Loonier Toon Tales

A new dog-and-cat cartoon show gleefully violates every rule of good taste and subtlety

Producer-director John Kricfalusi examines the storyboard for a future episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Beaming with satisfaction, he congratulates the staff. "This is it," he announces. "Not a glimmer of good taste anywhere."

When the animated series debuted on Nickelodeon last August, there were only half a dozen episodes. Vice presidents at rival networks snickered. The adventures of a rabid Chihuahua and a bulbous cat? Drawn in retro '50s style, with garish backgrounds and gags based on bodily functions? Who knew that Ren and Stimpy were on the cusp of celebrity?

Kricfalusi knew. "I figured there had to be...