The Simpsons Folder

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The Simpsons Folder


Man enjoys plenty of d’oh with hobby
February 24, 2003 – ligtel

Last Sunday was a milestone for McNall, who spent the night watching the 300th and 301st episodes of “The Simpsons,” the dysfunctional but fun animated family which has been beamed out to America by the Fox television network in one form or another since 1987, when they first appeared in short intermission films on “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

McNall said his older brother told him one day that The Simpsons were going to have their own show, and after they sat down to watch an early episode in 1990, that was it.

McNall’s passion for all things Homer or Bart, Marge, Maggie or Lisa was firmly in place.

Asked how much money he’s spent on Simpsons memorabilia, McNall was at a loss to come up with a specific number. “It’s been 13 years of collecting, and I think I’ve lost track,” he said. “I can tell you I’ve invested about $700 on just the playsets alone. I buy one box to keep and one to open.”

McNall remembers the exact day his collection started. “My dad bought me a Bart Simpson T-shirt at Corn School when I was 13, and I’ve figured out the date was Oct. 6, 1990.” McNall now has at least 20 Simpsons shirts.

“That Christmas I got almost nothing but Simpsons stuff. I bought more in 1991, and it was sometime during that year that I realized that, hey, I was acquiring a lot of stuff here,” he said.

The prize of his collection is a reprint animation cell from the 100th episode. “There were only about 2,500 made,” he said. “I got it sometime in high school, and it cost me about $150 to $200. My goal is to get an actual cell, particularly one featuring the whole family or Bart on his own. I’ve been checking on eBay and it would probably run me anywhere from $200 to $1,200, depending on the quality and presentation.”

Other gems which McNall is particularly proud of include a Simpson’s-oriented take on Salvador Dali’s famous surrealist painting “The Persistence of Memory” which he picked up in London in September, 2000; autographed items from several cast members — while several were purchased from eBay, he actually met artist Bill Morrison — and complete collections of related comic books.

Is it any wonder that McNall’s friends call him “Bart” or “Bartman”?

“There’s even a real Simpson family here in LaGrange County, nice people, who say they want to adopt me because I love them so much,” McNall said.

McNall said he would attribute the long-running success of the show to the fact that “it mirrors real life in its own twisted way, and the fact that they don’t age the kids, even though there was a time when they discussed doing that. Other kid-oriented shows have to show the kids growing up, but Bart, for instance, always stays adventurous, is still up to his pranks, and still can’t see what’s coming up ahead in life.”

Discussing Bart, his favorite character, McNall said, “Deep down he’s just like any kid. He has a bad reputation, but if you watch enough shows, you realize he’s not all bad. Deep down inside he’s good, he does care, and he even prays sometimes.”

McNall added that, while he would still watch the show if it were to come out as a new program today, he’s always had a few reservations, even with some of his favorite episodes, such as the popular Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” editions. “There’s so much funny stuff, but there are some things I don’t approve of, mostly for religious reasons. My religion has to come first.”

At the same time, McNall said he feels the show’s satirical edge often gives it a conscience. “They deal with social and current events, family problems, political problems, more than most any other prime-time entertainment show.

“I think they can get away with what they do because it’s a cartoon. The writers can have more witty ideas because they can have things happen that couldn’t really happen.”

One thing McNall said he respects the show’s creators for is pulling an episode, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” from circulation after Sept. 11, 2001, because it featured humor related to the World Trade Center buildings.

McNall said he recently learned that the show has been extended until at least May of 2005 and maybe even further.

If this is true, it looks like the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will continue profiting from McNall for a few more years — if you come across a pickup with BART and the last two numbers of the year on it, you’ll know you’re behind Travis “Bartman” McNall.