In the early Nineties, animator John Kricfalusi cemented his name in cartoon and comedy lore by creating The Ren & Stimpy Show, a Nickelodeon hit buzzing with madcap energy that featured a very excellent song about Canadian kilted yaksmen, among other deranged delights. As of late, the artist has been channeling his creativity toward a similarly over-the-top figure: Miley Cyrus. The pop star’s Bangerz tour, which launched on February 14th and runs through June, opens with an animated video developed by Kricfalusi and his collaborators. The clip features several caricaturized versions of Cyrus, her producer Mike Will Made It, a menagerie of goofy animals and a robot, plus a sequence where Cyrus punches twerking mentor/Bangerz tour dancer Amazon Ashley’s ass. Somehow, this all makes visual sense.
The collaboration’s seeds were sown when Cyrus and Bangerz tour creative director and “We Can’t Stop” video director Diane Martel saw some funny Kricfalusi-created animation loops of Hanna-Barbera characters — an origin that ties nicely into the Bangerz video’s eventual emphasis on Cyrus strutting her stuff.
Rolling Stone caught up with the 58-year-old Los Angeles-based animator to talk about getting swept up in the Miley whirlwind.
Before making the video, you met and sketched Miley Cyrus. What was that experience like?
Diane [Martel] called me up and said her and some other people involved with the tour were going to meet Miley at Chateau Marmont one night. At first, I just went out and grabbed a bunch of tabloids because her picture was all over them, so I started doing caricatures of her using the tabloids, but then I asked, “Can I meet her and just spend an hour with her or something so I can draw her in person?” You see more subtleties in real life than you do in photos. Basically, I just watched her talk to everybody and drew lots of pictures. She was really nice and very creative and all for doing the weird drawings. I drew some ideas on the spot. I did this drawing of her French-kissing a giraffe. I was real nervous [and didn't want to] offend her or anything, but she said, “Oh yeah, do that! Get that in there!”
What was your level of familiarity with her work?
Well, to tell you the truth, I’m so out of touch with modern pop culture. The only thing I know about pop culture, honestly, is from what I read in the tabloids. For some reason, I’m addicted to tabloids, and I like to draw caricatures of all these people. I know she was Hannah Montana. I’ve seen her performance at the VMA awards, so I kind of know what was going on, but I’m still listening to Cab Calloway. I still watch The Jack Benny Show and The Honeymooners.