Simpsons creator Matt Groening has decided it’s time to pull the plug on his land of anthropomorphic rabbits, announcing the end of his “Life in Hell” cartoon strip yesterday. Groening had worked on the strip, which centered on the lives of several talking bunnies and a gay couple, for over 30 years.
“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 explained to Poynter.org.
The strip first appeared in the avant garde publication Wet Magazine in 1978. Groening, a struggling young cartoonist at the time, had just moved from his Portland, Ore. home to Los Angeles, a city where he believed a writer was most likely to be overpaid. Two years later, “Life in Hell,” which initially focused on Groening’s young life in his new city, was picked up by the now defunct LA Reader and began appearing weekly in the alternative publication. The strip soon spread to dozens of newspapers and became popular almost immediately, serving to kick off Groening’s career. He launched The Simpsons in 1989 and Futurama one decade later.
Despite his television success, Groening continued work on “Life in Hell” into the new millennium, telling Rolling Stone in an interview that he kept up on the strip because he liked the idea of some of his work being completely solo — a freedom he didn’t find in TV animation. And yet, the times seem to have caught up to Binky, Sheba, and the gang. LA Weekly, a long time syndicator of the work, dropped the strip in 2009, falling in suit with similar budget-influenced decisions by other publications. At its peak, 250 newspapers printed Hell; at its closing, that number is down to 38.
The 1,669th and final “Life in Hell,” was released on June 15th.
Click here for a farewell to the Hell characters.