Rough sketches from David Silverman (Part 4)

The tournament will continue as soon as this pesky World Cup stops distracting me, but until then let’s take a look at some of the awesome doodles and sketches from David Silverman’s multi-decade tenure as animation director for “The Simpsons.” You can find all these and a lot more on his Twitter feed, @tubatron. Click on the images to see them full size.

For El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer,  Space Coyote went through a few designs before settling on #4 --

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 1 2014:
For El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, Space Coyote went through a few designs before settling on #4 —

Eastern Europe's favorite cat & mouse team Worker & Parasite. In '93, xeroxing was the ticket. Hoch Hech!

David Silverman (@tubatron), Jan 31 2014:
Eastern Europe’s favorite cat & mouse team Worker & Parasite. In ’93, xeroxing was the ticket. Hoch Hech!

And here's the rough layout from rough doodle posted earlier - Bart, Lisa & Maggie, and cards.

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 5 2014:
And here’s the rough layout from rough doodle posted earlier – Bart, Lisa & Maggie, and cards.

Practice page, early Simpsons shorts, c.1987

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 4 2014:
Practice page, early Simpsons shorts, c.1987

Hold the tel-e-o-rola, THIS is probably my 1st sketch for Simpsons title seq., warts n all --

David Silverman (@tubatron), Jan 30 2014:
Hold the tel-e-o-rola, THIS is probably my 1st sketch for Simpsons title seq., warts n all —

Roughs from Black Widower - studies for Krusty Telethon seq & Bart protecting Selma.

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 4 2014:
Roughs from Black Widower – studies for Krusty Telethon seq & Bart protecting Selma.

Found these rough thumbnail doodles in prep for Homer's Triple Bypass - 1992.

David Silverman (@tubatron), Jan 27 2014:
Found these rough thumbnail doodles in prep for Homer’s Triple Bypass – 1992.

Bart made weird faces back in the TU shorts days -- I mean, I was just drawing from life --

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 8 2014:
Bart made weird faces back in the TU shorts days — I mean, I was just drawing from life —

Homer roughs as the Magical Man from Happy Land.

David Silverman (@tubatron), Feb 6 2014:
Homer roughs as the Magical Man from Happy Land.

My 2 Al Hirschfeld-esque Krustys for Black Widower. Based on Al's Jerry Lewis - used #2, clean-up has "Nina."

David Silverman (@tubatron), Jan 22 2014:
My 2 Al Hirschfeld-esque Krustys for Black Widower. Based on Al’s Jerry Lewis – used #2, clean-up has “Nina.”

Round 116: Simpson Tide vs. Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk

Round 116: 3G04 vs. 8F09.

3G04: “Simpson Tide” (Season 9 / March 29, 1998)
Written by Joshua Sternin & Jeffrey Ventimilia
Directed by Milton Gray
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Ten Minutes Later - the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant in flames

In every other context I’d say this is a great, immensely funny half-hour of television, but the tournament demands a bit more scrutiny, I’m afraid.

Pop culture references and non-sequiter asides have been a part of what made The Simpsons great from the very start, but by the time this episode aired the amount of seemingly random cutaways had reached an almost inflationary level. Homer’s Planet of the Apes-inspired doughnut nightmare, Moe hosting Russian roulette straight out of The Deer Hunter, the ship’s crew (including, rather improbably, the Village People and Mr. Smithers) performing “In the Navy,” “Spanish Fly” playing over the submarine’s speakers, the whole thing with the Soviet Union, including the raising of both the Berlin Wall and the animated corpse of Vladimir Lenin. They’re all funny gags, but it’s starting to get a bit overwhelming. (And I haven’t even mentioned that the whole plot and most of the scenes or set pieces are direct homages to the movie Crimson Tide.)

The DVD commentaries for episodes of this era sometimes mention that the show turned away from this style after Family Guy came along and ripped off– I mean, happened to heavily rely on it, as well. “Simpson Tide” very much felt like an episode of Family Guy, to me, which I don’t mean in a bad way, at all. It’s enjoyable. It’s funny. It makes some smart observations and commentary, like the references to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or the rapid spread of Starbuckses.

But still it’s missing something. Heart, maybe? Or that certain, indefinable spark?

  • Love the Rocky & Bullwinkle couch gag.
  • -“I’m a man of few words.      Any questions?”

8F09: “Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk” (Season 3 / December 5, 1991)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Smithers and Mr. Burns outside of Moe's Tavern

Ooh, the Germans.

That “The Land of Chocolate” has lost none of its appeal in the two decades since this episode aired is of course primarily owed to David Silverman’s gorgeous drawings and Alf Clausen’s infectious music. But, to go back to what I was saying about “Simpson Tide,” it certainly helped that the segment wasn’t buried amid half a dozen similarly crazy things.

It’s a stand-out moment, for sure, but it doesn’t overshadow the rest of the episode, either. For me, this one’s an easy decision. See you next round, Hans und Fritz!

  • -Homer: “Lisa, your father needs your help. Do you know anything about Germany?”
    -Lisa: “Well, it’s a country in Europe.”
    -Homer: “Good, good. I’m learning.”

The winner: 8F09, “Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk.”