Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Groo Crew (Heavy on the Sakai)

If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with Groo the Wanderer. I have been flipping through the pages of Sergio Aragones' creation longer than I've been able to read. Groo (and countless other comics) contributed to my learning how to read. It is also, along with Popeye, the greatest reason for me to start drawing. I drew Popeye in First Grade, and Groo in Second Grade. Over the years I learned the names of the men who put the Groo books together (Sergio Aragones-Creator/Pencils/Inks, Mark Evanier-Writer, Tom Luth-Colorist, Stan Sakai (seen above)-Letterer) and came to admire each individual's work. I also found that Groo wasn't ALL they did! Sergio, apparently, has been working with MAD Magazine since 1962 as well as many side projects and collaberations with Evanier and other artists. Mark Evanier has written many books, written for television, written other comic books, and was assistant to legend Jack Kirby (he currently has a book released, titled "KIRBY: King of Comics". You can read about it here, or buy it here). Colorist Tom Luth has worked on various comics, including USAGI YOJIMBO by Stan Sakai, Disney Adventures, and others. He also works in book design and if you visit his site, I won't have to list the many things this man is capable of. Stan Sakai will be celebrating in 2009 the 25th Anniversary of his creation, USAGI YOJIMBO. He also letters for the Spider-Man comic strip and will be doing (or did. I'm behind in my comic shop dwellings) a special for Marvel Comics.

Stan is also one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever had the fortune to meet. I met him at the Motor City Con in 2007. I spoke to him throughout the day, as well as the guy whose table was to Stan's left. Some guy from MAD with a swirly moustache. Also a great guy. Stan appreciates the true fans and treats them as family rather than like they're stalkers. If I'd had money, I would have bought more because his work is great, but times have been tough for awhile.

ANYWAYS, I did a drawing for him as well as Sergio. 2007 marked the 25th Anniversary of Groo so I did a woodblock to commemerate the occasion. I printed 6 copies. One for each member of the "Groo Crew", one for me and one for another crazed Groo fan. GARY!! (He was kind enough to take Tom and Mark's prints to the San Diego Con to give them). Above is a photo of Stan viewing the print I gave him. He told me that he enjoys block printing as well. He also has a Bachelor's in Drawing and still a fan. Some of our conversation really touched me and inspired me to continue what I do. It meant alot and I took a great deal home from that day from both Stan and Sergio (who shared his "fanboy"-ness when he was a kid that I was experiencing in his presence.

Seriously, I couldn't stop shaking and smiling.

I wish I could give Stan more because I don't think he realizes how much he gave me that day.

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