Springfield invaded San Diego on Saturday, as The Simpsons offered up two sneak peeks and one surprise guest (but very little news about the upcoming 24th season) in their Ballroom 20 Comic-Con panel. Here’s your 30-second rundown of the proceedings.
The Panel: Moderator/consulting producer David Mirkin, executive producers Al Jean and Matt Groening, supervising director Mike Anderson, and Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson), who flew into San Diego by helicopter and landed on the USS Midway. Too bad we didn’t get to see that entrance.
Footage screened: A 2-D version of the sweet, engaging 3-D animated short The Longest Daycare, which is being shown before Ice Age: Continental Drift. (“Double D is still pretty good, isn’t it?” cracked Smith.) The short film was baby Maggie’s chance to shine, as she returned to the Ayn Rand School for Tots, only to be relegated to a “Nothing Special” area and matching wits with old rival Baby Gerald. Fans were also treated to a segment from this fall’s annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode called “The Greatest Story Ever Holed,” in which the Simpsons adopt a mini-black hole that is growing more powerful. Let’s just say that the hole has an interesting reaction to Bart feeding it his math homework. And what happens when Comic Book Guy inserts Disney’s The Black Hole in the black hole? These are the great mysteries of the universe that you will unlock in a few months.
Highlights from the audience Q&A: The Simpsons hasn’t thought about taking its act to Broadway, though Groening cracked that he’d love to release some audio books with Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, reading Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad. (“It’s only 27 hours out of Dan’s life,” he noted.)… In agreeing to lend his voice to the episode where Lisa becomes a vegetarian, Paul McCartney asked the producers to keep Lisa as a non-meat eater for future episodes…. Groening was the one making Maggie’s pacifier noise in the days of the Tracey Ullman Show, as well as some early-era belching for Barney and Homer. Meanwhile, Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart) has been known to fill in as a burper and whisperer for Lisa, shared Smith…. When a fan asked if the producers have considered making a McBain short or movie, they did say that they have thought about other possibilities for a short. The audience was then asked to vote for an Itchy & Scratchy short or a McBain one. When McBain won — though to be fair, the vote was a bit disorganized — “Itchy & Scrathy it is,” quipped Groening… Another fan introduced the ol’ origins-of-Springfield topic, Groening said that he gives a different answer every time before offering that the original inspiration was Father Knows Best, “so whatever state that is, that’s where the Simpsons live.”
The big draw: A young fan asked Groening if it was true that he put his initials on the side of Homer’s face. An easel was wheeled out, and Groening quickly doodled his original conception of Homer — with a G for an ear and an M for some sad hair scraggles.
Surprise Guest Star (Wars): Mirkin introduced what was billed as one of the show’s favorite guest voices — Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher, only to “struggle” to remember which episode she was in, before the big reveal: She’s never actually been on the show. “I’m afraid you’ll have to find another panel at Comic-Con that will take her,” Jean quipped to Mirkin. It was too bad that Fisher wasn’t wearing a mic for her cameo, because it was hard to hear. But she did throw a giant stuffed Duff beer can into the crowd before she walked off, which is how any guest should exit a Simpsons panel.