The Groo Adventurer


By Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier & Stan Sakai (Epic/Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-87135-703-8

Both in comic narrative and the infinitely more strenuous field of gag-cartooning Sergio Aragonés has produced vast volumes of excellent work. His darkly skewed sensibilities and grasp of the cosmically absurd, wedded to a totally unique drawing style and frankly terrifying professional discipline have made his (usually) silent doodles a vibrant proof of the maxims that laughter is universal and a picture is worth a thousand words.

After working for years for Mad Magazine and DC’s horror titles on gag features and the occasional full comic strip in 1981, with writer and associate Mark Evanier, Aragonés produced a madcap four-page parody of the Sword-and-Sorcery genre as a contribution to the Creators Rights benefit comicbook Destroyer Duck published by Eclipse Comics.

Following a second outing in Mike Grell’s Starslayer (#5) Pacific Comics launched Groo the Wanderer in his own title. After 8 issues (December 1982-April 1984) the troubled company folded but the unsinkable barbarian (that’s a joke I’ll explain later) resurfaced in the Groo Special one-shot from Eclipse (October 1984), before finding a home at Epic Comics: Archie Goodwin’s creator-owned corner of the Marvel Universe.

Aragonés had first created his witless warrior in the 1970s but no publisher would take on the property unless he sold all rights – an almost universal situation in the industry until the advent of the Direct Sales market transferred power from companies and distributors to creators and consumers.

This volume collects the first four (of 120) issues from the Epic incarnation (March-April 1985) and reintroduces readers to the smelliest, ugliest, stupidest itinerant mercenary in the world. Luckily he’s also the best swordsman in creation and too thick to be harmed. The unstoppable brain-donor has since moved on to Image and Dark Horse Comics, but they haven’t completely gone belly-up yet…

Groo is always hungry and wanders because most places he stops at burn down, wash away or crash into rubble soon after he gets there. He loves to fight and the entire world trembles at the mention of his name. They do the same when they smell him too…

Produced in unique fashion by Aragonés, wordsmith Evanier, letterer Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo) and colourist Tom Luth, the idiot’s adventures form one of the longest running humour comicbook series in America and this volume is merely one of 27 to date.

Beginning with ‘The Song of Groo’ which introduces a wandering minstrel to the insane cast of a mediaeval wonderland of kingdoms, villages and provinces roughly mirroring Earth circa 1000AD, wherein the peripatetic poltroon botches a simple guard’s job and precipitates an international war, whilst ‘Dragon Killer’ allows him the opportunity to slay a beast, wipe out a paradise and blow up an entire country.

‘The Medallion’ is a safe-passage token that proves to be the most fray-provoking, schism-inducing peace symbol in the world and this chronicle concludes with ‘World Without Women!’ as the ever-eager hero-in-his-own-mind rescues helpless wives and maidens from zeppelin-riding pirates who keep them in utter luxury, returning the frail, fragile creatures to their rightful lives of dirt, drudgery and husbandly domination…

A magically cynical and silly comedy of errors Groo is the comic that people who hate comics read: brilliantly tongue-in-cheek, sharply sarcastic and devastatingly self-deprecating. An irresistible humour tour-de-force astoundingly scribed and illustrated by jesters who don’t know when – or how – to stop. New readers can start practically anywhere – and still be none the wiser…

Oh yeah, that sinking thing: among his other lack of abilities Groo cannot travel by ship. He’s not sea-sick or anything – it’s just that his mere presence on a maritime vessel causes it to sink…
© 1985, 1990 Sergio Aragonés. All Rights Reserved.