Say what you will about The Simpsons: while it may not live up to its former glory, I still love the show, and have since day one. I have also been wise enough to stay away from comic books that capitalize on The Simpsons but woefully miss the mark. I thought I would give The Simpsons Tree House of Horror: Dead Man’s Jest a shot – after all, I love anything and everything Halloween related. But it still wasn’t good.
Dead Man’s Jest is a graphic novel that combines a dozen all-new Simpsons Halloween tales. Celebrity names include Rob Zombie, Gene Simmons, and Alice Cooper. Zombie’s story was the best – a Simpsons version of House of 1,000 Corpses. Gene Simmons offered a bland story about Bart not only being his son, but also the God of Thunder. Alice Cooper’s story is a take-off of the Friday the 13th story, with Homer as “Batterface,” wreaking vengeance on his childhood chums for pulling a donut-based prank on him at summer camp. To be fair, I do not know if these rock stars actually wrote these stories or merely guest-starred – only two of the dozen tales have any writer or artist credits.
Other tales include Homer explaining death to Bart (downright dull); Homer as the Squishee monster in a Swamp Thing spoof; “Bart’s Ultimate Haunted House” (which isn’t really that haunted); a story where Itchy & Scratchy Land is turned into a Halloween wonderland – with monstrous results; and a retelling of Dracula with Mr. Burns as the bloodsucker (why not just reprint cells of the actual episode in that case?).
The artwork is quite good throughout the book. Each story has a different artist. All are talented, but not all are really “Simpsons-material.” For example, the artist who did “The Sub-Basement of Dracula” has a spooky, sketchy style with lots of ominous pencil shading. The Simpsons is a traditional 2D cartoon – they should not have depth and dimension!