When I first started work on this blog, one of the most vocal supporters was Ross Mckendrick. He was extremely into the idea that all the interviews were strictly about The Simpsons. So, when I found out that Ross, who lives in Scotland, has done some work as an artist for metal bands, namely for concert posters, I knew he would be a great interview. Ross recently released a handmade zine of his linework entitled Black Inkantations. You can check out/order Black Inkantations in the US from Expiring Sun and in the European area HERE.
What is your history with the Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?
I was born in 1988, so The Simpsons has been around pretty much my whole life. I was aware of it from a very young age but my family never had satellite TV, which was the only way you could see episodes in the UK at that time. The first time I ever saw the show itself must’ve been Hallowe’en 1994, because it was the Treehouse Of Horror episode with ‘The Shinning’ in it.
I only managed to catch it because my mum had taken me out guising (which is what we call trick-or-treating in Scotland), and as we reached the house about 2 doors down from ours the episode was just starting. I invited myself into this family’s house, plonked myself in front of their TV and pretty much refused to leave for most of the episode.
I was totally enthralled by it, I didn’t even bother doing my ‘trick’, which was my pretty killer Jim Carrey impression (I had dressed as The Mask; green face, zoot suit and everything). I thought the fact they had a Scottish character was awesome, and even more awesome was the fact it was a cartoon, but it had axe murders in it. I seriously thought the whole show was like that; a twisted cartoon take on movies I wasn’t allowed to watch yet.
It was love at first sight.
Do you have a character you relate to the most?
When I was a young kid, it was Bart for sure. I was always talking back and acting the fool when I shouldn’t have been. As I hit my late teenage years, and was dead set on becoming a total hesher burnout, it was obviously Otto. These days I’m probably closer to Mr Burns or something.
Who is your favorite character to quote?
I endlessly quote a bunch of different characters, but the most obscure one which I use all the time is the sound Sideshow Bob makes when he steps on the rake in ‘Cape Feare’. That usually gets used whenever something gives me the ‘douche chill’.
As an artist, is there an aspect to the look of the show that appeals to you?
I was always drawing the Simpsons as a kid, like seriously, all the damn time. I must’ve drawn Bart a hundred times; I would obsess over getting the amount of points in his hair right. I loved drawing the more surreal-looking minor characters too, like Kang and Kodos, Satan-Flanders, Sideshow Mel, all those weirdos.
The Simpsons made me think, hey, this cartoon is the biggest deal in the world, I’m gonna be a cartoonist! I never went into animation, but I still draw weird shit to this day, so it pretty much had a life-changing impact.
What is your favorite episode(s)?
Oh man, I am so glad you included the ‘(s)’ caveat there, there’s no way could I pick just one.
Off the top of my head, ‘Homer At The Bat’ always has me in stitches, it’s so fucking surreal, and the fact I understand none of the baseball references doesn’t hamper my enjoyment in the slightest. ‘You Only Move Twice’ for obvious, hammock-based reasons. ‘Homer Badman’, just for the fake exposé with the skipping clock hands, which has me laughing even just typing it.
Also, pretty much every episode of Season 7 is solid fucking gold as far as I’m concerned; “Let the bears pay the bear tax!”, “Are you being sarcastic duuude?”, “The goggles! They do nothing!”, “Beep beep! Out my way, I am a motorist.”, “Ah wash mahself with a rag on a stick.”. I could go on all day.
Do you have a favorite guest star?
There are so many. Obviously Albert Brooks as Hank Scorpio is the pinnacle, and finding out that Johnny Cash voiced the Space Coyote was amazing, but I always loved the episode with John Waters as the uber-camp, super-nerdy collectible store owner.
I was kind of a hoarder as a kid, I never threw out a single toy even when it was broken, so my bedroom was filled with all this weird junk I found, one-armed action figures, weird cartoon posters. So I thought John was pretty much the coolest guy the family had met by that point.
When I got a little older and found out he was voiced by John Waters, it only added to how awesome I thought he was.
Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?
I think metal has so many great characters and personalities of it’s own, to see any of them cross over would be cool. Personally, I would love it if somehow Fenriz ended up in the show. He’s basically like a Norwegian Otto anyway, right?
I’m a big fan of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, especially the look of the episodes. Do you have a favorite Treehouse segment?
Oh man, those are definitely some of my favourites.
I love the 6th one, which has ‘Attack Of The 50ft Eyesores’, ‘Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace’ and ‘Homer³’. I think that came out in ’95, months before Toy Story came out over here, so the ‘Homer³’ segment was probably the first time I had ever seen CGI animation.
I loved the way they managed to seamlessly blend the traditional animation with CGI, and even dropped a live action Homer into the real world at the end. It blew my mind, and introduced millions to the idea of erotic cakes.
How would you like to see the series end?
By now, I kinda just wish it would. I haven’t seen more than the occasional episode here and there since about 2003, but each one has been so unrecognisable to me as the show I once loved so much.
When I went to see the movie when it came out in ’07, so much of it just bummed me out. Green Day? Spider-pig? Urgh. Leave the overt pop culture references to Seth McFarlane’s garbage shows.
Anyway, if they were to announce the series’ end, I’d love for them to return to the classic humour and type of stories they started with, close things full circle, and end on a high.