The Simpsons – America’s Longest Running Animated Series (And Still Going Strong)

They are the family that everyone with a television set knows by name: Homer, the donut-loving, slightly dim-witted head of the clan; Marge, his blue bouffant-haired wife with the screechy voice; Bart, the happy-go-lucky troublemaking oldest child; Lisa, the sax-playing brains of the family and second child; and Maggie, the perpetually pacifier-sucking baby who does not speak. This series got its start as a reoccurring segment on three seasons of The Tracy Ullman Show, beginning in 1987. As of this writing, The Simpsons has aired 662 episodes within a whopping 30 seasons on the air. The series has been renewed for a 31st season, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. That’s a good thing, as the show’s legion of loyal fans wouldn’t stand for anything less than more of their favorite show!

Original production artwork from The Simpsons has long been one of the most popular sections in our Animation Art auctions, and we deliver the goods to you once again in this month’s Signature Auction. We go all the way back to the beginning, with a pair of original Tracy Ullman Key Master setups. For those new to animation collecting, a Key Master setup includes an original hand-painted cel or group of cels with the matching original hand-painted background, as they were shown together on film. Here’s one of those Key Master setups, with a great shot of Bart, Lisa, and Maggie in their early look, as they all take a ride together on Bart’s skateboard.

The Tracey Ullman Show - The Simpsons Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Production Cel Setup with Key Master Background (Fox, 1988)

The Tracey Ullman Show – The Simpsons Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Production Cel Setup with Key Master Background (Fox, 1988)

Also from Tracy Ullman is a cool setup with the kids arguing over what movie to see – Lisa’s choice (“The Return of the Happy Little Elves”) or Bart’s (“Revenge of the Space Mutants”). We can see which one Maggie prefers!

The Tracey Ullman Show Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson Production Cel on Key Master Pan Background (Fox, 1989).

The Tracey Ullman Show Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson Production Cel on Key Master Pan Background (Fox, 1989)

The opening segment of The Simpsons is always a treat. These “couch gags” are very popular with fans and collectors, and we have a great one in this auction, from 1994. The family is headed for the couch as always, but the couch and back wall keep going further and further back! This two-cel setup, with figures on one cel and the couch background on the other, is considered to be very rare.

The Simpsons Entire Family Couch Gag Production Cel with Background Cel Setup (Fox, 1994)

The Simpsons Entire Family Couch Gag Production Cel with Background Cel Setup (Fox, 1994) .

The Simpsons Entire Family Couch Gag Production Cel with Background Cel Setup (Fox, 1994)

The “cartoon within a cartoon” in this series is the satiric “Itchy and Scratchy Show.” This parody of violent 1950s-style cartoons is the favorite of the Simpson children, much to the dismay of Marge. No animation auction would be complete without Itchy and Scratchy, and we have a couple of nice setups to choose from. This one, from 1990, is my personal favorite: “Kitchen Kut-Ups,” from the Season Two episode, “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.” It’s the one where baby Maggie hits Homer on the head with a mallet after watching TV, resulting in Marge’s campaign to picket “The Krusty the Clown Show” for featuring the cartoons.

The Simpsons Itchy and Scratchy Production Cel Setup (Fox, 1990)

The Simpsons Itchy and Scratchy Production Cel Setup (Fox, 1990)

There have been many Prime Time cartoon series following The Simpsons envelope-pushing lead – think Family Guy, King of the Hill, American Dad, Bob’s Burgers – but there’s only one Homer and family. I’ve loved this show for years, as have most of you. Instead of buying donuts for the entire office (with pink icing and sprinkles), save your money and bid on some of this fantastic original production art from the one, the only, The Simpsons!

Posted by David Tosh

David Tosh is a cataloger for the Animation Art department. He is also the author of Rise of the Superheroes: Greatest Silver Age Comic Books and Characters and editor of the Eisner Award-nominated Walt Kelly’s Fables and Funnies. His most recent book is Jumbo Mumbo.

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