Richard GoleszowskiIf you're a nice person, you want to go see Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation; going on 27 years now, it's the legend that broke the Powerpuff Girls (in their first short, Whoopass Stew) and the guy who found Nemo. If you're less of a nice person, you want to go see Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted; beginning in 1990, it's the legend that broke Beavis & Butt-Head and South Park, and it features more puss per cel than Hustler—or at least the Hustler while Larry Flynt was born-again.
And if you're a less-nice person with arty pretensions, well, you'll want to buy the new coffee-table book.
We spoke with Spike this week to advance Sick & Twisted's arrival in Laguna Beach (Mike passed on 10 years ago from pancreatic cancer). Mostly, we did the talking.
OC Weekly: I first saw the show when I was 17 or 18. Spike: You were 17. I remember you sneaking in. You're right. I was 17. The first time I saw it, it was all kinds of underground geek hipsters—beforehipster was a bad word—and then the next time I saw it, it was all frat boys and Marines, and they were just whooping and yelling every time there was a tit onscreen, which was all the time, and you couldn't hear anything, and it was likedate rape. It washorrible. Is it still like that?
Actually, now we get a lot more couples that come, like on dates and stuff.
Not boys whooping every time there's poo?
Nooo, no, unless it's hardcore on-campus somewhere.
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That was pretty much it for the interview, except that we asked Spike to put Jean Jean and the Evil Cat(construction-paper animation about a little boy named Jean Jean, and his evil cat) back in the show, and he said he thought that was an excellent idea. Are there still lots of tits and poo and dismemberments in Sick & Twisted? Yes, there are. Which is all well and good, but it feels a bit like several years in to Married With Children . . . when Fox realized bitter Al Bundy had become a hero to the kind of young men who listened to Stern and watched Morton Downey—the kind of young men who bellow and go to the river. All of a sudden, bad things stopped happening to luckless Al; all of a sudden, he was getting statuesque strippers every time he turned around, and it was the rest of the family that was the brunt of all the jokes. All of a sudden, Al was cool. But according to the brochure, this year's Sick & Twisted has listened to the critics and contains 99 percent fewer fart jokes. Frat boy be gone.
Sick & Twisted is best when it's sick and gentle: Bambi getting stomped in the forest in Bambi Meets Godzilla. The heartbreaking encounters of sweet, blobby No Neck Joe (bullies taunt him by giving him a present; when he opens it, it's a turtleneck sweater); Joe was the freshman project of Craig McCracken, who brought out the Powerpuff Girls for his sophomore film. The tender truths from the mouths of the sweet, gentle nine-year-olds of South Park—sweet!
And now, of course, you can buy the book Outlaw Animation: Cutting-Edge Cartoons From the Spike & Mike Festivals. It's got beautiful stills from the precursor to Toy Story. It's got Beavis and Butt-Head playing Frog Baseball. It's got purty ladies and old ladies' udders and toking Donna Reeds. Maybe next year we'll get some evil cat.
SPIKE & MIKE'S SICK & TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION PLAYS AT LAEMMLE LAGUNA, 62 S. COAST HWY., LAGUNA BEACH, (949) 497-1711. MON.-FRI., 4, 6, 8 & 9:50 P.M.; SAT.-SUN., NOON, 2, 4, 6, 8 & 9:50 P.M. CALL FOR TICKET PRICES. THROUGH MARCH 25. 18+ WITH ID; OUTLAW ANIMATION: CUTTING-EDGE CARTOONS FROM THE SPIKE & MIKE FESTIVALS BY JERRY BECK; HARRY N. ABRAMS INC. PAPERBACK, 159 PAGES, $23.95.