Reading Digest: Groening Appreciation Edition

Groening and His Work

“The Simpsons began as the brain child of cartoonist Matt Groening, the already famous creator of such comics as Damnation, Johnny Reb, and True Murder Stories.” – Troy McClure

This week we’ve got three links to articles about Groening, two of which are tied for Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week.  First there’s an old magazine article that’s a really nice time capsule of Groening perched on the cusp of worldwide fame, and then there’s a bunch of other cartoonists celebrating the rich bastard he became.  In addition to that we’ve got some cool fan made art, some evidence that rock may indeed have achieved perfection in 1974, an inventive and specific Bart costume, and English as a second language students learning from the show.

COMMENTING NOTE: For whatever reason, WordPress has been getting bombarded with spam comments of late.  It’s been ticking up for a couple of months, but just this week the number of comments in the spam queue went from around ten each morning to several hundred.  I usually sort through them in case something legitimate got flagged, which I know has happened to a few of you, but now there’s just too many for me to do that.  If you’re having trouble getting a comment posted, please e-mail me. 


1989 Matt Groening Profile in Mother Jones – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week (A) is this old article about Groening from right before the show premiered.  There’s a ton of great stuff in there, but I particularly like this description of the opening:

In the title sequence of The Simpsons, the camera descends into an animated American Anytown, meeting the family members at the close of their working day, sort of like The Flintstones.  This is not, however, the end of a Yabba-Dabba-Doo day.  Homer finishes his shift in a nuclear plant by accidentally carrying out of a bit of glowing nuclear waste; Marge the mom waits in a checkout line while the clerk unintentionally passes baby Maggie over the electronic product-code reader; sister Lisa stops band practice cold with her free-bop sax playing; and son Bart has been kept after school, forced to write various messages on the blackboard.  I WILL NOT WASTE CHALK, he writes at the beginning of one episode, and in another, I WILL NOT INSTIGATE REVOLUTION.  Finally the family converges at home, gathering before the TV set to watch, yes, The Simpsons.

It’s neat to read someone describe that extremely familiar sequence to an audience who had never seen it.  We’ve gotten inured to it over the years, but it really was unlike any other opening at the time, so much so that it takes an entire paragraph to explain.

PICKS OF THE WEEK: To celebrate ‘Life in Hell,’ cartoonists collaborate on a gift for Groening – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week (1) is this collection of cartoons by other cartoonists celebrating Life in Hell after Groening retired it.  Some of them are damn funny.

INK2012 Day 2: When Groening met Barry – And we’ve got a nice little writeup of Groening and his old cartoonist friend Lynda Barry at a conference together.

Reverend Lovejoy on Religion – Lovejoy has some good ones, including this.

What is the best Treehouse of Horror short? – The verdict here is “The Shinning”, but there are a lot of contenders.

Day 110: Global Handwashing Day – The woman who had that sweet Surly costume a while back today has dressed up like Bart Simpson, as he appears after Laura spits in his hand.  Awesome.

Top 100 Favorite Shows of All Time – 20-11 – The show comes in at #16 on this list, but you get the feeling that it’d be higher if not for Zombie Simpsons:

I’ll start by saying I don’t often watch The Simpsons anymore, and haven’t done so for years.

So How Much Would You Pay For This? – Does the middle of this very expensive painting look like Bart Simpson?  Enh, kinda.

Starbucks gives away Simpsons’ ‘Treehouse’ – Cool:

Starbucks, which has been offering free downloads of music, ebooks and apps at its coffee shops, has started giving away the original episode of "The Simpson’s’ "Treehouse of Horror," that originally aired in 1990 on Fox.

Episode will be available as a free iTunes download as Starbucks’ in-store "Pick of the Week" through through Oct. 23, according to a store manager in New York City. The cards started appearing in Starbucks stores today across the U.S. and Canada.

That’s certainly nice of them.  I wonder how much FOX charged?  (via)

Breaking Amish…In 10 Words – They’re still not fighting back!

Obama and Romney’s Second Debate…In 10 Words – No, dear, the card question’ll be fine.

THE WORLD’S BEST JACKET – It’s debatable, but it’s hard to beat Elvis and Marilyn.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out- Unlocking Witch Marge – Apparently there’s an expansion pack for that iOS game, and this is how you get some of it.

Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact. – In support of Homer’s point, a list, rather long, of all the great rock albums that came out in 1974. 

Previewing the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets – Extended excellent usage:

One of my favorite lines from episodes of The Simpsons is when Montgomery Burns opens up a Casino in Springfield – Homer Simpson gets a job there and Marge Simpson soon becomes attached to the gambling lifestyle. At the end of the episode, Homer and Marge have a heart-to-heart about Marge’s issue.

Homer, "You have a gambling problem."

Marge, "That’s true. Will you forgive me?"

Homer, "Sure. Remember when I got caught stealing all those watches from Sears? Well, that’s nothing because you have a gambling problem. And remember when I let that escaped lunatic in the house because he was dressed like Santa Claus? Well, you have a gambling problem."

It’s a long quote, and while Homer does have an “Oh” in front of “Sure”, that’s a long quote that’s done right.  Excellent. 

My best pick-up line – Heh.

Deja Vu? – More heh, this time with jagged metal cereal.

Dying for a BBQ? – Fugu for real:

Despite the reputation, a small number of poisoning cases are recorded every year (Up to 40 cases, and very few of these are from restaurants, but rather fishermen eating their own catch) and the fatality rate is actually very low, at about 7%.  And despite the famous Simpsons episode in which Homer is told he will die from fugu poisoning, the effects would take hold and kill you quickly without the intervention of a respirator.  So, the Simpsons lied to me about fugu and Annual Gift Man, and I have yet to see Homer’s face on the box of a household cleaning product for Mr. Sparkle.  Is there no end to the lies TV will tell you?

I know it doesn’t seem possible, but I guess TV can betray you.

Day 12: A song that you want played at your wedding(or was played) – A cut off of Simpsons Sing the Blues, with YouTube.

And Now for Something Completely Different – A Simpson chess set that, sadly, got stolen.

1- I LEARNED FROM ‘THE SIMPSONS’ SERIES… – There are four of these, and they’re being reblogged by a Brazilian English language school.  Cool.

Just ‘Cause 5 – Animated .gif of Bart riding the pig from “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”.

Athletic Misadventures – Moderate usage:

There is an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa enrolls at a military school.  After a few weeks of pushups, obstacles courses, and formation drills, she finds herself intimidated by the physicality required of the students.  Lisa bemoans her situation to Bart who questions “I thought you wanted a challenge?”  Lisa responds with “Duh, a challenge I could DO.”

That is precisely how I felt yesterday attempting to complete the Flagstaff Extreme course.

Bart actually says, “I thought you came here looking for a challenge”, but the Lisa half is dead on.

Transformations 18 – Fan made crossover drawings, including one of Lisa.

Journey Through the Past: The 1990s – And finally, our old friend Philip J. Reed has written an appreciation of some 1990s cultural artifacts, including this excellent take on “22 Short Films About Springfield”:

Coming at a time when The Simpsons could genuinely do no wrong, “22 Short Films About Springfield” reads like a time-capsule today. It’s a relic — and a loving, fascinating, and clever one — of a time when Springfield was more than just a sea of caricatures and types; it was a place, fully functional in and of itself. One operating under its own logic and impossible to mistake for the real world, but real in its own way all the same.

It was nice when Springfield was a place that was real enough to be funny instead of the bottomless prop closet they have now.

4 Responses to “Reading Digest: Groening Appreciation Edition”

  1. 1 abra cadaver
    19 October 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Man, Groening will always be my hero. Through him, I found Beefheart and Boredoms at a young age and soon enough discovered people like Daniel Clowes. Oh, and he created the Simpsons and Life in Hell and that other show about the robot. Good guy.

  2. 19 October 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I. Love. That 1989 profile.

    Awesome find!

  3. 19 October 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Amish culture in 10 words: “I wish I had brought a T.V…I miss T.V!

  4. 4 ecco6t9
    20 October 2012 at 2:11 am

    There was this tweet this week from CM Punk…

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