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" has joined the lineup.
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 television.
"Radioactive Man," which began as a limited series, is coming back this month 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."