[Groop] Baltimore Comic Con report - #1....any midnight comic shop openings tonight??

Yodazone at aol.com Yodazone at aol.com
Tue Sep 11 14:05:36 PDT 2007

Nice coverage report Tone!  Thanks for sharing the  pix!    That's a very 
cool tricked out bike picture too....very  Tim Burton-ish....kinda like the bike 
in the classic movie, "Pee  Wee's Big Adventure!"   
btw,   how come comic shops aren't having any special  midnight openings to 
release the Groo Special tonight????   Other  shops did that for Harry 
Potter!!!   And who actually reads  Harry Potter anyway????
The anticipation for tomorrow's latest Groo is  grueling!!!!   
The new Groo book is way more important than any other release out  there!!!!
Less than 24 hours till  GROOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
In a message dated 9/11/2007 3:06:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
Tone at moon-shine.net writes:

Okay, I am finally rested and caught up on all the e-mail I had
gotten. Now  it is time for me to start giving you guys that update I
have been  promising.

It all pretty much started Friday night. After  gathering all my
gear and prepping things I tried to go to bed by 9pm, but  even though I
had attempted to get in the habit of going to bed on an  earlier basis, I
was too excited. I think I must have not fallen asleep  until some time
after 10pm, then I only slept until 2:45am. At that point I  stealthily
got up, quietly got ready, and slipped into my gear. I was on my  bike
and actually pedaling by 4am.
About five miles from  my home is the start of Pennsylvania's
Heritage Rail Trail, which use to be  a rail road. Along with Maryland's
North Central Rail Trail it runs 41  miles south to the outskirts of
Baltimore. Abraham Lincoln used it on his  way up to deliver the
Gettysburg address, and the rail was also used by  escaped slaves to head
north across the Mason-Dixon line in pursuit of  their freedom. In fact
just over the border on the PA side is a town called  "New Freedom."
Well, by the time I got to the Mason-Dixon  Line between PA and
Maryland it was still completely dark. Remember the  moon is/was in its
new-moon phase, which makes it especially dark. I was  definitely
prepared though. Check out my light set up in this photo I took  at the
PA/MD  border:
It  consisted of three white headlights on the handlebars, two small red
lights  each screwed on the valves of my tire tubes, a small blinking red
light on  the rear, a green glow stick on the right side toward the rear,
and a  yellow glow stick on the left side behind the seat. If that was
not enough,  I also wore a miner-style headlamp, which also had a
blinking red light  clipped to its back. For the photo I sat the head
gear on my bike seat.  Here is the same photo, but with a camera  flash:
You can see the Mason-Dixon Line posted on the map and  bulletin
board in the background. The ride was certainly spooky at  times,
especially when I would see pairs of yellow eyes in wooded areas.  Half
of the time I could eventually tell they were just cats, but other  times
I could not tell what the heck they were when I directed my head lamp  at
them. One time I know I saw a fawn sitting completely still beneath  a
big shrub. I kept picturing those Groo panels where Groo was in the  dark
and surrounded by eyes looking at him, and I wondered what a  great
imagine Sergio could sketch up of me riding my foolish butt down  to
Baltimore in the middle of the night.
Even though the  glowing eyes were creepy, what was probably more
dangerous, were posts set  up at cross roads so vehicles could not drive
onto the trail. Usually these  would all have reflectors on them, which I
could easily pick out, but  occasionally I got within a couple of yards
before I realized I had to stop  or redirect myself. The worst part
though was on the way back at dusk. In  Maryland the trail runs along a
stream in the Gun Powder Fall State Park,  and I found myself wishing I
had goggles because of all the gnats  spattering into me. As I biked
along the consistency of them colliding into  my face and arms was almost
exactly the same as riding through drizzling  rain. I found myself
clenching my lips together and squinting my eyes as I  cycled forward.

Okay, so I am sure you guys are probably  sick of the cycling
stuff, so I will wrap it up. Basically I was off the 41  mile trail by
about 8am, and I completely the additional 16 miles to the  Convention
Center by 9:45, which gave me 15 minutes before the Comic Con  opened. I
quickly freshened up in the bathroom, changed in my Groo shirt,  and
snatched up a program booklet. While flipping through it to figure  out
where Sergio's table was I slowly followed the meandering  ULTRA-LONG
line, which eventually curved back onto itself two times. I  finally got
my place at the end of the line and after about ten minutes  only then
realized, even though I already had my Ticket-Master bought  ticket in
hand, I still had to have it verified by getting a wrist band at  one of
the front desks. I naturally did so, but I ended up loosing my place  in
line because by then it had already started moving and I could not  find
where I had been.
It must have been some time after  11am when I finally got onto
the actually Con floor. That was not my only  problem though. Earlier on
I mentioned to the Groop Sergio's name was no  longer listed on the guest
page of the Baltimore Comic Con web site and  wondered if this was a
problem. Well, it turned out in the program booklet  there was also no
indication where Sergio's table was located! His name was  only listed as
one of the autographing artists and as a spotlight panel in  an upstairs
conference room later in the day.
I have never  been to a Comic Con as large as this one, so I
found myself starting from  scratch and simply following my own search
pattern. Eventually I found the  Dark Horse booth, which was in booth
1305, but not listed in the convention  map either. I asked if they
happened to know where Sergio was, and they  said they did not even
realize he was at the Con, which got me a bit  worried. I told them
Sergio was in fact listed in the program, had a panel  later on, and Mark
had said he would be in attendance. Being the good  natured individual I
am, I even offered to return with information to  Sergio's whereabouts if
I was ever able to find him.
Eventually of course I did find Sergio and his table. At that
point I knew  meetings him was really going to happen. I did not expect
his line to be so  long. It seem to consistently have one to two dozen
people lined up, and  even later in the day I counted no less than six at
any given time. Here is  a photo of the  line:
It is a bit hard to make out in the photo, but Sergio's table  is
beneath his white banner, which is just above that bald guy in the  white
T-shirt. I was behind "Mr. Red-shirt" and there were still two or  three
people behind me at the time.
Growing up all the  other kids collected "cooler" comics like
X-Men and stuff, but Sergio  definitely had one of the longer lines,
which made me feel sad for some of  the other artists at booths around
him. I did not mind much. Waiting in  Sergio's queue just meant my feet
would hurt from standing around a little  longer, and after biking for
over five hours that was  nothing.

By process of elimination I finally got to  Sergio's  table.
I was practically at a loss for words, but Sergio was  extremely
welcoming. Even while being so busy greeting his fans,  signing
autographs, and doodling the occasional sketch, he had already  noticed
my Groo shirt and my Groop membership cards proudly hanging around  my
neck. In his experience he smoothly eased my nervousness with a  warm
hand shake and kind words.
Most of my Groo collection  is stored back in New York City, but
I did bring along my copy of the first  printing of "MAD's Sergio On
Parade," which I bought MANY years ago when it  was new on the shelf. I
was originally a fan of Sergio's marginals in the  MAD magazines my
friends had, and initially picked out Groo only because I  recognized
Sergio's name on a Groo cover while thumbing through random  comics when
waiting for a friend looking for his monthly comic  fix.
Here is a photo of the cover from my copy of "Sergio on  Parade":
...and here is what Sergio sketched  inside:

While Sergio was making quick work of his sketch in my book,  I
managed to get some sense about me. I spoke up and was able to bring  up
the pre-paid Groo hats Gary had arranged for me, and before I  even
finished my sentence Sergio verbally confirmed my order, had the hats  in
front of him, and asked if I wanted them autographed. That was an  easy
enough question for me to say yes to. :)
Here are  some photos of one of the hats I  got:

I had also noticed the Groo magnets on the table at Sergio's
side.  Our Gary G. was gracious enough to score me two of the magnets,
but it had  seemed Sergio's inventory of the Rufferto magnets was over
with because of  Sergio's generosity in giving them away to the little
kids. Well, it turned  out Sergio DID have some Rufferto magnets left,
and I personally witnessed  Sergio freely distributing them to the young
ones several times on  Saturday. Needless to say I was able to speak up
enough to ask for a couple  of magnets. Now I have all  three:
If you take a look at the "Groo & Friends" magnet, you  will
notice Rufferto is missing an eye spot. Sergio is always willing to  draw
an eye spot on the magnets in person, but I wanted to keep  them
After getting the magnets and the hats,  Sergio did not have
anything else on his table Groo-related I did not have,  except for the
Spanish versions of the trade paper backs. I had already  told myself I
would not start up an international collection because that  could
potentially be infinite and I can not read other languages except  poor
Portuguese anyway. I was really hoping Sergio would have copies of  the
Anniversary Special, but he did not. Though he did seem convinced  some
dealer at the convention must have copies, but I and other fans  proved
him wrong by the time of Sergio's' spotlight panel.

Before ending my awestruck meeting with Sergio, there was still
at  least one thing left for me to do at Sergio's table. I noticed he had
at  least one folder of pre-made sketches, and since I biked 58 miles to
meet  Sergio for the first time ever on Groo's 25th anniversary... I was
psyched  to have a look in his portfolio and definitely financially
prepared to buy  something original.
When I mentioned I was interested in  Sergio's original art he
immediately suggested I come around the table  inside his booth. Not only
that, but he said I should hang out and have a  seat. Sergio actually
interrupted the artist in the next booth to snag one  of his extra seats,
and he unfolded it and set it down for me before also  pulling out his
larger portfolio of artwork. I felt like I was getting VIP  treatment,
and when I began to question him if he was sure about it, Sergio  shot me
down like a family member, who would not take no for an answer  when
giving a gift.
I enthusiastically flipped through his  pages appreciating every
piece of art and the privilege of seeing it all  first hand. There were
some really sweet pieces, which stood out at me. One  was a large-format
sword fight seen of Groo slicing a bunch of lizard-like  men surrounding
him. Unfortunately, that work was tagged at $600, which was  just a bit
beyond my price range. Apart from that though, there was a  really
tasteful image of Rufferto with Groo's swords, which I  particularly
liked. It had one of the lower price tags at $100, so I went  for  it:
After deciding on the piece, I patiently waited, watched,  and
appreciated Sergio's interactions with his other fans. Eventually  Sergio
turned to me to say some amusing comment about how the line never  ends.
At that point he noticed I was finished and he actually apologized to  me
as if he had been ignoring me. I told him he was ridiculous, and if  he
needed a break or anything else I could offer him assistance since  I
primarily came to the Con for him. I could see the look of  appreciation
in his smile, but he said he had things under control and we  completed
the transaction. As usual, Sergio had a canister for CBLDF  donations and
was asking for donations for sketches or for more than three  signatures.
I had not reached any of the limits, but I gladly donated $50  in
appreciation to his efforts. Come to think of it, Sergio did not  even
ask me for the money for the magnets and I was too scatter-brained  to
think of it, so technically I owe him money! :)
Before  departing I asked Sergio about some old bike messenger
related artwork he  had made for MAD long ago because I was possibly
interested in purchasing  it if he still had it. He barely remembered the
piece, but told me even if  he did not have it he could easily re-sketch
and send it to me, so he gave  me his contact info. I was shocked at
that, but apparently he trusted me  enough with it and I am honored by
it. Afterward I told Sergio I would be  walking around the Con a bit, but
would return to see if he needed any  assistance. I know our Gary helps
Sergio out in San Diego, but there was no  visual Groopie presence in
Baltimore, so I had no problem stepping up if  needed. Sergio told me
that would be really terrific of me.

After that I headed back to the Dark Horse booth just to let
them  know where Sergio was located. They were actually only about five
booths  away, yet they still had no clue Sergio was there. :)
With my  primary mission complete the only thing left to do was
do a more thorough  inspection of the place because earlier while
wandering around I was ONLY  seeking out Sergio's booth. Now I had some
time to relax and stroll around  to see if I could locate any rare Groo
items I did not have. Perhaps I am  inexperienced in the ways of Comic
Cons, but I ended up not finding  anything I wanted. I did see a few
random Groo comic books and some of the  first issues, but nothing I did
not already have. I did have my collection  list too, but as you can see
I have A LOT of Groo stuff  already:
This list might be good for those wanting to learn what they
might  be missing in their own collections. Viewers might have to fiddle
with the  font sizing and paper margins to get the lines to fit as I
intended them  to. After the Sergio panel I showed Eric and Dominick my
printed copy, and  they both seemed interested in seeing my listings
later on, so I figured it  might be useful to others as well.

Well, I think this has  been quite a bit of reading for ANYONE to
digest in one sitting, so I will  leave you guys with that for now and
follow up later on. I just hope I have  not put you guys to sleep or left
anyone hanging. More  later,

Groop  mailing  list
Groop at groo.com

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