Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Opening Night

This comic peripherally references Life in Hell, the great and recently-concluded weekly comic strip by Matt Groening. The overmatched protagonist is wearing a Bongo costume. After I drew this comic, I found out that Groening's strip was ending its 32-year run.

When I was around age 11 or 12, my dad gave me his copy of "The Big Book of Hell," a compilation containing some of the best Life in Hell strips from the 1980s. Along with the B. Kliban books he passed along to me, it was the first comic strip I'd read with adult themes. Sex, politics, and religion were difficult topics for a pre-adolescent to fully grasp. But there were semi-cute bunnies, a rambunctious gay couple wearing fezzes, and scenes of school and childhood that felt remarkably real. When I started cartooning in college, I attempted to capture some of Groening's magic, employing word-heavy lists, detailed diagrams, and a pervasive feeling of angst. The Simpsons will stand as Groening's greatest creation, but I find it incredible that he kept drawing Life in Hell throughout three decades of countless other obligations. It will continue to be an inspiration.