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Groening lanches 'Futurama Comics'

Gazette, The (Colorado Springs),  Nov 19, 2000  by Bill Radford

Bongo Comics is a company with an eye on the future. And it's a pretty funny future.

Bongo Comics is the publishing arm of Matt Groening, creator of TV's "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." For years, Bongo has published a host of "Simpsons" titles. Now "Futurama Comics" is joining the lineup, with issue No. 1 scheduled to arrive this week in comic-book shops.

Groening, who serves as Bongo's publisher, formed Bongo Comics Group in 1993 - but its roots stretch back further than that, explains Terry Delegeane, Bongo managing editor.

"When Matt created 'The Simpsons,' he knew as a cartoonist (on 'Life in Hell') that it was valuable to have the publishing rights, so he kept those," Delegeane says. After "Simpsons Illustrated," a quarterly magazine, did well in the early '90s, Groening decided it was time to try a comic book. The resulting one-shot "Simpsons Comics and Stories" was a success - and Bongo was born.

By the end of 1993, Bongo was publishing four titles: "Simpsons Comics," "Radioactive Man," "Bartman" and "Itchy & Scratchy Comics." Since then, various titles have come and gone. "Simpsons Comics" is still around, and "Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror" comes out annually, just like "The Simpsons" Halloween specials on TV.

"Radioactive Man," which began as a limited series, is coming back in December as a quarterly series.

Don't be confused by the fact that the new "Radioactive Man" starts out with issue No. 100. The title always has been a challenge for organized comic collectors as Bongo reached into "the archives" of "Radioactive Man" - Bart Simpson's favorite comic book - to parody different eras and genres of comics. (The first six issues ranged from issue No. 1 to No. 1,000.)

As in the cartoon show, Bongo's stories work on different levels. "We try to make sure the stories are pretty smart," Delegeane says. But Groening worried that some stories were going over some kids' heads. So last summer Bongo launched "Bart Simpson," a quarterly book with simpler, shorter stories aimed at that younger readership.

"Matt is our quality control," Delegeane says. At the outset, everything went past Groening. He still sees everything, though not always before it goes to press, Delegeane says. "We definitely have his stamp of approval on everything we do."

THE GORN RETURN: Longtime "Star Trek" fans will remember the lizardlike Gorn, defeated by James T. Kirk in an episode of the original "Star Trek." The Gorn are back in Wildstorm's first "Star Trek" hardcover graphic novel, "Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Gorn Crisis."

Even if you don't remember the Gorn, you still can enjoy this exciting sci-fi adventure, written by the husband-wife team of Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta and illustrated in fine style by Igor Kordey. While some of the battle scenes are a bit hard to follow, Kordey does a good job of capturing the "Next Generation" cast. Be prepared for a lot of blood - mostly the Gorns' - to flow during some of those battle scenes.

The 96-page "Gorn Crisis" is in comic shops now at a cover price of $29.95.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The quarterly Majesticon, for fans of comic books, science-fiction and fantasy, returns from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Sheraton Hotel in the Denver Tech Center, 7007 S. Clinton St. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Featured guests include artist Bill Sienkiewicz and writer Christopher Priest.

Copyright 2000
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