Slate: Andy declares himself not ready to die until he hears Pet Sounds on CD. It’s a really specific choice that becomes quite beautiful at the end. Do you recall how that notion worked its way into the strip?
Garry Trudeau: During the ’80s, many music geeks, including me, waited impatiently for beloved classic albums to be reissued in digital format. Pet Sounds was the consummate studio album, and I was counting the days until its release.
After the strips appeared, I heard from Eugene Landy, Brian Wilson’s notorious therapist, who told me Brian had enjoyed the strips. I mentioned that I was about to have a show of the originals at a gallery in San Francisco to benefit the AIDS quilt project, and Brian offered to co-sign the drawings and the poster. And to show up at the opening. And to perform a living room concert for donors. My head exploded.
Slate: I don’t think there is a single death on this list that made me more mad when I first experienced it than Seymour’s. What was the origin of this soul-crushing episode ending? Was your goal to crush souls?
Eric Kaplan: Well … [long pause] … you know, yes. Not souls, but—we always tell ourselves that we make choices for the good of others, and those stories we tell ourselves are often convincing, but it doesn’t mean they’re always true. So the point of that episode is Fry tells himself a story that Seymour never would have waited for him, and he would have wanted him to go on with his life. And you can see why that story is useful for Fry to believe. But it’s not true.
Also part of the Slate fictional deaths series:
Futurama writer Eric Kaplan explains the most soul-crushing scene in cartoon history.
When the AV Club listed 12 Memorable newspaper comic-strip deaths in 2007 it was a different Doonesbury death that was listed among the dozen.
In 1999 Hogan’s Alley assembled a panel of comics historians to create a list of Comics’ Highest-Profile Moments. Andy Lippincott’s death made it to the honorable mentions not the Top Ten, though three deaths did make it to the top of the list.
The one that made the biggest impact in its time is all but forgotten now.