‘Ren & Stimpy’ to Return, Minus the Perversion

Creator’s proclivities for underage girls clouds reboot

Comedy Central continues to work the ol’ nostalgia bag with new episodes of Ren & Stimpy, the iconic 90’s cartoon that sent an irritable chihuahua and his dopey cat friend on darkly wacky adventures. Its controversial creator, accused pedophile John Kricfalusi, won’t be on board: but that’s not stopping one of his alleged victims from trying to cancel the reboot.

CBS hired a new production team and distanced the new Ren & Stimpy from Kricfalusi after the August 2020 documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy addressed his drama-plagued stint at Nickelodeon and accusations of long-running sexual misconduct with underage girls that surfaced in 2018. A recent Buzzfeed article contends that Kricfalusi’s proclivity for sexual harassment and preying on minors was an open secret for decades in the animation industry. Former girlfriend Robin Byrd, who met Kricfalusi when she was 13 and he was 39, has started an online petition to stop the reboot, contending that the brilliant but manipulative Kricfalusi will use the reignited attention to turn more young fans into victims. In response, the artist has overwritten a previous tepid apology with Twitter threats.

Kricfalusi split with Nickelodeon two years into the cartoon’s five-year run and is not financially or creatively involved with the reboot. But his alleged victims, some fans and former staff maintain that it’s difficult to divorce Ren & Stimpy’s creative content from Kricfalusi’s extensive record of abysmal personal ethics, especially considering they bleed into his chaotic career, his blue animation, and his sexualized underage characters like Sody Pop, who Kricfalusi openly admits is a minor.

 

Beneath the magic lights of the Nickelodeon, Kricfalusi imagined uptight Ren Hoek and dim-bulb Stimpy in an alternate retro universe at the dawn of animation, a bizarro world of powdered toast, rubber nipple salesmen, and ads for beef-tallow fried Buicks. He drew them like Yogi Bear one moment and manic Rat Finks on acid the next, Ren’s temper pinballing off Stimpy’s amiable stupidity in a string of zany misadventures.

By the time the footlights came on, John K had not only diluted his own brand by using it as a prop to prey on minors, but had handed Nickelodeon a bottomless content goldmine that whose spirit and structure its creative team seamlessly carried forward after his departure in 1992. It’s worth considering that his reported malfeasance will taint Ren & Stimpy’s legacy; but it’s equally tempting to predict Comedy Central will strike gold with his iconic animated odd couple, petition or none.

Billy West, who voices both Ren and Stimpy, is expected to return for the reboot. It’s part of Comedy Central’s adult animation lineup that includes new episodes of Beavis & Butthead, Clone High, and brand new Daria spinoff show Jodie.

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Rachel Llewellyn

Rachel Llewellyn is a saucy media mercenary who's worked at Curve Magazine and Girlfriends Magazine in San Francisco, and ghost-edited two noir novels. She's also translated academic material, written corporate website content, taught adult school, and produced morning television news. Rachel lives in Bakersfield, California, where she hikes with her dog and pushes paper in the government sector.

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