The Simpsons comic Halloween annual, Treehouse of Horror, is a welcome emission from the ever-expanding Matt Groening empire, considering that the creator was himself an indie darling cartoonist long before he was “that guy that did the Simpsons”, with his acerbic funny animal strip Life In Hell. Gazillionaire Groening returns to his roots for a moment to provide the beautiful painted cover for #16, in which Marge (in her “Marge Attacks!” manifestation) sports a brainy bouffant and flash-fries a skillet of eggs with a ray gun whose magazine is also full of brains, in an appealingly absurd post-Raw flourish. Much in line with Groening’s erstwhile indie sensibilities, Treehouse’s artistic lineup is eminently capable of this blend of humor and horror.
Evan Dorkin, whose ultraviolent cult hit Milk & Cheese (1991-1997, Slave Labor Graphics) and evil-looking Dork comics make him a shoe-in for the Treehouse of Horror series. The former “Dairy Products Gone Bad” book was often repellently violent even for indies — so memorably so that the pair recently appeared in Devil’s Due’s horrific Hack/Slash #12. Though no longer a young punk, Dorkin does not disappoint with his tale of Treehouse terror in which Dr. Frink’s Jerry Lewis-inflected babble accidentally unleashes a hideous space monster, swathed in Jack Kirby power dots, on an unsuspecting Springfield. If you’ve ever wanted to see nearly every single Simpsons character pop like a grape in quick succession, Dorkin’s river of gore will satisfy.
Kelvin Mao and Kelley Jones’ second chapter is just as strong and plausibly grosser, with Flanders trapping Homer in an automated coffin that delivers him to the grave, drowning in donuts and dying from a bacon dripfeed. Making sense of it here would suck all the fun out of the story; it’s much easier to remark on Jones’ inky handiwork, which presents a serviceable EC Comics impression that shouldn’t surprise any readers of his particularly gothy work on Batman.
The latter entries are just as much fun if a bit harder to explain in the case of arch politico Peter Kuper’s psychotic Poe mash-up, the Telltale Bart, which somehow manages to leave not a single story out; the final chapter, penned by Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister with the aid of Tom Peyer, involves Homer going to Hell in the company of Hitler, Kaiser Wilhelm and others…which is too awkward to discuss in light of Lemmy’s hobbies. You’ll see. Go and pick up a copy from your local Comic Book Guy before they all sell out for the Marge Attacks! trading cards.
Tagged: batman · Evan Dorkin · Kelley Jones · Matt Groening · Motorhead · Peter Kuper · Simpsons
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