During the annual Comic-Con Simpsons panel, creator/exec producer Matt Groening and fellow exec producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean thrilled the crowd with some first glimpses at the eagerly awaited The Simpsons Movie. Groening also announced that next year’s panel will feature clips from the 13 all-new episodes of Futurama, which Comedy Central will air sometime in 2008.
When asked about the process of expanding The Simpsons from a half-hour to 90 minutes, Brooks quipped, ‘It’s been rough. We worked at it for a long time and then found out that Snakes on a Plane was doing the same story.’ Groening then introduced a couple of black & white animatics from the movie. In the first piece, the good people of Springfield have formed an angry mob and are after Homer for some reason. When the mob manages to bust into the Simpsons home, Maggie has to fend off sea captain Horatio McCallister’s pet monkey with a broken milk bottle. In the second clip, Homer is driving a dog sled across a snowy terrain. His incessant whipping is avenged when he stops to set up camp and the dogs start ripping him to shreds. As the dogs are running away, Homer sighs and whines, ‘Oh, why does everything I whip leave me?’
Much has been made of the mutual spoofing between The Simpsons and FOX’s other hit animated series, Family Guy. Fans at Comic-Con fishing for negative comments about Seth McFarlane and his show were disappointed when Groening stated that he is happy about the Family Guy comeback. ‘It’s shown me and FOX that there is life after cancellation,’ he said, making reference to Futurama. ‘I’m tiptoeing in Seth McFarlane’s footsteps.’
Groening also announced that he is working on another Life in Hell book and is still trying to find a way to make the original Simpsons shorts from The Tracey Ulman show available to fans. ‘I think cell phones is the only format crumby enough to show them on,’ he said, commenting on the primitive nature of the animation.
Groening and company assured fans that they are still dedicated to keeping The Simpsons series going strong as long as they possibly can. Special guest voices lined for the next season include Kiefer Sutherland, Natalie Portman, Dr. Phil and recording artists The White Stripes and Metallica. The Simpsons Movie is slated to hit theaters on July 27. 2007.