Recently I got the chance to ask Jesse McCann, former Simpsons Comics writer and present
Bart Simpson writer, a few questions about his job at Bongo.
How did you get your job writing for Bongo Comics?
What other books and comics have you written?
When I was writing the DC series PINKY & THE BRAIN, I did many autograph-signings at comic shops all over
California, Quite often, I would be paired with Bill Morrison, because retailers thought (correctly, I think) that P&TB
and The Simpsons went together. During these signings, Bill and I became good friends. Later, I discovered that his wife was
an old friend from my theatrical days (we'd done plays together.) Small world! Anyway, one day at a signing, a fan said to
me, "Why don't you write for Bongo?" I turned to Bill and asked, only half-kidding, "Yeah! Why don't I write for Bongo?" Bill
looked at me, deadpan, and offered, "Yeah, why don't you write for Bongo?" So, after that, I did.
As for the other
things I've written, can I offer you my website address as a response? It's basically a checklist of the things I've written,
and it's up-to-date, except for LOONEY TUNES #137, which came out Wednesday.
http://tinyurl.com/4uwweI'm writing KRYPTO THE SUPERDOG now for DC Comics, and I have a deadline this week.
How much preparation goes into the Simpsons Episode Guides and the Library of Wisdom books?
editor of the last two Episode Guides, plus the one coming up for Seasons 15-16, would you be able to tell us exactly what
you do as the editor?
Is there any word for the release date of the next Episode Guide, and a title for it?
Putting together books like the episode guides and LIBRARY OF WISDOM books is a team effort, with lots of people
involved. It starts with the writers, and when they've turned in their assignments--which also includes suggestions as to
what the art should be, by the way--the editors edit the scripts or send them back for rewrites. Once the scripts are finalized,
the artists, graphic designerers, coloriists, computer letterers and paste-up artists do their thing. There's probably more
people involved that I've forgotten to mention, or just don't know about, but you get the idea.
As for exactly what
I do as editor of the episode guides, I'm not gonna say exactly. We have to keep some of the mystery, right? =o) It's
Matt's book all the way, and there's nothing in them he hasn't devised or approved of. I will say, however, I recommend what
the major spot art should be. I also maintain the D'oh! Mmm..., Itchy & Scratchy, Church Sigh lists. The frame-grabs,
however, I have nothing to do with. Bongo and Fox have to work that out, and I, thankfully get to be left out of the process.
I will also say, that if you didn't like some of the corny intros to the episode excerpts, or things in the
character sidebars, or the actual choices for the sidebar characters themselves, or the synopses of each episode, or the choices
made for THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED or TV MOMENTS, you can blame me. I did them, and I make no excuses. =o)
remember, the target audience for these guides are mainstream fans, which is a much larger audience than the expert
fans like those at No Homers Club (who we do really appreciate! I'm not patronizing--you experts keep us on our toes!) For
the average fan, though, the THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED, they really might have missed--or, more importantly, it serves
as a reminder of the great humor of the show, and how fun it is to read about.
Beyond that, the episode guides are
a team effort, as I said before, and because we are a team, sometimes it's hard to remember who did what, and who thought
of what, exactly.
Release dates are something I know nothing about--it's all between Bongo and Harper. As for the title
of the next episode guide, I've made a few suggestions, but I really like the one suggested by a Harper staffer, "ONE GIANT
LEAP BEYOND FOREVER." What do you think?
Some of your shorter stories in Bart Simpson and Simpsons Comics have been co-written with your daughter.
What was it like writing the stories with her?
My daughter is very clever. She's an actress, and is involved with Comedy Spotz LA, an improvisational
comedy group in Hollywood. She's very funny. When she was still in high school, she proposed some very funny Simpsons comic
strip ideas to me, and I started teaching her how to write comic panels-- the results, I think, speak for themselves. One
especially, "Bring Your Parent to School Day" was outstanding, although Abby Denson mistakenly got the co-credit. I think
there is nothing more satisfying in life than working with your own child. She's come a long way since then, and recently
finished her own 10-page BART story that's hilarious. She's been imitating Ralph since she was little, so it makes sense she
would write a Ralph story. I don't know what issue of BART it will be in, but it's tentatively titled "Hog-Tied Ralph." Papa
is very proud!
Would you be able to reveal any upcoming stories from the pages of Bart Simpson Comics?
So, Amanda's story is one BART tale to look forward to, and I've written two BART SIMPSON
COMICS stories of late. The first is called (tentatively) "Baby Got Back (at Burns)" and it's a revenge story. Burns steals
a gold trinket from Maggie. Maggie follows Burns back to his mansion to get it back, and when Burns and Smithers hear noises
but never see Maggie, they think it's a curse come to get the gold trinket back. Here's an excerpt:
Close-up of Burns,
trying to take the golden trinket away from Maggie. It’s a tug-o-war, even though Maggie is still asleep and only holding
onto the trinket with one hand. Beads of sweat fly off Burns.
Best take it … oof … for safe-keeping
… ahh … unhand it, you ragamuffin … ooh! She has the wrestler’s grip of Ed "Strangler" Lewis, himself!
You fetch it, Smithers!
Take something from a sleeping child, sir?
The second story is
tentatively titled "Forest Grumps" and it involves Bart and Milhouse going on a camping trip with Luann and her newest boyfriend,
Bob the RV Salesman. When the adults want some privacy, they force Bart and Milhouse to go play in the forest, where they
come upon a weird family that lives in a cabin. Another proposed title for this is, "The Hills Have Hicks."
know when either of these will see print yet.
And finally, do you have any words for those who would like to get into the writing business?
To become a writer, you must do two things: write and promote yourself. So write as often
as you can, and try to get editors to read it. Write, write, write, submit, submit, submit. It's what writers do, and it's
a full-time job. Decide what you want to write, and learn where to submit your product. Yes, your writing is a product, because
publishing is a business, and you should always look at it as such. Learn how your product should "look," because editors
and submissions people won't even give it a second glance if it isn't formatted correctly. Lastly, go to conventions and try
to meet people who could give you jobs. Shake their hands, ask for submissions guidelines. And all the while, keep writing!
I would like to thank you for answering these questions for me. I greatly appreciate it. Thankyou!