Matt Groening Matt Groening is an Animator, Cartoonist, Producer, Screenwriter, and a Writer. But, he is most known as a cartoonist for his TV show The Simpsons. This means he that makes animated cartoons. His subversive comic sensibility have probably influenced as many kids as Joe Camel.
-James L. Brooks Born on February 15th, 1954, Matt Groening grew up in Portland Oregon. Groening began his drawing career at an early age. In fact, it was the first day of school. Matt admits, however, that his drawing during class often resulted in a visit to the principal's office.
Yet despite the disapproval of his teachers, Groening refused to give up what he loved the most. In 1977, Matt graduated from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. According to an article in the book "Simpsons Mania", Evergreen was not exactly your average college. It didn't give grades and had no required classes. While at Evergreen, Matt spent most of his time working on the school's newspaper and later headed to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a writer. Instead of writing for a newspaper or magazine, Matt worked as a chauffeur and biographer for an 88-year old movie director.
Matt's career took a drastic turn when he created a cynical comic entitled "Life In Hell" which was based on his early experiences in Los Angeles. The comic strip was about a rabbit named Binky. Other characters in the comic were Sheba (Binky's girlfriend) and two identical characters called Akbar and Jeff. In 1980, "Life In Hell" debuted in the Los Angeles Reader, a weekly newspaper where Groening served as editor. Life In Hell became a huge success for Matt and the comic, after ten years of existence, is featured in over 200 newspapers in both the United States and Canada. Several books by Groening including "School Is Hell,"Love Is Hell,"Work is Hell,"The Big Book of Hell,"Akbar and Jeff's Guide to Life,"Binky' Guide to Love" and "Love is Hell - 10th Anniversary Edition", can be found in local bookstores.
Matt's cartooning career, however, did not end there. On September 8, 1986, The Simpsons made its debut as a two-minute sketch on the Tracey Ullman Show. According to Groening, he had received a phone call from James L. Brooks who wanted him to do some animation for the popular show. Matt quickly drew five brand new characters for the presentation. Characters that would soon get a huge following of fans.
The Simpsons was Groening's first experience with animation. The Simpsons earned instant acclaim by critics and fans when in 1990; it debuted as the Fox Network's highest-rated program. Over the last ten years, the show has won an Emmy award and made history for becoming the longest running prime time animated series on television. The Simpson family, comprised of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, are named after, but not based on, Groening's family. Matt's father and son are named Homer, his mother is named Margaret and his younger sisters are named Lisa and Maggie.
Bart, on the other hand, is an anagram of the word "brat", however, Groening insists that Bart is not a portrayal of himself. As well, many of the characters such as Chief Wig gum have been named after various streets where Matt was raised. With the success of his show, Groening when on to form the "Bongo Comics Group" in 1993. As the publisher of Bongo Comics, Groening has created four different comic book titles including: "Simpsons Comics,"Radioactive Man,"Batman" and "Itchy and Scratchy Comics". Groening has also produced two special comic series: Lisa Comics and Krusty Comics. The Simpsons Comics are currently still in production today and have published over 30 issues.
A number of books about the Simpsons have also been published including: "Bart's Guide to Life,"Making Faces with the Simpsons,"The Rainy Day Fun Book,"The Simpsons Family Album". Simpsons merchandise like T-shirts, posters, video games are still extremely popular with die-hard fans. Since its debut on the Tracy Ullman Show, "The Simpsons" have become the most well known animated prime time series worldwide. While the core characters have remained the same, the show has expanded its "cast" to include interesting, comical and well-rounded characters.
I think that Matt Groening is different from other artists because of his originality and creativity. To me, those are two very important things in being an artist. His work has always entertained. But, what hasn't changed is his ability to make people think, laugh and tune in every week.