Tagged: Simpsons

Bongo Comics, Celebrating 20 Years

Founded in 1993 to publish comics based on The Simpsons, Bongo Comics celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year at this past San Diego Comic Con. On hand to talk about their success were Bongo’s Creative Director Nathan Kane, as well as Terry Delegeane, writer Ian Boothby. and Bill Morrison. Joining them was Chip Duffy, who oversees the Sponge Bob Comics through United Plankton Pictures, to check in with everybody’s favorite damp yellow rectangle. Bongo’s current roster of titles has expanded to include the Simpsons books, Futurama, Sponge Bob Squarepants, Sergio Aragone’s Funnies and Mylo Xyloto. Bongo is a fascinating company. Outside of MAD Magazine, no other publisher is employing such a wide variety of talents. Cartoonists as varied as Jill Thompson, Geoff Darrow, and Gary Gianni have all had a go at either Simpsons or Sponge Bob.

There is no telling who or what could show up between the pages of a Bongo book, and we learned about a few upcoming surprises at the panel. As one of the first panels on the first day, the mood was brisk and jovial. The crowd was more of a small throng, mixed with the young and the old. Bill Morrison started out to announce that, based on the success of the Simpsons online comics and iphone./mobile app, Futurama was going to get the same mobile treatment. Bill was not sure of the launch date, nor was he certain on whether the content would be new or reprints. “So you have no information?” joked Nathan Kane. “There’s going to be an Ap.” Bill retorted.
A slideshow presented images from past and present Simpsons titles, including a Mad Magazine parody issue, and a 3D title featuring the Simpson’s Professor Frink. We were shown pages from a Gail Simone penned Mr. Burns story, which featured the bald baddie up to some nefarious skulduggery. Free Mr. Burns masks on sticks were available at the Con from the Bongo booth, making the evil Nuclear baron a common sight. We got a preview of this year’s upcoming Simpsons’ Tree House of Horrors book. Always a highlight, this anthology of will feature a Cthulhu story written by Len Wein with art by Dan “Nocturnals” Brereton, a rocket car tale from Bongo stalwart Tone Rodriguez and a ten page story from Doug Moench where the free beer festival Homer has been lured to might just be a murderous haunted house. Playful banter and energy was the predominant flavor amongst the panelists. A fan asked whether past, cancelled titles could ever make it back to publication. Al joked that they have no marketing strategy, and that they publish whatever, whenever.
A Simpsons Colossal Compendium was announced, a new yearly numbered Omnibus style reprint book which will feature the best of the best from main Simpsons’ titles, anthologies, seasonal specials and one-shots. Chip Duffy was then given the floor to fill all in on all things Sponge Bob. Chip showed off some pages from the incredibly talented Jacob Chabot, one of the regular artists working for Bongo. Jacob is the genius behind Dark Horse’s Mighty Skullboy Army, and is a talent worthy of MUCH wider recognition.
We saw pages from an upcoming story where Mermaid Man, Bikini Bottom’s Aquaman proxy, must do battle with a new, Namor-esque Sea King. Chip explained how they reached out to Jerry Ordway for the character design, directing him to draw a cross between Rod Stewart and DC’s Killjoy. All in attendance got to see Jerry’s designs, which had a very “Zardoz” feel. Chip announced they’d be seeing new pages from Michael T. Gilbert, Scott Roberts and more! Chip also showed off a spread from a story where Mr. Krabs fulfills a lifelong dream of becoming money, illustrated by The Dan O’Neill. Who?
One of the first, true underground comics was a parody of Mickey Mouse entitled Air Pirate Funnies. The book was fun, dirty and smart, and actually a brilliant challenge to the longstanding copyright laws as they existed. Needless to say, Dan and pals were sued almost out of human existence by Disney.
But, years later, Bongo let him draw some Sponge Bob. THAT is why Bongo stands tall amongst publishers. Safe material with risky voices, unpredictable, but always inspired, Bongo may be one of the biggest names in “Kid Friendly,” but they will thrill and surprise anybody who loves the art of comics.

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RIP Life in Hell

Matt Groening has officially ended his iconic syndicated comic strip Life in Hell.  It’ll be missed.

His last strip ran 6/15/12.

I discovered Life in Hell when I was a kid in the mid-80s as my mom would bring The Village Voice home each week, scouring the apartment listings and help wanted ads looking for a better gig. Tuesday and Wednesday nights my brother and I put aside a coupla minutes to chuckle at Binky and Bongo, Jeff and Akbar and even when it was waaaay over my head I still found it uproarious.  She even picked us up the collections (from good oole Forbidden Planet, natch) as they were released, devoured so repeatedly that we could reference dozens of panels at the drop of a hat.

We were precocious, too smart for your own damn good, wiseass kids.  To say the least.  I can easily say Life in Hell played no small part.

Forgive the length of what follows, but fellow cartoonist Ted Rall has this to say on his blog this morning, and is by far the best eulogy I’ve read so far…

My generation of altie cartoonists—artists whose work first appeared in alternative weekly newspapers like The Village Voice and SF Weekly, people like Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Ward Sutton, Carol Lay, Keith Knight—walked through the door that Matt Groening’s “Life in Hell” kicked down in the early 1980s. It’s hard to imagine how the business model that sustained alternative social-commentary and political cartooning for two decades (and is now all but dead) would have evolved had papers not discovered the power of Groening’s strip and its ability to attract readers.

Artistically and creatively, Groening was also a huge influence. His primacy of writing over art, a simple, stripped-down drawing style paired with sardonic, dark observations about life through an existential lens, multiple panels, the freeform use of interchangeable characters without continuing traits, much less story lines, were the template most of us followed.

Groening was also a mentor to many of us, generous with time, advice and blurbs, a real comics fan who still haunts comic shops and conventions. His time understandably became more restricted due to “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” yet he remained engaged, both in the comics scene and in “Life in Hell,” which has seen a quiet resurgence in relevance and energy in recent years.

Groening is modern cartooning’s rock god, a Moses who came down from the mountain (or the East Village office of the Voice) and handed us the rules we followed. Now the Voice is a rotted husk, print has abandoned cartoonists along with its readers, and digital hasn’t figured out that people really really really love to read funny pictures, not just any funny pictures, but pictures drawn by the exceptionally funny people who need to be paid to spend their time and energy thinking up funny ideas, but if people remember Groening and what he was, or someone like him comes along again, all will be well again.

Such is my love for Life in Hell that the Simpsons, Mr. Groening’s most well-known and loved creation, was the farthest thing from my mind the first opportunity I got the chance to meet the man at San Diego Comic-Con some years ago. I only wanted to thank him for the comic strips I dug so much, and to quote his own work back to him…  A line that appears in the collection “Love is Hell” and has served me well to this very day.

“Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath.  At night, the ice weasels come.”

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Our Comic Book Shelves Smell Like Comic Books

Coming next Wednesday, February 29th (helloooo Leap Year): Ralph Wiggum Comics #1!!!

In the first of Bongo Comics’ soon to be legendary Simpson Comics One-Shot Wonders, Ralph Wiggum takes center stage. In his first solo outing, Ralph has a day off of school, is left home alone, and becomes a role model to a new kid in town. Add in some short features by Sergio Aragonés and watch the chaos ensue!

A comic so good even crusty old Super Nintendo Chalmers would approve.

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Neon Genesis Family Guy

By Chris Troy

FLASH FACT: I am thrilled with any time I can get a chance to talk about toys that aren’t Batman-related on this blog (thus forever putting me at odds with Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims). DC Direct has shown me some pity and not released any new figures as of the time this article was written (although the Batman Inc. wave should be hitting shelves any day now), so this week gives me the chance to focus on some non-Super Hero stuff, which again, I am thrilled about. I think I’ll start things off with taking a look at one of the newer Figmas (by Max Factory) that FPNYC  has stocked. It’s Asuka Langley (Well, technically Shikinami Asuka Langley thanks to the slight retcon, also I don’t think this is her first Figma. Or was that Revoltech? There is a lot of Eva toys out there…) in her Test Plug Suit from Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.2 , which has been one of the best selling US anime releases on DVD/Blu-Ray this year, brought over by the fine people at FUNimation. I’ve spoken of both Eva 2.2 and it’s toys in the past (At least 2 different Mari entries come immediately to mind), so this mini-review shouldn’t come as much of a suprise to returning readers. Continue reading

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Hold it, son. Wouldn’t you rather have an exciting action figure?

KidRobot Simpsons Blind Boxes Series 2

by Alec Lewellyn

Simpsons Blind Boxes Series 2
HOLY MACARONI!   That’s what you’ll bee yelling when you feast your eyes on these HAWT Simpsons blind boxes.  This series brings it HARDCORE and OLD SKOOL with figures like Milhouse, Moe, Lenny, Carl, Herman, Patty, Selma, Otto, Doctor Nick, Hans Moleman, Groundskeeper Willie AND MORE!!!!!!!   Available in-store 10/28/2010 and shipping from FPYNC.com right now!!!

Don’t have a cow, man?  Yes have a cow, man!!!!!!!

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Take Me Out to the Holosuite

What little free time I’ve had since this past Monday has been occupied by just one thing: Baseball.

It’s one of the only forms of entertainment I enjoy more than comics, SF and other geeky stuff, and provides me with a much welcome escape… from the world of capes and spaceships and Mandalorians.

Now the new baseball season’s just three days old and as I set my fantasy rosters and pore over stats and root for The Mets and marvel at Joe Mauer’s astounding ability, I find geekdom encroaching at every turn.  How’s that?

I can’t get the frigging Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Take Me Out to the Holosuite” out of my head!  For three days now!

If you’ve not seen it I’ll briefly recap- Captain Sisko challenges an old academy classmate and rival, the Vulcan Solok, and his crew to a baseball game in the holosuites of Quark’s… Ah, just watch the clip for a brief recap.

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The Vulcans for the most part play small ball, with an emphasis on pitching, defense, and advancing the runner.  Cold, efficient, and precise.  It’s a very Japanese style of play.  They destroy the “Niners” but Sisko and company are the real “winners” because they enjoyed themselves as a team.  Awww.

Yes, the episode’s a tad canned and corny (CAN OF CORN!) and revives a number of cliches the Bad New Bears perfected twenty-two years earlier and every lovable-losers baseball film has banked on since.  But The Bad News Bears didn’t have a Klingon (Worf) playing first base, who in a round of on-field taunting, barks “Death to the opposition!”

Next Week’s Psychosis: Talkin’ Softball!

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