Matt Groening announced he’s quit his legendary long-running weekly comic strip Life in Hell just a couple hours ago at The Illustration Conference (ICON) in Rhode Island, according to this guy on Twitter:
Matt Groening just announced that he’s quit Life in Hell. #icon7
— Adam Rex (@MrAdamRex) June 15, 2012
Life in Hell began as a zine Matt Groening sent to his friends in the Pacific Northwest after he moved to Los Angeles. It evolved into a comic strip, making its debut in WET Magazine in 1977, and became weekly in 1980 after Los Angeles Reader editor James Vowell gave Groening a spot in the alt-weekly newspaper. It evenually became one of the first popular alt weekly comics; Tom the Dancing Bug cartoonist Ruben Bolling credits it with having “created the market for alt weekly comics.” In 1984, Groening’s then-girlfriend Deborah Caplan published the “Love is Hell” series in book form, which became huge, selling 20,000 copies. After Work is Hell, Pantheon Books took over publication of Groening’s books, on the recommendation of Maus cartoonist Art Spiegelman. Life in Hell caught the eye of Polly Platt, who gave one of Groening’s cartoons to legendary producer James L. Brooks in 1985. Brooks wanted Groening to create short animated segments featuring the Life in Hell characters for The Tracey Ullman Show, but Groening feared he’d lose ownership of his characters, so he created the Simpsons instead. Around 1986, the Reader dropped the strip, but the LA Weekly picked it up and ran it for twenty-two years before dropping it in 2009.
I will update this post when more details become available.
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.