News The Tattoo

Hometown embraces “Simpsons” writer

Mike Reiss (YJI)

Bristol, Connecticut, UNITED STATES — Mike Reiss, a writer and producer for “The Simpsons” – and a native of Bristol, Conn., – kicked off a authors’ speaking program at the Bristol Public Library last week.

“Can you think of anyone better?” asked Dave Fortier, a member of the event committee for The Friends of the Library. “He is a Bristol native. He is with one of the most popular TV shows ever. He has published children’s books. He has all these awards. He is a funny guy. I couldn’t believe no one or no other group ever invited Mike back to his hometown.”

Last week, Reiss was in high demand, speaking at a writer’s festival at Tunxis Community College in Farmington and again the next day at the library.

Reiss talked about how the library was where his love for writing started. He spoke of writing for shows like “Alf,” “The Critic,” and his own creation, “Queer Duck,” for which he is most proud.

An 18-year veteran of “The Simpsons,” Reiss gave some insight as to what happens behind the scenes at the long running television cartoon.

According to him, there are only about six people in the cast, and they voice the show’s 200 characters.

When asked if any inspiration for the show’s characters came from Bristol residents, Reiss said jokingly that “a lot of (his) friend’s dads have moments on the show.”

He said no Bristol residents are on the show, but that the appearance of Lisa’s substitute teacher, Mr. Bergstrom, is based somewhat on his own looks.

In his speech, Reiss said that he has “always dreamed of coming back to Bristol.”

The library’s board of director and The Friends sponsored the presentation. Reiss spoke for no cost to the library, so that all the money raised could go towards the account.

“The funds that were raised will be put into a special account to be used to support future authors to come and speak at the library,” said Rose Ann Chatfield, president of The Friends.

Both Fortier and Chatfield were pleased with the turnout of the event, especially since this was one of the first major authors to visit the library since its renovation.

“I feel that bringing authors to the library really makes the library a cultural center,” said Fortier. “The more people who come out to the library for programs like these, the better.”

Fortier said he hopes that as more authors and speakers visit the library and get a good response from citizens, Bristol “will become known as a place where the people appreciate authors.”

Bristol City Councilor Ellen Zoppo presented Reiss with a key to the city.

The Federal Hill Association gave Reiss a pen and ornaments with pictures of the city’s historical buildings, said Fortier, including Patterson School, which Reiss attended.

Reiss is the proof that the message of his presentation can come true.

“You can achieve your wildest dreams in life,” said Reiss, “even if you’re a kid from Bristol.”

Rachel Glogowski is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.