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Book Review: “Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story”

bookI may be risking my 30-year friendship with John Kricfalusi by saying this, but Thad Komorowski’s new book, Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story, is a really great read. Beyond that, Thad went to great lengths – without the cooperation of John K or anyone at Nickelodeon – to research the history of the show and its participants, and to tell a compelling and cautionary tale of rags-to-riches cartoon success in contemporary Hollywood. The story is woven together through extensive interviews with key players including Bob Camp, Billy West, Bob Jaques and a dozen others – Komorowski also traces Spumco’s roots from John’s early days with Filmation and Bakshi, with extensive critiques of the Ren & Stimpy cartoons themselves (a complete episode guide is included in the appendix), through to the latter day excesses of the Spike shows. The whole story is here, meticulously researched, clearly justifying the show’s important role in the recent history of animation. There’s no question Spumco changed the face of television animation – and still influences series, students and independent animators today. Love it or hate it, this book explains how it all came to be – and for that, it’s a must-read.