‘Simpsons’ animator makes home in Nampa

Matt Watson’s Bart Simpson tattoo designed by Jeff Myers. courtesy Matt Watson

Animator Jeff Myers works on his tablet earlier this month in his California studio. Myers has worked on many popular cartoons, including “The Simpsons.” courtesy Jeff Myers

Nampa resident Jeff Myers spent years working in a four-fingered universe as an animator on “The Simpsons.”

The animated cartoon, which made its debut on April 19, 1987, as an animated short on the Fox sketch comedy series “The Tracey Ullman Show,” is a touchstone for a generation of kids. Count Matt Watson, a Nampa High School graduate who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2003, among the show’s legion of fans.

For years Watson wanted a tattoo commemorating his love for the show.

“But I didn’t know who I would have draw Bart Simpson for me,” Watson said.

Conveniently, an animator with the proper credentials was available and volunteering at a Wyakin Foundation event for wounded veterans. The Boise-based Wyakin Foundation provides “support, academic and career planning, and project management experiences designed to fully prepare wounded and injured veterans for fulfilling post-military careers,” its website said.

Myers designed Watson’s tattoo.

“It was just kind of cool knowing that (Myers) drew for a show that I had watched growing up and that I was going to have this tattoo drawn by one of the people who worked on that show,” Watson said.

Myers’ career has taken him to Arlen, Texas, O-Town, the multiverse and a number of fictional worlds he’s had a hand in creating through more than three decades as an animator.

Click on Myers’ IMDb page and you’ll find animation landmarks that span multiple eras, said Treasure Valley cartoonist Jeff Bacon, who recruited Myers into the Wyakin Foundation event where Watson got his tattoo design.

“People of my generation, they think of Bart Simpson. Someone a little bit younger? It’s ‘Family Guy’ and ‘King of the Hill,’” Bacon said. “And somebody of the younger generation? When you say ‘Rick and Morty,’ their eyes get all big. He’s got a cartoon for every generation.”

Myers has worked on all of them, as well as “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Little Dracula.” He’s now doing animations for the newest project from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening.

To do all that, however, Myers needs to fly to an animation studio in Burbank, Calif. — a weekly commute that’s made him an airport security wizard with a surplus of frequent flier miles.

“It’s a drag of a commute. I don’t recommend it,” Myers quipped.

Myers grew up in California but started to look at the Treasure Valley at the encouragement of his brother-in-law, who moved to the area during the housing boom of the mid-2000s. Myers followed a few years later with his wife and two children.

“This, to me, is how California was back when I grew up as far as the neighborhood-ness. The mellow vibe,” Myers said. “You could smile at people and they’ll smile back where as if you wave at someone in L.A. they think you’re on something.”

This is an edited version of an article that first published in the Idaho Press-Tribune.