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Matt Groening

Updated on April 16, 2009

Matt Groening- Creator of The Simpsons, Futurama, and Life in Hell

Matt Groening is most well known as the creator and executive producer of "The Simpsons". He is a cartoonist and writer responsible for the cartoon strip series "Life in Hell" and the Animated Television Cartoons "The Simpsons" and "Futurama". His work has received many impressive awards including Emmy's, Annie's and the Peabody Award, and in 2003 Groening was awarded the most prestigious award presented by the National Cartoonist Society; the Rueben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Matthew Abram Groening was born in Portland, Oregon on February 15, 1954 to Margaret Wiggum and Homer Phillip Groening. Groening was the middle of five children and grew up in Portland, the city of his birth and attended Lincoln High School. His father was a filmmaker, writer and cartoonist, and his mother was a teacher.

Groening attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington from 1972 to 1977, where he served as editor, writer and cartoonist of the schools campus newspaper The Cooper Point Journal Groening has referred to the school as "a hippie college, with no grades or required classes, that drew every weirdo in the Northwest."

Early Career

The Life in Hell Series

At the age of 23 Groening moved to Los Angles to become a writer. As many aspiring writers in Los Angeles do, Groening worked a series of menial jobs while attempting to develop his career as a writer and cartoonist.

While working at a record store in Los Angeles, Groening distributed a copy of a self published comic book, Life in Hell, which was his take on life in Los Angeles. The book was loosely inspired by the chapter "How to Go to Hell" from the Walter Kaufman Book Critique of Religion and Philosophy. Distribution of this book led to his first professional cartoon sale to "Wet" Magazine in 1978. The strip entitled "Forbidden Words" ran in the September/October 1978 issue.

Shortly after, Groening gained a position at the newly formed Los Angeles reader answering phones, typesetting, writing and delivering papers. He showed his cartoons to the editor and was soon given a spot in the newspaper for his "Life in Hell" cartoon strip. The comic strips official debut was April 25, 1980.

The "Life in Hell" series caught on quickly and in November of 1984 Deborah Caplan, Groening's co-worker and girlfriend at that time, offered to publish a series of relationship based Life in Hell strips titled "Love is Hell". The book sold 22,000 copies in the first two printings and led to the production of the book "Work is Hell" and shortly thereafter the creation of the "Life in Hell" Company which handled merchandising for the series. Groening also started Acme Features Syndicate which syndicated Life in Hell, Lynda Barry and John Callahan.

The Life in Hell series has since been syndicated in over 250 newspapers and anthologized in a several other books including School is Hell, Childhood is Hell, The Big Book of Hell and The Huge book of Hell.

The Simpsons

Originally Airing in 1987 as a series of 30 second shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show, The Simpsons was Matt Groening's first venture into animated Television. Producer James L. Brooks approached Groening after being impressed with his Life in Hell series. Brook's original idea was to make a collection of shorts based on the Life in Hell series, however Groening was afraid of losing his ownership rights, and created "The Simpsons" , supposedly in 10 minutes, while in the waiting area of Brooks' office. Groening took the names of the Characters from his parents and two of his sisters, and the character Bart is an anagram for "Brat".

The first Simpsons short aired on April 19, 1987 and by December 17, 1989 they had their first half hour Christmas Special leading off a regular series on January 14, 1990. The Simpsons has become the longest running animated series in primetime and also the longest running comedy and will culminate its 20th year on the air this season, with the final episode airing on January 14, 2010 exactly 20 years to the day from its first regular season episode.

One of My Favorite Simpsons Quotes

Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don't show up tomorrow don't bother showing up on Monday.

Homer: Woo-hoo. Four-day weekend.

The Simpsons Family

Who is your Favorite Simpsons Family Character?

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Matt Groening- The Simpsons Interview

The Simpsons Cast

Recurring Characters - Secondary Characters that have become regulars

There are quite a few Simpsons characters who started out as a one time joke or necessary character to fulfill the story needs. Many of these characters have become regulars on the series, developing their own stories and gaining a fan base.

Who is your favorite secondary Simpson character?

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Lisa the Vegetarian

Being a Vegetarian One of my Favorite Episodes from The Simpsons is Episode 3F03 "Lisa the Vegetarian" which first aired on October 15, 1995. At this time I had been a vegetarian for a few years and I really identified with the episode, plus it's just a funny episode with some great lines. Here are a few of my favorites:

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Ham?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Pork chops?

Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.

Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?

Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.

Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.

Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup homeboy?

Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.

Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.

Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.

Marge: Homer, you're not not-talking to me and secondly I heard what you said.

Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case.

Bart: Uhhh, dad, Lisa's the one you're not talking to.

Homer: Bart, go to your room.

Lisa:

Relax? I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God, I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

The Simpsons on Romance

Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.

The Simpsons Poll

How many more Seasons do you think The Simpson will stay on the air?

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Futurama

In 1997 Matt Groening teamed up with David X. Cohen to develop a new animated series called Futurama. The animated series, which first aired in 1999 was about Life in the year 3000.

Unfortunately the show was canceled by Fox in 2003, but recently Comedy Central has commissioned sixteen new episodes.

Matt Groening Futurama Interview

Awards and Honors

Matt Groening has won many awards through out his career and been nominated for many more. He has been nominated for 25 Primetime Emmy Awards and has won 11 of those awards. In 2002 Groening received the Reuben Award, the highest honor bestowed by the National Cartoonist Society and in 2004 he received the Brtish Comedy Award for “outstanding contribution to comedy”.

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Shout Out For Matt Groening!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      your work inspiring me......

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image

      thepartyanimal2 8 years ago

      I love the Simpsons - they are classic

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Like the Simpsons best when they're singing - esp their album "The Simpsons Sing The Blues". Nicely done lens though.

    • FunGifts4All profile image

      FunGifts4All 8 years ago

      Not a big fan of futurama or haven't read the Life is Hell books, but used to watch a lot of the Simpsons. Nicely done lens.