Matt Groening On Alt-Weekly Comics

The AV Club interviews Matt Groening and asks him about the future of alt-weekly comics:

AVC: Speaking of dying media, how do you think comics like Life In Hell are going to adapt?

MG: Speaking as an alternative newsweekly cartoonist, we’re at the bottom of the food chain. We’re hoping that weekly newspapers don’t go the way of dime novels. It may be that the time has come and passed, but I don’t know. I hope not. It seems to me that if you have a publication with a strategy, with some enthusiasm, and some design sense, I think there is a way of keeping it alive.

AVC: Do you think it will become just a web phenomenon?

MG: It’s possible. I personally like the idea of newspapers. It’s a good format. You can read it in whatever order you want. You can glance at it. There is something about a single screen and scrolling through pages that just doesn’t have the same appeal. But I don’t have a Kindle yet, so maybe I’ll change my mind. [Laughs.]

Life in Hell is the reason Big Fat Whale exists. It blazed a trail for all the other alt-weekly comics that followed, and helped shape my sense of humor. It’s also the reason BFW is a giant square instead of a more marketable rectangular strip. When I started the comic, I was clumsily aping Groening’s LiH, but with a whale instead of a rabbit.

Thankfully BFW grew into its own thing, but the square format remains a constant reminder of Groening’s influence.

12 thoughts on “Matt Groening On Alt-Weekly Comics”

  1. I’ve wondered about the square format myself.

    I’ll admit that Life in Hell is a hit or miss for me. The artwork is poor and repetitive and the strip’s humor is not my thing. Some funny strips here and there, though.

    Not saying that Groening sucks. He did create Futurama, after all (oh, and that obscure show about a family with yellow skin) And if it led to BFW, then Matt deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for it.

  2. Oh noes! I think a tea party is coming my way. That first book doesn’t have any of the Whale in it either. I was already phasing him out by then.

    I limit the archives partly because I’m a greedy bastard, and partly because the quality of the early stuff is pretty sloppy.

  3. Charles – Have you checked out the compilations “Big Book of Hell,” and “The Huge Book of Hell?” They collect the strip when it was in its prime.

    It became less cynical and edgy after The Simpsons, and I stopped checking it out after it became a “Golly! My kids sure are adorable!” series.

  4. I’ve been entertaining secret fantasies that Matt Groening will swoop down and come to our rescue somehow, sort of like Bill Gates has been doing with malaria-stricken nations.

  5. Jen – I think all we need from him is to remind entertainment folks that he was plucked from our obscure field, and maybe the right people will start noticing.

    Charles – The art, if anything, is probably worse in those books, so it could be hard for you to get past that.

  6. dear Matt Groening, I’m a girl in Argentina and I created a new character for Simpson, her name is Janet I will send some pictures of her she is an orphan, is 10 and has a rich history, his parents committed suicide and left her. she told her story to which simpson not legally adopted but was given the name and registered in the school, she likes but does not admit Nelson. riding a skateboard and play the electric guitar, you know something? Behaves worse than Bart!
    I hope you like this new family member most successful in the world created by you
    my name is April

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