THE BEST COMIC BOOK YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF PART TWO – “DID I ERR?” – ON GROO THE WANDERER

groo

I don’t know the HBO

I don’t know what it’s for

And though I never saw it,

I’m sure it is a bore

You can have your Game of Thrones

It’s not my thing to do

I much prefer the lilting tones

of the simpleton’s song of Groo.

(The “brain-child” [?] of the great Sergio Aragones, Groo has been published by five separate companies, three of which are now out of business – Pacific, Eclipse, Epic, Image & Dark Horse. He first appeared in Destroyer Duck #1, Steve Gerber & Jack Kirby’s “Fuck You” to Marvel over the creator credit to Howard The Duck. Sergio wanted to create a character that HE owned. So he did. Imagine Conan The Barbarian, by way of the Three Stooges, with a dash of Monty Python. Groo is all that and more.)

Groo is useful in a fray

Groo is fond of cheese dip

And if you wish to survive the day,

Keep Groo off your ship.

(Groo is based around a few basic jokes and running gags – Groo is stupid. He’s a curse to naval vessels everywhere, since every ship he gets on inevitably sinks, sometimes as soon as he sets foot onboard. He is also stupid. His favourite food is cheese dip. He’s easily manipulated but hard to control. Putting Groo in charge of any task ensures that disaster shall occur. He is very stupid [I can’t emphasize that enough] but his dog Ruffalo loves him and thinks he’s the greatest.)

Groo is earnest, Groo is kind

He hopes to do his best.

The problem is Groo has no mind

And is worse than a pest.

A lot of people hate Groo

And others play the ponies

I prefer to give my due

To Sergio Aragones.

(Mark Evanier, whose name rhymes with no word in the English language, is Sergio’s collaborator on Groo. He writes the poems that adorn every issue. He used to be Jack Kirby’s assistant. Mark Evanier is one of the unsung heroes of the Universe. If the only thing he ever did was scribble doggerel poems for a comic book, he’d still be a national treasure. No, really. He’s a great writer and a great guy. It’s another long-running joke to ask what the hell Mark Evanier does on Groo so they give him a wacky credit like “Logolept” or something and leave it at that. Another joke is that Mark doesn’t get paid to write or doesn’t get paid enough or is only there because Sergio doesn’t speak English. He gets paid and Sergio speaks at least three languages and yes, English is one of them.)

It may be you who dislikes Groo

Don’t bother to deny it

But what they say is also true –

Don’t knock it till you try it.

And if it’s you who dislikes Groo,

then I don’t really care.

My question, though, is posed to you

And it is “Did I err?”

(Groo is very ‘kid-friendly’ comics. Sure, there’s violence but it’s no worse than a cartoon. The art is great fun, the stories are simple morality plays filled with gags and tags and call-backs. It’s anarchic but with a rigid internal logic and a set of rules and wonderfully, broadly-drawn characters that kids can immediately identify. They’re available in trade paperback, I think or they’re probably in a back-issue bin near you. [Or you could click a few keys and steal them, if you’re technologically & morally inclined. But where’s the fun in that?] Support your local comic book store and support one of the most important creators in comic book history. Your kids will thank you.)

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