Monday, January 24, 2011

Back Issue Alphabet: G is for Groo the Wanderer #47 (1989)

Groo the Wanderer #47 (Sergio Aragonés, Stan Sakai, Tom Luth, Mark Evanier)

The first thing that strikes you about this book is the minute details in the artwork, especially in this two-page cityscape.

Solid. If you look carefully you can spot a writer, a man writing the letters “ABC”, a man painting, and a guy holding a quill. From what I know of the introductions and doodles in my Usagi Yojimbo books, I’m thinking that the writer is Sergio Aragoné and the letterer is Stan Sakai. I’m guessing that the painter is credited colorist Tom Luth, and through analyzing these patters, the fourth person is Mark Evanier, the fourth person credited on the splash page.

Oh, I’m so clever.

Remember the Where’s Waldo series? Personally, I took a lot more enjoyment out of finding random people slipping on banana peels or being chased by birds than I ever did from actually finding Waldo. Every crowd scene Aragonés does is like a miniature Where’s Waldo, with the reader scanning the background for any missed detail or secret message.

The story is a hoot. Groo the Wanderer is a parody of the testosterone infused barbarian stories (like Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror) that were seeing a resurgence in the 70s and 80s. Groo is a capable warrior, but has very little capacity for higher thinking. And a very limited mathematical vocabulary. This comes back to haunt him when he is subcontracted to help another adventurer, Arcadio, reclaim the priceless Starburst Sapphire. Groo learns that Arcadio is going to hire Grooella (Groo’s sister) and her army and that her pay will be fifty percent.

Unable to defeat magical guards, Groo goes on his own recruitment drive, promising “fifty percent” to every person he comes across without ever knowing what a “percent” is. Hi-jinks ensue.

Groo the Wanderer #47 is a fantastic stand-alone story with a quirky resolution and amazing artwork. It definitely convinced me to seek out more of Aragonés work.

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