Matt Groening’s Childhood is Hell- A Review

I was cleaning my book shelves last week and got my hands on Matt Groening’s ‘Childhood is hell’. And yes, it is that Simpsons fellow. You’re expecting pure genius now, aren’t you? That’s exactly what he delivers too. What’s more, it’s bundled with a few surprises as well. As I opened the first page of the comic, I was a little taken aback to read the words, ‘M. Ali. Shaik Feb 89, Boston, MA’ written on the top right corner. I swear in the name of the good lord of comics that, until that day, I hadn’t seen or heard about that comic even once in my life! My mother, who bought me comics until I was 12, had no clue where it came from either.

I moved on from this curious detail and finished the 24 chapters in one sitting. The story starts with the ominous question, ‘Is childhood hell’? Matt Groening doesn’t really wait for a response and just goes right ahead proving that it was. He dedicates each chapter to an age in the life of a child: Chapter one – How to be a wily 1-year-old and so on until we arrive at Chapter twenty four – How to be a teenage 12-year-old. The style of art is simplistic and the characters seem to be in that evolutionary phase, right before the monkey turns into the Simpsons. You can’t really put this comic down as it just grabs you by the collar, strings together all the random images and thoughts that goes through a child’s mind to tell you a neat little, coherent story that makes you realise everyone goes through the same shit as you and offers some tips on how to deal with that.

In any case, I really wish I had read this when I was 12. It would have proved to be the most helpful guide to childhood I could have hoped for. I really think it was providential finding the comic this year – 25 years after M. Ali. Shaik found it in Boston, MA. I looked it up on Amazon to check what it was worth today and it wasn’t in stock. My theory is that it was never in stock. Matt Groening doesn’t exist, well at least he has no physical existence. Have you ever met him? No, you haven’t. He made one copy of this comic and placed it in children’s libraries. And it’s supposed to travel the world, from one library to the next until you read it once and then it disappeared, having done its job. How do I know this? After I finished reading Childhood is Hell, I placed it back in my bookshelf, right on top of Brian Wood’s DMZ, volume 9. A week later, as I reached for the top of the pile to complete this review, guess what I found in my hand? Brian Wood’s DMZ, volume 9.