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Matt Groening: Digital Media Killed His Comic Strip

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Matt Groening, creator of the hugely successful shows “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”, is seeing his comic strip of 30 years die off with print as digital media consumes the world of newspapers.

The comic, “Life In Hell”, had a long and popular run among paper strips in L.A. Weekly and The Village Voice, but in a world where everyone has just about any information they want right at their fingertips, newsweeklies are having a tough time staying afloat, and keeping the comic going has become more and more of a struggle, only earning around $18 for each issue. Groening made the tough decision to retire the comic after three decades and 1,669 strips.

“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 said.

The strip ran in about 380 newspapers after Groening formed the company Acme Features Syndicate in the early ’90s, which syndicated it. Now, less than 40 papers run the strip. However, it has been anthologized in the books Childhood Is Hell, School Is Hell, The Big Book Of Hell, and The Huge Book Of Hell.

Some comics have found successful homes online, worming their way around the evolution of print to find a whole new market, such as Penny Arcade; but Groening seemed more willing to retire the comic strip than move it to the web, perhaps because after 30 years, it was just its time to go.

“I was hoping that he would never end it, that he would keep up, but with the way the newspapers are in today’s world, it just wasn’t profitable,” Sondra Gatewood, the strip’s syndicate manager, said. “It wasn’t like back in the day.”

As evident by the reaction on Twitter, “Life In Hell” will be dearly missed by those it inspired and brought humor to.

Image credit: Matt Groening

Matt Groening: Digital Media Killed His Comic Strip
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