With the imminent release of the first Simpsons movie, you pretty much count on the merchandising machinery to start cranking up overtime. (Is Bart still shilling for Butterfinger? 'Coz I don't remember seeing any commercials in the last few years.) I recently received a copy of one of three new books devoted to Springfield's First Family: Greetings from the Simpsons (Harper/Collins), a collection of "32 detachable dispatchable postcards" depicting family, friends and/or enemies, plus miscellaneous series oddballs (Professor Frink, f'rinstance) in their 2-D environs.
I'm too much of an anal retentive collector type to even consider detaching these puppies, so I'm not gonna speak to this set's value as a postcard set. (To my eyes, the classic era for comic postcards was the '30s and '40s – but that's when people were more consistently mailing the things!) Looking at the Amazon descriptions for some of the earlier Simpsons sets, it appears that previous volumes in the "Are We There Yet?" series contained sixteen different postcards and printed 'em twice in the book: this volume, happily, has 32 separate cards.
Though Simpson creator Matt Groening is credited as the book's author on the spine, a look inside reveals that the set's "Creative Director" is Bill Morrison, editor and writer for Bongo Comics, the line which produces all the Simpsons comics. Each postcard contains Groening's signature on it. I think I remember reading once (in movie critic Richard Schickel's The Disney Version, perhaps) that Walt Disney was incapable of reproducing the famous signature that accompanied all the famous Disney products, though I doubt Groening himself is laboring under that handicap. Still, you have to wonder just how much creative input the guy who once created the "Job That Ate My Brain" cards actually had into this little volume.
The cards themselves divide between sixteen shots of characters at play and work; a map of Itchy & Scratchy Land, "the violentest place on Earth;" and fifteen character cards featuring some of the Springfield Players, along with vital stats about each. (We learn, to no one's surprise, that Waylon Smithers' "political affiliation" is Log Cabin Republican.) Sometimes a scene preceding or following a character postcard will feature that figure in their natural habitat (we see Ned Flanders, for instance, standing outside his mall store, the Leftorium); just as often, they don't. You wouldn't want this thing to be too tightly edited now, would you?
As cash-in merchandising goes, Greetings from Springfield pales compared to some of the property's truly great commercial tie-ins (the classic Virtual Springfield PC game, say, or the Simpsons Talking Beer Opener), but it's an amusing set for those of you who continue to get a chuckle out of the admittedly flagging TV series. See if you can keep the "Duff Beer Theme Song" out of your head after looking at the card depicting Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabapple on the World of Duff ride. Heck, if you started mentally humming the damn thing after reading the preceding sentence, then this little book's probably for you.