D’oh! Bongo Comics is turning out the lights and calling it quits. The comic publisher, founded by Matt Groening, mainly existed to publish comic books based on his Fox creations — Simpsons and Futurama. Alas, Bongo will not be around to comic-ify Netflix’s Disenchantment.
Back in the early 90s when the Simpsons became mega-popular overnight, it seemed like they were everywhere BUT in comic books. Fans like me couldn’t understand what the holdup was, until Groening revealed he’d been saving the rights for his own separate comic book company.
The original line of Simpsons Comics first appeared in 1993. Since it was the height of the collector boom, Bongo could afford to launch with a vengeance and blanket the market with separate titles for anything tangentially related to the show: Bartman, Radioactive Man, Itchy and Scratchy…and the main book itself.
Soon the speculator market crashed, all those extraneous titles fell away, and Bongo stuck to its solitary “Simpsons Comics” output, with rare deviations. Various citizens of Springfield were given one-shot books. Lisa had a spinoff book for a little while. Bart Simpson lasted the longest, with his solo title stretching 100 issues.
Meanwhile Bongo’s output was reprinted in trade books for bookstores. There was no formal numbering attempted, so following them in order was next to impossible (though you could find which issues they collected if you looked hard enough in the Table of Contents).
In 2000, Bongo got ambitious and launched a Simpsons newspaper comic strip, which ran on Sundays with a full-page format. It was even larger than the later “Calvin and Hobbes” strips and took up a large chunk of funnies real estate that most papers wouldn’t accept. The strip would only last through the year, but was mentioned in the “Behind the Laughter” episode of the TV show.
Artist Nina Matsumoto said in a tweet that “I owe Bongo Comics so much for giving me my first art job ever, and continuing to give me work for 10 years. Thanks to Nathan Kane and Bill Morrison for their trust in my abilities when I’d never been published!”
Altogether Bongo produced 25 years’ worth of material for their main license, rivaling Archie’s Sonic run and Fawcett’s Dennis the Menace output in the 70s. It’s a hefty library to leave gathering dust. Perhaps someday another company will attempt to collect it all in hard volumes….though it’d take a lot of them.