Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tribute to Monty

Of all the characters on THE SIMPSONS, Mr. Burns is probably my favorite, (outside of the family themselves). Maybe because he is possibly the most cartoony character on the show, at least conceptually. He is impossibly old (due more to uncommon privilege than robust health), temperamentally fierce but physically feeble, and unflinchingly callous towards everyone but himself. Although I tend to tire of reference gags quickly, his position as richest man in town makes him a ripe repository for slyly crafted spoofs of everything from CITIZEN KANE, to "Mr. Potter" (in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE), The Grinch, and the real-life Howard Hughes. Many of my favorite moments and episodes feature him, and I think the one where he opens a casino in Springfield ("$PRINGFIELD" - Season Five) is my single favorite entry.

Among the many genius gimmicks the creators devised for him is an out-dated sense of geography ("my letter to the King of Siam), and pretty much everything else. He refers to a helicopter as an "auto gyro", somehow watches the long defunct DuMont TV network, imagines organized sports to be still racially segregated and uses phrases like "suckle at my proverbial teat" and "wallow in my own crapulence" without breaking a sweat. When he shut down a day care center at his beloved nuclear power plant he ousted toddlers with the cry: "Get out! This isn't a pee-wee flophouse!" One of my favorite outbursts from any show.

There is always something funny to me about unabashedly greedy and insensitive characters. Especially if they are disagreeably mean in every sense of the word, and Mr. Burns is cheap, selfish and as openly rude and unfeeling as he can be, when in fact he has every reason to act otherwise. The premise seems to suggest that unfiltered nastiness is the ultimate luxury of the rich, (which is probably true!). That never stops him from imagining himself as a model human being and even feeling persecuted despite it all.

I enjoyed THE SIMPSONS movie, but it did leave me wanting more of Mr. Burns and Harry Shearer's brilliant voice over acting as that character. Luckily, Season Ten came out on DVD recently and I sketched these freehand interpretations of him for my own amusement while I watched. I've never worked on the show and I don't know how to draw "on model" so chalk these up as purely tribute to a character who has made me laugh for nearly two decades and is still going strong. The color one was acting as a screen saver at work for a while, but it made me scream like Homer every time it came up so I deleted it.

The character is of course copyright protected by Fox Broadcasting and Gracie films and these sketches are for amusement only. Please no wagering.


David Nethery said...

"Get out! This isn't a pee-wee flophouse!"

Yes! I'm laughing just reading about it.

"Please, no wagering"

more snickering ...

samacleod said...

These are incredible!

Maggie Kang said...

these are so great, Will! you took an awesome character and made it better!

Maggie Kang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bruce said...

I was able to see the images, that is, before they were taken down. Great quickies, I say.

Will Finn said...

sorry for the confusion with this entry being up and down. its my fault, having posted it accidentally a as three separate posts and then trying to delete the copies.

i should have one of those old "experiencing technical difficulties" cards like they used to use on local TV.

Mike Gillett said...

Great stuff... as always, Will. Much enjoyed!

Burns also says "Ahoy! Ahoy!" when answering his telephone. This too shows his incredible age.

Trivia: "Hello" wasn't 'invented' until after the telephone was. Alexander Graham Bell wanted his invention answered with "Ahoy! Ahoy!". It, fortunately, didn't catch on - and equally fortunate that Thos. Edison, who had a hand in perfecting the telephone, suggested "hulloooo!" - often heard in his Menlo Park Lab to get someone's attention. It morphed into "hello" and here we are.

Tim said...

These are cool! They have a certain Gerald Scarfe-ness to them, but with more appeal.

Jorge Garrido said...

WHOAH! Nice drawings!

The show'd be alot better if it acually looked like that. Call up Matt and see if he'll spring for some actual creativity on Treehouse of Horror XXXVI.

mark kennedy said...

Yeah Mr. Burns is the best character on the show.

To me, the best episode was the "Citizen Kane" homage when he was trying to recover his lost teddy bear.

He went on a "Howard Stern" type radio show, and the Stern knockoff asks him "When was your first gay experience?". Mr. Burns starts talking about having a "gay" time at the World's Fair as a kid ands ends with "My, I ate a lot of wieners that day" to which the Stern knockoff replies "I'll bet."

Great drawings too by the way.

Pete Emslie said...

I must confess, though I watched most of the original first season way back when the show debuted, in the years since I have only seen the show sporadically. Therefore, I really have very little knowledge of "The Simpsons", so I really feel out of the loop in discussions of the show and its characters.

Part of my disinterest in the show is due to all the pop culture references, but the character design has never thrilled me either, though I'm not saying that I actively dislike it, but rather, I'm just indifferent to it. However, seeing these rough sketches that you've done, Will, makes me wonder just what the show could have been if allowed to be a lot more fluid in its design. These sketches of Mr. Burns are really entertaining and just cry out to be animated in as lively a style as you've drawn them.

Spock Foolish said...

"We'll take the Spruce Moose!"
"But sir, its only a model."
(cocks gun, points it at Smithers)
"I said, 'hop in'."


Rhett Wickham said...

Not since Ward Kimball re-invented the fab five in that magnificent short hand of his, has any icon been more delightfully and deliriously rendered - and for the better!
WOW!!! Love 'em!

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Dead-on, Will! Dead-on!

Burns has to be one of the best, most entertaining character on the show. I really wish there was more of him in the movie, oh well.

Once in a while, if I really feel jaunty enough, I actually say "Ahoy-hoy" when I answer the phone. Nobody seems to notice, though.

Jeremy Bernstein said...

Hi Will! Fantastic! Love em.

Clio said...

That is an AMAZING Monty! Geez, I'd like to see all the Simpsons like this. I agree, despite all his quirks he's one solid character. Especially on pain medication.

TSM said...

WOW! Those are awesome!!