The Simpsons is getting the Neil Gaiman treatment for the 2017 'Treehouse of Horror' episode. Ever since The Simpsons' second season in 1990, the traditional 'Treehouse of Horror' Halloween episode has remained a yearly highlight of the series. And since the episodes are not a part of the show's regular continuity, even those who do not keep up with The Simpsons regularly tune in for the special as a Halloween tradition.
'Treehouse of Horror' has a very simple formula. Instead of telling a single story that takes up the whole episode, there are three short stories. And while the show constantly pays tribute to various areas of pop culture, each of the three 'Treehouse of Horror' stories is often a parody of a famous scary or supernatural story, book, movie, or other artistic work. From Stephen King to Edgar Allen Poe, from Harry Potter to The Twilight Zone, these episode have honored among the most famous titles in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.
And it looks like this year they are going to honor fantasy author Neil Gaiman in more ways than one. Gaiman tweeted that he will be voicing a character who has never spoken before. He's voiced himself on the show, in the 2010 episode 'The Book Job' but claims that this time it is a different character. His phrasing - "I voice a character who has not spoken before." - indicates that it's a regular character on The Simpsons. He promised that when someone guessed correctly he would post a photo. It took two hours before the correct guess was revealed - it's Snowball, the Simpsons' pet cat. And then he tweeted a picture, revealing that one of the episode's segments is based on a story of his and invited fans to guess. Take a look and a guess here before reading on for the probable answer.
The eagle-eyed among you may also be able to work out what film or story will be receiving the Simpsons Halloween treatment this year. pic.twitter.com/PX7gergwuo
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) September 21, 2017
Several eagle eyed fans noted that the image of Lisa Simpson and Snowball seems to be taken directed from the film version of Gaiman's novella Coraline. The story of Coraline is certainly a creepy one that would fit the 'Treehouse of Horror' tone well. It's about a little girl who feels ignored by her parents, and finds a doorway leading to a parallel world, where more attentive versions of her parents live. She soon learns that her "Other Mother" is actually evil, and wants to keep Coraline in her world. The little girl has to save her real parents in order to protect herself. Adding to the creepy factor is that everyone in the parallel world has buttons where their eyes should be. The idea of an evil Marge Simpson with button eyes is certain to be a memorable and frightening image.
And Coraline being the answer would also explain why Gaiman is voicing Snowball. In Coraline there is a black cat who talks to the protagonist, though only in the other world. The cat acts as a guide, so Gaiman voicing Snowball would allow the author to guide Lisa - in the role of Coraline - through his own story.
If the other two segments in the 2017 'Treehouse of Horror' are based on stories even half as creepy as Neil Gaiman's Coraline, then fans can certainly expect another unforgettable Halloween episode of The Simpsons this year.
The Simpsons 29th season will premiere on Fox October 1, with 'Treehouse of Horror' expected to be the fourth episode of the season.