Wednesday, June 4, 2014

CAKE 2014: Groo isn't dead either

With every convention I attend, I bring along my sketchbook to get some sketches of my favorite character, Sergio Aragones' Groo. Here's what I got this year:

Sam Alden did sort of a minimalist pencil sketch, and I love the long, curved lines he drew.

Mike Dawson demonstrated his great cartoony style with some impeccable inking.

Joshua Cotter did a pretty flawless copy of a Sergio panel in one of the issues I had on hand for reference.

Hellen Jo delivered her signature brand of coolness with this reclining figure of our favorite mendicant.

Liz Prince went cute with this great depiction of Rufferto and a cat.

Jesse Moynihan did a pretty awesome version of Groo that looks like he could show up on Adventure Time.

Luke Pearson also went cute with a sort of super-deformed Groo; I like his topknot.

And finally, Chris Eliopolous turned Groo into a character that could appear in one of his children's books. Nice!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

CAKE 2014: Yes, I came home with some comics

Comics conventions are exciting experiences, and the great thing about them is that you come home with a ton of stuff to keep you passionate about comics and the people who make them. Here's all the stuff I got at this year's CAKE:

And here's what it all is, starting from the back row:
Across the middle:
  • Two issues of the free Seattle newspaper comic Intruder
  • DAYGLOAYHOLE: The Beast In Me, by Ben Passmore (and also a smaller DAYGLOAYHOLE minicomic and a New Orleans-based zine called Uncontrollable that Passmore did illustrations for)
  • The Lizard Laughed, by Noah Van Sciver
  • Guy Gardeners, by John Drawdoer
  • Teamwork Makes the Dream Work (a.k.a "Pizza Comic"), by Beth Hetland and Kyle O'Connell
  • F├╝tchie Perf/Hank the Zinedealer, by Kevin Czapiewski and John G.
  • A Make Comics Anytime booklet that was given away at a pre-CAKE event that took place at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. The interior is blank, so you can fill it with your own comics.
  • Lumps, an anthology minicomic/zine by Kristen Fidler, Zelda Galewsky, Victoria Perez-Segovia, Jillian Schumann, and Raziel Puma.
  • Running/Slowly, a tiny minicomic by a creator whose name I forget
  • A CD from Wacom, TX, given to me by Paul Nudd
And in the front row:
That seems to be everything I brought home, but I saw plenty more, and I found lots of other cartoonists that I'll have to try to follow. The Chicago comics scene is as exciting as ever, so it looks like my comics-loving energy is refreshed for another year!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I'm not dead, so I can still enjoy me some CAKE

I don't know if anybody is actually reading this, since it has been much, much too long since I've posted anything around these parts, but I wanted to pop in to note that the third annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, or CAKE, is going to take place this weekend, May 31 and June 1, 2014, and I'll be there, both volunteering and wandering around checking stuff out and hopefully getting a few Groo sketches, and maybe even attending some panels or off-site events. So look for me, and get some visual or even auditory/tactile confirmation that I still exist and have not fallen from the face of the earth. Here are the details on hours, how to get there, and whatnot:
Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE)
Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1
11 am – 6pm
Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted
FREE and open to the public!

While I'm here, I'll go ahead and note a few artists that I would recommend checking out:

  • Sam Alden - his webcomic Haunter on the Study Group site is gorgeous.
  • Nate Beaty - he's debuting his strip collection Don't Cry, Wolfman Chicago at the show.
  • Kevin Budnik - I haven't read enough of his comics, but he's a Chicago local, and a cool guy in any interactions I've had with him. His art style is kind of simple, but he gets at some deep emotional stuff in his work that's definitely worth checking out, especially since he's a young guy and is just going to get better.
  • Tyrell Cannon - Another Chicago native; he's got a really cool style. His most prominent work so far has probably been the series Gary, about the Green River Killer, but he's got other stuff going on too, so check him out.
  • Victor Cayro - I don't know if I really get what this guy is doing (maybe kind of a Benjamin Marra-style serious approach to dumb action tropes?), but I like the crazy detail and energy he puts into his comics.
  • Joshua Cotter - Hey, I didn't realize Cotter was going to be at CAKE! I love his work, especially Driven By Lemons.
  • Kevin Czapiewski - I love Kevin's art on comics like the Project: Ballad webcomic, but he's also a publisher of good independent stuff by people like Liz Suburbia, so it's always worth a stop by his table.
  • Ezra Claytan Daniels - Another Chicago native! He's usually got a lot of stuff going on, but his interactive comic/app Upgrade Soul is always worth checking out.
  • Mike Dawson - Kind of an indie comics superstar, with books like Freddie and Me, Ace-Face, and Troop 142. He's pretty awesome.
  • Michael DeForge - Everybody knows about this guy, but he cranks out work like it's going out of style, and it's all pretty great, so make sure to see what he's got that you haven't yet discovered.
  • Sean Dove - This guy is a friend of mine, and he's awesome. He seems to mostly do graphic design and posters and whatnot, but I'm always hopeful that he'll have a new comic out for me to read (like this one).
  • Lyra Hill - Another awesome Chicago person! She's best known for her comics performance series Brain Frame, and she's always got plenty of cool comics and art going on. Check her out if you haven't seen her stuff before (or even if you have!).
  • Lucy Knisley - Hey, I didn't realize Lucy was going to be at CAKE either! She's an ex-Chicago person, having moved to New York a couple years ago, but we miss her. I've loved most everything I've ready by her, especially Relish, and her next book, An Age of License, is due out this fall from Fantagraphics.
  • Koyama Press - Annie Koyama always has some great books coming out, including stuff by Michael DeForge, Jesse Jacobs, Dustin Harbin, Hellen Jo, Joseph Lambert, Nate Bulmer, Victor Kerlow, and many more. I especially want to check out Cole Closser's Little Tommy Lost and whatever issues of Ryan Cecil Smith's S.F. I can get my hands on.
  • Alec Longstreth - I dig Alec's style, and I'm excited to finally read his decade-in-the-making book Basewood, which he recently self-published with the help of Kickstarter. He was super-nice when I met him last year, and he even gave me a copy of the issue of his pinball zine Drop Target that featured a Groo table designed by Ryan Claytor. I also recommend checking out his current series of minicomics about being a fan of Weezer. He's awesome.
  • Annie Mok - I met Annie a few years ago, and I've followed her comics ever since. She's pretty great, doing some interesting, well-designed stories about queer issues, and I guess she has a strip in Vertigo's CMYK anthology. Cool.
  • Jesse Moynihan - He's probably best known as a storyboard artist for Adventure Time, but his comic Forming is also quite awesome, and its second volume will be debuting at the show.
  • Pranas T. Naujokaitis - I love Pranas' cartoony style, and my daughter really likes the kids' comics of his that I've brought home. It's always neat to see what kind of stuff he makes, like the short comic he had last year that was printed on a strip of cloth that was about six feet long.
  • Oily Comics - Charles Forsman and company regularly publish some really good minicomics, printed simply on plain white paper at small size. In addition to his own series The End of the Fucking World, he puts out work by people like Michael DeForge, Dan Zettwoch, Josh Simmons, Melissa Mendes, and many others. There's always something new to check out on his table.
  • Luke Pearson - Another Adventure Time guy, but also a great cartoonist and designer. I liked his book Everything We Miss, and he's got some other good stuff out too.
  • Liz Prince - I've always liked Liz's stuff, whether it's about dating difficulties or rock and roll, so I'll be glad to see her while she's in town.
  • Secret Acres - This small publisher puts out some great comics, including books by Chicago's own Edie Fake (who is one of CAKE's organizers) and plenty of other awesome people. I'm always excited to see what new stuff they've got.
  • Chad Sell - I like Chad's webcomic Manta Man a lot, but he's probably better known for doing portraits of the contestants on Ru Paul's Drag Race. Whatever he does, he's pretty awesome.
  • Trubble Club - These guys are a Chicago institution, a jam comics group consisting of talents like Jeremy Tinder, Aaron Renier, Nate Beaty, Kevin Budnik, Laura Park, Lilli Carre, and many others. I don't know if they have a new issue of their minicomics series out (they might have stopped doing those, since they're unlikely to top the amazing newspaper format issue they put out a few years ago), but their table should at least be a gathering place for great Chicago cartoonists.
  • 2D Cloud - This small Minneapolis-based publisher always puts out interesting books, so I'm always curious to see what they've got. They're debuting Blaise Larmee's new book, Ice Cream Kisses, at the show.
  • Uncivilized Books - Another small publisher, run by Tom Kaczynski. I don't know what they have this year, but last year they debuted a book by David B., so I bet they'll have something interesting.
  • Noah Van Sciver - I don't know if Noah has put out anything major since his book The Hypo, which came out last year, but he'll probably at least have some minicomics or something.
  • Lale Westvind - I discovered Lale last year, and I'm fascinated by her crazy sci-fi comics. She's another Chicago native, and I want to read more of her weird, weird comics.
  • Yeti Press - A small Chicago-based publisher that puts out interesting stuff. I especially recommend Kat Leyh's series Bird Witch, but they've got plenty of other cool books as well.

Is that everybody? Almost certainly not, but they're all people I can get behind, and since this is just a fraction of what's going on (I didn't even mention special guests like Hellen Jo and Tony Millionaire!), there's sure to be something for everybody. If you're anywhere near Chicago this weekend, you owe it to yourself to come by. It's free! See you there, I hope.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CAKE 2013: Minicomics can be all about exciting innovation, or just fun stuff for (and by) kids

The Box
By Jason Shiga

Jason Shiga is a cartoonist whose mind seems to be continually at work coming up with new ways to use the medium of comics. His specialty is interactive stories that branch off into multiple paths in surprising, delightful ways. This is probably best exemplified in his book Meanwhile, but he has several other examples of innovative ways to tell interactive stories, ranging from short minicomics made from folding up a single piece of paper to massive self-published volumes that have the reader flipping back and forth through hundreds of pages. The Box is one of the former, and its mind-blowing innovation in comics technology involves the way it is intricately folded in a way that allows one to flip it either horizontally or vertically whenever a choice needs to be made, if that makes sense. In fact, Shiga thinks it is a previously-undiscovered mathematical shape called an octatetraflexagon.

As a story, it's a simple one, with four possible endings, but Shiga's goofy sense of humor makes each of them surprising and funny, as a kid chooses whether or not to open a box that he finds, usually with amusing consequences. It's a testament to both his genius for the physical form of comics and his ability to come up with satisfying stories within the clever structures he develops.

Redbird #2, Tel-Tales #1, and Cut-Away Comics #1
By Dan Zettwoch
Self-published (Redbird and Tel-Tales), Published by Oily Comics (Cut-Away Comics)

Dan Zettwoch's comics are also innovative, in the way they explore pictorial ways of conveying information, using cut-away views, captions, diagrams, maps, and all manner of using images to create easily-understandable representations of real-world objects and locations. But what's more, he makes the stories he tells fun, obviously enjoying himself as he comes up with fun ways to describe his subject, whether it's a travelogue of the road trip he and his wife took across the "Midsouthwest" (spanning Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas) in August of 2012, a story about the old telephone equipment his father used when working for AT&T in the early 70s, or a biographical look at John James Audobon as he studied chimney swallows in Louisville, Kentucky in 1808. Whatever the subject, Zettwoch brings an enthusiasm to it, and his cartoony artwork brings the various scenes to life, adding some exaggeration, but still making the reality of the scenes obvious, and demonstrating what he finds so interesting about them.

Redbird and Tel-Tales even include fold-out sections that expand the size of the page when the imagery (large-scale maps and diagrams) warrants it. Cut-Away Comics is more modest, fitting into the small, cheap format that Oily Comics does so well, but Zettwoch still finds room to include a double-page spread of a massive hollow tree that contains what must be thousands of birds, turning it into an ominous monolith that entices the reader into curiosity as much as it does Audobon. Zettwoch has such a fun way of imparting the information that he has accumulated that one can't help but enjoy following him wherever he wants to go. He's got at least one full-length book, but even if he just keeps cranking out little minis like this and designing fascinating infographics, I'll keep reading whatever he does.

Classic Characters #1 and Providence Car Crash Consortium #1
By The Providence Comics Consortium

The Providence Comics Consortium is a group of cartoonists who put on educational events for kids at libraries throughout Rhode Island (and other states as well, I think), working with them to create characters and then publishing comics based on the kids' creations, some of them even including comics by the kids themselves. They're pretty great, offering a chance to see the kids' imagination at work, and letting them see the stories they create in print. Of these two issues, Classic Characters includes several stories featuring characters which had appeared in previous PCC publications, including a duck-wolf named Dolf who angsts over his crush on a classmate while dealing with a skull-headed bully, a space cow who travels to Earth from another planet and very nearly ends up as the contents of a hamburger, a teacher who is actually a were-owl, and an alligator bank teller. The Astro-Cow story is drawn by 11-year-old Keegan Bonds-Harmon, but the other stories are by the cartoonists Zejian Shen, Aaron Demuth, and Marc Pearson. All in all, it's a super-fun book.

Providence Car Crash Consortium has a more focused theme, covering car safety. Its messages seem to be to wear a seatbelt, don't drive drunk, and don't text while driving. The way the kids convey these lessons isn't always instructive, but can be pretty entertaining, including a rampage by Cuc the Drunken Pony drawn by Asuaka Rafiq, the adventures of Zombie Scented Tree, an undead car air freshener by Faye Thompson (and elaborated upon by Elliot Lamb); a heartfelt message from a zombie named Rotten M'Gee by Dakarai Williams; more message-laden adventures from a disembodied eyeball created by Abigail Ramos and illustrated by David Waterhouse; and an odd story about three fuzzy dice named Boby, Bob, and Bobert created by Keegan Bonds-Harmon and illustrated by Marc Pearson. As team-ups between today's talented cartoonists and the stars of tomorrow, these series are great little encapsulations of creativity, making for a wonderful chance to encourage kids toward artistic pursuits. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for more of these comics; this consortium is doing work that benefits us all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CAKE 2013: Indie Groo is also pretty great

As happens at every comics convention I attend, I try to get as many contributions to my Groo sketchbook as possible, and this year's CAKE was no exception. Here are the awesome pictures that a bunch of talented people drew for me:

Chuck Forsman makes Groo look worried.

Josh Simmons contributed a very Josh Simmons-style freakout Groo.

Dan Zettwoch adds his signature bulging eyeballs and flames to our favorite mendicant.

Michael DeForge turned in this cute super-deformed Groo.

Joseph Remnant gives Groo some nervous sweatiness.

Box Brown also makes Groo cute. Somebody bumped him from behind while he was sketching, causing him to leave some handprints on the page, so he turned those into a snake and a signature.

Pranas T. Naujokaitis gives Groo a nice cartoony style, and a sentimental tattoo.

Kevin Huizenga contributed what could be Glenn Ganges doing some Groo cosplay.

Jason Shiga drew Groo in his signature simple style, but he still got the nose right, and he even added in a good Rufferto!

Aaron Renier depicted Groo experiencing every dog owners frustration.

Noah Van Sciver contributes this dismayed Groo.

And Ezra Claytan Daniels provides a pretty realistic Conan-style version of Groo, along with a glimpse of his backside.

Monday, June 17, 2013

CAKE 2013: Indie swag is the best swag

This past weekend was the second annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (or CAKE), and it was awesome, a great collection of amazing cartoonists from the Windy City and parts beyond. I met a lot of people and had a great time, and here's the massive pile of comics paraphernalia that I came home with:

The contents of that picture are, starting from the upper left and proceeding across the back row:
Second Row:
Third row, starting below the Project: Ballad comic:
That is a lot of comics, but it's only a fraction of everything that I saw over the weekend. In addition to these, here are several creators that I would love to learn more about:

  • Mardou, who was debuting Sky in Stereo #2.
  • Rachel Foss, whose minicomics I regretted not picking up.
  • Sarah Morton, who had, among other comics, an interesting-looking book about her grandfather's Mormon missionary trip to Japan in the 60s.
  • Zachary Garrett, whose webcomic Doom Carousel is about man's effect on nature.
  • Veronica Graham and Jesse Eisenhower, who produce some weird, diagrammatic comics that I don't really understand, but still find kind of fascinating.
  • Ezra Claytan Daniels, whose digital comic Upgrade Soul is an amazing use of the Ipad as a medium for comics completely separate from both paper and regular desktop/laptop computer screens (he was also a killer emcee for the comic art battle that took place at Quimby's the night before the show).
  • Ed Luce, whose Wuvable Oaf looks like a great series.
  • Kinoko, who is in the midst of serializing a comics adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh, among other works.
  • Leigh Luna, who has a super-cute art style, often featuring animals.
  • Sam Sharpe, a local artist with a cool style.
  • Emi Gennis, who had, among other books, an anthology she edited called Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends.
  • Lucy Bellwood, who has a fun-looking nautical-themed series called Baggy Wrinkles.
  • Bernie McGovern, another local artist with some serious chops and a nice sense of the surreal.
  • Tyrell Cannon, who was selling a nice-looking fantasy comic called Victus and a comic about the Green River Killer called Gary.
  • Dakota McFadzean, who has several cool comics, as well as a webcomic with the appropriate title of Drawing Every Day.
  • The Cartoon Picayune, a regular journalistic comic featuring a number of talented contributors.
  • Evan Palmer, who has several great-looking comics, such as The Feast.
  • Laurel Lynn Leake, who displays a nice variety of art styles on her tumblr, but settles on a cool semi-realistic style with some lovely naturalistic shading for her series Deep Forest.
  • Cody Pickrodt, whose series Reptile Museum looks pretty wild.
  • Tony Breed, who has a cute webcomic called Hitched, about a married gay couple.
  • James the Stanton, who has some weird, goofy comics both for sale and online on his site,
  • Jaclyn Miller, who has a style that's cute and simple, but also nicely expressive.
  • Luke Howard, who had several cool minicomics in his "Dosey Doe" series, with each issue containing two stories that share a back cover, instead of being a flip book.
  • Mike Freiheit, who had a neat autobiographical comic called Monkey Chef, which is about what it sounds like.

Even with all that, I'm sure there was much more that I missed, but I had a great time nonetheless, and I'll be writing about as much of it as I can over the next week or so. Good comics, good times, good people, what a great show.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One Piece Is Awesome, Example #57

Having read up through volume 67 of Eiichiro Oda's One Piece, I've caught up with the currently-available English-language volumes of the series in print, I'm in the new-to-me position of having to wait for more of the series. Up until now, there's always been more to read, and the series is so propulsive, it's easy to just pick up the next volume and keep plowing forward. I'll have to see how well it reads with a wait of a few months in between volumes, and how satisfying a single volume is as one chunk of story.

In the meantime, I've got some other options of stuff to check out in the One Piece universe, such as the anime, which is available in its entirety online (with the latest episodes even farther along in the story than volume 67; I didn't realize that they've become near-simultaneous). I'm also interested in some of the animated movies, especially Strong World, which was written by Eiichiro Oda. And exploring the vast amount of information available on the One Piece Wiki is another option for satisfying my fix; I had been looking stuff up occasionally out of curiosity, but I often found I had to stop reading to keep from spoiling myself on material I hadn't read yet. But now I can read away, learning all the details about the characters and locales of the series.

Before putting these posts on hold (unless I think of other stuff to write about, since this manga has apparently occupied a significant part of my brain), I'll note a couple of heretofore unmentioned aspects of the series that I find remarkable. For one, I'm regularly weirded out by Oda's playful sense of scale. Characters can range from five feet to well over ten feet tall, and certain species like mermaids and giants can be even taller and more massive. Since he draws a lot of crowd scenes, one suspects that he started doing this for the sake of variety, to keep from drawing dozens of people who all look similar, but he ran with the idea, and soon enough, encountering people of all shapes and sizes became commonplace. Here's the latest example, from volume 67, in which the Straw Hats are fleeing through a scientific research facility and encounter a room full of children:

Oda doesn't just arbitrarily assign sizes to his characters though; he keeps their scale consistent, sometimes making them larger so they seem like more of a threat (one that may or may not still be easily defeated by our heroes and their ever-increasing strength), or treating them as gentle giants, or just acting like it's no big deal that they tower over everyone else. It's a weird choice, but it's one of those things that Oda does that makes the series unique.

The other thing that I find striking about the series is the level of violence. For a comic aimed at kids, it's often surprisingly bloody, but even though characters often get shot, stabbed, impaled, or beaten with such force that their heads and/or bodies are distorted beyond recognition, the level of violence doesn't seem gratuitous. It's not something grafted on to the story to make it seem more "adult" or "edgy"; it's just something that's inherent to the genre, and it usually ends up being a sign of high stakes, with our heroes facing real, physical danger. It helps that nobody seems to actually die, no matter how badly they are beaten or how grievous their injuries are. Here's a case in point from volume 67:

That's kind of horrifying; it works to establish the villains as a real threat, utterly lacking in morals and willing to blow away even somebody who is completely helpless. However, judging by the preview image for the next volume, even a guy who was repeatedly shot in the face can survive in this series, and that sort of thing leavens the sense of danger. The violence can be shocking and disturbing, but it's part of the story; it's not just senseless death thrown in for the sake of impact. There's always some thought behind what Oda is doing, and I trust him to use what he's got to tell the stories he's ready to tell. He's consistently amazing, and even if I'm going to be consuming the series differently from now on, I'm ready to read it for years to come. He's made a fan for life, methinks.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Neverending Fray: Groo is definitely still Groo

Groo the Wanderer #105
By Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai (lettering), and Tom Luth (coloring)
Published by Epic Comics, 1993

With this issue, the Groo Crew seems to have hit their stride, finding the perfect way to handle Groo's adventures now that he is slightly smarter, with him seeking to help people out and actually using his brain a little bit, while still being impulsive and destructive and managing to screw things up for the most part. It starts when Groo comes across a guy who has an animal's head, and he learns of a labor camp where all the prisoners have been forced to take an elixir that gives them animal heads, preventing them from escaping. Groo sets out to liberate them, but first he has to come up with a disguise that will allow him to infiltrate the camp:

He eventually settles on wearing a pig's carcass over his head, which is rather gross. Once in the camp, Groo gets up to other various antics, such as trying to come up with a secondary disguise:

But when he eventually succeeds in freeing the slaves, it turns out they were being held there for a good reason, giving us a classic Groo ending where he seems to have succeeded, only to find out he screwed things up even worse without realizing it. The fun thing about the story is seeing Groo actually come up with plans and use his "smarts" to try to accomplish his goal. He also is beginning to learn from his mistakes, as we see in this moment when he tries to find the elixir which will cure the slaves from their beast-headedness:

It ends up being a really fun story, a near-ideal use of Groo's current status quo to tell a classic Groo story with a new wrinkle. This is pretty great stuff.

I also really like the Sage backup story for this issue, in which he comes across some kids who are lazing around with nothing to do, so he suggests they race some horses around a lake. Returning to the area a few months later, he finds that the town's adults have taken over the horse races, turning them into big business and muscling the kids out. So Sage teaches them a new game, one that seems suspiciously familiar to modern eyes, only to return later and find out that the same thing has happened again:

He resolves to teach them something the adults cannot co-opt, so he shows them how to play Capture the Flag, and upon his return, well, you can probably figure out the results, but Sergio and company still make it rather amusing, while making a nice point about the ridiculousness of adults taking childish pursuits so seriously. This is classic stuff for Groo, a perfect use of the Sage character for his own little stories. I wasn't sure how well this stretch of the series was going to hold up, but it looks like I needn't have worried; it's turning out to be as good as I could hope for.

Next: Since I'm missing the next few issues, I think it's time for "The Life of Groo".
This issue's stats:
Recurring characters: The Sage has what seems to have become a regular backup strip, and Chakaal is featured in the Groo-Grams header:

Also, a story full of people with animal heads makes for the perfect opportunity to feature an Usagi Yojimbo cameo:

Moral: "There are two sides to every cause. Do not join one until you know the other." And for the Sage: "The older a man is, the greater the stakes in his games!"
Spanish words: The mines of Criaturas are named after the word for "creatures". Sergio says "amigos" ("friends") and "adios" ("goodbye").
Running jokes: Groo imagines that the slaves' terrible conditions include rationed cheese dip. Groo updates one of his catchphrases to "You take me for the fool I used to be and occasionally still am!"
Intro follies: Sergio tries to spell out the issue's welcome message in fireworks, and is, surprisingly, mostly successful:

Note also that Stan Sakai is wearing a shirt covered with Usagi Yojimbos.
Value-added: Another fun maze this month:

Mark Evanier's job(s): Lector ("lecturer")
Letter column jokes: Keith McCafferty congratulates the Groo Crew on 100 issues and says he's impressed that they don't just beat a dead horse month after month. Mark says they've received suggestions that doing so would be funnier than what they do print. Keith also notes that he doesn't know Brent Anderson, and Mark says he's a lot like Groo, but doesn't draw as well. Thor Newman wonders why, according to the credits in each issue, Groo has three editors. Mark isn't sure, but he thinks there's a rule about one editor for every ten readers. Jonah David Weiland (is that this Jonah Weiland?) sends in a list of things that are cool (Groo, Rufferto, getting six back issues of Groo at a convention for $2, the movie Night on Earth, The Life of Groo coming out soon, the L.A. Clippers) and not cool (The Life of Groo being delayed, the Clippers not doing well, the wacko in Waco, people writing to demand that their letter be printed (which he does, in a P.S.)). Mark replies by listing some other things that aren't cool, including "people telling us what's cool and what's not" and "having your letter printed in Groo-Grams". Elisa Blanquez says her life has been ruined by reading Groo, and as proof she notes that she named her three kittens Rufferto, Mulch, and Rufferto II; she doesn't date anymore because nobody lives up to the "virile and handsome" standards of Groo; and she finds herself plotting to murder Chakaal. She asks Mark to arrange for a date with Groo, and asks him to be their best man. Mark refuses, saying that the last time he went to a comic book wedding, he caught the bouquet and got stuck with this job. He can't imagine what the next step down would be, but when Al Weinberg  writes to say that Mark should be "King of all Comic Books, ruler of all companies, getting credit for everything good in comics today and blaming everything bad on people who won't do exactly what you tell him to do", Mark thinks Al has figured it out. Frederick Schweig writes that he realized how incongruous Rufferto's articulate thoughts are in "this otherwise highly realistic comic", so now that Groo is somewhat intelligent, he demands they make Rufferto comparably stupid. John Bunco notes that with 100 issues, Groo has outlasted all but four non-funny animal humor comics (Police Comics starring Plastic Man, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, and Millie the Model), and around the year 2000, it will be the longest-running of them all. But then he remembers Archie, so he realizes Groo #100 was of no significance at all, and apologizes for wasting everybody's time. T. Newman wonders what Groo did in a previous life to merit being reincarnated as Groo, and also what he could possibly end up as in the next life that's even worse. Mark says he may come back as a Groo reader.

The Neverending Fray index