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.