Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ren Cuts Stimpy With Words 1: Direction - "energy sketches"

What do directors do in cartoons, again?
Well, one thing they do is draw energy sketches for the artists they hand out scenes to. That's how we get some of our own style into the pictures.
These are some "energy sketches" - coined by Milt Gray for the kind of quick sketches directors give to their artists. These are from a sequence of Life Sucks called "Ren Cuts Stimpy". Ren is trying to make Stimpy realize that life is full of ugly, not happy, so he keeps flinging hurt words from his evil sharp lips at him. Each time he tosses a word like "famine" or "genocide" at Stimpy, it slices a little piece of blessed innocence out of him.



The better the artist I'm handing out to, the rougher my sketches can be. Below is a Nick Cross drawing more finished after he and I would talk out a scene and each do rough energy sketches. Then he would take them and do tighter versions like this.
I'm gonna put up more of Nick's drawing from this sequence later.

This is the section as written in the premise from "Life Sucks":
Later at home, Stimpy prays to Cat Jesus (a cat crucifix on the bedroom wall). “Dear Cat Jesus, I don’t understand. I thought all the life you created was happy and wonderful, but underneath it all, there’s nothing but pain and suffering!” Cat Jesus speaks: “Well, at least I don’t feel any of it!”

Stimpy mopes around the house, depressed. Ren follows him, talking about history and war, pestilence, famine, genocide and disease. Stimpy refuses to listen any more. He shoves Ren aside and plops down in front of the TV to watch his favorite show: Andy Griffith. He whistles the theme song and starts to cheer up. He especially loves Floyd the Barber and rocks back and forth with glee during all the Floyd scenes.


Stimpy gets Ren back by telling him what his favorite cartoon is, and the word slices his nipple in 2. The detail at the right is where I try to figure out how to draw a convincing nipple split.

You won't find "energy sketches" in the Filmation work flow chart.

36 comments:

DAGO said...

I'm not an animator but I still love reading every single one of your posts.
Cheers!

SpenkCartoons said...

i think you should when ur files or what ever the uploading problem is put i the whole life sucks storyboards in

Niki said...

Andy Griffith! Hot-dog!

Zartok-35 said...

Theres deffinatley lots of energy in that drawing.

Mind you, I'm sure not all directors were willing to put so much of themself into their work. Like Friz Freleng.

Abraham said...

How many "energy sketches" would a director do per scene? Is one enough to dictate the feel of a scene, or is it circumstantial on the scene how many are done?

Allyn said...

amazing sketch, can see why you'd call it an energy sketch, you can really feel the anticipation in ren and the crushing of stimpy's innocence, hope you can upload more soon =D

ncross said...

Ha ha that one still has Diet Coke explosion stains on it from one of your pitch sessions...

James Sugrue said...

Awww man I would love to see "Life Sucks" fully animated. Ren certainly knows how to break someone's spirit.

HemlockMan said...

Energy! Yes!

Was this from a completed episode?

The Butcher said...

Have you ever gotten any complaints from religious folks for your cartoons? Or any other kind of complaint from someone offended by your content?

I think it would be cool if you posted some funny hatemail, if you've ever gotten any.

Jeff Overturf said...

Words hurt, John...words hurt..sniff.

Shawn Dickinson said...

Holy crap! These drawings are ALIVE! It's blowing my mind how great this stuff is!

What's Stimpy's favorite cartoon that cuts Ren's nipple? ...or is Andy Griffith a cartoon show in Ren & Stimpy's world?

drawingtherightway said...

I wonder if the people who own the rights to andy griffith would try to sue if the cartoon got made. Some people are to sue happy! I'm not sure what the copyright laws are or what would be considered fair use. I guess that's why people have legal teams!

Taber said...

AH! That nipple slit drawing HURTS!

thomas said...

Great drawings! thanks!

Kingfish said...

This looks like an incredibly effective step and important for getting acting across. Explains a lot about how a director puts his fingerprints on the drawing style.

By the way, John what's the status on this cartoon? Any chance it will ever get made? Or is a lack of funds keeping it from us?

Veronica Beutelwolf said...

I went researching Ren and Stimpy and I came across this blog

these are simply fascinating esketchs

I wished that the series continue for a long time, never bored

pretty amazing, successful*

RooniMan said...

Damn! Split nipples? Thats hardcore!

SpenkCartoons said...

john said me this cartoon will be produced when peoples boycote nickelodeon or spike TV and decide they want to...LETS BOYCOTE THESE BASTARDSSS!!!! lol

JohnK said...

?

I didn't say that. You'll make me out to be a liar.

Trevor Thompson said...

Well, where else BUT Spumco would the term 'energy sketches' be employed? SpongeBob? An in-the-know unknown's independent project?

Certainly not a term I've seen in animation books, but it sure makes good artistic sense. Speaking of animation books, can't WAIT for the Spumco book!

SpenkCartoons said...

NO! i dont! u mailed me once maybe u dont remember it i sended u a mail once about asking u about will life sucks be ever produced my mail was SpenkCartoons@gmx.de but thats a few months ago u probably dont remember check it out in ur mail box & u find it if u didnt deleted it i would never let u out 2 be liar

Nicol3 said...

I had a split nipple on rye once. A bit of mayo with some french mustard really masks the rubbery texture.

It's a taste not for the faint of teat.

JohnK said...

Hi Spenk,

'twarn't me

maybe an impersonator sent you that email

there's a crazy guy on the border who pretends all kinds of things and emails crap to people

Spike would be the perfect place to show Life Sucks, but I wouldn't seriously recommend boycotting anybody. It would never work.

Frank said...

Ren's Nipple Split ! Ha !

Ray said...

John I play the lottery week. I tell you if I ever win it big I am going to personally write you a check and help you fund getting this stuff out there. If I won really big I'd write you a check to start a whole new cartoon network set by your standards and sit back as the rest of the cartoon industry tries to copy and imitate you. I keep hoping man.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

I absolutely love your energy sketches, and regard them as works of art, even apart from the shows they're meant for.

I hope your book will be packed with them, and if it's not, that you'll do another book just for them.

"Eyenot" Petrie said...

And to think, my little cousin recently joined "I miss my 90's Nickelodeon" or something to that nature on the face book.

*Tapping chin, thinking*

It's such a scholarly topic, and these subjects are absolutely invaluable if you're actually a cartoonist animator.

*point droopy finger, wait*

*eerie music*

*squint* *peer over shoulder*

"psst! but hey, buddy --"

*elbow, elbow*

"get a load of that crazy stuff, man. ... alright?"

*grin & leer*

"~~thEy dOn't mAke It lIke this any more~~"

[frame: ren screaming stimpy's nipples in half ; cut-to: sketch depicting scene, scribbled note: "genocide"]

"IT JUST AIN'T THE SAME! ..."

"... ~~OKAY?!~~"

*happy smile*

*trumpet finale*

The Butcher said...

John, if you ever get a chance to make a feature film, (and Viacom let's you use the characters) you have to make this it. This story has so much potential. The animatic was one of the most brilliant things I've seen. The timing and acting were better than anything you've ever done. This would have been my favorite Ren and Stimpy by far. It deserves to be a movie.

JohnK said...

"Mind you, I'm sure not all directors were willing to put so much of themself into their work. Like Friz Freleng."

Actually, Clampett told me that Friz' energy sketches were much livelier than the final poses in his films.

SpenkCartoons said...

hey john,of course i wouldn't boycotte anybody
-_- i was kidding isn't ur mail "cartoonmister@aol.com"? if u dont want it be published please do not approve it sorry for all the misunderstoods that happened
-maybe it was a crazy alcoholic too
XD

Herman G said...

much life.. I really dig it.

Awesomedude said...

Woah these are some killer Sketches John. I really like how this is going...

pappy d said...

Animation is all about drawing verbs.

Craig Something said...

In situations like this I usually imagine the words visibly forming, flying and cutting.

Kristin said...

Famine, genocide, and...anime? That's what it says eh? Love it.