Simpsons creator Matt Groening added yet another company to his only robust portfolio last year, a mysterious entity known as “Bapper Entertainment.” Bleeding Cool suspects he’s “getting ready to reveal” whatever this new thing is. I wouldn’t count on it, though, because making new companies seems to be something of a hobby for him. Let’s take a look at some of the other companies he’s had over the years, shall we?
Acme Features Syndicate
Named by his cartoonist friend Lynda Barry, this was a syndicate Groening started in 1985 that handled distribution for his comic strip Life in Hell, Barry’s Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and cartoons by the late John Callahan. Eventually it dwindled to just himself. In an interview with The Comics Journal, he said it was a “pain in the ass” to run and “just didn’t work with other people.” Groening ended Life in Hell last year, so it seems fairly safe to assume Acme is now defunct.
Named after the one-eared rabbit Bongo from Life in Hell, this is the publishing company Groening founded in 1993 to produce comics, books, calendars, and other stuff based on his cartoon franchises. It also occasionally publishes some original titles (including Sergio Aragones Funnies and Heroes Anonymous), and serves as a distributor for the Spongebob Squarepants comic book. Bongo used to have an imprint called Zongo Comics that published comics for mature readers, including Jimbo by Groening’s friend Gary Panter, who said it proved to be “completely, terribly unpopular” and “clouded” their relationship.
The Curiosity Company
This is the production company behind Futurama and the Christmas special Olive, The Other Reindeer. According to a Futurama commentary, the logo features footage of a surfboard shot by Groening’s dad, Homer Groening.
I’d never heard of this before, but according to this page it owns trademarks on “Modongo USA,” which might have something to do with art exhibition…? Groening seems to have a thing for things that end in “-ongo.”
This was the name of a fictional movie studio in the forgettable Simpsons episode “Homer the Whopper,” but now it’s a real company Groening presides over for inexplicable reasons. Naming actual companies after fictional ones seems to be something of a trend for TV show creators: Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz formed Tantamount Studios (the name of the movie studio where Maeby became an executive), and Pete & Pete co-creator Will McRobb is president of Krebstar Industries (the omnipresent conglomerate that produces everything “from spongecake to space stations”). Ginormous Pictures is not be confused with Gynormous Pictures.
Life in Hell Cartoon Co.
When Life in Hell became popular, Groening and his then-wife Deborah Caplan formed this company to handle the business side of things and license merchandise. Together, Life in Hell Cartoon Co. and ACME were employing seven people in 1990. Not sure of its current status.
Matt Groening Productions
This is the company listed on Groening’s books and other publications, excluding the comic books and trades that are done by Bongo. It dates back to at least 1990, with The Big Book of Hell. According to the Federal Court of Australia, Matt Groening Productions is owned by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, as indicated by the ominous sentence “Groening is owned by Fox.”
Groening recently renewed the trademark on his signature and was issued a new one for something called “Matt Groening’s Mattongo Toys”. Again with “-ongo!”
Anywho, I doubt we’ll be seeing anything from Bapper Entertainment or Mattongo anytime soon, if ever. After all, MattGroening.com has been “under construction” for thirteen years now.