Comic Book Guy
|The Simpsons character|
|Comic Book Guy|
|Job||Proprietor of The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop|
|Relatives||"Comic Book Gay" (cousin)|
|Voice actor||Hank Azaria|
|The Simpsons||"Three Men and a Comic Book"|
Comic Book Guy (CBG) is the common, popular name for Jeff Albertson, a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the second-season episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", which originally aired on May 9, 1991. CBG is the proprietor of a comic book store, The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop. He is based on "every comic-bookstore guy in America" and represents a stereotypical middle-aged comic-book collector. He has become well known for his distinctive accent and catchphrase, "Worst [noun] ever!".
Role in The Simpsons
Comic Book Guy (claiming Jeff Albertson to be his real name in the episode "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass") is a morbidly obese, nerdy and snobby man best known for his eloquence and sarcastic quips. He is obsessed with collecting comic books and is an avid science fiction buff. He holds a master's degree in folklore and mythology (having translated The Lord of the Rings into Klingon as part of his thesis), has an IQ of 170, and is a member of the Springfield branch of Mensa. He has long hair, which he always keeps tied in a ponytail. His catchphrase is the declaration "worst/best [subject] ever", sometimes to the point of breaking the fourth wall. For example, in the episode "Saddlesore Galactica", he wears a T-shirt saying "Worst Episode Ever" and criticizes the idea of the Simpson family keeping a horse since that was the subject of a previous episode. Another example of breaking the fourth wall occurs in an episode when Comic Book Guy's chair collapses, and he sarcastically says "Ooh, a fat man falls. Real original." Despite his solitary life, in The Simpsons Movie, minutes before his likely death, Comic Book Guy says that his obsessive comic book collecting has been a "life well spent". However, in "Treehouse of Horror VIII", when a nuclear missile homes in on him, he says to himself, "Oh, I've wasted my life." (Although the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes are not part of the normal Simpsons canon.) In the 2008 episode "Any Given Sundance" it was revealed that he is also a writer and posts to his own site called "Ain't I Fat News," a take on the real-life movie review website Ain't It Cool News.
Comic Book Guy was once married in an online role-playing game. He and his Internet wife contemplated having children, but that would have severely drained his "power crystals." In Season 16's "There's Something About Marrying", he hopes to wed a Xena: Warrior Princess cardboard figure. While part of an intellectual junta that briefly ran Springfield in "They Saved Lisa's Brain", he proposes plans to limit breeding to once every seven years (a reference to the Vulcan blood fever of mating, called Pon farr), commenting that this would mean much less breeding for most, but for him, "much, much more". He is a virgin well into his forties, but becomes sexually and romantically involved with Principal Skinner's mother Agnes. He later dates Edna Krabappel. They are nearly married at a science fiction convention, but Edna changes her mind. CBG was not particularly surprised by this, saying, "There are a million valid reasons, but which one did you pick?" When Edna gently explains "It's like I'm DC Comics, and you're Marvel", he accepts the comparison without any rancor.
The Android's Dungeon
Comic Book Guy is the owner of The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, a local comic book store. The comics, collectibles, and toys he sells are of wildly varying quality and often have very high prices. His store is his sanctuary, where he holds some level of self-esteem, imperiously lording over pre-teen kids, like Bart Simpson and Milhouse Van Houten, using a heavily sarcastic tone and often banning certain customers for minor infractions. His store contains a lower level full of illegal videos (which include Mr. Rogers drunk, Alien Autopsy, Illegal Alien Autopsy, a "good version" of The Godfather Part III, and Kent Brockman picking his nose).
In "Husbands and Knives", the store was closed due to bankruptcy when a rival comic book shop opened across the road, run by an owner with significantly better customer service and social skills. Although his old store was bought by Marge Simpson in the same episode and not returned, Comic Book Guy continues running his store in future episodes and the rival store is no longer mentioned.
Comic Book Guy was partly inspired by a clerk at the Los Angeles Amok book shop who often "[sat] on the high stool, kind of lording over the store with that supercilious attitude and eating behind the counter a big Styrofoam container full of fried clams with a lot of tartar sauce." Groening noted:
|“||I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, 'I know who you based that comic book guy on. It's that comic-book guy right down the block.' And I have to tell them, 'No, it's every comic-bookstore guy in America.'||”|
Azaria based Comic Book Guy's voice on a college contemporary who went by the nickname "F", short for "Flounder" from the movie National Lampoon's Animal House, and lived in the room next door at him at Tufts University. Azaria "loves that the character is an adult who argues with kids as if they're his peers."
Within the series, the character Comic Book Guy is often used to represent a stereotypical inhabitant of the newsgroup alt.tv.simpsons. The first such instance occurred in the seventh season episode "Radioactive Man", in which Comic Book Guy is logging on to his favorite newsgroup alt.nerd.obsessive. David X. Cohen often read alt.tv.simpsons to gauge audience response to episodes. He decided to lampoon the passion and the fickleness of the fans.
In the eighth season episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" after Comic Book Guy views the Itchy & Scratchy episode featuring Poochie, he immediately goes on the Internet and writes, “Worst episode ever” on a message board; a commentary on how the active audience nit-picks the episode. The writers respond by using the voice of Bart Simpson:
Comic Book Guy: Last night's Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured I was on the Internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.
The catchphrase further appears on his T-shirt in the eleventh season episode "Saddlesore Galactica", and as the title of the twelfth season episode "Worst Episode Ever". The catchphrase can also be used for describing other things by saying, "Worst. (Noun). Ever."
A long-running gag on the show was never to reveal the character's name, with other characters referring to him as "Comic Book Guy". The writers had intended to name the character as early as his first episode, but they could not think of a name for him, and they called him "Comic Book Guy", with the intention of naming the character the next time they used him. However, they continually procrastinated. Finally, in the February 6, 2005 episode, "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass", Comic Book Guy nonchalantly tells Ned Flanders: "My name is Jeff Albertson, but everyone calls me 'Comic Book Guy'". Showrunner Al Jean remarked: "That was specifically done to make people really mad. We just tried to pick a generic name. It was also the Super Bowl show. We did it so the most people possible would see it." Groening stated that he had originally intended him to be called Louis Lane and be "obsessed and tormented by" Lois Lane, but Groening was not present when the writers chose the name. His name is also mentioned in The Simpsons Game.
Hank Azaria has won several Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his work on The Simpsons, winning one in 2001 for voicing Comic Book Guy and various other characters in the episode "Worst Episode Ever".
Merchandising and other media
Comic Book Guy is featured on the cover of the twelfth season DVD. He appears on other media as well, including t-shirts and drinking glasses.
In The Simpsons Game, he explains all the clichés that the player comes across during the game. Comic Book Guy has appeared in his own five-part comic book, in which his death influenced a nerd and geek gang war. The Simpsons Library of Wisdom includes a volume entitled "Comic Book Guy's Book of Pop Culture".
Comic Book Guy appears in Hit and Run as a drivable character, the host for bonus mission level four and host for a level seven mission. He is also a passenger in Road Rage.
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