Down the 3-Eyed Rabbit Hole of Springfield.
On its surface, The Simpsons is a simple animated show – its style is clean and bold, characters are iconic – wearing the same clothes every episode. In the same way that we all are creatures of habit – so is the Simpsons. But with every appearance of Itchy and Scratchy and every instance of Homer choking his favorite problematic son, the Simpsons has a rather complex lore behind it and an equally complex world that fans are hungry for.
With the entire Simpsons back catalogue now gracing the air of FXX, they are in need of IDs that pay homage to the lore fans are so in love with. Our job was to explore those possibilities, find the inside jokes that hardcore Simpsons fans would appreciate. FXX wanted us to focus on the idea of complexity, both visually and in animation. Create a weird infinite loop of the Simpson world. Focus on one facet of the show, and go down the rabbit hole of Springfield.
Like Sideshow Bob exploring the numerous painful ways in which Bart can die, we explored…we explored it hard.
From Dry-cleaning to Durga Puja and everything in between.
As soon as the phone clicked gently against the receiver after our first call with FXX, there was a brief moment of silence. Mostly because it was 12pm on a Wednesday and that’s usually the hour in which we honor the mostly dead career of Cary Elwes and collectively will it to come back to life…but also because we were elated at the possibilities. Taking deeply rooted elements of the Simpsons and bringing them to life in an ID sounded like the single best use of our time since we started the Cary Elwes fan club (which reassembled after his stellar performance in Saw 3D after a short hiatus in 2009).
The biggest aspect of what FXX was looking for was to explore the possibilities. They’ve been running through graphic Simpsons IDs for some time now and needed a fresh take on the look and feel of them. They wanted us to embrace negative space, embrace the Simpsons’ iconic color palette, and, most importantly, embrace the weirdness of the show.
We started our deep dive into Springfield with sub-characters and plots that drove some of our favorite episodes: The 3-Eyed Radiated Fish, Spider Pig, the Aliens that should know better than to meddle in the affairs of one Homer Simpson. We also went down a route of focusing on the mundane aspects that make the Simpsons who they are: The same wardrobe they wear every episode, Marge’s magnificent hair, Maggie’s death defying supermarket checkout, and Homer’s eternal struggle to choke the life out of his son (seriously, that shit wouldn’t fly if the show was created today).
“Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does.” If you ever thought it would be weird to see an animated loop of a Spider Pig made out of little Spider Pigs, well, you would be correct. It is weird. And we like it. One of the better .gif’s we’ve made in recent days.
“Why you little….” One of the more classic ‘bits’ in The Simpsons is a fed-up Homer reaching in to choke Bart. While we don’t condone this type of parenting, it makes for great cartoon TV. With this ID, the struggle is real. It’s a perpetual never ending choke sequence.
Staying true to the traditional, hand-drawn animation techniques used over the long history of the series meant staying on model to some of the most iconic characters on television. The fact that our work passed by the creators of the show for their final sign off still gives us the shivers.
Animated Homer Eating an FXX Sized Donut: Check.
We all grew up on the Simpsons’ brand of humor. That family got us through some pretty tough nights through high school and into adulthood. Hell, we still flip to it every now and then just to get a heavy dose of nostalgia. Working with these iconic characters engrained in our minds was an act of pure joy. The fact that we got the chance to animate a few still gives us a smile. It’s one of those boxes you can check off in life, and damn did we check that box…multiple times.
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