Bill Plympton’s instantly-recognizable mix of naïveté and rule-breaking will greet viewers of The Simpsons‘ 613th episode, “22 for 30.” The Oscar-nominated indie animator behind I Married a Strange Person! (1997), Mutant Aliens (2001), and Cheatin’ (2014) returns to Matt Groening’s juggernaut sitcom for the fifth time on March 12, delivering a meta love letter to animation that breaks the fourth, and kicks it while it’s down.
Each of Plympton’s gags could stand alone as their own short films, and beyond that deconstruct assumptions even The Simpsons‘ vast repertoire of canon has left unchallenged. One goes full-blown noir private eye silent film, while in another we learn of a secret tryst between Homer and the couch. Plympton’s newest gag not only makes the characters aware they’re in a cartoon, but gives them the pencil, like in the classic SpongeBob SquarePants episode, “Frankendoodle.”
Other guest animators in The Simpsons‘ opening slot include legends like Triplets of Belleville animator Sylvain Chomet, Rejected and World of Tomorrow‘s Don Hertzfeldt, The Ren and Stimpy Show‘s John Kricfalusi, claymation horror master Lee Hardcastle, and Steve Cutts, who made the sardonic short MAN and Moby’s music video for “Are You Lost in the World Like Me?” The gag has hosted complete crossovers from the films of Hayao Miyazaki and animated series’ Robot Chicken, Adventure Time, and Rick and Morty, and been directed by non-animators Guillermo del Toro and Banksy. None, however, have been more prolific in the couch gag scene than Plympton, whom Groening once famously called, “God.” Watch the new gag below.
See more of Bill Plympton’s work on his website.