WonderCon: Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier talk new Groo

April 18, 2014 | 1:27 p.m.
"Groo Vs. Conan" No. 1 is slated for July 23. Cover art by Sergio Aragones and Thomas Yeates. (Dark Horse)

“Groo Vs. Conan” No. 1 is slated for July 23. Cover art by Sergio Aragones and Thomas Yeates. (Dark Horse)

Now Groo’s makers do what Groo’s makers do best.

Following up on the recent announcement from publisher Dark Horse that the long-gestating “Groo vs. Conan” four-part miniseries will debut July 23, the fantasy warrior parody character’s multiple-Eisner-Award-winning creative team, creator-writer-artist Sergio Aragones and co-writer Mark Evanier had more welcome news for their WonderCon panel crowd.

“For more than a year, you’re going to have monthly Groo again,” Evanier said.

Following the four-parter with Conan, a new 12-issue series, “Friends and Foes,” will catch up with past Groo cast members including Captain Ahax, Granny Groo (no word on whether her grandson is in for another spanking), the witches Arba and Dakarba, and the handsome warrior Arcadio.

“Groo vs. Conan,” which Evanier billed as “11 years in the making,” brings Aragones’ comedic creation with a pronounced proboscis, feared as much for his chaos-causing cluelessness as his formidable skill with a sword, into conflict with Robert E. Howard’s legendary barbarian, just the sort of character his stories send up. In the series, Aragones draws Groo, and Tom Yeates draws Conan.

But when Aragones mentioned that “Groo vs. Conan” No. 1 would be out in time for Comic-Con International, Evanier said no one told him the book had been scheduled for release.

So it goes in the land of Groo.

Aragones and Evanier joked about several Groo-ish misdaventures in making their comics, including Aragones delivering pages to letterer Stan Sakai late one night – but forgetting which house was his collaborator’s. So the cartoonist wandered up and down the street at midnight shouting “STAN!” from house to house until finding him.

At least with the “Conan” surprise, Evanier has already turned in his scripts. That wasn’t the case with the 1998 “Boogeyman” horror humor miniseries the pair did. After hashing out the idea over a lunch at Sizzler, Evanier said he went home figuring it’d be another idea that would take years for them to get to. Then, eight months later, he learned from a reader that “Boogeyman” was on the Dark Horse website, which said it’d be out in eight weeks.

Interjecting, a laughing Aragones shrugged and said, “I forgot.”

Frantic, Evanier recalled, he phoned Aragones, who said, “Oh, we will get it done in time.”

“And we did,” Evanier said.

When Aragones told the story of how they came together to make Groo comics together, Evanier said, “No, that’s not what happened,” before telling an alternative version.

“And that’s how it happened,” Aragones said in good-humored magnanimity.

Asked by a fan about who he would want to play Groo in a film version, Aragones said no to the very idea of a screen adaptation.

“I don’t want to see what happened to the Flintstones [happen to Groo],” he said to crowd laughs.

Aragones, the Spain-born, Mexico-raised longtime Mad magazine cartoonist with the trademark bushy mustache, created the character in the late 1970s, and he and Evanier, a writer whose animation work includes extensive writing for the 1988-94 “Garfield and Friends,” have chronicled Groo’s wanderings, notably in a 120-issue run on Marvel’ s Epic imprint in the 1980s and early ’90s, and more recently with Dark Horse.

WonderCon, which draws nearly 50,000 fans of the popular arts to Anaheim Convention Center, continues through Sunday.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon | @LATHeroComplex

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