Friday, April 24, 2009

"Life in Hell" (cartoon)

Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons, began with a comic strip entitled Life in Hell. It depicted life in Los Angeles through the eyes of rabbits. The economic collapse has led to the flagship weekly periodical (the LA Weekly) not being able to pay its comics after 22 years of strips.

According to a CNN profile, Matt Greoening’s “Life in Hell” is being dropped by its flagship paper, LA Weekly, after 22 years:

CNN: To the root of animation, cartooning: You’re still doing “Life in Hell,” correct?

Groening: Um, yes, but … well, I feel like the floodwaters are rising.

CNN: Really?

Groening: Yeah, the alternative newsweeklies are really struggling. In fact, this coming week will be my final week after 22 years in the LA Weekly. I and all the other cartoonists are being dismissed because they can’t afford to pay.

We’ll see. I’m still in a bunch of other papers, so I may continue to do my strip, but it doesn’t look good. Listen to Groening talk about the poor treatment of comics

CNN: Have you considered just doing it online?

Groening: Yes! Yes, I’m toying with that. But it’s very strange. I’ve been doing the weekly comic strip for 29 years, “The Simpsons” weekly for 20 years, the “Futurama” weekly for five years and then a little break and then the four movies, and then the “Simpsons” movie…so I have a series of ongoing deadlines. So the idea of establishing a Web presence that I’ll have to feed on an ongoing basis doesn’t give me a lot of pep. (laughs) One more treadmill. (Source: The Daily Cartoonist).


Life in Hell started in 1977 as a self-published comic book Groening used to describe life in Los Angeles to his friends. Groening photocopied and distributed it in a small "punk" corner of the record store in which he worked, Licorice Pizza on Sunset Boulevard. Life in Hell debuted as a comic strip in the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978, to which Groening made his first professional cartoon sale.

The first strip, entitled "Forbidden Words," appeared in the September/October issue. Popular in the underground, Life in Hell was picked up by the Los Angeles Reader (an alternative weekly newspaper where Groening also worked as a typesetter, editor, paste-up artist and music critic) in 1980, where it began appearing weekly.

The strip was frequently a serial, discussing various topics such as "Love is Hell," a 1984 "13-chapter miniseries" pontificating on love and relationships. More>>

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