Celebratings 20 Years of The Simpsons

Artwork by Bill Mudron

Cartoonist Bill Mudron whipped up this piece of artwork to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series premiere of The Simpsons, which debuted December 17, 1989. The piece, “Creation of Homer,” lovingly renders key writers, directors and producers from the early years of the show. Bill’s Flickr page, linked above, has the entire image along with identifications.

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  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    Wait, this isn’t an official piece of art? Because, either way that’s very well done.

  • pheslaki

    I’m a bit disappointed there’s no Danny Elfman.

  • Kate

    I must also protest a lack of Susie Dietter, but that’s just personal bias. This looks great! :)

  • Feh.

    It would be even better if Homer was saying something along the likes of:

    “Why hast thy forsaken me for 13 years, o noble creators? That I am to languish in this pit of stale mediocrity and shark jumping eternally? I say and plead unto thee with thy most sincere of “d’oh!”, has thou no love or comfort remaining for thine own creation?!”

    To be responded with “Not as long as 3 people are still watching, Homer. Sorry.”

  • jic

    Coincidentally, it also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the last time that show was worth watching.

  • Lindsay

    I love the description for Conan O’Brien. “Current whereabouts unknown.” LOL!

    Yes, I too must agree with the nay-sayers here; that show has been on the better side of TERRIBLE for years. Just put it out of its misery already! Sheesh.

  • http://www.base14.com Tyler K.

    People forget that when the show first became popular, everyone was obsessed with Bart, not Homer.

  • Mike

    One glaring omission is Mike Scully. Don’t know why Brad Bird is there except because he’s famous now.

  • http://Heibies.deviantart.com Phil

    Being the caricatures are all of classic Simpsons staff, you should all see view this picture as what the Simpsons was, rather than getting mad about that it is now.

    Great drawing, and I will always be a Simpsons fan despite my feelings towards the new episodes.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    A tribute to the Simpsons, featuring a cherry-picked roster of its creators, is a memorial delivered too late.

    September 19, 1991 – May 18, 1997. That was the real Simpsons. The few good episodes that came before were just warming up. The few good episodes that came after were rigor mortis. That’s still a pretty good run, but every season the rancid charade drags on devalues those wonderful prime years.

    I’ll never forget the evening of September 21, 1997. “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”. It just… felt… wrong. The following season proceeded to wreck much continuity and good will. Skinner was violated. Apu was messed up. In subsequent seasons, Homer killed Flander’s wife (not as funny as it sounds) and other Simpsons DNA became horribly untangled. The show developed Alzheimer’s. It stiffened. It putrefied. The episodes of the present day evoke a beloved relative stuffed and reanimated by crude robotics. A blanket is thrown over it at night, but the stench remains. The city refuses to cart it away.

  • http://mnnn Brian

    I’m with the disappointed here. Why is it so hard for Americans to accept that good things end? If the Simpsons would have stopped itself 13 years ago, it would be this mythical work of perfection. Instead, I can’t even watch the old ones I grew up on without feeling completely disconnected from it all…. maybe it’s just me?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Put me in the old-school group as well.

  • Peter F

    The funniest thing about the bitter, jaded fans of the early Simpsons is how important it is to convince people who still enjoy the show of how wrong we are.

    I was watching The Simpsons on December 17, 1989 and I’m still there every Sunday night to watch. Are they all as good as the monorail episode? Of course not, but I hope the show never stops airing. Watching it on Sunday nights with my kids has been great.

  • http://www.comicartfans.com Colin

    No Dan Castelleneta?? WTF!?!

  • jeez

    How many other TV shows have lasted 20 years and were still as good as when they started? I’m guessing that list is pretty short… so what if the show isn’t what it used to be, let it end when it wants to end, if it needs to end there’s probably a facebook group of people petitioning for its cancellation, voice your views there! there’s only so many times i can listen to people moaning about it being rubbish. if you don’t like it then don’t watch it!

    the picture by the way is awesome! at least it’s celebrating 20 years and not tearing it down!

    awesome picture!

  • Dock Miles

    Nice tribute. All guys. Hmmm.

    I like to stick up for the first couple years because, though the show was feeling its way forward, it was at its most subversive then. Homer *choking* his kid? Marge getting blotto in public? Bart and his buddies acting the way kids actually do about treasured comic books? Homer being an obvious alcoholic and almost having an affair?

    Man, were the Flintstones ever prehistory! Those shows had some of the “drop dead, happy campers!” attitude of the best “Life in Hell” strips.

    “jeeze says:

    there’s only so many times i can listen to people moaning about it being rubbish. if you don’t like it then don’t watch it!”

    This is fine as far as it goes. But think about it — ever-multiplying crappy episodes pollute and dilute the future legacy of the show. If the ratio of junk to gems gets to be 10 to one, it will be very hard to convince a newcomer watching reruns years down the pike that “The Simpsons” was a superb TV show –

    “Eh, it’s real good sometimes. Lotta duds, though.”

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    —The funniest thing about the bitter, jaded fans of the early Simpsons is how important it is to convince people who still enjoy the show of how wrong we are—

    Ah, but we don’t need to convince you. Deep inside, you know already. It will just take you a few years to realize it.

    Re:
    —there’s only so many times i can listen to people moaning about it being rubbish. if you don’t like it then don’t watch it!—

    Sometimes it’s necessary to take a taste to see if it’s still rancid. A few weeks ago I peeked at Rednecks and Broomsticks. Yuk. I lasted six minutes.

    Even the last few TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episodes have been bad. That’s a heartbreaker. Even after the show started to stink, TREEHOUSE was good for a while…

  • http://www.billmudron.com Mudron

    Thanks for all the kind words, guys.

    Yeah, I was tempted to stick the voice talent in there (I’d rather include Alf Clausen before Danny Elfman, though, as he’s done all of the musical heavy0lifting on the show), but seeing as the writers for the first 6 seasons have always seemed to be the least appreciated part of the production staff (hundreds of anonymous Korean animators aside), I thought I’d focus on the writers of that Simpson’s “golden age”.

    Even then, there’s still a few folks I’m missing, especially Susie Dietter and Jay Kogen – maybe I’ll drop them into a revised version of this thing. Brad Bird made the cut because – despite having a lack of a writing/directing credit – his name pops up often enough on the Simpsons DVD commentaries (“that’s a Brad Bird gag”, “Brad storyboarded this whole scene here”, etc) that it’s obvious that he deserves to be included.

  • jic

    “The funniest thing about the bitter, jaded fans of the early Simpsons is how important it is to convince people who still enjoy the show of how wrong we are.”

    Actually, the first two seasons or so were pretty lame too. But there was a good, solid, five or six years there where the quality of virtually every episode was amazing, and it’s a shame they couldn’t have quit when they were ahead.

    Wasn’t there a bit of dialog in *The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular* along the lines of ‘the show will continue until it ceases to be profitable’? Turns out it wasn’t supposed to be a joke after all…

  • doop

    Well of course the Simpsons isn’t the same as when it came out. It’s been 20 years! It has morphed and changed with media and pop culture with passing time, for better or for worse. And compared to the rest of the garbage on TV animation for this decade (which is near everything) the Simpsons has held up pretty well in my opinion, even having taken a dunk in quality.

    And those of you whining about the show, I suggest taking a look at some from the latest season, particularly “Oh Brother, where Bart Thou?”, “Pranks and Greens”, and “Bart Gets a Z”. The story has been surprisingly solid for these few, with “Oh Brother” even being dare I say, touching. They’ve got an old-school feel that is a bit more character-based than before, and If I can guess anything, the show is somewhat changing in this direction, for the better. And it makes sense, I mean, they can only go up from where they’ve been for the last 9 years.

  • Dock Miles

    “Actually, the first two seasons or so were pretty lame too.”

    You know, this has certainly become the conventional wisdom. But nobody ever details how and why. (I suspect it’s simple historical amnesia. The same deplorable human shortcoming that caused Louis Armstrong and Jerry Lee Lewis to be considered “lame” for stretches of their careers. Oh, and black and white cartoons. They were “junk” for a long time, too.)

  • http://www.billmudron.com Mudron

    Anyone who has a problem with the second season of the show is an idiot. There – I said it. THE END.

  • John A

    Mudron is right. The first 13 episodes they were just laying the foundation, but by the second season they had acheived perfection.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “Anyone who has a problem with the second season of the show is an idiot. There – I said it. THE END.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I arguably love the first 2-3 seasons myself for what they had to put up with and what direction they thought of going to.

  • Thomas Dee

    I’m going to say this only once: the difference between a Brad Bird or a Matt Groening and the people who whine about them here is that instead of complaining about the work of others not being up to their “comic book guy” standards, they’re out there spending their energy and their imaginations actually CREATING something.

    Actually, the other difference is that they’re incredibly talented too. Success follows ability and hard work. Oddly enough, they don’t give out Emmys and Oscars and Harveys and Caldecotts for internet bitching.

    Come on, folks! We’re a talented bunch, I’m sure, but here even the complaining is unoriginal. Get to work and do something to make your mamas proud.

  • jic

    “You know, this has certainly become the conventional wisdom. But nobody ever details how and why.”

    Well, the joke quality and density were lower, the general writing quality was lower, the animation quality was a little cruder, and the show felt like an animated *Married With Children* knockoff (those last two really only applied to the first half of season one).

    Of course, all this stuff is just a show finding its feet; but just because it’s understandable, it doesn’t mean that the show was particularly good at that point. Now, it’s true that there is an element of hindsight to this, in that the astounding quality of later seasons does make the early episodes seem a bit worse than the really were. But I remember being more than a little underwhelmed with the show when I first saw it. Obviously not so underwhelmed that I stopped watching it, but I didn’t consider it anything special at that point (besides the novelty of it being a primetime animated series).

    And yes, the second season was much better than the first. But it was also vastly worse than the third.