By Danica Davidson
Perhaps the best way to know if a celebrity can really call themselves influential is if they get to guest star on The Simpsons. Last night fantasy writer and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman got yellow-fied as a star in the episode.
Gaiman, who provided his own voice, wasn’t just there for a brief cameo. Other writers have shown up on The Simpsons for a few token lines, but Gaiman takes up a bulk of the episode (spoilers ahead).
In it, Lisa discovers that YA books are churned out by pill-poppers and the authors seen on the back covers are just fake people with fake stories. Suddenly things make so much more sense. She decides she’s going to write her own novel to show what writing is really about. Homer also decides to write his own tween novel to show what writing is really about . . . money.
Instead of going at it alone, Homer decides to form a group that will write the book together, turning this into a clever Ocean’s Eleven spoof. He enlists the talents of several other Springfieldians — and Neil Gaiman.
The group decides their book is going to be about trolls and they get to work. But don’t think Gaiman is going to show the others the brilliance of literature and be a beacon to their literary endeavors. He works as the caterer.
Yes, the British author actually gets skewered quite thoroughly in the episode, mocking everything from his intelligence (e.g., reading ability) to his atrocious fake American accent. Because the skewering is so over-the-top and done with such love from the people behind The Simpsons, I would imagine Gaiman enjoyed it very much. Is this possibly the best author guest star treatment on The Simpsons ever?
Gaiman spoke to MTV Geek about the episode, though he didn’t tell us about his real catering skills or if he thinks trolls are the way to go. He talked about YA lit now compared to what it was fifteen years ago when his Neverwhere came out.
“The biggest change in teen horror is there wasn’t any,” he said. “The biggest change in teen lit is that it exists. If you go back, even fifteen years, there was definitely a tendency at that point to go from kids’ books to adult books. The idea that people would be writing books aimed primarily for a teen audience is really cool and really new. The idea of YA books being genre books again is cool and new. Fifteen years ago, when things like Neverwhere were coming out, everything I did was being published as adult fiction, which it still is.”
“I’m really glad, I think, that teens have their own books,” he went on. “On the other hand, I’m still a huge believer in books and I hate the idea of anybody being cut off from books that they like because they think they’re not ready for them yet.”
That’s some interesting insight. Maybe Gaiman can talk about it more the next time he caters a party.