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Life in Hell

Wikisimpsons - The Simpsons Wiki

Life in Hell
Comic Information
Release date: 1977 to 2012
Publisher: Matt Groening

Life in Hell was a 1977-2012 weekly comic strip by Matt Groening. The strip featured a family of anthropomorphic rabbits (father Binky, mother Sheba and son Bongo) and a pair of identical-looking gay lovers (Akbar and Jeff). Groening used these characters to explore a wide range of topics about love, sex, work, and death. His drawings are full of expressions of angst, alienation, self-loathing, and fear of inevitable doom.

Life in Hell started in 1977 as a self-published comic book Groening used to describe life in Los Angeles to his friends. Groening photocopied and distributed it in a small "punk" corner of the record store in which he worked, Licorice Pizza on Sunset Boulevard. Life in Hell debuted as a comic strip in the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978,[1] to which Groening made his first professional cartoon sale. The first strip, entitled "Forbidden Words", appeared in the September/October issue. Popular in the underground, Life in Hell was picked up by the Los Angeles Reader[2] (an alternative weekly newspaper where Groening also worked as a typesetter, editor, paste-up artist and music critic) in 1980, where it began appearing weekly.

Life in Hell reached the attention of Hollywood producer James L. Brooks, who received one strip — "The Los Angeles Way of Death" from 1982.[3] In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of developing a series of short animated skits, called "bumpers", for The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks had wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights to his characters, Groening instead created an entirely new batch of characters, the Simpsons. Groening continued Life in Hell' until 2012.[4]

References to Life in Hell on The Simpsons[edit]


Picture Season Episode number Episode name Reference
The Pacifier - Binky 3.png 1 5 "The Pacifier" Rabbit dolls can be seen on the floor of Maggie's room and a framed picture of Binky is seen on the TV room.
The Funeral - Binky.png 2 9 "The Funeral" Lisa holds a Binky doll.
2 15 "Bart's Haircut" Lisa holds a Binky doll.
2 18 "Scary Stories" Lisa holds a Binky doll.
2 25 "Family Portrait" Lisa plays with a Binky doll.
2 26 "Bart's Hiccups" Maggie and Lisa are seen with Bongo and Binky dolls.
2 27 "The Money Jar" Lisa holds an eyeless Binky doll.
3 29 "Shut Up Simpsons" Maggie squeaks a Binky doll.
3 32 "The Bart Simpson Show" Bart names his Binky doll "Ed".
Binky.png 3 34 "Simpson Christmas" Maggie gets Binky and Bongo dolls.
3 36 "Bart the Hero" A Binky doll is seen on the floor.
3 37 "Bart's Little Fantasy" A Binky doll is seen on the floor.
3 39 "Home Hypnotism" A Binky doll is seen on the floor.
3 41 "Echo Canyon" Bart and Lisa read 'Life in Hell' comics.
00 43 Bart's Nightmare.png 3 43 "Bart's Nightmare" Homer's shadow is cast on the floor as he looks down at Bart and the broken cookie jar, which is an allusion to the "Shadow Rabbit" gag in Life in Hell.
3 46 & 47 "Maggie in Peril (Chapter One)" and "Maggie in Peril (The Thrilling Conclusion)" A Bongo doll is seen in Maggie's crib.


Picture Season Episode number Episode name Reference
Referee Life in Hell.png 1 6 "Moaning Lisa" The referee in the video game looks like Akbar or Jeff.
1 9 "Life on the Fast Lane" Lisa's research "about what happens to kids whose parents no longer love and cherish each other" bares a striking resemblance to the 'Life in Hell' strip "The 12 Stages of Divorce for Kids", along with stage two (denial), and stage three (fear). However, Lisa's version is only 8 stages and "self-pity" is stage five (it is stage eight in the strip).
Binky Bad Dream House.png 2 16 "Treehouse of Horror" In the segment "Bad Dream House" a Binky doll is seen beside the box Bart unpacks. Later Maggie is seen sleeping next to a Bongo doll...
I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm!.png 2 23 "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" Lionel Hutz' office is is next to Yogurt Nook, where the proprietors look like Akbar and Jeff. Later they can also be seen in the courtroom.
Maggie Binky sleeping.png 3 36 "Stark Raving Dad" Maggie is seen sleeping next to a Binky doll.
A Streetcar Named Marge Sheba.png 4 61 "A Streetcar Named Marge" Sheba appears in a pop-up book, opened by a baby to warn Maggie that the school principal is coming.
5 90 "The Last Temptation of Homer" When Homer's sweat has made the writing on his palm unreadable he tries to decipher the text anyway, which spells out: "Nom Yo Ho Renge Kyo", a mantra once sang by Akbar and Jeff.
Maggie green Binky.png 6 108 "Sideshow Bob Roberts" Maggie has a green Binky doll in her crib.
Matt Funk Lord of USA Groening.png 7 134 "Treehouse of Horror VI" Matt Groening's name turns up in the opening credits as "Funk Lord of the USA". He used to describe himself as such at the start of each 'Life in Hell' comic.
Matt Groening Life in Hell poster.png 7 138 "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" In Matt Groening's office a 'Life in Hell' poster can be seen. Later Troy McClure says: "Yes, the Simpsons have come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off old gambling debts."
Bongo I&S audience.png 8 158 "Bart After Dark" In the Itchy and Scratchy short Good Cats, Bad Choices Bongo is in the audience.
8 165 "Mountain of Madness" Bart asks Lisa to come and look at two identical snowflakes, a nod to the Life in Hell episode: Lies My Older Brother and Sister Told Me (1986).
Wiggum Life in Hell.png 9 188 "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" Chief Wiggum steals a Life in Hell rabbit from The Simpsons' house.
Pig with pins.png 9 195 "Lisa the Simpson" As a last-minute science project, Lisa makes a pig out of an eraser and pushpins, a make-your-own-office-toy featured in a 1982 Life in Hell strip entitled "How To Kill 8 Hours A Day And Still Keep Your Job" .
Ralph Binky.png 9 196 "This Little Wiggy" A Binky doll is seen in Ralph Wiggum's room.
Maggie Bongo.png 10 219 "Make Room for Lisa" Maggie has a Bongo doll.
Akbar.png 10 222 "Mom and Pop Art" Homer notices a drawing of Akbar and Jeff in a museum and feels that Matt Groening doesn't belong in a museum as he "can barely draw."
Faith Off Marquee.png 11 237 "Faith Off" The Springfield Church picks out "Life in Hell" as their "topic for today".
Bongo.png 12 259 "Worst Episode Ever" Comic Book Guy pours a can of soda over a Radioactive Man comic, which bounces off and lands on a Bongo Comics issue instead.
Bongo Hex and the City.png 13 270 "Treehouse of Horror XII" One of the rabbits in the hole full of Trix is Bongo.
13 278 "Jaws Wired Shut" Maggie plays with a Bongo doll.
Bart and Lisa pull at a Bongo doll.png 33 707 "The Star of the Backstage" Bart and Lisa pull at a Bongo doll.
Life in Hell-sinki.png 35 761 "Frinkenstein's Monster" Homer was reading Life in Hell-sinki, a reference to Life in Hell and to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.


Picture Special name Reference
Binky The Force Awakens from Its Nap.png The Force Awakens from Its Nap A Binky doll is among the stuff in the cabinet.


Picture Comic issue Story name Reference
Treat or Trick Life in Hell.png Simpsons Illustrated #7 Treat or Trick Someone is seen dressed as Bongo.
Otto Bongo.png Simpsons Comics #31 Radioactive Homer Otto Mann dresses as Bongo at the masquerade ball.


Picture Book Reference
The Krusty Book Matt Groening's Life in Hell is #35 in Krusty's Top 40. Krusty describes it as a "funny, funny strip" and says "I bet that guy's great to work for."


External links[edit]

The Saga of Carl - title screen.png Wikisimpsons has a collection of images related to Life in Hell.