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And a special Eisner for making up the word “Groo-tinuity” goes to….

§ July 28th, 2014 § Filed under adam west, cheese dip, fantagraphics, swamp thing § 4 Comments

So I haven’t really sat down and just written about comics and related topics in a while, so I’m going to see what I can get out of my system in, oh, the next fifteen minutes or so and then crawl off to bed.

Glad to see that Groo Vs. Conan #1 has finally hit the stands…it’s certainly not your typical issue of Groo, not only mixing the world of Groo with the world of Conan, but the “real” world of Mark and Sergio as well. The conceit of the series is that Sergio takes a knock to the noggin, leading him to imagine a story in which the two characters (Groo and Conan, not Sergio and Mark) meet. Thus is an extra layer of fictional reality added to the proceeding, basically making this a Groo “What If” or “Elseworlds” or what-have-you, and not part of regular Groo-tinuity. The Official Handbook of the Groo Universe surely will make note of the story’s non-canonical status.

Ah, I’m just being silly, of course…it’s all a lot of fun, and it’s good to see Groo back on the stands. The Conan material by Tom Yeates and the regular Groo art by that other fellow mix together about as well as you’d expect; it’s jarring, but intentionally and humorously so, and I suspect once we actually get some Groo versus Conan action, it’ll be quite the hoot. Sadly, Stan Sakai didn’t contribute his usually fine lettering job to this issue, likely given current circumstances I believe, but Richard Starkings’s lettering is a reasonable substitute.

Completely changing the subject, the San Diego Con just came and went, which I can tell by the number of people who dropped by the store looking for back issue “keys” over the last few days, and I haven’t really gone out of my way just yet to see what, if any, comic news has emerged from that fire pit. Casual exposure via Internet news sites and YouTube and TV and so on reveals a whole lot of TV show and movie news, naturally, and of course everyone knows about the new Wonder Woman in that forthcoming Superman/Batman movie nobody likes already (I think she looks great, though I couldn’t avoid making the obvious joke because I enjoy being a problem).

Two bits of comic news I particularly enjoyed hearing…well this first one isn’t comics as such, but it’s about the ’60s Batman TV show’s home video release which is vitally important news as far as I’m concerned. The $200 or thereabouts price for the Blu-ray edition of the complete series is a bit dear, and while they’ve announced a stand-alone Season One on DVD, there doesn’t appear to be a Blu-ray equivalent. Can anyone point me in the direction of further information about individual Blu-ray releases for the seasons, or am I just going to have to bite the bullet and grab that complete set? BECAUSE I WILL.

The other big news is Fantagraphics republishing the work of Vaughn Bodé, starting with a big ol’ collection of Cheech Wizard. I do love me some Bodé, as I’ve noted in the past, but oddly enough I don’t have much Cheech Wizard represented in my collection. I definitely look forward to this release.

Oh, and the other news I heard this week was about a reference to a certain swampy friend of ours when you call John Constantine’s phone number. Haven’t done it yet, myself, but I guess I’d better or I’ll have to turn in my fanboy card.

There’s stuff about new Star Wars comics, too, but I’ll get to that later.

And that’s about fifteen minutes of typing (and virtually no proofreading), save for the minute or two scanning the pic. And don’t forget to go read my latest End of Civilization post…and remind me to post the one Diamond Previews listing I accidentally forgot to include this time around!

Now I kind of want to see a “Groo Vs. Nexus” series.

§ June 16th, 2014 § Filed under cheese dip, this calls for hyperspeed § 4 Comments

So after my Groo post from last week, there was some lamentation, both on my site and on the Twitters, regarding the lack of easily-accessible Groo reprints. And, sure enough, a quick search of the Diamond Distributors database reveals that only one book, Groo: The Hogs of Horder (a 2010 collection reprinting the most recent series from 2009), is still available for order.

There have been a number of Groo trade paperbacks over the years, with Marvel/Epic reprinting its Groo comics starting with The Groo Adventurer, followed by The Groo Bazaar, and The Groo Carnival and you probably see the pattern by now. When Groo moved to Dark Horse, the paperbacks reprinting the Marvel/Epic run continued there in the same fashion, making it all the way up to The Groo Odyssey in 2003. Dark Horse also reprinted the various Groo mini-series they published, each in their own trade.

I only sorta vaguely remembered that this was going to be a thing, the Groo Treasury which was going to reprint the earliest material, but was held up due to production issues.

That doesn’t explain why the more recent, and presumably more easily accessible, Groo comics that Dark Horse published aren’t still in print, other than possibly a lack of resources to keep them available, particularly with those foreboding Star Wars-less days looming ahead for the publisher. Or that perhaps with the recent gap between new Groo series, there was a perception that the time wasn’t right to focus on keeping those items available versus promoting other product lines. Or maybe the last batch of printings took a while to move and that discouraged any immediate printing of new stock. Or, who knows? I don’t work at Dark Horse, I have no idea.

I’m hoping the about-to-be-unleashed Groo Vs. Conan sells spectacularly, thus encouraging more thoughts about getting old Groo back into print. That any work by Sergio Aragones, one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists, is not in print and prominently featured in every bookstore everywhere, is a damned shame.

• • •

My old pal Cully (you remember Cully, who got to hang with King Jack) asked, in the comments to that same Groo post, the slightly…well, okay, totally off-topic question of “what would be a good Nexus storyline?” Maybe not completely off-topic, since we are talking about good comics, I suppose.

Someone already responded with “the first 50 issues,” which is Nexus in its prime. As long as you have the original creators, Mike Baron and Steve Rude, working together, you’re pretty okay. Those original 50 did have some art fill-ins from time to time, but it all holds together well. (#29 has guest-art by Rick Veitch, and #28 is drawn by Mike Mignola, for example.) The first four issues of the color series were more or less self-contained, and issues 5 through 8 (which carried over the series’s transition from Capital Comics to First Comics) are an extended storyline, guest-starring the Badger, which is a lot of fun.

Unlike Groo, Nexus does have many currently-available reprint volumes. The first Nexus Ominbus contains the original three-issue black and white magazine series, as well as the first eleven issues of the color series, and at the beginning is as good as place as any to start. The b&w issues, and even the earliest color issues, aren’t quite as polished as the later work, which can only be expected, but there is still an excitement and energy to them that is hard to resist.

Also, I know you were asking for someone else, but Cully, read the Nexus: God Con mini. Trust me on this.

“Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Ah!”

§ June 13th, 2014 § Filed under cheese dip § 6 Comments

Another favorite moment from comics, from Groo the Wanderer #100 (April 1993) by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier: Groo, having spent months learning to read from the last guardian of a hidden underground treasure, eventually makes his way to a nearby town where he spends all of his time in its library, putting aside his swords in favor of using and enjoying his newly-found skill. Eventually, Groo (to whom the guardian had passed responsibility for the treasure with his dying breath…dying of old age, not of Groo, surprisingly enough) starts bringing some of the gold to the library so they can purchase new material for their shelves.

Word gets out that this town now seemingly has some new secret source of wealth, and treasure-seekers come from far and wide to tear up the town, resulting in the following scene:

…and then Groo does what he does best, only better than usual now that he’s just slightly smarter than he was before, turning the tables on a few old enemies who used to take advantage of his dimwittedness.

It’s one of the two big changes made to Groo‘s formula over the lifetime of its multiple series, with the other being the addition of Groo’s canine pal Rufferto. It’s also one of the few times where Groo is given bit of additional emotional depth, where he finally becomes just self-aware enough to realize what he’d been before and how he’d been treated, and the importance of what was being destroyed, not by his own ignorance as per the conclusion of most Groo stories, but by the ignorance of those around him.

Also, as a former librarian, I do enjoy the occasional message to the masses that, hey, libraries are important. I certainly would have liked to have had access to swords back then to help get that point across.