We’re not sure it’s possible for Simpsons fans to bedisappointed in the presence of their deity-on-Earth, series creatorMatt Groening. But if you want them to get there, try presenting aComic-Con panel with absolutely no one from the cast. That’s right, all ninepeople onstage, including showrunner Al Jean, and Groening, himself,were either writers, directors, or producers. No Dan Castellaneta, no JulieKavner, not even a Hank Azaria graced the Saturday panel.
But there was a clip! Simpsons fans took in portions oftwo acts from the upcoming “Treehouse of Horror XIX.” The first followed Homer on Election Day (appropriate: these Halloween-themed eps always fall inNovember), as a recalcitrant electronic voting booth turns his vote for Obama into one for McCain. Thesecond scene, an homage to Charles Schulz, dropped the Simpsons characters in the world of Peanuts.Lisa and Milhouse make like Sally and Linus, waiting up on Halloweennight for the “Grand Pumpkin.” Hint: If you’re trying to make nice witha giant gourd, don’t feed him pumpkin bread.
Once the Q&A session started, the panel took great delight in extolling the Simpsons ride at Universal Studios, “If you take drugs and watch The Simpsonson TV, you don’t have to take drugs anymore,” said Groening. “Just goon the Simpsons ride. It’s great. You’ll think you’re going to die.”
As for spoilers, they’re after the jump, so stop now if you want to remain happy and clueless.
Upcoming guests include Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Joe Mantegna, and RobertForster — all of them are in the season opener alone. In the second episode, Homer findsguest Denis Leary’s cell phone, and starts dialing. One of the callsgoes to Leary’s agent, setting up Leary to star in Everybody Poops: The Movie. For Seth Rogen fans, your wait will be a little longer — his guest spot isn’t slated to air till 2009.
Groening fans were also given two nuggets of info: First, the team has “no intention” of wrapping up The Simpsonsanytime soon — certainly not as long as “the ratings keep up,” addedJean, “and they have.” Also, Groening was asked if he’d ever consideredturning his newspaper comic strip Life in Hell into an animated series. Not really, he said, before launching into a castigation of the San Diego Reader, which no longer carries the strip, noting that he needles the paper every time he comes to Comic-Con.
But that was hardly Groening’s best story from the Con. He mentionedgoing to the convention floor one year, and seeing a vendor with themost amazing display of Simpsonscollectibles, all intricately made. It turned out, says Groening, thatthey were rare pieces imported from Australia. After talking with thevendor a few moments, the man asked, “What a minute, are you thecreator of The Simpsons?” “Yes, I am,” answered Groening. “Sir,” theman replied, “it would be an honor to sell these to you.”