Matt Groening announced he’s quit his legendary long-running weekly comic strip Life in Hell just a couple hours ago at The Illustration Conference (ICON) in Rhode Island, according to this guy on Twitter:
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For the past twenty years, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Goosebumps author Stephen King, New York Times economist Dave Barry, and a bunch of other folk have been a part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a dorky all-author band that mostly plays at bookseller conventions. But now, they’re saying “adios amigos” to the hectic rockstar lifestyle and calling it quits. What could have prompted the retirement of these rock legends?? Did they get Yokoed? Were they tired of all the sex and drugs? Is there even still a book industry now that you can look up cat videos on the web? Well, whatever the reason, your last chance to see Matt Groening – a multi-millionaire cartoonist who’s almost 60 – play a cowbell will be at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on June 22.
Simpsons creator Matt Groening got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. According to KPCC, it’s star #2,459 , located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd, in case you want to visit it and step all over it. Since The Simpsons themselves already have a star, you can consider this one a quiet acknowledgment of Futurama and Life in Hell.
It’s been a banner couple of weeks for the Groenster – he’s getting a toy modeled off of his likeness, he just celebrated the 500th episode of The Simpsons, he just created the Matt Groening Chair in Animation with a $500,000 donation to UCLA, and his birthday is tomorrow. Everything’s coming up Groening!
Simpson creator Matt Groening went to Egypt to check out the pyramid and he foolishly ignored all the hieroglyphic warnings and trespassed into the forbidden zone when all of a sudden The Mummy appeared and cast a big curse on him. As karmic retribution for all his brazen merchandising and capitalist crimes, Mr. Groening was turned into a piece of merchandise himself, how ironic. Now he is no longer human, he is just a doll and can’t do human things anymore, rip.
OK but seriously now, for just fifty American dollars you can buy a toy version of the guy whose signature appears on all your other Simpsons toys. Here’s what the solicitation says:
Created by legendary “Life is Hell” cartoonist Matt Groening, THE SIMPSONS is celebrating its 500th episode in February 2012, and Kidrobot is honoring the father of primetime animation in the only way we know how – making him into a 6-inch vinyl toy! Complete with goatee and glasses, director’s jacket, and pad and pencil accessories, it is the first EVER Simpsons Matt Groening toy.
Essentially, if you cut out the middlemen, you can pay a guy money and he will give you a doll version of himself. This is so weird and messed up that I needed to lie down to fully contemplate the many levels of Meta this object encapsulates.
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The National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, called Simpsons creator Matt Groening “one weird creature” for no apparent reason.
THE BASICS, PART ONE The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in television history – and a cultural phenomenon that is recognised the world over. Its creator, the cartoonist Matt Groening, is one weird creature.
What a baffling little statement. There’s no elaboration or explanation whatsoever. “Weird,” okay, I can buy that. But “creature?” Like he’s a jolly little gnome-person or something? And this is supposed one of the basic facts one should know about The Simpsons?
Perhaps The National should change its name to “The Irrational.”
Yes, it’s true. For the first time ever, you will be able to buy t-shirts with Matt Groening characters on them.
How did we get here? For decades, Groening has been adamant in his refusal to merchandise his highly popular creations (outside of book collections and DVD releases). He has rejected countless offers to license his characters, turning down billions of dollars in the process. After spending years battling his syndicate, he announced his decision to end his long-running comic strip Life in Hell in 1995. Pent-up demand for officially licensed Simpsons merchandise lead to a boom in bootleg car decals featuring Bart Simpson urinating on various logos, which is now a million-dollar industry despite its questionable legality. The ever-reclusive cartoonist has made virtually no public appearances since the famous incident at the Fox network upfront presentations in 1998, when he declared money to be the root of all evil and ran out the auditorium during the announcement of Futurama.
His anti-commercial martyrdom took its toll on his personal life. After his divorce in 1999, Groening retreated to a yurt in central Oregon and cut off all ties with his close friends, including Lynda Barry, creator of the mega-popular Fox sitcom Marly’s, and Gary Panter, who took over Peanuts in 2000. After seven years in isolation, Groening re-emerged with The Mean Little Kids, a dense 16 x 21 inch 20,000-page graphic novel that bankrupted its publisher, Buenaventura Press, upon its release.
So what changed his mind? “Well, I had a lot of time to think about it,” he told The New Yorker. “I figure a few pieces of merchandise here and there couldn’t hurt, as long as I oversee all aspects of their production and donate the profits to charity. I want my signature to become synonymous with high quality and social responsibility.”
The “PLAY IN HELL” series of T-shirts will be available in Comme de Garcons stores starting next week. [On the Runway]
Yes, even rich people get jury duty sometimes! Simpsons creator Matt Groening has been been selected to be a juror in a five-member jury two states away in Park City, Utah. What the heck? Is Utah so desolate that they have to call in people from other states to serve on their juries? Weird. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Upon being reminded that Simpsons creator Matt Groening grew up in Portland, former Simpsons writer and future Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien said this:
“He’ll always be my boss. You know how you feel when you run into your third-grade teacher at the supermarket? Your worry that you’re going to get in trouble, even if you’re 45? That’s how I feel when I see Matt Groening.”
The LA Weekly has dropped Matt Groening’s weekly comic strip Life in Hell after 22 years. As far as I can tell, no other Los Angeles periodicals are carrying it, which means Life in Hell is no longer available in the city that inspired it. [CNN]
Simpsons creator Matt Groening has always enjoyed a favorable relationship with the press. Serving as a sort-of go-to cultural commentator, the head of Fox’s billion-dollar cartoon franchise is often quoted on everything from animation to music to high school to Olympic mascots. These days, however, he is often asked to comment on Fox’s other billion-dollar cartoon franchise, Family Guy. In a Wall Street Journal article about Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, MacFarlane’s contemporary is relegated to a handful of sentences, including a paragraph which curiously reads like a line from a Fox press release:
Cartoonist Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” says, “He’s laid the groundwork with this smash hit show and now, with new media opening up and Seth’s specific kind of rapid-fire visual humor, how to exploit it just depends on how ambitious he wants to be.”
Given that Fox and the Journal are corporate siblings, could this be another sign of The Simpsons‘s diminishing stature in the eyes of Fox executives? [Wall Street Journal]