The Ren and Stimpy Show was the first intentional adult "themed" cartoon ever to air on a network aimed at children, blazed a trail in animation still felt today then returned years later a shell of its former self.
Mighty Mouse enjoys some fine Columbian Sugar
Kricfalusi gathered all the rebel cartoonists in town he could find and went to work. He brought back the traditional creative process of not having writers but actually scripting by storyboards because he wanted "cartoony" cartoons. While that sounds like an oxymoron, you have realize that at time production started, the cartoon landscape looked like this:
De-fanged babyshit versions of popular characters
Uh oh...uhoh uhoh
Saturday morning cartoons loved to rape kids' eyeballs back then
The first episode debuted on August 11th, 1991 as part of the new Nicktoons block, along with Doug and Rugrats (both of which Kricfalusi hated, but he hates all cartoons after 1956 except his own-smug bastard). It's really hard to convey what children weaned on Muppet Babies and Yo! Yogi must have thought of this:
The show was an immediate success and finally brought the world of boogers and farts to kid's tv-since that's the shit kids like. The show did so well because it allowed a vacation from the family friendly popular shows at the time and submerged the show's viewers in an ocean of farts, burping, snot, psychotic rampages and outrageous toilet humor. As the series went on, it was clear that John K was not afraid to push the boundaries past what was acceptable and "kid friendly". The DVD box sets even have some episodes uncensored, such as Stimpy demonstrating his "sword swallowing" technique behind a closet door to Ren's visiting German cousin Sven (obvious blowjob reference) It also quickly crossed age lines to become a hit with adults. College bars across America had showings and the toon played several times on MTV as well. This shouldn't have come as any surprise since the show was, quite frankly, PERFECT stoner material:
Behind the scenes however, problems were brewing that would eventually lead to its demise. Kricfalusi claims constant interference and delay of approvals made him miss his schedule-Nickoloeon claimed Krisfalusi was difficult and slow. These very bitchlike "he said, she said" arguments came to a head when Nick flat out banned one the toons for the 2nd season (Man's Best Friend), dismissed John K and "handed" over the reins to Bob Camp (Kricfalusi says they handed it over to themselves). Regardless of who was right or wrong in the fight, the bottom line was that after Kricfalusi's final contributions to the show aired, Ren and Stimpy lost its "hip" quotient and kinda sucked for the rest of its run, finally cancelled in 1996.
The legacy of the show is far reaching-Adult Swim, South Park, Family Guy, SpongeBob...they all owe a debt of gratitude to the show that opened the door (although Kricfalusi probably hates them all) and Nickelodeon made about a kajillion dollars with merchandise.
In 2002, Kricfalusi got a chance to bring the show back for an adult audience on Spike TV. He decided to go much farther than anyone expected-way, waaaaay farther...and the results kinda sucked even WORSE for fans of the show.
Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon was cancelled after only a month but when later released on DVD it included the unaired "Naked Beach Frenzy", which contains some of the best cartoon titties in the history of animation so all is forgiven, John K!
Log from Blammo: Log was a children's toy that was a spoof of the popular "Slinky" toy and song done in Ren and Stimpy's 50's-esque advertisement spoof style.
Powdered Toast: Powdered Toast was a sparkling powder that was sprinkled out of a can to magically form slices of toast. The corporate mascot was Powdered Toast Man.
Ren Hoek (voiced by John Kricfalusi, Ren's psychotic laugh was performed by Billy West): Ren is a scrawny chihuahua with serious anger management issues. Ren usually goes off on violent rages beating and berating Stimpy, hurting himself, attacking other characters and often loses his mind and falls into deep psychotic events. John Kricfalusi described Ren's voice as a bad imitation of Peter Lorre.
Stimpson J Cat "Stimpy" (voiced by Billy West): Stimpy is an overweight red and white cat with a purple nose and the brain the size of a pea (as proven in several episodes).Stimpy is an idiot in almost all of the episodes. Stimpy serves as the bumbling simpleton akin to Curly from the three stooges. Stimpy is very emotional oftentimes being hurt by Ren's verbal lashings and he has an apparent fixation on his litter box.
Mr. Horse (voiced by Kricfalusi originally then Billy West): Mr. Horse was one of the most popular characters in the show and had played the role of a psychiatrist, a kitty litter tester, an infantryman, a crazed neighbor and a dog show judge. He stood up on two legs most of the time and was a very straightfoward and serious character. Mr. Horse's trademark catchphrase was "No sir, I don't like it".
Powdered Toast Man (voiced by Gary Owens): Powdered Toast Man is a superhero with the abilities of super flatulence, flight (upside down, backwards and sideways), firing projectile raisins from his mouth, hyper acidic croutons from his armpit and marmalade from his navel. Powdered Toast Man also doubles as the corporate mascot for Powdered Toast. By day, Powdered Toast Man is Pastor Toastman (the cool youth deacon).
Muddy Mudskipper (voiced by Harris Peet): Muddy is an old jaded mudskipper who's voice is like that of a grizzled, 1930's comedian and he hosts a children's show. Muddy once kidnapped the pope but was foiled by Powdered Toast Man.