EXCLUSIVE: John K. Talks about his “Simpsons” Opening

Simpsons Intro

Last year, The Simpsons commissioned an opening couch gag from British street artist Banksy that contained a cockeyed look at the working conditions of overseas animators. This year, which marks the show’s remarkable 23rd season, the producers of the mustard-family went a step further and debuted a new couch gag last night by Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.

Banksy mocked the idea of mass-produced corporate art in his opening, but his message was muddled because it was made using the same system he was satirizing. There’s no such confusion in John’s approach, which he produced on his own. John’s opening is, in fact, far more subversive because he focuses almost exclusively on making a pictorial statement, relegating the show’s dominant literary elements to the back seat. In 35 short and sweet seconds, he liberates the animation of The Simpsons from years of graphic banality. The visual look of the show, which has been so carefully controlled by its producers, becomes a giddy and unrestrained playground for graphic play, and the balance of creative authority is shifted from the writers’ room to the animators in one fell swoop. Now that’s revolutionary.

On a personal note, I worked on the revival of Ren and Stimpy nearly ten years ago, and artistically, this is not the same John Kricfalusi that I remember from that time. Like any painter or filmmaker worth their salt, John doesn’t stay still, constantly evolving, growing, experimenting, and challenging audiences with new graphic concepts. He continues to be, in my book, one of the most exciting and influential artists working in animation today. Whether everything works perfectly in this opening is besides the point. As John says in our interview, “The day I make a perfect cartoon is the day I’ve run out of creativity.”

In our interview, we talk about how the opening came about, Matt Groening’s reaction to it, how his style has evolved in recent years, and his switch from Flash to Toon Boom. (Note: This is an edited version of an interview that was conducted via email this past weekend. Click on any of the images for a larger version.)

Question: First things first, how did you end up animating an opening for The Simpsons?

John Kricfalusi: Matt Groening and Al Jean [executive producer] asked me to do it. They showed me an opening that Banksy did that satirized the animation production assembly line system in Korea and told me it was really popular, so they wanted to do something similar with me.

At first they just wanted me to do a storyboard and have their regular crew animate it. If we had done it that way, no one would even have known that I had anything to do with it because it would have ended up on model and all pose to pose. I showed them the Adult Swim shorts I had been doing and pointed out that the way things happened was even more important than what was happening in my work. You can’t write visual performance. You have to actually draw it.

This project was the most fun I’ve had in years. It has really hammered home (to me) the importance of animation in animation. I think it’s possible to bring animation back to this country and make the core of it fun again, not be a mere tertiary addition to some high concept or executive’s “vision.” The pure act of animating is the most fun part of animation. I am so grateful to Matt for letting me have some real fun this summer.

Simpsons Intro

Q: For a show that is notorious for being ‘on-model’, it doesn’t appear that they gave you many (if any) restraints or guidelines. Did you have to show them storyboards or designs beforehand? Did they ask for any changes or cuts?

JK: I did some character models to give them an idea of how I would draw the characters as caricatures of the Simpsons. They all made it very easy for me and the more rules I broke, the more they seemed to like it. I tried not to break any rules in the characters’ personalities, just in the execution of the visuals. I didn’t follow any models–not even my own.

Q: How did they react to your ideas?

JK: I had lunch with Al and Matt a couple times and we knocked around some ideas. Matt told me to break all the Simpsons rules. The whole bit is only 35 seconds long so it’s not like we could write a big story. We thought we should just do a quick scene that distills and caricatures the essence of the Simpsons. I only got one note: “Do we need so many reaction poses of Bart?” Tom Klein, who produced Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse cartoons with me eons ago, is the producer of The Simpsons and he was very helpful and supportive on the project too.

Simpsons Intro

Q: The thing that strikes me watching this is that this isn’t the John K. cartoon of ten years ago, or even five years ago. Your style has evolved greatly in the past few years, in terms of graphic complexity and experimentation. Has this been a conscious effort to move in a new direction and have you noticed the changes yourself?

JK: It’s because of a number of factors. I am just doing small projects now, so I do more of the work myself. When I was running a studio with fifty artists, I spent a lot of time training, directing and explaining what I wanted. You can’t explain animation in words. I did as many drawings as I could, but they tended to be rough poses that after going through the assembly line process eventually get toned down.

Katie Rice influenced me a lot. She showed me all kinds of funny abstract expressions in anime cartoons and her own drawings were super cartoony, original and cute all at the same time. The way she applied the abstractions from anime (and other influences) she liked was a revelation to me. Around the same time, thanks to Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler I started watching a lot of previously lost 1930s rubber hose cartoons: Fleischer Talkartoons, Lantz Oswalds, Ub Iwerks and Terrytoons. For decades these cartoons have been derided by cartoon historians and even some of the animators themselves.

These cartoons have attributes that far surpass their seeming limitations. They were extremely inventive and the animators were encouraged to do what comes naturally to cartoonists and animators. They were allowed to draw and animate in their own individual styles. In the early 1930s, there were no set bible of rules for how to animate. The medium was too young. Every animator figured out their own unique ways of moving things. I absolutely love watching Grim Natwick, Bill Nolan, Irv Spence, Carlo Vinci and others’ animation because it is all so unique. And the cartoons were musical: all cartoons from the 1930s to the 1950s were timed to musical rhythms. This gave everything that was happening an underlying sense of fun. The tempo was the structure of the action.

Amid, you also inspired me when you showed me a lot of 1950s animated commercials–highly stylized stuff that was beautifully and inventively animated. In a couple of my recent Adult Swim shorts, I tried to caricature some of my favorite designy commercials. Those 50s commercials as you know were all animated by the same guys who learned their craft on rubber hose cartoons in the 1930s and honed their principles on 40s cartoons. Their stylized stuff in the 50s reflects all that foundational skill and knowledge even though it seems like they are breaking the rules.

Simpsons Intro

Q: So much of this goes appears to go beyond the pose-to-pose animation that you did on Ren & Stimpy and into more adventurous straight-ahead animation territory, right?

JK: I’m bored with pose to pose animation like we did at Spumco where the only control we had over the look of the cartoon characters’ acting was in the held layout poses. This time I wanted to try moving the characters in crazy fun ways, not just looking funny each time they come to a stop. The way we used to do it was: the characters would strike a funny pose, then basically inbetween into the next funny pose, but between the poses, nothing much interesting happened. It was a compromise between the Forties cartoon production system and the practicalities of Saturday Morning television budgets and schedules.

The inbetweens are as fun to me as the bookended emotions you are aiming at. No one is happy one instant, and then mad the next without some kind of unique transition. Pure inbetweening makes the transition mathematical and cold. In reality, a lot of indecision and emotional torture happens between two different emotions or even just two thoughts. If you freeze frame live action you can see that there is no such thing as inbetweens. Live actors’ faces distort and mutate all over the place getting from one emotion to the next. Rod Scribner used to do that in his animation and it added a lot of extra “reality” and richness to his acting. His characters just felt more alive and real than other more cautious animators. You don’t see all the individual frames in rich movement, but you feel them.

Q: Did you animate the piece or did you have a team of animators?

JK: I animated the 2D stuff. John Kedzie animated the CG bits. Sarah Harkey and Tommy Tanner did the assistant animation.

Q: You switched a while back from Adobe Flash to Toon Boom. Has the shift in software influenced your style or affected your workflow in any way?

JK: Completely. It allows me to try lots of things and delete them if they stink and quickly do them again. I get bored really easily. I don’t like to rely on formula. I like every scene to be different than the last scene. I can’t follow rules — even my own. Animating in almost real time allows me to have fun.

Simpsons Intro

Q: What’s something new you tried out in this piece that you think worked really well? And that didn’t work as well as you’d thought?

JK: I’m still struggling with camera moves. I’m using Toon Boom Harmony because it has a great brush tool and it’s easy to animate with, but some of the technical tools like cameras are very awkward and anti-intuitive. I don’t know what new things I tried except that it’s the first time in years where I got to animate that much stuff. If you freeze frame it you may find some surprises which might be considered new.

Well, here’s something in general: I am applying classic principles of squash and stretch, overlapping action, anticipations and overshoots, slow ins and slow outs, etc…but making the drawings that do the work of all these principles be more abstract and nonsensical. For example, when a character squints his eyes during an anticipation, I might just create one eye and draw it as a cartoony graphic, rather than literally drawing the two eyes squashing and squinting in the traditional graphic way we have been doing for 80 years.

Simpsons Intro

Q: What’s your answer to those who will look at this and inevitably complain that you’re breaking many of the drawing principles you’ve espoused over the years like maintaining volume of forms and having facial details wrap around forms?

JK: The Simpsons are very stylized to begin with and their features do not wrap around their forms. Neither do 50s UPA style cartoons. But they do have hierarchy and internal logic of some kind. They use controlled abstraction rather than arbitrary unbalanced distortion.

I have explained many times that learning fundamentals does not mean that your goal is to draw like Preston Blair or Milt Kahl. Good drawing starts with having control and knowledge of how things work and look. Once you have some fundamentals, you can use cartoon license for effect and entertainment. If you can’t draw very well to begin with you are not breaking rules as part of your style, you are just breaking them by accident and you will never be able to make your fingers do what your brain imagines. Good drawing and animation isn’t one simple skill or talent. It’s a lot of different skills that you have to balance together and no one has them all. You just keep learning and studying throughout your life or you become bland. Is the cartoon perfect in any way? Of course not. The day I make a perfect cartoon is the day I’ve run out of creativity.

After the jump, watch a series of behind-the-scenes video clips showing the production process:

STORYBOARD/ANIMATIC

ROUGH ANIMATION

COLORED ANIMATION

COMPOSITE WITH CG BG


  • http://objectunknown.com Jason Gammon

    Wow wow wow. This animation from John K is hilariously worlds away from the typical beloved Simpson family. Imagine a whole episode in this style? Eyeball overload. Very very fun. Thanks so much for sharing this interview and the behind-the-scenes stuff.

  • http://dailydoh.tumblr.com/ Jeaux Janovsky

    Great Job John! Thnx for sharing! Doh!

  • Zac

    OH MY GOD! I watched this earlier, and it was probably one of the most funniest things I’ve ever seen! Matt Groening and John K., two creative geniuses!

  • http://www.lavallelee.com Lavalle Lee

    I would love to see a full episode of the Simpsons like this! Why Not!

  • greg m.

    WOW!!! eye candy to my senses! Can’t wait to see the entire opening. I have no clue what Marge’s left hand is doing – but I like it!!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I had the impression she was acting like a waitress or something, but I really don’t know either!

  • http://UncleEddie'sTheoryCorner Eddie Fitzgerald

    An amazing piece of animation!!!! The way Marge gets off the sofa feet first, the ditsy way she walks into the kitchen, the bouncy way she walks back into the room with a beer…it’s all cartoon magic.

    And John is completely right about animation being the heart of an animated cartoon. Funny cartoon drawings that MOVE IN A FUNNY WAY…that’s what cartoons are all about, but you’d never know it if all you watched were current TV cartoons.

  • http://www.artware.mx Arturo

    FYI, you can watch John K’s intro here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=supC7YdR0ps

    • http://art-candy.blogspot.com/ Andrea

      This link is private… Do you have a public link?

  • diego

    Thanks for the interview Amid! Fascinating stuff!

  • Jason H

    See, this is what I’m talking about! This is great! Non of that crappy ‘flash’ animation feel. Pure awesome!

  • http://oyetoons,deviantart.com Seni

    Okay, that was awesome! Oh, and to Jason H? Flash isn’t crappy . . . when done right.

    • DNAndy

      “When done right…”

      What do people even mean when they say that? There isn’t a right way to do flash animation.

      • http://www.doctorwhom.com gavin mouldey

        one frame at a time, without tweens? It’s just a compiler app when done right.

    • Jason H

      That’s my point.

      • http://oyetoons,deviantart.com Seni

        Hey, more power to ya. Just don’t start ganging up on me!

  • http://classiccartoonreviews.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Pozega

    Y’know I find it funny that The Illusion of Life mentions that when they slowed down an action of an expression changing, they mentioned that the face was full of subtle movements the eye couldn’t detect at normal speed, but they never bothered to apply that to their own cartoons, at least not within the rules and dogmas they established.

    Of course, a guy named John K eventually found a way to apply that to animation–caricature the action, instead of literally interpreting it.

  • http://aalong64.blogspot.com Aaron Long

    Wow, never thought I’d see John K working on the Simpsons. This is amazing. My mind has been blown. I love this intro. John K is really pushing the art of funny animation to a whole new level, again.

    Now if only the main show itself could consistently be as interesting as its recent gimmicks like this, the Banksy couch gag and the puppet segment with Katy Perry.

  • http://www.ronimation.com Ron

    It was FANTASTIC! I want to see John K. do a whole episode! The sketches posted are great and the interview was very informative. Thanks for posting Amid. The part that got to me the most was this…

    ” I think it’s possible to bring animation back to this country and make the core of it fun again, not be a mere tertiary addition to some high concept or executive’s ‘vision.’ The pure act of animating is the most fun part of animation. ” – John K.

    Amen! Amen! A thousand times Amen! I’m gonna post that on my wall and look at it every day as a reminder of why I got in to this field!

  • http://downindeep13.blogspot.com JerRocks2day

    That was a very interesting interview.

    It’s really interesting on how John K really pushed the envelope on the animation. It’s very different from what he used to do on Ren and Stimpy or anything with Spumco.

    Maybe this means he’ll start getting more work this decade and maybe direct an animated feature film he’s been wanting to do for years. :)

  • Steve

    I guess I’ll have to be the jerk who says it, but other than the awesome character designs, it was poorly animated (unclear, over-done) and so schizophrenic I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I watched it again.

    Very self-indulgent and over-rated, in my opinion.

    • DNAndy

      I thought it could’ve used more holds…there’s so much fun stuff going on that you have to slow the short down to really enjoy it.

      • Snagglepuss

        Luckily, in the age of digital everything, you can do just that! So I think that stuff is keen. Like a secret cartoon in your cartoon.

      • Tom D

        I didn’t get the point of the thing, other than as a technical exercise. It seemed WAY over-everythinged, but underwritten. I was disappointed, honestly. No genuine laughs, that’s for sure.

    • stavner

      I also thought the characters moved around too much too. And I thought the brain was Maggie’s pacifier until I checked out this entry.

      Dave Kelly at Something Awful does a great job with Flash cartoons.

    • akira

      do you think other people here are jerks who just aren’t saying it? as an animator i can give my opinion that this was not poorly animated… unusually animated would be a better description. to me this kind of fully animated cartoon animation is the pinnacle of finest quality of hand drawn animation. some people may prefer feature disney stuff that sticks strictly to the approved models and favors the rules of real world physics, the style of which can comfortably evolve into the bland CG animated production environment. but this is the kind of nitty gritty visceral cartoon animation that could never be matched by CG.

      • stavner

        It’s hand-drawn, but done in a computer program.

        2D and 3D computer animation are both equally good, just good at different things. Great work can be produced in both mediums.

      • Snagglepuss

        Whether I agree or disagree with that, I give the man complete credit for experimenting.Animation is better for a plethora of diverse voices, and this is one.

    • butt

      why stick to safe rules when you can experiment and possibly innovate? its overwhelming on purpose! for fun! john k doesnt need to prove he knows principles and that he can produce clear animation, i think he’s in a stage where he’s pushing everything to see the outcome, for the sake of fun!

    • Steve Ryder

      Seemed clear to me. He is basically screaming “For animation’s sake would folks just LOOSEN THE HECK UP?!?!” Plus, it is because he is self-indulgent that he was even offered such an opportunity. I wouldn’t expect anything less from an artist.

    • http://sparklepony.blogspot.com Peteykins

      I’ve got to agree. The whole thing seemed totally incoherent to me. The only thing I really liked was Marge’s ridiculous walk.

    • John S

      I love the fact that it’s not technically perfect. It breaks the rules on many levels and adds something fresh to a show that has gotten stale. Who cares if it wasn’t done for belly laughs, it amused the hell out of me.

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    That’s awesome in theory. But, the animation in practice is as fucked up as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsrTLeysmnQ. Which isn’t to say it has no entertainment value. But, is that how story telling is going to evolve? The thing I like about it is the will to decouple from rigid ideas that have only killed the fun quotient. But, apparently if you go too far with that idea, you’re entering a realm of chaos.

  • http://www.jay-animate.blogspot.com Jay

    This is an extremely detailed post! Thanks for the exclusive CB!

  • chdr

    Eh, like a lot of John K’s work nowadays, really didn’t like it.

    Some of the designs and poses are nice, but the animation way too busy, and IMO a lot of the drawings are ugly and unappealing to look at. There’s an appealing way to do ugly (Paper Rad) and a non-confusing way to do busy (Superjail), but I think John K lost the capabilities to do both years ago.

    • Deaniac

      >>Paper Rad

      Welp, you just lost your credibility.

    • Nipplenuts McGurk

      Whoa whoa whoa….did you just call Paper Rad APPEALING!? …the f**k!?!?

  • TheDirtyVicar

    Outstanding, JK! Now cue the kneejerk haters who’ve never done anything as remotely creative or innovative in their lives. Their ignorance and hypocrisy never disappoints…

    • Steve

      Not true. There’s many posters on here (myself included) who have worked at major studios as animators and artists.

      No need to vilify people who you dont agree with.

      • tommy

        Working at major studios doesn’t necessarily mean doing something creative and innovative.

      • Was My Face Red

        There’s also lots of indie animators here too. Don’t be a knee jerk who writes off thousands of people they know nothing about just because they didn’t agree with your opinions.

    • James Ciambor

      Vicar I agree with you, but taking shots at high-profile veterans has essentially been made an art-form by most critical circles. Its where they get off unfortunately. Because all they have in comparison, to a man who defined the potential of television animation is a couple of eloquent sentences that really don’t have much merit.

      Take for example Roger Ebert’s disparaging comments against deceased Jackass star. Even if he didn’t have the most dignified profession and is not as respectable as John K, at least he was successful and proud of what he was doing and didn’t need to be denigrated post-humously.

  • http://www.adamoliver.com Adam

    I love John K for his existence in general, and enjoyed this piece, although it works because it is short. He obviously wanted to get as much into that time frame as possible, because it is very busy and over a longer period would be unwatchable. No doubt he’d adjust to this if that was the case. I don’t find his work as appealing as I used to though.

    Just a quick note on the Banksy poke at the top of that post: do you not think it is a double irony of sorts how Banksy sent his message about the reality of ‘overseas’ animation production, through overseas animation production…? Maybe you’re missing a trick here Amid, but I think it’s even more pertinent in its delivery as he managed to get his message on screen via this way, rather than being excluded from the system.

    I’d say he pulled the wool over the eyes of everyone involved. John’s statement is more in your face. But I like it!

  • YOUR NEIGHBOUR

    brilliant interview.
    thumbs up to jk who still believes that cartoons can make you laugh…

  • http://www.oddballcomics.com Scott Shaw!

    I don’t think that a fart cushion gag works if we don’t hear the fart…and why would Homer act embarrassed if he WAS responsible for the fart? He never has before!

    • TheDirtyVicar

      The clip on YouTube is missing the voice and SFX track, for some reason. That’s NOT how it aired. I assure you, you couldn’t miss the fart!!

    • I

      I dunno if keeping in character was a concern, seeing as he straight up killed Bart.

  • James Ciambor

    “For decades these cartoons have been derided by cartoon historians and even some of the animators themselves.
    These cartoons have attributes that far surpass their seeming limitations.”

    I agree with John, many of today’s current veterans in the industry dismiss the past as if it has no relevance. Truth of the matter is that these rubber-hose cartoons only have limitations, based on our ignorant perception on what makes an ideal cartoon. Truth of the matter is, that we never managed to produce a cartoons as improvisational and free-spirited as this ever since. Though we still see ignorance that today’s work is somehow superior without concrete evidence. We have more restrictions based in the fact that we our prohibited from expressing or own styles and methods on how to produce a cartoon, and have to adhere to a form of conduct.

    We can’t create our own rules and boundaries, and play god in a sense. If you want to talk about limitations creatively and technically today’s industry would have that distinction to a greater degree. The sense of exploration and adventure that we had back in the early thirties allowed for us to artistically progress to Fantasia within less than a decade. These films should be commended for setting that damn groundwork for such beautiful pieces. John K your not alone on this.

  • Mark Abbott

    Fantastic Interview! Good to see that someone in this industry is interested in pushing the medium.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I kind of agree with chdr, except for the examples (Paper Rad appealing? REALLY?).

    I love the music and the first look at them sitting on the couch and looking weirdly to each other is pretty cool.

    I think the clip you embed here ends just when things start to get worse. Marge’s walk cycle, though out of character, is kind of cool till that point, but the movement of her butt cheeks is a little too much even for John K. knowing that she’s not supposed to be a dumb sexual object( incidentally I wouldn’t complain about a character being protrayed like that if that were the point).

    The part with Homer’s brain falling off looks a little too confusing and Homer looking to the backside of the couch when Bart puts the whoopie cushion is also odd. It seems that he’s just turning his head to make a comment to the viewer, but then he’s entirely looking to the back of the couch as if he had lost something.

    I’d have liked to see Lisa doing something too.

    My point is this was fine enough as a little experiment, but as a fan of old John K. stuff I think he’s too obsessed with absurd designs and wacky movements and he forgets a little about character.

    As much as I hate the stiff, rigid drawings of Simpsons nowadays I doubt and entire episode animated like this would work well. It would be more interesting to see how John K. would tell a story already written by the OFF stuff or at least if he had to follow some guidelines. With this total freedom approach it doesn’t matter if he’s working for The Simpsons or any other characters, he just uses weird for everything. Weird is fun, but the classic cartoons he loves so much are based on the character personalities. I know he keeps some of Homer’s and Bart’s basic traits here, but they are really reduced to a minimum.

    Family Guy drawn by Disney worked great cause it showed Brian and Stewie could be more fun and appealing when drawn like that. Here I’m not so sure. It’s a novelty at first but it’s like changing The Simpsons usual flaws (they ‘overwrite’ things and tend to include too many characters and objects in scene and make them too stiff and rigid) for another set of flaws (things get more animated and fluid but also confusing and the characters loose some of their ‘human’ traits) .

    Something like Peter Bagge’s Hate would be the perfect approach IMO. Bagge draws the characters off model and makes cartoony gags for extreme poses or situations, but the story never derails into pure surreal territory. He never forgets he’s talking about ‘realistic’ events, in this instance, about a young guy called Buddy Bradley, his friends, love interests and family.

  • joe

    Like all the work of artistic geniuses, you’re going to have people that just don’t understand.

    Kind of reminds me of Pollock, and the people who say “my kid could do that.”

    • Funkybat

      Only an ignorant person would ever claim that their kid could do anything like what John K. did for that couch gag. No doubt some said just that after seeing the title sequence last Sunday. There are a lot of ignorant people out there, especially when it comes to animation.

      At the same time, I share many people’s opinion that the drawings themselves were excellent, but when they were put into motion the chaos was overwhelming. I felt kind of lost visually when I first watched it, and by the end I was so bowled over I didn’t even notice Homer pouring the beer directly into his skull, which was probably the funniest gag in the whole thing! I was just overwhelmed.

      I believe that the old “rubber hose” cartoons do get unjustly ignored, and that they have an appeal all their own. If John K. wants to harken back to that world, more power to him. Personally, I find traditional, fluid full-frame animation based on what have become “conventional” rules to be the most beautiful incarnation of the animated art form. I love seeing clear indications of anatomy and perspective in characters, props and environments. But that’s me.

      I’m glad John K. keeps pushing animation into what he thinks and feels it can be, I see him as the Picasso of cartoons at this point in his career. He clearly *can* do what most other animators can do, he just chooses to move past that, into the far fringes and beyond. Even if Picasso isn’t exactly my favorite artist, I would never deny his creative genius or place in the pantheon of great painters. Same goes for me with 21st century John K.

  • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

    Reminded me of the first season versions for some reason.
    I Loved It!

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    Brilliant insight and interview with John K there, the more I watch this animation and reading about here here has made me like it more and more, though at first I did find it hard to figure out everything that was going on; this really requires multiple viewings to take it all in. Though this isn’t excatly a bad thing I can understand how this would defiantly put a lot of people off, John K’s style, especially now that he is really going all out with the abstraction and cramming as much into as short a time as possible, is defiantly a love it or hate it kind of thing. For me it’s certainly starting to grow on me and is very inspiring.

  • Conor

    Part of me wants to say I don’t quite “get” John K’s new style, but I don’t think that would be entirely accurate. In actuality, I get it, but I’m not sure if I like it as much compared to Classic Ren and Stimpy, and the better moments of APC (“Ren Seeks Help” specifically).
    I get the desire to do funny movement, but if everything’s moving around all the time, there’s really no strong visual impact, especially when everything’s twitching and pulsating in all different directions. It’s like watching a Michael Bay action scene, where the camera won’t stop moving, and everything ends up looking like a mess.
    What’s more John K’s early work always seemed to strive for a balance between art and entertainment (art being a work created for the artist, entertainment being a work created for an audience), but it kind of seems like he’s slipped a little far into arty abstraction, and has sacrificed clarity and humanity as a result. He has every right as an artist to go in that direction, but what always made Spumco’s work great, as far as I’m concerned, is that there was always this ideal that you didn’t have to compromise entertainment for art or vice-versa.
    Maybe it’s meant to be a parody of UPA in the way that a lot of his work on APC seemed to be a parody of Chuck Jones. Either way, for me, personally, it elicits more raised eyebrows than laughs.

  • The Brewmasters

    Please no tangential or off-topic discussions that have nothing to do with this particular opening. Take the petty bickering elsewhere.

    • John Andrews

      It harkens back to the great animation Wes Archer and David Silverman did in the original Simpsons shorts in the Tracey Ullman Show. Those had lots of wonderfully crazy drawings and a great MEAN Homer. Thanks for making THAT Homer breathe again John.

      • Zoran Taylor

        Your point is well-taken, John, but personally I’m more intrigued by what Archer and Silverman’s slightly later work has more in common with the early, limited Ren & Stimpy than this, particularly in terms of funny HOLDS, which we don’t get a lot of here. Take, for example, Silverman’s choice in Homer’s conniption over the poker-playing dogs portrait in Bart’s nightmare gallery to hold for almost half a second on a frame where Homer’s head is tilted back far enough for the underside of his chin to be facing the picture plane almost dead-on, he’s digging his fingers so deep into his cheeks that his screaming mouth can’t open properly and one of his eyes looks like it’s about to fall out of its socket. FOR HALF A SECOND. It might never be as COOL as what we’re looking at here, but if push comes to shove I’d have to say it was a bit FUNNIER.
        That said, this reads a lot better than many are giving it credit for. “Incoherent” would certainly be too harsh. Remember, in the great pantheon of cartoons, successful execution and everybody saying “what the hell did I just see?” afterwards are hardly mutually exclusive. In fact, sometimes the latter is the whole point.

  • Paul N

    It’s a shame that so many feel like they need to dismiss the folks who don’t like the segment. It’s possible to “understand” it and not like it. And it’s perfectly fine to critique it and find things that could be done better, or differently. Even JK says it’s not perfect. So why denigrate those who are expressing anything other than pure love for the segment and its creator?

  • Ergo

    “Banksy mocked the idea of mass-produced corporate art, but his message was muddled because it was made using the same system he was satirizing.”

    I think you might be missing the irony there…

  • julian Chaney

    Really enjoyed the piece .Glad to see John had fun .That is the reason we got into animation >…..Right ? Im looking forward to Johns new work. Thanks again John and Matt.

  • Mike

    Me and everyone else on this blog will sorta get the gist of what john k is trying to do.

    But people watching at home who dont know johnk nor much about animation will, imo be mostly confused. Than in the end wont make much of a big deal about it like the banksy opening.

    There are also other problem. Although i suppose the main point was to break away from the frustrating crappy on model simpson drawings, I had to watch the short twice in order to understand that homer is screaming at marge to get him a beer. Maybe that was john k’s strategy to get you to see the short multiple times. And sure its fun to spot things that you missed the first and second time around. But some things should be clear, some things should be in the background.

    The fact that homer was screaming, and mouth moving but with no audio may be some commentary against the whole writer oriented system or whatever, but i think it just makes its look like some cheap web animation.

    The thing about john k is that he seems to make animation that will appeal to himself and people who like milt gross. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that but besides the idea that animators will be the only ones who enjoy it, there are other problems that make the short itself annoying.

    • greg m.

      that same thing happened in Roger Rabbit when Baby Herman seemed to be chastising Roger while in the fridge. I didnt understand why they didnt add sound to his mouth movements.

    • Mike

      woops, i must have seen the clip without the audio of homer screaming “beer” and “god i love how that woman walks”

      Really makes a lot more sense with the audio. sorry.

  • DNAndy

    A better quality version of the John K couch gag, with sound intact this time.

    http://stonedsimpsons.tumblr.com/post/10969486501/why-you-little-doh-if-the-video-keeps-starting

    • Bill

      Still hate it. But it works much better with the sound.

  • http://www.deptap.com Rajesh

    While abstract animation is like a piece of music and doesn’t need to be understandable to be enjoyed, cartoon animation serves the purpose of making people laugh (be it telling a story, funny or inventive acting, timing, other graphic elements, etc).

    To that end, this is a mixed bag. There’s too much going on for that to happen, like 3 comedians telling 3 different jokes at the same time in the same place…on the same mic.

    The jokes that the audience does hear are funny. But it’s hard to hear through the resulting noise, as beautiful, energetic, and fun as that noise may be.

    John seems to have gotten the drawing and fun part down. Now all he’s gotta do is let the audience in on the joke.

  • Randy

    Funny….it looks freakin’ awesome as a still drawing. A PERFECT Simpsons caricature.

    The second it starts moving he completely blows it.

    Spastic and strange and immensely self-indulgent….but not funny or engaging. And actually, not terribly well done. I expected better from this man.

    Oh, well…..

  • Jane

    Hmmm, I personally didn’t like it. Like the Adult Swim bumpers things moved to fast, felt soulless, and I can still tell it’s been made with a flash-like program and that makes it look cheap. And I HATE the music. Horrible.

    • YOUR NEIGHBOUR

      IF YOU DON’T LIKE WACKY ANIMATION,DON’T EVEN BOTHER LOOKING AT JK’S WORK…

      • Zoran Taylor

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted."]

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

    I would like to see more notorious Animation artists being invited to re-interpret The Simpsons! This has the potential of becoming a new classic, like the Halloween specials.

    Oh, and I personally enjoyed what John did. It’s completely opposite to what we’re accustomed with these characters, and that’s what made it so refreshing :)

    • Funkybat

      Wouldn’t mind seeing more “guest animators” at all. The “Treehouse of Horror” issues of the Simpsons comics have features several guest cartoonists’ work. While I prefer seeing the Simpsons on-model (but not stiff) most of the time, once in a while it’s cool to see someone else’s interpretation. Reminds me of the fan art done by other prominent artists that sometimes graces the back pages of some indie comics.

      *Oh, and Fox, it would help the Simpsons a hell of a lot if about 20% of that John K.-style wiggly, chaotic animation were reintroduced into the Simpsons. I still miss the look of first couple of seasons (though recent ones have made even seasons 3-7 seem loose by comparison.)

  • Jorge Garrido

    If John had toned down this style for this spot as many as suggesting, people would have criticized him for selling out and having no artistic integrity (in terms of not changing his style for the channels his work is on.) You can’t win.

    I also love how some people on the internet are backseat career counselors for animators they don’t like. “Obviously John K has talent but if he could tone down his style instead of doing THIS immature crap he might actually get work!” “This spot is obviously an example of why John can’t get work… he’s not mature enough and needs someone overseeing him!” Yes, that’s exactly what John should do, is listen to the unsolicited industry expertise from anonymous internet commentators who hate his fucking guts and have never worked in the industry.

    As if John needs people to tell him how to run his life and business… I also love when John gets conflicting advice. There’s something polarizing about him: “This spot is too crazy, he needs to tone it down!” Then when he does the Old Navy Spots or The Heartaches Gabe Swarr designs he hears “This is just like all the other stuff you’re criticizing, what a hypocrite!”

    It’s not as if listening to internet career advice would make John be able to pay his bills or whatever… I also love when people accuse John of ripping into the animation industry too much and not producing anything, but when he does, it’s torn to shreds and people say, “aha, anything for a paycheck, eh, JOHN YOU FUCKING SELLOUT!”

    Ughh… you can’t win.

    • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

      John K. can get criticisms as any other people. I’m a big fan of his older stuff and still like some aspects of his work, but if there are aspects of one of his shorts I don’t like I’ll say it.

      Maybe some criticisms are more vague or less constructive, but most of the ones I’ve read in this site so far are quite well reasoned. It’s not obligatory to be an expert to express an opinion.

      It’s not about ‘toning it down’ or ‘selling out’ it’s about being clear and provide entertainment. If someone finds this style more enjoyable than his older period, I’m ok with that. I enjoy it to some extent and it may be fine for short clips, but I can’t see it working in a longer format. Maybe combined with stronger gags and more sense of character it could work.

  • ZiggyStardust

    at points i thought it was amazing! the poses the character designs amazing. but then at other points it was butt ugly. overall I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t follow the gags in a clear manner as there was always way too much stuff going on. everything was screaming “look at me look me I can be more wacky than you”. I really feel its animation for the sake of animation.

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    it’s no BART THE GENERAL
    http://youtu.be/Y_6Kp7q5tbA

  • dbenson

    I find myself musing that television series aren’t naturally friendly to animation.

    There’s a need for models and consistency that will convey the original vision and at the same time support dozens of stories produced by hundreds of artists. The impulse to refine it to a formula is irresistible.

    John K himself nails it when he talks about running around teaching people how to draw his vision.

    I keep hoping some network or cable channel will revive the old idea of an all-shorts program — No continuing characters, no house style, no pilots. Just quality shorts, where artists like John K can run rampant without worrying about placing commercial breaks or making sure every overseas studio can duplicate it. A prime time Cartoon Brew!

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    Great to see John K a) doing some high profile upbudget animation again and b) actually talking about it outside of his blogspot trolling/preaching-to-the-choir mode.

    • DNAndy

      how is his blog trolling people?

  • http://she-thing.blogspot.com Caty

    Sincerely speaking and with all due respect, Kricfalusi should’ve been the one to direct Tiana and the Frog. He’s the one that actually has proof of changing and evolving. Even if some (many) people don’t like it. His words are inspirational. He made a post of my message I sent him once. I would’ve done anything to see messages like the one above or this one he replied to me http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2009/09/does-everybody-want-to-be-character.html or many, many others on Tiana and the Frog (yes, I’ve seen that movie a few days ago) The artifitial way the message’s been expressed is like receiving a pack of smarties when you wanted for a Lindt 70% suave chocolate. Just not the same. And you can taste the second one more.
    I do agree with what Roberto says, and I still like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9R09GVzTCA period from Mr. K best, but watching this 35 s short and then reading the review gives one hope for a change, makes me expect for something new someday.

  • smallsight

    My comment is, apparently Groening et al. are apparently thinking of doing this sort of thing on a regular basis (Special Guest Creator couch gags, that is), so who’s next? Peter Bagge was suggested above, and that’s a workable possibility. If I were them, one of the first people I’d be talking to would be Bill Plympton, who could certainly use a well-paying gig like this, and if he’s organizing a jam-session remake of one of his old cartoons then I don’t think that he’d be above this. Or go exactly the opposite direction: imagine them having Pixar do one of these! Hmmmm…

    • Tom D

      Bagge, Jim Woodring, Pixar studios (why not dream big?), Henry Selick’s new outfit.

      It might also be fun to have smaller animation houses create couch gags in the style of legendary comic book and strip artists, like Will Eisner, Chester Gould, Jack Kirby, Basil Wolverton, and George Herriman, among others. Any cartoonist who boasted a recognizable, individual style.

  • Brian

    The interview and videos were really awesome and insightful. Thanks for posting. I’d love to see more animators take a crack at the couch gag. I bet one by PES would be awesome!

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I already said a lot of things but I forgot one aspect that I found interesting. The voice acting actually works great with this new style. Kudos to Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright for the way they make the characters voices to fit the wacky movements and attitudes. The voices in the Futurama ‘Fleischer’ segment didn’t quite work with the new character designs but here Homer is yelling and making dumb noises with more intensity than he usually talks these days. It looks and sounds a little like the Ullmans shorts.

  • tonma

    Liked it for what it is, but reading Mr.K talk about his process on this I can only gather two things:
    -He’s all for experimentation and self fulfillment now, he doesn’t care if you get a headache trying to follow all the stuff going on in his recent work, which is a just fine artistic approach.
    -He would get all bored and frustrated following the more structured process needed to put out a tv show, and most people could not possibly stand animation like this for 20 consecutive minutes, so I guess we are more an more far away from another John K. cartoon series, and that is a blasted shame.

  • Miyazaki-san

    John Lasseter might have thousands of dollars in Hawaiian shirts but it is John K. who is the true Lady Gaga when it comes to actual Animation !

  • Nick Allott

    I was confused and blown away on my first viewing of this, but going through again and still framing it was very entertaining. It was like a book that could be glanced over or enjoyed more thoroughly.

  • Chris P Bacon

    If you can’t keep up with what’s going on then you are dumb. Its not that complicated. This animation serves its purpose on being a brilliant wacky 30 second spot that’s a feast for the eyes. How could anyone be against that. At least it’s original and far more visually striking than anything that’s ever been on the Simpsons in its 20 plus year run.

    • Paul N

      Like I said earlier… :0(

    • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

      Yeah, I guess it’s not so difficult to get the general idea, but there are still some really confusing moments. I had to watch it ten times to understand that a ‘D’oh!’ was coming out of Homer’s mouth. This happens at the same time his brain jumps out of his head and something weird happens with his belly button. That part is extremely difficult to read. Yeah, it made me watch it several times but I still don’t find that section pleasing when I see it in movement. So I don’t think finding these ‘easter eggs’ compensate for the lack of a more pleasing visual feeling.

      There are also parts that I can follow but still don’t find especially funny. Homer pouring beer in the hole of his head is kind of funny as a visual gag, as it’s Bart turning into a flame , but what’s exactly the point of the brain falling on the bottle of beer? That Homer would insert it again in its place when pouring the beer or something? I like wackiness but Bob Clampett’s doesn’t usually get this random.

      I get the feeling he could have kept the same level of wackiness (and even similar gags and ideas) and still made them a little more clear.

      • J Lee

        John K’s muse is Bob Clampett. But his avatar is Ralph Bakshi and his wild animation (starting at Terrytoons, where one of the first complaints from others in the studio was it was hard to read the gags in his cartoons because too much stuff was distracting the eye from the main focus of the image).

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    It’s neato keen.
    Funny and weird and cool.
    It’s weakness is its strength.
    It’s a parody of John K – by John K!

  • Jacob Zaborowski

    I’m happy to see that John K. is keeping busy, but at the same time, it seems like The Simpsons is trying to get back the energy and verve it once had, and sad to say, may never have again.

    In terms of the animation, I must say that despite a different visual look as well as being animated straight ahead, it has clarity and I give credit to John for that. It seems that most cartoons have to be stiff planks with moving mouths in order to be clear, as opposed to communicating visually through movement.

    That being said, I must reveal my reaction as per my Facebook post when I viewed it: “What. The Fuck.”

  • http://www.hunteachother.com Max W.

    The only thing that could make this segment better is some sound effects…

  • maxtax

    I also don’t like it. WAAaaaaay to much going on! the staging is off. Marge keeps going to different doors and stuff.

  • Diego

    To those complaining about the intro being overdone and super-busy: John K had an unique chance to make a 35 second clip in a show that millions will watch. Of course he’s throwing everything he has. It’s an experiment, after all.

  • Stephen Worth Worth

    When John showed me this video, I could instantly see the inspiration of Grim Natwick’s weird marching monsters and dancing chicken in Swing You Sinners, and the brilliant animation of Olive Oyl’s spitoon dance. But what I was seeing wasn’t a painstaking reenactment of the past like the way Milt Kahl’s scenes are sometimes recycled by modern feature animators. John succeeded in capturing the spirit of great early animators like Nolan and Natwick, while keeping the context and style 100% contemporary.

    People sometimes assume that since I’m “the guy who likes old stuff” that I like retro cartoons. I don’t. I want to see the fundamental principles of the past applied to ideas that fit the modern world. Retro cartoons are usually the opposite- dusty old gags and situations executed in modern snap to pose animation style. Rubber hose style wasn’t about bowler hats, pie eyes and cows with udders, it was about funny movement. Lots and lots of funny movement. John has just completed the proof of concept on a totally new animation style and it’s a jaw dropper.

    The reason many people have trouble reading what’s going on here is because they are looking at all the wrong things. It’s not about story or gags as much as it is the joy of drawings that squirm, leap and slide across the screen with the rhythm of life. It may seem contradictory on the surface, but John has created an entirely new style of animation by looking to the past. It’s not surprising that some people would not know what they’re looking at. Cartoons haven’t looked like this for eighty years!

    The funny part is that just when animators start to get the hang of the snap to pose style John and Bob Jaques perfected in Ren and Stimpy, John turns around and creates a style that the imitators will have a very hard time mining for things to steal. This particular piece is John K to the core, informed by the entire history of animation. It’s not going to be as easy as it was for the imitators to copy Ren expressions and ape the snap to layout timing for their own pale copies of John’s cartoons.

    I actually hope that some animators follow his lead and start making animation with this kind of candy coated purity again. Maybe we can get another Iwerks/Nolan “cutting contest” going again!

    • OtherDan

      The thing that I’ve realized (I think intentional) is that he was literally animating their disparate thoughts through all those ‘squirmy’ drawings. It looks like every single frame mattered equally (which may be a problem for the viewer). It makes sense that while Homer is searching his brain for thoughts, bart is pre-occupied by Marge’s perky boobs which poke him right in the eyes when she is awakened to retrieve Homer’s beer. Meanwhile, Maggy and Lisa are more contained and in character, and their lack of motion makes it almost possible to take it all in simultaneously.

      • Stephen Worth Worth

        The animation of the character’s thoughts is also probably inspired by Grim Natwick. In Mysterious Mose as Betty Boop sings, a million expressions flit across her face showing her internal thought process. Later on, animators would slow all that down and make each individual expression register, but on Betty, the frequency at which her face changes makes her seem very alive.

      • http://deleted OtherDan

        Thanks for the interesting leads. I looked at those you cited and can see what you mean. I like the idea in a surreal way-if used judiciously.

  • Franklin

    Animation director Kent Butterworth was ahead of his time, canned for daring to make the Simpsons too cartoony in its first season, in 1990. Twenty-one years later some of the same people who loathed cartoony animation in their beloved show then dare to celebrate it in the Simpsons main title now. But this 35 seconds is beyond cartoony: it is alive. John K. is out to remind those who have forgotten that animation, love it or hate it, is something that MUST be watched.

  • http://anthonycorner.blogspot.com Anthony Tesla

    Loved it. A cartoony cartoon, and yeah, maybe it looks kind of unnapealing, but it’s nice to se something different to the generic pseudo-anime cuteness in a lot of modern cartoons.

  • Jonathan Shapiro

    When is that Spumco/John K. art book going to be released? I can’t wait to pre-order it!

    • Keegan

      According to Amid, it was canceled.

  • Morgan

    I think the people who don’t understand what’s going on are watching the version without voices and sound effects. Try watching the right one, it’s much clearer

  • J- Chaney

    Seems like some of are animation community needs to have a little fun with there craft ? Whether you like it or not ? Hes John K and your not . Keep inspiring John .

  • Was My Face Red

    I think it’s one of the best things he’s done in ages IF his intention was to present an almost abstract feast of fun movements and a deconstruction of some too familiar character designs, best appreciated through multiple viewers. BUT if his intention was tell a short narrative and deliver a series of gags to an average viewers it’s a fail. Sometimes you have to know what an artist is striving for before you judge if they got there. For an another example of this see Johns blog for his Adult Swim ‘furry’ spot. Not very good – and even some of his very loyal fans said so. When John came out and said the unmotivated camera moves in it (one of things people didn’t like) were an attempt at parodying unmotivated camera moves it became a fail because no one got that or found it funny. And when he said it was a tribute to Roger Ramjet it failed further becasue it came nowhere close to that charm. Sooo the Simpsons spot is great if we’re supposed to watch and rewatch it, freezing and trasuring drawings and walk cycles. It’s not if we were supposed to easily follow what was going on first time.

  • anonymous

    “Banksy mocked the idea of mass-produced corporate art, but his message was muddled because it was made using the same system he was satirizing.”…umm i think that was the whole point.

    A nice interview although a little bias to the interviewee considering the interviewer is producing a book on him.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    I’ve been playing with a similar straight-ahead “forget the model” style for years. I know I could do funny, but I’m looking for it to do more so I’ve been going in another, slower direction. But distorted and distorting as well. I don’t know where it’ll get me.

  • Brad Constantine

    If Cartoons are SUPPOSED to be a caricature of reality…Then why is everyone so upset about a caricature of a cartoon?..Great Job, John…They’ll figure it out in 20 years or so.

  • Derp

    I prefer the Old John K style… this is WAY too exaggerated.

    • Zoran Taylor

      See, that’s the weird thing about it – it ISN’T more exaggerated. Just less coherent.

  • http://www.sexymecha.com Hal

    I really wish the FoxBroadcasting youtube channel posted the version with the sound effects in – it is remarkably different to see it without them and a shame that’s all that’s available in decent quality. Still, really fun to see different artists screwing with an over twenty year old (!) tv institution.

  • http://www.kustomonsters.com Craig Clark

    All this and now they are threatening to cancel the show.
    http://www.aoltv.com/2011/10/04/the-simpsons-on-verge-of-cancellation/

    • smallsight

      Well, so much for the Special Guest Creators idea…

  • http://www.youtube.com/jimmykinkade jimmy

    “Clip not done yet.”

  • Steven M.

    Beautiful. :’)

  • http://Simpsonsmusic500.wordpress.com Chris Ledesma

    Photos of Matt G. & John K. working together on the couch gag at https://simpsonsmusic500.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/john-k-visits-springfield/

  • Jeff

    Why doesn’t Bart have pants?

    • YOUR NEIGHBOUR

      because of the recession!

    • Confusion

      Someone ate his shorts.

  • Christopher Wade

    I cant say I enjoyed this one honestly, hand-drawn, computer-assisted or not. It was too wild and some of the shots were disjointed.

    SKIP if you dont care for examples
    Homer was looking back at the audience even though the frame was set on Bart. The cut back and forth was extremely abrupt. Im all for chaotic cartooning but so much was happening that I wasnt pleased.

    Im a fan of John K’s work (more so from early on) but this piece isnt on my faves list. But more power to him for getting a spot on the Simpsons! Thats a reward unto itself. I personally think Bansky’s piece was superior though. But hey opinions (disguised as information) run the Internet, do they not?

    • Iritscen

      I’m pretty sure that Homer facing away from the audience in the next shot was a fourth-wall joke (“Where is he looking? Oh yeah, the camera was that way…”).

  • Robert Schaad

    Really enjoy this…so loose and fluid. Deoesn’t matter to me at all if colors switch and/or all of the action(s), etc. Stands in such contrast to the rigidity of the Simpsons “on model designs”, which works in its favor.

  • http://www.fr33z3dry.deviantart.com Kyle W

    favorite show fuzed with a fantastic animator? it goes to show simpsons is still about cartoons and animation, family guy drowns under its shitty generic animation and mainstream humor! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001249396142 Steve “Pokey” J.Anti-Blockhead

    The familiar stock music is “Asinine” [Jack Shaindlinb; CINE6; CINEMUSIC NY; sold by APM most notably; at onew time marketed - and thus used in Hanna-Barbera and Art Clokey productions in many a TV show - by Capitol, yet was never part of their library.]

    Steve

  • http://zombarbie.blogspot.com/ Lewie

    Well, I sure didn’t see this coming since I thought John K didn’t like The Simpsons.

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    Beautifully executed… Great take on a comic icon.

    Only thing that distracted me (*in a bad way) was Marge’s walk. Could have been done a little more subtly to my taste.

    Good job!

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    Last thing.. I couldn’t help but notice how extreme (*the other direction)these personalities are.

    Homer seems = Angry
    Marge = Dumb servant
    Bart = Worm
    Lisa & Maggie = non-existant

    Maybe it would have been more effective exploiting their “actual” personalities?.. Just a thought.

    Everyone gets easily caught up in the John K’s “style” here. Nobody ever talks about animation design, married with execution critically sometimes.

    • James Ciambor

      Much appreciated Ariel. Its obvious John K was not meeting animated perfection, but today’s industry isn’t meeting much success either. Though I concur that the characters were nondescript and were poorly coordinated. I was especially surprised that for such a proficient draftsman he choose such a loose proportionally simplistic style.

      Being an ardent defender comes from the less civil group of individuals who make such sardonic comments about his work.Your comments were civil and well appreciated. There’s just a schism between myself and the ones that troll about John K not giving concrete evidence like you did.

      Though I agree with your analysis on how the characters portrayed themselves. John style kind of conflicts with the Simpson’s to a degree, this was Matt’s idea actually to mix fire with ice. It was still distinct and eclectic something that many artists lack.

  • Parmezanidész

    i was’nt disappointed, because i realised years ago that John k’s works wont get any better.

    This intro is total meaningless, doesnt have any connection with the simpson characters aside from the main look of them. John k’s style is childish, sexist, schizophrenic, garbage-positive.

    • James Ciambor

      I also realized years ago that the industries work wasn’t going to get any better either, and that this is a breath of fresh air in comparison.

      Parmez, John K may not be in his prime, but his laments on the industry on his blog are totally justified. Making such vitriolic comments against John K without concrete evidence, isn’t going to get you anywhere. Join the club of forumer’s that have been taking shots at him for years but with a fraction of his accomplishments. At least John makes logical arguments to back up his gripes.

      Firstly how could this style be chauvinist when it was partially inspired by Katie Rice? It wasn’t meaningless John K was doing exactly what Matt Groening advised him to do, break every rule of conduct on how to produce a Simpson’s cartoon. Its less restrictive than previous Couch Gag’s as a result.

      He’s deriving influence from retro rubber-hose shorts, that laid the groundwork for what Disney would do within less than a decade. Improvising different ideas and styles and finding their artistic niche within the thirties studios enabled them to rapidly progress from that period to Fantasia in 1940. Because back then it was an artists paradise for creative freedom.

      Now just to clarify I agree with Ariel that there is a couple of flaws. The personalities are nondescript and they exist simply to move and detach certain body parts, this isn’t John K’s best work, but still comes up strong in certain aspects. Though its a breath of fresh air because its distinct and more eclectic than half the crap we see in today’s industry.

      • Parmezanidész

        I don’t feel any fresh about this cartoon. John K’s style was new in the earlier ren&stimpy episodes. But it got boring because of the low story quality. I’ve seen the adult party parts too, and i watched them only because of the well drawned girls. Besides characters with twitching limbs was the top in 1930, some time passed since then.

        You can build a good argument about making such harsh and meaningless animations, but that won’t make them good. Maybe there are some very good inbetweens in this short, if you want to analyze it. Experimental art if you wish. John K broke every rule, ande made an unconsumable product,

        Come on, a fart-pillow? In the Simpson movie Bart made his father carry a load of bricks, while he was shooting at him with an air gun. How creative is a fart-pillow compared to that?

        That cartoon is empty. He should have drawn the same for Family Guy or Married with Children or House MD. Unfunny. Niceless. Primitive.

        John K. could be better if he would hire a good writer. With some sense of humour, because he lost his.

      • Josh

        The thing I would say about that is that although Bart shooting his father with an air gun while carrying a load of bricks is more complicated it’s not necessarily better. It was animated completely normal. Nothing creative about the animation at all! Even if the idea was funny.

        Keep in mind this was a Couch Gag. It’s not as if John was making a whole cartoon, it’s pretty long as is. He just took a simple idea (Marge getting Homer beer and Bart using a whoopee cushion) and animated it as creatively and with as many crazy walks and movements as possible. It was a joy to watch!

        Another thing; John is militantly against writers. He asserts the cartoonist should be the creative force.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      They way he draws little girls sure is sexist… And animation hopefuls LOVE that shit.

      I guess cause he’s got a kids’ brain. That’s neither good nor bad.

      • Josh

        Exactly what was sexist about the way he drew Lisa or Maggie? He drew them cartoony? Is that was sexism is now? Or maybe you mean Marge? She moves funny and has a big goofy smile. So what?

        And as for Johns female characters, so he likes to draw sexy women. I’d rather that than Disneys endless tirade of bland, sassy princesses

      • James Ciambor

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted."]

      • James Ciambor

        What I was trying to say in more subtle terms, is that Ariel how can this style be sexist if his primary influence is Katie Rice?

    • Jorge Garrido

      How is this sexist? Homer is a f***g a***e character, that doesn’t mean the men who animate (or voice) the character are sexist morons.

      • The Ghost Of Malibu Stacey

        Jorge, John isn’t exactly known for his varied portrayals of female characters. They’re almost always tits and ass. And that’s what Marge is reduced to here. Poor nuanced Lisa doesn’t interest him so she only moves once in the entire sequence.

      • Snagglepuss

        Homer has never raised his voice to Marge, and Marge has never been ditzy. On the other hand, her tragedy is that her marriage to Homer squashed her potential. This isn’t Marge. This is stereotypical woman #4773. Its nicely animated, but I wish I could stomach the attitudes.

  • Josh

    Man, the color choices here are wonderful! Pure eye candy!

    It’s a little jarring when you cut back to the regularly colored TV

  • Wes Archer

    LOVE IT! Watched it 9 times and laughed 9 times. Pure creativity in motion… an animated painting and some of the most exciting modern hand drawn animated cartooning I’ve seen in a long time. Great work John K. Thanks Cartoon Brew. 10 for 10…

  • Ryoku75

    The designs look fine, apart from too many zig-zag lines everywhere which make it look a bit scribbly.

    Though I bet that the animations better than whats on the show, I just can’t see it thanks to my browser acting up.

  • http://www.hobodivine.blogspot.com/ Hobo Divine

    Looks wonderful!!!

  • SpanielDayLewis

    I appreciate The Simpsons (and John K to an extent) doing something different, but honestly I just don’t think this is very good. The timing is weak and makes everything feel inconsequential. The characters look lovely but the inconsistency that John loves so much just makes them feel really lifeless.

    I get that John K hates over-written cartoons and wants to focus entirely on funny animation but this sort of animation is pointless without some kind of pacing and character behind it. It’s like trying to write a book using only the words you think sound nice.

  • Stephen Worth Worth

    Fox has posted a new YouTube video with the correct audio and deleted the old one. Search John K couch gag to find it.

  • burkiss

    John K fell away when he was booted (unfairly imho) from Ren and Stimpy. He’s done nothing of consequence since – which makes me very sad.

    This Simpsons thing is an over animated mess with no personality – and frankly without the appeal of K’s earlier work.

    Banksy did it better.

    • James Ciambor

      Frankly this flood of vitriolic comments against John K is only going to create a flamewar. I agree that the personalities were nondescript, and they were overly invested in the motion.
      I would also agree that John K lost his high profile position in the industry when he was ejected by the executives from continuing to produce Ren and Stimpy. Though he has persevered and managed to get back into the spotlight after all Cartoon Brew is a premiere publication. Some artists after having their career sabotaged by a higher power never recover John K did that and then some.

      Though seriously what has come out of the industry recently with any merit, this is a breath of fresh air by comparison. Many critics of John K are throwing stones at glass houses, and even if their in the industry have a fraction of his accomplishments. Much of today’s work is banal and produced by, delusional artists who believe they exceed the Golden Age and like John K said deride the past and don’t incorporate it to enhance their work. The best artists build from the past don’t spit on it, most of todays animated youth couldn’t tell you much about the Golden Age. That is what John K was attempting here in this opening regardless of its flaws.

  • DonaldC

    I like the individual frames.

    Altogether though, it looks like a wobbly mess. I appreciate his experimentation, but -some- consistency for inbetweens would at least let me comprehend what’s happening in one viewing.

  • aarushi

    Longest Running Scripted Series on Television is Renewed Through Season 25 FOX has renewed THE SIMPSONS, the longest-running comedy in television history, for an incredible 24th and 25th season, bringing the series total to an astonishing 559 episodes.

    http://liveoncampus.com/wire/show/3114354?user=The-Simpsons&utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=Seeding&utm_campaign=Abhishek

  • http://cartoonsof1943.blogspot.com Ted

    That’s odd; the gag includes Teddy Roosevelt on the wall; I would have thought the couch gag would be made essentially independently of the main episode. Probably not practical here with the extended length of this gag.

  • http://4eyedanimation.com JoeCorrao

    Great to see John K’s work again…this was a bit over-animated IMHO.

  • http://www.hobsonanimation.com Kevin

    I just saw the whole this on Hulu. It sort of reminded me of Ren and Stimpy’s style of work… only even weirder.

  • john

    I thought I recognized the animation style of John K.
    Ren and Stimpy was very sick and twisted and funny at times. I would’ve thought that they would’ve animated their pets Santa’s Little Helper the dog and Snowball the 2 as a Ren And Stimpy type of character. This is what I call Attatoon. How an animator uses his own unique style of animation and artwork to express himself. Remember the different animators that worked on Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, you can definately see the difference with the style of animation and the way the characters are drawn.

  • http://www.JonnyTanna.com Jonny Tanna

    I don’t get why this intro isn’t credited as the first of it’s kind and instead Banksy receives the credit?

    Banksy did not animate his intro on his own terms, yet John K did.

    Either way, I just only saw it today and had to rewind it 2 or 3 times, as it was far superior to the actual episode itself.