Carol Lay’s outrageous “Pranks A Lot” consumes the lion’s share of this week’s Bart Simpson Comics. Handling art and writing duties, Lay focuses on Bart’s status as a jester. While his prank in this story doesn’t match those the scamp committed on the series (the Mooning Skinner Balloon antic, for example) his Rube Goldberg-style ruse is still worthy.
The reaction to the pranks vary. Best of all, I liked how Lay reinforced the idea that Lisa thoroughly enjoys Bart’s tomfoolery. Lay also adds a flourish of underground outré in the behavior of two Harlequin figures, reshaped of course to the Matt Groening over bitten model. Art Villanueva adds to the sinister foreshadowing by choosing two clashing colors. You know that they signal Bart’s comeuppance.
Lay’s story runs a brisk 16 pages. Bongo fills the remainder of pages with quick gag shorts and a lengthier piece.
Sergio Aragones with Villanueva conducts three pages of “Maggie’s Crib” which not only beats out comedy but also factors in Maggie’s smarts and temperament.
Mary Trainor, Mike Rote and Villanueva wring out a simple surreal joke for all its worth. Rote’s drawings are purposely repetitious, but if you’re looking for cut and paste laziness, look elsewhere. “Bart vs. Bart” is more like a film strip.
Evan Dorkin and colorist Sarah Dyer combine forces to split the team of Bart and Milhouse. While it’s unusual to see Bart’s flunky with a spine, it’s not impossible. Case in point, Milhouse displayed a dark side when he bought Bart’s soul. In this one-pager, the art sells the idea that Milhouse has just snapped, and there’s a terrific splash of artistically licensed red rage emanating in the background.
Last but certainly not least, Tony Digerolamo comes up with a funny Rod & Todd tale that starts out sweet and ends up fittingly acerbic. Artists Phil Ortiz, Rote and colorist Nathan Hamill take great pride in their visual gags: the Kool-Aid drinking enthusiasm, the bizarre yet innocent image of what their next mother might look like and the brothers’ fear that their god may not appreciate their lack of charity regarding the Simpsons.
Bart Simpson Comics is a meaty cartoon cavalcade that will please any fan of the show or readers of funny books.