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Cartoon Culture

Miley Cyrus and John Kricfalusi Working Together

We’ve tried—goodness knows, we’ve tried—to do everything to keep Cartoon Brew a Miley Cyrus-free zone, but she’s managed to wreck her way onto our blog after yesterday’s announcement that she was collaborating with Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.

“His art is driving a lot of the tour,” Cyrus said of her upcoming “Bangerz” tour which kicks off next month. “Our whole tour is literally based on animals,” and will include “imaginative animals [John K has] made on his own.”

No word yet on how John’s artwork will be used, but it’s his most high profile gig since The Simpsons intro he created in 2011. John has a long history of working with musicians including the Rolling Stones, Björk, Tenacious D, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

During Cyrus’s press conference, she said that the two of them had become friends over a dinner where John sketched her for two hours. Here are some of John’s earlier drawings of Miley that he’s posted on his blog:

(Miley Cyrus photo via Shutterstock)

  • Max C.

    She’s come a long way from Bolt, that’s all I can say.

  • Roberto Severino

    A Bill Plympton Katy Perry collaboration will be next.

    Seriously, good that John is still finding work. I overreacted to this news negatively the other day because at first, it didn’t really seem like him to really care about musicians like Miley Cyrus.

    • James

      Some of my favorite work by John K has been his music videos. He has a long history of working with musicians and has talked about the importance of music and animation working in tandem on his blog.

      Someone like Miley seems like a perfect fit for him. Over the top and unapologetically sexual are somethings their work has in common.

      I expect nothing less than absolute fun out of this.

    • Mortimer

      Bill Plympton is already with Kanye ;)

  • jonhanson

    I think it’s a good fit. John K has made a career out of grotesque and over the top caricatures but he’s still never reached the level of ridiculousness that Miley was able to achieve during her VMA performance.

    • Roberto Severino

      I was more upset because I wanna know when he’s gonna finish that Cans Without Labels cartoon already and thought this was going to take time away from that. It’s been probably about a year since the supposed release date.

      • Mortimer

        He has stated more than once that there’s no more money for Cans Without Labels. Not for the cartoon, and not for the prizes. Well, maybe this will inject some fresh cash into that project.

        • jonhanson

          There are few things more frustrating than a kickstarter running dry before the project’s finished but that’s the nature of the beast I guess.

          • No it isn’t.
            It isn’t nature of the beast at all.
            It’s a total screw up is what it is.

          • jonhanson

            Can it be both?

            I mean it’s happened with enough projects by now that you should really assume that you’re taking a risk giving money to anyone. It’s all the risks of putting up money as an investor without any power or piece of the pie if it turns a profit.

            Artists have been going over budget for as long as they have been doing professional work, but Kickstarter puts them in a position where they can go over budget and avoid repercussions for the most part except for the usual chorus of complaints.

            Everyone hates stories of executive ordered corner cutting, cut content and rush jobs in general until it’s their money on the line.

          • Kickstarter isn’t supposed to be a crapshoot, but it’s convenient for some folks that it is.
            You don’t donate money thinking “Oh. Well. Maybe this will get made” do you?
            If executives were in charge of this it would probably get made, on budget and you’d get the trinkets that you paid for.

          • Uli Meyer

            When you “back” a project on Kickstarter you are not investing money. You are buying a product before it has been made and enable the creator to produce it. In exchange for that the rewards should be of great value, that is your prize. Anybody not delivering what they promised will not only give themselves a bad name but also make it more difficult for others to use Kickstarter successfully.

            If you say you need X-amount of money to make something, you allow for the fact that you don’t want to cut corners. It is ridiculous to say you’ve gone over budget and it is even more ridiculous that some people think this is acceptable just because it happens so often. It isn’t! Unprofessional behaviour like this is damaging, not only for the artist involved but for independent animation in general.

            John K is doing the Miley Cyrus gig because the money on offer is worth more than any of the principles he shouts about. None of his principles seem to involve fulfilling his promise to the 3562 people he took money from. It takes a certain kind of person to do such a thing and be able to sleep at night.

          • Sean

            I read somewhere the exact opposite. That you are an investor, and like investing you may or may not lose money. That you are acting as a venture capitalist, not pre-ordering.

          • Uli Meyer

            Investors put money into projects in order to secure shares of potential profit and do not get anything for their investment unless the product is successful. That’s not the case on Kickstarter.

          • Roberto Severino

            It’s just more evidence as to why deadlines matter and that there are trade offs and sacrifices that have to be made so that the company giving the creator money to make these cartoons doesn’t get screwed. It sucks when really funny material didn’t make into the final product but in context, it has to be done on time and fit the runtime allotted. The book Sick Little Monkeys which I’m assuming most people here have read by now also goes into the similar problems that plagued the production of R&S.

          • Shocked. Shocked!

            John K blows a budget and misses a deadline? Stop the presses.

        • CG Animator

          “He has stated more than once that there’s no more money for Cans Without Labels. Not for the cartoon, and not for the prizes. Well, maybe this will inject some fresh cash into that project.”

          And Kickstarter backers are surprised by this… why?

          Nothing against John personally (I’ve met him a few times and he’s a really cool guy), but as film-maker he is rather famous (or infamous?) for missing deadlines and going over budget… which is a big reason I chose not to back the “Cans” project.

    • James Stanley

      I think Gerald Scarfe would draw Miley better. His visceral anarchic imgarey rivals them all…

  • Erik Butter

    Great for Ciley Myrus! I thought she was completly tasteless

    • Ronnie

      Course she is. Why do you think she and John K make such a great collaboration?

  • Matt

    Can someone explain why she has to stick out her tongue in every single picture?

    • AmidAmidi

      That’s how you know she’s rebellious.

    • Roberto Severino

      She said that it’s just easier for her to do that than to have to smile in photos and it doesnt look as cheesy.

      • schwarzgrau

        I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s a lie

    • mick

      same reason lady gaga wore a butchers display… marketing used to be a massive part of selling records now it seems marketing is 100% of selling records

      • Funkybat

        The way “celebrities” market themselves these days tends to make me go out of my way to NOT give them or their handlers any of my money. But then, it’s all about “target markets.” I haven’t been anyone’s “target market” since they launched that Darkwing Duck revival comic book series.

  • Nikolas

    This project should be gloriously tacky and vulgar! I can hardly wait! :D

    I actually enjoyed Miley’s VMA performance, especially the dancing teddy bears (designed by artist Todd James). It’s good to see Miley’s creative people working with outré animators and artists. Hell…get Miley to payroll some weird animated movie! Why not?

    • James Stanley

      Will it be motion-captured? Rob Zemicks dead eye CG Cyrus slobbering power tools and shears. An unsettling thought….

  • There are several occasions I have refrained from posting negative comments on Cartoon Brew, and this won’t be one of them.

    First I saw a photo online of him creating a Friendship Is Magic fan piece and now this. How far is John K. willing to go to stay relevant? Learning how to use Toon Boom and using Kickstarter to fund a new animation project were instances that actually worked, but this just seems like 10 steps backwards.

    • Roberto Severino

      If it earns him enough money to get him back on his feet, I really don’t care who he works with at this point.

      • ILDC

        He’ll likely never get another steady gig becuse no one wants to work with him.

        • Roberto Severino

          Exactly. There’s an eerie pattern that seems to have affected so many of his projects in the past and I don’t see that trend changing which is the big reason companies don’t wanna work with him with the exception of the freelance stuff he’s done in the past (Simpsons, Comcast, etc.). He needs to learn that deadlines and saying within budget matter.

    • Nathan

      His “My Little Ass” was a parody, it was supposed to be the subject of a Ren & Stimpy episode more than 20 years ago.
      And he IS relevant because the style he used to define is still used in several shows like the Mickey Mouse shorts – or MLP, such a surprise !

      • Marvin

        Today’s ‘cutting edge’ is still ripping off John’s stuff of 25 years ago.

      • ILDC

        I didn’t know he invented the “over-the-top grotesque” style.

        • IJK

          According to Spumco history, he did! And highly detailed close-up paintings used as animation stills, too! As well as stretching expressions to exaggerated heights.

          Definitely not things they brought back from the days of Bob Clampett, Freleng, and other Looney Tunes/Disney animators.

          If you even read John K’s blog, he lists every shot of Ren & Stimpy and what old cartoon influenced him for “This expression” or “This animation technique” and so on.

          But I guess if people forget about it long enough, “bringing back” something might as well be the same as “inventing it”.

          I can’t wait in 60 years to “invent” a form of entertainment where people pay to see a variety of performers, from tap dancers to magicians, demonstrate their abilities in a string of unrelated acts. I think I’ll call it “Vaudeville”.

    • JodyMorgan

      You mean the drawing he made at the request of a friend of his who’s working on the MLP comic?

    • haxsd

      He drew a picture of Pinkie Pie for an acquaintance of his that worked on the IDW comics of MLP. I don’t think that’s messed up.

  • Nathan
    • Kirby

      Hahaha I love the Justin Bieber caricatures.

  • George Comerci

    Hilarious artwork. Miley is still just as disgusting as ever, I see (even though I agree, its a great pair :D )

  • Good on him. Lot of new people will see his work. I get frustrated when people have the knee jerk response that mainstream=selling out.

    • ?

      It would be different if he hadn’t done post after post after post on his blog for years condemning this sort of trashy pop-culture. Now he’s feeding it.

      • i’ve read post after post condemning bad marketing/designs/animation/colors in modern day cartooning. ugly toys, realistic vague designs, etc. have never seen him condemn someone for working for a pop-star or celebrity, only for doing it badly.

        Plus he’s always caricaturing celebrities, and politicians. I don’t see how this isn’t right in his wheelhouse.

        • ?

          It’s the overarching theme of his writing.

          • while repeating yourself and adding nothing new is pretty convincing….
            the overarching theme of his writing is in regards to modern day cartooning. just scrolled through a couple dozen pages of his blog trying to find a single time he’s condemned pop culture in general, and the only things i could find were condemning the use of pop culture references in modern day features and cartoon shows. Don’t know what you’re addressing, but it’s certainly not the overarching theme.

          • Zoran Taylor

            He has condemned all creative expression after 1970. He literally has stated on the record, several times, that hippies are singlehandedly responsible for the destruction of the world, and has singled out hip-hop as the worst thing to come of their influence. He has about as much credibility as L. Ron Hubbard doing Anton LeVey a very naughty favour while Jesse Ventura watches from deep in the brush with a pair of binoculars.

          • ok. yes, those are the corrects buzz words. but I don’t think you’re connecting the dots right if you listen to his reasoning.

            Around 37:20 he says the hippies ruined everything and that culture died in the 1970s -everything you’re saying. His reasoning being that there was a mindset that everyone was creative, and entertainers no longer had to be super skilled to be successful. Which he then connects to non-creative executives being in charge of artists (not necessarily agreeing here, but mapping out his argument)

            at 39:15, he is asked directly whether or not he sees any parallels to today. Says that he likes mainstream, all of his influences are mainstream, but that the business of mainstream has become a mess of focus tests and executives that water down the ideas of creative people.

            Maybe somewhere else he has singled out hip hop as coming directly from hippies, but this is the argument i’ve heard again and again.

            if you use use his logic here, I don’t see any reason why any of this is hypocritical. Seems to me that he would jump at the chance to take a job where he doesn’t have to be watered down, his creative energy won’t pass through a crummy executive machine, and the end result will definitely be seen. And assuming her tour is anything like her recent work, there’s no way Miley Cyrus will be watering down his ideas.

          • ?

            You weren’t there the day he slammed rap music or condemned Kim Kardashian’s “fat ass”. Or heard him go on and on about how the hippies “ruined everything”, or posted up pictures of kids with pants hanging off of their bums as a symbol for the decline of modern society.
            He did all that stuff and more.

          • ?

            And beyond all that, to me at least, it matters where the money came from. Some naked girl made it shaking her ass.

            That’s just me though, not him.

          • tedzey71

            I’m pretty sure we can owe Miley Cyrus’s success more than “shaking her ass naked.” It’s derivative to coming off from a TV show, movies and connections to well-known country singers (one of which is her dad).

            This isn’t anything new. R. Crumb has worked with Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones. Peter Maxx and the Beatles. Yeah… comparing Miley with a list of those musicians might be a stretch, but just an example showing that exploiting counter-art culture isn’t anything new.

            I’m with the majority of people her who feels that this is part of that fade musicians and celebrities go through. However it seems like most 15-seconds fade off, at least Cyrus has the right idea hiring an artist with a well known clientele to keep her relevant as opposed to fading away in obscurity.

          • James Stanley

            If she even has an ass. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. She doesn’t even shake it. It just flails awkwardly while she bends over like a Salvador Dali elephant trying in vain to touch it’s toes.
            Methinks Mr. K was a little too generous in caricaturing.

          • apologies for the overly snarky tone. was unnecessary-anonymous comments make people into monsters.

  • William wray

    I’d would imagine he will design promo cartoon characters that can be made into costumes for the dancers to do simulated fucking.

  • Derik

    Miley really isn’t all that bad. I never listened to her music and I don’t particularly like what I see of her, but I have to admit, she’s a hardworker and not a complete idiot.

    A lot of other child-hood actors are going to jail, drunk driving, getting in fights, stealing people’s ideas, and all other kinds of bad stuff. Miley on the other hand isn’t. She’s just acting her age. I remember when I was 21, I was crazy too, but she’s not crazy for the wrong reasons. She’s just having fun and going through that “crazy 21” phase. Also, this isn’t the first time she’s teamed up with artists, remember the Todd James bears?

    I think it’s really cool of her to bring in cartoony artists in on the tours.

    • Animator606432

      The Cartoonist thing is fine but I’m 19 I certainly don’t act the way Cyrus has. She comes of as the type of person my friends and I would NEVER want to be around because she comes off as obnoxious as hell. IMO

  • Phil Willis

    They’re made for each other.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Wow, I’m so conflicted here. At least we should get some awesome stuff from john k at the end of the day.

  • Guest-a-mate

    I personally think it’s a sad state of affairs. Miley represents everything he’s been against for years on his blog. First The Simpson’s intro, now this!!? For his next trick he’ll be reviving “Rankin/Bass”!! In the immortal word of Stimpy “FOR SHAAAAAME, JOHN!!!!!!” seeing him draw miley “twerking” makes me sick. I can’t alone on this.

    • Funkybat

      Well, Miley doesn’t represent animators as “actors with a pencil” or writer-driven animation, so it’s not like she represents EVERYTHING he’s been ranting against on his blog. I do think that if anyone can create animation as jarring and disjointed and disturbing as the current incarnation of Miley Cyrus, it’s John K.

      Personally, the last thing he did that really hit it out of the park with me was his video for Weird Al. His Simpsons intro and other short animated projects he’s shown over the past few years are a bit too “post-modern” for me.

      Oh, and I hope “Cans Without Labels” gets done someday, one way or another, and the Kickstarter contributers get what they were promised.

  • Jason Cezar Duncan

    How on Earth was John K able to come into contact with Miley Cyrus? That’s what’s probably shocking me the most about this. I mean this isn’t some indie underground person or washed up singer from 30 years ago (aka people who might have talent). This is one of the hottest things in popular culture right now. Over all the people they could have used for the art, how was he able to get involved?

    • Roberto Severino

      If he wanted to do someone popular, he should have chosen someone like Lorde or even Katy Perry to do a music video on or contribute art to. I think that would have been much more tasteful since I can tolerate their music much more and they actually seem to have some talent compared to a lot of people who have their songs make it to the Top 40 these days.

      That’s what kinda bothered me about this. He goes from making all these posts about the decline of form, criticizing hip hop and how a lot of stuff went to pot after the 60s. It’s like he made a complete 180 over night and perhaps is doing this so he doesn’t come across as a broken clock and to maintain his relevance on top of trying to get more money to maybe funnel some of it back into Cans without Labels.

      • James Stanley

        No that you mention it, I’ve wondered why Cans without labels is taking a while. As for the pair up, it makes sense I suppose. Crazy drawings. Even crazier lady. Their like fish with too much chips.

  • Lenord Robinson

    This should be great,I can hardly wait to see what this collaboration will produce.

  • Cosmiconionring
  • Daniel Steen

    Good animation exposed to the masses is a good thing. It’ll inspire and challenge a lot of people who it normally wouldn’t. Miley Cyrus is pretty switched on, knows her market and plays it well. Like John K. both seem to polarize audiences.

  • Morey Feldstein

    “Miley’s tour delayed 8 months”

  • If you think that film will ever be finished or anyone will ever see their “prizes” then you’re a jollier fellow than I am.

  • mick

    Brilliant, why not? Show BUSINESS has become so bland that even a contrived act such as Miley Cyrus’ is the talk of the town. No one has anything to say any more lest it piss off their sponsors. At least John K will kick a stinkee hole in the sorry mess. It’s great news that such a spikey character as John K has even got with 100 miles of this closed shop ruled by accountants.

  • Strong Enough

    man those sketches are creepy

  • Samuel Mann

    They just proved they are the two faces of the same coin.

    Mainstream vs. Underground it’s just a fairytale.

    I just want to read the records of the Devil and see who didn’t sign a pact with him.

    • Funkybat

      John K. isn’t the big-name animator who I’d bet signed a deal with the Devil. That “honor” most likely belongs to someone a lot more prominent these days.

      John K. got where he did by not giving a cluck what anyone else had to say about his creative direction. That’s why his art will always be unique, and his reputation equally “unique.”

  • minespatch

    The second picture makes Stimpy look like a scrotum.

  • Jason Cezar Duncan

    True, they must have “scouts” for this sort of thing. I’d be surprised if she even knew what Ren and Stimpy was before this, not to mention knowing who made it. A bit before her time.

    • Funkybat

      Gawd, yeah….she was probably crapping her diapers back when the rest of us were crapping ourselves in hysterics over “Space Madness” and “Log.”

      Then again, Mighty Mouse and Woody Woodpecker were already quite old by the time I came along, and they were two of my favorites as a little kid, who knows what she watched growing up.

  • BurntToShreds

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • monstertime

    I just built the before everything and beginning of the bangerz tour. I commend him for getting paid for his talent, when people are more concerned about seeing a girls butt. I got paid from that tour why not him. you would if you could. I only hope that when I’m working as an animator I can live off my talent too.