The Ren & Stimpy Show (created by John Kricfalusi, 1991)
"According to cartoonist Bill Wray, John Kricfalusi created the characters Ren and Stimpy around 1978 for "personal amusement" during his time in Sheridan College. He was inspired to create Ren by an Elliott Erwitt photograph, printed on a postcard, called ‘New York City, 1946,’ showing a sweatered chihuahua at a woman’s feet. Stimpy’s design was inspired by a Tweety Bird cartoon called A Gruesome Twosome where the cats in the animation had big noses. When Nickelodeon approached Kricfalusi, he presented three shows, among them a variety show titled Our Gang or Your Gang, with a live action host presenting different cartoons, each cartoon parodying a different genre. Ren and Stimpy were pets of one of the children in Your Gang, serving as a parody of the ‘cat and dog genre.’ Vanessa Coffey, Nickelodeon’s Vice President of Animation Production, was dissatisfied by the other projects but did like Ren and Stimpy, singling them out for their own show.
The show’s aesthetics draw on Golden Age cartoons, particularly those of Bob Clampett in the way the characters’ emotions powerfully distort their bodies. The show’s style emphasizes unique expressions, intense and specific acting, and strong character poses. One of the show’s most notable visual trademarks is the detailed paintings of gruesome close-ups, along with the blotchy ink stains that on occasion replace the standard backgrounds, ‘reminiscent of holes in reality or the vision of a person in a deep state of dementia.’ This style was developed from Clampett’s Baby Bottleneck, which features several scenes with color-cards for backgrounds. The show incorporated norms from ‘the old system in TV and radio’ where the animation would feature sponsored products to tie in with the cartoon, however in lieu of real advertisements, it featured fake commercial breaks advertising nonexistent products, most notably Log.”