The Simpsons merchandise has gone stale. It's a shame – practically a crime – because the longest running scripted show in television history is a gold mine of cultural touchstones, visual references and sly in-jokes. Fans, current and former alike, will be reminded of that thanks to a first-of-its-kind line of T-shirts that is as brilliantly creative as the show.
With the backing of The Simpsons creators, a design challenge was launched in March to crowd-source T-shirt creations from around the world. The winning 29 designs (picked from more than 800 submissions) have just been announced. It's the first time fan artists have designed a collection of officially licensed Simpsons merch. And it's fantastic. There's plenty of meta jones, obviously, such as the Be Sharps Tour shirt or the Lard Lad tee. There are also homages to Duffman, Milhouse and Nelson's patented Ha Ha, among others.
The winning entries, chosen by the more than 600,000 votes cast in the contest, come from artists from around the world, including Toronto's Michael Lopez, who designed a Warhol-inspired T-shirt of Duff beer can pop art. All the shirts sell for $25 through Threadless, the Chicago-based online design community (threadless.com) that partnered with Fox to hold the design challenge. Personal favourite: the Muumuu. Want to know why? You'll have to call me to find out. To obtain a special dialling wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.