peek at the world of Futurama. Words: David Giammarco/IFA

MATT GROENING'S HEADSPACE IS 1000 LIGHT years from Springfield. The 45-year old mastermind behind The Simpsmzs has a new project ready for take-off on Sky One in September: Futurama. We’ll still be on Earth. but a thousand years from now. in New New York City. which is constructed atop the ruins

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’Futurama is real and The Simpsons are fictional. But The Simpsons are still on the air a thousand years from now. With original episodes too.’

One of F aturama’s main characters is Fry. a loser pizza delivery boy who gets accidentally frozen in a cryogenics lab on 31

As a follow-up to The Simpsons - the dysfunctional family who launched a thousand catchphrases - MATT GROENING is looking way ahead to the next millennium. The cartoonist gives The List a sneak

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And those famous celebrity guest voices that have popped up on The Simpsons over the years from Paul McCartney to Meryl Streep to Johnny Carson will continue into 3000 as well. ‘Any celebrity who’s big enough. we will have on Futurama . . . ifthey're willing to play themselves as a disembodied head in a

of the original New York. Ruins?

‘Alien invasion.’ replies Groening matter- of—factly. ‘They actually attack and destroy Earth at least twice over the next thousand years.‘ The Empire State Building still stands. but only the top 22 floors and the observation tower. And there are no more pigeons dirtying up the city because they’ve all been eaten by owls. ‘But they‘re cute owls.’ he adds. Groening ('rhymes with complaining’ he likes to point out) admits the characters in Futurama share the same bulging

eyes and overbites of The Simpsons ‘because of the tragedy of my limited drawing skills.’ But aside from a cameo appearance of Blinky. the three-eyed nuclear-wasted fish. don‘t expect any Simpsons characters to guest star on Futurama. because

December 1999 and wakes up on 31 December 2999. Fry is voiced by Billy West. known for the voices of Ren and Stimpy as well as celebrity impersonations on The Howard Stern Show. Katey Saga] (Married. . . With Children) is the foxy one-eyed she-alien Leela. who welcomes Fry to the dawn of the 22nd century. And John DiMaggio (Chicago Hope) plays Bender. a neurotic and corrupt robot who shoplifts and solicits coin-operated prostitutes.

‘Bender is our sort of break—out character.‘ says Groening. ‘Everyone who has seen the show falls in love with him. He smokes. drinks. betrays people and has no guilt whatsoever. He also has a horrible pornography problem. And the great thing for me is that parents can‘t accuse me of providing a bad role model for kids. because

he isjust a robot.”

jar.‘ assures Groening. ‘I‘m taking the first leap. I make a cameo appearance as a head in a jar on the first episode. And we also have Pamela Anderson. Richard Nixon (who can issue full pardons) and Leonard Nimoy.’ Groening’s subversive satire had its origins in an average. typical American upbringing in Portland. Oregon. where this son of an advertising executive was elected student body president of his high school. After graduating from Evergreen State College in Olympia. Washington, Groening moved to Los Angeles to become a writer. He worked briefly as a music journalist and. at 28. began drawing Life In Hell. a comic strip about Jeff and Akbar. two cozy. fez-wearing look-alikes. and two rabbits named Binky and Bongo. Once asked whether Jeff and Akbar were brothers or a gay couple or what. Groening answered. ‘Whatever offends you the most’. By the late 80s. Life In Hell was syndicated