Funny Animation on The Simpsons

This new video posted onto YouTube showcases some of the cartoonier moments (in slo-mo) from early Simpsons episodes. According to the video creator, they were animated by David Silverman. Looking at the show today, it’s difficult to believe that the Simpsons ever featured such entertaining animation-driven moments. (Update: Part 1 was removed from YouTube due to a “copyright violation” claim by Fox, but we’ve posted the second part below which highlights more Silverman animation.)

And here is director/animator David Silverman demonstrating another of his passions: the tuba (at Burning Man no less).


  • http://thezoo.comicgenesis.com Nate Birch

    It seems only post season-10 episodes of the Simpsons are remembered anymore on in the Internet, and thus everyone’s under the impression that there’s never been decent animation in the Simpsons.

    The first 5 or 6 Halloween episodes in particularly actually featured some really nice animation by TV standards.

  • joecab

    Oh gawd I remember how I howled at that heart attack episode and the card suit bit. Hilarious! I miss their more rubbery movements, like when Bart would turn his head but his mouth would stay behind for a moment: it was a great little visual bit to punch up that syllable just enough.

  • http://anim8edstuff.blogspot.com Edward R. Cox

    Steve and his tuba reminds me of the Firehouse Five (plus 2). Great animation talent with great mucial abilities. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it tremendously!

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ PCUnfunny

    Yes The Simspsons have had funny animation. The Ulman shorts had lots of funny drawings and the series did until about season 6.

  • Grant Beaudette

    Interesting to see that about the only time the Simpsons are allowed into the dreaded realm of “off model” is the Halloween episodes where they can mess with whatever they want.

  • http://ian-j.blogspot.com Ian Jones-Quartey

    As the show went on, it definitely seems like there was a concentrated effort on removing the “weird” looking incidental characters and “off-model” drawings. As I recall, one of the DVD commentaries said that Matt Groening created rules like “Homer’s mouth should never open past the height of a sandwich he’s eating”.

    It would seem that as a side effect of character redesigns and rules, many of the interesting/funny drawings were eliminated. I can’t recall a newer episode going for broke on character animation- usually the only animation that looks tasking are camera moves, and the occasional action sequence.

  • red pill junkie

    Superb.

  • Chris Roman

    It’s sad Amid that your prejudice of the show kept you from seeing all the animation driven moments throughout the series. I know more recent years have been plagued by showrunners who frown on the animators expressing themselves, but seasons 1 through 10 had some great animation. Much of it by David himself and not done in Korea. He’s a fantastic animator. Almost all of the ‘trippy’ animation done in El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer was done by David. Plus, because the show does full layout in LA, a lot of the talented layout people get to push the models and do amazing animation-driven acting. But even when these moments were airing, you still claimed the show wasn’t worth watching for it’s animation. Shows what you know.

  • Keith Paynter

    Somebody has to say it – there’s definitely a touch of Clampett/Scribner in those images. Is that so bad?

  • http://cartooncrank.ebloggy.com/ cartooncrank

    The source of the “funny animation?” Let’s review:

    *Tooting a tuba out in the desert

    *Burning Man

    Answer: ‘SHROOMS!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > I miss their more rubbery movements, like when Bart would turn his head but his mouth would stay behind for a moment: it was a great little visual bit to punch up that syllable just enough.

    It’s been said to have been created by another animation from the Tracey Ullman days, Wes Archer. Known as the “twister-mouth”.

    I often said this before, and I would say it now, I think the best years the Simpsons ever had were its first few seasons when the animation was wild and untamed, especially in the first season. This was mostly due to the still inexperiences of the production staff and management in dealing with producing a prime-time animated show. Once all that was figured out and stuck with, the show just sorta sank to that normal level that didn’t go anywhere higher or lower, but it only worked due to the writers and less on the animators themselves, whom liked to want to stick in the real insane things like the twister-mouth, rubbery arms and sticking themselves in crowd shots.

  • http://www.karrotanimation.com Jamie Badminton

    Those first eight-ish seasons feature some wonderful, wonderful animation at times. As well as David Silverman’s sequences (awesome video by the way), Brad Bird’s Krusty scenes in shows like Black Widower, Kamp Krusty (Wimbledon scene), and especially the ‘Send in the Clowns’ number in ‘Krusty Gets Kancelled are absolutely masterful, full of imagination and bang-on timing.

    It is a shame such drawing has become discouraged, but no one can ever take away from the tight direction in the early years of the show – there is much more visual flair on display than most people give credit for; a miraculous achievement for a tv show in full production.

  • Tom Minton

    David also briefly played tuba in the Ruby-Spears storyboard house band, which made two albums that few people ever heard, the most recent about 22 years ago. There is more mystique in wandering the desert while playing the horn, however.

  • purin

    Now THAT is the “Simpsons” I remember watching! I do miss it.

  • Andre

    I dunno, I still really like the show. A halfdecent recent episode of the Simpsons is still better then any dry old live action sitcom. And the SnowWhite scene from the movie was a hilarious bit of design choice :)

  • Shmorky

    Check out season 1, episode 12 (first Sideshow Bob episode.) There’s a scene where Krusty has a heart attack. It’s my favorite funny animation that’s ever been on the Simpsons.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Check out season 1, episode 12 (first Sideshow Bob episode.) There’s a scene where Krusty has a heart attack. It’s my favorite funny animation that’s ever been on the Simpsons.

    Thank Brad Bird for that one, my favorite scene too!

  • http://randombrainwave.blogspot.com John Surname

    I laughed so hard when I first saw that, that I had to rewind and watch it again.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com/tv/funny-animation-on-the-simpsons Zoran Taylor

    If Ren & Stimpy was never created, “Treehouse of Horror IV” would be far and away the best directed, designed, staged and animated episode of any animated series ever made for television, period.

  • Zoran Taylor

    I think of The Simpsons’ animation as having essentially four periods:

    THE EARLY PERIOD (Ullman – season 2)
    In which the designs were often experimental and the poses loony and exaggerated, but let down by crudely defined models and flat, inconsistent movement. However, it showed the directors learning as they made mistakes and it has a certain charm.

    THE GOLDEN PERIOD (seasons 3-5)
    In which David Silverman, Brad Bird, Rich Moore and Jim Reardon mastered the visual vocabulary of animation like few had since the 1950′s: wacky acting, mind-bending designs, sparse use of dramatic paint and exposure effects and timing sharpened to a fine point.

    THE AUSTERE PERIOD (seasons 6-8)
    In which the loonier, more extroverted qualities of the previous three years were toned down in favour a more reserved, cinematic, but no less interesting look. Even if the animators weren’t throwing in those “Molasses Whip-Pans” (copyright owned by this author – just kidding) and making Homer go apeshit like they used to, it’s hard to deny that episodes like the gorgeously lit and staged “Bart of Darkness” or the “unusual transition user’s manual” of “22 Short Films About Springfield”, not to mention the breathtaking twilight beauty that illuminates the last five minutes of “Lisa’s Date with Density”, are outsanding. And Homer’s 3D and Hot pepper oddeseys are Silverman at his absolute best.

    THE CRAPSHOOT (season 9 – present)
    Showrunners and directors come and go, some good, some awful, most powerless against Groening and co’s appallingly conservative manifesto: “Watching The Simpsons, you forget it’s a cartoon”.

    Thank god he was wrong…at the time….