Former Nickelodeon artist Eric Molinsky quit the animation industry because his heart wasn’t in it. But he still cares about the characters he drew for years—and the way fanartists are drawing them now.
It seems he doesn’t like what he sees when it comes to fans creating adult versions of the Rugrats gang—something he pointed out in a recent blog post. Now fans are speaking back, arguing that their depictions of the characters are every bit as valid as his own—even if Molinsky is speaking from a creators’ pulpit.
The conversation was sparked when Molinsky decided to contribute to a recent fanart trend of reimagining characters as older, modern versions of themselves. This trend has become a universal theme across fandoms, but Molinsky zeroed in on the fandom for his own show.
In a blog post for Studio 360, he discussed the trend of depicting ’90s cartoon characters adults and offered his own take on what the characters would look like as grownups. According to Molinsky, they’d retain their “lumpy” appearance, and basically look like, well, grown-up Rugrats:
If Molinsky had inserted his work into the larger fanart trend, fans likely would have welcomed it as an example of fans and creators interacting with each other and building off one another’s work—a kind of echo-chamber of mutual creation. You can find such symbiosis in the relationship Legend of Korra fans enjoy with show co-creator Bryan Konietzko.
But Molinsky made it clear he chafes at some fans’ artistic interpretations. He writes:
It really bugs me — not the quality of the artwork, but the interpretation. We referred to them as lumpy babies for a reason. If we ever drew the Rugrats as being too cute, our executive producer would scold us. We were supposed to emulate the style of Eastern European animators — many of whom were brought over, with their sly wit and husky voices (they took a lot of smoke breaks.) When I worked on “All Growed Up,” a made-for-TV movie where the Rugrats imagined themselves in junior high, I tried to keep the awkwardness in tact.
Here are the annoying examples of fanart Molinsky pointed to in his post: