Thursday, February 15, 2007

Garrison and Bart
Whoda'thunk the Simpsons would land a place on the Writer's Alamac?!

It's the birthday of cartoonist Matt Groening, born in Portland, Oregon (1954). He decided to move to Los Angels after college to try to make it as a writer. He lived in a neighborhood full of drug dealers and thieves, and got a job ghostwriting the memoirs of an 88-year-old filmmaker. After that, he worked at a convalescent home, a waste treatment plant, and a graveyard.

He started writing a comic strip based on his daily troubles called "Life in Hell." When a television producer asked Groening to create a TV show, Groening decided to invent a cartoon family that would be the exact opposite of all the fictional families that had ever been on American television. He named the parents after his own parents, Homer and Marge, and he named the two sisters after his own sisters, Lisa and Maggie. He chose the name Bart for the only son because it was an anagram of the word "brat."

Critics immediately praised The Simpsons, because it was in some ways more realistic than any other American sitcom. Homer was fat, bald, and stupid; he drank a lot, worked at a nuclear power plant, and occasionally strangled his son. His wife, Marge, was an obsessive-compulsive housewife with a blue beehive hairdo. The characters were frequently selfish, rude, and mean to one another, and the show often took on dark subjects like suicide, adultery, and environmental disaster. The Simpsons went on to become the most popular and longest-running sitcom in America.

Matt Groening said, "Teachers, principals, clergymen, politicians — for the Simpsons, they're all goofballs, and I think that's a great message for kids.