Interview with Chris Savino (layout artist)

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Hello netters! Here's the interview I did with Chris Savino,
ex-layout artist for Spumco. To fully appreciate it, you should send
$3 to X MAGAZINE, PO BOX 1077, ROYAL OAK, MI 48068-1077 and ask for
the latest issue, with the BIG Ren & Stimpy feature. (it's kind of
like a shareware interview, where you register if you like it.)
Anyway, you'll get pictures! More interviews! More pictures!
Spine-tingling toast! Can you AFFORD to miss this? I think not. So
get going.

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Chris Savino, SPUMCO Layout Guy - Interviewed by Jon Drukman for X
MAGAZINE issue 10. Conducted 8 Feb 92, 4pm at the Pontiac Grill,
Santa Cruz, CA. Chocolate malteds and fries are consumed; words about
Ren And Stimpy, the demented cartoon duo, are exchanged.

X: OK, first off, Jeff the Editor Guy wants to know - in the episode
where Stimpy mails the letter, why does he look out at the audience
with stamps all over his tongue?

C: Most people try to see if there's an inside joke in a cartoon. The
way John works is he doesn't care if Stimpy's wearing something red in
one scene and blue in another. That's the way cartoons are supposed
to be: they're supposed to be cartoons, not a reflection of the real
world. The fact that he's got stamps on his tongue - he just did it
sloppily. He just licked the envelope and got stamps on his tongue.
There's nothing really behind it. I don't know where he got four
stamps from, but it's just the way Stimpy operates. Anything he does
is gonna end up wrong. It's just his personality I guess; there's no
hidden meaning.

X: All my friends that watch it have things like that that are bugging
them. For me, it's the croc-o-stimpy mating call.

C: The ``happy happy, joy joy''?

X: Yeah. Where did the frigging bus come from all of a sudden?

C: I guess that was the gag. It's kind of like fishes going upstream
to spawn. They're hopping on a bus and going to... Inspiration Point,
I dunno.

John's humor is basically anything that people have to ask questions
about, like ``why?'' If it's questionable, then it's funny to him.
It's not straight out humor, you have to think about it, and that's
the way he works. He was trained by a lot of very funny people - Bob
Clampett. He wants to go back to that, to the era when cartoons were
funny and you had to really think about what the humor meant. If you
watch a lot of Warner Bros cartoons, they were during the war, so a
lot of their connotations were about war, such as, is this trip really
necessary? They told people not to take up a lot of gasoline because
they needed it for the planes and tanks overseas. So he wants to get
back to those days. I think that's what he's doing. He's really
coming along at bringing back that style. If you watch Saturday
morning cartoons, it [ Ren and Stimpy ] is just a step above everyting
else. It's a step above a lot of things you see in the theatre.

X: So how do you fit into the picture... when John comes in with a
gag, is it already written, do you get any say in it?

C: John is really picky about who writes for him. He's got, I'd say,
about 4 writers who are also artists, at the studio. They
collaborate, they go out to dinner, throw ideas around and put it
together. Basically, it's his humor. He'll change it the way he
wants it, and if there's something funny, he'll make it funnier. He
always goes a step above everybody, that's the way he works. Where I
come along is a little bit later down the road. After storyboard, it
goes to layout, and that's where I come along, doing paste-ups and
putting up layout. Everybody in the studio wants to write, they're
always giving him gags and he gives his usual sarcastic look like
``get the hell out of my office.'' Everybody wants to write like him,
and basically be like him really - he's just so talented in every way.
I think most of the stories are his humor... some of the guys, if you
look at the credits, are their own but of course he embellishes on
them, in his own way.

X: So even if John's name isn't on a show, it's got his input.

C: Definitely, definitely his input. He's always trying to make it
better, he's trying always to push it farther. That's why a lot of
the cartoons are coming out later than they should have been. He just
took back everything that the artists have done and said, ``I want to
do it this way, it's even more funny if we try it this way.'' It
didn't matter about the budget, it didn't matter about the deadline.
As long as it was as funny as he wanted it and he made the audience
laugh, then that's the way it's gonna be. He doesn't care about
money, he doesn't care about the Nickelodeon people, he just wants it
the way he wants it. Although he does kinda have to go on their
guidelines or they're going to kick him out.

X: Which neatly brings us to censorship - he tries a lot of things
that are extreme and I've noticed that the Magic Nose Goblins scene
gets faded pretty quickly these days.

C: It was a longer segment, the table was a little longer, it was a
great painting by Bob Camp - he spent a few days on it, everybody
loved it. They wouldn't let us use the word ``booger'' -- ``magic
nose goblin'' is still funny...

X: I think it's even funnier. Booger is such a common word,
but magic nose goblin? That's great!

C: If the audience that's watching Ren And Stimpy now is really into
it and thinks it's hilarious -- if they could see the storyboards
before they were edited by Nickelodeon, it would be a riot. Some of
the gags are borderline bad taste, which is great... but they want it
to be a ``family show.'' John wants it to be more of an adult show,
that's the way he works.

X: I think the adult crowd is winning out.

C: After the first year, they see how big the Ren And Stimpy show is,
they're going to give him a little more leeway. So this year, you're
going to see a lot more sick, more sick dialogue. Like we'll probably
be able to use ``booger.'' On The Simpsons, they swear, and The
Simpsons are pretty big so they allow them to swear. John might get a
lot more sick this year, and possibly next year, depending on how long
the cartoon works. They'll get sicker as the years go by.

X: You might suffer the opposite reaction - when shows start out they
don't pay any attention to them, and later on when it's a hit, all the
attention is focused on it, and they start looking more carefully at
it and saying, ``well, wait a minute...''

C: True, but the industry knows how John works. He had a big
controversy with the Mighty Mouse series, a big cocaine controversy at
one point...

X: Was that really what sunk it?

C: I personally think what ended it is the fact that John left Ralph
Bakshi's studio. He [Bakshi] had some really good people working
there, but they just couldn't handle the kind of work that John did.
They tried to copy it, and some of the artists did a really good job
of copying it, but it didn't have John's touch. You can always tell a
cartoon that has John's touch to it. It just went downhill from
there. I think that Ralph saw that Mighty Mouse was big and he wanted
to take it all for himself and not give anybody else the credit, when
it was the other way around - it was John that made Mighty Mouse
big... I guess there was some sort of scuffle between them, and he
was let go. So that's what ended Mighty Mouse. But John's in charge
now, he can basically get anything he wants, so if he says ``that's
the way it is'' then that's the way it is, there's no other way around
it. No one to take it away from him, but I think that the more leeway
he gets on a cartoon, the funnier it's gonna be, and I don't think
anyone will look at it twice. I think people want ``funnier,''
because they can see what Ren And Stimpy are capable of, and they want
more.

X: Why ``Spumco''? What does the name mean?

C: That is a good question. I think everybody wants to know! They
just made it up. At one point it stood for something, let me think
about that... [long pause] I can only think of what the ``U'' stood
for and that was ``undermining.'' It was, ``Superior Productions
Undermining the Minds of...'' something. I don't know, I can find
out. They just made that up afterwards. John just thought
``SPUMCO''... there you go.

X: They tried to rationalize it in retrospect.

C: Yeah, if you notice on Nurse Stimpy, it was directed by Raymond Spum.

X: Is that an alias?

C: That's an alias. When John doesn't like a cartoon, he puts that
name on it... when he really doesn't like a cartoon.

X: Why didn't he like it?

C: He was pretty upset with it, there could've been a lot better gags
in it that he wanted. It could've been a lot sicker.

X: It did have that really disgusting art style.

C: When his nose is flaking off?

X: Ugh! How is that stuff done? What makes that so different?

C: What he does, is when he goes to a still, instead of using cel,
he'll just make a painting of it. He uses that a lot, that was used a
lot by Bob Clampett. It's a really neat style, it gives it that 50's
look. For the nose flaking off, that was just done with a camera
effect. He does that to give it more detail. You can't get a lot of
detail just tracing it on cels and painting it from the back. He
thinks it gives it that certain look to a cartoon... But getting back
to Raymond Spum, he just devotes that name because ``spum'' is the
stem of ``spumco'' and people think that there's a guy named Raymond
Spum out there who invented Spumco and John is just working for him.

X: I just thought it was an alias.

C: It is. It's a very good alias. I wondered who he was when I was
there, like ``who the hell is Raymond Spum''? But you won't see that
name very often. Not when he gets to do the things he wants to do.

X: I assume he could just rewrite someone's story anyway?

C: True.

X: Has he put anyone's nose out of joint by being such a
perfectionist?

C: Oh yeah! He busts everybody's balls every day. You'll think
you've got something great on your hands, you'll turn it in to him,
and he'll come back in with a drawing that he traced over it that is
ten times better and you're like, ``why didn't I think of that?'' And
you just feel about this big...

[ Waiter dude arrives with our fries. Munching commences in earnest.
We start talking about sound effects and I suddenly remember to switch
the tape recorder back on. Fortunately, I don't miss anything. ]

X: ...farting sound effects.

C: An example is Toast Man... Powdered Toast Man, as he's taking off,
another example is the leg shot of the father in The Boy Who Cried
Rat, threw in a sound there, and people who are really avid Ren and
Stimpy Fans will listen - one of the ``goodbye''s when he gives Stimpy
a bag of Gritty Kitty kitty litter, you hear the zipper go down, two
plops, and then the scratching. Best sound effect - you wouldn't have
thought about it otherwise, but Mr Horse makes that sound with the
kitty litter.

X: Yes, Mr Horse! There's another thing - with his catchphrase, ``No
sir, I didn't like it!'' Does that mean anything?

C: That's going to be about his only line, in every cartoon.

X: A running gag...

C: There were two Mr Horse cartoons that were cut, that were written
and storyboarded, but Nickelodeon decided not to use because one was
about the war in the Middle East, and the other was... Christ, I
don't know. There were a couple, but they were cut, so they were just
put away. So that's basically his only line, ``No sir, I didn't like
it." In Fire Dogs, when he's asked about his fall, ``No sir, I didn't
like it.''

That's John's voice - that's John's straight voice. Ren is John's
voice sped up.

X: Was it intentionally meant to sound like Peter Lorre?

C: Definitely Peter Lorre. Then again, an influence from old Bob
cartoons, Bob Clampett cartoons - the Peter Lorre character that they
always used. I guess it's a mix of John, his personality, with a
Peter Lorre voice. Ren is John, basically. The screaming - John's
like that all the time. When he acts out one of his stories, it's
that, it's Ren. Any character, it'll be like Ren. A lot of his
personality goes into that character.

X: Have you met Billy West or does he just go into the studio?

C: Nope, Billy West works out of New York, and I do believe they get
his voice sent here.

X: That's pretty amazing.

C: If you notice, Billy West does an imitation of Larry Fine from the
Three Stooges.

X: That's what I thought.

C: He's one of only three people in the United States that does
that voice. That's what he's doing.

X: He's great, I grew up with him. He was on a morning radio show in
Boston doing the funny voices. I couldn't believe it when I saw his
name on this cartoon.

C: Yeah, they've got some pretty big people working for them. You
wouldn't think that a fledgling studio like that would get the great
things, but John has such a big name... People want to work with him
because they associate him with ``adverse cartoons'' -- things that
are out of the ordinary, and a lot of people want to be associated
with that. I did! Definitely.

X: You come in, 9 in the morning, to your office...

C: Ten thirty in the morning!

X: OK, 10:30... give me a day in the life of a Spumco Layout Artist.

C: A day in the life... let's see, come in in the morning, we sit down
at our chair for a moment, ask them if they want to go next door to
the Astro Burger, go next door, get some breakfast, spend a half hour
there, come back, shoot the breeze with anybody who had just come in
late, that would be around 11... look at the day's drawings that we
did the day before, throw out the bad ones. At lunchtime, spend an
hour and a half lunch at Astro Burger, come back, that'd be around
2:30, shoot the shit with everybody else... draw a little...
about a half hour til my fingers cramp up, then maybe read the LA
Weekly, comes in every wednesday, make fun of David Konigsberg...

X: Who is?

C: He's the... uh, what the hell was he? He came in every day and
just bothered us I guess. He was the scene planner!

Basically, tied it up and went home, there wasn't a whole lot of
drawing going on, just a lot of goofing around. It was a fun studio
to work at... People were always just goofing around it's surprising
that there was as much work done as there was.

X: No 15 hour days?

C: Yeah. Week before deadline, there were those days, but up until
that point it was just fun. That's the way you'd picture it...
drawing dirty pictures of Ren and Stimpy screwing each other, and
passing them around the studio. Drawing pictures of fellow artists,
doing cruel things to Ren and Stimpy, you know, that type of stuff. I
guess that was basically most of the drawing that happened! But then
again, all that goofing around, that's where a lot of people got their
ideas from.

X: But isn't stuff basically set by the time it comes in to you?

C: Actually, once in the layout, a lot of ideas come flying in at us
and we have to go back and redo them.

X: Really, they'll come running in and say, ``suddenly we need...''?

C: They won't be coming running in, you'll come in in the morning and
it'll be on your desk: ``change this by so and so time.'' And then you
work a 15 hour day.

The layout artist... there's a character layout, who draws the
characters. The backgrounds are so basic, that we draw the
backgrounds which are then sent to the background artist who will
paint them. Basically, character layout for a scene would be - if Ren
was gonna slap Stimpy, layout would be him rearing his hand back,
drawing number two would be him making connection with his face,
drawing number three would be the hand going past the face, and if it
was going to be a cycle, we would just reuse those drawings and go
back and forth, back and forth. So that would be pretty much a
layout, which is kind of like a blueprint for the animator. And it
has to be very very concise, what we want, because they are being sent
overseas, and they don't speak our language, they don't know. What
they see is what they do, so we gotta show them everything we want.

X: Have there been any amusing mistakes because of that?

C: One that I think is hilarious is on Stimpy's Breakfast Tip when the
outline of his eyes appears and he's just got two Charcoal BLOCKS in
his face! That's a mistake. The very first Ren and Stimpy, where
Ren's eyelids are black, that's a painting mistake, because they
thought that his eyelids were black and not just his irises. They
wanted to know. John's like, ``of course they're supposed to be
black, what do you want?'' So they painted it black. And everytime he
blinks, they go black. There are probably a lot, but it's a matter of
cutting, cutting it out and fixing something else in there, or doing
retakes. There are a lot of retakes, which is very costly, so we
gotta get it right the first time.

X: So do you do a lot of penciling then?

C: There's a rough sketch, and there's a cleanup. I did a lot of
cleanup when I first started and then moved into layout, but by that
time they were finished. The artists there work very rough, and you
have to work very close with them when you're cleaning them up, to get
what they want because one line wrong, it can ruin the whole
composition of the drawing, so you really have to know what the artist
wants. And what John wants too, of course, it's always what John
wants.

X: But it comes from the top - John tells the artists, they tell you...

C: Exactly, it all gets handed down, and it loses something along the
way, but, depending on how strong the drawing is, you can keep that
basic structure that you want and make it a really good drawing.

For being such a simple set of characters, they're the most difficult
characters I've ever had to draw. They have so many rules about them,
that if one of the rules is broken, the character is not the character
any more... it's someone else's character.

X: It's amazing, you can just stick them in any situation.

C: Exactly. That's why John came up with them. He originally wanted
to sell them to Nickelodeon, as a show. Actually, not Nickelodeon, to
other studios... They didn't like the idea of just a cat and dog, so
he hid them amongst a different cartoon - they were background
characters for a cartoon. It was like a spoof on the Little Rascals.
When Nickelodeon got wind of what he was doing they took a look at it
and they were like, ``well, what about those two characters there?''
Which is exactly what he wanted.

X: It's always the way - you can't go to a studio and say ``I want to
do X.'' You have to say, ``I've got X, Y and Z... but I like X the
best, what do you think?''

C: Exactly, and he got exactly what he wanted. He sold them Ren and
Stimpy, he didn't sell them the whole cartoon, he didn't want that,
he just wanted Ren and Stimpy.

X: Are there any particular drawings that you did that you just loved,
or freaked out at having to do, or anything like that...?

C: Drawings that were the best... all the drawings were great, it's
just amazing how good the artists there are... well, not just good -
they were great. It kind of made it difficult working there, but
that's a different story... Every drawing is just so perfect, each one
could be a piece of art. Whereas in animation some of the inbetweens
can be crappy, every layout drawing was a piece of art and you could
frame it and put it on your wall. I couldn't narrow it down to just
one.

X: I liked the huge brain creatures in ``Marooned'' a lot.

C: I've never seen that one. I've actually only seen a few of the
cartoons - I don't have cable! But people tell me that they're great,
I wish I could see them...

X: You don't get the tapes at the studio?

C: By the time we were done, by the time the layout artists were all
done, they only had the first three cartoons finished that we saw. So
I really haven't seen them. I think another great scene is when Ren
is being chewed up by Stimpy in The Boy Who Cried Rat, he has to eat
him and swallow him. That's the best; that was done by Mike
Fontanelli... he worked on it forever. He got it back at least five
times and the end product was just perfect.

X: The shots with the gold tooth and wooden tooth, was that done with
the still technique you mentioned earlier?

C: That was just all different layers of overlays and underlays, put
together in the scene and then moved back and forth to look like it
was chewing teeth. But Mike did a really good job on the teeth - the
wooden tooth, and the golden tooth and a rotted tooth. Things you
wouldn't expect to see are always there.

X: I tell my friends ``I'm going to be talking to the Ren and Stimpy
people - what do want to ask them?'' and the first question is usually
just WHY!?!?!?

C: I think the biggest answer would be BECAUSE. Just straightfoward
with a capital B. The quality of cartoons nowadays pretty much sucks,
and John's trying to bring a lot of studios, who you can tell are
following him, following his style, and it's being followed pretty
largely now. He's wants to bring everybody out of that slump. He
wants to prove that if you have a budget, you can still make a really
good limited cartoon. And he's proving that ten times over already.
I think Ren and Stimpy personally would work as a theatrical short
before a movie; then he could get as gross as he wanted.

X: The first one was in one of the Animation Tournees. My friend saw
it, but it's the only one I've never seen - I think they only ran it
once.

C: They ran it but they cut it up alot. They didn't show him licking
out of the crap filled toilet.

X: That's what he's doing! I thought he was throwing up into it...

C: In the theatre, it's got very vibrant color, the TV doesn't do it
justice. He says, ``I must wash myself'' so he runs to the toilet and
is lapping out of the bowl.

X: That's really disgusting!

C: They also cut the part where he's kissing Stimpy in his sleep...
He's dreaming... who knows what, but he's kissing him with these big
lips. But they cut that too. I guess it showed a sign of
homosexuality. But, you know how the censors are. Oh, and when the
dog catcher says, ``see if I care'' it was too feminine for them to
show, so that gives you an idea. If you've seen the tournee, if
you've seen that cut, and you've seen the one from TV, it gives you an
idea of what the censors don't want to see.

X: Funny, because sometimes it seems like the show will just stop.

C: It's a cut, something that was cut later. The only reason you get
to see some of the really good cuts on Sunday morning is because
Nickelodeon just got it the day before and didn't have time to cut it.
You see it the following week or two weeks later, you're going to see
some cuts in it. Like, for example, the boogers... [corrects himself]
nose goblins -- it was a very long table and it did pan all the way
across the table and you could see some of the hairs in the boogers
and stuff. I think Nickelodeon is starting to get some of the humor.
They laughed at it, you know they've got to laugh at it, but they've
also got to think of the people who are watching. Eventually, they're
going to leave everything in, because if John gets an idea cut that
they think is gross, he's going to think of something even more gross
just because he thought of a different idea and cut out the one they
wanted, they'll accept whatever he gives them. So he gives them an
even grosser idea than before and he's happy. He's got a way around
everything to get across what he wants.

X: So how did you get into the layout biz?

C: I've always wanted to be in animation, I followed John for the past
few years - I saw him with Mighty Mouse. I've seen a couple of other
things he's done - he's done the beginning to a movie called Troop
Beverly Hills, with Shelley Long. He directed the very beginning,
it's animated. I saw it, I didn't know that he did it, but I thought
it was the greatest beginning for a movie... and I found out later
that he did do it, which got me even more interested in him. I
happened to read somewhere that he was working on a pilot for the Ren
and Stimpy Show, and I was really excited about it. In fall of 90, I
decided to write a really -- I guess you'd call it ``butt-kissing'' --
letter, but it wasn't really, it was all the truth. Everything I
wrote to him was the god-honest truth, and I sent him drawings of a
story idea that I had... He called me back and said ``I want to see
some more of your sketches, just throw them in an envelope and send
them out to me.'' He didn't want anything finished, he wanted to see
how I worked rough. Apparently he liked what I was doing, he gave me
a call, offered me a job and said I could come out any time I wanted,
so 30 days later I was out here working for him. It's great
experience... I hadn't gone to school yet. I think that working is
the best education you can get, and that's what I've been trying to
do. I worked also for a company called Cool World, which is Ralph
Bakshi's. Cool Productions... I kinda got fired, but that's a Ralph
Bakshi story; you gotta know Ralph Bakshi to understand. That movie
should be out late summer, if anybody's interested...

X: I've only heard about it.

C: It's got a pretty steamy cartoon sex scene, so I guess that's a
really good reason to see it. But, I've got leads into Warner Bros
and Hanna-Barbera now. I'm moving on, moving into myself. I've
always wanted to do things on my own, just like John. He's always
wanted to do it himself, not have anyone tell him what to do. A
friend of mine, Carlo Silvio, started Hamburger Productions, an
independent film and animation company. Right now I'm working on a
cartoon for a film that he's making. He wanted to go back to the 30's
style of going over to a theatre and seeing a cartoon before a movie,
and that's moving along pretty well.

X: It's surprising that the short cartoon before a movie idea hasn't
been very popular lately.

C: I'm very surprised. Just as John proved, you can reel out a pretty
decent cartoon for a really small amount of money, and no one's
following that suit. I want to follow that suit, I've always wanted
to do theatrical cartoons, because that's where we got Warner Bros and
MGM and all the cartoons that are so great that everybody
still watches. And John's even trying to do that, he wants
to do theatrical cartoons as well. But so far I'd say that Spumco's
the only experience I've had, and it has to be by far the best. All
the artists there are so great, and you can learn a lot from them,
just by watching the way they handle things. I came out here thinking
I knew a lot about animation, but after the first week working with
them, I realized I knew nothing, and I think I learned at least 1000%
more with the months that I worked there, than I'd ever learned in my
life. The competition there is really high, since every artist there
is the top cartoonist in the field, I think, they tend to want to keep
to themselves and be better than the other person. Which makes the
cartoon better, but it was really difficult for me to learn in a sense
because they were always so closed in about why they drew a certain
way or what they were doing but I still learned a lot just by watching
over people's shoulders and I'm sure I bugged a few of them to death,
but I think it paid off for myself. I want to follow suit John's
style, the limited cartoon that's really wild and has that 50's flair
to it and I'm surprised no one's followed suit on that... it's a
really great idea, but if you see another cartoon out there with that
style then everybody's going to associate it with John's cartoon. I
hope that he does well with the cartoon, even though I'm not working
with him now. I still keep in touch to find out what's going on,
because it's about the only cartoon out there worth watching. I'm
definitely looking for other studios to pick up on the trend of
things. The old trend was crap, the new trend is funny.

X: So you're not working at Spumco any more?

C: After we finished layout, we all got laid off. So I pursued other
avenues. Of course, they don't do animation there, and animation is
what I want to do, so I wanted to find a studio that was doing
animation, which was Cool Productions, unfortunately. I did some
inbetweening and a little bit of assistant work, but...

X: Are there any big American animation studios?

C: Disney, and Cool and I don't know if I'd call that big yet.

X: Is Cool going to shut down after Cool World is done?

C: He's doing it for Paramount and they're seeing it as The Summer
Blockbuster which is surprising, but...

X: Well, not with Beauty And The Beast doing so well now...

C: Cool Productions is half animated, half live action, it's kind of
got that Roger Rabbit flair to it. But more serious. He [Bakshi]
also has a reputation, and you can see that this movie has his
influence in it. I'd give it a chance, at least go see it. But there
are really no other animation studios around that actually do
complete, in-house animation. Most of it is being sent
overseas.

X: Economics.

C: Yeah, pretty much cheaper, but nothing can beat the American
quality, and also having it in studio gives the director a chance to
make sure the animation is going exactly the way he wants
it. A lot of the shots in Ren and Stimpy could've been much better.
Timing was always wrong...

X: Must be frustrating.

C: For him I bet it is. When I saw first saw some of the animation
drawings that came back, I was shocked at the way they were
doing it and I didn't give the show a chance because of its animation.
If we would've just filmed the layouts it would've been ten times
better than what I had just seen. But it turned out OK. He
complained a bit to the studio and the networks and got what he
wanted, and they're coming along. He's got a studio in Canada called
Carbunkle that's run by Bob Jacques, who is just the most incredible
animator I've seen. They do the best animation on the Ren and Stimpy
show. Hopefully this year they're going to get enough money to send
all of their cartoons to Carbunkle. Instead of overseas, if they go
to Canada, because John and Bob have worked together before, they know
what they want, and the Ren and Stimpy show will probably look ten
times better than what we've already seen. And that's what everybody
wants to see... is something even better.

X: It's a little bit jerky now.

C: Definitely jerky.

X: I think the Simpsons is beginning to look better now as well...
more shadows, smoother motion.

C: They are, they're looking better, but their earlier designs were
much cooler.

X: The stories were better.

C: Now they have to have a moral at the end of each story.

X: Sometimes they twist the knife a little, but definitely not as much
as they used to.

[ I tell him about the Road Runner homage at the beginning of last
week's episode (Homer Alone) which he missed ]

C: Rumor has it that a studio is being paid to do a type of rip off of
Ren and Stimpy. What I've heard is that it consists of four cats, and
it's going to be the same 50's style, the same type of humor. It's
worth a shot, if you get another cartoon out there that's like it, but
I don't think that anybody's going to surpass what John's doing
because he's already ahead of everybody.

X: If nothing else it will inspire more people to get cartoons on the
air, it's been so criminally neglected...

C: Oh definitely, like He-Man you always have to have a moral at the
end. Like GI Joe. Nobody got killed.

X: Not to mention the animation sucks.

C: Goes without saying... any other cartoon, the animation sucks.
Warner Bros -- they're putting out some pretty good stuff. Steven
Spielberg is behind a lot of their things. So they're doing some
really quality things, but then again, they've got the cash to do it.

X: But they only put out a 7 minute short every 3 years.

C: Exactly - Box Office Bunny was the latest. It was great. The
style was a little bit different, but then again it's the 90's, you
can't always work in the past. They're doing some pretty good stuff,
but they have the money for it. John doesn't have the money, and he's
still putting out great stuff. Which should be a key to anybody in
the business to follow; you can have a little bit of money and you can
do a great cartoon. The writers out there are great. People have to
realize that a writer has to be an artist in the animation field, and
a writer can't just be a writer, or you're going to have a bad
cartoon. Writers that just write for writing's sake don't write
visually, they write verbally, which makes the cartoons have too much
dialogue and not a lot of action and what makes a good cartoon is a
lot of action, a lot of sight gags. You don't want to hear some
stupid character telling a joke to you, you want to see what he's
doing. Just like the Road Runner cartoons - no words at all, and
they're hilarious.

X: Of course, it's very good when you don't have money to make a
visually incredible ten minute short to throw in some witty
dialogue... I think The Simpsons has it - the characters are really
fleshed out and the scripts are good, along with some occasionally
great animation. Not as much, obviously they know their limits.

C: Exactly. Well, once you get a good personality for a character,
you know exactly the things they have to say to make their personality
come out and then again that's a visual thing. Their personality
comes out with their visual effects, or whatever they do. And once
you get them nailed down visually, you can have their verbal humor
come out. They can say whatever they want and if they do it in their
certain Stimpy way or their Ren way then it will be funny.

X: Case in point, the first toon shown on MTV was Stimpy's Big Day,
where he doesn't even talk for the first five minutes. I was
thinking, what would a new viewer be thinking here? This guy is just
sitting watching TV, but already through his look...

C: Exactly. Sitting there, doing the things he does, bouncing around
and getting all geeked out over this TV show. The very first cartoon,
Stimpy only has two lines, but he establishes himself so great
throughout the beginning of the cartoon that it shocks you that he
actually can talk. He looks like a cat that's not supposed to talk.
But the fact that he does talk, whatever he says it's funny, because
he can act it out so great. That's what John's going for with all his
characters. You've got Mr Horse who's always got that suave look on
his face, like ``I know what's going on, I can handle it'' but his
only line is ``No sir, I didn't like it.'' But he's funny, every time
you see him, he's funny. Ren Hoek has a really uptight and short
tempered flair about him, when he acts it out it's great, but what he
says when he acts it out makes it even better. When he screams, the
positions he takes up are all visual, and that's something a writer
cannot see. An artist can see it, he can draw the picture and then
write what they want him to do and that's the way it works at Spumco
because the artists are the writers and that's what makes a really
good cartoon. John said it best when he said that if you can read a
comic book and laugh, you can take a cartoon that's got a little bit
of movement and laugh even harder. A comic book can get comedy across
with one drawing. If you've got a couple, work with them and make the
visual laugh.

X: I like it when the art is snappy and the lines are classic. You
don't have to be as classic in animation because you can
convey stuff visually.

C: That's exactly what they're doing. Warner Bros is kinda following
suit in some of their visual antics with the Tiny Toons. Tiny Toons
used to be really dialogue heavy and then the writers saw what was
going on with Spumco, because the animation field is really close-knit
and if you work with somebody at one studio, you're bound to work with
them somewhere else and everybody knows each other. So when they saw
Ren and Stimpy, they were like ``oh wow, let's try this'' so they got
their writers to do it this way and there is a lot more visual goings
on. So there is a proof of influence in Spumco, the R&S show right
there. It's such a big studio and they're taking suit from such a
small studio, such as Spumco, so that there is influence and you know
that a lot of things are going to start changing... hopefully.

[ The talk switches to music ]

C: The Muddy Mudskipper song, that was written by John. I don't know
if the cartoon has even come out yet, but the ``Happy Happy Joy Joy''
song from Stimpy's Invention. That's coming out soon, it might even
be on tomorrow... That was rewritten and rewritten and replayed and
rewritten and they finally got it right, it's a really great song,
it's hilarious. Fits the situation. The music was written by one of
the artists at the studio, Chris Reccardi, he's got his own band.
Everybody there sort of groups together to make the whole cartoon. A
lot of the voices are done by the artists - the pillow (``he's talking
to pillows, kids'') that's Vincent Waller. Everybody there has a
chance to do a voice. It's not a big studio, it's a small studio
thing where everybody's close knit - it's a lot of fun.

X: You didn't get to do a voice did you?

C: No, I don't really have a cartoony voice - everybody else kinda has
a certain voice about them... I wish I could've.

X: The show has totally ruined the Nutcracker Suite for me - I went to
see a production of it this season and during the Dance of the Sugar
Plum Fairies, all I could think of was a big yak crawling out of a
drain and shaving himself.

C: I think the yak is hilarious. That was designed by Jim Smith who
is just the ultimate cartoon character designer, he's just
incredible. Yak shaving is another example of ``why!?'' You
wouldn't think of ``yak shaving day.'' And putting cole slaw in your
dad's boots! You've either gotta be drunk or John to write those
kinds of things.

X: Do drugs figure prominently in the creative process?

C: He's just generally twisted. He's very clean. He's into going to
tanning salons, into exercising, into riding his bike, and he just
learned how to drive, so he's there, he's a guy in the world, so...
and the flair about him is that when you're around him, you don't have
to be on drugs either to be funny. Because his personality
automatically makes everybody around him funny. It's just great to be
around him and the people that work there, he picked a really great
bunch. They're people you want to meet. If there's ever a live
interview, you'll understand. They're just wild, and they're also
very serious about what they do. Bob Camp is just crazy when he gets
together with everybody. He's someone you want to talk to because
he's so visual, he uses his hands and his whole body when he's talking
to you. You gotta turn your head to follow him whenever he's talking.
He's just a person that's a live version of a cartoon. If you took
him and made him a cartoon character, that's what you want a cartoon
character to be, is Bob Camp.

-----------------------------------------
Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed
conducting it. Remember to send all your money to X Magazine so they
can continue to be the coolest magazine in the world and continue to
send me to interview really cool people like Chris. Thank you and
good night.

--
Jon Drukman (finely honed machine) uunet!sco!jondr jo...@sco.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A fresh and violent happiness and hugeness for your nerve system.

Tig Stone

unread,
May 10, 1992, 2:06:32 PM5/10/92
to
BUT YOU DIDN'T ASK HIM:

What is the name of the guy who sings "Happy Happy, Joy Joy"?

ARRRGGGHHH!!!
--
T. Stone
(s875...@titan.ucc.umass.edu)

je...@athena.mit.edu

unread,
May 11, 1992, 12:30:43 AM5/11/92
to
[ Previous poster rekindles old debate about the singer of "Happy/Joy" ]

The reason Jon didn't ask Savino is because Stimpy's Invention hadn't
been aired yet. The show's character name is _definitely, without
a question, because of that "Wizzled-Up cow" drawing I mentioned earlier,
and because I just saw "Invention"_ "Stinky Wizzleteats." I don't
know who actually sang the song.

And to the moderator of the FAQ: I've already mentioned once that Spumco
folk refer to "Untamed World" as "Nature Show" along with the episode
numbers and such- if you didn't get these, let me know.


Stephen J Thomas

unread,
May 11, 1992, 1:44:58 AM5/11/92
to
Listening to it again today, I'd have to agree that the singer of the
"HHJJ" song is Stinky _Wizzleteats_ (or perhaps, _Whizzleteats_) as
opposed to "Weasleteats" and its variants.

Stephen J Thomas sjth...@cup.portal.com

Steve Stelter

unread,
May 11, 1992, 2:44:42 PM5/11/92
to
kuc...@buast7.bu.edu (Tom Kuchar) writes:

>In article <58...@cup.portal.com> sjth...@cup.portal.com (Stephen J Thomas) writes:
>>Listening to it again today, I'd have to agree that the singer of the
>>"HHJJ" song is Stinky _Wizzleteats_ (or perhaps, _Whizzleteats_) as
>>opposed to "Weasleteats" and its variants.
>>


>I saw an interview with John K. in Spin about a month ago. It was spelled
>Weasleteats in the article.

Magazine articles about Ren & Stimpy have historically been wildly
inaccurate, though. I wouldn't expect Spin to get Stinky's last name
right when we in a.t.r-n-s can't even agree on the proper spelling.


--Steve Stelter
sjs2...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu

Tom Kuchar

unread,
May 11, 1992, 10:26:22 AM5/11/92
to
In article <58...@cup.portal.com> sjth...@cup.portal.com (Stephen J Thomas) writes:
>Listening to it again today, I'd have to agree that the singer of the
>"HHJJ" song is Stinky _Wizzleteats_ (or perhaps, _Whizzleteats_) as
>opposed to "Weasleteats" and its variants.
>

I saw an interview with John K. in Spin about a month ago. It was spelled
Weasleteats in the article.

--
Tom Kuchar
kuc...@buast7.bu.edu
Department of Astronomy
Boston Univerity

Tig Stone

unread,
May 11, 1992, 8:44:41 PM5/11/92
to

It seems to me that there wasn't a definitive decision on what that
last name was. Just because YOU are convinced doesn't mean that I am.
I don't think any wizzled up cows are evidence.

In article <1992May11.1...@news.cso.uiuc.edu> sjs2...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu (Steve Stelter) writes:

>kuc...@buast7.bu.edu (Tom Kuchar) writes:
>
>>I saw an interview with John K. in Spin about a month ago. It was spelled
>>Weasleteats in the article.
>
>Magazine articles about Ren & Stimpy have historically been wildly
>inaccurate, though. I wouldn't expect Spin to get Stinky's last name
>right when we in a.t.r-n-s can't even agree on the proper spelling.
>
>
> --Steve Stelter
> sjs2...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu

I am not saying that this is the right answer, but it is more
evidence that any "wizzled-up" cows. It is actually referring to the
character that I am referring to. It just goes to show you that
indeed the debate has not been settled.
So, it isn't definitely without a question anything but
undecided.

--
T. Stone
(s875...@titan.ucc.umass.edu)

Desi the Three-Armed Wonder Comic

unread,
May 12, 1992, 7:59:19 PM5/12/92
to

I am not s875...@titan.ucc.umass.edu (Tig Stone). I didn't say:

>It seems to me that there wasn't a definitive decision on what that
>last name was. Just because YOU are convinced doesn't mean that I am.
>I don't think any wizzled up cows are evidence.

the point is that john k likes the word "wizzle" so if he uses it in one
place, why wouldn't he use it in another? PARTICULARLY when nine out of ten
people think that they _hear_ "wizzleteats" when listening to the happy
happy joy joy song.

well, it makes perfect sense to me. why don't you call spumco and ask
them? i'm sure they'd love to tell you. you'd be a net.hero. go for it.

--
Jon Drukman (finely honed machine) uunet!sco!jondr jo...@sco.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note the deficiencies, then file them under "commonplace."

Tig Stone

unread,
May 13, 1992, 11:44:20 AM5/13/92
to
In article <1992May12....@sco.com> jo...@sco.COM (Desi the Three-Armed Wonder Comic) writes:

> why don't you call spumco and ask
>them?
>

Because I don't want to! Hee hee hee...

Big smileys everywhere! I can't stop them! ARRRGGGGHHH!!!!


--
T. Stone
(s875...@titan.ucc.umass.edu)

ngsi...@miavx2.ham.muohio.edu

unread,
May 12, 1992, 2:58:35 PM5/12/92
to
--

We can clear all spellings up if someone can get a copy of the scripts.
But, I agree with the spelling "Whizzleteats."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Norman Sippel *
ngsi...@miavx2.ham.muohio.edu
President Of CompuClub Of Miami University-Hamilton
If you want more info. on or want to join CC, e-mail me! (MU Students Only)
********************************************************************************
"There are only five more days to Yak Shaving Day!!" - Ren, "Ren And Stimpy"
"Happy Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy" - Stimpy, "Ren And Stimpy"
"I told you not to tell me that!" - Maxwell Smart Agent 86, "Get Smart"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Patrick McCarthy

unread,
May 11, 1992, 3:00:52 AM5/11/92
to

It sounds an awful lot like the voice of Ren, which I believe is done
by John K. his ownself.

- Pat McCarthy
mcca...@well.sf.ca.us

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