Three Men and a Comic Book

Three Men and a Comic Book                               Written by Jeff Martin
                                                      Directed by Wes M. Archer

TV Guide synopsis

Less-than-expected pay for work for a neighbor (Cloris Leachman) forces Bart
to go partners with Milhouse and Martin on a rare comic book, but who will
keep the treasure?

Didja notice ...

    Special Guest Voice
        Cloris Leachman (Mrs. Quick)

    ... the signs that went past while Bart and Lisa were riding
        to the comic convention?  [I sure didn't.]
    ... the kid at the comic convention dressed as Krusty?
    ... the Itchy and Scratchy poster at the convention?
    ... Buddy `Fallout Boy' Hodges smokes?
    ... the goofy face Bart makes when he says `fine'?
        ``You really are a sport, Dad, taking us out to a <fine> restaurant
        like Krusty Burgers?''
    ... Maggie smashing french fries into the table?
    ... young Marge was wearing a Lisa-dress?
    ... Milhouse sleeps with his glasses on?
    ... Marge's custom hood on her jacket?
    ... the crooked cops not only accepted Bart's bribe, but they
        also littered the street with the empty beer cups?  [Not
        to mention drinking on the job.]
    ... when Marge serves the boys milk and s'mores, it sounds like they're
        eating rocks!  (I.e., not the satisfying `crunch' followed by `munch
        munch' but rather the sound of, well, rocks being eaten.)

    ... the surly Krusty Burger employee at the counter?  (complete
        with cigarette and ketchup-stained uniform.)  [Gianni Schicchi]

    ... Patty and Selma didn't have raspy voices until they started
        smoking?  [Chuck Mosher]

and perhaps the single most important DYN of the entire episode...

    ... Radioactive Man had FIVE (count 'em!) fingers after the atomic
        bomb exploded! {cjb}

Truly inspired moments:

    The Wonder Years voice-over.  Yes, that was Daniel Stern's voice.

    At the very end when it looks as if we're going to have a moral
    sledgehammered into us, we get a nice twist.

Movie References

    The title is probably a pun on `Three Men and a Baby', though
        Tom Owen suggests it might come from the more obscure series of
        books titled `Three Men and a ...' by Jerome K. Jerome.
  + Treasure of the Sierra Madre
        - Paranoia over a jointly-held valuable.
        - `Nobody makes a sap out of...' {to}
        - `Simpsons Illustrated' said so.
  ~ Batman
        - Bart [Michael Keaton] grabs the comic book guy [criminal] and
          says, ``I'm Bartman [Batman].''  Same shot, same inflection. {sf}
    Gone with the Wind (the amputation scene)
        - Bart's silhouetted agony when the iodine is applied. {kl}
    The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 156f.
        - Martin says ``This is the stuff dreams are made of.'' {rjc}
          This quote was popularized by...
    The Maltese Falcon
        - Martin says ``This is the stuff dreams are made of.'' {sp, kjg}
  ~ Simpsons pinball machine
        - `Uh oh, looks like rain.' {jjh}
    Lord of the Flies
        - Martin makes a squealing noise when he falls, then Bart
          calls him `Piggy' and threatens to stuff an apple in his mouth. {jt}
  ~ Some Hitchcock movie (Saboteur?)
        - Milhouse's sleeve starts tearing. {gh}  [Gimme a break. --rjc]
  ~ True Grit
        - John Wayne says, ``By god, she reminds me of <me>.'' {abw}

Freeze Frame Fun


In Patti and Selma's room: Beach Blanket Beethoven, Private Surfboarder.

At the comics convention: McBane [note spelling].

Animation Goofs

Dave Hall {dh}:

Marge's apron is drawn rather badly.  From the front, you see where the
apron clearly tied and the two straps go over her shoulders, but from the
back, the straps are gone.  [And since when did apron have shoulder straps?
It's not a dress; it's an apron! --rjc]

Comments and Observations

The Awesome Powers of Bartman (Stephan E J Papa):

1) Ability to make whishing noise when moving into camera view.

2) Ability to change into always carried super-costume in a phone booth.

The Wonder Years Voice-over

For non-American viewers

The program `Wonder Years' consists of the reminiscences of a now-adult
Kevin Arnold, who looks back on his childhood (circa 1970) and provides
voice-over narration of the action.

In the program, Kevin's narration is never interrupted because the adult
Kevin is telling the story in retrospect, and therefore can insert pauses
in the action wherever he wants.

Bart's version of the Wonder Years

David Tamkin explains:

What was really out of place for Bart's retrospectives is that an adult Bart
cannot yet exist, or it would violate the time line established in "The Way
We Was," "Principal Charming," "Bart Gets an F," "Three Men and a Comic
Book," "Moaning Lisa," "Some Enchanted Evening," and other episodes that have
given us ages or dates.  We have to view it as a flash-forward in Bart's mind
(like the one in "Bart Gets an F"); Bart zones out into thinking about how
he'll look back on these events when he reaches adulthood, but unlike the
narrations of a grown-up Kevin Arnold, who can hit the pause button on his
memories of childhood whenever he pleases, Bart <is> in his childhood and
cannot violate his childhood's timing.  Thus, his fantasy flash-forwards are
interruptible by the real events of his childhood but Kevin's retrospective
narrations are interruptible only by the real events of Kevin's adulthood,
but not by those of his adolescence, which are fitted around the narration.

Rock, Scissors, Paper

Corby Page notes that `best 3 out of 5' doesn't make sense when there are
three players.

Andrew Tannenbaum ( notes:

I thought the writers intentionally goofed to add to the cathartic
irony of the scene, since the methods got successively more ridiculous.
They could have chosen to rotate Sundays, then they could have chosen
to reroll on zero, then they could have chosen a simpler game than Rock,
Scissors, Paper for three people.  Only when the method got silly
enough, did the three of them agree to it. observes that the bank clerk's line ``Let

the good times roll!'' was spoken so that the word `times' came out like
`dimes'.  Pun?  Happy coincidence?  You make the call.


What are imitation marshmallows?  Marshmallows are already one of the most
artificial foods on the face of the earth! asks...

    ... why was it that Marge got her gravel voice from birth, while
        Patty and Selma only developed it through smoking?
    ... any speculation on the _special_ relationship that seems to have
        existed between Dirk "Radioactive Man" Richter and Buddy "Fallout
        Boy" Hodges?

Quotes and scene summary

 Marge chauffeurs Lisa and Bart en route to the Springfield Comics
   Lisa:  If we don't get to the convention soon, all the good comics will
          be gone!
   Bart:  Ah, what do you care about good comics?  All you every buy is Casper
          the Wimpy Ghost.
   Lisa:  I think it's sad that you equate friendliness with wimpiness, and
          I hope it'll keep you from ever achieving true popularity.
   Bart:  Well, you know what I think?  I think Casper is the ghost of
          Richie Rich. [shows comics of Casper and Richie Rich]
   Lisa:  Hey, they do look alike!
   Bart:  Wonder how Richie died.
   Lisa:  Perhaps he realized how hollow the pursuit of money really is and
          took his own life.
   Marge: Kids, could you lighten up a little?
   -- driving to the comics convention, ``Three Men and Comic Book''
 At the convention, Bart and Lisa stand in line for tickets, and discover
 that visitors who come dressed as comic-book stars are entitled to a
   Too bad you didn't come dressed as a popular cartoon character.
   -- Lisa to Bart at the comics convention, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
      [a little meta-humor for your enjoyment]
 So Bart ducks into a phone booth and emerges as BartMan.  But it doesn't
 get him a discount.  Diamond Joe Quimby delivers the opening address for the
 convention.  Martin goes to the lost-and-found table in search of a left
 Vulcan ear.  At a table where prospective artists have the opportunity
 to show their work to an industry professional, Bart happens upon Otto.
   Bart: Oooh, what's that?
   Otto: My very own idea for a comic book, little man.
         [unveils his conception of Busman, which bears a distinct resemblance
         to Otto despite some anatomically awesome features]
         It's about a dude who drives a school bus by day, but by night,
         fights vampires in a post-apocalyptic war zone!
   Bart: Cool!
   -- A Heroic Ideal, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart attends a film exhibition of one of the early Radioactive Man
   Radioactive Man: Ah, these Laramie cigarettes give me the steady nerves that
       I need to combat evil.
   Fallout Boy: Gee willikers, Radioactive Man.  Wished I was old enough to
       smoke Laramies.
   Radioactive Man: Sorry, Fallout Boy, not until you're sixteen.
   -- ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 The convention's celebrity guest is none other than Buddy `Fallout Boy'
 Hodges himself, who fields questions from the inquisitive youngsters.
   Do you think the ghost of Dirk Richter haunts the bordello where his
   bullet-riddled body was found?
   -- Bart asks a pointed question at a Q&A session at the comic convention,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 After the seminar, Bart checks out a dealer's display table.  The dealer
 shows Bart his most prized possession...
   Bart:   Wow, Radioactive Man #1!  I bet it's worth a million bucks!
   Dealer: It is, my lad.  But I'll let you have it for a hundred, because you
           remind me of me.
   -- A deal that's hard to beat, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
   Until this moment, I never knew why God put me on this earth, but now I know:
   To buy that comic book!
   -- Bart, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 but Bart has only $30.  The convention ends, and the Shriners arrive to
 use the center.  Homer and Marge pick up the kids, who are pleased that
 Homer is taking them to Krusty Burger for dinner.  Then Bart asks...
   Bart:  I need a hundred dollars for a comic book.
   Homer: A hundred bucks for a comic book?  Who drew it, Michael Milangelo?
   -- ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
   Bart:  I want this more than anything in the world.
   Homer: Well, T.S.!
   -- Bart wants $100 to buy a comic book, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 At Krusty Burger...
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No.
   Bart:  Please, Dad.
   Homer: No!  Now look, son, we all know that usually when you bug me like
          this, I give in, so I'm not mad at you for trying.  (It shows
          you've been paying attention.)  But we all know I'm not gonna give
          you a hundred dollars.  Now, are you going to stop bugging me?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  No.
   Homer: Are you?
   Bart:  OKAY!!!!
   Homer: Hoo hoo!  I win!  In your face!  Yeah, how do you like them apples?
   -- ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Marge tells Bart a story of how she earned money to buy a light bulb toy
   Young Selma: We'll give you half our allowance.
   Young Patty: Uh huh.  But you have to be our slave.
   Young Marge: Oh, okay.
   Young Selma: This gives us a lot more free time.
   Young Patty: Uh huh.  Let's take up smoking.
   -- Marge wants to buy a light-bulb toy oven, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 and concludes...
   Marge: Maybe a part-time job is the answer.
   Bart:  Oh, Mom, I couldn't ask you to do that.  Your already taking care
          of Maggie and Lisa is such a handful.
   Lisa:  She means <you> should get a job, stupid!
   -- Bart needs $100 to buy a comic book, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
   Bart:  [Daniel Stern's voice, a la Wonder Years]  Me?  Get a job?  Were they
          serious?  I didn't realize it at the time, but a little piece of my
          childhood had slipped away, forever.
   Homer: Bart!  What are you staring at?
   Bart:  Uh, nothing.  [Daniel Stern continues]  He didn't say it, and neither
          did I, but at that moment, my dad and I were closer than we...
   Homer: Bart!  Stop it!
   Bart:  Sorry.
   -- ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 [End of Act One.  Time: 7:04]

 Bart embarks on a Quest for Cash.
   Bart:  Ching-ching-ching!  [smashes a souvenir coin collection he received
          from Patty and Selma]  [goes to the bank]  Americanize this, my good man.
   Clerk: Okay.
   Bart:  All those coins were only worth three lousy cents?
   Clerk: Let the good times roll!
   -- Bart is desperate for money, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart empties a half-full coke bottle, and takes it to his local Kwik-E-Mart.
   Bart: There you go, Apu.
   Apu:  Ah, very good.  Would you like the deposit defrayed from the cost of a
         jumbo cherry squishy?
   Bart: No, not today, I need the dime.
   Apu:  Oh, it is good to see you are learning a trade.
   -- Young entrepeneurship, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart sets up an outdoor beverage stand, but soon concludes that ``lemonade
 sucks''.  He manages to attract a significantly larger clientele when he
 switches to beer as his product of choice.
   Barney: Hey, Bart, can you give me one on credit?  I'm a little short this
   Bart:   Beat it.
   -- No harm in trying, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Trouble approaches...
   Cop:  Hey, uh, do you have liquor license here, young fella?
   Bart: Uh, my dog ate it.
   -- Bart's one-time lemonade stand is now a beer stand,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 ... but Bart manages to buy off the cops with some free brew.  Homer
 arrives home and wails tearfully at the loss of his beer.  At Jake's
 Unisex Hair Palace, Marge talks about Bart's dilemma, and Mrs. Quick
 offers to pay Bart to do chores at her house.  Bart goes to Mrs. Quick's
 house, where he gets an enthusiastic reception.
   Dried apricots?  Almond paste?  Sauerkraut candy!
   -- Mrs. Quick offers Bart some sweets, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart enquires about a soldier photo sitting on a desk, and Mrs. Quick
 recounts the tale of her brother Asa who died in WW II after holding a
 grenade too long.
   [Asa pulls the pin, ready to throw the grenade]
   This one's for you, Kaiser Bill.  Special delivery from Uncle Sam and all the
   boys in D company.  Yeah...  Johnny, Harris, Brooklyn Bob.  And Reggie.  Yeah,
   even Reggie.  He ain't so stuck up once you get to know hi...
   [*** KABOOM ***]
   -- And the rest is history, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Mrs. Quick sends Bart out to clear weeds from her jungle-like backyard, and
 sits down to enjoy a smarmy soap.
   Woman: Jack, please, I'm married.
   Jack:  [embraces her]  Ha.  Must be what's turning me on.  [hot stuff ensues]
   Mrs.Q: Filthy!  But genuinely arousing.
   -- Mrs. Quick watches a smarmy soap, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart comes in, scraped up by his arduous labor.  Mrs. Quick applies iodine
 directly to his cuts, with predictably painful results.  At home, Bart
 complains to Marge.  The next day, he gets to clean sludge from Mrs. Quick's
 drainage pipe.  Afterward, Mrs. Quick shows Bart her remarkably versatile
 wedding/funeral dress.  Bart goes to the comic shop, where he gazes at
 Radioactive Man #1 through the store window.
   Last night, I dreamed I held you in my arms.
   -- Bart, Romancing the Comic, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Later, Bart is scratched by Mrs. Quick's cat while scrubbing the floor.  But
 Mrs. Quick tends to Bart's injury with Tender Loving Care and a bottle of
   No, no, not the iodine.  Burn the germs off with a torch.
   Amputate my arm, but not the ....  AAAAAAAAAAAAA!
   -- Bart is treated by Mrs. Quick, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 At the end of the week, Bart receives the sum total of fifty cents.
   Mrs. Quick:  Bart!  You didn't say `Thank you'.
   Bart:        Listen Lady, I can leave without screaming, and I can
                leave without saying a bad word, but there is no way that I
                am saying `Thank you'.
   Mrs. Quick:  You're welcome!
   -- Bart is upset that he worked his tail off and got paid only fifty cents,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart comes home and mutters angrily.
   Homer: Hey, when I was your age, fifty cents was a lot of money.
   Bart:  Really?
   Homer: Naah.
   -- Bart is upset that he worked his tail off and got paid only fifty cents,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
   Bart:  I am through with working.  Working is for chumps.
   Homer: Son, I'm proud of you.  I was <twice> your age before I figured
          that out.
   -- Bart is upset that he worked his tail off and got paid only fifty cents,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart returns to the shop, and walks in on Martin trying to bargain for
 Radioactive Man #1.
   Martin: Can you let me have it for forty dollars?
   Dealer: Forty bucks?  You made me get off my stool for that?
   Martin: It's all I got.  I sold seeds.  I visited my aunt in the nursing home.
           I fished a dime out of the sewer, for God's sake!
   Dealer: No way.  [notices Bart]  What do you want?
   Bart:   Can I have it for thirty-five?
   -- Unsuccessful haggling, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Milhouse enters in search of a baseball card, but Bart realizes that the
 three of them together have enough money to buy the comic.  Martin and
 Milhouse consent to the joint purchase.
   Bart:   Look pal, we got a hundred bucks and we'd like to buy
           Radioactive Man #1.  So why don't you just waddle over
           there and get it?
   Dealer: Yes, sir.
   -- Bart in charge, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Outside the shop, the boys discover that each of them had intended to take
 comic home.  A storm broods over the skies of Springfield, evilly portending
 the conflict that will soon arise between these three friends.

 [End of Act Two.  Time: 14:28]

 In Bart's treehouse, Martin, Milhouse, and Bart carefully read their comic
 and discover the secret origin of Radioactive Man.
   Martin: I would've thought that being hit by an atomic bomb would've
           killed him.
   Bart:   Now you know better.
   -- The gang read the original `Radioactive Man' comic,
      ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 The boys negotiate the terms of their joint ownership.
   Martin:   How about this, guys?  Bart can have it Mondays and Thursdays,
             Milhouse will get it Tuesdays and Fridays, and yours truly will
             take it Wednesdays and Saturdays.
   Bart:     Perfect!
   Milhouse: Wait a minute!  What about Sundays?
   Bart:     [suspiciously] Yeah, what <about> Sundays?
   Martin:   Well, Sunday possession will be determined by a random number
             generator.  I will take the digits 1 through 3, Milhouse will
             have 4 through 6, and Bart will have 7 through 9.
   Bart:     Perfect!
   Milhouse: Wait a minute!  What about 0?
   Bart:     [suspiciously] Yeah, what <about> 0?
   Milhouse: Yeah.
   Martin:   Well, in the unlikely event of a 0, possession will be determined
             by Rock Scissors Paper competition, best 3 out of 5.  How's that?
   Bart and: Oh, okay.
   Milhouse: Yeah, all right.
   -- An Equitable Split, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 But as the night progresses, tensions rise and suspicions breed.
 A fight breaks out, but it is cut short when Marges comes by to visit.
 Each suspecting the other two, all three spend the night in the treehouse
 with the comic book.  Later on in the evening, Martin gets up to go to
 the bathroom, but Bart and Milhouse think he is attempting to steal the
 comic.  They bind him up in a chair.  When Bart's paranoia increases to
 dangerous levels, Milhouse threatens to tell Marge.
   Bart:   Hey, Martin, tell him what we do with squealers.
   Martin: I don't know.  Is it worse than what you do with people who have to go
           to the bathroom?
   -- Crime and Punishment, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Bart and Milhouse fight fiercely as the storm rages outside.  Marge asks
 Homer to check on the kids, but Homer doesn't do a very good job of it.
 Milhouse tumbles out of the treehouse.  Bart catches him by the sleeve,
 which slowly begins to tear.  Meanwhile, the wind blows the comic book
 against the doorway, and it is on the verge of falling into the rain
 outside.  Faced with the decision of saving Milhouse or the comic, Bart
 reluctantly chooses Milhouse.  During the brief moment in which Bart
 comforts the frightened Milhouse, the comic falls outside onto the
 rain-drenched ground.  Then Santa's Little Helper eats it.  Then lightning
 incinerates it.  Marge summons the boys inside because the weather is so bad.
   I've got some cocoa on the stove.  Who wants imitation marshmallows?
   -- Marge, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 The next morning, Homer finds the car filled with water because he left
 the windows open.  In a beautiful little 3-D animation sequence, the boys
 ponder over the lessons of the previous evening.
   Bart:     We worked so hard, and now it's all gone.
             We ended up with nothing because the three of us can't share.
   Milhouse: What's your point?
   Bart:     Nothing.  Just kind of ticks me off.
   -- The moral of the story, ``Three Men and a Comic Book''
 Well, the world is safe again...  But...  for how long?

 [End of Act Three.  Time: 20:24]

 After the 30-Apr-1992 airing, a brief Simpsons clip was shown.

 Close-up of the Simpsons television.  A picture of Bill Cosby, with
 the legend, ``The Cosby Show / 1984-1992''.  Muses Homer, ``Little
 Theo.  You grew up before our eyes.''  Bart asks, ``Hey, Dad.  How
 come they're taking The Cosby Show off the air?''  Homer answers,
 ``Because Mr. Cosby wanted to stop before the quality suffered.''
   Quality, schmality!  If I had a TV show, I'd run that sucker into the ground!
   -- Bart learns of the demise of `The Cosby Show'
 Homer pats Bart on the back.  ``Amen, boy.  Amen.''

 [Time: 0:24]

   Episode summaries Copyright 1991 by Raymond Chen and Corby Page.  Not to be
   redistributed in a public forum without permission.  (The quotes themselves,
   of course, remain the property of The Simpsons, and the reproduced articles
   remain the property of the original authors.  I'm just taking credit for the

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