Matthew Abram "Matt" Groening [ɡreɪnɪŋ/ gray-ning; born February 15, 1954]is an American cartoonist, screenwriter, and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama.
Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. The cartoon is still carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, The Simpsons, and named the members after his own parents and sisters — while Bart was an anagram of the word brat. The shorts would be spun off into their own series: The Simpsons, which has since aired over 486 episodes. In 1997, Groening, along with former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen, developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999. After four years on the air, the show was canceled by Fox in 2003, but Comedy Central commissioned 16 new episodes from four direct-to-DVD movies in 2008. Then, in June 2009, Comedy Central ordered 26 new episodes of Futurama, to be aired over two seasons.
Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and two for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for "outstanding contribution to comedy" in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell. He will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
Groening was born on February 15, 1954 in Portland, Oregon, the middle of five children. His Norwegian American mother, Margaret Ruth [née Wiggum], was once a teacher, and his German American father, Homer Philip Groening [December 30, 1919 – March 15, 1996], was a filmmaker, advertiser, writer and cartoonist. Homer, born in Main Centre, Saskatchewan, Canada, grew up in a Mennonite, Plautdietsch-speaking family. He has Dutch Mennonite ancestors.
Matt's grandfather Abram Groening was a professor at Tabor College, a Mennonite Brethren liberal arts college in Hillsboro, Kansas before moving to Albany College [now known as Lewis and Clark College] in Oregon in 1930.
Groening grew up in Portland, and attended Ainsworth Elementary School and Lincoln High School. From 1972 to 1977, Groening attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, a liberal arts school that he described as "a hippie college, with no grades or required classes, that drew every weirdo in the Northwest." He served as the editor of the campus newspaper, The Cooper Point Journal, for which he also wrote articles and drew cartoons. He befriended fellow cartoonist Lynda Barry after discovering that she had written a fan letter to Joseph Heller, one of Groening's favorite authors, and had received a reply. Groening has credited Barry with being "probably [his] biggest inspiration."He has also cited the Disney animated film One Hundred and One Dalmatians as what got him interested in cartoons, as well as Peanuts and its creator Charles M. Schulz as inspirations.