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‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening ends ‘Life in Hell,’ comic that started it all
poynter ^ | June 20, 2012 | Rob Tornoe

Posted on 06/20/2012 10:20:24 AM PDT by a fool in paradise

After exploring a world populated by “anthropomorphic rabbits and a pair of gay lovers” for over 30 years, “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening is putting down his pen and ending his highly acclaimed comic strip, “Life in Hell.”

The last “Life in Hell,” Groening’s 1,669th strip, was released on Friday, June 15. For the next four weeks, editors will have their choice of strips from Groening’s extensive archive before they close up shop in July on Friday the 13, which seems oddly appropriate.

“I’ve had great fun, in a Sisyphean kind of way, but the time has come to let Binky and Sheba and Bongo and Akbar and Jeff take some time off,” Groening, 58, said by email.

“It’s hard to imagine how the business model that sustained alternative social-commentary and political cartooning for two decades (and is now all but dead) would have evolved had papers not discovered the power of Groening’s strip and its ability to attract readers,” said syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall by phone.

The popularity of “Life in Hell” opened a path for a new breed of alternative cartoonists to appear in alt-weeklies across the country, cartoonists like Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Ward Sutton, Keith Knight and Rall. It also showcased the power of sharp, biting cartoons to editors looking to attain and grow a new group of readers.

“Groening is modern cartooning’s rock God, a Moses who came down from the mountain (or the East Village office of the Voice) and handed us the rules we followed,” said Rall.

“Life in Hell”‘s newspaper count has dwindled over the years as cutbacks and consolidation forced out many features. Syndicated by Acme Features Syndicate, which Groening created, the strip hit a peak of nearly 380 papers in the early 1990s. In recent years, the strip appeared in less than 40.

One high-profile cancellation came from LA Weekly, which removed the strip back in 2009 due to budget cuts. Pandora Young, an editor for Mediabistro’s FishbowlLA (and a former LA Weekly staffer), was incensed by the news.

“Groening has been good to the Weekly over the years — making himself available to the staff for interviews, illustrating covers for the Weekly for the paper’s small standard fee despite his enormous success, and continuing to read the paper itself,” Young wrote when she found out.

“Dropping the cartoon seems incredibly short-sighted, so it’s probably safe to assume it was a decision made by the corporate offices in Phoenix.”

“Life in Hell” actually earned Groening his big break in Hollywood. It started running in Wet Magazine in 1978, then moved to the now-defunct LA Reader, where Groening worked. The strip eventually made its way to LA Weekly. Its popularity grew, amassing a client list of more than 250 papers, when producer Polly Platt noticed “Life in Hell” and showed it to actor/producer James L. Brooks.

Brooks contacted Groening and wanted him to develop a series of “bumpers” based on “Life in Hell” for “The Tracey Ullman Show.” Groening was a bit apprehensive at the thought of handing over the rights to his characters, so he created the Simpsons to fill the slot.

For Sondra Gatewood, who has handled syndication duties for Groening over the years, the end of “Life in Hell” is bittersweet.

“It’s been a delight working for Matt Groening for the past 24 years, and the ending of ‘Life in Hell’ leaves me with mixed and melancholic feelings,” said Gatewood by phone.

“I’ve thought about comic strips every day for the past 24 years. How does it get any better than that?”

This is the final “Life is Hell” strip, which ran Friday, June 15.


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: lifeinhell; mattgroening; rhymeswitcomplaining; simpsons

1 posted on 06/20/2012 10:20:38 AM PDT by a fool in paradise
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To: a fool in paradise

Hmm, I thought this strip ended years ago.


2 posted on 06/20/2012 10:32:50 AM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: a fool in paradise

Weird strip. Though I did like the fake “Tofu Hut” ad back in the 80s.

Now, where does “Life in Hell” go when it dies?


3 posted on 06/20/2012 10:40:07 AM PDT by Dr. Sivana ("You forget, it isn't who you claim, but instead, who claims you. We don't claim you!")
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To: Charles Martel

Never heard of it.


4 posted on 06/20/2012 10:43:16 AM PDT by ohiobushman (Only in N.Y.C can u buy beer by the case,liquor by the gallon,but be a criminal buying a soda!)
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To: a fool in paradise

I bought his first book of Life is Hell for $5. I was a big fan. A friend of mine was going to fix me up with this struggling older cartoonist. Funny to think of now...


5 posted on 06/20/2012 10:44:55 AM PDT by Yaelle
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To: Dr. Sivana; Revolting cat!; Lucky9teen; JoeProBono; Slings and Arrows; Daffynition

6 posted on 06/20/2012 10:52:06 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The media ignored the 40th anniversary of Bill Ayers' Pentagon bombing but not Watergate. Ask Why.)
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To: ohiobushman

7 posted on 06/20/2012 10:53:30 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The media ignored the 40th anniversary of Bill Ayers' Pentagon bombing but not Watergate. Ask Why.)
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To: ohiobushman

Never heard of it.

Me either. I think I’m glad.


8 posted on 06/20/2012 10:54:59 AM PDT by Bitsy
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To: Dr. Sivana

9 posted on 06/20/2012 11:00:06 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The media ignored the 40th anniversary of Bill Ayers' Pentagon bombing but not Watergate. Ask Why.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Yeah, Life in Hell was to close to Life in Obama’s Nation.


10 posted on 06/20/2012 11:02:34 AM PDT by MIchaelTArchangel (Da Bro' Gotsta Go!)
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To: Dr. Sivana
Still can't find the Tofu Hut ad.


11 posted on 06/20/2012 11:05:20 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The media ignored the 40th anniversary of Bill Ayers' Pentagon bombing but not Watergate. Ask Why.)
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To: a fool in paradise

12 posted on 06/20/2012 11:06:21 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: a fool in paradise

Hell is where the Devil forces you to read strips like that for all eternity...


13 posted on 06/20/2012 11:10:51 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: a fool in paradise

14 posted on 06/20/2012 11:14:26 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: JoeProBono

OOPS!


15 posted on 06/20/2012 11:15:50 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Buckeye McFrog
I thought Hell was were you were required to read Cathy for eternity.


16 posted on 06/20/2012 11:17:24 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The media ignored the 40th anniversary of Bill Ayers' Pentagon bombing but not Watergate. Ask Why.)
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To: a fool in paradise

17 posted on 06/20/2012 11:33:56 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: a fool in paradise

I’ve always wondered what the audience for Cathy was. She is the worst followed by Garfield.


18 posted on 06/20/2012 11:34:36 AM PDT by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: JoeProBono; a fool in paradise; Slings and Arrows

19 posted on 06/20/2012 11:44:42 AM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong!)
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To: JoeProBono; a fool in paradise; Slings and Arrows

20 posted on 06/20/2012 11:47:30 AM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong!)
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To: a fool in paradise

There’s no stopping Akbar and Jeff.


21 posted on 06/20/2012 2:26:29 PM PDT by AceMineral (Will work for money.)
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Now, if he’d put the barrel of a gun in his mouth and paint the ceiling with his own blood, the day would be complete.


22 posted on 06/21/2012 3:40:39 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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