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.”

More early rough sketches and drafts from David Silverman

David Silverman’s Twitter feed is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are some more of his early Simpsons sketches he shared.

From 1987, a sketch from the Tracey Ullman Show short “House of Cards,” as well as some rough models for Maggie and Grampa:

Rough sketch of Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson building a house of cards.

Rough model for Maggie Simpson by David Silverman Rough model for Abe Grampa Simpson

From the 1989 short “Maggie in Peril: Chapter One,” a background cell drawn by Eric Stefani, and an animation cycle:

sewer pipe background cell Maggie Simpson

Also from 1989, one of Silverman’s first sketches for the Simpsons title sequence:

Rough draft of Homer Simpson working at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant

Also from Eric Stefani, a draft of a cut scene from 1990’s “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”:

The Simpson family as pilgrims

Homer acting poses for the second season episode “Blood Feud” from 1991:

Homer Simpson Living in a World of Make Believe animation poses

Homer’s heart attack poses from 1992’s “Homer’s Triple Bypass“:

Homer Simpson having a heart attack

Sketches for Mr. Burns’ big number in “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds,” 1995:

Mr. Burns See My Vest Mr. Burns See My Vest

Finally, some sketches and color drawings from 1997’s “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)”

Psychedelic Jasper, Nelson, Mrs. Krabappel, Barney Script pages and drawings Johnny Cash coyote sketch

Round 86: The Secret War of Lisa Simpson vs. Homer’s Triple Bypass

Round 86: 4F21 vs. 9F09.

4F21: “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” (Season 8 / May 18, 1997)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Mike Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Lisa and Bart Simpson doing push-ups in the rain

I don’t think there’s a single Oakley & Weinstein episode I actively dislike, but there are a few, like this one, that just don’t quite resonate with me the way that, say, “A Fish Called Selma” does.

“The Secret War” is funny and well-crafted, the kids’ story is interesting and relevant. I have no complaints. It’s just… if the episode suddenly disappeared I don’t think I’d miss it.


9F09: “Homer’s Triple Bypass” (Season 4 / December 17, 1992)
Written by Gary Apple, Michael Carrington
Directed by David Silverman
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson and Smithers in Mr. Burns office

When trying to explain how, when, and why The Simpsons went bad, the focus is mostly on the writers and the showrunners. And most of the blame certainly does lie with them. But looking at the astonishingly beautifully animation of this and other episodes directed by David Silverman, it is clear that the show lost something crucial when he stopped directing. Silverman is still on staff as supervising director, but his last own episode (that’s not a clip show or a Halloween special) is season 7’s “Mother Simpson.”

There are other, unquestionably talented directors working for the show, but, to me, David Silverman stands out as the most ambitious and innovative of them all. His episodes look and feel as dramatic and cinematic as they are funny. (I also wrote about the stark contrast between the way the show used to look and how it looks now in Round 23.)

  • -“Remember your hippopotamus oath.”
  • Always love seeing Homer with his half-glasses on, in bed, going over bills.
  • -“And that’s why God causes train wrecks.”

The winner: 9F09, “Homer’s Triple Bypass.