Childhood & Early Life
Matt Groening was born on 15 February 1954, at Portland, in Oregon, USA. His father, Homer Philip Groening, was a writer, filmmaker and advertiser and his mother, Margaret Ruth, was a teacher.
He grew up in Portland and did his schooling from the Ainsworth Elementary School and Lincoln High School. In 1972, he enrolled at the Evergreen State College in Olympia and studied there for five years.
During this time he was the editor of college paper ‘The Cooper Point Journal’. He used to write articles and draw cartoon illustrations for the journal. While at college, he befriended famous cartoonist Lynda Barry, whom he also regards as a great inspiration.
Matt Groening has stated that he was inspired to draw cartoons after watching the animation movie ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’. His other role model was cartoonist, Charles Monroe Schulz, who was known for his comic creation ‘Peanuts’.
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After graduation, Matt Groening moved to Los Angeles, in 1977, with the aim of becoming a writer. However, he began doing a series of odd jobs while at the city. It was at this time that he began drawing cartoons for his self-published book titled ‘Life in Hell’, which was based on his struggles and featured ‘Binky’ an oppressed rabbit. He first sold his comic to magazine ‘Wet’, in 1978.
Later, he got employed at an alternative newspaper Los Angeles Reader, and here with the support of his supervisor, Matt Groening was able to officially publish ‘Life in Hell’ as his first comic strip, in 1980. He was also given the responsibility of handling the paper’s music column for a short period. The comic strip ‘Life in Hell’ was a huge success.
In 1984, certain relationship themed strips from his work were published by co- worker Deborah Caplan, as a book titled’ Love in Hell’. The book became a success with over 20000 copies being sold in its initial two printings. Following this success, came his next work, ‘Work is Hell’, also published by Deborah Caplan.
The duo left the newspaper company and Matt Groening founded the Acme Features Syndicate that distributed ‘Life in Hell’. Life in Hell’ comic strips were published in over 250 weekly papers and they were later collated in a series of books titled: ‘School is Hell’, ‘Childhood is Hell’, ‘The Big Book of Hell’, and ‘The Huge Book of Hell’.
The strip continued to be published in the LA Weekly until 2009, when they were unable to pay Matt Groening anymore. Even to this date, it continues to appear in many other alternative newspapers.
Upon seeing his work in the comic strip, producer and writer, James L Brooks, expressed his interest to involve Matt Groening in the creation of an animated series to run on comedy series ‘The Tracy Ullman Show’. Matt Groening created a dysfunctional family and ‘The Simpsons’ aired on the show for the first time in 1987.
Beginning 1987, he worked in the ‘Traccy Ullman Show’ for two years as writer and animator. Though the ‘Tracy Ullman Show’ was soon cancelled, ‘The Simpsons’ had gained popularity and earned its exclusive half an hour spin-off series.
The Simpsons’ premiered in 1989 with him as creator, writer, voice actor and executive producer. ‘The Simpsons’ was mostly a satire aimed at politicians, teachers, police and other authorities. The show went on to become the longest running US primetime TV series and earn multiple awards. It is currently running in its 27th season.
In 1994, Matt Groening started the comic book publishing company named ‘Bongo Comics’. The company published comics related to ‘The Simpsons’ and “Futurama’. The following year he founded Zongo Comics to target mature comic readers.
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Post years of research in science fiction, in 1997, Matt Groening along with producer, David X Cohen, created an animated series project titled ‘Futurama’, about life in the year 3000. The show premiered under the Fox Broadcasting Company banner, in 1999. After four years the show was cancelled, however, it maintained a strong fan following.
While working on his animated series ‘Futurama’, he took up multiple roles like voice actor, creator, writer and executive producer of the show. He also made appearances in episodes of television series ‘The Pitts’, ‘Portlandia’ and ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’.
Matt Groening has made appearances in films and documentaries, such as, ‘Comic Book: The Movie’ (2004), ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’ (2005), ‘The Seventh Python’ (2008) and ‘I Know That Voice’ (2013).
He donned the role of an executive producer for animated films ‘Futurama: Bender's Game’ (2007), ‘Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs’ (2008), ‘Futurama: Bender's Game’ (2008), and ‘Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder’ (2009).
In 2012, a 3-D short film based on ‘The Simpsons’ was released with the title ‘The Longest Daycare’. Matt Groening was the writer and executive producer of this project.
Awards & Achievements
Matt Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and 23 Annie Awards across various categories.
His animated series ‘The Simpsons’ have won the Primetime Emmy Awards in the ‘Outstanding Animated Program’ for the years 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000,2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
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He received the Annie Award (for accomplishments in animation) in the ‘Best Animated Television Production’ category for his series ‘The Simpsons’ for six years from the year 1992 to 1997.
Matt Groening received the Annie Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Primetime or Late Night Television Program’ for ‘The Simpsons’ in the years 1998, 2000 and 2001.
His work ‘The Simpsons’ grabbed the Annie Award in the ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Program’ category for the year 1999.
He won the Annie Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production’ for his animated series ‘The Simpsons’ during three consecutive years i.e. 2002, 2003 and 2004.
In 2008, Matt Groening won the Annie Award in the ‘Writing in a Feature Production’ for comedy film ‘The Simpsons movie’. The same year his direct-to-video film ‘Futurama: Bender's Big Score’ earned him the Annie Award for ‘Best Animated Home Entertainment’.
In 2009 and 2010, Matt Groening was awarded with the Annie Award in the category ‘Best Animated Home Entertainment’ for ‘Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs’ and ‘Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder’ respectively.
His television series titled ‘ Futurama’ also earned him the Annie Award for ‘Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production’ in the years 2010 and 2014, while his other work ‘ The Simpsons’ won the award in this category in the years 2011, 2012 and 2015.
In 2002, he won the Reuben Award by the National Cartoonists Society for his work, ‘Life in Hell’.
In 2004. Matt Groening received the British Comedy Award for his ‘Outstanding contribution to comedy’.