The Animators

Kwaku Alston

Seth MacFarlane (12 noms, 3 wins), Mike Judge (6 noms, 1 win) and Matt Groening (31 noms, 12 wins)

They are the flesh-and-blood embodiment of animation domination, racking up 16 Emmys for the comedies Family Guy from Seth MacFarlane, King of the Hill from Mike Judge and, from Matt Groening, Futurama, a 2011 winner, and The Simpsons, the show that started it all. "If that hadn't been successful, none of these other shows would have been made," says Judge, 48, who's set to revive Beavis and Butt-Head for MTV this fall. MacFarlane, 37, who also has The Cleveland Show and American Dad on Fox (and a fourth show coming with The Flintstones), echoes Judge's appraisal. "Matt has influenced every primetime animated series that came after it. He reinvented the genre." The Simpsons, the longest-running primetime comedy, will kick off its 23rd season Sept. 25. With nearly 500 episodes as well as T-shirts, video games, theme park rides, DVDs and a film, Groening, 57, is sitting atop a billion-dollar franchise. Although a little uneasy with his godfather status, he's grateful for animation's perks. "You have much more control," he says. "You can pick your best performance, cut things out, and you don't have to call actors back from their next movie. You just have to mumble into a microphone."

Photographed by Kwaku Alston on Sept. 8 at Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

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