Written on October 16, 2010
Matt Groening, the creator of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”, spoke to a sold-out crowd at The Ohio State University on Saturday.
Sitting in a plush chair with a water bottle in hand, Groening sat across from co-worker Tom Gammill, a comedy writer from “Seinfeld” and “Saturday Night Live”, as they discussed different aspects of Groening’s career: how he got started, who inspired him, and the hurdles he has overcome in his life as a cartoonist.
Groening began his career in animation working for “The Tracey Ullman Show”, which aired on Fox in the late ‘80s. “At the time, animation was seen as only being for children.” Groening said, “They couldn’t conceive of animation ever being for adults.”
When “The Simpsons” hit worldwide popularity in the summer of 1990, Fox tightened its censorship on the show, claiming that some of the content was not suitable for children. Nine years later, when Groening introduced the show “Futurama”, Fox eventually dropped the show for being “too gross and unpleasant”, and Comedy Central picked it up in 2008.
Despite the setbacks that come with making cartoons for adults, Groening’s fan base is as loyal as ever. He laughed as he told stories of people forming lines on an airplane to get his autograph, and how fans show him their tattoos of beloved characters from the hit TV shows. Most other fans have been watching “The Simpsons” since they were kids.
“I grew up with ‘The Simpsons’,” Christina Pierce said, a 31-year-old mother and Sales Representative for Halloween City, “I’m so glad I got a chance to do this. I’ve appreciated his work for years.”
At the end of the evening, questions were allowed from the audience, and many asked for his autograph. “I thought the questions at the end were interesting,” Nate Beeler, an Editorial Cartoonist for The Washington Examiner said, “It makes you see what kind of life he made for himself. I’m sure he’s had to sign people’s butts and wait through long lines of autograph signings.” Groening shouldn’t be surprised though; he created a TV show that changed a decade of pop culture.