So long Blinky. After thirty years of living in hell, Matt Groening decides to give it up and head to a cooler climate. His gain will be our loss. On Friday, after the publication of his 1669th “Life in Hell” comic strip came to an end. Groening, like Dante, gets to escape hell, something other residents of the devil’s den only dream of. But let's not talk theology.
Although many of us probably think we know what it is to live a life in hell, but the strip is different. It began as Groening’s way of describing life in his new hometown, Los Angles. Groening is the creator of the Simpsons. The strip was published, until yesterday, mostly in free alternative newspapers that one finds in newspaper boxes on the corners of many of our city streets (especially around universities), right next to the ads taunting bargains from the seedier side of the city.
Sadly, I haven’t kept up with the “Life in Hell” comic strip over the past couple of decades. But when I was a student in Pittsburgh and later in San Francisco, one of the things I enjoyed from those ad-filled alternative newspapers was this strip with its rather plain looking bunnies as characters. Some strips were funnier than others. Some strips made me mad, for I didn’t agree with Groening’s point-of-view even though I would find myself smirking. For years, I kept above my desk a copy of the comic’s “forbidden words for the 90s” which included those slang words of the 80s that I had grown sick of hearing. Of course, the 90s brought its own set of overused words, as have the other decades and Groening has done his duty as keeping us apprised of new words and phrases that have been so overused in media and along the sidewalks that they’ve become a cliché before even having an opportunity to reach puberty. For his tireless efforts to rid us of stale language, Groening should receive the Nobel Peace Prize or maybe one of those the Presidential Freedom Awards.
Now that Groening has retired, maybe Jerry Sandusky will want to revive the strip. I am sure he’s going to have plenty of time on his hands.