homergroening homergroening
Cartoon Culture

Dad of “Simpsons” Creator Matt Groening Was a Filmmaker Too

Basic Brown Basic Blue (1969) is a recently unearthed short film directed by Homer Groening, the father of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. Here’s the description from The Academic Film Archive of North America which posted the film onto Archive.org:

Ever wonder how Matt Groening of ‘The Simpsons’ got his quirky sense of humor? Probably from his filmmaker dad, Homer Groening, who passed away in 1996. Although known for his documentaries, Homer Groening directed and narrated this film, ostensibly about color, but filled with an ongoing series of bikini-clad bathing beauties. The film is perhaps best viewed as a graphic artifact that will interest media historians seeking additional insight into the elements that influenced the cartoonist.

Prior to this, I knew nothing of Groening’s father. This obituary fills in some fascinating details about his life. There’s a certain sense of relief in learning that Groening’s father was nothing like the famous cartoon character named after him, but who would have expected a guy who sounds as calm and reserved as Mister Rogers? Well, at least the real Homer loved doughnuts, too.

This is what Homer Groening looked like in 1973, a few years after this film was made.

Homer Groening

(via Jeff Scher’s Twitter)

  • oxnardmontalvo

    at 6:48, that’s the Curiosity Company jingle!

  • Grumpy Animator

    The Curiosity Company logo also uses a reflection of surfboards from Homers films. I thought it was pretty common knowledge

  • There’s a real Bob Newhart/John Hodgman quality to Groening’s narration that adds considerably to the charm.

  • joecab

    OMG you’re right! =:o

  • Mich

    The humor in this is incredible. I can’t believe how modern it feels.

    Kind of a spectacular film, part of me is really sad that this didn’t get any kind of exposure. Too ahead of its time, maybe?

    • It IS getting the exposure NOW. We are so lucky; we get to see it and tell all of our friends. The film is intelligently and cleverly narrated and edited; in today’s world, that is a rare accomplishment. Many would find it going right over their heads. So, yes, it IS ahead of its’ time, even today.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Being reminded Craig Bartlett used a audio recording Homer made of a school band for one of his clay-animated Arnold shorts…

  • This a wonderful and funny film!! Thank you, Homer!!
    I love the dry humor, understated, intelligent, & creative. There was, thank buddha, NO “political correct” nonsense in the 1960’s and Homer freely films what delights him. It turns out to be so utterly tame by today’s standards, that is, the bathing beauties, for example, and immensely delightful for us; all of it. Just lighthearted fun. Smart. THAT’S the way to make a film. No pretensions, No BS. Simple, cool, clever charm. It’s easy to see where Matt got his mojo….from his old man. Lucky for all of us!

  • Paramount Pictures released this film?

    The same company who brought us the Fleischer, Famous Studios, Puppetoons, and bunch of classic live-action features from 1912-present?

    Makes me wish “The Simpsons” and “The Tracey Ullman Show” was on and owned by MTV or Comedy Central instead of Fox.

    Also, one wonders why this is public domain if it was uploaded on Archive.org. If it’s not, correct me. But the film quality is not like a studio DVD.