by Kevin Czap
I’ll admit, I had another idea for a post but some last minute research toppled the whole premise. Looking through my bookshelf in a panic, I landed on my Life in Hell books. If nothing else, this post is intended to help keep Matt Groening’s old strip in our public consciousness. It’s easy to forget about this stuff, in the wake of the Simpson‘s franchisement, but Groening is a great comics artist first and foremost. If for no other reason, he should be celebrated forever for creating Akbar and Jeff.
I’d been exposed to Life in Hell from a young age, being a part of an extended family that had a taste for offbeat and marginal humor. My uncle in Minnesota had several books of this series, as well as archives of Mad magazine and an encyclopedic knowledge of Frank Zappa and the Mothers. If I remember correctly, these books of Groening’s then-contemporary comic strip were some of the earliest influences on my brother and my comics making. In particular, I remember Matt’s flat profiled characters borrowed a lot from the simple cartoon shapes.
I was able to pick up a couple’a volumes from Half Priced Books a few years ago — it’s great having these around again. If you ever have a chance to buy some for yourself, I recommend it.
Images taken from “How to Go to Hell” 2004, and “Love is Hell” 1986