Only Homer Simpson would take his daughter’s disillusionment with the tween books she loves and try to cash in on it. And only The Simpsons would ask fantasy author Neil Gaiman to make a guest appearance to help out with Homer’s potentially lucrative literary project.
On Sunday’s episode, titled “The Book Job,” Lisa Simpson learns the dark truth behind the tween-lit phenomenon and loses faith in her favorite fantasy-novel characters. When Homer discovers that Lisa’s fascination with young-adult novels is an opportunity to make some dough, he hooks up with the Coraline writer to create the next tween craze.
Gaiman said his part on the show amounts to more than just a quick gag.
“Truthfully, what I’d expected was the normal kind of Simpsons celebrity cameo: You know, Homer Simpson says something like, ‘Not even Neil Gaiman could come up with something as weird as this!’ and then you cut to me stroking my chin going, ‘You’re right, I couldn’t,’” Gaiman said during a conference call with reporters Friday.
“When they actually sent me the script and I started to read it and discovered that I was in it all they way through and was actually having to act and that stuff happened, it was enormously fun,” he continued.
As the episode unfolds, Homer and Gaiman connect with a polished publisher (voiced by Andy Garcia) at the Springfield Book Fair.
The episode is fortuitously timed to this weekend’s release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1. When asked about the sparkly vampire phenomenon, Gaiman noted that he hadn’t read the books, but ultimately was looking for something to replace teen vampires.
“The last time I was asked this question was when I won the Carnegie Medal in the U.K., and I said that I thought there were too many vampires around and it was probably time for something else…. Now I’m just waiting for the next thing with absolute fascination to see what it is,” Gaiman told reporters.
Gaiman teased that the next big thing for tween horror might be … trolls.
“In the Simpsons episode we did, I don’t know if it’s giving too much away to say that Homer and Co. decided it was trolls. What happens to that, you’ll have to find out.”
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on Fox.