Good morning everyone,
This is a special day! A time to tell an adventure of the world’s greatest barbarian. Some may claim that Conan should hold that title, but they would be wrong. All serious barbarian scholars (and a dog named Rufferto) know that there is no real competition, Groo is best!
(SIDE NOTE: The spotted canine with his priceless diamond collar initially lived in a royal palace, but left in search of adventure and excitement. At first, Groo considered Rufferto to be more of a potential meal than a companion, but they soon became inseparable.)
Groo was created by Spanish artist Sergio Aragonés and first appeared officially in 1982 as a short story (an excerpt can be seen below) within Destroyer Duck #1, published by Eclipse Comics. (SIDE NOTE: What better time to discuss a Groo comic then during his 40th anniversary!) His comics parody sword and sorcery fiction which was rather popular in the 70s and 80s. In general, Groo is a comedic character who regularly gets into hijinks.
Sergio was born in Sant Mateu, Spain, on September 6th, 1937. His family fled during the Spanish Civil War and settled in Mexico when Sergio was only six. In 1962, Sergio traveled to New York City looking for work. He didn’t speak much English and thus sought out Cuban expatriate Antonio Prohías, the creator of “Spy vs. Spy” who was employed by MAD magazine.
However, as the story goes, Antonio spoke even less English than Sergio. Nonetheless, Antonio introduced Sergio to the management who liked his drawings and hired him. His first piece, “A MAD Look at the U.S. Space Effort,” appeared in MAD No. 76 in January 1963. Sergio drew a lot of cartoons for MAD during the following decades. According to a list compiled by MAD magazine fan Mike Slaubaugh, Sergio’s work has appeared in 498 issues of the humor magazine. Only Al Jaffee has contributed more.
Sergio earned a reputation as the “fastest cartoonist in the world” and has been quite prolific. His artwork has appeared in a large number of comics. Primarily he contributed as an artist, but occasionally as a writer, like for DC’s Western hero “Bat Lash” in the late 1960s.
Sergio has also mentored young artists. For example, Jorge Gutierrez, the driving force behind the 2014 animated film “The Book of Life” wrote about how Sergio inspired and assisted him. (Click here to read that post: “What I Learned From Sergio Aragonés: An Appreciation By Jorge Gutierrez.”)
Sergio conceived of Groo a few years prior to his first comic book appearance and sketches of the character appeared in the California State University’s journalism magazine. (NOTE: Click here to read a more thorough timeline at Groo dot com.) In time, the fearsome warrior became known for liking cheese dip and sinking nearly every ship he boards.
Stories are typically written by Mark Evanier, coloring is done by Tom Luth, and lettering by Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo). Altogether they’re a renowned creative team having received several Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (a.k.a. just Eisner Awards).
Mark Evanier has had a diverse career serving as a production assistant to the legendary Jack Kirby and creating stories for animated series, such as “Dungeons & Dragons,” for numerous comics, like DC Comic’s “Blackhawk” in the early 1980s, for television shows, including episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter,” etc. Mark also wrote an excellent biography entitled “Kirby: King of Comics.” (NOTE: There was a long-running gag during the Marvel/Epic run of Groo in which Mark’s credits constantly changed. He was listed as filling a wide variety of roles ranging from “Alchemist” to “Munitioneer” to “Palatine” to “Trainer,” etc., etc.)
Since 1982, the dim-witted but well-meaning Groo has gone on to become one of the most successful creator-owned comics in history! (NOTE: Although, other creator-owned franchises, like Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, have had more issues.)
(SIDE NOTE: Imagine if a size-fetish creator followed Sergio’s example and published their creator-owned intellectual property (IP) via multiple companies. In such a scenario, the original writer of PMD could have produced separate story arcs for BotComics and InterWeb Comics. Then fans could see different interpretations of those characters drawn by BotComic’s Mariano Navarro (a.k.a. Peter Logan) and Interweb’s Jieun. Seems like there’s real potential in that idea!)
Groo’s stories have been published by various companies over the years including Dark Horse Comics, Eclipse, Image, Marvel’s Epic imprint, and Pacific Comics. From 1998 until the time of this writing, Groo has been published by Dark Horse.
The comics have a recurring cast of characters, beyond just its titular hero. These range from the handsome but less capable warrior Arcadio, fellow swordmaster and love interest Chakaal, the wise Sage, and many more. Furthermore, Groo has encountered famous literary characters such as that charlatan Conan and the lame Tarzan. About Conan, Groo said “You are good with a sword but Groo is gooder!” which sums things up rather nicely.
However, the antagonistic witches Arba and Dakarba are the plot drivers of Groo the Wanderer! No. 26. They want to restore Dakarba’s magical powers and need the katana-wielding Groo to retrieve a mystical amulet from the Kingdom of King Enano. The catch being that King Enano’s domain is one of tiny people. Thus, the mighty swordsman must also be made small!
How small? About eye level with a rodent!
Groo overcomes various obstacles during his adventure, but is eventually successful. Albeit, he also manages to inadvertently thwart the witches ultimate ambition. Along the way, Groo learns that chickens are incapable of flight, but in a pinch a bat works as a fine flying steed. The status quo was restored at the end and the foolishness of hiring a fool to complete an important job was reinforced.
Overall, Groo the Wanderer! No. 26 was fun and is highly recommended. It can be purchased as a single issue or as part of the Marvel/Epic Comics trade paperback “The Groo Garden,” which includes issues 25 through 28.
According to a November 2021 article from the Hollywood Reporter, Josh Jones, founder of Did I Err Productions, recently bought the animated and TV rights. (NOTE: “Did I err?” is one of Groo’s catch phrases.) Reportedly, the intent is to create something for one of the streaming services. Here’s hoping that the endeavor is successful!
That’s it for today folks. The next review will cover a size-themed manga. Until then, keep growing!
This review was written by SolomonG and is protected under Fair Use copyright law.
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