Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

The story that The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening once illustrated a brochure for Apple back in 1989 has been making the rounds of the internet for awhile now.  However, in addition to that brochure, Groening did other artwork for Apple around that same time period.

For anyone unfamiliar, Apple hired Groening to produce illustrations for a brochure about Macs that was aimed at college students.  At the time, Groening was best known as the artist of the comic Life in Hell, as The Simpsons has not yet premiered.  The brochure was titled, ‘Who Needs a Computer Anyway’ and interspersed Groening’s Life in Hell style illustrations with standard information on Apple’s Mac computers.  It apparently was distributed amongst college bookstores and was obviously trying to use Groening’s cachet as an underground comic artist to attract hip, young co-eds.  

However, Groening also did other artwork for Apple.  Before his brochure, he created a poster titled, ‘Networking in Hell,’ which was also based around his Life in Hell characters.  The poster is rather amusing, and the headline reads, “Looking for advanced communications between your Macintosh and that ‘Big Blue’ mainframe? Then bring your floppies down to Akbar ‘n’ Jeff’s Communications Hut.” Jeff Miller, an engineer at Apple during that time, recalls that Groening did the poster in exchange for a LaserWriter, which retailed for many thousands of dollars back in the 80s.  

In addition to Groening’s ‘Akbar ‘n’ Jeff’ poster, he did a poster titled, ‘Bongo’s Dream Dorm.’  The poster was a very densely illustrated vision of a cartoon dorm, which included the Apple tagline, “Macintosh. Part of every students wildest dreams.” This apparently went along with the brochure and was displayed at college bookstores to promote Apple Macs.  There were also t-shirts produced with the same illustration. 

This collaboration between Groening and Apple did not last long, and the same year the brochure and poster came out, he launched The Simpsons.  It’s interesting that The Simpsons have mentioned Apple a number of times, including a parody in the episode ‘Mypods and Broomsticks.’  I’d be curious what Groening remembers about these ads, although as far as I can tell, he has never publicly spoken about them.  

Doing a quick eBay search I came up empty trying to find any listings for either the brochure or posters. I’m guessing these would be worth quite a bit of money if anyone has one of these laying around.  Anyone out there own one of these or have memories of when they were released?

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5 thoughts on “Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

  1. I purchased the Bogo’s dream dorm poster on ebay in 1996. It was my first ebay purchase ever. I paid about $60 at the time. I had it framed nicely and have it hanging in my office. I paid over $300 to frame it. Irony that Bongo would appreciate! I have only seen for sale on ebay one ime since then and it was in poor condition with folds and wrinkles and it still sold for over $30. I’d never sell mine. I love it!

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  2. I have one of the dorm posters somewhere in storage. I bought it in the fall of 1989 at the WWU student bookstore in Bellingham, WA, and I had it on the wall in my dorm room until I left WWU. I had a brand new Mac Plus that fall. I don’t know exactly where it is at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in perfect condition. If I find it I’ll probably frame it and hang it on the wall.

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  3. Hello! I have this same Dream Dorm poster, however the one that I own is on a posterboard and signed in black marker by Groening himself. In addition is an illustration of Bongo with a speechbubble that says "Yo Terry! Your pal, Matt Groening" and is dated 12/19/1989. The best part is, I found it on the backside of a discarded framed picture a couple of years ago. No idea what its worth, or its story, but if anyone has any insight please post here about it! Thanks, Joe

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    1. I have no idea what it’s worth, but it sounds like if you can verify it’s actually Matt Groening’s signature, that it would be worth quite a bit. I think the poster alone might fetch at least $100 on ebay.

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  4. I have the Dream Dorm poster (somewhere) and the brochure, too. It’s interesting to think about how iconic both Groening and Apple have become since that time.

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