Matthew Abram Groening is an American animator and a cartoonist who is best known for being the creator of popular cartoon series “Simpsons” which is the longest-running television series ever. Apart from being a renowned cartoonist, Matt is also a writer, producer, and voice artist. Notably, the animator is one of the wealthiest cartoonists ever, given his total assets that count in hundreds of millions. His long-standing career as a cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor, has earned ‘Matt’ Groening a whooping sum of $600 million as his estimated net worth.
Matt Groening’s Childhood and Background
Born on February 15, 1954, in Portland, Oregon, USA, Matt spent a better part of his formative years in his place of birth. He is one of five children born to father Homer Philip Groening, a German- Canadian who earned a living as a filmmaker, an advertiser, a writer, and a cartoonist, so it’s easy to see how Matt got the knack for writing cartoons. His mother Margaret Wiggum was once a teacher and Norwegian-American by origin. The cartoonist’s grandfather Abram Groening was in a mundane profession working as a professor at Tabor College before he went on transfer to Albany College.
Matt graduated from Lincoln High School. He went on to attend The Evergreen State College where he started taking his interest in editing and writing as well as drawing cartoons more seriously. While at college, he was the editor of the campus newspaper, The Cooper Point Journal. He combined this with writing and drawing cartoons for the paper as well.
His Early Writing Career became an Underground Hit
At 23, Matt took the bold step of moving away from home to Los Angeles to become a writer. It was a big change for him but it did not quite go the way he planned as he went from one “lousy job” to another, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with writing.
After the series of “lousy jobs”, Matt went into ghostwriting and other editorial jobs as he intended to be a writer, but eventually, the emerging producer started writing comic books, drawing the cartoons himself.
First, Matt’s comic book entitled “Life in Hell” became an underground hit. It was loosely inspired by a chapter from Walter Kaufmann’s book “Critique of Religion and Philosophy”. At first, he distributed it in the book corner of Licorice Pizza, a record store in which he worked.
Professional Cartooning – His Movies and Television Shows
In 1978, Matt made his debut professional cartoon sale of the comic book Life in Hell to avant-garde Wet magazine. To date, over 250 weekly publications still carry the cartoon. Soon, one of the strips he made for Life in Hell caught the attention of Hollywood producer James L. Brooks who then invited the young chap to partake in his future projects working in animation for a Fox variety show popular as The Tracey Ullman Show.
Brook’s original intention was for Matt to adapt the characters in Life in Hell for the show; however, the animator feared that he might lose his ownership right if he towed that line. That was when he decided to come up with an entirely new creation; Matt created the characters of Simpsons depicting an average American family and interesting characters which were named after his parents and sisters other than the character of “Bart” that was an anagram of brat.
The animated sitcom series, “Simpson” has been on air since 1989 and has become the longest-running sitcom of all time, in fact, it is considered to be Matt Groening’s most successful project beating the Western Gunsmoke into the second place. To date, The Simpsons has gone through 29 seasons airing above 600 episodes and still counting.
Matt later created another set of characters for another series “Futurama” which he wrote in collaboration with writer David X. Cohen. Futurama is an animated series that depicted life in the year 3,000 and debuted in 1999. The cartoon only aired for four years following which it was call-off by Fox in 2003.
However, that was not the end of Futurama, Comedy Central later came to commission 16 brand new episodes of the cartoon from four direct to DVD movies. That was just the beginning of Matt Groening’s collaboration with Comedy Central as they went further to order 26 new episodes of the cartoon to be aired over a couple of seasons.
The animator started gaining fans and followers from “Simpsons”. This largely contributed to his assets. For his creations and contribution in his field, Matt has been inducted into the “Hollywood Hall of Fame”. He has also earned a “British Comedy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Comedy” among many other reputable awards.
A Look At His Other Notable Contributions
In January of 2016, it was announced that Groening was in talks with Netflix to develop a new animated series. After the talks were over, in July, Netflix made a two-season order for Disenchantment which equaled 20 episodes.
In 2013, he co-authored Hard Listening (2013) with the Rock Bottom Remainders. This was published by Coliloquy, LLC.
In May of 2010, he curated another edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead, England.
Groening, in 2003 guest-edited Da Capo Press’s Best Music Writing and curated a US All Tomorrow’s Parties music festival. He also worked on the illustration of Frank Zappa’s posthumous album.
In 1994, he formed the Bongo comics with Steve Vance, Cindy Vance, and Bill Morrison, the next year in 1995, he formed Zongo comics which was plenty like Bongo comics but targeted more mature readers.
Simpsons Has Made Matt Groening Incredibly Wealthy
As of 2020, the famous animator’s wealth is estimated at $600 million. Without a doubt, he earned a lion’s share of his wallet from The Simpsons franchise which was has been valued at a whopping $750 million.
It would appear that the cartoon producer’s creation of Simpsons has a snowballing effect on wealth as he keeps reaping from royalties emanating from every single “Simpsons” licensed merchandise sales. This has earned him millions of dollars in collections and revenue from the T-shirts to the toys to the coffee mugs and just about all the items that have an image or a line from any of the characters in the show.
In addition to the wealth that rolls in from The Simpsons, Matt Groening has also recorded an astounding level of success with Futurama. He also receives income from Bongo Comics – his comic book company launched in 1994.
Matt’s Santa Monica, California house was bought for $11.65 million and he spent an additional $11.9 million to purchase the building next door. He did this so that he could merge the two compounds together. Matt also owns a Malibu beachfront home bought at $8.5 million – the house is currently worth over $20 million.
The Animator Is Unsurprisingly A Family Man
Matt Groening has been married twice in his life. He first dabbled into marriage with Deborah Caplan in 1986, their union lasted for all of 13 years and came to an end in a 1999 divorce. The couple has two sons to show for their years together; Homer Groening their first child came in 1991 and soon became a brother to Abe Groening who followed three years later in 1993.
The animator was ready to try his hands at marriage for the second time in 2011, this time with Agustina Picasso – an Argentinian artist. Their union made Matt a stepfather to the daughter she had from a previous relationship. The couple later had five children which include two sets of twins!
One would wonder if the 11 years that elapsed between the cartoonist’s two marriages were spent in isolation. But no, Matt Groening was not alone during that period; he was involved in an open relationship with expert Lauren Frances. Their dalliance lasted for six years before his second marriage.