Current Reviews


Simpsons Comics #131

Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2007
By: Ray Tate

Writer: Various
Artists: Various
Publisher: Bongo

A trio of tales throws the Simpsons into the styles of other comic books. The panels and each story capture the international flavor and look of each story's nationality.

Chuck Dixon wraps the story with a framing device sadly missing Troy McClure but introducing a comic book geek host. Rather surprisingly, he doesn't lean toward the usual stereotypes fixed to comic book readers: smelly, juvenile and fat.

Dixon opens the fun with a manga that parodies Battlefield Baseball--I think that's what it's called. Dixon sends up Japanese culture through the filter of Matt Groening. The Simpsons'' cast in the story--especially Millhouse--for instance often recognizes shame in its ubiquity, and the riotous dialogue will be familiar to anybody who has sat through Japanese films having astonishingly poor sub-titles.

I've always considered Ty Templeton one of the more straightforward of writers, but great cosmos, his French take is surreal. Homer becomes a door-to-door waffle salesman, not kidding. This sets up some truly bizarre gags and an off-kilter nod to Agatha Christie great Hercule Poirot. He then insinuates from this novel parody a Bart and Lisa story within a story that mimics Tin-Tin.

Dixon returns for the final tale that imitates Mexican soap operas. The over the top histrionics of the genre fit the Simpsons cast perfectly and some changes such as a replacement for Kent Brockman are particularly inspired.

Each artist apes the conventions expected from each motif. Nina Matsumoto and Andrew Pepoy unleash the speed lines and bug eyes to fill the black and white manga. Because the Simpsons must look specific, the story here is far less homogenous than other manga. The French story bears the detail, delicateness and wide shots typically ascribed to the works, and in this story Templeton, with Pepoy and the candy-coats of Art Villanueva, dares to vary the look of the Simpsons to better mesh them to French stereotypes. The Bart-Bart story notes the dots for eyes and the cowlick that's Tin-Tin's signature. John Delaney, with Pepoy, for the Mexican story imbues certain members of the Simpsons clan with a casual sensuality and overly dramatizes shadows to compliment hammy performances. Ole!

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