Back in 2011, during a Twitter discussion about whether Milhouse’s design was inspired by Wonder Years actor Josh Saviano, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman dismissed that theory, mentioning Milhouse had originated from an unproduced Saturday morning cartoon Matt Groening had pitched to a network in the 80s, and his design was recycled for a Butterfinger commercial. I wrote about it at the time.
Silverman mentioned that cartoon again recently (the Wonder Years thing just won’t die!), and this time some more details have emerged.
Continue Reading →
Simpsons creator Matt Groening added yet another company to his only robust portfolio last year, a mysterious entity known as “Bapper Entertainment.” Bleeding Cool suspects he’s “getting ready to reveal” whatever this new thing is. I wouldn’t count on it, though, because making new companies seems to be something of a hobby for him. Let’s take a look at some of the other companies he’s had over the years, shall we?
Continue Reading →
Beloved cartoon character Milhouse Van Houten might have began life as part of an unsuccessful pitch for a Saturday morning cartoon.
In a discussion on Twitter last week, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman clarified some things about Milhouse’s origins, shooting down rumors he’s just a rip-off of Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years (come on dudes, he’s pretty much just Akbar/Jeff with hair and glasses). He also shared a little more behind-the-scenes information about his first appearance. It’s been known that Milhouse first appeared in a pre-series Simpsons Butterfinger commercial – in 2000, Simpsons creator Matt Groening told TV Guide he “needed to give Bart someone to talk to in the school cafeteria” – but until now it was believed he was created specifically for that commercial.
Continue Reading →
Bongo’s Bongoiest artist Sergio Aragonés, best known for his eye-straining cartoons in the margins of Mad magazine, has been given his own monthly comic book, Sergio Aragonés Funnies. Mad went quarterly two years ago, so obviously Aragonés has been left with a surplus of comics he needs to unload, and Bongo Comics has generously agreed to pick up the slack.
While Bongo is associated with Matt Groening’s properties, they have also published other titles, like Bill Morrison & Scott Gimpel’s Heroes Anonymous, Gary Panter’s Jimbo (under the short-lived Zongo Comics imprint), and Morrison’s Roswell, Little Green Men. They are also currently distributing SpongeBob SquarePants comic books, as the demise of Nickelodeon Magazine appears to have left Nickelodeon without a distribution arm. Two non-Simpsons/Futurama related comics?? IS BONGO LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A SIMPSONS-LESS FUTURE?!? Developing… [Comic Book Resources]
Yes, it’s true. For the first time ever, you will be able to buy t-shirts with Matt Groening characters on them.
How did we get here? For decades, Groening has been adamant in his refusal to merchandise his highly popular creations (outside of book collections and DVD releases). He has rejected countless offers to license his characters, turning down billions of dollars in the process. After spending years battling his syndicate, he announced his decision to end his long-running comic strip Life in Hell in 1995. Pent-up demand for officially licensed Simpsons merchandise lead to a boom in bootleg car decals featuring Bart Simpson urinating on various logos, which is now a million-dollar industry despite its questionable legality. The ever-reclusive cartoonist has made virtually no public appearances since the famous incident at the Fox network upfront presentations in 1998, when he declared money to be the root of all evil and ran out the auditorium during the announcement of Futurama.
His anti-commercial martyrdom took its toll on his personal life. After his divorce in 1999, Groening retreated to a yurt in central Oregon and cut off all ties with his close friends, including Lynda Barry, creator of the mega-popular Fox sitcom Marly’s, and Gary Panter, who took over Peanuts in 2000. After seven years in isolation, Groening re-emerged with The Mean Little Kids, a dense 16 x 21 inch 20,000-page graphic novel that bankrupted its publisher, Buenaventura Press, upon its release.
So what changed his mind? “Well, I had a lot of time to think about it,” he told The New Yorker. “I figure a few pieces of merchandise here and there couldn’t hurt, as long as I oversee all aspects of their production and donate the profits to charity. I want my signature to become synonymous with high quality and social responsibility.”
The “PLAY IN HELL” series of T-shirts will be available in Comme de Garcons stores starting next week. [On the Runway]
If you were one of the people watching The Simpsons last night (sucker), you may have noticed something a little different about the opening sequence!
The “couch gag,” if one could call it that, was storyboarded and directed by the pseudonymous Britain street artist known as Banksy, whose distinctive graffiti has shown up across the UK and the US, and whose work has been auctioned off for millions of dollars to limousine liberal luminaries like Brangelina.
Showrunner-for-life Al Jean told the New York Times he seeked out the ostensibly underground (despite having a publicist) “art terrorist” and asked him, via a series of messengers, if he’d do the opening, later receiving the storyboards without ever meeting the mystery man. Although 5% was cut out by request of Fox Broadcast & Standards, Jean insists the final product was as close as possible to Banksy’s original intention.
The response has been enormous – Banksy became a “Trending Topic” on Twitter last night (which is, like, super-important and stuff) and there are currently hundreds of news stories about it – which I’m sure makes up for the 29% decline in ratings from last week. It’s to quantify these things, but I think it’s safe to presume this will get more attention than other recent Simpsons “viral” stunts, from the godawful Ke$ha thing to the Itchy & Scratchy parody of Koyaanisqatsi (in the old days, The Simpsons usually generated buzz with actual episodes instead of context-free YouTube clips, but I guess that’s the way things are now in the New Media Landscape).
Continue Reading →