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An irreverent family: Matt Groening’s secret

by Marco Savio, 22 Sep 2018

In 1986 I was 8 years old, and I used to go with my mom to Fox offices. It was summer and she did not know with whom to leave me, my grandparents were far away, and my father … I still do not know who he is now, so she often took me to her office. She was the secretary of Mr., now I do not remember, but he was a big piece of Fox, I understood it from his way of treating my mother … “make me this”, “bring me coffee”, “fast”, “hurry up”!

He was really hateful and then, he used to receive a lot of visits from really strange characters. Once one of them wanted me to borrow my plastic Superman costume for an interview, he said that he needed it as a good luck charm. When he came out he threw it to me, shouting that it was worthless. I stared at him puzzled, then I ran to hug my mum.
What he said, yes I remember it … he had a good bearing even if the missing buttons of his jacket showed signs of humble origins. I remember that he was very agitated, he did nothing but walked up and down the waiting room, then suddenly stopped and sat down, looked eagerly for a pencil in his jacket pocket and looked around for something. I understood it immediately and gave him the paper sheets on which I had scribbled Mickey Mouse in bad fashion. He took them without even thanking and immediately began to draw.

I was curious to die, but he was so focused that he did not even notice me. I approached, leaned over, even tried to get on the chair next to his, but nothing, I could not see anything. Dejected, I went to get my inseparable Superman and started playing the fight with the dreaded Doomsday that I was impersonating by putting a blue bucket on my head. At one point, the evil Doomsday tried to hit Superman with his fearsome bow sling, took a ball and pulled the sling cord … fate wanted me not to hit Superman on the table but the hand of that gentleman who finally looked up and very calmly he asked me: what’s your name?

“Mom looks really angry about something. You’d better talk to her during the advertisement.” Homer

I was terrified. Then he said: – My name is Matt and you? At this point I said:
– Bart, sir. Excuse me sir … it will not happen again! He laughed.
– Quiet Bart, it’s nothing.
– May I ask what you’re drawing sir?

* Read also: The artistic testament of Keith Haring

– Sure, and please also give me your opinion
So he turned the first sheet on which he had sketched out the features of a series of strange characters … I smiled.
– What kind of hair does that lady have? – She is Marge, the mother of the children you see. She is very caring with them, she cares about their behavior, cooking and would like them to go well at school. They are Lisa, Maggie and Matt … uhm!
– Matt is you! Sir … is that your family?

– Yes, they are my family, but yours too, they are a bit like everyone’s family. Dad is a big mess, his name is Homer
– He looks nice … I’ve never met mine.
– Oh, I’m sorry, even if he’s messy and inconclusive, dad is important to everyone.
– And grandpa? Grandpa is not there? I always pretend that he is my big dad.
– Of course, there will also be the grandfather, wait a minute … and started again to draw.
He had a nice look, round glasses that made big eyes in that chubby face that must have been mom’s pride.
At that time there was still the mustache and the goatee that today make it so recognizable.
The fact is that when I found him in front of the other day at the Bar of ….. never I would have noticed him if it was not for a small fan who came up with a firm step, handing a notebook and a pen, and asked him:
– Can you write: “To my little friend Bart”.

I do not know why he called his character with my name instead of his real name as he did with the other characters, perhaps out of shyness, perhaps because he did not want to appear in the series seemingly self-centered, perhaps because Matt is a very common name and has no particular meaning as Bart has instead. Many say because of the following: Bart would be the anagram of brat or boy pestiferous, but I only know that he was referring to me. It is my little secret, indeed our little secret: “thank you Matt”.

The artist: Matt Groening

Third son of the family after Lisa (1956) and Maggie (1958), Matt was born in Portland, Oregon, from Norwegian-American mother Margaret Wiggum, and from German-Canadian father Homer Groening.

Oh yes, you read that right, the names of Matt’s royal family correspond to the well-known ones of the Simpsons family.

Before starting work on television, Groening worked in a record store until 1977, when he created the “Life in Hell” strip (see image below).

In 1986, the great occasion: a director asked him to create an animated series for the popular TV show by Tracey Ullman.

In Fox’s waiting room, before proposing a television adaptation of Life in Hell, he thought someone could steal his rights and developed there, at the moment, The Simpsons. To the Simpson family members, he gave the names of his family (he later told that he did not feel very creative that day), his parents, Homer and Marge, and his younger sisters, Lisa and Maggie.

As for Matt, he decided that it was a name that was a little too obvious and so he called the fifth element of the Bart family (an anagram of “brat”).

Matt Groening appears in some episodes of “The Simpsons” and also in the first episode of Futurama, in the characteristic glass chiller for the heads of the famous dead, positioned among the former presidents of the USA.

The Simpsons are a group of pathological personalities that provide an image not only of the American family but also of its values.

The “icons” of the ignorant is Homer, the head of the family, the pestiferous Bart and the other components, precisely outline the lifestyles and aspirations that distinguish the far more concrete characters of American real life and now globalized.

Matt has recently returned to the creative table with a new series entitled “Disenchantment“. The new creation is broadcasted on Netflix since August 2018. The context is that of the dilapidated medieval kingdom of Dreamland; the three protagonists are: the drunken princess Bean, her personal demon Luci and an exuberant Elf.

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  1. […] * Read also: an irreverent family […]

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