Groo the Wanderer

Groo the Wanderer


caption=Groo the Wanderer cover page Issue #1 (Marvel)
character_name=Groo the Wanderer
real_name=Groo (full name unrevealed)
publisher=Pacific Comics
Eclipse Comics
Epic/Marvel Comics
Image Comics
Dark Horse Comics
debut="Destroyer Duck #1" (1981)
creators=Sergio Aragonés
aliases=Prince of Chichester
relatives = Granny Groo (grandmother), Grooella (sister)
powers=Master swordsman|

"Groo the Wanderer" is a fantasy/comedy comic book series written and drawn by Sergio Aragonés, rewritten, coplotted and edited by Mark Evanier, lettered by Stan Sakai, and colored by Tom Luth. Over the years it has been published by Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics (one special issue), Marvel Comics (under its Epic imprint), Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics.

"Groo" was one of the first widely successful creator-owned comics, one of the few successful humorous comic books (outside Archie Comics) during its time, and one of the longest running collaborations in comic book history.

Recently, Aragonés and Evanier announced the start of pre-production on an animated movie version of the comic. On September 25, 2008, Evanier stated that the rights to produce an animated film based on "Groo" have been sold and that the film is currently in production. [ [, September 25, 2008] ]

The characters

Groo the Wanderer (a parody of the Robert E. Howard character Conan the Barbarian) is a fantasy era large-nosed buffoon who constantly misunderstands his surroundings, and, despite his generally good intentions, causes mass destruction wherever he goes. Most of his adventures end with him walking away oblivious to the mayhem he has wrought, or fleeing an angry mob. As a result, his penchant for destruction has become so widely known and feared that just the news of Groo approaching is sometimes enough to cause chaos when the population reacts to the pending disaster. Groo occasionally meets with respect and good fortune, but it does not last. Businesses, towns, civilizations and cultures have all been unwittingly destroyed by Groo. Such is Groo's incompetence that so much as stepping onto a ship (except in Rufferto's company) will cause it to sink. In issue 100 of the Groo series, volume 2, Groo learned how to read.

The only thing that has kept Groo alive through all of his adventures is his excellent swordsmanship. Groo has slain entire armies on his own with nothing more than his swords, which appear to be a pair of katanas. Groo loves these frays, as he calls them, and often charges into the melee with a cry of "Now Groo does what Groo does best!" So great is his love for battle that Groo seldom bothers to consider which side he is fighting for, and goes on to slay soldiers from either side.

In all of his travels, Groo has encountered literally thousands of characters. However, there is an assortment of recurring characters:
*Captain Ahax, who has, over time, become wise to Groo's effect on ships. Not that it helps him or his sanity.
*Arba and Dakarba, a pair of witches who have suffered much trying to take advantage of Groo. They have repeatedly been stripped of their powers because of him. Their names are abrakadabra spelled backwards.
*Arcadio, a handsome warrior, with an especially pronounced chin, who is considered the greatest hero of his time. He has often enlisted Groo as his "lackey", and while Groo has succeeded in his quests time and again, Arcadio always gets the credit.
*Chakaal, a beautiful female warrior who is Groo's equal in swordplay. Chakaal is strong, noble, and wise, and Groo is madly in love with her. She is as well known as a hero and skilled warrior as Groo is for being a walking disaster, and travels the land seeking people in need of her help. Though she respects Groo's prowess as a warrior, Chakaal is all too aware of his incompetence in other areas, as well as his general stupidity and lack of social graces, and finds Groo at best tolerable when she is in need of his sword, and contemptible otherwise. Romantically speaking, she considers his idiotic advances repulsive, and does her best to ignore them, though she is not above using Groo's feelings for her to convince him to help her in her quests, and will often use Groo as a decoy or sacrificial lamb.
*Granny Groo, Groo's gypsy grandmother. Granny Groo often tries to use her grandson to aid her in her moneymaking schemes, but invariably ends up giving him a good spanking when he fails.
*Gravito the Wizard, who often punishes Arba and Dakarba for their failures.
*Grooella, Groo's sister. While she greatly resembles her brother, the two of them are totally different: Grooella is a Queen. However, her occasional reliance on her brother for aid has spelled disaster every time, and she despises him. Grooella had long, beautiful blond hair as a child, but one of Groo's "games" (which nearly always ended in the injury of at least one other child) damaged it so that it became black and frizzy. (The Sage developed a one-time-only formula to restore her hair, but Groo "erred" again and rendered the damage permanent.)
*The Minstrel, a singing jester who speaks exclusively in rhyming couplets. He often likes to sing of Groo's deeds, but Groo seldom appreciates his unflattering descriptions of his bungling. The Minstrel seldom appeared in later issues, due to the difficulty of creating his dialogue - "unless the Minstrel vanish / then Mark will go, and Sergio / can write this crap in Spanish."
*Pal and Drumm, two con men. The diminutive Pal is always looking for easy money, but his hulking partner Drumm isn't very bright. Their dealings with Groo have often left them in trouble with the people they were scamming. Their names are a play on palindrome.
*Pipil Khan, a short and short-tempered conqueror who speaks like Elmer Fudd. He correctly views Groo as the cause of many of his later attempts at conquest ending in disaster, but having never met the man personally, imagines Groo to be a far more imposing figure than he actually is. When he finally meets the real man who's haunted the latter years of his life, the shock kills him.
*Rufferto, Groo's dog and only true friend. Rufferto ran away from his boring life as a spoiled and pampered royal pet to seek adventure, and endeared himself to Groo. In Rufferto's eyes, Groo is a hero and a tactical genius, in Groo's eyes Rufferto is a potential meal. Groo can also safely board a ship in Rufferto's presence.
*The Sage, a wise old man who is usually never far from Groo. The Sage often attempts to give Groo sound advice, but Groo's stupidity often means that the advice is misinterpreted and only makes situations worse. The Sage is never without his dog, Mulch. The Sage has known Groo since childhood and often tells his tales for all who are willing to listen.
*Taranto, a corrupt general who has had his plans for glory dashed by Groo several times, and is obsessed with killing the wanderer. Groo can never remember whether he is friends with Taranto, or if Taranto wants to kill him.
*Weaver and Scribe, a successful author and his amanuensis, who look suspiciously like "Groo"’s own Evanier and Sakai.
*The Witch of Kaan, an eccentric old hag who always has a potion ready for anybody who visits her.

The setting

Groo's adventures take place in an environment that generally resembles Medieval Europe, although his travels have also taken him to places that resemble Africa, Japan, the Middle East and elsewhere. In addition to regular flora and fauna, dragons and other legendary creatures occasionally appear, and several cultures use dinosaur-like creatures as beasts of burden. Over the years, Groo has also encountered several "non-human" cultures such as the Kalelis and the Drazil. The currency in Groo's world is the Kopin.

Running gags

Groo's adventures have resulted in these "running gags" that have become staples for years.

*Mendicant: Groo becomes violently angry whenever someone calls him a mendicant, even though he doesn't know what it means.
*Early Groo tales began with a poem. Almost every Groo story ends with a moral.
*The head of the minstrel's mandolin changes shape in every panel.
*Cheese Dip: Groo's favorite food. Whenever Groo comes across money, cheese dip is the first thing that comes to his mind.
*Mulch: This agricultural process is often mentioned in casual conversation. The Marvel/Epic Comics editions had a long-running gag in the letter column, in which fans would ask Mark Evanier to define "mulch" and he would oblige with the same dictionary definition in every issue.
*"Did I err?": Groo's understatement when he surveys the destruction he has caused, and the closest Groo usually ever gets to grasping just what his effect on the world around him is. (A letter from a fan once pointed out that since "to err is human", the constantly-erring Groo must be the most human character ever created.) This gag was paid homage to in an issue of letterer Stan Sakai's own comic book, Usagi Yojimbo. When stopped by enemy samurai and asked for the password Usagi responded, "Uh... did I err?"
*"I am the Prince of Chichester.": Granny Groo once made Groo memorize that phrase during one of her ill-fated scams. The con fell apart, but the phrase still sticks in Groo's head, and he says it from time to time when he cannot think of anything to say. (The in-joke here is that Daniel Chichester was editor of the comic book at the time.)
*"What do you mean, 'slow of mind'?": Groo is often called "slow of mind", but it is usually much later in the story when he finally responds to it. The most extreme example was when Granny Groo called young boy Groo "slow of mind" in a flashback, and adult Groo in the present asked her what she had meant.
*"I can plainly see that!": Groo's response to when somebody says " any fool can plainly see."
*"What pirates?": To raise the reward for Rufferto offered by its previous owner, a Queen, Pal once told her that the dog had been kidnapped by pirates, who were demanding a ransom. Drumm asked "what pirates?" (there were none, of course) in front of the King and the Queen, and later in the story he kept asking Pal that. From time to time, he still asks "(and) what pirates?", especially when he's trying to kill Pal (usually at the end of a story) because one of his plans failed again.
*The house Pal promised to buy Drumm. In a real estate scheme, Pal buys a house for Groo. Drumm wants one, too. Pal agrees, just to quiet him, but Drumm mentions the house quite often.
*"I can drink eight beers! Bring me eight beers!" This phrase appears several times in the comics and was first spoken in issue #1 of Pacific Comics by Taranto. It was next spoken in issue #23 epic/marvel by Drumm.
*Hidden Messages: Many of Groo's Marvel/Epic issues have a hidden message concealed in the artwork or the dialogue. The hidden message usually reads "This is the hidden message."
*The Sage's dog: During the Marvel/Epic run of "Groo", the question of what the Sage named his dog became one of the most frequently asked questions in the comic's letters page. Eventually, Evanier and Aragones made an announcement that the name of the Sage's dog would be revealed in an upcoming issue, an event which was first postponed from its first scheduled publication either to further the "suspense" or mess with readers' minds. Eventually, after a storyline in which the Sage's dog had been kidnapped and Groo aided him in recovering the dog, the "secret" was revealed in a throw-away moment, with Groo asking in a "by-the-way" manner what the dog's name was, and the Sage replying with the nondescript name, "Mulch" (in itself a reference to another running gag in the Marvel/Epic run, see above).
*Creators: in every issue, one frame has the four creators somewhere among the people (travellers, soldiers, passers by)
*Issue #1: Because of its unusual publication history (see below) there have been at least three different issues of the comic book that were numbered as the "first" issue. Part of the reason for this is that first issues tend to have higher sales and each publisher took advantage of this by starting the numbering over again when they took over. Aragonés satirized this by proclaiming that every issue he wrote was #1.

The creators

"Groo" is initially plotted, roughly written (it has been said that Aragonés does to English, his third language, what Picasso did to faces), and roughly drawn by Aragonés, after consulting with Evanier. Evanier then writes the dialog, poetry, moral, acts on "insert joke" or "insert Mark-ism" instructions, and changes things around if needed, and then returns the work to Aragonés, who may or may not change things back. Sakai then does the lettering, after which Aragonés does the final artwork,including the word balloons. Finally, Luth does the coloring, described as an unenviable task, since Aragonés' artwork is usually quite detailed (with fancy clothing, building and nature scenes inspired by National Geographic and other sources) and can be full of hundreds of people in one scene. (In one behind-the-scenes sequence Luth despairs over a detailed crowd scene when Evanier points out that "These two (background figures) are twins, you can paint them the same color.")

Evanier also answers the letters page, something he takes special pride in, since the practice in mainstream comics is to pass this task off to low-level assistants, something he didn't know when his own teenage fan letters were published. He claims that no one knows what he does, and that he doesn't get paid. His official credit, during the Marvel/Epic run, was usually a ludicrously polysyllabic title that changed every issue.

Caricatures of Aragonés, Evanier, Sakai, and Luth often appear as background characters within the stories, sometimes with family members. Evanier and Sakai are also the role models for the characters Weaver and Scribe.

Rufferto was based on Aragonés' own dog named Rufferto, who is actually more mottled than spotted.

Publication history

Aragonés created the character of Groo in the late 1970s. However at that time no comic book company would allow creators to retain the rights to their characters and Aragonés did not wish to surrender those rights. In 1981, a comic book, "Destroyer Duck" #1, was published by Eclipse Comics as a benefit to raise money for a legal battle over creator rights; a four-page story contributed by Aragonés featured Groo's first published appearance. His second appearance was a few months later in a back-up story in "Star-Slayer" #5, published by Pacific Comics.

In 1982, Pacific Comics began publishing "Groo The Wanderer" as a regular series. However, Pacific faced various financial difficulties and was only able to publish eight issues of the title. With Pacific unable to publish new material, a single shot issue of material that was originally written for them, titled the "Groo Special", was instead published by Eclipse. It should be noted that when Groo was with Pacific, he was not portrayed as a bumbling idiot like was in future issues starting with Epic line. In fact, one issue had him use his brains to create sophisticated traps and his speech was similar to Conan the Barbarian's.

Aragonés and Evanier eventually negotiated a deal with Epic Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics, for that company to take care of publication while preserving creator rights. This resulted in the longest run of "Groo the Wanderer" with 120 issues. In 1994, with Marvel facing financial difficulties, the title switched to Image Comics and was retitled "Groo". (In the first issue Groo was heard to remark "The "marvels" of the world are but "images" before me.")

When Image in turn faced legal problems after publishing twelve issues, the title switched to Dark Horse Comics in 1998. Dark Horse is not publishing the title as a regular series but is releasing new material, as well as reprints, as periodic mini-series and collections.

At the 2007 WonderCon, the creators revealed that since 2005 they've been trying to produce a "Groo" / "Conan" crossover (both titles are published by Dark Horse) which would have the Wanderer encountering the Barbarian whom he has parodied. Unfortunately the project has encountered a number of postponements, but they believe the project may finally be coming to fruition. [] On September 9,2007, Longtime Groo writer, Mark Evanier revealed that the Groo/Conan project is a go with no official release date as of yet. []

imilar characters

The character of The Groosalugg in the TV series "Angel" is generally called 'Groo' by other characters, and is a somewhat naive wandering barbarian hero who is a highly skilled swordsman.

In Norway, the magazine "Pyton" once parodied the comic by placing the Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland in the role of Groo. The parody was a pun on her name (adding one letter-an 'o').

Also in Norway, when the local version of "MAD" ran a parody of "Ronia the Robber's Daughter", the "gray dwarves" pestering Ronia had become "Groo dwarves".


Original publications

*Vol I - Pacific (December 1982 - April 1984)
**"Groo the Wanderer" #1-8
*One shot intermediate printing - Eclipse (October 1984)
**"Groo the Wanderer Special" #1
*Vol II - Epic/Marvel
**"Groo the Wanderer" #1-120 (March 1985 - January 1995)
**"The Death of Groo" (November 1987)
**"The Life of Groo" (April 1993)
*Vol III - Image (December 1994 - November 1995)
**"Groo" #1-12
*Vol IV - Dark Horse (Jan. 1998 - present)
**"Groo" #1-4 (MiniSeries)
**"Groo & Rufferto" #1-4 (MiniSeries)
**"Groo Mightier than the Sword" #1-4 (MiniSeries)
**"Groo Death & Taxes" #1-4 (MiniSeries)
**"Groo 25th Anniversary Special" (September 2007)
**"Groo Hell on Earth" #1-4 (MiniSeries)
*Special appearances
**"Destroyer Duck" #1 Eclipse (February 1982)
**"StarSlayer" #5 Pacific (November 1982)
**"Epic Illustrated" #27 Epic/Marvel (December 1984)
**"Wizard" #78 Wizard Press (February 1998)
**"Dark Horse Presents" Jr. Annual '99 Dark Horse (August 1999)
**"Dark Horse Extra" #42 Dark Horse (December 2001)

Reprint collections

*"Groo Adventurer" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 1, 2, 3, 4)
*"Groo Bazaar" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 5, 6, 7, 8)
*"Groo Carnival" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 9, 10, 11, 12)
*"Groo Dynasty" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 13, 14, 15, 16)
*"Groo Exposé" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 17, 18, 19, 20)
*"Groo Festival" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 21, 22, 23, 24)
*"Groo Garden" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 25, 26, 27, 28)
*"Groo Houndbook" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 29, 30, 31, 32)
*"Groo Inferno" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 33, 34, 35, 36)
*"Groo Jamboree" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 37, 38, 39, 40)
*"Groo Kingdom" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 41, 42, 43, 46)
*"Groo Library" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 44, 45, 47, 49)
*"Groo Maiden" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 50, 51, 52, 53)
*"Groo Nursery" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues: 54, 55, 56, 48)
*"Groo Odyssey" (reprinting Epic/Marvel issues:57, 58, 59, 60)

*"" (collecting the four-issue 1998 comic book series "Sergio Aragonés Groo")

*"Groo & Rufferto" (collecting the four-issue 1999 comic book series)

*"" (collecting the four-issue 2000 comic book series)

*"" (collecting the four-issue 2002 comic book series)

*"" (collecting the four-issue 2007-2008 comic book series [scheduled for November 2008] )

**"The Groo Chronicles" (reprinting the Pacific and Eclipse series. Six graphic novels)
**"The Groo Chronicles (Hardcover limited edition)" (Hardcover limited to 1500 printings, Combines "The Groo Chronicles")
**"The Life & Death of Groo" (Flip Hardcover limited to 1000 printings, Includes "The Life of Groo" and "The Death of Groo")
**"The Life of Groo" (Softcover limited edition reprinting by Graphitti Designs)


Sergio Aragones received the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for 1996 for his work on "Groo" and "Mad Magazine".


External links

* [ Official Groo site]
* [ Join The Groop, the Official Groo email list!]
* [ The Norwegian Groo Page -]
* [ Sergio Aragonés official site]
* [ Mark Evanier's official site at] and []
* [ Groo wiki]
* [ Those Who Fear Groo forum for Groo fans]
* [ Groo the Wanderer - an unofficial fansite]

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