I was watching an episode of Amazing Stories, The Family Dog. It’s an animated episode that, according to imdb, originally aired on Februray 16th 1987. The network made a really big deal about it at the time. There hadn’t been any animated show on primetime since the demise of The Flintstones. The episode was written and directed by Brad Bird, who since that time has become a titan in the animated world, directing such films as The Iron Giant and Ratatouille. Early in his career, Bird worked on The Simpsons. He even has a credit on the early Christmas special: Simpson’s Roasting on an Open Fire. Of course, The Simpsons didn’t begin there. The first Simpson’s short hit the airwaves as part of the Tracey Ullman Show on April 19th 1987. Brad Bird does not appear to have been a part of The Simpson’s first break onto television, but he did go on to be the creative supervisor for the first four seasons of the show’s run. It’s impossible to say whether or not Brad Bird saw early sketches for the characters, but since Groening was a popular underground comic artist, it’s highly likely young animators at the time would have been excited somebody like Groening was entering the animation world. Many a youngster would have set sights on working with that man. So, my question is, did Brad Bird first introduce the world to Bart Simpson a full two months before Matt Groening? I think he did. It could be a coincidental resemblance, something hammered home through Bart Simpson’s now current cultural ubiquity, but it also may not be. Here, I present, from a still captured from Brad Bird’s The Family Dog episode of Amazing Stories, what I believe to be Bart Simpson’s first television appearance.
Prima Simpsonis: The First Television Appearance of Bart Simpson