A work of wacky creative genius like “The Simpsons” probably took decades of planning, developing and tweaking before it first saw the light of day. At least, that’s what people might think, especially knowing the global success that has come since Fox premiered the animated comedy in 1989.
But, no, creator Matt Groening says that he sketched the dysfunctional-yet-loving family completely on the fly while he was waiting for a meeting with producer James L. Brooks.
Those drawings, first brought to life as vignettes on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” laid the foundation for a multibillion-dollar franchise that became the most popular U.S. TV show in the world. “The Simpsons” is credited with having single-handedly revived prime-time animation.
Groening, who was protecting his irreverent "Life in Hell" comic strip by dashing off new characters to pitch to Brooks, looked close to home for “The Simpsons.” He named the family after his own – father, Homer, mother, Marge and sisters Maggie and Lisa. Bart is his forever-fourth-grade doppelganger.
His goal was to create a sitcom about the typical American family, but turned on its head, showing that authority figures weren’t always right.
Groening, a native of Portland, Ore., who started drawing cartoons as a kid, also created the animated franchise “Futurama.” He has said he considers himself a writer who just happens to be a cartoonist, and he’s promised to never forget what it feels like to be a kid, which he said informs his work.
Groening, a former record store clerk who once designed Apple advertising brochures, still writes the weekly strip "Life in Hell," which has spawned more than a dozen books and runs in some 250 newspapers. Its star, the miserable, lonely rabbit Binky, used to be a stand-in for Groening, but not anymore.
— T.L. Stanley for the Los Angeles Times