Bill Schanes, former Diamond VP has been continuing to entertain the troops with comic distribution history as he wanders Europe taking photographs of street graffiti. Which, over the Christmas break, included Matt Groening's decision to set up Bongo Comics in 1993, a publisher which only just finishing publishing comic books, 25 years later. A quarter of a century of Simpsons Comics that have left their licensors bereft…
Matt Groening was really starting to receive a lot of attention with his "Life In Hell" strip and subsequent book release. In 1989's The Tracey Ullman Show, Matt had developed the Simpsons animated short, which had made its debut. Matt had licensed the Simpsons to Don Welsch, publisher of the Welsh line of children's magazines. Diamond Comic Distributors (Diamond) was one of the early distributors of Simpsons Comics and Stories, starting with the very first issue.
I was contacted by an attorney named Susan Grode, who represented Matt. Susan asked for a face to face meeting with Matt, herself, Steve Geppi, President of Diamond, and myself at the Diamond offices in Baltimore. A few weeks later, Steve and I met Matt and Susan for the first time. Matt discussed moving the Simpsons from Welsh Publishing, and relaunching as an ongoing monthly full-color comic book under his new company, which he was going to call it Bongo Comics. We discussed the timing of the launch, some marketing and promotional concepts, and a few other ideas.
Susan was clearly there to finalize the financial piece of our new business relationship, including discounts, freight, and billing terms. After our meeting was over, Steve had arranged for us to go to a local Italian restaurant, which was only a few blocks away from the Diamond offices at that time. The first issue of the Simpsons comic book series from Bingo Comics was released in November of 1993.
Even in recent years, The Simpsons was one of the best-selling comic books in France, selling over 150,000 copies a month and dwarfing what the likes of Batman and Spider-Man sell in the USA. It is also one of the best-selling titles in the UK. Someone really should consider if it's worth licensing from Matt again…