Imagine transforming the nation's preeminent convenience store chain into billboard adverts for a movie opening in a bazillion theatres all over the world, based on a TV series you created almost 20 years and more than 400 episodes ago. Sounds like the stuff of dreams, and really weird ones too.

Matt Groening never dreamed about such things when he came to Los Angeles. He just wanted write about music and draw comics. All that changed after TV/movie producer James L. Brooks approached Groening about converting his Life in Hell strips, appearing in an alternative weekly newspaper in 1985 (now re-titled Life is Swell), to short cartoons for The Tracey Ullman Show. Instead, Groening held onto his bunnies and created The Simpsons, and the rest, they say, is history...

You'd think such fame and fortune would've created a monster with an ego bigger than the state of Texas. Based on my brief encounters with Groening over the years behind and in front of booths at Comic-Con International: San Diego, however, you'd be dead wrong.

Fact is, Groening is just as self-effacing in person (especially with his boys, who are now teenagers) as he is in this LA Weekly piece written by Dave Shulman.

All the more reason, if you're a comic book fan and haven't made the pilgrimage to San Diego/"Geek Vegas" yet, I cannot recommend it enough. The chance meetings I've had over the years with famous folks like Groening and the late Jack Kirby, who are just as geeky and down-to-earth as the rest of us who read comics, are more than worth it.