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Matt Groening


Matt Groening - Comic-Con 2010

Matt Groening talks to fans during The Simpsons panel session Saturday, July 24, at COMIC-CON 2010 in San Diego, CA.

Kristian Dowling/FOX

Rhymes with Raining, Not Moaning:

When James L. Brooks was looking for a cartoonist to create bumpers (cartoons that air before and after commercials) for The Tracey Ullman Show, he looked on his wall and saw a comic strip titled Life Is Hell, drawn by Matt Groening. Thus, The Simpsons was born.

After that, Groening and Brooks created a half-hour series for Fox and expanded the world of the Simpsons to include Springfield. The Simpsons debuted on Fox on January 14, 1990.

Early Days:

Matt Groening grew up in Portland, Oregon. (Because Springfield has a pier and an airport, many fans think the fictional town is based on Portland or the real-life town of Springfield, Oregon.) He graduated from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

'Life is Hell':

After college graduation, Matt Groening moved to Los Angeles, where he snagged a job at the Los Angeles Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper. His comic strip Life in Hell debuted in 1980. The comic strip chronicles the travails of a rabbit named Binky.

Deborah Caplan, Groening's future wife, worked in the advertising department of Los Angeles Reader. She realized much of the newspaper's success was due to Life in Hell and began promoting the comic strip. In 1984, now married, they quit their jobs and went to work drawing and promoting Life in Hell full time.

'The Simpsons':

When Matt Groening created The Simpsons, he had his family in mind; the characters are based on his own family members. Homer is named after his own father, who was also a cartoonist and filmmaker. Likewise, Maggie and Lisa are named after his own sisters, and his mother's name was Margaret. However, Bart's name is simply an anagram for "brat." Perhaps the prank-pulling, rule-bucking youngster is based on Matt? Regardless, Groening's subversive cartoon holds the record as the longest-running TV show.


Matt Groening and David X. Cohen came together to create a cartoon set in the future that could accommodate both comedy and science fiction. Coming up with a look for the cartoon was difficult, because the show would have a humorous side as well as a melancholy side. So, they compromised. David X. Cohen said, "We decided it should be a dark, drippy, cartoony, smelly Jetsons utopia." (Ted Anthony, Associated Press, April 24, 1999) So Futurama premiered on March 28, 1999, on Fox.

Trivia and Quotes:

Enjoy these tidbits and details about Matt Groening.
  • Adapted a children's book and produced Olive, the Other Reindeer in 1999, starring Drew Barrymore as Olive.
  • Voiced the character of Dill in Hair High, a satire of '50s and '60s high school released on 2005.
  • If you look at Homer Simpson's hair and ears, you'll see the initials "MG."
  • About Universal Studios The Simpsons Ride: "For twenty years I've been dreaming about this, and here it is -- a wild, thrilling Simpsons Ride put together by a huge number of talented artists and amusement-park maniacs." - May 15, 2008
  • About the United States Post Office issuing The Simpsons postage stamp: "This is the biggest and most adhesive honor The Simpsons has ever received." - April 9, 2009
  • About re-newing Futurama on Comedy Central: "We're very grateful to Comedy Central and Twentieth Television for this show of support," said Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. "Our entire staff will celebrate tonight by going out and getting even drunker." - March 28, 2011
  • Will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
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