Thursday, September 20, 2007

Groo's 25th anniversary

I've always been a fan of Sergio Aragones' art, from the days of him illustrating strips for Mad Magazine. And he did some fantastic Mad-style work on Marvel and DC characters as well...I have those single issues back in Singapore though I can't quite remember what they were titled.

His most famous creation is about to turn 25, the bungling, boofhead barbarian Groo!

On the wandering, bumbling barbarian’s 25th anniversary, Mark Evanier explains why ‘Hell on Earth’ is hilarious

By Matt Powell

Posted September 19, 2007 9:05 AM

Barbarians are known to be badass, but sometimes they’re downright hilarious!

To remind you of the laughter in sword-and-sorcery, Sergio Aragon├ęs and Mark Evanier present Groo: Hell on Earth, hitting stands this week. Commemorating his 25th anniversary, Groo stands tall as a comic icon, and if you’ve never followed the character before, now is a good time to jump on! In Dark Horse’s four-issue miniseries, Groo is literally dealing with hell on Earth as he must face the grueling disasters caused by a super-heated Earth.

Kicking up our sandals, Wizard chatted with Evanier to get the scoop on Groo, cow belches and evil Kmart employees.

WIZARD: Congrats! Groo’s celebrating his 25th anniversary! How does it feel to see him make it to this point?

EVANIER: Well, Groo doesn’t know it’s his 25th anniversary since he can’t count. [Laughs] But Sergio and I can, sort of, so we’re just amazed. You know, when we started out with this, a number of folks told us it wouldn’t last because “humor comics aren’t commercial.” To whatever extent we’ve been able to put the lie to that assertion, we’re proud.

Going against that notion of “humor comics aren’t commercial,” why do you think Groo resonated so well with fans?

EVANIER: I don’t know why people like Groo. Maybe because they feel smarter than him. [Laughs] At least, I hope they feel smarter than him. I’d hate to think there’s anyone reading this comic because they envy the hero’s giant intellect. [Laughs]

Indeed. How has Groo evolved since his inception 25 years ago?

EVANIER: Groo keeps getting dumber. And when we started out, he was friendless and then he found the dog...or vice-versa.

Let’s talk about your new series, Groo: Hell on Earth. Just from the title alone the stakes sound high! What’s going on in this series?

EVANIER: The Earth is getting hotter and there are indications that it may result in all sorts of disasters. It’s fiction, of course, since that kind of thing could never happen in the real world. [Laughs]

Yeah, I know. Goodbye polar ice caps…. Well, where do we find Groo at the beginning of all this?

EVANIER: Groo is just Groo, wandering around with the dog, doing Groo-like things and looking for a meal.

What’s up with Groo’s supporting cast? Will we see any familiar faces in Hell on Earth?

EVANIER: The Sage is wandering around in there and the whole thing is told by the Minstrel, who is just a devious plot by Sergio to force me to spend as much time writing rhyming dialogue as he does drawing crowd scenes. [Laughs] A few other stock company players may turn up before we’re done. We’re still plotting the last issue.

Speaking of scenes, is there a favorite scene of yours that you can’t wait for fans to see coming up in Hell on Earth?

EVANIER: No one scene in particular...although we have a running gag in there with cow belches that I think people will like.

If they squirt milk at the same time as a belch, I’m sold. Tell me, what villain can we expect to take on our conquering hero?

EVANIER: There’s a King named Buco who may be the rottenest of all the rotten, greedy, destructive monarchs we’ve had in the series.

Taking a full look at all of your work on Groo, what are some of your favorite stories from the series?

EVANIER: Hmm...I liked the first Groo graphic novel. I liked the issue about the puppet shows. I liked the one in which Groo learned how to read and then the library burned down. I liked a series we did which was about something else but was actually about how the United States was created. To tell the truth, after so many issues, I forget them all. [Laughs] When I go back and reread an issue because we’re planning a reprint collection, I sometimes find myself going, “Hey, when did we do this? I don’t remember this story.” Which is amazing because I have a great memory. Alas, it doesn’t apply to my own work. [Laughs]

To close, if you could set up the ultimate death match for Groo, who would you throw in the pit with him?

EVANIER: I think it’s a toss-up between Osama bin Laden and a rude cashier over at a Kmart near me. In fact, I’m not convinced they aren’t the same person.

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