Matthew Abram Groening (his name rhymes
with raining) is an American cartoonist
and the creator of the television series Futurama and
In high school, he was the student body
president, but was stripped of this title when he tried
to amend the constitution to make him an all-powerful
president for life. He graduated from The Evergreen
State College in Olympia, Washington.
Before his work
in television, Groening created the syndicated cartoon
Life in Hell, which is still carried in many weekly
newspapers and has been anthologized in a series of
books, such as School is Hell , Love is Hell , Work
is Hell , and The Big Book of Hell .
When he went in to Fox to pitch them an idea for a
cartoon, Matt had second thoughts about turning 'Life
in Hell' into a TV series in case it failed. He also
feared that Fox would own the rights to his 'Life in
Hell' characters and he wouldn't be able to continue
writing his strip. As such he came up with 'The Simpsons'
on the spot. He quickly named the main family Simpson
characters after his own family (reportedly he was not
feeling very creative in those fifteen minutes), his
parents, Homer and Margaret (Marge), and his younger
sisters, Lisa and Maggie.
Groening also has an older
brother and sister, Mark and Patty, but these siblings
were left out of the main Simpson family. As for Matt
himself, he decided it was a bit too obvious and therefore
called him "Bart" (an anagram of brat). Not
wishing to curse another member of his family by lending
their name to a cartoon character, Groening says he
refused to name Homer's dad, instead choosing to leave
When he returned, the writers had given him
the name of Abraham, which turned out to be the name
of Matt's grandfather. Groening has also named his
own sons Homer (who goes by Will) and Abe (which is
the name of Grandpa Simpson).
Groening grew up in Portland, Oregon, and seems to
have found names for some characters from major Portland
street names such as Flanders, Lovejoy, Powell, Quimby,
and Terwilliger. Matt's father Homer, a descendant from
Russian Mennonites in Canada, spoke Plautdietsch as
a child in Saskatchewan in the 1920s but Matt never
learned that language.
The name Groening may be derived
from Groningen (city) (or Grun'n in the local dialect)
in the north of the Netherlands.
Groening was influenced as a youngster by the dark
humor of English cartoonist Ronald Searle.