Noise to Signal

Login disabled.

Simpsons Comics #117

Simpsons Comics #117"Simpsons Comics #117 - Sandwiches are Forever"

Publisher Bongo
Written by Ty Templeton
Pencilled by Ty Templeton
Inked by Andrew Pepoy

I can count on one hand the number of times I've bought a Simpsons comic. The first two were when I was a young lad and I was overwhelmed with the novelty of seeing american comics turn up in my local newsagents (though these were to only two that ever did) - one was Itchy and Scratchy #1, and the other was a Lisa comic. Fast forward 7 years and the next time I bought a Simpsons comic was when I needed to buy something cheap so that I was spending enough to pay on my card (Some kind of £10 minimum transaction scam) so I picked up issue #73.

4 years later, I find myself buying yet another Simpsons comic, and in this case, it wasn't impulse or necessity, but a genuine, rationalised decision that led me to it.

Well, that and the fact that Hank Scorpio was on the cover.

For those that don't remember, Hank Scorpio is one of the Simpson' greatest one-shot characters, second only to "Homer's Enemy" Frank Grimes. In his first and only appearance, Scorpio poached Homer away from the Nuclear plant, moved the entire familiy to the pseudo-utopian town he had created for his workers, and then slowly we realised he was, in fact, a maniac bent on seizing global power. A Richard Branson meets James Bond villain figure. Obviously, it didn't all work out for the Simpsons family, but at the conclusion of the episode we see in a newspaper headline that Scorpio has seized the East Coast, partially thanks to the work Homer did.

And so, his story ended. There's a worrying tendancy by the current writers, obviously fans of those episodes themselves, to dig up the characters and use the current shitty writing to ruin them entirely (the aforementioned Frank Grimes, for instance...) so it was with half-genuine interest, half-morbid curiosity that I picked up the book and flicked through it, hoping to discover whether the comic writing was as bad as the TV writing.

It was a tense moment, that's for certain, but I've discovered something wonderful. The Simpsons comic has remained about as consistent as ever. Back in the day, that meant that you were subjected to a watered-down version of the cartoon that felt as if it was missing the tone slightly. These days, of course, it means that you're getting a taste of what things were like, back when the Simpsons was in its prime. Sure, it's missing the voice acting, but each character is so accurately dialogued that it's as if you can hear them.

The plot of the issue actually falls much closer to the more overtly wacky plots of the current seasons. Homer is thrown into a Turkish jail having travelled to the country in search of, well, Turkey, but finding only arrest . While there, he meets Hank Scorpio, and together they break out, fleeing the country with the rest of the Simpson Family - and Homer's sandwich - in tow, finally making to Hank Scorpio's orbital space station when he'd building a death ray that should allow him to enslave the world.

Okay, it's perhaps not the most subtle story, but it works because a good portion of it is devoted to spoofing James Bond, as with Scorpio's previous appearance. Much like then, Scorpio is a good-natured, if maniacal, villain, bent on world domination, who praises Lisa's objections to his methods with the phrase "Aren't you adorable, we're all about to be shot as escaped prisoners and you're reciting my entry in the Wikipedia" - just one of the many nerdish references that the writing has, though if you think that's obscure, you should see the scene that literally made me stop flicking through it and add it to my buy-pile - Lisa quoting verbatim Lt. Valeris' explanation of the term sabotage from Star Trek VI. Unexplained, unimportant, and only funny if you're observant enough - that's the kind of layered writing that the Simpsons cartoon used to have. (Bart's response: "I have no idea what you're talking about.")

The dialogue in the comic is plenty quotable in itself, too, in a way the cartoon hasn't been in years:

Bart: "Can I point [the mini death-ray] at Milhouse?"
Scorpio: "I don't know what a Milhouse is, but sure."

Ty Templeton has captured excellently the feel of what made the show great back in the day. Best of all, it's actually incredibly funny, and comic timing is notoriously hard to do in comics. The last joke especially wouldn't be out of place in even the wittiest episodes of the cartoon, as Scorpio asks "How can I take over Europe with a death ray that can only destry cheese?" I think you can see where that's going, but that makes the realisation no less hilarious.

Ty Templeton, as sole writer and penciller (Adrew Pepoy inking) deserves huge amounts of credit for making the Simpsons comic more than a cheap cash-in. By its nature as a licensed comic, it's always going to exist in the shadow of the source medium, but if, like me, you used to love Simpsons and can barely stand to watch it now, it may well prove the antidote. A.

About this entry


>There's a worrying tendancy by the current writers, obviously fans of those episodes themselves, to dig up the characters and use the current shitty writing to ruin them entirely (the aforementioned Frank Grimes, for instance...)

Homer's Enemy is probably still my favorite episode, as it has been since its debut. WHAT have they done to Grimes? I know I might not want to know the answer...but I must...

By Philip J Reed, VSc
May 06, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

reply / #

They reintroduced him in the form of his literally identical "son". He's only popped up twice, both times very briefly, but that's more than enough to piss on all that was good about the original. The dialogue for his first appearance went something like:

Lisa: "This is Frank Grimes Jr."
Homer: "Hang on, Frank Grimes didn't have a son..."
Frank Grimes Jr. "He liked hookers, okay?"

The other two characters and lines might be inaccurate, but those were the sentiments. The current writers don't do themselves any favours by referencing one of the single greatest episodes of the Simpsons while they're producing some of the worst writing ever. It just underscores the difference in quality.

By James H
May 07, 2006 @ 3:52 am

reply / #

I downloaded this issue on your recommendation... and found myself really enjoying it. I've never been much of a fan of the comics, mainly because they've always felt to me like a watered-down version of the TV series. But, as you say, given the bastardisation currently calling itself the TV series, the comics can't be much worse.

And this was good stuff. I completely agree about the voices thing - Scorpio, in particular, sounded exactly like Scorpio right from his very first line. Templeton has shown a complete understanding of why the character was so great - his lines about Lisa, for example, wouldn't work if you took them as sarcasm - they have to be genuine. And the Milhouse line and the cheese bit made me laugh the most, too :-)

I'm willing to take stories like this, with the "wacky plots", if it means you get something that's at least close to the characterisation and dialogue of the original series. And the comics, on the evidence of this issue, are far closer to delivering on that score than the TV series is.

By Seb
May 07, 2006 @ 11:25 am

reply / #

Why on earth would they have reincarnated Grimes as a Jr.? That seems absurd. I've seen Grimes resurface a few times after his death (Homer found a funeral pamphlet in his pocket once...and then I think he knocked over the Grimes tombstone at some point) and honestly I was fine with that. Grimes was a great character and a quick flash of his tombstone or one of his pencils every now and then serves to immortalize him (unlike most of the one-off characters that die and are never referred to again).

But why on earth would he need to have sired a son with a prostitute? Especially if the appearances were brief. Why bother?

By Philip J Reed, VSc
May 07, 2006 @ 9:12 pm

reply / #

Do you know the Email Adress to Simpsons Comics (Titan Comics) in England?
I want to send an Email, but I don't know what it is.

By Jake 'The Cool Person'
June 18, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

reply / #

Do you know the Email Adress to Simpsons Comics (Titan Comics) in England?
I want to send an Email, but I don't know what it is.

By Jake 'The Cool Person'
June 18, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

reply / #