JIMMINY JILLIKERS! When JERRY ORDWAY Went to Springfield to Parody BATMAN ’89



One of the questions I’m most often asked about Bongo is regarding whether or not we adapted episodes of The Simpsons in our comics. The answer was always “No, our stories are all completely original.” However, we did stay true to the continuity of the show and would occasionally riff on things that happened on the TV version. For example, there was an exchange in the fifth season episode “Homer and Apu” where guest star James Woods (Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart replacement) says to Apu, “Can I ask you, is it true you once worked 96 hours straight?” to which Apu answers “Oh, yes. It was horrible, I tell you. By the end, I thought I was a hummingbird of some kind.” Based on that quick gag I wrote a backup story for Simpsons Comics #10 titled “Apu’s Incredible 96 Hour Shift (Without Having a Break)” in which Apu tells his young nephew Jamshed all about that fabled shift.

At Bongo we always thought of our comics as an extension of the TV show, and if we could find a fun way to explore characters and concepts from it in a more in-depth way than 21-24 minutes of animation would allow, we did it. Probably the most spectacular example of this is the Radioactive Man Official Movie Adaptation. In the seventh season of The Simpsons, there was an episode titled “Radioactive Man” in which a Hollywood film production company comes to Springfield to shoot a movie starring the superhero. Throughout the episode we see various scenes being shot, but they are all gag-driven and don’t seem very related to each other. SPOILER ALERT: By the end of the episode the film ends up being scrapped and we lost all hope of ever seeing Ranier Wolfcastle and Milhouse Van Houten starring as Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy in a feature film.

That is, until the late, great Batton Lash pitched a brilliant idea. Batton was the Eisner Award™ winning writer of Bongo’s relaunched Radioactive Man series in 2003, and one day while chatting on the phone about plans for the Atomic Avenger’s eighth issue, he suggested we produce an adaptation of the ill-fated Radioactive Man movie from the TV episode. Bat’s idea was to take the scenes that are shown in the episode and build a coherent and engaging story around them that would feature Wolfcastle, Milhouse, and Krusty the Clown as Silly Sailor. This seemed like a difficult feat to accomplish in a single issue, but I trusted Bat and knew that if anyone could pull it off, he could. And of course, he did!

Batton always included thumbnail layouts with his scripts (the Harvey Kurtzman way!) including one for the cover. His idea here was to parody Jerry Ordway’s cover to the Batman Movie Special (The official DC adaptation of the 1989 Batman film by Tim Burton, which came out 35 years ago Sunday.) Jerry’s cover is so iconic and perfectly captures the excitement of the Batman movie, and I agreed with Bat that an homage to this image would be ideal!

Final cover

Lash’s layout

Ordway’s inks

I took on the pencilling assignment, and at Bat’s suggestion, we hired Jerry Ordway himself to do the inking! The resulting cover is one of my all-time Bongo favorites, and I even got a note from Jerry complimenting me on my pencils!

Want more MORRISON MONDAYS? Come back next week! Want a commission? See below!


— When BART SIMPSON Met WALLY WOOD… Sort of. Click here.

— The Four Fantastic COMIC BOOK GUY Variant Covers That Honor KIRBY, PEREZ, BUSCEMA and MOREClick here.

Eisner winner Bill Morrison has been working in comics and publishing since 1993 when he co-founded Bongo Entertainment with Matt Groening, Cindy Vance and Steve Vance. At Bongo, and later as Executive Editor of Mad Magazine, he parodied the comics images he loved as a kid every chance he got. Not much has changed.

Bill is on Instagram (@atomicbattery) and Facebook (Bill Morrison/Atomic Battery Studios), and regularly takes commissions and sells published art through 4C Comics.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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