First he revealed The Simpsons was based on his hometown of Portland, Ore. (and not Springfield, Ore., you nitwits; he was saying he took the name from there), and now Matt Groening is ending his comic strip Life in Hell after 24 years. Next thing you know, The Simpsons will finally make a movie. Wait, what?
"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," the 58-year-old emailed the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg about the strip. The final strip appeared last Friday, but syndication customers will be able to run whatever they like from the archives until he shuts down the generators for good on July 13. yes, Friday the 13th.
The strip, distributed through Acme Features Syndicate, hit a high of almost 380 papers in the early '90s, Poynter says, but was down to less than 40 these days. The strip helped Groening get noticed by producer James L. Brooks, who asked Matt to create cartoon bumpers for Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show. Groening decided to make animated snippets about a suburban family that fought all the time so he wouldn't lose the rights to Life in Hell. How could that have amounted to anything?
[Photo: The final Life in Hell strip, which ran June 15. via Poynter.org]