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‘The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Ominous Omnibus Vol. 2: Deadtime Stories for Boos & Ghouls’ (review)

By Matt Groening and Various
Introduction by Lisa Simpson
Published by Abrams Books


I have long said that if I watched Matt Groening’s The Simpsons regularly it would probably be one of my all-time favorite shows.

We’re all used to the weird yellow character designs now but there’s also the writing, which has always been sharp, clever and, more often than not, hilarious.

But while I’ve never watched it regularly, I was always a big fan of the Bongo comics versions of The Simpsons, Radioactive Man, and other related characters.

Particularly fun were the annual Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror specials.

Last year I reviewed The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror Volume One and in my review, I wrote, “It’s a hoot from beginning to end, and even if you—like me—haven’t watched all 728 episodes made for TV since 1989, you’re gonna love these stories.”

Wish I could say the same for Volume Two.

Oh, it’s not bad and there are some more wonderfully weird stories and outlandish horror humor but I really do feel like most of the best stories went into the first volume.

Like the earlier tome, this giant second collection, 400 pages, is an anthology of completely unrelated one-off terror tales set in the Simpsonverse and done up by all sorts of unlikely creators. All originally appeared in issues originally published between 1995 and 2017. As with the first collection, actual Simpsons creator Matt Groening probably had little to do with this one but Bongo regulars like Ian Boothby and Bill Morrison do turn up.

One story here, “Murder He Wrote,” actually took home the Eisner in 2009 for Best Short Story. It’s a 15-page gem done up in full black and white manga style—well, not quite full, as it isn’t printed right to left. Written by Boothby and drawn by Nina Matsumoto (with Andrew Pepoy), Bart finds a magic book that helps him eliminate his enemies. Webcomic creator Matsumoto was originally noticed for her Simpsons parody in Manga-style posted on the Deviant Art site.

There’s a fun Comic Book Guy story by Boothby, Pia Guerra and Terry Austin about cursed movie and TV props, and my personal favorite this time out, “30 Days of D’Oh,” a 30 Days of Night spoof from 30 Days of Night writer Steve Niles, with the unlikely yet surprisingly perfect Glenn Fabry doing the art chores.

Other name creators this time out include Chuck Dixon, Kyle Baker, Hilary Barta, the late Len Wein, Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Gos, Peter Kuper, James Robinson, Terry Moore, Jim Woodring, Jim Valentino, Scott Shaw!, and Dan Brereton. Gene Simmons, from Kiss, even provides the plot for one story…which, of course, involves Kiss. Of all the above, Brereton’s story has beautiful artwork and Barta is always, always fun to see with his Wallace Wood effects, but the rest didn’t do much for me.

There are a lot of lesser-known or in many cases completely unknown to me folks at work here in this volume, too, and while all the experimentation is admirable, as is the obvious effort of the Bongo regulars to keep things more or less on model, considering the size of this volume, I found myself disappointed that most of the stories and one-off pages weren’t any more impressive than they were.

Still, what’s good here is great and what’s not so good, is still something Simpsons fans will want. Others, maybe not so much. I give it a mild…

Booksteve recommends.


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