August 29, 2012
I’m not absolutely sure it is his voice, but most people seem to think it is: “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife,” Season 15 of The Simpsons, aired on Jan 25, 2004.
Marge is mad enough to write a novel called “Harpooned Heart,” a Moby Dick-like adventure featuring herself as Temperance, a Nantucket housewife whose husband, Captain Mordecai, is off whaling at sea. When it is done, the publisher decides they need some blurbs. Here’s where Pynchon comes in. Wearing a paper bag over his head (and standing next to a “Thomas Pynchon’s House” sign), he says into the phone: “Here’s your quote. Thomas Pynchon loved this book. Almost as much as he loves cameras.”
I don’t think the three lines are meant to offer any major insight into Pynchon, but it is interesting that this is how he would like to appear in public: as a voice in a cartoon. “Cartoonish” is a bad word for most of us, but in his case it might not be. (He also appeared in another episode later that year, “All’s Fair in Oven War,” November 14, 2004).
Langston Hughes isn’t on the Simpsons, as far as I know, but two of his poems, “The Negro” and “Danse Africaine,” are included in a recent issue of the Graphic Classics, illustrated by Stan Shaw and Afua Richards. I’m hoping the “Simple” stories — the weekly column that he wrote for the Chicago Defender in the 1940s and 1950s — would be up next. He himself loved the genre and wrote the introduction to “Bootsie and Others: The Cartoons of Ollie Harrington.” There, he said that Harrington had “a little of Daumier, and a lot of Hogarth – although he’s not really much like either, being too full of laughter – Ollie Harrington is uniquely Harrington, and Bootsie of Harlem is out of this world.”
What would other authors look like if we were to take “cartoonish” as a good word?