In Springfield Confidential Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein write:
Matt Groening definitely created the Simpsons, and the story of how he did it is truly unbelievable. Matt was a Los Angeles underground cartoonist when he was called in for a meeting at The Tracey Ullman Show. The series had one-minute animated bumpers (as well as live novelty acts), but no one was particularly enamored with them. Matt was told this was a “get-acquainted meeting”—he wasn’t expected to pitch anything. But shortly before the meeting, someone said to him, “We’re very excited to hear about your new project!” Matt didn’t have one. And so, five minutes before the meeting, he sketched out the Simpson family.
It took him five minutes to create one of the most-honored shows in TV history. Just imagine if he’d spent half an hour. How did he come up with it so fast?
For starters, he named the characters after his family: his parents, Homer and Marge; his sisters Lisa and Maggie. He claims Bart is just an anagram of brat, but I think the name may have been inspired by his brother, Mark.
There’s so much to unpack here. But the biggest takeaway is, if you don’t have anything, and an opportunity comes up, just make something with whatever little time you have. Consider it like another lottery ticket. Lean into the life experience you already have, or an idea you’d been noodling on (or want to recycle).
It most likely won’t turn into anything. But let’s say there’s even a 1% chance it turns into The Simpsons-level impact.
It’s worth a shot.