Every couple of months, the nine rules that every Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon must follow goes viral on Reddit or Twitter. Rightly so, as they’re fascinating. “All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters – the southwest American desert,” one goes, while another reads, “The coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures,” which is both a good rule, and relatable. Those are only the narrative rules, however — animators have their own rules, also known as a style guide. It looks like this for Looney Tunes, and on Tuesday, former-The Simpsons writer Josh Weinstein shared one from the long-running animated series, “circa 1990.”
“What you will never see on the Simpsons (from a delightful, nearly 500 page early style guide, circa 1990),” Weinstein tweeted, sharing the “Simpson No-No’s” for how to draw Lisa’s head. No cross-eyes, no sharp or square teeth, or “big pointed smile,” unless it’s from The Big Book of British Smiles, presumably. Even if you’ve seen every episode of The Simpsons, all 31 seasons and counting, there’s a good chance that you haven’t noticed that Lisa’s nose overlaps with her eyes, and that her teeth are “rock steady.” These small details add depth to the characters, and as Weinstein, who co-wrote many classic episodes of the show including “Sideshow Bob Roberts” and “Bart vs. Australia,” noted, “The Simpsons could’ve become Bizarro Simpsons with any of these choices.”
What you will never see on the Simpsons (from a delightful, nearly 500 page early style guide, circa 1990) pic.twitter.com/0Gyv36UOqW
— Josh Weinstein (@Joshstrangehill) April 22, 2020
Weinstein currently works on Matt Groening’s latest animated series, Disenchantment.