We missed the actual anniversary, but Cartoon Brew noted that 20 years ago yesterday — August 11, 1991 marked the debut of the Nicktoons programming block, including Ren & Stimpy, perhaps the most influential cartoon of the last quarter century. Early episodes featured John K’s eccentric genius unleashed and ushered in an age of more personal, biting animation — and for a little while Happy Happy Joy Joy, Muddy Mudskipper and Log were household names, as hipsters called one another “you eediot!” and were urged not to qhiz on the electric fence. We wanted to embed this clip from “Ren’s Toothache,” the most horrible cartoon ever made, but a still will have to do.
Notoriously difficult — yet gifted as only few in any medium are — John K.. lasted only a few episodes, before the network replaced him with a newer crew that was great, but not quite as good.
Nowadays, John K. runs a fairly awesome blog where he talks about how to draw better and posts weird and wonderful stuff like this. He also talks about how great Art Lozzi, Hanna-Barbera’s influential color stylist, was — and he’s right! Art Lozzi is great!
While Ren & Stimpy — Ren! Come look at the moon! It’s BEE-OO-TI-FUL — is the dearest to our hearts, this day also marked the debuts of Rugrats and Doug:
Sadly, Nickelodeon has nothing special planned to celebrate the milestone in Nicktoons history, but the first three Nicktoons do still regularly air on TV. Doug recently began airing weeknights at 1:30am and 3:30am ET on TeenNick in the new “The ‘90s Are All That!” programming block. Rugrats still airs on Nicktoons, late-Wednesday nights from 3:30-6am ET. Rugrats also had a special return on Nickelodeon earlier this year, where it was airing every morning, but that ended after a few months. The Ren & Stimpy Show also still airs late-Friday nights from 3-6am ET on Nicktoons.
Rugrats, we have nothing to say about, but back in the day we somehow found ourselves editing Doug comics for Disney (huh?) and while trying to figure out why all the white kids were blue and green, our staff created the Wheel of Story Endings — a tool for tropes that we would dearly love to own once again.
Anyway, that was the ’90s!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.