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John Swartzwelder

Updated on September 28, 2012

John Swartzwelder - Television Comedy Writer

John Swartzwelder is an American writer best known for his contributions to the Animated Series The Simpsons. He has also written a number of comedy novels and worked as a writer for Saturday Night Live. He is famous for his reclusiveness and therefore there is little known about him aside from his work. Because of his reclusiveness, many fans of The Simpsons were convinced that he did not actually exist and was actually a pen name for a group of writers.

John thinks that using a "thesaurus" is cheating.

John Swartzwelder - A History

Although most commonly known for his work on The Simpsons, Swartzwelder began his career in advertising. His writing career began at Saturday Night Live, where he was introduced to George Meyer, who has also worked on The Simpsons. When George Meyer left Saturday Night Live to create the Magazine Army Man he recruited Swartzwelder as a writer for the magazine.

John is credited as a writer on 59 episodes of The Simpsons, which is far more than any other writer on the staff. He was recruited along with George Meyer by Sam Simon, one of The Simpsons executive producers, because Simon was a fan of the Army Man Magazine. John is an avid smoker and in 1994 he was given special permission to write his episodes from home and not attend rewrite sessions because California's Smoking Ban meant he could no longer smoke in the writer's room.

When Swartzwelder's favorite coffee shop went out of business, he allegedly bought the booth that he wrote in and installed it in his home.

Clip from "Bart The Murderer" written by John Swartzwelder - Episode 8F03 - Released in 1991

John Swartzwelder - A History Continued

John wrote for the Simpsons from 1990 till 2003 with his Last episode “The Regina Monologues” airing in the 15th season, but actually having been written for the 14th season. John returned to the Simpsons in 2007 as a writer for the Simpsons Movie but has not written any other Television episodes. During his time away from the Simpsons Swartzwelder has written several absurdist novels, beginning with his first novel The Time Machine Did It published in 2004. In 2005 he published Double Wonderful followed by How I Conquered Your Planet in 2006, The Exploding Detective in 2007, and Dead Men Scare Me Stupid in 2008.

John Swartzwelder's Books

John Swartzwelder - A History Continued

Fellow The Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss have described Swartzwelder as a fan of Preston Sturges films and “anything old timey American”. References to these themes can be seen in many of Swartzwelder’s Episodes including carnies, 19th Century baseball players, Sicilian gangsters, hobos, and Prohibition-era speakeasies.

According to Conan O'Brien, John Swartzwelder seems like he was taken right out of the 1840's.

John Swartzwelder- Legendary Recluse

John Swartzwelder has become legendary for his reclusiveness. He has rarely, if ever, attended any of the public appearances for the Simpsons. There have been many online debates by fans of the existence of John Swartzwelder. Because of the large number of episodes credited to Swartzwelder, many fans theorized that the name was actually a pseudonym for either episodes written by several writers or for writers who where not taking credit for the episode. Swartzwelder has refused to participate in any of the audio commentaries on The Simpsons DVD sets, even though he has been asked numerous times. During the commentary for “The Cartridge Family” in Season 9, show runner Mike Scully called John Swartzwelder on the phone and recorded the conversation. After talking with them for a few minutes, Swartzwelder said “It’s too bad this really isn’t John Swartzwelder” before ending the call.

Even though Swartzwelder is responsible for many of the environmental themes in The Simpsons, he has been described as an Anti-Environmentalist.

The Simpson's Movie Trailer

Every year, Swartzwelder rents a baseball stadium and plays baseball with 17 friends.

Spider Pig Theme Song

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Springfield is home to the Mt. Swartzwelder historic cider mill.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I stumbled on to a picture of some cubscouts from the 50's in my garage. One was myself and the one of the others was John Swartzwelder. We grew up in Kennydale, Wa just outside of Renton, Wa. He books come from Kennydale Books which I believe is named from the area we grew up in. I am not much of a Simpson fan but when I came across his name on the net, I was quite surprised at his success.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I think I'm related to John Swartzwelder