Quote of the Day


“Uh, Magic, what if people think a guy’s a hero but he was really just lucky?” – Homer Simpson
“Don’t worry.  Sooner or later, people like that are exposed as the frauds they are.” – Magic Johnson
“Thanks, Magic.” – Homer Simpson

9 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

  1. 1 D.N.
    17 October 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Re: Magic, he’s one of those early-ish guest-stars who’s drawn to look like he could plausibly exist in the Simpsons world (large eyes, Homer-ish mouth and jaw design). A lot of the later guests would be caricatured in such a way they look too “realistic” (relatively speaking) against the show’s regular characters. It’s almost as though the animators got so fixated on nailing the likeness, they forgot to keep the person look sufficiently Simpson-y.

    • 2 Stan
      17 October 2015 at 7:15 pm

      No, I’ve got a better explanation: they just don’t give. A fuck.

    • 3 Bleeding Gums Murphy
      17 October 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Mostly it’s because The Simpsons’ animation is too simple. Sometimes its simplicity is part of its charm (specially true for Season 3 and 4, with its big eyes and off-model character designs), sometimes it is not.

      Examples of off-model and simple designs adding charm: “Homer Goes to College”, “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”, “Bart the Lover”
      Examples of in-model and more complex designs making episodes more boring visually speaking: “Homer’s Enemy”, “You Only Move Twice”, “Bart on the Road”

      If you compare the design of any member of the Simpsons family against any other character, most of the times the secondary character is more detailed and unique in her/his design than the Simpson one. So it’s not limited to guest stars.

      • 4 Frank
        17 October 2015 at 11:11 pm

        I would be curious to know how you define “in-model” and “more complex designs”, and how they make the episodes more boring. Your theory sounds interesting, but I have to admit, I don’t know the episodes well enough to say “this animation is in-model” and “this animation is off-model”

        • 5 Sarah J
          19 October 2015 at 12:35 am

          “Off-model” designs are generally used for exaggeration effect, but sometimes they happen because the show creators haven’t really “settled” on a set character model. It’s pretty common for early seasons of shows to do lots of off-model animation (whether it’s for either reason, or both) and later ones to stick to a standard model. If I could post pictures to give examples, I would. This site has made posts on it in the past, so maybe you can look for those by searching “animation”. Earlier seasons of The Simpsons would alter character models for comedic effect, or sometimes just to make it look more interesting. Faces stretch, eyes get bigger

          Now, as for design complexity… Pretty much what it sounds like. The Simpson family and most of the other characters who have been on the show for a long time have pretty simplistic designs. The clothing and faces don’t have a lot of detail. As animation technology improved, one-shot characters and guest appearances would often receive more complex designs, but the base models of long-term characters haven’t changed. DHS has commented on this before, the show doesn’t want to change the iconic appearances of the classic characters, so it can be kind of jarring to see simplistic designs next to more complex ones. Like one of them is out of place.

        • 6 Bleeding Gums Murphy
          19 October 2015 at 4:00 am

          Sarah J has mostly explained it. I also must say that I brain farted a little when writting my previous post, but here’s another explanation:

          The Simpsons used a very basic, barebones (yet effective) animation, where character designs were for the most part very simple. This simple approach can be seen not only on their choice of clothes, but also on their facial expressions. For the most part, this works ok, as The Simpsons’ animation was much, much, much better than what you can find on McFarlane shows, but there are some times when you can put yourself on a corner, and adding Real Life guest stars were sometimes some examples of this. They usually have more realistic and smaller eyes, pointy noses, etc, because they simply cannot be translated to The Simpsons animation very well. Magic Johnson was a notable exception, he clearly looks like yet another background character, but the same cannot be said about, say Aerosmith, which, like Magic, appeared on a Season 3 episode, or about RHCP, which would appear just one season and a half later. And yet their transformation is mostly good.

          But even among regular Simpsons characters you can see that. Ignoring their hair (“You all have hideous hair… I mean, from a design point of view”), there’s nothing special about Homer’s, Bart’s, Lisa’s and Marge’s design. They use very simple geometric figures, they don’t have very specific, unique details… Compare then to the Flanders’ family. Rod and Todd’ clothes are similar to Bart’s, but Ned and Maude have a conservative and unique look you can hardly compare with any other secondary character. What about the pig-shaped nose of Wiggum, or Snake, or Nelson? What about the square personality, “I have full control of myself” looks of Smithers and Skinner? What about Mr. Burns? CBG? Milhouse could have blue hair, but he also has an extremely big nose. Quimby is modeled after the Kennedys.

          Compared with them, Homer looks like a very generic, everyman character. Which is mostly intented (back before Jerkass Homer the superstar), and mostly a side result. It’s so simple that half of a Season 6 episode was about how Krusty’s design is so similar to Homer’s.

          But the show proper tried to play and experiment with its animation everytime, which is why they intentionally went off-design so many times, or why they used size changing eyes to express surprise, or how they exploited body language, and so on. It’s quite impressive how they managed to do so much with so little. There are shows with more detailed animation that does not even attempt to exploit their own animation.

          Which helps me go to the Season 7+ topic. By Season 7 the animation of the show started becoming stale and too rigid (actually, it started happening in 6, whose animation is nowhere as funny looking and wacky as 5, but it was still very good). That pretty much sucks, because it makes them lack the charm of anything that came before, and unsurprisingly that’s one of the reasons why the show went to hell… By Season 11 the animation was so safe and sterile that there’s nothing you can say about it. Futurama, which was already started when S11 was broadcasted, also had the rigid animation, which is a shame…

          • 7 Sarah J
            23 October 2015 at 2:00 am

            I’ve always found it interesting that in most animated shows, the main characters usually have a more generic “default” design while other characters will tend to be have more exaggerated, crazier features. Like you said, it’s generally kind of done to make the main characters more “everyman”.

            I do agree that the earlier animation was a lot more enjoyable, even if it had less detail. I’ve been watching the first 8 seasons on DVD and one of the many great things is observing the animation. (though like you said, it starts to play it safe around season 6-7) These days, high quality animation can be done for lower cost than when The Simpsons first started, and it’s a shame that more shows don’t take advantage of the opportunity to do something more than the minimum. (like how a bunch of shows use Flash animation to be lazy, even when there are shows that prove it can be used well)

            The creators of Steven Universe, a Cartoon Network show currently in its second season, have stated multiple times that they make it a point to keep their animation exaggerated and off-model. They do use model sheets, but they aren’t terribly strict about it and you can sometimes tell which artist did the storyboarding for an episode/scene by the character designs. I’ve seen fan pages dedicated to analyzing it, ha ha. A lot of shows start out doing that but then eventually get rigid and on-model, (even Adventure Time fell into this, I do love the show but it’s kind of disappointing that a wacky, surreal cartoon started using generic animation) but I really hope SU doesn’t go that direction. I’ve always wondered what Futurama would look like if it had a chance to do some of the wackier animation. Of course, Futurama makes up for it by taking place in a crazy sci-fi world, even with strict on-model animation, it’s still interesting to look at.

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