Cartoonist Rob Tornoe, writing for Poynter, gives the capsule history this way: Groening's strip began running in Wet Magazine in 1978, then moved to the now-defunct LA Reader (where Groening worked), then to LA Weekly and into syndication in more than 250 papers. "Producer Polly Platt noticed 'Life in Hell' and showed it to actor/producer James L. Brooks. Brooks contacted Groening and wanted him to develop a series of 'bumpers' based on 'Life in Hell' for 'The Tracey Ullman Show.' Groening was a bit apprehensive at the thought of handing over the rights to his characters, so he created the Simpsons to fill the slot."
The strip dated June 15 was the last one. “I’ve had great fun, in a Sisyphean kind of way, but the time has come to let Binky and Sheba and Bongo and Akbar and Jeff take some time off,” Groening told Tornoe via email.
Pandora Young of Fishbowl LA adds a great fact: Groening and LA Weekly editor Jill Stewart were once roommates.