03
Feb
11

Animating on Eggshells

“Look here, that’s enough now, I own sixty percent of that network!” – Rupert Murdoch 

A couple of weeks ago, Banksy posted his original storyboard (via) for the Zombie Simpsons opening that ran back in October.  It makes for interesting viewing, and most of the ideas contained therein made it into the finished product.  There are a couple of minor touch ups, mostly sanitizing some of the gorier sketches Banksy did, but on the whole it is pretty faithful to the original concepts . . . with one telling exception. 

Here is one of the panels from Banksy’s original:

Banksy Storyboard

And here is the corresponding scene from the finished product:

Something's Missing

Of all the bleak images in Banksy’s original, the suffering children, the dead cats, the emaciated unicorn, only the giant poster of Kim Il-Murdoch was deemed too hot for teevee. 

I’m sure I’m not the first person to have pointed this out, and I don’t want to make too much of what is a relatively minor omission, but does this strike anyone else as just a tad revealing?  I don’t think Murdoch personally vetoed it or anything, I doubt they would even bother to ask him.  After all, he’s a billionaire who’s turning eighty next month, the time it would take to explain it is far more precious to him than a piddling throwaway second of television on one of his many networks.  But Zombie Simpsons clearly didn’t want to cross him, and I think that’s funny.


11 Responses to “Animating on Eggshells”


  1. 1 Derp
    3 February 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Considering it’s artistically neutered to begin with, I’m not surprised.
    Notice the odd angles and curves of the tracks in the sketches and log at the way the Simpsons handled it.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      3 February 2011 at 10:05 pm

      Ha! I didn’t notice that, but you’re right. Heaven forbid something not be a straight line. The t-shirts are so crisp they look like they’ve just been pressed.

      • 3 David Leppik
        4 February 2011 at 1:03 pm

        I’d wager a guess that animating walking on a curved path is significantly more expensive than walking on a straight one. With a straight line, even at a funny angle, you can reuse frames by scaling or stretching them (affine transformations, to be technical). With a curved path, you actually have to draw different parts of the body.

  2. 4 Ballookey
    4 February 2011 at 1:23 pm

    The Simpsons is animated in Korea, so maybe it was decided not to put the Korean animators in the position of pushing N. Korea’s buttons. I don’t know for sure that the Banksy opening sequence was animated there, however, only that the bulk of the show is.

    • 5 Mister Snitch
      4 February 2011 at 1:37 pm

      I think this is the correct conclusion – that the poster would be offensive to North Korea – or even China – because of what it resembled. The Simpsons have, in fact, pushed Rupert’s buttons far, far harder on other shows. As has Family Guy, for that matter. A (static, background detail) poster that appears soundlessly for a few seconds is quite tame by comparison. Think it through.

      Pretty much a non-story here.

  3. 4 February 2011 at 1:46 pm

    The Simpsons has made jokes directly at Murdoch’s expense in the past. He has appeared in at least six other episodes, including the one you referenced, that depicts him as being in jail with Sideshow Bob.

    Alternate explanations: the revised “set” layout didn’t have a good place for a legible poster of Rupert Murdoch. It was too hard to make a caricature of Murdoch looking like Kim Jong-Il.

    It might have been revealing, except that Murdoch has been routinely depicted in unflattering ways on the series, and even guest-voiced two of those appearances.

  4. 7 Charlie Sweatpants
    4 February 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I hadn’t considered the Chinese angle. Murdoch is as hell bent on making money in China as everyone else, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it got scotched by someone down the food chain out of fear of it causing a fuss over being too Mao-like. That makes more sense (to me, at least) than it just being an animation decision or them being internally frightened of Rupert’s wrath.

  5. 8 Ezra
    21 February 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks that crude sketch is leaps and bounds ahead of that tight-ass screencap?


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