This Guy Is the Real-Life Inspiration for ‘The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy

Matt Groening once said he was ‘every comic book store guy in America’
This Guy Is the Real-Life Inspiration for ‘The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy

Think you know everything there is to know about Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons? Sure, you may brag to your friends that he earned his master's degree in folklore and mythology by translating The Lord of the Rings into Klingon. You may know that he was once married (well, in a role-playing game). You might even know his given name is Jeff Albertson, as he admitted in the “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass” episode. 

You might even be among the many fans who have insisted to Simpsons creator Matt Groening that they know the real-life Comic Book Guy. “I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, ‘I know who you based that comic book guy on. It’s that comic-book guy right down the block,’” Groening told TV Guide. “And I have to tell them, ‘No, it’s every comic book store guy in America.’”

But no one outside of The Simpsons writers’ room seems to know the real person on whom Comic Book Guy is based. That is, until now. 

TV writer Eva Anderson showed up on the latest episode of the Talking Simpsons podcast to talk to hosts Bob Mackey and Henry Gilbert about the “Last Exit to Springfield” episode. Along the way, she dropped a mint-condition nugget about Comic Book Guy’s real-world inspiration. 

According to Anderson, someone named John Brian King is the man behind the animation. “I met him a few times, and he worked at a book store,” explained Anderson. “He has a website and stuff, but he was the one who was eating fried clams when the Simpsons writers came over to the store.” 

Uproxx connected more dots, noting that Simpsons scribe George Meyer once revealed that Comic Book Guy was inspired by an employee at the Amok bookstore in Los Angeles, “sitting on the high stool, kind of lording over the store with that supercilious attitude and eating behind the counter a big Styrofoam container full of fried clams with a lot of tarter sauce.”

John Brian King may indeed be the muse that inspired Meyer and other Simpsons writers, but he’s decidedly cooler and more accomplished than the Cheeto-stained Comic Book Guy. Anderson calls him a “very funny, sarcastic guy. He’s also a title designer. He did the titles for (Paul Thomas Anderson’s) Punch Drunk Love.” 

Anderson met King in her early 20s. “I was a receptionist for his wife, who was a famous music supervisor,” she said. “But we all went to dinner together. When you meet this guy, there’s no question that he’s the entire Comic Book Guy model.”

Best Talking Simpsons episode ever.


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