Matt Groening, journalism and “Life In Hell”
Today is the 58th birthday of Matt Groening, who is probably best known as the creator of “The Simpsons.” Indeed, Groening was recently honored for his TV work with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Although I enjoy “The Simpsons,” I often think first of Groening’s work as a newspaper cartoonist when his name is in the news. His “Life In Hell” comic strip in the 1980s was edgy and snarky at a time when those things were far less common in the media.
As noted in this 1987 profile, Groening began his career as journalist, working as a music critic and editor at the Reader, an alternative weekly in Los Angeles. It was then that he began the “Life In Hell” strip, which on occasion took on journalistic topics and even found humor in the passive voice.
Those comments on the media have continued in Groening’s influence on “The Simpsons.” From the fatuous anchor Kent Brockman to the absurd headlines of the Springfield Shopper, the show has served as a check on journalistic conventions and excesses.
So happy birthday, Matt Groening. Thanks for the laughs. Let’s hope that they continue for years to come — and even afterward.