Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #13



Bongo Comics


It's that time of the year again. Kids start preparing their costumes, neighbours stack up on candy, Steve Niles is in a cheery mood and B-horror movies are suddenly cool again (but did they ever really stop?)

It's also time for Bongo Comics' traditional Treehouse of Horror anthology. I approach these books with the thought 'if you're only going to buy one Simpsons comic this year, this is the one you really want'. Because, you know, i do only buy one a year, and this is the one.

ToH stands out from the rest of the Bongo line, not just because of the horror theme (which honestly, leaves me cold at this point), but due to the amount of diverse talent it attracts from mainstream writers, and artists not normally associated with the franchise and the creative liberty they're allowed. In Halloween, anything goes, and these creators aren't forced to follow any style guides; instead, they're given free reign to reinterpret the Springfield population in their own artistic voice.

This year's stories in brief:


Writers: Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan

Artist: Hilary Barta

The star of Mr Show writes the Simpsons take on Jaws, with the town terrorised by the gnashing and mashing horror antiques of a giant three-eyed fish monster. Classy and classic. Hilary Barta wows and dazzles on the art, picking up the traditional style guides and making sweet love to them with his trademark heavy inks and textured finished look (did that sound dirty? yum). The panels are all filled to the brim with secondary characters and little hidden gags, you'll still be picking up new stuff by the third time you're reading the issue.



Writer: Patton Oswalt
Artist: Jason Ho w. Mike Rote

The comedian and voice actor behind the uber-successful Ratatouille gives his best shot on this love song to the Simpsons' supporting characters, as Lenny discovers a discarded pair of magic sunglasses which allow him to see 'under the ink & color', at the raw pencil and breakdown stages of the comic book, complete with writer's guidelines on the characters scribbled around the pencil figures. How does a B-rate supporting character in a comic react when he discovers he is a B-rate supporting character, while the blubbering factory idiot picking his nose in the corner is the real star of the show?

The premise is strong and potentially brilliant, but Oswalt shows his complete lack of experience as a comic book writer in the execution; the pacing suffers as the team goes for comedic effect but misses its timing in every single beat. I'm hoping someone else picks up on this day and produces a full length issue. Mr Morrison sir?



Writer: Ian Boothby & Pia Guerra
Artist: Pia Guerra w. Terry Austin

The husband-wife creative team of Boothby and Guerra provide the big hit of the issue. Boothby is of course the monthly writer of most of Bongo's line, while Guerra has made a name for herself co-creating Y THE LAST MAN for Vertigo. Here unfortunately she doesn't stray too far from the style sheets, but her talent still shines through on the pacing and panel setups.

Comic Book Guy has lucked down on a collection of cursed movie props through an eBuy auction; anyone who touches the props gets transported and trapped into the movie they came from. Yup, just a cheesy set-up plot to allow a hilarious string of movie parodies starring the Simpsons family, one of the show's greatest strengths.

See Groundskeeper Willy in X-Men, Krusty the clown in Jurrasic Park, Moe's bar patrons as the Ghostbusters. And that's all in three panels, before the real fun begins:

Lisa gets drafted as the newest Vampire Slayer, enjoying the attentions of a simpsonized Sunnydale. Bart swaps yellow paw for chainsaw in Evil Dead. And for the piece de resistance, Homer follows in the footsteps ofAnakin Skywalker through Star Wars Episode III to become Darth Vader! (Check this week's Darth Homer Panel of the Week voting for more fun)



Writer: Thomas Lennon
Artist: Tone Rodriguez w. Andrew Pepoy

Thomas Lennon is the genius behind such movie classics like Herbie fully loaded, the american Taxi adaptation, the Pacifier and Night At the Museum (insert "-sic-" where appropriate). Imagine my lack of surprise at his credits list after finishing this disappointing story. Mr Burns enlists Bart Simpson for a trip to the Amazon to retrieve the Pygmy Elixir of youth. Not much in the way of funny apart from a couple of slapstick gags. Tone Rodriguez is an unknown to me, but he impresses with his take on the demented Savage Bart-clone Pygmies and his daring layouts.



surly hack said...

Glad you liked "Gnaws". Thanks for the kind words. I love playing in the Simpsons sandbox--unless Ralphie was in there first. Yuck.

That Sea Captain gag would've been just a tad funnier if they had turned that thong line-art into a lighter skin tone, thus rendering Cap completely naked! Believe it or not, that's the kind of crazy stuff I ask for it in my color notes.


Manolis Vamvounis said...

wow, what a pleasant surprise! im a great fan Jilary, glad to see u on here~ :)