The Simpsons’ Duffman made his debut three years before the one viewers now know so well, and he looked very different. Matt Groening’s animated sitcom The Simpsons has been dominating the small screen since its debut in 1989, becoming the longest-running American scripted primetime television series with 31 seasons. Over the course of 30 years, the series has introduced a variety of characters, both from Springfield and other places, and although some of them don’t appear as often as others, they have a place in the series mythology.
Characters like Ned Flanders, Sideshow Bob, Moe Szyslak, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon appear quite often and have even had their own episodes – others have only appeared briefly in some stories, but they have left a big enough impression to be brought back. Such is the case of Duffman, the mascot and spokesman for the Duff Beer company. Duffman has a very distinctive look, but his first appearance within the Simpsons’ universe showed a very different image for this character.
Twitter user That Guy shared the cover of the 1994 San Diego Comic-Con program, with art by Steve Vance and Bill Morrison. The cover features the Simpsons family posing with comic books along with a big cake to commemorate the convention’s 25th anniversary. Lisa has a Malibu Stacie book, Bart a Radioactive Man comic book, Marge went for Bored Housewife Romance, Maggie is reading (or more like looking at) Lil Baby Squiddie, and Homer has a (free) Duffman comic book titled The Promotional Adventures of Duffman. But the Duffman on the cover looks nothing like the one the series has shown: this one has a green and purple suit, and is visibly inebriated. Duffman didn’t appear in the series until 1997 in the episode “The City of New York vs Homer Simpson”.
Duffman is based on Budweiser’s former mascot, Bud Man, and this is more evident on that first appearance as they both have “superhero” suits with capes, and their faces are similar. The Duffman from the series is the complete opposite: tall and athletic, with a blue tight suit, red cape, and white boots, as well as gloves, sunglasses, a Duff hat, and a belt with cans of beer, always ready in case someone needs one. Duffman is not just one person, and he has been played by a couple of actors, with some of them either dying or being seriously injured. Quote the man himself: “Duffman can never die! Only the actors who play him!”.
It’s always fun to see how cartoon characters have changed since their first appearances, whether on TV or other media, and with a series as big and long-lived as The Simpsons, these evolutions are even more interesting. The Duffman would probably prefer that no one knew what he originally looked like, but lucky him his transformation was for the better and his first appearance was a fun one.