Bill Plympton Animates “The Simpsons” Opening

Quintessential New York indie animator Bill Plympton animated tonight’s opening of The Simpsons. If you saw the piece, share your thoughts in the comments. And if you haven’t seen it, it’s now online:

(Thanks, Mike Stanfill for sharing the link to the segment.)


  • Rohit Iyer

    [Comment removed by editors. This talkback is not a general comment thread about The Simpsons. It's for those who wish to discuss Bill Plympton's opening title sequence.]

  • http://beesbuzz.biz/ fluffy

    It just showed here on the Pacific coast. It made about as much sense as any other Plympton bit – and it was hilarious. The animation was in kind of a weird middle ground between Plympton’s ultra-rough sketchiness and overly-smooth computer assisted motion effects, though.

  • http://www.youtube.com/2MKcreations Matthew Koh

    First John K, now Bill Plympton? Who’s next?

    • Chris

      Perhaps Don Hertzfeldt? (This is only speculation.)

      • http://oye-studios.daportfolio.com Seni

        Oh good Lord, I’d LOVE to see that!

      • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

        Michael Kupperman, though he’s not really an animator.

    • Dan Kyder

      Hopefully this becomes a regular thing and they can find a few more to do these segments

      Personally would love to see something by Anthony Francisco Schepperd, Jessica Borutski or Micheal Gagne. Something really crazy

      • http://www.skwigly.co.uk Steve Henderson

        My vote (if anyone is listening) is for Andreas Hykade!

      • Mattias Mälk

        I’d be thrilled if the aforementioned would do couch gags, but might I add Priit Pärn for some extra Eastern European crazyness? :D

      • wever

        Any Disney animator not currently working there, like Tony Bancroft.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I was thinking of Priit Pärn too! They need to bring in people like him on these things.

    • Toonio

      Ralph Bakshi. He has been referenced on the show so many times is fair for him to get a chance to payback.

    • http://platynews.deviantart.com Platy
    • m(_ _)m

      Merwan Chabane should get to take a shot at it next. Although, really I’d love to see any of these previously named artists do it as well.

  • feep

    There’s a preview here at the moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVYL52Ij3Sg

    I’m happy the Simpsons team is willing to let some animators take a stab at the couch gag opening, it really gives it new life. I wish they had a bit more of this mentality with pushing the drawings on the show, the way they used to be it’s heyday.

  • Mike

    I managed to watch it just by chance. Had no idea what was going on. I thought: ‘Hey, The Simpsons have somehow reverted to their clever, charming, interesting yet crudely animated selves from the late ’80s. Awesome, man!’

    Then the opening ended and the actual episode started. I watched for 5 minutes, let out a big sigh, and turned the channel.

    But Plympton’s sequence was excellent!
    Proof positive why indie animators rock!

  • http://farleftside.com Mike Stanfill

    The entire segment can be found here:

    http://youtu.be/EFbdcObHHSU

    And it’s hilarious! Good old Bill!

  • Mapache

    [Comment removed by editors. This talkback is not a general comment thread about The Simpsons. It's for those who wish to discuss Bill Plympton's opening title sequence.]

  • Mike

    First time I’ve laughed at the Simpsons in years. Great stuff–bravo Mr. Plympton!

  • http://midnightheist.deviantart.com/ Scott

    He wrote it as well I assume?
    That busker gag was pretty good. :)

  • Mesterius

    BRIALLIANT!

    Someone, somewhere will probably be shocked by this, but I liked this a lot more than John K’s intro.

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

      Yeah, me too.

      I love these “guest animator” couch gags. I hope it becomes a regular thing.

    • http://whataboutthad.com Thad

      Sexually off-the-wall, very funny, and slickly drawn – the typical Plymptoon, in other words. I love it. I’m waiting for the extensive interview with Bill about how he changed the universe with this Simpsons opening. ;-)

  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    The people who would be shocked by this have forgotten how Simpsons t-shirts were banned in the early 90s (“Underachiever and Proud of It.”). I loved this intro. The bit with the couch on the stripper pole was hilarious.

    I’m sort of a snob, though, because one of the thoughts I had was “this is pearls before swine”–as if I’m not one of the swine watching The Simpsons too.

  • http://www.toasterguy.com Aaron

    Really well done – funny and with a sense of charm and warmth. Things that once characterized the show. However the opening sequence had the unfortunate side-effect of making the show that followed seem drab and uninteresting…

  • philippe

    Great short film! i wish the animated series could integrate real visions instead of trying every episode to “look the same” and “to move the same”, vaguely based on one artist’s vision (generaly only for the pilote) and relying a sacred “bible”. Let animation artists express themselves, they are not just script illustrators.
    Great short film!

  • http://www.dfdean.com David D

    I couldn’t help thinking about “Crac”!

  • Miles

    I honestly liked John K’s intro better, but this is still pretty fantastic.

    • Funkybat

      While I appreciate John K’s draftsmanship more than the sketchy/earthy look of Plymptoons, Plympton’s intro was far more funny and entertaining to me. The “pregnant couch” was my favorite gag.

      John K’s stuff the past few years has gravitated toward some kind of postmodern abstract art more than “funny cartoon.” I like that Plympton does some pretty “out there” concepts, but the films themselves still work as much on the “funny cartoon” level as they do on the “fine art” level.

  • christy

    wow i hope they do more of these with more animators! maybe david o’riley???

  • Bob Harper

    I would watch the Simpsons religiously again if Bill animated the episodes. Awesome job!!!

  • JMatte

    Like a lot of people have said previously, this great opening segment made the rest of the show seem bland by comparison.
    Great, fun work by Bill!

    • John A

      I agree, Plympton needs to direct an entire episode, Maybe even an entirely new Simpsons feature film.

  • Glowworm

    That was awesome. I thought it was rather cute and funny.

  • http://www.ulimeyer.com Uli Meyer

    Oooh, I’d love to do one in Ronald Searle style. Where do I apply? :-)

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

      Okay, who do we send the petition to get Meyer to do the couch opening?

  • dbenson

    “5¢ to sit” — For some reason that killed me.

    Nice to imagine a series where each week they just hand the whole show to a different animator or team, keeping only the central characters and a few ground rules. A little like “Anijam,” but with whole episodes instead of single gags.

  • Jenny Lerew

    I just loved that. Kudos to Bill!

  • http://www.cabongstudios.com.br Fabio Vianna

    Great job!
    That was really a COUCH gag!

  • http://909pop.com Mike Scott

    Tim & Eric? Jokes. My favourite would be David O’Reilly. Or Pen Ward.

  • Robert Schaad

    I’d like to see the “couch gag” done in the style/animation of R.O. Blechman, Bruno Bozzetto and Gary Panter.

    • Robert Schaad

      ps…Congrats, Bill!!

  • Scarabim

    Okay, I’ll be the fly in the ointment: Why are people here raving about this? I thought it looked scribbly and amateurish-looking. Its popularity here is as mystifying to me as all the raves about that horrible John K. opening.

    P.S. I bet your average viewer had the same reaction to it as I did. Most people don’t want to see badly-drawn, badly-animated cartoons. They don’t dig the aesthetic. While I also think the Simpsons’ current animation has gotten a little static and bland, at least it’s fun to look at, and the character design is solid (some might say TOO solid, but, you know) and the characters remain appealing. What “The Simpsons” needs is not off-the-wall animation styling, but better scripts. Granted, the characters have done just about everything (SIMPSONS DID IT!), so it’s gotta be hard for a writer to come up with something new, but the dialogue at least could be a bit punchier. At least the show hasn’t lowered itself to doing parodies every week; that’s the usual fate of shows whose creative wells have run dry.

    • http://www.courtneydipaola.com Courtney

      Because both Bill Plympton and John K. have very particular styles and it’s exciting to see their take on such an iconic and popular animated family.

    • Jeff

      There are certain animators that are praised here no matter how awful their work is. Also, if it turned out that Seth MacFarlane had actually drawn this, it would the become the worst thing ever.

    • Great

      Yeah, totally agree, while we’re at it, what’s with that Picasso guy? Two eyes on the same side of the face? What an amateur. Oh and that Cezanne guy, for pete’s sake, he can’t even get the horizon line right…what the hell are they doing in “museums” and art history books?

      People want to see better rendered copies of real life, that’s what people want, more realistic colors, I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is, especially the impressionists..the hell? lazy bastards.

      • Scarabim

        Oh, please. Are you trying to argue that style trumps everything, even if it’s an eyesore? Or are you just being boorishly condescending, thinking I don’t “get” it? This might be news to you, but most people, including non-artists, can appreciate different types of animation. Audiences have embraced realistically-rendered creatures like Bambi and highly stylized critters from the new My Little Pony show. They’ve enjoyed fluid CGI in The Incredibles and stop-motion animation in The Corpse Bride. What most people don’t appreciate is scribbly self-indulgent stuff that looks like a 10 year old animated it. Granted, with Plympton’s stuff, it looks like a *talented* 10 year old animated it, but still. (In the case of John K’s Simpsons opening, it looked like a 10 year old animated it while dosing a bad head cold with a little too much Robitussin).

      • John A

        I guess you probably think the artwork in Richard William’s “A Christmas Carol” is too sketchy for your taste.

        I thought the segment was extremely consistant, both tonally and visually with Matt’s earlier “Life in Hell” comic strip style.

        My only criticism is that the initial shot of Marge should have been the long hair and blue jean wearing Marge from the “the Way We Was” episode, Otherwise, it was perfect.

    • http://midnightheist.deviantart.com/ Scott

      This couch gag DID have a better script than usual.
      Compare this to the Game of Thones “gag” they did, which was more accurate than funny. Why not have character trip on the moving parts? Or the gears stutter because of Homer’s weight? etc!

  • top cat james

    Sooo…Homer f**ked his couch, then?

    Guess that would make it a sextional sofa.

    And I would strongly advise Marge and the kids against reaching between the cushions for loose change.

    I vote for Mike Judge, Peter Bagge, or Johnny Ryan for future spots-and ditto to the Michael Kupperman and Bakshi suggestions.

  • bob kurtz

    bill still has got it.
    very clever and FUNNY!!!!!!

  • Jane

    It was wonderfully creepy. I loved it.

  • Mr-Famicom

    I liked it alot (I’m a huge Matt Groening fan, plus Bill did a great job anyway) but for having outside sources doing couch gags, how about having Telecom Animation Film (TMS’s foreign productions unit) doing one in the vanes of Tiny Toons and Animaniacs (Gainax and Spumco purists, please sit down, John K already did a couch gag and I will like to see more stuff from him too (Ren and Stimpy is my favorite Nicktoon and I also like his other works as well) and I’m sure that once that Telecom dose a couch gag, Gainax (as long as they don’t waste there talents like in Panty And Stocking (and I did not mind that show)) will do one as well) and have people in the likes of Toshihiko Masuda, Nobuo Tomizawa, Kenji Hachizaki, Kazuhide Tomonaga and the rest of Telecom to do said couch gag.

  • Sarah J

    That was bizarre and kind of depressing. (how could Homer just leave the couch like that?! Especially after he got it knocked up?!) But I did really like it. XD It was pretty funny.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariville Ariel

    Wow.. that was pretty hilarious :) Not only for it’s nice hand-drawn style but it’s concept.

    Well done! :)

  • Roberto

    I would prefer if they used this guest animator to make some imaginary sequences in the actual episodes instead of this couch gags mini-shorts. There are only a few things you can do with a couch (f**cking it being one of them , apparently).

    A whole Treehouse Of Horror segment animated by another guy would be cool too.

    I don’t know but the fact that these have to revolve around a couch and they eat time from the actual episodes kinda bothers me for some reason. If the cool animated segments were unexpectedly included into a sequence of the episode I think it would be more satisfying.

  • Crystal

    I liked it! I thought it was really funny!

    I know Bill Plympton used to do segments for the now-forgotten FOX sketch show The Edge. Is this the first time he’s done something for them since then? (If someone can answer that, that’d be awesome).

    I’d love to see Genndy Tartakovsky or Craig McCracken do a Simpsons opening. I keep thinking the former as a more distinct style, but I don’t know if I see his later stuff as “comedic” like Craig’s is. I know Pen Ward and JG Quintel grew up on The Simpsons, so maybe them as well?

  • Jim Engel

    Guess I’ll join the barely visible minority here…I thought it was slow, unattractive, and not funny…

  • Pirate Jeffrey

    I wish they would let Bill Plympton do a whole episode.

  • Josh

    Cool to see them having different animators do Couch gags. Let’s hope they do more.

    • Funkybat

      3 or four of these a season would be OK, but I personally wouldn’t want to see the couch gag becomes some kind of “open season” for everyone and their brother to do their own take on it.

      What the Simpsons really needs to do (starting with the couch gags) is to push the animation away from the ultra-controlled, always-on-model stuff style that seemed to take over the past 10 years.

      I will say that something seems to be in the works, in the past year or so, there have been a few occasional glimpses of that old magic, which were virtually absent since the turn of the millenium. I have a feeling some of the artists working on the show share this desire, and have been trying to do things with expression and staging that hearken back to the glory days. I hope they keep pushing that more and more.

  • thomas

    That was such a cool opening! I could see Tray Parker and Matt Stone doing a simpsons opening..”south park did it!”

    Heck, I think all animators who are fans of simpsons should do a couch opening and send it to MattG (or whoever the hell runs things now :p )

  • thomas

    That was such a cool opening! I could see Tray Parker and Matt Stone doing a simpsons opening..”south park did it!”

    Heck, I think all animators who are fans of simpsons should do a couch opening and send it to MattG ( or whoever the hell runs things now :p )

  • Bugsmer

    That was weird, a little creepy, and AWESOME!