The PopCult Bookshelf
Spümcø Comic Book is a most unusual collection. First of all, it collects two of the terrific oversized comic books that John Kricfalusi produced during the post-Ren and Stimpy era in the mid 1990s. These are great comic books with work by Kricfalusi, Jim Smith, Vincent Waller, Mike Fontanelli, Shane Glines and Rich Pursel, and they are ridiculously valuable due to low availability.
This collection is also unusual because, unlike every other Yoe Book I’ve seen, there is no background material. There’s a three-sentence blurb on the back cover, but there’s not a word inside the book about how exactly these fascinating books came to be.
That doesn’t change the fact that you should run right out now and buy this fancy hardback. It’s the only true translation of the Spümcø animation style into comic book form, and these twisted adventures of George Liquor and Jimmy The Hapless Boy should be required reading…FOR EVERYONE!
George Liquor, of course, is the character that Nickelodeon found so repugnant that, when they fired John K from Ren and Stimpy, the hit show he created for them, they let him take George with him. Jimmy is the lovable moron who co-starred in the “I Miss You” music video with Bjork and also turned up in plush form and on some other toys over the years. He’s sort of the Spumco mascot.
I gladly plunked down my money for this volume even though I have the original comics that it collects. Those of you with very, very long memories may remember that I first started writing for the Charleston Gazette, teamed with Melanie Larch, as the “Animated Discussions” columnists. We covered and extensively interviewed John K and wrote about the entire Ren and Stimpy saga in depth, and John kindly kept us in the loop for years afterward, and even sent us copies of Comic Book.
Spümcø Comic Book was an oversized, almost tabloid-sized 64-page comic book that harkened back to the classic Dell comics of the 1950s and 60s, only filtered through the minds of the Spümcø aritsans. There are poop jokes in this book. Also beautiful women, the obliviously mysoginistic uber-patriot, George Liquor, bug fights and the legendary unpublished story “Jimmy The Drooling Numbskull in Nutty The Friendly Dump.”
That unpublished story features Jimmy with his new friend, a piece of poop, who along with a dancing, singing piece of poop that John K animated in one of the first online Flash cartoons, predates South Park and Mr. Hanky by a few years. Writing this paragraph has made me regret slightly my choice of topic for this week’s PopCult Toybox.
Needless to say, this book is a must-have for any fan of Spümcø animation, or any of the folks who have followed the path emblazoned by John K over the past twenty years. The artwork is absolutely lovely, the stories sick and funny as hell, and I’m pretty sure that this book may cure some diseases.
There has been some confusion online about these books. Some sources have their dates of publication confused. With any luck this book will set the record straight. Marvel Comics first published Spümcø Comic Book in 1995. While it was critically acclaimed, Marvel didn’t promote it, and didn’t publish a second issue. The speculation was that Marvel was under pressure from Viacom to cut off ties with John K. Viacom’s Nickelodeon had famously fired John from his creation, Ren and Stimpy, and Marvel was publishing comics based on Ren and Stimpy, as well as Viacom properties Beavis and Butthead and Mighty Mouse.
After a year in limbo, the Comic Book series resurfaced at Dark Horse for three more issues, starting over with a new “#1.” At least part of a fourth issue was drawn for Dark Horse, and that’s where the unpublished story in this collection comes from. “Nutty The Friendly Dump” is printed in black-and-white, which shows that they hadn’t gotten too far along when producing that issue.
However, this means that there are two more Dark Horse issues of Spümcø Comic Book yet to be collected, and it would be cool if this book sold well enough to merit a “Volume Two,” hopefully with some background material and more unpublished work included.
As it is, John K Presents Spümcø Comic Book is a marvel of modern cartooning, and should please fans of dark, funny comic and animation.
As a bonus for fans of Spümcø, here’s the music video John K directed, with Jimmy as a guest star, for Björk.