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The Simpsons Folder

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Bongo Comics

It all started in late 1993. Matt Groening, Bill Morrison, Cindy Vance, and Steve Vance; got together to create the Bongo Comics Group, the comic book production company that was going to change the way we enjoy The Simpsons. Now, not only can The Simpsons be seen on TV, they can also be read in the comics. In November of the same year, Bongo Comics made its world debut at the Golden Apple Comics Shop in Hollywood, with their first four titles; Bartman, Itchy & Scratchy Comics, Radioactive Man and Simpsons Comics. CNN, Entertainment Tonight and E! were on hand to cover this momentous occasion, as well as USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Post.

Itchy & Scratchy Comics, starred the psychotic mouse and his death-defying friend. It was very similar to the show on The Simpsons but the comics also took a look at the actors who portrayed Itchy & Scratchy on screen. The comic series was short lived; only lasted three issues. Bartman, one of the two mini-series published, is based on the secret alter ego of Bartholomew J. Simpsons– Bartman. The last three issues in this limited series featured it’s own “mini-series” where Bartman hangs up his cape and decides to stop crime fighting. Radioactive Man, the second mini-series brought out on the premiere date, has a weird twist to issue numbering. Bongo decided to “re-publish” several issues of the 40+ years of Radioactive Man’s long lived career. The six issues selected represent the different eras in RMs career. The first issue of the series, #1, is based on the issue of Radioactive Man as seen on The Simpsons in episode [7F21] Three Men and a Comic Book. Both Bartman and Radioactive Man lasted six issues (the sixth issue being #1000) and had gimmicky issue #1 covers to boost sales. Bartman #1 features a cover that is partially embossed in silver foil, whileRadioactive Man #1 features a glow in the dark cover. All three of the comics are published three times a year.

Simpsons Comics, which was published six times a year in the first year, stars your favourite family, the Simpsons, in situations much like the ones seen on the show itself. The first 26 issues of Simpsons Comics have “flip-side covers”, which are stories with their own covers and features the secondary characters on The Simpsons, Krusty Agent of K.L.O.W.N, The Gnarly Adventures of Busman, and Bart’s Pal, Milhouse, just to name a few. The flip-side covers of issues 19 thru 22 feature Bill Morrison’s own comic, Roswell which became a full fledged series after the four part mini-series.

In 1994, Steve, Cindy, and Bill won The Eisner Award for Best Short Story for “The Amazing Colossal Homer” in Simpsons Comics #1. Bongo released the second half of the Bartman and Radioactive Man mini-series. They also produced a fourth mini-series, Krusty Comics. Its about the rise and fall of Krustyland, an amusement park created to pay off the mafia. A one time series called Itchy & Scratchy Holiday Hijinx Special was released, which was much like the stuff you see on the show. Lisa Comics, which was supposed to become its own comic series, was mysteriously halted after the first issue.

There was no word on why it did not continue

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrors hit store shelves in September of that year and is based on the Treehouse of Horror specials on The Simpsons each year. In mid 1994, Simpsons Comics began being produced monthly. And if that wasn’t enough, Bart Simpson’s Joke Book contained one page stories about the people of Springfield and came free with Hero Illustrated #19. Things looked bad in the second year. On top of Cindy and Steve Vance leaving Bongo Comics, rumor has it that the company had been acquired by Marvel Comics. As said in “The Guide to Bongo Comics” by Achim Reinschmidt, “Marvel bought 51% of Welsh Publishing Group Inc., which apparently helped Bongo get out and published in return for a guarantee that they would deliver 18 issues to them (the ones in Year One), but were not actually mentioned anywhere in the books. According to Jason Grode, managing editor of Bongo, Matt Groening owns Bongo 100% and can re-negotiate with Welsh and thus Marvel (I got this from Combo #1, a comics magazine). I guess the fact that Simpsons #7 took quite some time to come out indicates that they did re-negotiate, and it still doesn’t say either Welsh or Marvel anywhere on the cover or inside.”

Issue #15 marked the end of year two and the beginning of year three. Simpsons Comics were now in full swing, and three trade paperbacks were published. Simpsons Comics Extravaganza, Simpsons Comics Spectacular, and Bartman Best of the Best was released in late 1994; the beginning of the third year. These trade paperbacks contained a collection of some of the comics published by Bongo. Simpsons Comics Extravaganza contained issues 1 thru 4 of Simpsons Comics, Simpsons Comics Spectacular had issues 6 thru 9. Bartman Best of the Best had issues Bartman #1 and 2, and contained the issues involved with When Bongos Collide! a multiple series story that spanned thru Itchy & Scratchy Comics #3, Simpsons Comics #5, and Bartman #3 respectively.

The second quarter of 1996 brought the Roswell mini-series, which was featured on the flip-side cover of Simpsons Comics 19 thru 22. In September of that year, Roswell became its own series, the first non-Simpsons related series published by Bongo. The series stars Roswell, the little green man that survived the Roswell Incident; Julienne Fryes, the inventor / waitress and Roswell’s friend; Jasper Kudzu, The hero that saved Julienne and Roswell on the night of the crash; and Dagnabbit Rabbit, Jasper’s trusty and loyal mutant hare.

Two new Simpsons trade paperback appeared near the end of the year. Simpsorama and Simpsons Comics Strike Back!. Simpsorama contained issues 11 thru 14 of Simpsons Comics. Simpsons Comics Strike Back! featured issues 15 thru 18 of the same series.

Currently, Bongo Comics is in its 4th year of production, with Simpsons Comics now being published in an on and off sequence. It was bi-monthly until mid year and now seems to be monthly once again. Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrors is going to it’s third issue in September, and Roswell is going onto it’s fifth issue in a matter of months. A new Simpsons trade paperback was released in mid 1997; Simpsons Wing Ding, which contains issues 19 thru 22 featuring all four parts of the Roswell mini series. Article written by Vince Chan.