Bongo Blog

(Originally published in Simpsons Comics #203)




In preparation for our 2013 Comic Con exclusives, I spent one day last week clearing out shelf space in the Bongo archives. I sifted through boxes literally bulging with bygone Bongo premiums, such as Futurama black light posters, Thrillhouse stickers, promotional fans, pins, bookmarks, and even the much-coveted Duffman encased in carbonite from DuffCon 1995.


Even in the presence of these prized and uncommon oddities, there was one exclusive that truly stood out. It’s something I had never seen before. A premium whose very existence was often questioned as no more than a rumor among collectors. 


I’m talking about the Citizens of Zenith membership pack. 


Way back in 2001, in the pages Radioactive Man #222, Bongo offered a great deal. In return for one American dollar, you could receive a membership in the COZ, Radioactive Man’s official fan club. Not only did purchasers get an envelope full of Radioactive Man goodies, they were also made citizens in good standing in the hometown of everyone’s favorite irradiated crusader!


Within a few weeks after sending in your dollar, a unique envelope emblazoned with Ol’ Bolt Head arrived in the mail. It contained a letter from RM publisher Morty Mann, an action-packed mini-poster “suitable for hanging in your dorm, cell, or rent-controlled apartment,” six sensational stickers (*Adhesive not included), and the coup de grace, an official Zenith I.D. card. “Show it when you’re stopped for speeding! Don’t say we didn’t warn ya’!”


Were you one of the lucky people to join the COZ? These packs are so rare that they’ve become the holy grail of RM collectibles. I can’t even find one on eBay. It appears no one wants to part with their citizenship in America’s most colorful city. 


You might be wondering how we defend our one and only COZ pack. How do we protect something so priceless and valuable? Lasers? Trap doors? Bodyguards with razor-edged throwable bowler hats? All I’ll say is that we have top men working on it right now. Top men.


(originally published in Simpsons Comics #202)


Calling All Readers!


“So, Louis…what’s new at work?” is a question I get asked all the time. Usually, I’ve got my nose pressed to the proverbial grindstone along with everyone else at the Bongo office in an effort to get the latest comic delivered to the printer, so it can be kind of tough coming up with an answer that entices and delights the casual comic book fan. Of course, if you’re actually reading this Bongo Beat, I’d say you’re a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool Bongo Superfan. And that’s exactly the kind of fans we like!


If you’ve been along on this crazy ride for the last two decades, or even if you’re just now discovering what all the hubbub is about, we’d love to hear from you. We reinstated the long-defunct fan mail column “Junk Mail” about a year ago, and we couldn’t be happier with all the positive response. That being said, we want more! More, I say! 


Your carefully-worded cards, delightful drawings, delirious doodlings, relevant rants, raucous ravings, opulent origami, shocking sketches, pen pal pontifications, miraculous manifestos, ecstatic essays, and pie-in-the-sky punditry are what keeps us going as the day winds down and the sun sets over the Pacific. We may still be stuck inside the offices, putting those final touches on the inevitable Mr. Teeny One-Shot Wonder, but just knowing that the greatest fans in the world are waiting patiently out there keeps us going just a little bit longer. Well, that and a boatload of coffee. (Hey! Did you know a “boatload” is an actual unit of measure observed by the Maritime Council of Weights and Measures?* Neither did I!)


Bongo fans really care about their “Simpsons” and “Futurama,” that’s for sure. Our letters page is a great place to share your thoughts both with us and your fellow Bongoheads! We love getting your letters! So now it’s Bongo’s turn to ask you, “What’s new?”



* I made that up. It’s late and sometimes we get a little loopy.


(originally published in Simpsons Comics #200)


Hey Bongoreenos! Things are hoppin’ here at Bongo Comics HQ.  As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, 2013 marks Bongo’s twentieth year in the comic book biz. That’s gotta be like, thirty years in every other industry. We’re so happy to make it to that milestone that we’re gearing up for a yearlong extravaganza featuring even more comics, more creators, more surprises, and a heapin’ helpin’ of hilarity. There might even be some shenanigans thrown in as well, but it’s too early to know for sure.


Of course, the event that kicks it all off is the much-anticipated Simpsons Comics #200. At double the size, it’s double the fun! (Okay, our marketing department made me write that. “Fun” is too difficult to accurately measure, IMHO. I will say that it’s very, very, very enjoyable. Kind of like the greatest party you’ve ever been to that gets somehow distilled down and lovingly printed on 70# matte paper.)  Make sure you pick yourself up a copy. And if you’re reading this Bongo Beat in Simpsons Comics #200, never mind! Your work is done. 


So how does a comic company manage to sustain itself for over two decades? Having a viable and beloved intellectual property (or two!) doesn’t hurt, certainly. Dedicated fans? Check. But I would also argue that assembling a team of creators and coworkers that are infatuated with the art form and are always pushing themselves is just as important. I’ve had the great fortune to see some of the comic world’s greatest talents produce work for Bongo and it’s always an inspiration. Being a comic writer or artist is a labor of love and that’s not widely recognized by the general public. Let’s face it…if you’re working in comics, you’re definitely not in it for the money…and it’s also possible you may be addicted to the fumes given off by Sharpie markers. Who knows? Creative people can be a little peculiar, I hear. 


Perhaps the greatest thrill of working at the Bongo offices for so long is my interaction with the Big Cheese himself…Mr. Matt Groening. Every now and then he’ll ask me to file some art or scan something, and he always does it with a smile on his face. Then he’ll call me “Gary” or some other name that isn’t mine, and it cracks me up. Classic Groening! 


Maybe next time I see him, I can get him to sign my Simpsons Comics #200! Now, if only I can find a Sharpie…



(Originally published in Simpsons Comics #199)


Hey there, Bongoheads! Welcome to another installment of the Bongo Beat. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I took on the duties of writing this column. I guess time flies when you’re having fun, because this year has flown by like a highly-caffeinated super cheetah wearing a rocket pack! In fact, so much has been happening in the Bongoverse that I haven’t even had time to attend to the delicate matter of my love life. 


Normally, I wouldn’t even mention such things, but it is Valentine’s Day, after all. The perfect time to reflect on the greatest love there is. I’m not talking about romantic love, filial love, or any of the other types. I’m talking about the love of COMICS! Let me take a moment and share with you some of the reasons that I absolutely love working for Bongo Comics.


Our office in sunny Santa Monica. The California weather is phenomenal, and we’re just a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. There’s absolutely nothing to stop me from going deep-sea diving on my lunch break…except for my debilitating fear of kelp and kelp byproducts.


The Bongo Comics original art archives. Consisting of over 400 issues, it’s 20 years worth of awesome “Simpsons” and “Futurama” art by some truly inspiring artists. I get to see stuff most people will have to wait decades to view in some museum celebrating comic art of the early twenty-first century. Take that, future art lovers!


Any time Sergio Aragonés visits the office. He’ll regale us with amazing stories of his world travels, his days at MAD, and on occasion teach us the proper way to construct a marionette.


The greasy-spoon burger joint down the block. It’s a family-run business with the greatest French fries I’ve ever tasted. I shudder to think about the calorie count, but since we walk there, that makes it slightly healthier, right? Right?!


The creative process. I love seeing artwork and stories materialize almost magically right before my eyes. What begins as a germ of an idea, eventually becomes a full-blown comic book. Yesterday’s offhand pitch idea can become tomorrow’s Eisner® award-winning story. It’s amazing to see this happen day after day. 


Secret sojourns to the FOX studios lot. Every now and then, business takes us to the studio lot where you can usually catch a peek of a television production in progress. There’s nothing like walking down a snowy New York street in the middle of Los Angeles during July. 


The comics. After months of hard work, the final product arrives hot off the presses. It’s a veritable four-color feast for the senses! And with Bongo producing so much stuff, it’ll only be a week or two before another new issue arrives. How’s that for instant gratification?


Convention season. There’s nothing like taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of popular culture. As an added bonus, I get to mingle with people who really appreciate and understand what I’m doing with

my life. Which, incidentally, is the polar opposite of holidays spent with family.


And the thing I love most about working for Bongo Comics is (drumroll, please) our righteous readers! “Simpsons” and “Futurama” fans are the greatest! We know that there are plenty of companies vying for your hard-earned cash, so we try to bring you the best comic reading experience out there. Let us know how we’re doing. We love to hear from you!


So even though there currently isn’t a special someone waiting to share a candlelit dinner with me, I’ll never be alone as long as I’m a card-carrying member of the Bongo Nation. That feels pretty good to me.


Or as my favorite mechanical man might say, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Meatbags!”


(originally published in Simpsons Comics #198)


Hey there, keepers of the Bongo flame! Welcome to the first Bongo Beat of 2013. I guess those Mayans were wrong and the world didn’t end in 2012 after all. Of course, it’s still December 2012 as I write this and you may be reading it as you traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with mutants, hell hounds, zombies, and even zombie mutant hell hounds. If that’s the case, find an abandoned car and hunker down for the night while I fill you in on all that Bongo has in store for you this year!


2013 is special because it marks Bongo’s twentieth year as a comic publisher. Even a professional prognosticator couldn’t foresee the ragtag company that produced Simpsons Comics and Stories way back in 1993 blossoming into the jaunty juggernaut it is today. We’re taking advantage of this milestone to bring you some new and exciting books while still delivering all the Simpsons and Futurama madness you crave!


In fact, Simpsons Comics #200 hits stores in March. Twenty years in the making, this comic celebration of television’s favorite family features a wraparound cover by one of Bongo’s founding fathers, bombastic Bill Morrison. All kinds of Bongo contributors both old and new will be plying their trade in this fantastic 48-page funfest. Who knows…Matt Groening may even make an appearance! Don’t miss it!


We’re proud to be the publisher for Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto comic. Sprung from the mind of Coldplay and Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda, MORE, The Little Prince), Mylo Xyloto is a 6-issue mini-series based on Coldplay’s concept album of the same name. The adventure begins this February!


Sergio Aragonés Funnies returns! After a brief hiatus, our favorite MADman picks up right where he left off. Issue 8 will be available later in the year, and subsequent issues will follow on a bi-monthly basis. Get ready for more heartfelt stories, gut-busting jokes, and eye-popping artwork delivered as only Señor Sergio can!


The Bongo digital department continues to thrive with new and classic comics being released every week on the Simpsons App and at comiXology. Plus, our blog and facebook pages are delivering more behind-the-scenes factoids and fun than ever before. Check them out! 


Bongo’s come a long way since we had our mini spit and polish a mere 12 months ago. Since then, we’ve published a whopping 45 comics along with a plethora of calendars, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and international editions. Phew! 2012 was Bongo’s most prolific year to date! Of course, you’ve all helped by sending letters, suggestions, critiques, and artwork submissions. Keep ’em coming! Creating comics can be a little like working in a vacuum, so we love to hear from the Bongo faithful.


There’s so much more to talk about, but…argh!...I’m running out of room! Let me just throw these out there... One-Shot Wonders! Free Comic Book Day! SpongeBob Comics! Bongo Bonus Stamp Loyalty Program! Contests! Surprises! The mind boggles!


As you can see, Bongo’s 20th year is going to be a banner one. Let’s hope it embiggens us all!


As long as the zombies don’t get us.

(originally published in Simpsons Comics #197)


Hey, Bongoheads! We know you love your Simpsons Comics with all the intensity of a million white-hot suns, but did you know people all over the globe feel the same way? That’s right! I’d even venture to say that love of “The Simpsons” will eventually unite the world and usher in an era of peace and happiness that would make Ned Flanders squeal with delight. 


Case in point? Simpsons Comics #197 is available (or soon will be) in stores all across the planet!  Bongo’s comics have cropped up in the United Kingdom, Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Ireland. We’re in negotiations with the country of Latveria, but that’s proving to be a little more difficult…


As the Bongo intern, one of my first duties was to file away the international editions for archival purposes.  When I first laid eyes on all the different languages and countries represented in our vault, I started singing "It's a Small World (After All).”  I felt it was apropos and helped pass the time as I worked diligently. After a few hours of this, I found myself unable to stop singing. I just continued on and on…hour after hour. I was actually getting a little worried until a vicious, but mercifully brief, beating by the rest of the Bongo crew solved the problem. Those guys are the best!


One of the perks of seeing these international editions is the sweet premiums attached to some of them. I’ve seen such swag as water pistols, whoopee cushions, beach balls, umbrellas, plastic spiders, inflatable Spider-Pigs, skateboarding Barts, basketball hoops, and the much-loved, yet enigmatic, hopping eyeball.  Other than not being printed in English, a lot of Bongo comics look exactly the same as in the U.S.; however, in the UK, comics are about one-and-a-half times larger. Conversely, Australian editions are a petite digest-size. They fit easily in your back pocket or inside the pouch of the nearest wallaby. 


With the same comic published in so many different languages, Bongo's international library is a veritable Rosetta Stone! A few months back, I attempted to read an issue in English and then reread the same issue printed in German…just to try and pick up some vocabulary. It was much more difficult than I imagined, and I just couldn’t retain anything. I soon gave up as the whole experience only filled me with weltschmerz.


So if you're ever traveling abroad, share your love of “The Simpsons” and Bongo with your host country. Even if that doesn’t usher in a new Age of Enlightenment, you may learn how to say “Eat my shorts” in Swahili…and that just may be good enough.