Matt Groening

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Matt Groening (1954) started off in 1977 as a underground cartoonist, best known for his comic strip Life in Hell. Influenced by Peanuts, Underground Comics and cult artists like Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and The Fugs the comic is perhaps Groening's most personal work. Its central characters are two gay little men called Akbar and Jeff and a white rabbit family. The cartoons already poked fun at topics that Groening would later attack in his animated shows: politics, religion, school, family, work, relationships and modern society in general. The comic became a cult success and by the mid 1980s Groening was approached by James L. Brooks to make an animated TV adaptation of "Life In Hell". Initially Groening agreed, until he learned that he would lose the rights to the comic strip. So instead, he came up with a totally new concept, which became The Simpsons.

The Simpsons started off in 1987 as extremely short cartoons used as bumpers before and after commercials during The Tracey Ullman Show. Despite being crudely animated and a lot of Early Installment Weirdness the segments caught on with the American public. By 1989 Groening got the chance to turn the series into a full length prime time animated series, something that hadn't been done since The Flintstones in the 1960s. The show quickly became a critically lauded mainstream success, especially thanks to Breakout Character Bart Simpson. It became the first prime time cartoon series since The Flintstones to become popular both with children and adults. Its clever satire, edgy subversiveness, hilarious gags and beyond all that recognizable emotional depth were praised. Its cult success paved the way for other adult cartoon series such as Beavis and Butthead, South Park and Family Guy. Yet, the show wasn't without its critics. Especially in the early years many parents and educators complained about certain scenes they deemed to be offensive or unsuitable for children. Even president George H. W. Bush attacked the series during the 1992 Republican National Convention by claiming that "the American family should be a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons." Only a week later The Simpsons reacted by letting Bart say: "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're all praying for an end to the depression too." Coincidence or not, but Bush lot the elections later that year.

The Simpsons continued its successful run and is still on television to this day, despite claims that the show isn't as good as it used to be. In 1999 Groening launched another animated series, Futurama, around a totally different concept. Set in the far future, Futurama, mostly spoofs every science fiction or future dystopia concept in a similar satirical way like The Simpsons. The program never reached the same amount of immediate popularity that The Simpsons did and was thus cancelled by FOX until Comedy Central revived the series a few years later. Still, its audience keeps growing and will probably be Vindicated by History later.

Works of Matt Groening

Matt Groening provides examples of the following tropes: