Writer: Chris Yambar
Artists: Phil Oritz, Mike DeCarlo, Nathan Hamill & Art Villanueva(c)
This is a fun Simpsons summertime themed anthology of original stories. Chris Yambar contributes three, with the latter dovetailing from former. Tony Digerolamo adds four shorter tales, and Mary Trainor completes the book with a two page gag.
The Simpsons and most of Springfield attend their county fair, which was long ago established by the television series. Yambar pits Bart against Professor Frink in a classic carney trick given a scientific twist. The Professor has built a 'bot that can estimate your weight, but Bart comes up with a clever and plausible way to thwart the calculating machine.
As Yambar's plot unfolds, Oritz, DeCarlo, Hamill and Villanueva combine forces for vibrantly colored panel-packed detail and stunning spotlight moments. For instance, we get to literally see inside the Simpsons during what would be on the series a dramatic musical cue by Alf Clausen, and if this story were an episode of The Simpsons, the viewer would be stopping tape or DVD every second to catch all the sight gags serving as backdrop.
The consequences of that story play as a running gag in the second and third story by Yambar. The second story brings Lisa and Bart to a Geek Show. The geeks however turn out to be familiar residents of the strange little town. This time Bart and Lisa do not get the best of their antagonists, but Lisa has an amusing epiphany as they walk away.
Bart in the last story used up all his tickets, and in this story Homer and surprisingly Marge laugh at "The Boy" since this is pattern. Bart however decides to get even, at least with Homer. What transpires is a tour de farce calling back to the many chases Homer has conducted against Bart. The artwork piles onto Homer and instills smiles through zany visuals as much as the set up. The first story concludes at the climax of the final tale, and so ends a hilarious county fair.
Mary Trainor is up next. Her short plays on Mad Magazine, and there's an almost surreal quality in the nature of the protagonist vs. antagonist. Jason Ho's direction of the story multiplies the panels without the use of the copy and paste function. As a result the art is organic, and the incremental changes can be better appreciated. Mike Rote lends weight to Ho's pencils, and Robert Stanley chooses some complimentary night-time colors that imbue atmosphere.
The rest of the book belongs to Digerolamo. "Homer's Guide to the Beach" reads like a deranged Disney short featuring Goofy. Homer however doesn't just suffer from nature. He gives horrid, inaccurate and funny advice. Marcos Asprec, Howard Shum and Chris Ungar do a spectacular job. Their attention to what would simply be considered filler by "serious" artists gives a surprising layer of depth. Asprec for instance chooses an odd angle in one panel. Ungar layers the yellow skin with brown tan and Shum's inking forces perspective in a wide panel shot.
Digerolamo's summer reading plan for "Bart Simpson's Report on Francis Scott Key" allows for the resurfacing of one of Bart's fantasies: that of a British rock and roller from the sixties. Bart's original fantasy involved his dream incarnation being stoned out of his mind and in a complete state of disrepair. Bart's imagery in this story gives his alter-ego a more even keel and lets Oritz, DeCarlo and Stanley conceive an "old timey" version of Springfield's denizens in attractive, co-ordinated period fashions. As well, the Brits invade in the form of impresive caricatures.
The final story "Homer Beats the Heat" refers to a classic sight in the series--Homer and Bart camping out in their underwear in front of an open refrigerator. Digerolamo comes up with some fairly ingenious, idiotic and therefore characteristic, ways for Homer to fight the power. His last method is stupid and laugh out loud funny, more so because in a skewed way it works. Here Oritz and DeCarlo show off their mastery of Simpsons expressions, and Stanley brings hilarity to the multiplicity of color in the final scene.
The final story illustrated by Joey Niles, Rote and Stanley again surprises with its attentiveness. Digerolamo's script "The Last Day of Summer Vacation" gets into Bart's mind and rifles through his multiple aspects.
If you have some spare change after your comic book day haul The Simpsons Summer Shindig is worth adding to your collection. It's a forty-eight page ad-free book of superior fun and exhibits absolute toil by the artists.
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