December 04, 2003 - 1:33 p.m.|
Part 2: Enter Mr. Grooism!
Just the facts, Porpoise Breath*.
Okay kids, first of all, I just want to make one thing perfectly clear. No, make that two things, three tops, four on a good day. Anyway, maybe not perfectly clear, because then you wouldn’t be able to find the damned things, said damned things being invisible and all, and what would be the point of that, huh?
Let me explain to you, in as meandering, complicated and totally confusing a way as possible, The Great Cosmic Truth That Is Life…
What? In a shed? No, no, no, that’s Gary, you’ve got us confused again. Right, thanks, now where was I?
Oh, yeah, focus...
Sorry again. The Great Cosmic Truth That Is Life, yeah, right, sure thing. Well, The Great Cosmic Truth That Is Life is this: The Regular Intake of Healthy Air Into the Lungs Is Good, So Keep Up The Good Work, Porpoise Breath!*
*Porpoise Breath, the favorite insult of old high school buddy Walt S.
And just who is this Mr. Grooism, anyway?
Well, the quick & easy answer is me, Larry Steller.
Okay, so what’s a Grooism?
Well, the answer to that starts with the question, who or what is a Groo?
MULCH Ado About Nothing: a GROO primer of sorts:
"Folks call him the
From GROO THE WANDERER, Volume 2, Number 2 (Pacific Comics)
Copyright 1983 Sergio Aragones, used by permission (Thanks Mark, even if I DID originally ask almost exactly a year ago!!!).
Ahhh Groo, the luckless, ferocious, dim-witted yet oddly loveable barbarian, created by cartoonist Sergio Aragones. Those of you who've never read the comic book GROO THE WANDERER will hopefully recognize senor Aragones' unique style from MAD MAGAZINE (remember those silly little doodles in the page margins, called oddly enough MARGINALS? That’s Sergio Aragones.) Many of you who do know and love Groo may be unaware that Groo is indeed still being published, though no longer as a monthly title.
Groo is published semi-regularly by Dark Horse Comics. The Groo Crew produces more or less one 4-issue story arc per year, interspersed with some decidedly silly non-Groo fare as well for Dark Horse and DC Comics, such as THE MIGHTY MAGNOR, SPACE CIRCUS, FANBOY and ACTIONS SPEAK (a sequel, appropriately enough, to Sergio's LOUDER THAN WORDS). Word from The Groo Crew is that in 2004 we will see a special 12-issue Groo series, each one being a self-contained story spotlighting a favorite character from the series. I believe the working title is GROO: FRIENDS & FOES.
Additionally, each Groo miniseries is eventually collected as a trade paperback, and Dark Horse continues to issue collected volumes of the Marvel Epic run as well. The latest tome in the series is THE GROO ODYSSEY. This reprint series started long ago with THE GROO ADVENTURER, followed by THE GROO BAZAAR and THE GROO CARNIVAL. If you have trouble figuring out the naming system, check out SESAME STREET, now playing on a PBS station near you!)
Groo ‘s lot in life is to wander aimlessly and endlessly, his arrival as welcome a sight as a rapidly approaching tornado, but twice as deadly! This gourd-nosed mendicant is a master swordsman unequalled in the martial arts, a savant with as much common sense as a lump of fossilized ox-turd, with the face to match!
Groo lives to fight. Should the swordsman chance upon a fray, he wades in without thought, fighting both sides simultaneously for the sheer mad joy of it! The two terrified armies don't stand a chance against this marauding maelstrom!
Pity the doomed damsel in distress, menaced by a massive four-armed lizard-man in Groo's first official** published appearance (DESTROYER DUCK #1). There she stands screaming for help, tied to a post guarded by the gargantuan ghoul; enter our hero Groo, who bravely fights the colossal creature, finally vanquishing the behemoth (did I mention he's really big?), only for the brute's corpse to fall with a CRUNCH on top of the comely maiden, crushing her beneath his stupendous bulk...
What Groo didn't say this time, because his "dialogue coach" Mark Evanier had yet to enter the scene and coin his signature catch-phrase, say it with me now, is: "DID I ERR?"
Mark joined Sergio with Groo's subsequent appearances, and the next great comedy team was born! A great cartoonist is also a master storyteller, so Sergio doesn't merely draw Groo, he also writes the stories. What then, as the running joke goes, does Mark do on this book? He's been credited as Explanator, Transilluminator, Manipulator and (my favorite) Wordsmith. Well, he too is the writer. As I understand the process, Sergio and Mark work out the plot together, then Sergio roughly sketches the story in pencil. Mark writes the dialogue and captions, which is then hand-lettered onto Sergio's sketches by Stan Sakai (creator of USAGI YOJIMBO. Definitely another Must Read!!!) Sergio then draws the pages in loving detail and india ink, which are then copied and colored by Tom Luth (who took over early on for colorist Gordon Kent).
**Gary Grossmann, aka Desessbo, the acknowledge Master Groo Collector, finally got hold of Groo’s actual first published appearance, a Groo Sergio doodled in I believe 1977 for some sort of college magazine. Gary will I’m sure correct me as to the specifics, and I will post my correction here: ________________________________________________________
So again, what is a Grooism?
Groo's knack for doing and saying extremely stupid things are the cornerstone of the comic's success. A favorite feature of the series is the letter column. Early on, fans who wrote letters to GrooGrams established quite a unique rapport with the Groo Crew, especially scribe Mark Evanier. M.E.'s humorous replies encouraged fans to send in wackier and wackier letters, to the point that few of those published actually directly discuss the contents of the comic book!!! GrooGrams (un)naturally evolved into a string of running gags that are almost as entertaining as the stories themselves!
Of course, the feature of GrooGrams that I love most are the Grooisms. (Finally!!!) Grooisms are anecdotes in which readers share with each other their own tales of woe, mishap and outright stupidity. Of the 3 GrooGrams I've had published over the years, one of them was a Grooism, which I will eventually recount in this space…
When I got my first computer, I inevitably searched for "groo.com", just to see what would happen. You guessed it, Groo happened! I came across Josh Jones’ officially sanctioned Groo website, and buried within was a precious little nugget of gold, The Groo List!
The Groo List (or just The Groop) is sort of like GrooGrams Online, an email exchange by dedicated (and often obsessed!) Groo fans who are as interested in entertaining each other with wacky posts as they are in exchanging Groo information. Mark Evanier is an active member of The Groop as well, and his fans eagerly look forward to his news and myriad other contributions, both on our list and on his own blog
NEWS FROM M.E.
And so we finally get to the point of this, my first blog:
These have all been posted, individually, over the last few years to The Groop, as well as on my own short-lived website (see previous entry). I feel that my tales of personal stupidity are frankly entertaining enough to repeat and collect herein.
Anyway, I've always identified with Groo because of the seemingly abnormal levels of chaos in my life. I like to refer to myself as a weirdness magnet, a term I discovered and clutched to my heart in DC Comics BLUE DEVIL series of the mid-1980's. It's true, reallyreallyreally strange things do seem to happen to me or around me. I can't ever seem to do anything that doesn't spawn a goofy anecdote or three. We'll explore this in the future, trust me boys & girls, as I explore The Art Of the Grooism on this blog.
If you're real good and eat all of your veggies, I might even reveal the story of The Dreaded Lobster Fork…
Yours in Grooishness,
Larry Steller aka Mr. Grooism,