Artist Rights

‘Ren & Stimpy’ Creator John Kricfalusi Accused Of Harassment And Underage Sexual Abuse

Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, 62, is the subject of a detailed and highly disturbing story in Buzzfeed in which a former teenage girlfriend and a former Spumco employee detail inappropriate — and in some cases illegal — behavior.

The two main accusers in the story, Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice, discuss at length how Kricfalusi groomed and preyed upon them when they were teenagers. Both eventually were offered internships or jobs at the studio. Byrd’s relationship turned into a physical sexual relationship that lasted for a number of years; Rice’s relationship was non-physical.

Byrd described her relationship with Kricfalusi, which began when she was 16 years old, and which continued off-and-on until she was 22 years old. In emails and in-person interviews with Buzzfeed, she said, “He ruined a good bit of my childhood and my early adulthood, gave me PTSD, and forced me to change careers, putting my life 10 years or more behind,” further adding, “he is an abuser in the way that he will pull you into a relationship with him and then tell you who to be and what he wants from you. … Everybody needs to know about it.”

An attorney for Kricfalusi confirmed the relationship with Byrd to Buzzfeed, and told the website that Kricfalusi had been an alcoholic and was also diagnosed with mental illness:

“The 1990s were a time of mental and emotional fragility for Mr. Kricfalusi, especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation. For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend. Over the years John struggled with what were eventually diagnosed mental illnesses in 2008. To that point, for nearly three decades he had relied primarily on alcohol to self-medicate. Since that time he has worked feverishly on his mental health issues, and has been successful in stabilizing his life over the last decade. This achievement has allowed John the opportunity to grow and mature in ways he’d never had a chance at before.”

Rumors about Kricfalusi’s behavior have been an open secret within the animation industry for years, but many of the allegations in this article were previously unknown, including accounts of keeping child pornography on his computer.

Kricfalusi’s previous employer, Viacom-owned Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV, home of Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon), told Buzzfeed that it had never received reports of sexual harassment against Kricfalusi. Time Warner-owned Cartoon Network and Adult Swim told the website that neither network had plans to work with Kricfalusi in the future. Viacom-owned Nickelodeon, the original network that commissioned Ren & Stimpy declined to comment to Buzzfeed, and according to the website, continues to hang a portrait of Kricfalusi at their animation studio.

(Disclosure: I used to work at Spumco with both Kricfalusi and Rice, and also know Byrd.)

Latest News from Cartoon Brew