Ripping Friends Controversy

The Camp Chaos gang recently produced a short clip for The Ecozone Project, a new syndicated TV show hosted by Daisy Fuentes, the model and fashion designer. The ‘webisode,’ which stars Dirk Greenhouse, is available for viewing at ecozone.tv, and it features Flash animation by the Camp Chaos team.

Amid over at Cartoon Brew posted an indictment of the work, pointing out striking similarities to John K’s The Ripping Friends series, which ran on Fox for one season back in 2001. Bob Cesca defends his studio’s work in the comments, after some pointed remarks by Stephen Worth, a Spümcø studio vet.

Camp Chaos is the same studio behind Heavy.com’s Flash-animated series Superficial Friends.

39 Comments

  1. Anonymous April 25, 2007

    Yep, truly a rip-off of the Ripping Friends.

  2. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    I don’t think this is a rip-off at all. Camp Chaos is best known for it’s spoofs of famous people and shows. They’ve been doing it since “Napster Bad,” poking fun at Metallica… and they continued it in “VH1-Illustrated,” making fun of everything from “He-Man and the Queer Eye Guys” to “Yogi-Bush” and “SpongBong HempPants.” This is clearly a spoof paying homage to John K and his style.

  3. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    I think that Amid and Stephen are hot-under-the-collar because they used to work for Spumco. It’s understandable.

    That being said… this short looks great! Especially since it’s done in Flash and I’m sure they were working with a tight deadline and budget.

  4. JumpyPants April 26, 2007

    Camp Chaos is being targeted by what appear to be some VERY bitter dudes, some of whom used to work at Spumco. It’s not too hard to read into their agenda, but I have a question: were they all over Butch Hartman and his Crimson Chin line of characters from the insanely lucrative and successful Fairly Odd Parents series? Were they all up in Hillenburg’s face over SpongeBob, especially when he became Musclebob Squarepants? The fact is, John K is an inspired creator, but he wasn’t born in a bubble. He, too, was influenced by lots of cartoonists and animators — when I first saw Spumco stuff, I seriously thought Don Adams had started an animation company. And unlike Fairly Odd Parents or Spongebob or other superhero satires with big muscles and big chins, the Dirk Greenhouse piece is obviously not about making bank, it’s about teaching regular people how to conserve energy. How is that a bad thing? How is being inspired by LOTS of other cartoonists and animators a bad thing? Did the Jack Kirby fan club tar and feather Bruce Timm? If you know anything about comic book art, you know that all the best guys back in the day were constantly borrowing from each other, expanding on each other’s ideas, being inspired by each other, etc. Read The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay. Read something other than the petty postings of guys with too many axes and not enough grindstones. And read it under the light of a CFL.

  5. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    Do me a favor, Amid Amidi and Stephen Worth; I know you’ve probably got plenty of free time on your hands. So tear yourself away from trawling the web for things that trigger the chorus of “Glory Days” to play in your head, and check out this link: http://www.hyd.uu.se/tomas/bilder/megs/MEGSRET.JPG
    After you’re done looking at the artwork of Don Simpson, tell me again about John K’s “original voice”. Because, see, here are some definitions of “original”:
    1. belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning:
    2. new; fresh; inventive; novel:
    3. arising or proceeding independently of anything else:
    Megaton Man was created by Don Simpson and first appeared in 1984. Ripping Friends appeared on Fox in 2001. Even if John K was working on Ripping Friends for 10 years, that still means he started drawing characters with an incredibly strong resemblence to Simpson’s work a full SEVEN years after Simpson. And guess what: Simpson was inspired by literally HUNDREDS of artists.
    You guys are really really sad.

  6. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    The fact of the matter is that John may have passed on this project or been booked. So, if this client wanted a John K. inspired piece: they definitely got one. It’s a fun little short and any animation studio or animator would have jumped at the chance to work in John’s style. Otherwise, the client would have found some other studio to do it.

  7. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    right. there’s a big difference between pitching/selling an original concept that’s brazenly derived from a previous thing as sooo many have, and doing a work-for-hire project that might’ve been mandated to pay homage/parody/look-similar-to something else. from what i’ve seen, cesca’s original series always have a distinctive unique style unless they’re doing a bit that deliberately satirizes super friends or spongebob or popeye or whatevah.

  8. Anonymous April 26, 2007

    Break out the pitch forks people, I think we have another live one!

    Did anyone notice the striking similaritys between CHF’s April 19th posting of FlashO’s and Ren & Stimpys various versions of kids at the breakfast table. Attack! Attack!

    The fact of the matter is that this stuff has been done, and will be done over and over again. The people who are up in arms over this are just pissed that Camp Chaos did such a good job!

  9. Anonymous April 27, 2007

    At the very least credit where credit is due to the talented dynamic duo of the Twoanimators. Their work is easy to recognize.

  10. Charlieboy April 27, 2007

    I posted this over at Cartoon Brew, but they have been doing some trimming of my posts, so, just in case, here’s the full version:

    >>Stephen Worth writes: “I’ve never heard of Don Simpson. John’s posted about the history of the Ripping Friends. They evolved out of Brik Blastoff, one of his very first pitches from the early 80s. I’ve seen the original pitch boards on that show. It’s unmistakable. A John K design is quite clearly a John K design. If you think he steals his ideas from someone else, either you have absolutely no clue about how to identify artistic style, or you’re playing games to justify ripping him off.”

    You didn’t really answer my questions, Stephen, so I’ll repeat them: Was John K at all influenced by Don Simpson?
    Is John K aware that Ripping Friends has a striking similarity to Brik Blastoff?
    And are you aware of that similarity?

    Please answer all these questions, and don’t dodge with more proclamations about John K’s originality. NOBODY is arguing that John K is a wonderfully talented artist. What I and several others are arguing is that John K is NOT THE FIRST GUY TO CREATE A BIG-CHINNED, BIG-MUSCLED SUPER-HERO PARODY! And despite all your bluster and your frankly absurd morality lessons about an entertainment industry that bears little resemblence to the one that exists on planet earth, you have yet to truly respond to this cogently made, well-documented argument, except to say that you’ve never heard of Don Simpson.

  11. Charlieboy April 27, 2007

    Sorry, I meant to say similarity to Megaton Man.

  12. Stephen Worth April 27, 2007

    Since you’ve repeated stuff from Cartoon Brew without repeating the answers to them…

    Jim Gomez (who was around for the creation of Brik Blastoff) told you that John created these characters in the early 80s. He called this EcoZone cartoon “blatant DESIGN PLAGARISM”.

    And here is my advice to Bob Cesca…

    Here is some friendly advice. If you honestly made a mistake, you should own up to it, apologize and promise not to do it again. Don’t try to justify your ripoff and try to make it out as if the person you’re ripping off is the one at fault. John pioneered Flash animation for you and inspired you to create your own career. Go make your own career. Don’t ripoff John’s. Grow a pair and become a professional.

    I’m waiting for the reply to that one.

    If you want to hear what I think of artists stealing from other artist, see my post Chaplin’s Shadow

    See ya
    Steve

  13. CharlieBoy April 27, 2007

    So you think Bob should rip-off John’s career by, what, getting fired from his own show, starting up a bitter blog wherein he takes credit for inventing cable animation, and spends way too much time waxing nostalgic about a show he did over 20 years ago? That sounds like a great career to imitate! Maybe, if Bob’s lucky, you’ll go around licking his butt, too!

  14. Anonymous April 28, 2007

    Does anyone remember The Tick? Another example of a great super hero spoof with your classic big chinned, musle bound star. I think it came out around 86.

  15. CharlieBoy April 28, 2007

    Great call on the Tick! From Wikipedia: “In 1986, 17-year-old Ben Edlund created The Tick as a mascot for the newsletter of New England Comics in Boston, where he was a customer on occasion.”
    No mention of how, exactly, a 17-year old from Boston snuck into John K’s future brain to steal an idea that John K would come up with about 14 years later (based on an idea he’d come up with, if you believe him (and why wouldn’t you believe the creator of all things animated?!?) in “the early 80s” – but which we know never saw the light of day, let alone were shown to 17-year old Ben Edlund). But don’t worry, I’m sure Stephen Worth has a really good wormhole/space-time continuum explanation that involves Ben Edlund raping John K’s brain (and doing it while wearing a Chaplin moustache, the lousy 17-year old mind rapist!). I hope when I’m as old as John K and Worth, I’m only 1/8 or so as bitter as they are.

  16. Stephen Worth April 28, 2007

    Charlieboy, you truly are desperate. Why do you care so much to go out of your way to insult people? Do you work for Camp Chaos too? It’s up to Bob now. He’s got the email address and he knows what to do.

    See ya
    Steve

  17. charlieBoy April 28, 2007

    Stephen, I care because it’s fun to see you get so upset that you end up looking like Megaton Man…I mean the Tick…I mean the Ripping Friends.

  18. CharlieBoy April 28, 2007

    Stephen, I also keep posting because I really enjoy seeing you get righteous about me “going out of my way to insult people.” I have to tell you, Steverino, that critique doesn’t mean much coming from the name caller who went out of his way to write to Cesca: “Go make your own career. Don’t ripoff John’s. Grow a pair and become a professional.” Is the line “grow a pair”, other than being an utterly lame cliche, somehow meant to not insult?

    Stephen, the simple fact is that John K did not invent bulging, big-chinned superheroes. Cesca is already on record at CartoonBrew for saying he WAS influenced by Spumco — and by LOTS of other things. As Zee recently posted over there, and I’ll repeat here because it’s spot on: “They [Camp Chaos] are using spumco in the same way John K uses old cartoons. It is the exact same thing. So someone please explain why it is OK for John K to imitate old cartoons but not ok for anyone to imitate John k? Is no one allowed to cut to a color card BG anymore? Or a close up shot that is painted with gross details? Does John K. own the rights to all toilet humor and fart jokes? I strongly urge everyone read through every entry on John K’s blog with a keen eye. Then come back and look at this eco commercial again. Stimpy has white gloved hands, I guess nobody can draw cartoons with white gloved hands anymore because John K. drew them; even though daffy duck had them and mickey mouse had them ages before.”

    I know you’ll say that Zee is wrong, and that John K wasn’t imitating old cartoons, he was “influenced” by them or creating an “homage” to them. I expect your thesaurus is well thumbed.

    Stevey, I wish my urging and the urging of so many others here and at CartoonBrew could convince you that John K’s style didn’t come out of a vacuum. It didn’t. Nobody’s does. Sorry. I also wish you could see that there are lots of things in that eco cartoon that are like things other than Spumco. I wish you could see how you go out of your way to insult people. But I have a feeling all my wishes will amount to naught, and that if you do go out of your way to write back, it will only be to call me names like “desperate” and tell me to “grow a pair.”

    But don’t worry, Steve-o, I’m not going to tell you to grow a pair of anything.

  19. Anonymous April 28, 2007

    Stephen, not everyone who doesn’t share your opinion about this short can work for Bob.

    Some of us just see it as a parody.

    Parody (From Wikipedia)
    In contemporary usage, a parody is a work that imitates another work in order to ridicule, ironically comment on, or poke some affectionate fun at the work itself, the subject of the work, the author or fictional voice of the parody, or another subject.

  20. Stephen Worth April 28, 2007

    I can clearly see parody in Mad Magazine’s “Super Duper-Man” and “Ping Pong”. It’s there in “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” as well. The Log Commercial and Powdered Toast Man are definitely parodies.

    Would you please explain to me what part of this “pokes fun at” or “ridicules” the Ripping Friends? Bob Cesca made it pretty clear in his comments at Cartoon Brew that he was “referencing” the Ripping Friends, not making fun of it. He admitted that he “referenced” the Ripping Friends because his clients wouldn’t accept his own designs. That isn’t parody.

    Plagiarize \’pla-je-,riz also j – -\ vb -rized; -riz·ing vt [plagiary] : to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (a created production) without crediting the source vi: to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

    It isn’t out of line to suggest an admission, apology and promise not to do it again.

    See ya
    Steve

  21. Pete Edberg April 29, 2007

    Has anyone on either side of this silliness mentioned that this video is a way to help people conserve energy and combat global warming? I mean, isn’t that more important than all this talk about who inspired what, as if it could even ever be traced in a linear fashion? I never saw Ripping Friends until I read about it on this site. I watched some clips, and I can see some resemblence to this eco-toon, but it looks like a different character and a different show. And from what the non-Spumco employees are saying here, my assessment is correct. But, honsetly, does it really matter? The guys who made this or paid for it to be made are actually doing something good for the world.

  22. Reality Czech April 29, 2007

    Seriously, dude, Steve Worth needs to take a time out and install some CFLs or something. Dude up above said it right: this look is way bigger than John K, and people have been doing it for years before and years after, and they’re gonna keep it up. Check out a global warming blog, man.

  23. Edward Elrich April 29, 2007

    Who first invented the anime chick? Or the anime dude? Typical white man bs to be having this pissing match about stuff that’s a hundred years old anyway. You white American guys are bitching about your stuff that less than 10% of the world even gives a crap about. Even really inspired American animation (Pixar) that’s really successful (Pixar) is inferior to Japanese stuff, I’m sorry, but it’s true. I checked out Steven Worth’s “International” animated film society site, and where the hell is Miyazaki? Or anybody from Japan or anywhere outside America. That’s way lame. And yeah, all that stuff about global warming is true, too. But Pete Edberg, you’re talking to a wall — maybe if Steven Worth invented hybrid cars he’d care what you say.

  24. The GagaMan(n) April 29, 2007

    Bigged chinned, super hero parodies have been around for decades, and no one really knows where they came from, they’re just a pretty common spoof type. John K didn’t invent that by any means.

    I’m a bit more concerned about the face of the girl in that Eco Film, which looks very much like a poor imitation of John K (or one of his favorite girl artists) girl art, but again, I’m guessing that’s what the studio asked for. *shrug*

  25. Stephen Worth April 29, 2007

    This isn’t about the client’s cause or the site I create. It’s not about superhero shows that inspired John K either. It’s about one artist directly repurposing the work of another artist without paying a license fee, giving credit or getting permission. Bob Cesca admitted at Cartoon Brew that his own designs were unsalable, so he used The Ripping Friends.

    Camp Chaos took this project on as a paying gig. They’ve been paid. How much of that money is going to go to the person who designed, gagged out and posed their short for them?

    Fans can go on about what they think *in theory*, but to an artist, this is an everyday practical issue. If you don’t respect artists’ rights yourself, how can you expect others to honor your own work. What goes around comes around. industry pros are seeing what’s going on here. And we all know that they aren’t the ones posting the lists of big chins and how great being green is. Reputations count.

    Still waiting for Bob Cesca to do the right thing…

    See ya
    Steve

  26. Anonymous April 29, 2007

    Hate to break it to you Stephen, but you’re going to be waiting a pretty long time if you expect some kind of apology from Bob, nor do you deserve one. Bob was asked to deliver a product in a certain style, and delivered. I don’t see him saying, “Look at this brilliant new style I came up with all by my self!” No one is discrediting John K’s work, or any of the other influences there were for this spot.
    Industry pros could care less about your whining on some blog.

  27. Heather April 30, 2007

    As an “industry pro,” I can tell you without a doubt that anonymous above is right, and that Stephen Worth has an inflated opinion of himself, to say the least, and expecting an apology is absurd. Among “industry pros”, John K’s reputation is not what I would call sterling, nor is Mr. Worth’s. But, of course, at the end of the day, it’s all about money.

  28. Anonymous April 30, 2007

    I’ve done some research on the studio that created this short, Camp Chaos. Here’s what I’ve found…

    It seems like they’ve been around on the internet for a very long time. The first real info I found on them was a spoof they did called “Napster Bad,” which is a short that pokes fun at the musical group “Metallica.” They also had an animated sketch comedy show which aired on VH1 called “VH1-Illustrated”, which basically makes fun of celebrities and pop culture. In the show they parody different drawing styles like, Hanna-Barbera, Anime, SpongeBob, etc. (This is no different than shows like Comedy Centrals “Drawn Together” or SNL’s “Ambiguously Gay Duo.”)

    They do some very good Flash work and it seems that they have built their reputation on doing spoofs and parodies.

    I truly believe this was supposed to be a spoof and that they had no ill intentions. Ren and Stimpy first aired something like 20 years ago and the Spumco style is now considered a classic. That opens it up to both inspire and be spoofed and copied by other artists.

    Stephen, I think you are just too close to John K to truly be objective. There is no plagiarism or copyright infringement going on here. If their were, you can bet John would have called his lawyer the first time he saw this short and a “cease and desist” order would have been issued.

    Lets face it…You know you’ve made it BIG when somebody spoofs you!

  29. Stephen Worth April 30, 2007

    The situation here is very clear. There weren’t “influences” involved. This was an unattributed, unlicensed ripoff. It’s no different than using Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck in an ad without the permission of Warner Bros or Disney. The only difference is that it’s an independent artist ripping off another independent artist, not a major studio.

    The ball is in Bob’s court. Let’s see what he has to say.

    As for the “industry professionals” who post anonymously or under unlinked first names, I really couldn’t care less what you say about my reputation. You’re either afraid or ashamed to put your name behind what you say. I’m using my own name and my own account, and anyone interested can click through to see who I am. I’m proud of my career and the things I’ve accomplished.

    I know Bob Cesca is a professional. He’s got the opportunity here to act like one. He can end this anytime he wants.

    See ya
    Steve

  30. chunkymonkey April 30, 2007

    If you’re waiting for Bob to install CFLs, I think he’s on it, broseph.

  31. Anonymous April 30, 2007

    As for the “industry professionals” who post anonymously or under unlinked first names, I really couldn’t care less what you say about my reputation.

    You obviously care a great deal otherwise you wouldn’t keep trying to justify your bias opinion.

  32. Anonymous April 30, 2007

    I posted the following comments to CHF earlier today. I also tried to post them to “Cartoon Brew” twice, but they will NOT post it. It’s obvious that Stephen and Amid are afraid it will influence the “Brew” readers. It’s ashame they feel they have to silence people to win their arguments.

    I’ve done some research on the studio that created this short, Camp Chaos. Here’s what I’ve found…

    It seems like they’ve been around on the internet for a very long time. The first real info I found on them was a spoof they did called “Napster Bad,” which is a short that pokes fun at the musical group “Metallica.” They also had an animated sketch comedy show which aired on VH1 called “VH1-Illustrated”, which basically makes fun of celebrities and pop culture. In the show they parody different drawing styles like, Hanna-Barbera, Anime, SpongeBob, etc. (This is no different than shows like Comedy Centrals “Drawn Together” or SNL’s “Ambiguously Gay Duo.”)

    They do some very good Flash work and it seems that they have built their reputation on doing spoofs and parodies.

    I truly believe this was supposed to be a spoof and that they had no ill intentions. Ren and Stimpy first aired something like 20 years ago and the Spumco style is now considered a classic. That opens it up to both inspire and be spoofed and copied by other artists.

    Stephen, I think you are just too close to John K to truly be objective. There is no plagiarism or copyright infringement going on here. If their were, you can bet John would have called his lawyer the first time he saw this short and a “cease and desist” order would have been issued.

    Lets face it…You know you’ve made it BIG when somebody spoofs you!

  33. Anonymous April 30, 2007

    Sorry Stephen, I see it was finally posted.

  34. Floyd Bishop April 30, 2007

    Stephen, your posts are getting ridiculous now. It’s not like Bob and crew traced John K’s stuff. Let John fight his own battles. He’s a big boy, and hasn’t mentioned this piece anywhere online (that I could find). Bob doesn’t owe you or anyone else an apology. If anything, this should be between Bob and John. Quit the personal attacks and move on with things. It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.

  35. Heather April 30, 2007

    Mr. Worth: I am an industry professional, in that I make my living in the entertainment industry. Just because I don’t want to post my email address doesn’t mean I’m hiding. It means I don’t want to be bothered by you or people like you. For full disclosure, I know Bob Cesca and am a fan of his work, though I have never had the opportunity to actually work with him. But I know him as a pro and a man of ethics. Your argument, as many others have pointed out, is absurd.

  36. JoeyCee May 4, 2007

    Either way it’s nice to see spirited debate over animation…my 2cents…inspired by surely…ripping off nope

  37. Aaron Simpson May 22, 2007

    If this is “spirited,” I’d hate to see “angry.”

    I just spotted a quote on animated-news.com. Eric Idle, the Monty Python vet, is angry at the Shrek 3 producers over what he sees as joke theft. His response to claims that this might be ‘homage’ was this: “Do you think if I stole your wallet that’d be an homage to your money?”

Trackbacks for this post

  1. [...] week or two ago, I was taking part in a discussion on the Cold Hard Flash blog about ripping off other artists’ work. One of the people discussing the subject brought up the concept of parody, but seemed to have no [...]

  2. [...] week or two ago, I was taking part in a discussion on the Cold Hard Flash blog about ripping off other artists’ work. One of the people discussing the subject brought up the concept of parody, but seemed to have no [...]

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