Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kric in My Back

Michael Sporn's blog has become the home of the latest Kricfalusi Kontroversy. Basically what happens is this:

a) John Kricfalusi pronounces another cartoon or series of cartoons to be an affront to the art of animation.

b) Someone on a blog or message board says John K. is wrong.

c) Steve Worth pops up in comments to say that John K. is the greatest writer and thinker of all time and that the people criticizing him just aren't smart enough to understand what he wrote. ("To understand what John is saying, you need to ignore all the “opinions” that have been written in the past, and look at the films he uses as examples analytically with a fresh eye.")

d) A comments thread develops where no one goes so far as to agree with Kricfalusi completely, but where it's clear that he has, indirectly, inspired an interesting discussion.

Whether Kricfalusi believes a lot of what he says, I'm not sure. I'm inclined to think not, because if he believes what he says, how do you explain him saying This:

After Clampett left and they had to find another director for his unit, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng went to the boss and said, " Take Bob McKimson. " And the boss — this must have been Leon Schlesinger — said, "McKimson doesn't have the personality of a director. He's too mild-mannered." But that's why they wanted him. They didn't want a guy in that position who'd be any competition to them. Friz admits that. Chuck would never in a million years admit that.

And then, a couple years later, during which his opinions about cartoons haven't changed much, writing this:

By the way, McKimson is one of my favorite cartoon directors and one that is extremely important to cartoon history. After Clampett left Warner's in 1946, McKimson's cartoon unit became the backbone of the Warner Bros. team of units...

His cartoons are hilarious and brilliantly timed and animated. He carried on Warner's tradition of full animation longer than any of the other directors. By 1950 Jones and even Freleng were animating more stylized, more limited and less cartoony stuff. Against the pressures of tightening budgets and UPA's influence, McKimson kept making lively fully animated characters for a few more years.

The first of these two totally contradictory statements is also factually dubious (McKimson replaced Tashlin, not Clampett; if Freleng recommended anyone to replace Clampett, it would have been his friend and later animator Art Davis).

But Kricfalusi can stir up interesting discussions even while saying things that aren't even supposed to make sense. Both the statements above are kind of wrong, but they do contain kernels of truth: Jones and Freleng really did dominate the studio after Clampett left, with the other directors (McKimson and Davis) not being their equals the way Clampett was; and McKimson did hold out against the UPA influence a bit longer than the others. So you can get a good comment thread going based on the stuff Kricfalusi posts, as long as it's not a thread on his blog.


Jorge Garrido said...

Yeah, I know I sound like a John K sycophant, but I think I'm being impartial when I say those two statements aren't contradictory. IN BETWEEN the time he said those two statements someone on his blog asked him:

"Hey, John. Any guess as to what other animators might have been in the running for the director's chair after Camplett [sic] left, aside from McKimson?"

And John replied:

"According to Friz, it was Gerry Chiniquy (sp?) who Chuck and Friz were afraid would be wilder like Tex and Bob.

They voted for McKimson because he was mild mannered and they thought they could push him around.

I still think McKimson's cartoons are much funnier and livelier than Friz', at least up until the late 50s when everyone got stiff and lame.

Someone should post that interview with Friz. I bet David Germain has it..."

In John's first statement, he meant that Friz and Chuck THOUGHT McKimson wouldn't be competition. But even thought, you, me and Jonh know McKimson was an under rated director, he still has a bad reputation as a director, so Chuck and Friz' estimate wasn't that far off. Even to this day McKimson is pushed around (Milt Gray and Leonard Maltin are noted critics of McKimson)

"a) John Kricfalusi pronounces another cartoon or series of cartoons to be an affront to the art of animation."

Kind of like you and "The Family Guy"?

"d) A comments thread develops where no one goes so far as to agree with Kricfalusi completely, but where it's clear that he has, indirectly, inspired an interesting discussion."

Nobody agrees with anybody on anything COMPLETELY, and why should they? Even Steve dislikes the Beany & Cecil cartoons John likes. Steve is also a bigger fan of Disney than John.

John K uses hyperbole alot but he never outright lies. He exagerrates, for example, McKimson's or Terrytoons greatness, so people think "OK maybe McKimson wasn't a god among mortals like John says but maybe he does have some good tendencies" He always overshoots so he at least makes a dent on someone's head even if tehy don't agree CCMPLETELY with him.

Or maybe that's just his personality.

BTW, this is still a great post and a great blog, and nice title.

Mr. Semaj said...

Steve is also a bigger fan of Disney than John.


hansgrotz said...

With John Kricfalusi,I always expcet ,a kind of,a "childish" discution in the "end of the line".

Jorge Garrido said...

BTW, what I like about John's blog is that he talks about the cartoons, techniques, animators and directors, not the people who are talking about it. On some blogs you read "X said Y about Z" (X being John or Mike Barrier or Thad and Y being McKimson or Scribner) and I'd rather talk about Z than X.

I don't really care to talk about Ren & Stimpy and Spumco and John K because that wasn't a part of my childhood or an interest until a few months back, but when John talks about McKimson, I can actually get in on it since I love classic cartoons. They're much better than anything John K made, and therefore more interesting to talk about.

Incidentally, I miss Jaime's posts about WB animators. Did Thad usurp?

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, I know I sound like a John K sycophant"

Yes, Jorge, you surely do.

What's up with that, kiddo ?