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Friday, January 16, 2004
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and Life in Hell?
As Elvis Costello would put it, the answer to all three is "nothing."
If Life in Hell is a practical joke, it's a good one. Since it isn't, someone has to put a stop to it. For the past ten years, Matt Groening has been basically running the same strip over and over and over again. Akbar and Jeff's monotonous squabbles were amusing...but only the first 300,000 times. Life in Hell has overtaken even Garfield and Marmaduke to become The Most Redundant And Boring Comic Strip of All Time.
While those two pet strips were never funny, there was a time when Life in Hell was easily the most brilliant comic being published in newspapers. This is probably a bold statement, given the competition at the time (Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Far Side, etc.). Still, you need look no further than the Work is Hell or School is Hell comps for further proof of this grandiose statement.
The comics page of the average daily has become a travesty in recent years. Over-run by the likes of Rose is Rose and Get Fuzzy (yes, Get Fuzzy. That strip is as lame as Family Circus. You know this to be true), it isn't even worth a passing glance anymore. The sad decline of the weekly Life in Hell strip is just another indication that comics page in your daily newspaper is dead. No amount of Opus comebacks is going to resurrect this beast.
And it's downright sad, given the level of talent being displayed on the internet right now. Penny Arcade, with its fluid, clean design and youth-appeal could throttle For Better or Worse and finally kill the never-ending boredom parade that is Dilbert (I work in office and I still don't find it the slightest bit funny).
Why is something like Blondie still being published while Exploding Dog, Angry Little Girls, Daily Dinosaur, Big Fat Whale and thousands of others are waiting in the wings? The last Blondie fan died long before the last veteran of the Civil War did. Yes, these strips are more controversial than these ancient chestnuts but they're also something that they aren't: humorous.
There's only so many jokes out there that can be made about finicky felines, cubicles and the preciousness of small children. They were all used up sometime in 1987. It's time for those that have made millions off drawing pictures of cats, babies, office drones and #@#$#! Cathy to step aside.