Life in Hell, by Matt Groening (1988)

Matt Groening is an American producer and cartoonist, best known for creating the world famous cartoon series 'The Simpsons' and 'Futurama'. Despite his aspirations to become a writer, Groening became a cartoonist. He had been scribbling in his notebooks at school, and he discovered that the angrier his teachers became, the better his work turned out. At University, he studied in the same year as Lynda Barry and Charles Burns, who became large influences on his work. Among his other comic influences are Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Carl Barks, Aline Kominsky, E.C. Segar, Ernie Bushmiller, Mad Magazine, Ronald Searle, Nicole Hollander, Heather MacAdams, David Boswell, Dennis P. Eichhorn, Peter Bagge, Doug Allen, Daniel Clowes, Lat, Jim Woodring, Harvey Pekar, Rowland Emett and Art Spiegelman.

Groening's cartoon series 'Life In Hell' started off as a series of doodles for his friends in Oregon. It was a satirical underground comic, that delved into all sorts of social issues, such as school, work, relationships, politics and children. After these cartoons showed up in Wet Magazine in 1977, they made their official debut as a comic strip in the Los Angeles Reader in April 1980. It was during this period that he met Gary Panter, whose character 'Jimbo' would later inspire Bart Simpson's hairdo. Groening also collected his strip in books like 'Love is Hell', 'Work is Hell' and 'School is Hell'. These were followed by a merchandise line and the launch of the Acme Features Syndicate that distributed the strip to several papers until 2012.

The Simpsons of Springfield, by Matt Groening

Groening has worked for television since 1987, when he was working for the Tracey Ullman Show. An initial attempt to adapt 'Life In Hell' to a series of animated cartoons eventually ended up as the series about the dysfunctional 'Simpsons' family. The feature started as 15-second bumpers before and after commercial breaks. By 1989, these films had become so successful, that they evolved into a fullblown animated sitcom. 'The Simpsons' have become the most successful sitcom since 'The Flintstones' and even broke that show's record as "longest running prime time animated TV series" in 1997. From the start, the series was praised for its satirical edge and often caused a stir because of its subversive content.

By 1991 the family had become notorious enough that President George Bush Sr. declared during a meeting of the Republican Party that "America needs to be a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." That same week, Bart Simpson responded in the next episode of their show: "Hey, we're just like The Waltons: we pray for an end to the recession too". 'Futurama', Groening's second animation series made its debut in 1999. Set in the year 3000, it is a satire on the science-fiction genre, both the naive version that deals with flying cars and robots, as the one with the more grim dystopian visions of fear.

In 1994, Groening formed Bongo Comics (named after the character Bongo from 'Life in Hell') with Steve Vance, Cindy Vance and Bill Morrison. The company publishes comic books based on 'The Simpsons' and 'Futurama', among other things. Zongo Comics followed a year later, and deals with comic books for more mature readers. Matt Groening is also the co-producer of Paper Moon Graphics, a successful line of humorous greeting cards.

Matt Groening

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