Simpsons/Futurama creator Matt Groening has decided to end his long-running comic strip Life in Hell after over thirty years in print.

"I've had great fun, in a Sisyphean kind of way," Groening told Poynter via email, "but the time has come to let Binky and Sheba and Bongo and Akbar and Jeff take some time off."

Sisyphean is right: The strip's rock has been steady rolling downhill for years. Once appearing in some 380 newspapers across the country, Life in Hell was ultimately dropped by all but 38 outlets, and earned Groening a whopping $18 bucks per paper per week.

Still, its contribution both to Groening's career and the careers of other alternative cartoonists is undeniable.

It was Life in Hell that got Groening noticed by James L. Brooks, who invited the former to produce the Tracey Ullman Show show bumpers that spawned the Simpsons.

"Groening is modern cartooning's rock God, a Moses who came down from the mountain (or the East Village office of the Voice) and handed us the rules we followed," said cartoonist Ted Rall.

Though Groening respects the past, he says he is ready to move forward. "Life in Hell prevented me from doing other projects, because every week I had to go back to the same drawing table," Groening told USA Today. "[Quitting] will open me up to new things, more animation, more stuff. I may just sit and stare into space."

Speaking of which, Futurama returns to Comedy Central tonight at 10/9c. Check out an awesome hand-made live-action version of the show's opening sequence below.

[image via Poynter, video via Comedy Central]