On Wednesday night May 24 in Santa Ana, California, I will present an evening of concentrated story lessons from episodes of The Simpsons.
This seminar will introduce you to the elements of story and how professional storycrafters work. Whether you want to create cartoons, children’s books, graphic novels or movies, you will learn practical lessons from these 23-minute masterpieces.
Here are the episodes and topics:
Bart the Daredevil: Desire, Conflict, & Reversals
(Season 2, Episode 8)
The Telltale Head: The Telling of the Story
(Season 1, Episode 8)
Krusty Gets Busted: Setups and Payoffs
(Season 1, Episode 12)
Bart Gets an F: Protagonist Responsibility
(Season 2, Episode 1)
I chose these four episodes because they showcase a single protagonist (Bart), demonstrate the core elements of character and story, and they are superbly crafted — as funny now as they were 26 years ago.
Please watch all four episodes before the session begins. Even though we will screen three episodes in class, we will stop to make comments and notes, which is a terrible way to view anything for the first time. Better to watch them at least once for fun, then later take them apart for understanding.
If you do not already own the episodes listed, they are available for download from Amazon for about $2 each. I’ve included links in the list above. You can also find them on iTunes for the same price:
The Simpsons provide good examples of shots and visual structure, but for this round we will focus on craft that applies to all story formats, whether visual or not. If you’re new to the subject, this will be your crash-course. If you’re a pro who creates stories for a living, I think you’ll enjoy this review of the basics, and get inspired by work that is as good as it gets.