Following creator John Kricfalusi's split with Nickelodeon, the cartoon may be in jeopardy

By Rick Marin
November 20, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

When The Ren & Stimpy Show‘s psychotic Chihuahua, Ren, gets mad at his dumb cat pal, Stimpy, he just smacks him, screams ”You EEEDIOT!” and everything’s okay. If only real life were that simple. Two months ago R&S creator John Kricfalusi fractiously split with the cable kidvid network Nickelodeon; now, Kricfalusi says everything is not okay.

In the battle over the cult-hit cartoon, Nickelodeon cited missed deadlines and cost overruns as the reason for dumping the gonzo animator. Kricfalusi, 37, claims Nick ”was responsible for 90 percent of the late scheduling and overbudgets.”

Why? Fights over the show’s gross, violent, and surreal content. Nickelodeon would approve an episode, he says, then change its mind. In a memo obtained by Entertainment Weekly, Nickelodeon vice president of animation Vanessa Coffey signed off on the storyboard for a hilariously sick segment featuring a character named ”George Liquor” — a segment the network later decreed unfit for airing and has yet to run. ”We have a legal agreement with John not to discuss anything to do with that,” says a Nick spokesman.

When asked about reports that he would be continuing Ren’s vocals, Kricfalusi barks, ”No, I’m not doing the voice. Why would I sell out?” He won’t be consulting, either, which Nick invited him to do after canceling his contract and putting his ex-partner, Bob Camp, in charge. Because this season’s 13 R&S episodes were at least partly finished before the falling-out, they all contain Kricfalusi’s input, but only half have his voice. And R&S devotees are horrified. ”It’s like taking Dr. Frankenstein away from his monster,” bemoans Simpsons creator Matt Groening of Kricfalusi’s departure. Director John Hughes thinks ”kids will know in a second that voice isn’t the real Ren.” How does Kricfalusi feel about losing his old friends? ”I’m hurting,” he says in his most plaintive Ren wheeze.

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