As some many know, last year The Simpsons show had Bansky conceptualize a version of their "couch gag" routine, a small place in the show's opening credits that allowed for variation at the end of a structured narrative—the arrival of the family from their days at work, school, detention and shopping to sit down and, in a reveal that never really seems commented upon, apparently watch a show about themselves. While much of The Simpsons has grown stale over the years, its writers admirably continue to take advantage of their unusual corporate freedom to brutally mock their parent company, 20th Century Fox / News Corps, and Bansky's caricaturization of the Korean forced labor required to make an episode of the show is without a doubt the most literal and brutal capitalist satires the show has employed. Watch that opening here.
The producers have now commissioned another artist to riff off their couch gag—cartoonist John Kricfalusi (John K.), best known for creating Ren & Stimpy for Nickelodeon. One might think that the move from a pseudonymous political graffiti arist to a cartoon animator might be another milestone in the show's inertia-like slide into out-of-touch conservativeness, but the result is actually very startling. As Amid remarks in his interview (highly recommended) with cartoonist Kricfalusi over at Cartoon Brew,
"John’s opening is, in fact, far more subversive because he focuses almost exclusively on making a pictorial statement, relegating the show’s dominant literary elements to the back seat. In 35 short and sweet seconds, he liberates the animation of The Simpsons from years of graphic banality. The visual look of the show, which has been so carefully controlled by its producers, becomes a giddy and unrestrained playground for graphic play, and the balance of creative authority is shifted from the writers’ room to the animators in one fell swoop."
I am reminded, not coincidentally, of the canonical visual appreciation thread on The Simpsons created on the video games forum NeoGaf, a lengthy and insane must-read for fans of the show: "We post screens that showcase the visual charisma lost by modern Simpsons."