Like It Or Not, The Sick And Twisted
School Of Animation Is Here To Stay

by Karl Cohen

If you think all animated cartoon stars are sweet, innocent and pure, you are not ready to experience Spike and Mike's 1999 Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, which is slowly wending its way around the U.S. Animated cartoons, like other art forms, have evolved in many different directions. While many are still as wholesome as Snow White, there are others that conservative ministers might claim are corrupting the youth of America.

This article includes a review, but is not intended to convince anyone to see or avoid the current Spike and Mike program. Instead this was written to educate and to explain this growing phenomena. The focus will be on the programs of Craig "Spike" Decker and the late Mike Gribble as they played a major role in the creation of this strange film esthetic.

The crazy world of Craig "Spike" Decker and the late Mike Gribble. © Mellow Manor Productions.

Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted film packages have been coming to town since 1990, when they first advertised "extra twisted films" at their Saturday midnight shows. In 1991 they put together their first full length program of this type of film and ran it as an evening event. Like it or not, sick and twisted animation continues to grow in popularity. It has become part of American popular culture along with the sick and twisted TV shows Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-Head, and South Park.

Spike and Mike were the first to really exploit the marketing potential of these quirky films. They gave the animators a showcase and encouraged the growth of the movement. Today Mellow Manor, the company they founded, remains the leading exhibitor of this trend.

Many animators, like John R. Dilworth, went on after debuting at Spike & Mike to create popular television series. TM & © Cartoon Network. A Time Warner Co. All Rights Reserved.

They have discovered most of the pivotal films and filmmakers of the movement including Eric Fogel (Mutilator), creator of MTV's Celebrity Death Match, and John R. Dilworth (Dirty Birdy), creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog, an animated series for the Cartoon Network.

In 1997 they exhibited the film that was later developed into the TV series South Park. Spike and Mike's biggest discovery was Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butt-Head. They commissioned the first two films that star these pathetic anti-heroes. They also showed Judge's earlier work. Spike and Mike's biggest financial mistake was giving up their rights to Beavis and Butt-Head without getting a percentage of future profits.

The 1999 Sick And Twisted Program
Having previewed the latest Spike and Mike show, I can guarantee that it contains something to offend almost every reader of this publication. Not only is most of the humor in questionable taste, many images in the collection are ugly. Some of the visuals are truly sick looking and some of the jokes are really depraved.

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