bold and explosive all the time. Even in the more quiet moments the characters show small quirks and details in their appearance to convey their own unique personalities.

Chet said...

how would it cripple you?

Im not saying that construction and stuff dont matter,Im just saying that construction isnt the most important thing.

just look at stylized cartoons,They usually arent very well drawn from an artist standpoint,but in some way they are the coolest looking drawings ever.

Mitch K said...

How do you go about inking the drawings?

Expressions are what I like about your cartoons. Animated features can get away with not using a lot of expressions, but sometimes the tone of voice just doesn't match the face, which bothers me... and sometimes it's very obvious that the two just don't fit together. Skilled and talented people work on these features, so how can they possibly let these things slip by? Wouldn't happen on my watch. Frig.

Jeremy said...

hey john, have you ever seen fosters home for imaginary friends?

I love that show, and the drawings are very stylistic.

Chet said...

I really wasnt in refrence to modern cartoons,but more 50's animation.

But since you brought it up,What modern cartoons were you in refrence too?

What do you means flat and bad? Explain to me what flat means?

John Park said...

I'm finding it difficult to stop thinking of some of these background paintings. Some of the colors are so spellbindingly good! I particularly enjoy the and the wood floor in the last image and the one where stimpy is licking his bollocks.

JohnK said...

>>Animated features can get away with not using a lot of expressions, but sometimes the tone of voice just doesn't match the face, which bothers me...

Yes!! That drives me crazy! Even classic Disney films have that problem. The animation is fluid and beautiful but it sounds like someone is talking in the other room. The faces just look like they are chewing something.

Like that Goddamn doorknob that everyone copies to this day.

Anonymous said...

"We have model sheets to show you the construction of the characters, but we vary the proportions a lot."

I definetly notice that Mr.K,which is great. The thing I like most about cartoons is that you go hugely out of proportion.For example,when Ren's fist becomes extremely huge when he smacks Stimpy. Or my perosnal favorites, when a character's arm becomes really huge when they have it around someone and then uses there huge finger to poke at them.

JohnK said...

>>I particularly enjoy the and the wood floor in the last image and the one where stimpy is licking his bollocks.

Those were styled by Nick Cross and painted by a girl in Korea-I'll find her name and post about her too.

That's the most obvious difference between the original Ren and Stimpy cartoons and the newer ones. The backgrounds are less stylized, not by choice, but just because different artists painted them and painted in their own styles.

Rob Gibson said...

Unfortunately the cartoon watching public doesn't seem to care about solid drawing. Shows like South Park, which actually push the cartoon medium a huge giant leap backwards in terms of everything, get by on piss-poor character design, re-using the same expressions for everything (hell you can even type south park expressions: >< -- and v - for mouth shapes) and the worst animation I've ever seen. My flip books I made when I was 5 are better.

But its not just that show, pretty much all of it is like that. Stations view cartoon programming as product and not art. So as long as they're making money I doubt they'll ever notice/give a shit if a cartoon is drawn well. Just as long as it sells well.

On a sidenote, do you think it would be almost impossible to make a cartoon series completely in house these days? and make a profit?

-Rob

Chet said...

Unfortunately the cartoon watching public doesn't seem to care about solid drawing. Shows like South Park, which actually push the cartoon medium a huge giant leap backwards in terms of everything, get by on piss-poor character design, re-using the same expressions for everything (hell you can even type south park expressions: >< -- and v - for mouth shapes) and the worst animation I've ever seen. My flip books I made when I was 5 are better.

But its not just that show, pretty much all of it is like that. Stations view cartoon programming as product and not art. So as long as they're making money I doubt they'll ever notice/give a shit if a cartoon is drawn well. Just as long as it sells well.

On a sidenote, do you think it would be almost impossible to make a cartoon series completely in house these days? and make a profit?

-Rob

I like south parks style.Whats cooler than paper cutouts?(i know its cgi,but its made to look like construction paper)

Jeremy said...

>> Unfortunately the cartoon watching public doesn't seem to care about solid drawing. Shows like South Park, which actually push the cartoon medium a huge giant leap backwards in terms of everything, get by on piss-poor character design, re-using the same expressions for everything (hell you can even type south park expressions: >< -- and v - for mouth shapes) and the worst animation I've ever seen. My flip books I made when I was 5 are better.

in south parks defense, they make up for their "style" with good writing. over the top sometimes, but still good.

Anonymous said...

John also believes that the size of body parts can change according to the needs of the scene. When Ren holds something important the hand is drawn bigger. When he speaks the head is bigger. the This sounds like common-sense cartooning but you'll be amazed to see how much trouble you'll bring on yourself if you try that at other studios.

-Eddie Fitzgerald

Brian Romero said...

I like the APC backgrounds better. They have that more solid feel that cartoons from the 30's and 40's had even though they're 'cartoony'. Plus every friggin' cartoon has that flat fake 50's thing going on with the backgrounds these days.

Anonymous said...

Yea don't they make that show in Maya? Weird.

I admit South park's funny a lot of times, but it lowers everyone's expectations of what a cartoon should be, don't you think? Because of cheap shows like that, it makes the extra cost and time for producing shows like Ren and Stimpy seem out of line with network people. When all people look at are the $$, what are you going to pick, cheap cut out shit or the closest thing to full animation we'll probably ever see on TV again? They'll pick the cut out shit, and that's what pisses me off.

Brian Romero said...

in south parks defense, they make up for their "style" with good writing. over the top sometimes, but still good.

That doesn't really make up for it IMO. That's like a live action movie that has a great script, but the actors totally suck. The performances can ruin the script/writing.

Rob Gibson said...

That was me responding as anon. ^^
-Rob

Chet said...

I admit South park's funny a lot of times, but it lowers everyone's expectations of what a cartoon should be, don't you think? Because of cheap shows like that, it makes the extra cost and time for producing shows like Ren and Stimpy seem out of line with network people. When all people look at are the $$, what are you going to pick, cheap cut out shit or the closest thing to full animation we'll probably ever see on TV again? They'll pick the cut out shit, and that's what pisses me off.

- There is still a ton of hand drawn(fbf) cartoons.If another company wanted to make expensive cartoons(like spumco) then they would have as high of a chance of getting a show as south park did.

Jeremy said...

>>I admit South park's funny a lot of times, but it lowers everyone's expectations of what a cartoon should be, don't you think? Because of cheap shows like that, it makes the extra cost and time for producing shows like Ren and Stimpy seem out of line with network people. When all people look at are the $$, what are you going to pick, cheap cut out shit or the closest thing to full animation we'll probably ever see on TV again? They'll pick the cut out shit, and that's what pisses me off.

I think that one company will come out with a more "classical" feel for a cartoon series and others will follow their lead.

With all the different programs and stuff people have access to now a days, I wouldn't be surprised if small groups of people could come up with kickass shows all in studio.

Anonymous said...

Warren Leonhardt has . He has some amazing work on there.
--------------
I think people are confusing solidly drawn cartoons with that "Preston Blair" style.

Which is sad because solid construction isn't about style but draftsmanship. Good anime is solidly constructed, Bruce Timm's work is solidly constructed, and so are Ed Benedict's and Tom Oreb's "flat" work.

Look at Deputy Droopy. I think there are some stills up at Inspiration Grab-Bag. Notice how solid Droopy is when he turns.

Or look at the Mr Magoo drawings on Cartoon Modern.

BrianMORANTE said...

You guys at spumco should pass around 1 sketchbook and everyone draws in it. Eventually a very random story and characters start to form from it. Things that one person in the group could never think of. The results are quite intresting and lead to a lot of crazy theories.

Anonymous said...

stupid html

nightwing said...

i wouldnt say creativity is a thing of the past...its just hybernating

Rob Gibson said...

"I think that one company will come out with a more "classical" feel for a cartoon series and others will follow their lead."


I hope you're right! From what I see on TV I highly doubt it, but I say again , I hope you're right.

Duck Dodgers said...

Wht the picture of the two girls dressed looked so bad? ( in terms of quality picture, the drawings is terrific! ).
It looks like my copy of the cartoon, but it is different if compared to the wonderful picture quality of ALTRUISTS or STIMPY'S PREGNANT. Why ?

( please, John , reply to my email...thanks)

Brian Romero said...

Today, repetition is the law in cartoon studios.

The same damn drawings traced over and over again for a decade.

It's sickening.

Creativity is a thing of the past.


That's because today companies are interested in making products, properties and franchises, not entertaining cartoons. It's like the McDonald's philosophy... the food may suck, but you can count on the food sucking the same way no matter where you are in the world!

JohnK said...

>>Wht the picture of the two girls dressed looked so bad? ( in terms of quality picture, the drawings is terrific! ).

Because it's a frame grab from a VHS. The others are from DVDs.

Jeremy said...

"That's because today companies are interested in making products, properties and franchises, not entertaining cartoons. It's like the McDonald's philosophy... the food may suck, but you can count on the food sucking the same way no matter where you are in the world!"

I still think that smaller groups/studios will break the chains.

Ps. is there a forum that talks about this kind of stuff?... I don't want to post in this topic anymore and clutter up johns blog.

David Germain said...

1.If it looks good it is good

hahahahaahahaha-thats all the theory's anyone ever needs.


I'm agreeing with John on that one. Sorry Chet. Your theory is rather over-simplified. The main reason is that what looks good to you now might look terrible a few years later, sometimes even a few minutes later. The trick is to make a drawing that looks good forever.
Of course, this is a rather impossible task really. IE. even though we marvel at Bill Tytla's Balrog in Fantasia or Bob McKimson's Bugs Bunny animation in Falling Hare more than 60 years later, if eihter of those two men were alive today they'd be pointing out all the mistakes they saw. We the artists are our own worst critics much of the time. That is both a blessing and a curse.
When constructing a drawing, we should definitely strive for perfection no matter how much paper or graphite we go through. But, we should also be able to know "that's all the attention this piece deserves, it's time to move on." Such is the paradox of our lives.

JohnK said...

>>That's because today companies are interested in making products, properties and franchises, not entertaining cartoons.

You can do all those at once. They did it for decades and it could easily be done now if they just let creative people do what comes naturally.

Pixar manages to do it all with artists.

2D doesn't have the opportunity unfortunately.

nightwing said...

here is my theroy...long ago animation was born as the visualization of music, fluid and melodious, much as music used to be, but now it follows only writing, once animation finds music again, itll be better, but animators will have to rediscover classical music, modern music just dosnt cut it...its as reptitive as animation is currently, and it dosnt have flowing melodies, really no movement at all

JohnK said...

>>but now it follows only writing,

what writing? Pop culture references is writing?

Foghorn Leghorn is still funnier than any modern cartoons. So are the 3 Stooges and the Honeymooners.

Anonymous said...

I belive there was a secound golden age of animation, and it started with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit ?" in 1988. After that came great shows like Tiny Toons, Animaniacs,Pinky and The Brain,Ren and Stimpy, and the list goes on. For some reason,that era has ended and gave rise to more and more artistically bankrupt crap.

nightwing said...

not all current cartoons are comprised of pop culture references...mostly family guy, but ill agree with you on the stooges and the honeymooners...i think i have every three stooges episode memorized

nightwing said...

pinky and the brain...hahaha, deffinetly one of spielberg's best works

Brian Romero said...

I guess it comes down to money then. Most of these execs in charge of green-lighting shows probably aren't visionaries. They just want to copy what the last guy did to make money while spending the least amount in the process.

Once Pixar proved to be a success every studio wanted their own 3D feature thinking that it was the technology that appealed to movie-goers rather than the characters and story. We'll see if Pixar and can revitalize Disney. I find it hilarious that Pixar's 'secret formula' was basically Disney's original way of doing features back in the day.

nightwing said...

im not a huge fan of 3D

David Germain said...

what writing? Pop culture references is writing?

Foghorn Leghorn is still funnier than any modern cartoons. So are the 3 Stooges and the Honeymooners.


Actually, John, many of the shows you just mentioned had some pop culture references in them as well. For instance, the Foghorn Leghorn toon Weasel Stop (c. 1956) replaced the regular dawg with a dog that must have been taken from some radio or TV show (I can't place him at all unfortunately).
But yeah, pop culture references have become used too gratuitously these days. They're supposed to be mere decoration for a story, not the driving force of it. I'm certainly not saying that ending these references will make things creative again. I think that if this device is used well (such as it was in many Looney Tunes in their golden age as well as The Simpsons) the show can still be intelligent and entertaining, but just as long as everyone remembers that character and story come first in that order.

Brian Romero said...

I belive there was a secound golden age of animation, and it started with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit ?" in 1988. After that came great shows like Tiny Toons, Animaniacs,Pinky and The Brain,Ren and Stimpy, and the list goes on. For some reason,that era has ended and gave rise to more and more artistically bankrupt crap.

Heh-heh. John, care to give this guy your super-bastardization speech? Or should they go pick up Animation Magazine May/June 1994 on Ebay?

;-)

JohnK said...

>>I guess it comes down to money then.

It has absolutely nothing to do with money. Studios waste a ton of money being uncreative. Once in a blue moon a studio gets lucky and hangs on for dear life.

Mostly they do everything they can to not make successful shows.

The people who make the decisions are not spending their own money so they don't care about making money for their companies. They are spending the money of some huge blind monstrosity of a corporation that is already billions of dollars in debt and mysteriously still standing.

David Germain said...

A drawing is only bad if you think its bad.A good drawing is a drawing you think is good.

Sometimes, however, that whole "you thinking it's good" or "you thinking it's bad" might notcome from a clear mind state. Some of those judgements come from delusions of grandeur or delusions of failure.
An example of both went to animation school with me. I'll talk about the delusion of grandeur guy first. He literally drew like a seven year old (had the maturity of one too >:( ). And yet, in our first year he went around showing everyone his "great drawings". "See, I drew this here and then I put this here..." blah blah blah blah blah. He actually spent more time walking around the room talking about his drawings and even worse giving us tips on our drawings than he actually spent working at his own desk. This notion of his was eventually knocked out of him and he did slightly improve later on, but for that first year he was IMPOSSIBLE!! (he did some other nauseating stuff too but I shouldn't even BEGIN to get into that right now).
The other guy was just the opposite. He had some of the best artwork in our entire class. The S-curves he put into his work is easily equal to any pro in the industry. But, he has a picky sense of perfectionism coupled with bouts of self-doubt. Then he just slumps away into this "I can't draw" depression mode. It was a chore to get him back at his desk and working again. But then, the next bad drawing (in his mind anyway) would spiral him right back into that slump again.

Sorry for this lengthy post, Chet, but I hope you get the idea. Art is not as simple as you've been saying it is. And really it never should be. That's what makes it the enchanting forum that it is.

JohnK said...

hey why don't we get back to the point of this post?

Chet said...

sorry John, I tend to be off-topic.

Anonymous said...

These frame grabs are AMAZING. I was like gasping as I scrolled down.

Though I've never been a huge fan of Disney, I'm really bothered that they aren't making 2D animated films anymore (this is true, right?) While I thought the Incredibles was...well...incredible, 3D in general leaves me feeling a bit cold. And I feel like unless your studio is REALLY amazing at 3D (like Pixar), it can easily come out kind of dumb looking and stiff and awkward. I guess the same could be said for 2D though.

Hey John, what did you think of Samurai Jack? It had a flat style (though the movement was quite fluid), and I was never a huge fan, but every time I came upon it I was honestly blown away by what I was seeing. I've never seen a cartoon look like that, and paced like that before.


-Jordan

BrianB said...

Hey, you guys aren't half bad! Btw, how's the network's weighing with the blog traffic and dvd sales? Starting to budge?

Anyway, I'm really excited for the DVD's, just to be able to go through scenes over and over - with a company that pushes for the highest quality every single frame.

Duck Dodgers said...

John , please do reply to my e-mail!

Here's other screenshots from the upcoming episodes!

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/01/waiting-for-ren-and-stimpy-apc-dvd.html

doctorwhom said...

will the lost episodes dvd be on sale in the uk?
btw, you posted a pic of spumco's cell-painting kit. I bought it from my local comic store in my home town of Wanganui, New Zealand back around 1995ish(?). Jimmy in the street with chuddy under his shoe. I lied at school and told someone I'd done it from scratch.
Exhale, my conscience is clean.

Trevour said...

I managed to avoid viewing 'Altruists' in hopes that it woulda made it to TV, but now that the DVDs are a'coming, I think I can wait a bit longer.

So I don't know what's going on in the scene, but I really enjoy the drawing of Stimpy with the heart over his head. The eye overlapping the nose, and his left hand curling back under his nose. I can only imagine what wackiness is happening in motion.

John (or Steve), I remember Steve mentioning on the newsgroup a few years back that either 'Altruists' or 'Stimpy's Pregnant' included a scene where every drawing was painstakingly done in ones, and it wasn't all that short, and the funny drawings were endless! Or am I just imagining things?

Trevour said...

I meant curling back under his ARM! Although curling under his nose would be GREAT!!!

lastangelman said...

A Day In The Life Of Ranger Smith gets the point across in a funny way with the gag showing all the different "faces" of Ranger Smith in that one sequence.
Helder Medonca's duck lust looks like he soaked in a lot of Wil Branca and Eddie Fitzgerald. I'd have to see more of Medonica's stuff to see if this was just for this sequence or if Helder has own unique style.
The Ren Hoek with coathanger look is top gear - did you use this before on George Liquor? - that must be the face you make when an artist gets lazy and you catch 'em! Warren's reaction pose for Ren is priceless! The muscle tone in chest and shoulders as Ren Hoek hunches up in disgust is perfect really conveys the moment, it's not all the face it's the body, too! I'd use Katie's shower scene as my new wallpaper on my 'puter except some people at work might take exception! Hmph! The eyes and lips of the dark haired girl conveys this feeling unsure or unease unlike the redhaired vixen - open, wide mouthed, pert, jolly. Look drew a great Ren, on the job but drunk with satisfaction and testosterone!
On the last drawing, Ren has a look that has been a lot of guys' faces at one time or another - denial, denial, denial, I don't wanna hear this, I don't wanna be here, this can't be happening, why doesn't he shut up! Wow! You actually colored in and gave him a real nose! Not a hole in his face but an actual snout!

David Germain said...

I notice something familiar about Helder Mendonca's picture of "duck lust". Did that person also animate the part in Sven Hoek when Ren is doing that quiet anger rant to Sven and Stimpy?

akira said...

so nice! thanks john... but really i'm a sucker for rougher, pencil drawings..... i'd love to see the little thumbnails like the scribble you mentioned drawing on your timing notes... maybe i don't like the inking from the new ren and stimpy as much as the old, i don't know, maybe i didn't have time to get used to it... well i'm glad we get to see your raw caricatures... but i'd love to see more rough spumco stuff too..

seoul brother said...

Hi John,

This is my first post here. I'm a Overseas Supervisor in Korea on a 2D show for a Canadian company.

We still use hand painted BGs and I was wondering if you could let me know the name of the Korean girl that you mentioned who painted that floor BG. We could use her on the team here. You mean there is actually a creative artist here in Korea???

I'm pulling my hair out with my team here, especially the BG department. Some of these animators should just get out of animation and go make towels, or something. Nothing kills a 2D show like overseas animation.

What overseas studios do you recommend? Have you had any luck with any of them? I know you used Cuckoo's Nest on the first season of Ren and Stimpy.

Also I'd be interested in seeing some of your work on Beanie and Cecil for DIC if you can dig that out. Do you have a copy of the last few un-aired episodes of that?

Thanks for being an inspiration to all us suffering 2D animators out there.

akira said...

forget what i said, i think i just like seeing rough stuff because i can do those kind of lines myself... the spumco inking is awesome.. i wish i knew some tips of how the hell to train to draw some of those amazing lines...
i like both and you put both up ... so much awesome stuff on this blog, day after day... i'll be sad if you ever abandon this blog like the old spumco site... but this is much better...
p.s. south park never claimed to be high quality.. it is on a comedy network not a cartoon network.. and each animator does about 3 minutes in a week so what do you expect?

makinita said...

man thats so interesting stuff man so many styles in one cartoon es like an amaizing party for the eyes i love it

Zach Schlein said...

Okay, while I know this may not be the right topic and/or post to comment in I need to get my feelings heard out!

I love your work John. I'm one of the younger age groups in yur fanbase, 14, but I would like to express how awsome and creatve your entire team is at creating a fantaastic cartoon. I'll use the original R&S as a example. When you say that the Spumco style is a combination of mny different things, that rings true more than ever. Look at Vincent Waller's Rubber Nipple Salesman for example. When I first watched it, I noticed how in his, the drawings tend to go for a more waxkier, cartoony style. While in your style such as Sven Hoek, you tend to go more for facial expressions and moovments when drawing the characters. This all makes the Spumco style so unique and different than other cartoon companies and episodes of their cartoons look exactly the same every time in animation. (Case in point: Catscratch). Now for a few questions:

1. I know you get this all the time but when is APC coming out?!?!?!
2. There's a quote on Wikipedia on Ren Stimpy saying if the APC DVD sells well, you'll consider releasing more episodes straight to DVD releases, or Spike may pick up APC again? Is that true? More of my favorite dog and cat duo is always apprecated.
3. What measures are you taking to ensure there are no cuts on the Ultimate set? For suggestions go to Wikipedia and look for the link on R&S cuts.

Anonymous said...

i want the vid i want the vid i want the vid i want the vid i want the vid i want the vid....

SACKS said...

I also am a Suffering 2D animator now forced into a life of Carebears and Shortcakes in the world of Licensing. Your contributions to the animation world are well recieved in my book. Your work was a great influence to me early in my career. I first met you standing in line with a friend named Clay Croker (voice of Zorak) at the Atlanta Dragon Con. You were standing next to Mark Hamill. I was already a big fan of Ren and Stimpy and the Mighty Mouse series. I picked up a Jimmy the Space idiot plush and got some nifty R&S sketches from Jim Smith. Your work is what inspired me to get better at my craft and explore the wackiest posing. Thanks John.

Acetate said...

Nice to see someone else mention the "zone". I never came up with a word for it, but yes it does exist and I've been there ! Usually late at night, usually after eating yummy chocolate snacks, magical drawings are born. I think there was a description of this sort of zen thing in the book, "Drawing on the right side of the brain" Keep fighting the good fight John. By the way is there any chance of you running a cartoon studio again? Sort of a "Lasseter" for the 2-d world? We could sure use a good cheerleader.

SACKS said...

Oh! I almost forgot to ask. Any idea of when we all can scoop up the Ren & Stimpy Spike tv adult cartoons DVD?

Clarke (Csnyde) said...

if I had to say that there is a simple way to define a Spumco "style" at all it is this:

The application of unique caricaturization to create animation that could never be done in live action.

Basically if you look at Spumco's work, everything is a caricature wether it is a pose, an emotion, a walk, a voice, etc... everything is based off of real life as a starting point, but not slave to it. This goes a long way in re-inforcing the theory that nearly each and every frame needs to be unique and individual to that character and the scene.

This is what all good cartoons do in my opinion. They take exactly what it is about animation that makes it such a unique medium and capitalize on this to the Nth degree. They take reference and use it properly as it relates to the medium of animation. They use it as a guide and distort and twist it to suit their fancy-pushing it to the breaking point to make it more interesting and make it feel alive.They do not copy it nearly verbatum and make it some sort of regurgitated bastardized mess of stiffness simply because it was in their reference and thats how it is in "real life"

Joel Bryan said...

Katie's lucky... she gets to draw all the cutest girls in the scenes. That's genius at work.

The thing about never drawing the same expression twice makes me think about Zhang Ziyi- she never uses the same angry face twice when she's acting. Look at "Hero." She's angry in about 150 scenes in that movie, and that's the same number of different expressions she uses to convey it.

Chloe Cumming said...

I read this post in my morning (GMT) and then I walked to the gym and pondered the implications while attempting to perfect my buttocks and lower back curve.

This is all too stimulating. I have too many thoughts. The best I can do is chop them up into funsize chunks. Or hold them in and cause an uncomfortable backlog. Maybe that would be for the best.

So the Spumco style isn’t really a style at all, it’s more like a philosophy with a set of rigorous parameters… but people tend to be think of it as a style because that’s reductive enough not to challenge their complacency.

The word ‘style’ itself tends to be misleading, it keys into a part of the modern mentality that’s all about posing, where kids think they want to have a style that’s actually more like a graffiti tag or a brand affiliation…

There’s kind of false logic that uses Postmodernism as an excuse… the idea that we’re all mediated now and art can only refer to itself and there is no primary experience. But your sensibility seems to me to be all about celebrating primary experience.

I’m fascinated by the idea that you can only enjoy those moments of trans-rational creative flowing splurgyness (I love the ‘squirting pencil’ idea) or anything that could be properly called self-expression, if you are already standing on a solid skill base that demands hard work and self-discipline. It makes intuitive sense. It’s such an obvious, universally applicable idea, but it’s not something that’s taught institutionally now. It’s also the way to get joy and fulfilment out of creative work… that’s the crucial thing that might make this principle more palatable to young people who are unaccustomed to being challenged, through no fault of their own. If you aren’t rigorous with yourself you’re cheating yourself out of both the heights of achievement and the heights of enjoyment…

Corey said...

I prefer the original R&S as opposed to the APC episodes. It seems like (to me) the original episodes were always in danger of being cencored by nickelodeon & that's why they usually had heart or were so appealing. They were a kids show in disguise because thats what they had to be.
The APC episodes weren't in as much danger of being cencored (I'm guessing) & so you could go anywhere you wanted with the humor & story & for me it always went to a place that never felt like R&S to me.
I enjoy them of course, but just not as much as the older ones.
..then again I'm young & retarded.

Anonymous said...

I'm still laughing at the duck and Stimpy picture...

JohnK said...

>>I enjoy them of course, but just not as much as the older ones.

should I not put out the one with the naked girls in it?

JohnK said...

Good job of seeing the common threads from different posts Cartoon Crank.
This whole blog is a philosophy about the difference between America 60 years ago and America today.

Anonymous said...

The frame grabs are totally beautiful looking, but it's the entire cartoon, front to back, that matters. In the end. Wouldn't you say?

JohnK said...

>>The frame grabs are totally beautiful looking, but it's the entire cartoon, front to back, that matters. In the end. Wouldn't you say?

Yes.

and every time I show these cartoons in theatres the audience laughs back to back and lines up to meet the artists afterwards.

Entertainment is Spumco's #1 goal-but entertainment told through fun and interesting drawings-the medium of cartoons.

Anonymous said...

the original episodes were always in danger of being cencored by nickelodeon

I guess people forget that not all of them made them to the air.

Alan Smith said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the great stuff to peruse, as always.

One thing that's been bugging me lately, however, (possibly) relates to the whole "there is no Spumco style" thing: I saw your recommendation for Eddie Fitzgerald's "Tales of Worm Paranoia," and so of course I watched it.

Now, I realize that he was part of your team and worked on the R&S stuff, but the combination of the facial expressions and music which seemed lifted verbatim from the classic Ren stuff was very odd, and left me kind of flat.

Having an appreciation of classic styles and freedom of creative expression are noble goals, but do you think that having the freedom to do whatever you want can actually hurt the output in a creative sense, sometimes?

I've heard it said many times and in many situations that having certain restrictions (be they deadlines, budgets, or whatever) can actually help an artist produce their best work, even if they despised said restrictions all along.

And since I'm here, let me admit that a few years ago, I was tremendously excited to hear about the new R&S episodes, with you back at the helm. But when I watched the first one, I really felt let down--it seemed to focus more on simple gross-out gags than anything else. It got me to thinking that maybe having assholes like Nick keeping you penned up made you come up with some killer, subversive stuff, cuz you had to be creative about it, and now that you didn't have anyone breathing down your neck, you weren't as hard on yourself as you might have been.

But then at other times I told myself, "Nah! He's just giving the kids what they want!"

I dunno... just some random thoughts for you.

I remain a huge fan, and I hope you can pick up some sponsors! I'll be buying my shirt soon!

--Alan Smith

Stefano D. said...

I know exactly what John means by "the zone". In fact, Betty Edwards, mentioned that same "zone" in her book Drawings On The Right Side of The Brain.

And John's right---it does usually take place at 4:00am. Actually---- more like at 4:13am to be exact.

Anonymous said...

John,
Since you have always lead the industry, have you thought about doing a video podcast cartoon? Would like to see you do something like this. If you have any questions, or if there is anyone on the blog interested in making a video podcast drop me a note at c.breshears at podshow.com - just change the at to @

R2K said...

Lol those are too crazy.

Love the nude chicks.

Why are cartoon chicks always hotter than real life ones for some reason?

R2K

nico said...

i am from argentina, and i wanna say that you´re my biggest influence, and i think that ren & stimpy made me want to draw comics.

yes, you are my god hehehe

well, my question: are you gonna put some of the ren & stimpy close ups? i have years looking for the ren´s eyes shot

mi name is nicolas and i have 18 years old, what an honour if you read this!!!

sorry if i writted in a bad english...

sTAtiC said...

One of my biggest pet peeves about the publics perception about animation is that it is strictly for children. The classic WB stuff gets bashed for being too violent or whatrever as if it were created yesterday for kids. Most people have no idea the history or origins of the medium. I think it certainly becomes a challenge for creators.

So John, I wrote yesterday that after stumbling across your blog, I got the urge to draw. I've been influenced by the same studios as you, however, I spent a lot of time drawing in front of the TV in the 70's and was emulating rather crappy Saturday morning H-B stuff. As a result, I've always found my drawings to be rather stiff. While I feel I'm a good character designer, I always need to be concerned with my rather static 3 quartered view H-B type drawings of t he 70's.

So, I spent the day yesterday trying to loosen up.

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/341/file15mr.jpg

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/9231/file21ja.jpg

Stefano D. said...

Hmmmm---not sure if the cartoon chicks are "hotter" than real ones, Alex. Heh heh. I mean they're cute----but I prefer boobs in 3D.

Vanoni! said...

This is a creative state we all want to be in all the time. It's when all the rules and restrictions that you need to be a good artist and to plan your scenes are lost for a sublime moment in your subconscious and then somehow out of nowhere weird things just squirt out of your pencil that you could never think of using mere logic.

Has this conversation ever come up in the studio, John?

John: I need you to revise this drawing.
Artist: Oh don't worry, John! I was in the zone when I drew that! It's fine!

For clarity's sake I imagine the artist would make googly eyes when saying, "the zone".

Corey said...

"should I not put out the one with the naked girls in it?"

Absolutely. I find naked toon chicks repulsive. So repulsive in fact that I can't look away.

Samuel K said...

John, I just wanted to pop in and say that I'm a tremendous fan. I'm an aspiring film maker and you're such an inspiration. I don't want to be an animator, but a lot of what you say can be applicable to anything.

It's the Spumco style that you talk about. The style isn't the way things look, but the way things are done. I love that idea, and it shows an incredible work ethic. Producing something of good quality is so rewarding, not only to the entertainer, but to the audience.

Just know that I've taken Samuel K as my pseudonym half because of you and half because I always thought it was cool when I'd fill my name out on forms as Last, First, and Middle Initial. Also know it's my ambition to somehow work with you someday, somehow.

Thanks for everything.

Chloe Cumming said...

>>This whole blog is a philosophy about the difference between America 60 years ago and America today.

So are we going to talk about all the things that have gone wrong? That could be fun.

When I was thinking about responding to your posts, I was wondering whether you had a specific reason for doing this blog at this particular time, if it was heading somewhere. Now I begin to see.

I was going to ask for elaboration on that Beatles theory but I think I probably understand the basics. Cartoon Crank described it nicely… I’ve thought about that phenomenon quite a lot, I’m sure there ought to be a name for it, something explosively creative and paradigm-shifting happens and a bunch of lame exploitative poser crap follows it, that entirely misinterprets what was good about the original. But it’s almost never the fault of the good thing that started it. Perhaps that’s ALWAYS going to happen when something authentically original gets into the public consciousness, because great pop culture sends out shockwaves and because most people aren’t as imaginative as they ought to be. But I’d be interested to hear more about Eastern mysticism being a bad influence and more of the specifics of the Beatles-ruination theory.

Those good pop culture phenomena are always reflections of a sort of unvoiced collective need, at the same time as being idiosyncratic and startling and the products of individual visions.

And re the whole style issue again… when you did your original post about learning to love classic cartoons, I was asking myself how much the whole cartoon aesthetic of that era, as well as being the perfected form of the thing that it is, embodies a peculiarly American wit and energy. And if it does, how accessible is it to us foreigners, to sort of break into it and get the goodies?

That’s a stupid question, they’re plenty accessible, but it might still be interesting to look at their American-ness.

The Beatles serve again as a crude example because they got inspired by Elvis and then did their thing, which had its Englishness. I as an English person have no excuse to limit myself and feel excluded from cartoonyness. Maybe it’s worth noticing how that American energy (whatever it is) affects everything and looking for the fullest, purest expressions of it. As well as the ways it’s been perverted.

I was going to write about the Zone and hippy stuff about creativity but that seems out of step with the discussion now. I do sometimes feel that the normal length of a waking/working day feels appreciably not long enough to get you where you want to be creatively. That’s why those moments can come at 4am. I sometimes think I should just work through the night more and embrace the delirium occasionally.

Sorry it’s close to my bed time even now. Don’t mean to get too thinky.

Gabriel said...

Chloe Cumming, I love your comments.

I have a question for John: with the 'no repeating expressions' rule, how do you avoid weirdness for the sake of weirdness?

Kitty said...

coolie. I wish to someday do really good artwork like that. Speaking of artwork, in art class we're doing figure study. I know this will be helpful for my future career. ^_^

Sean said...

Hey john, how many layouts did you guys do per scene? Where all the poses figured out in the board, or could the layout artist add a pose? And did you guys do any rough animation for timing or whatnot?

Jorge Garrido said...

What I like about Spumco is they don't use the smae camera angles all the time. The characters are 3D and so is their environment because they're drawn so solidly and they don't lay the cahracters out like a 3-camera sitcom.

Also, the character's faces are solidly drawn as if they were real but they're so unrealistic in the way they move; their expressions are so exagerrated in impossible and cartoony ways that it's never boring.

I always have trouble eloquating my thoughts on things like this, and I feel I have seomthing to add to the discussion, but my post only looks like I'm stating the obvious on why they drawings are good.

I lvoe hoe Ren's eys in the first pic look like boobs.

Jorge Garrido said...

They, what doorknob!?

Stephen Worth said...

The doorknob in Alice in Wonderland with the big floppy lipsync that doesn't mean anything.

See ya
Steve

Anonymous said...

Alan,

It's no accident that "Tales of Worm Paranoia" looked somewhat like Ren & Stimpy. After I left Spumco I was chomping at the bit to see what would happen if I integrated my favorite John techniques with my own style. If I had made a second Worm cartoon it would have looked less like a Spumco product but the influence still would been there. That's because John is one of the greatest innovators in the history of animation and it's impossible to live in our era and not be influenced by him.

I'm sorry the cartoon left you flat. One of my own criticisms of it is that it was sometimes grotesque rather than funny. It's scarey to think how easy it is for exagerrated humor to stray into what's offputting and disturbing. Until I did the Worm film I didn't know I had that inclination. Now I try to weed out grotesque elements before anyone else ever sees them.

-Eddie Fitzgerald

JohnK said...

>>I have a question for John: with the 'no repeating expressions' rule, how do you avoid weirdness for the sake of weirdness

By drawing in context. You have to understand who the characters are and what the story is about. And you have to be able to draw and construct well enough to be able to make a unique and difficult appropriate drawing.

Some artists think they can trick me by not reading the story, but I can tell just by looking at their drawing whether they understand what's going on.

JohnK said...

>>It's no accident that "Tales of Worm Paranoia" looked somewhat like Ren & Stimpy.

I think that the cartoon is uniqely Eddie-even though it has elements of the time period it was produced in.

I also think it's the funniest short ever to come out of Fred's myriad of short programs.A lot of other people told me that too.

I wish I could find the story for "Super Worm" that Eddie and I wrote. It was hilarious.

Alicia said...

John, thanks for posting all these pics, sometimes it's easy to loose the the finer details when the frame is only up for a fraction of a second. The thing I love about your blog is that it keeps me interested, it makes me want to do better for myself and not take the easy route out. I've been engulfed in my painting for the last week (check it out, it's coming along sweet) but I plan to spend some time focusing on drawing so some day drawing will be as good as painting.

BrianB said...

I think that the cartoon is uniqely Eddie-even though it has elements of the time period it was produced in.

I also think it's the funniest short ever to come out of Fred's myriad of short programs.A lot of other people told me that too.


Weird. Eddie didn't like the thing himself - http://www.sketchbooksessions.com/thedrawingboard/viewtopic.php?p=182150&sid=6fa1d15873d59da7cd498fbd20ee5457#182150

"Tales of Worm Paranoia?" Holy Mackeral! I did that cartoon! I honestly never thought I'd see that name in print again, even in the form of an inquiry like the one above. The film doesn't work, mostly because I tried to tell a 20 minute story in five minutes. I found myself cutting out establishing shots and essential story points just to shoehorn the cartoon into the time slot. I should have known better. The subject matter was pretty drastic too. Thinking about this reminds me of Hitchcock's comment on "The Rope," the one where he said that he'd been under the cautious thumb of Selznick for so long that when he finally got his freedom he made the most drastic, gimmicky film he could think of. I know how he felt.

I did have a lot of fun on the film and I worked with some good people. My most lasting memory was the fun I had doing the storyboard on 8 1/2 X 11" xerox paper, which has ever since been my medium of choice. Try it. It doesn't xerox down to standard TV panel size very well but you'll find you'll find yourself doing funnier drawings and putting more visual gags in the story.


and another post by Eddie..

I can't resist saying one more thing about this film. The day I finished the rough cut I asked everyone I knew at the studio to watch it on the flatbed. I knew the film was seriously flawed but I just had to know how they would react. I'll never forget what happened. Everyone watched in painful silence as if they were watching a training film for filling out insurance forms. You could feel the pain in the room. I imagined people clenching fistfuls of bloody tacks just to stay awake. The silence was like a hot whip across my face. The memory is very painful even now and I can tell you I got plenty drunk that night. The story doesn't end here, however, because the next day was the best of my professional life. Fighting off a hangover I vowed that I would never again submit myself to that kind of humiliation. I remembered that I did get two laughs. Only two but I got them and they were real (I hate mercy laughs). I also remembered that they were the spots that always made me laugh out loud when I passed them in editing. Come to think of it they were the only two things I laughed out loud at when I boarded the doggone thing. Then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue: if I only had two gags in the film then how could I be disappointed if I only got two laughs? You have to tell a gag to get a laugh. If it's not a gag and it doesn't build to a gag then it's only information and nobody laughs at information. Realizing this transformed me. I felt giddy like Scrooge the morning after he met the three ghosts. You have to tell a gag to get a laugh! I couldn't wait to try again with a second film but Alas!, there was to be no second film. The finished film that aired on TV lacked even the two laughs I just described because someone edited them out. This may not have been intentional. Maybe an sfx operator decided to do a little last-minute tweaking, accidentally erased some scenes, and had to reconstruct them from memory using old footage. Things like this happen. Whatever it was I'm not too mad about it. Even if they'd survived intact two small gags would have been slight reward for 5 minutes' of the audience's time.

It's kind of funny. Maybe it's just hard for some directors to completely enjoy their own work. Like Black Hole for you John, as a kid and even now I love that cartoon. It's always been one of my personal favorites from the first 2 seasons, but you deemed it a failure.

I like Tales of a Worm Paranoia myself. The only part that bothered me about the style was the one bit of animation where the Worm's bellybutton leads him forward exactly like Ren in 'Stimpy's Invention'.

Mike Alkire (I don't have a blog or a website. So don't get on my case. I'm posting my name.) said...

"Anonymous said...

Your cartoons might be technically briliant but APC was so bad that it was borderline unwatchable."


And you see.... the funny thing about that is... it's an opinion. Not a fact. I found APC brilliant. AND watchable. Completly watchable. In fact, I would watch them 300 times. So could other people.

But I guess just becuase you don't like them, nobody can. Sorry for not realizing that an anonymous commentator is the god of eberyone's thoughts.

If you don't like them, fine. Don't insult the intellgence of others by claiming that you know what everyone likes, though. That gets on many people's nerves and makes people look stupid.

Mike Alkire said...

And yeah.. I guess now becuase I don't have a blogger.com blog or a website, people will try to get on my case for posting my name, just like they did last time I said something. Feh.

Anyway, I like John's cartoons, APC is funny (I think so.) and I support John. I don't know about anyone else, but if people are just going to bitch at the man, why don't these people stop invading this blog and being foolish? Geez.

Jitterbug said...

One of my own criticisms of it is that it was sometimes grotesque rather than funny. It's scarey to think how easy it is for exagerrated humor to stray into what's offputting and disturbing. Until I did the Worm film I didn't know I had that inclination. Now I try to weed out grotesque elements before anyone else ever sees them.

-Eddie Fitzgerald


It's both, it is extremely funny and every cartoon is grotesque, bunnies don't talk in real life ;)

centurion said...

I like that theory of not repeating expressions... It's very noticeable, since the beginning of R&S... It's somehow like Jimmy Page's on his recordings, he wanted a different sound on every song... Those details are the ones that shows the real good artists with creativity and proposals...

David Germain said...

but if people are just going to bitch at the man, why don't these people stop invading this blog and being foolish? Geez.

Every artist needs to hear both sides, the praise and the criticism. This is the only way he/she will truly grow and get better in their craft. If all they hear is praise, they never develop beyond their skill levels and become stagnant. At the same time, if all they here is criticism they lose the incentive to continue. Theer needs to be a balance.

Yes, we can certainly do without the anonymous "yu suk jon yur cartons just suk dye yu wertliss bum" comments but we certainly shouldn't discourage all legitimate criticism. That would be ridiculous.

But, now to get back on topic, great images, John. I can't wait to get these dvds in December.

Anonymous said...

Love these drawings!

Jennifer said...

The images are beautifully done. All of those artists that worked on your show are really talented. I laughed so hard at the duck image. I like ducks and chickens - for some reason, it's easy to make ducks and chickens funny.

The last still in that list - wow. Simply, wow. The artwork was fantastic - the colors and shadows set the mood - but the picture was frightening. I actually jumped a little bit when I saw it.

I know that Katie Rice started selling her drawings and Bill Wray has done a lot of artwork besides cartoon drawings. Does anyone know if any of the other artists are selling their drawings?

zach schlein said...

ARG! My comment was not responded to?!?!?!!?!?! Anyway, here's the link for all the cuts on the DVD I was talking about.

http://lyris-lite.net/rs/

I can't wait to get my questions answered in the near future. Also, I will soon be a proud owner of the George Liquor and his minors shirt. Anyway I can donate to Spumco.

Chet said...

Every artist needs to hear both sides, the praise and the criticism. This is the only way he/she will truly grow and get better in their craft. If all they hear is praise, they never develop beyond their skill levels and become stagnant. At the same time, if all they here is criticism they lose the incentive to continue. Theer needs to be a balance.

Yes, we can certainly do without the anonymous "yu suk jon yur cartons just suk dye yu wertliss bum" comments but we certainly shouldn't discourage all legitimate criticism. That would be ridiculous.

But, now to get back on topic, great images, John. I can't wait to get these dvds in December.

- Again,its an opinion thing...

Its like John saying that Frit's wasnt a good artist.If you ask me,he was fine.He wasnt great,but certainly not bad.

I would never critique friz,unless he asked me too.I dont think he needs any critique.

centurion said...

"I can't wait to get these dvds in December. "

!!!!!!!!!

You're joking, right?

Anonymous said...

David:
"He literally drew like a seven year old (had the maturity of one too >:( ). And yet, in our first year he went around showing everyone his "great drawings". "See, I drew this here and then I put this here..." blah blah blah blah blah. He actually spent more time walking around the room talking about his drawings and even worse giving us tips on our drawings than he actually spent working at his own desk. "

Did you go to SVA circa 1980, David? cuz I had one of these in my class - he used to go around the class trying to do the teachers job for him, just as you described. It's funny in retrospect, but was real annoying at the time.

CarolineJarvis said...

I'm loving this post topic about having the character on model... I love your approach... just push the hell out of the expressions.... There is a serious lack of that in television today... Tools like flash allow studios to get lazy and copy and past heads to save time... and it all looks like garbage... definitely need more studios going the extra mile and get inside their characters. Nice work!

JohnK said...

>>>> Anonymous said...

Censorship!! God forbid someone have a comment that's contrary to the ass kissing parade!!

We are waiting for you to post some of your great work and everyone will be glad to critique it for you if you have a name.

Mok said...

John,
Looking at some of these, I can see parallels to the great Tenacious D video you guys did - can you elaborate at all on who was involved and how that all came about? Thanks also, for a great and interesting blog.

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

I love the george liquor tee!!
Thanks john, I'm Gonna git me one..

JohnK said...

>>John,
Looking at some of these, I can see parallels to the great Tenacious D video you guys did - can you elaborate at all on who was involved and how that all came about? Thanks also, for a great and interesting blog.

It was done by my Flash crew.

Gabe Swarr and Matt Danner were the main director/designers. Peggy who posts here was a key animator.

I didn't have anything to do with it except to get the job and pass it on to the young bucks.

I loved what they did.

I kiss their asses!

Later, I came up with a movie idea I wanted to do with Jack Black.

Should I post about it?

jeremiah said...

yes you should definatly post about it!

David Germain said...

Did you go to SVA circa 1980, David? cuz I had one of these in my class - he used to go around the class trying to do the teachers job for him, just as you described. It's funny in retrospect, but was real annoying at the time.

Actually, Mr. or Mrs. anonymous, my education took place in Saskatoon in 2000 - 2003. I guess there's "one of those" in every class. ;)

jeremiah said...

john, this is a great site! i've really liked ren and stimpy ever since my mom got cable when i was a kid. I grew up watching the Spumco style (on old-school nichelodeon) and the Looney Toons style (when thats all that cartoon network would ever show)...

Seeing it pushed me to keep up my drawing. And now i am getting my MFA and i can thank you for that!



I have some quick quesions for you....

how long did it take you to develope you're unique style?

did you major in art (if so where)?

JohnK said...

Hi Jeremiah!

>>how long did it take you to develope you're unique style?


Well it's still developing. Right now I am learning from Katie Rice. She is influencing me greatly.

But I just absorb lots of things I like and change as my tastes change.

>>did you major in art (if so where)?

At the school of Looney Tunes. I studied old cartoons and comics and movies and TV shows.

Alicia said...

I have a dvd release schedule that says R&S Lost Episodes is coming out April 25th. That sounds a lot more promising than December!

Speaking of the creative zone, mine is right before I go to bed. I think of tons of ideas and then I'm all cranky in the morning because I couldn't go to sleep. Another time is when I've had a dull day at work and crave something better to do. Then I race home and just go at it.

David Germain said...

>>did you major in art (if so where)?

At the school of Looney Tunes. I studied old cartoons and comics and movies and TV shows.


Didn't you go to Sheridan College though? Or do you consider that to be "anti-education"? ;)

David D. said...

Hi John,

What are you learning from Katie? Can you write about it a bit? It'd be neat to hear how other living artists influence you-especially if it's happening right now.
And when is Eddie Fitzgerald going to do his own blog? Doesn't he have tons of stories and theories he could expound upon? He seems like an interesting guy. Inquiring minds must know!

sTAtiC said...

Hey John,

Did you check out the drawings I posted earlier up?

If you don't wanna be doing critiques, I totally understand. If you don't mind though, I'd love some comments...Pul-eeeez.

And if you don't like 'em, I can take it. (puffs out chest)

I think I stole your pointer finger though.

Here they is again:

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/341/file15mr.jpg

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/9231/file21ja.jpg

And if you don't mind me offering - anyone else who wants to comment, feel free.

This is a great discussion group here. Nice and fiesty.

Brian Romero said...

John, I have a technical question. How was the ink and paint on the APC series achieved? I noticed the line weight on the APC has a more varied brush-like feel while the original series looked like photocopied pencils.

Pascal said...

I know it's off-topic but whatever.

I just saw that Paris hilton is having her own cartoon show

http://www.thesuperficial.com/archives/2006/03/22/paris_and_nicky_hilton_cartoon.html

:\ ....

Peggy said...

[The Tenacious D video] was done by my Flash crew.

Gabe Swarr and Matt Danner were the main director/designers. Peggy who posts here was a key animator.


Thanks for the retroactive promotion. *grin* I was just one of the Flash animators; I never really considered what I did to be animation in some important ways. No matter how hard I might work it was still really more like inbetweening, though I got to do the timing.

I tried to remember the crew details for that but deleted it because a couple names were embarrassingly on the tip of my tongue. Pretty much the WPH crew; I don't have a copy of the thing handy to check.

What the hell happened to Matt anyway? I never heard anything about him after the days of Nebulous. (More on that belongs in email, not out here in public.)

But to address some of the original thrust of this entry:

Ah yes, the zone. I've been there. Oddly enough I usually got there while on the bus, in this weird state where my hand would just keep on making my drawings work without too much direction from my head beyond 'hey, that bit looks kinda like this'. Weird lines stayed because they're funny and I could make them work. Or because I had no choice because I was sketching in ink.

lastangelman said...

My comment on Tales Of Worm Paranoia, if I may.
Because Eddie F. only had five minutes instead of 23 minutes, I sensed Eddie F. made up for missing time for the story by packing in more energy and jump cuts. It played very much like an updated Tish Tash short.Lemme look again. Oh yes, this definitely like Frank Tashlin, dudes, and also Mad Magazine's Don Martin wacky flavor here, too! (Worm repeating "Low-land!" makes me crack up, it looks and sounds hilarious, then "God bless everybody!" SMACK!, the end is telegraphed by the build up and tension but all the same you want see exactly how it will end.) I can't say it's the best animated sshort for TV in ten years or not but it definitely is a great cartoon short. The bit with the mosquitos, fabulous, again I'm reminded of Don Martin, who was the artist(s) for that sequence?

Alan Smith said...

Hi Eddie,

Thanks for your thoughts re: "Tales of Worm Paranoia."

It certainly does make it difficult to fit a 20 minute story into 5 minutes. And since it was your first feature after R&S, and a bit of an experiment, I can see why it was so similar.

As for the grotesquery, that doesn't bother me in and of itself. Hell, I love a good use of it, but that's the thing--it has to serve a purpose, which, in a cartoon, is presumably to further "the gag." But if it's just there to be there, then it's just kinda boring. That's where I was a lot of the time during that first new R&S episode that I mentioned.

Then again, I was so hyped up about seeing that thing that perhaps my head wasn't able to form a proper opinion... and I only watched it that one time, so I should really look at that, and the other new ones, again.

Oh, and John, definitely post about your Jack Black movie idea! Was he interested?

Thanks all,
Alan

Anonymous said...

Brian, Last,

Thanks for the Worm comments. I can't remember exactly what the thinking was regarding the Worm exiting the scene with his mid-section leading. It most likely was a Ren & Stimpy rip-off re-enforced by Ben Washam's dictum: "Always lead with the pelvis!"

When I find my x%%#&@ scanner software and get a blog up I'll talk more about Benny. He was one of Chuck's best animators and he ran a free animation class in his basement. Someone asked why he did it and he said, "This industry's been so good to me. I just felt I had to give something back."

The mosquitoes derived from the way Bruno Bozetto used to do mosquitoes. So far as I know Bozetto is the world's formost mosquito artist. He "owns" mosquitos in the sense that Wally Wood "owns" bullet holes and Don Martin owns hinged feet.

The artists who worked on that sequence? I did the storyboard, Tuck Tucker did a wonderful job on the layouts, Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong did their usual amazing job on the animation and Milt Grey did the virtuoso timing. John came up with the idea of giving Sally one big shoe, an idea that cracks me up every time I think of it. Henry Porch did the terrific music.

While I'm on the subject of credits, the most important overall credit goes to John who helped me out with drawings, inspiration and even an expensive computer. John also recommended me to Fred Seiberg so my gratitude knows no bounds.

Credit also goes to Glen Kennedy, one of the best full animators in the business. Glen did the terrific animation in the opening scene. Actually he did it twice because a big chunk of that scene was stolen from the studio before it could be photographed and Glen
generously did it over again.

Credit also to Mark Shirmeister who helped to write some of the dialogue. If any story editors are reading this I urge you to hire Mark in the role of "dialogue enhancer." This was a common job category in the golden age of live action and it needs to be resurrected now. Mark is a specialist in way-over-the-top dialogue like "...to the great speckled trout leaping in pristine, crystaline lakes in the uplands!" Isn't that beautiful?

One last comment: modern animation owes a lot to John that he never gets credit for. Mark's trout dialogue found a venue because of the pioneering work John did with larger-than-life dialogue in Ren & Stimpy. John re-awakened the industry to the power of beautiful words.

-Eddie Fitzgerald

Steve G. said...

Ok, I have been a fan of your work since I was a teenager back when Ren & Stimpy season one and two came out. And I’m glad that you posted about “Spumco style”. I’ve had this discussion with my animator friends many times.

I think what you’ve done with Ren and Stimpy’s character models in APC sucks. There is something to be said about construction, proportion and consistency. The Ren and Stimpy characters totally lack it compared to seasons 1&2 from Nick. Its one thing to have a character go into a cartoon take, but way you draw R&S now, when animated, they flop and squish around the frame like they’re filled with jelly and are constantly going into cartoon takes! R&S appear to be constantly changing age and proportions from scene to scene in APC and even color (like your last image). What happened to quality control?

The only well animated characters in the APC stuff is Katie’s girls. Why? Cause they can go into a take and snap back to model (This is why I believe the classic cartoons are well animated/drawn and funny).

Don’t get me started on that hairy running turd of a male life guard. Why did you think aesthetically it would look good to have a character completely covered in hair and those hairs drawn with scribbly lines animated?

And the reason people laugh at your recent APC cartoons when you show them is because of the CONCEPTS. The written gags. The idea that’s animated is funny, but the animation quality I think isn’t as good as Ren and Stimpy seasons 1&2. Actually I believe your last best quality cartoons were Boo Boo Runs Wild and the Weekend Pussy Hunt episodes.

It pains me to write these things since I am a fan you work and you’re art has inspired me through the years and I think its great that you’re expressing your ideas and opinions about the quality of animation today compared to yester-year but I think its ironic that Ren and Stimpy cartoons has fallen victim to a lack of quality themselves.

Not that it matters since I’m at the bottom of this post…

Jorge Garrido said...

^They change size and stuff like that on purpose. They're purposely off model.

JohnK said...

>>There is something to be said about construction, proportion and consistency. The Ren and Stimpy characters totally lack it compared to seasons 1&2 from Nick.

Funny, I would apply that observation much more to the first 2 seasons.

The animation quality as a whole is much better in APC. So are the drawings.

The best 1st and 2nd season episodes are animated by Carbunkle cartoons in Vancouver. Maybe you are thinking of those. They also animated part of Naked Beach Frenzy and most of Ren Seeks Help.

There is no consistency whatsoever in the first few seasons of Ren and Stimpy, sometimes on purpose and other times, just bad drawings and animation.

But all the cartoons get big laughs and gasps and screams wherever I show them.

Anonymous said...

David:"Actually, Mr. or Mrs. anonymous, my education took place in Saskatoon in 2000 - 2003. I guess there's "one of those" in every class. ;)"
Sorry, that was me, I forgot to sign the post. Thanks for the reply.
Mr. Anonymous
(Chris)

Brian Romero said...

Steve G,

You think Ren & Stimpy season 1 & 2 is better drawn than the APC series? I think you're on crack or you just like bland looking cartoons like Family Guy, The Simpsons and Fairly Odd parents where every expression and pose has been drawn a billion times before. Have you ever watched early Betty Boop or 40's Looney Tunes? Characters were 'off model' all the time, but they were filled with expressive performances and more importantly they were entertaining.

Steve G. said...

This critique is about ascetics and it’s a little difficult point out when I can’t even present actual moving reference animation. I’m talking about the drastic change in the CHARACTER STYLE of Ren & Stimpy in APC compared to earlier versions done on Nick. The characters are very different and the way they are animated; the way the actual move on screen. There are times when they just bubble and jiggle all over the place in the APC episodes.

I think this might have to do with John constantly pushing his artist to constantly give him new drawings, though an inventive and challenging approach to animation is seems to make the characters lose consistency overtime. Ren doesn’t always look like a crazy little dog; sometimes he’ll look almost human with dog features. Stimpy in some new episodes looks like a bag of jelly with flippy little arms squishing and squirting all over the place. It seems like instead of going into an extreme take and then coming back to model, those in-betweens are held longer or just becoming the standard pose.

I do appreciate good quality animation btw Brian Romero, just like the kind that’s featured on your blog. And yes, I will be a man and admit that I do enjoy watching Family Guy and The Simpsons because the WRITING is funny not for the stellar leaps in animation technique (We all know they used limited expressions). And to be honest, thanks to John, I have gone back and looked for those old gems from the 40s. But even in those cartoons, the characters go into a take and snap back to model (like a rubber band) and have a feeling of solid construction. They move with direction, flow and purpose. The “specific acting” is great.

Or maybe like Jorge mentioned “They're purposely off model.” Well its seems like there are scenes when they constantly drawn “off” and I for one don’t like it.

If feels like that Richard Linklater movie “Waking Life” where you have characters constantly being reinterpreted by different artists in one movie.

Brian Romero said...

I guess I don't mind that the characters take on different visual characteristics to fit what they're trying to convey. Even in the original series Ren and Stimpy didn't look the same in every episode or even every scene in the same cartoon. In the APC series it might be more dramatic, especially in Stimpy's Pregnant.

JohnK said...

>>In the APC series it might be more dramatic,

It's actually a lot less dramatic.

There were tons of bad drawings in the original series and it was way more inconsistent.

Usually the complaint I get about APC drawings is that they are too conservative by comparison to the original series.

I can't believe this new complaint honestly.

It's entertaining.

Brian Romero said...

I think Steve G is talking about how the proportions of the characters seems to change a lot in APC... not looking 'on model' all the time. Like sometimes Ren looks more like 'old school Ren' and sometimes he's more stretched out and human looking. Personally, I don't find it distracting. Most of the time it's damn funny.

APC drawings too conservative? There's plenty of extreme and wild drawings from what I've seen. I just think the APC stuff looks more 'solid', not as flat as a lot of the original R&S. I think the APC stuff has more nuances and subtly in the performances too.

JohnK said...

>>I think Steve G is talking about how the proportions of the characters seems to change a lot in APC... not looking 'on model' all the time.

Just like the original series. None of my artists, myself included can ever draw a character the same way twice. Never could.

It's a very strange complaint. If you don't like that you could never like my style at all.

It's inconsistent. The only consistency is the constant invention.

GeekyErin said...

Wow. I grew up from a tender age with nose goblins and rubber nipples. Now, I have seen Ren AND titties. I love you.

Eric C. said...

John,

I noticed that all cartoon studios are done through Korean/overseas animation studios.

Why doesn't animators just animate it in there own studios and do everything there just like the classic studios (WB, MGM, Fleischer, etc.)

The ones that I see that still do it is flash animators and people that summit short films for festivals like Spike & Mike.

_Eric

warren said...

Eric C - money honey. That's it and that's all. Korea's still cheaper, and they're getting better all the time. It gets hard for a production to justify keeping it home when the guys overseas are cheaper and just as good. That's why we ALL gotta do our homework. (We got that speech a lot in John's office...and he's right.)

Hey John...you spelled my name right, no worries. Thanks for the mention!

NateBear said...

I know what you mean about the zone and 4am. I recently heard bout this New Agey idea about the Ambrosial hours (about 4am-6:30am) when we're supposed to be tapped into some sorta of god-creativity-love-flow-vibe thing. some people consistently wake up at 4 am to try and tap into it on a daily basis.

i tried to go to bed early enough to do that i kept oversleeping anyway. only once did i actually got up early enough.

Thiago Levy said...

Wow it´s 4 am and I am reading this ancient post! I should be in the "zone" drawing.