"A Tale of Two Pen-Pals"
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artists: John Costanza(p), Phyllis Novin(i), Art Villanueva(c)
In the 1990s, during the war in Bosnia, the Bridge of Mostar which united Croatian and Muslim communities in Bosnia-Hercegovina was destroyed in a mortar attack. The bridge was rebuilt by the U.N.
Chuck Dixon uses this history as the centerpiece for the plot in Simpsons Comics. As many of my faithful readers know, I am not a Dixonphile, but his tale for this issue of Simpsons Comics offers Simpsons fans everything for which they could ask.
The trigger for this off exploration of world history, which also in a way parallels the war that facilitated the destruction of the bridge, comes in the form of the continuing battle of wits between Bart and Lisa Simpson. The arena for their war this time involves an international festival at their school. Bart provides the impetus for the turning point, but if not for Lisa's determination to strike back the whole humorous tragedy may have been avoided. Fortunately for readers, Lisa succumbs.
Let the punishment fit the crime. Miss Krabapple, decides to force Bart and Lisa to participate in a pen-pal program. Mr. Dixon of course realizes that Lisa would be all for such a project, but Bart would have to be tricked into caring. This knowledge of the characters carries over to their dialogue. He nails their characterization to such an extent that you can imagine hearing the voices of the actors behind the toons.
Throughout the main plot, Dixon throws in several gags that never misfire. Milhouse's choice of sexuality once again becomes questionable. Uter gets a good line, and Chalmers dissatisfaction with Skinner comes through loud and clear.
Despite my misgivings over Chuck Dixon's writing ability, he usually can concoct a clever and funny issue of Simpsons Comics. This issue is no different, and it certainly helps when having artists such as John Costanza, Phyllis Novin and Art Villanueva who detail in the Matt Groening style a mad, mad world that grows a little nuttier thanks to the antics of Bart and Lisa Simpson.
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