A new and shocking profile in Buzzfeed features the #MeToo stories of two women who, when they were as young as 14, say they were sexually victimized by Kricfalusi.

(PHOTO: Kricfalusi and a 15-year-old Byrd in 1996. Via Buzzfeed.) 

Many of you might not know this about me, but between 1999 and 2009, I ran my own animation studio called "Camp Chaos." Our first breakout cartoon, "Napster Bad," was a crude satire of Metallica's lawsuit against file-sharing pioneer Napster. Its viral success turned into various gigs producing music videos as well as a string of other projects, online and off, including a short-lived cartoon series on VH1. 

Cutting to the chase, during the lifespan of my studio, I twice had the soul-crushing misfortune of bumping into a legendary animator named John Kricfalusi. 

"John K" was the creator of Ren & Stimpy on Nickelodeon and the horrifyingly bad Ren & Stimpy reboot on the now-defunct Spike network. Sometime around 2001 or 2002, as Kricfalusi was gearing up for his Spike series, I interviewed him for my first podcast; a fun and silly show about online entertainment and cartoons during the dot-com era. 

Suffice to say, Kricfalusi was a terrible interview. His answers were gruff and monosyllabic. He clearly didn't like the cut of my jib and just didn't want to be there. 

Consequently, what was supposed to be a 45 minute chat shrunk to around 15 minutes, mostly punctuated by the audible sound of my flop-sweat. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I genuinely looked up to Kricfalusi as a cartoon master, yet there he was treating me like shit for no discernible reason. 

Fast forward to 2007 when Kricfalusi threatened to sue me for, he said, "plagiarizing" his style in a work-for-hire cartoon I produced for an outside client who specifically asked for something inspired by the classic Ren & Stimpy look. Kricfalusi thought this was actionable, despite the reality that every show from Spongebob Square Pants to Cow & Chicken was inspired by his style, which, let's be honest, was borrowed from Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and other golden age cartoonists. His attack blindsided me as both baffling and destructive given that, among other things, his threatened lawsuit frightened away a potential buyer for my studio, leaving me to suffer the worst side effects of the Great Recession.

It turns out, however, I got off really easy. 

A new and shocking profile in Buzzfeed features the #MeToo stories of two women who, when they were as young as 14, say they were sexually victimized by Kricfalusi.

The first woman to step forward, Robyn Byrd, was promised a career in animation. The familiar Weinstein "casting couch" trap. You can probably guess what happened from here. Byrd first made contact with Kricfalusi when she was just 13, seeking advice on becoming an animator. By the time she was 15 or 16, it was well known in the animation world that Kricfalusi was dating her, according to the article. Buzzfeed:

She said that on the same trip, in a room with a sliding glass door that led to his pool, he touched her genitals through her pajamas as she lay frozen on a blanket he’d placed on the floor. She was 16.  

Byrd moved in with Kricfalusi around the same time -- again, age 16 -- and they engaged in a sexual relationship with the continued promise of work and success as a cartoonist in a highly competitive industry. In one particular photo included in the article, Byrd literally looks like a child, seated in a restaurant booth with Kricfalusi. 

Byrd says she ended up leaving her vocation in order "to get away from him."

There's also the story of Katie Rice, the second woman to come forward, though she claims not to have had sex with Kricfalusi, but the circumstances are eerily similar. 

Although Kricfalusi never had a physical sexual relationship with Rice, he began hitting on her when she was a minor, she said, behavior that ranged from writing her flirty letters (“I bet you’ll be up to no good. Just like me,” he wrote in 1996) to masturbating while she was on the phone. In 2000, when Rice was 18 and trying to break into animation, Kricfalusi offered her a job. Once she started working for him, Rice said, he persistently sexually harassed her.  

Apparently, Kricfalusi, while working from his LA home, would appear with his genitals hanging out of his pants when Katie and other animators arrived for work. 

[Rice] remembers several late-night phone calls during which Kricfalusi said, “Repeat after me: John’s dick slides in my puzzy” (his pronunciation of the word) while he masturbated on the other end of the line. She refused. Rice, who was naive about sex, said she didn’t realize what he was doing at first — until, all of a sudden, she did.  

Puzzy? 

Making matters worse for Kricfalusi is that his attorney basically confessed to most of what happened, but couching it in Kricfalusi's dismissal from the Ren & Stimpy show, as well as his alcoholism. 

Nevertheless, it gets worse. Apparently, both Rice and another unnamed ex-girlfriend told Buzzfeed they spotted photos of naked prepubescent girls on Kricfalusi's computer.

I don't normally issue these kinds of warnings, but the following section might be difficult to read.

[Rice] remembered one photo in particular, with a naked girl who appeared to be around 10 years old, lying on her back with her legs spread and an expression on her face that Rice described as fearful. 

Whether it was his celebrity or his alcoholism or his apparent mental illness, Kricfalusi appears to be the latest monster to be exposed for who he really is. Once again, many of us in animation were aware of his womanizing, but I, in particular, had no idea about the underage girls. 

If true, and based on the evidence cited by Buzzfeed, it looks like the women are telling the truth, Kricfalusi's career is over. He'll have to live with the consequences of his hubris and especially his predatory behavior for the rest of his bleak life. Whatever shame and regret he faces as he looks in the mirror every morning is less-than-nothing compared to the pain he inflicted upon those girls, not just victimizing them but robbing them of their childhoods in ways so many other women too sadly understand.

Kricfalusi the cartoonist could've easily resided in the Pantheon of animation gods, but he's clearly his own worst enemy, both professionally and personally. Not only will Ren & Stimpy be forever linked to these accusations, including some of the genuinely good people who helped create those cartoons, but he also had so much to offer today, in an age of generic CG awfulness. Instead, if you believe his accusers, he chose to prey on children while making enemies of his colleagues and fans, most of whom clearly weren't young enough or didn't have appealing enough bodies for him to exploit.

Rice concluded: “I’m not grateful for it. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I were a worse artist now and I didn’t have all this bullshit to deal with.” 

She's definitely not alone.

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