Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #15

Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horrors #15
by many slumming artistes
Bongo Comics 2009

Hillary Brown: Horror indeed. We meant to get this up before Halloween, but in the tradition of "Treehouse of Horror" (the TV version), we're running a bit behind, although not due to the World Series. So here's my big question, prompted by the fact that this is the first Simpsons comic I've ever read: Are they all this crappy? I was kind of looking forward to this thing. I don't buy single issues very often, but the presence of some biggish names (Sammy Harkham, Jeffrey Brown, Ben Jones) piqued my interest, and it seemed seasonal and like it might be entertaining. But it really sucks. Really really really. Anyone who has complaints about the TV show should pick up the comic and see how good the writing for the former still is (and not just by comparison). Some narratives fail slightly less than others, but they all fail. Most of it isn't even vaguely coherent, and the art doesn't make up for much. I want my five dollars back. Am I being a whiny little bitch about this?

Garrett Martin: Not at all. It's about as bad as you say it is. I vaguely remember reading a Simpsons comic years ago, and even more vaguely remember not completely hating it. Even if the comics are normally bad you'd think the Kramers Ergot crowd at least would be able to make something interesting. But yeah, nothing here is all that funny, and most of the art looks kinda half-assed. I have no idea if Kevin Huizenga, for instance, is intentionally going for an uglier, scratchier version of his normally clean Segar-like style, but even if he is it still looks tossed off. That strip, which is written by Matthew Thurber, has a solid premise, with the Simpsons kids as radical teenagers in a post-American dystopia, but somehow it winds up being neither funny or all that memorable. The only story that isn't an almost total miss is Jones' "Boo-tleg". It captures the spirit of the show, and although the art could stand to be a bit more unique, at least it's not rushed or ugly.

HB: Well, yeah. That's where I was going next. I mean, Jared's point, which I think is valid, is that the rest of the book is so half-assed and (possibly) unintentionally surreal that it mutes the impact of Jones's story. And not that that story is so great, but I don't know if you're familiar with Paper Rad's aesthetic at all. It's very much about the deliberately sloppy and ugly, whatever will hurt both your eyes and your brain the most simultaneously. I started out really hating that story too, but by the end (and it is long), it kind of won me over with its extreme horribleness and nonsense. I mean, part of the point of the Treehouse episodes is that they can break completely with what's normally the case on the show--things can change and go off the rails--but a lot of these stories maybe take that too far. What's the point of Milhouse accidentally killing a bunch of people and living in the walls of his home, which then becomes the Simpsons' home? And where does this take place in continuity? It's clearly after his mom and dad split up, but the house appears identical to the Simpsons' Evergreen Terrace dwelling. Is this my fanboy moment? I'm off to look up other reviews of this thing to see how it was received.

GM: People seem to really like this comic. I don't know if that makes us dumb or if people just slap a minimum four stars on anything Ergot-related.

I had the same "wait, what?" continuity moment when Ralph Wiggum mistook the Moleman CHUD for his departed mom. Is Mrs. Wiggum dead on the show?

What's most surprising is how this line-up of idiosyncratic art comic dudes mostly failed to create anything that resembles The Simpsons or their own styles. Proof enough right there that they took less pride and care in creating this comic than the comics blogosphere did in praising it.

HB: Uh, no she's not dead! There are numerous examples of this kind of ridiculous sloppiness in the comic, and I guess people have Harkham stars in their eyes. I have to say: this makes me way, way less likely to buy a copy of Kramer's Ergot without reading the whole thing in advance. Which presumably is not what they were going for (dissuading me from buying the nice, expensive thing that has a great reputation). People are being a bunch of dumbasses. In some ways, I want to encourage our five readers to go out and buy this book, so they can see how right we are, but really what they should do is try to steal it on the Internet, so they only have to waste time and not money or muscle energy. This is among the very worst things we have ever written about.

GM: Man, you really hate this comic! I don't like it, but I assume it's not particularly indicative of any of these artists' normal work. I hope Kevin Huizenga's strip doesn't keep you from reading Curses or Ganges, which are both fantastic. And I probably like Jeffrey Brown's thing here more than I did Little Things, although that's like picking between migraines. We should do an Ergot next, actually, just to see how different the quality level is. It has to be sizable.

HB: Well, the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. Maybe I'll borrow a copy of Ergot instead of buying it. That'll show 'em!

1 comment:

Robert said...

You guys are right. This thing was kind of a flop from front to back. There were some decent gags in there, but the whole thing never really took off. These issues are generally not terrible, though. You should hit the back-issue bins for some of those. It may help wash off the stink of this one.