Robot 6

Matt Groening’s Life in Hell ends after 32 years

From the final installment of Matt Groening's "Life in Hell"

After more than three decades, and 1,669 installments, Matt Groening has ended Life in Hell, his influential weekly comic strip starring bitter anthropomorphic rabbits and a pair of gay lovers. Although the final strip appeared Friday,  reruns will be offered to newspapers through July 13.

“Thirty-two years is a long time to do it,” The Simpsons creator told USA Today. “I love the characters, I love doing it, but it was just time.” Groening added to The Poynter Institute, “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.”

At its peak, Life in Hell appeared in 379 newspapers, but that number dwindled to just 38, with Groening being paid just $18 a week by each outlet. According to Sondra Gatewood of syndicator ACME Features, the cartoonist has been losing money on the strip for the past decade. The decline coincided with cutbacks by alternative weeklies reeling from the loss of classified-ad revenues.

Writing for Poynter, Rob Tornoe notes that the popularity of Life in Hell “opened a path for a new breed of alternative cartoonists” like Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Ward Sutton, Keith Knight and Ted Rall to appear in weeklies nationwide.

“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,” Rall told Tornoe.

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Comments

12 Comments

That’s a real shame. I’d say I’ll miss it, but I’ve actually been missing it for years, as our local outlet here in St. Louis, the Riverfront Times, dropped it 12 years ago. At least we still get Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch’s “Amazing Facts & Beyond!” 32 years is a helluva run, though, especially considering everything else Groening has had going on with the Simpsons and Futurama.

Kudos to Matt for sticking with it this long!

I honestly thought it had fallen by the wayside a long time ago.

Here’s hoping for some more collected editions, or maybe a 2013 page a day calendar?

given how long its lasted. do not blame matt for finaly deciding its time to end it for after all all things end . he should be happy about what the strip did paving the way for other cartoonists . but 32 years that is way time maybe for a break

Seconding Jason; my local altweekly stopped carrying it ages ago, there haven’t been any recent collections that I know of, and it’s not published online.

“Take some time off” implies he’s not leaving the cast behind for good — maybe one of these days he’ll get around to doing an animated version.

Curious to see what he gets up to next. New Futurama season starts tonight, if I’m not mistaken, but there’s been chatter of another project on the horizon besides.

Thad: “New Futurama season starts tonight, if I’m not mistaken”

Whoa! You are NOT mistaken, and you just made my day!

I was thinking that my local weekly doesn’t carry LIH, but then I realized I have been reading it in Funny Times. Sad that it’s going away.

Bravo on a sensational run.

Hopefully Fantagraphics or IDW will soon put together a Complete Life in Hell collection.

That comic got me through late middle/early high school. I feel like this is a tremendous loss for sad people everywhere.

Really, he was losing money on something that was paying him 30,000 a year? For a few panels a week?

I know Groening has many other projects that are bigger and more profitable, but the whole losing money part sounds like, well, bullshit.

I love the Life in Hell installments but I knew that it was hard for Matt and his crew to do can’t blame the guy for stopping

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