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Groening comes from Springfield to OSU

Fans of “The Simpsons” can double their pleasure this weekend. Creator Matt Groening will speak  on campus and a new episode will be released the next day.

On Saturday the Wexner Center for the Arts will host “An Evening with Matt Groening” in Mershon Auditorium as part of the 2010 Festival of Cartoon Art.   

What might come as a surprise is the influence Groening has had on popular culture with a series focused on one family, “The Simpsons.”

“If you ever find out his secret, please let me know,” said Gene Luen Yang, creator of the graphic novel “American Born Chinese.”

The event will feature a discussion with Tom Gammill, writer for “The David Letterman Show” and “The Simpsons,” who also wrote episodes for “Seinfeld.”

After achieving initial success with his comic strip “Life in Hell,” which made its debut in 1976, Groening was approached about adapting the characters for “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

Groening named the main characters of “The Simpsons” using the first names of his sisters and parents. The cartoon soon developed a worldwide following, much to the surprise of many.

Groening will also be a panelist for the “Tribute to Jay Kennedy” along with the creator of “Zippy the Pinhead,” Bill Griffith.

Kennedy, who passed away in 2007, was the longtime editor-in-chief of King Features Syndicate and donated a collection of more than 9,500 underground comics to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at OSU.

After nearly a decade of success with “The Simpsons” and a few years studying science fiction, Groening developed the concept for “Futurama.” “Futurama” was canceled after four years on Fox, but strong DVD sales brought the show back this year.

Saturday’s scheduled events include Groening discussing his opinions about and career within comics and television.

“Cartooning is a powerful form of communication,” Yang said. “Simplification of drawing can lead to amplification of message.”

Groening’s ability to adapt and communicate that message to multiple generations has earned him 25 Emmy nominations, 10 of which he was awarded for “The Simpsons,” as well as one for “Futurama.”

“When I was a kid, watching ‘The Simpsons’ was just what we did every day after we got home from school and finished playing outside,” said Christian Bennett, a 20-year-old fan of the show. “Everyone has seen an episode of ‘The Simpsons.'”

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