Celebrity Birthday of the Day – February 15

Matt Groening definitely goes for quality over quantity. In the just over 20 years of his career as a cartoonist, writer and producer, he has only worked on three major properties as creator: the comic strip Life In Hell, The Simpsons, and Futurama. Sure, he’s done a bit of work making other comics under his Bongo comics label, but it’s Futurama and The Simpsons in particular that Groening is best known for. Following his graduation from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in 1977, Groening moved to Los Angeles to become a writer, and it was during this time that he created the comic strip Life In Hell, which debuted in the Los Angeles Reader in 1980. Over the next four years, Life In Hell gained lots of popularity and caught the eye of James L. Brooks, who approached Groening about working on an animated project at some point. That project turned out to be several early Simpsons shorts for the variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. The Tracey Ullman Show wasn’t a huge hit, but oddly enough, The Simpsons shorts proved popular enough to warrant their own spinoff in 1989. The rest is history. The Simpsons has remained popular ever since, with huge piles of merchandise, video games, comic books, and even a big-screen movie bearing the Simpsons title. In 1999, Groening debuted another animated series – this one set in the wacky distant future of the year 3000. Futurama had moderate success during its initial four-year run with Fox, but Fox, being foolish, canceled it. In a situation similar to Family Guy, which found strong sales on DVD and was subsequently renewed, Futurama returned to TV on Comedy Central in 2010. Talk about a success story! Matt Groening is truly some kind of mad cartoon genius. He turns 58 today.

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