MY TWO CENTS

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein; released 2018, available at HarperCollins

Feels like a Season 4 episode in that there’s a lot of funny jokes but also a lot of filler


READING DIGEST, SMARTLINE, WEB-WATCH

zombie simpsonsFor the past few years, Dead Homer Society has been the finest source of Simpsons criticism on the internet, dutifully diagnosing the symptoms of what it affectionately calls “Zombie Simpsons.” Well, now the site’s frontman Charlie Sweatpants has written a whole mini-book on the subject, Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead.

In it, he meticulously lays out not only why The Simpsons is so ridiculously bad now but also how it got that way, with charts and footnotes and stuff! The whole treatise will be parceled out chapter by chapter on the website over the next couple weeks, but if you have a Kindle you can get the whole dang thing right now for just three bucks. Do it or else a Zombie Simpson will fly into your kitchen and make a mess of your pots and pans

[Dead Homer Society]

READING DIGEST

David Foster Wallace, the celebrated author of the novel Infinite Jest and seminal anti-cruise diatribe “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” may be dead dead dead in real life, but apparently he’s still alive and kickin’ it in the Simpsons universe. Here’s a framegrab of someone who strongly resembles him in the background of the latest Simpsons episode, cleverly entitled “A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again,” as spotted by No Homers Club poster Real Melvin:

David Foster Wallace in The Simpsons

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BONGO BEAT, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post’s headline mistakenly said “atom” instead of “at them.” IN THE NEWS regrets the error.

radioactive man collectionThe most critically underrated component of the enormous Simpsons media empire is the Radioactive Man spin-off comic book series occasionally put out by creator Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics, which after 18 years is finally being collected in a deluxe hardcover anthology.

First, a little backstory. The premise of Radioactive Man is simple but ingenious: each issue was purported to be a random issue from the fictional comic book series’ nearly 50-history, satirizing different comic book eras (Golden Age, Silver Age, etc.) and all the superhero conventions and gimmicks that come with it. There was initially a six-issue run in 1994, starting with #1 (mostly consistent with what we saw of it in the Simpsons episode “Three Men and a Comic Book”) and ending with a Spawn-tastic #1000, followed by an “80 page colossal” the following year. A second run debuted in 2000, this time written by the remarkable Batton Lash, with a noticeable improvement in the artwork. Each issue also featured faux ads from the Simpsons universe and letters from readers playing along with the joke (however, the letters in the second series were all fictional; i.e. #222 features a letter from a young Marge Bouvier). Everyone at Bongo is a giant comics nerd (the first issue of Simpsons Comics is a Fantastic Four reference, for example) and Radioactive Man really let them go hog-wild, sort of like how The Critic allowed Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss do all the movie parodies they wanted.
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WRITER WATCH

mike reissClassic Simpsons writer Mike Reiss usurped current Simpsons writer Matt Selman’s Xanga page to spin a sordid tale of lies, deceit, greed, and avarice. In the cutthroat world of children’s literature, celebrities have all the advantage, while run-of-the mill schlubs like Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Mike Reiss are forced to eat bowls of tough breaks for brunch. It seems a certain “Steve Martin,” famous person and noted bluegrass musician, penned a little book titled Late for School (adapted from the song by the same name), which as M. Reiss points out, is uncannily similar to Reiss’s 2003 book, also titled Late for School:

Both tell the story of a boy facing adventure on a mad dash for school. Both are written in verse. Both have the boy jumping over a pool (it rhymes with school). The biggest difference is that my book’s final twist has the boy arriving at school right on time, and then – spoiler alert! – realizing it’s Sunday. In Steve Martin’s book, it’s Saturday.

Well, well, well. Looks like these celebrity punks who’ve been taking picture book jobs away from real Americans are finally going to get their comeuppance. Reiss is holding all the cards here. Undoubtedly, he’ll slap Martin with a lawsuit so fast his head will explode. This will be the literary theft case of the decade. This will be —

I’m not saying Steve ripped off my book, or even knew it existed. Steve Martin is a brilliant comedian, playwright and novelist. I’m thrilled that we had the exact same idea. And that I had it seven years earlier.

I… b-but…. whaaa?…. *sputters incoherently* [Techland]

READING DIGEST

Al Jean, executive producer and current showrunner:

“Nobody’s perfect,” Mr. Jean said in a telephone interview. “But I don’t think we have terrible secrets to hide.”

John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History:

The story ran in the August 2007 issue, and by the fall I’d signed on with Faber and Faber to expand the material into a book. When word of this got out, [executive producer James L.] Brooks sent a letter to every current Simpsons employee, and all the former ones he thought mattered, asking them not to speak to me. The writers’ agents sent denial after denial for interview requests and eventually stopped responding altogether. When I asked a mutual acquaintance to put in a query with Ari Emanuel, chief of the Endeavor agency (now WME Entertainment) – where many of the Simpsons writers were represented – Emanuel told my friend he couldn’t even begin to talk about it. James L. Brooks was on the warpath.

TREEHOUSE OF ERROR

In a quick review of “The Simpsons Handbook,” a how-to-draw Simpsons book that came out earlier this year, The Courier-Journal identifies the authors as voice actresses “Doris Grau and Marcia Mitzman Gaven.” One problem: Grau, voice of Lunchlady Doris, died in 1995.

To be fair, Amazon lists them as the authors as well. [courier-journal.com]