[Groop] Tone's Baltimore Comic Con report - #4

Tone Tone at moon-shine.net
Mon Sep 17 10:44:21 PDT 2007

	Okay, I am going to finish up my Baltimore Convention report. I
covered the panel in almost its entirety with my last segment, so I will
continue on from there.
	At some point during the panel a gentleman standing in the back
said he did not have a question, but instead had an announcement. The
guy worked or volunteered with the HERO Initiative, which is a
not-for-profit group established to financially assist mostly elder
comic artists in their times of need. It used to be called ACTOR, which
stood for "A Commitment To Our Roots."
	The young man with HERO was going around to the various artists
at the convention to auction off their own artwork, and all the proceeds
would go directly to HERO's support fund. Apparently in the past a big
comic fan had been challenging and collecting 3-minute sketches from
numerous artists at various conventions and events he attended. Later on
he donated all the artwork to HERO and it was compiled into a book. I
actually took photos of the copy I bought in Baltimore, but after Eric
posted a link I figure the URLs for the HERO web site are more relevant:
	The book sold for $10 at the HERO table in Baltimore, but it can
be ordered directly for $13 from the HERO web site:
	According to the HERO web site the book will also hit store
shelves on September 26th. You can view all the artwork in the book
through this link:

	Anyway, the whole reason the gentleman wanted to make the
announcement at Sergio's panel was because he of course had an original
sketch Sergio had done. Sergio did the piece at the San Francisco Wonder
Con in 2006. I linked to the original artwork before, but I will do it
	Notice the 1.35" at the bottom of the drawing. That little note
is the time Sergio took to draw the image. Most of the artwork in the
book has their times written in them. I believe the HERO presenter
stated only two artists took more than three minutes, and one of them
even took twelve. The original artwork Sergio created incorporated a
light blue sky background, which can be seen in the image above.
However, in the book the color is not carried over in Sergio's sketch. I
took my own photo of Sergio's Groo drawing out of the book I bought:
	In case people can not read the text at the top of Sergio's page
it says:
	Sergio Aragonés
Groo the Wanderer
	Creator of the satirical barbarian, Groo, Sergio
	Aragonés is a longtime contributor to MAD. The
	"ACTOR" on Groo's shirt refers to Hero Initiative's
	former acronym "A Commitment To Our Roots."
	Something else Sergio pointed out was that just about whenever
he completes a sketch or illustration he includes a note to remind him
where he physically was when he completed the image. He said there were
times he would be riding trains from one country to another in Europe or
something and he would include the place he was in. Apparently even at
the bottom of some Groo pages there will even be a country name, city,
or town listed. I think he said occasionally to be clever he mixes that
kind of stuff into the actual background in a panel, like on a sign or
	Once the young man made the announcement, got permission from
Sergio to auction the piece at the end of the panel, and the idea was
accepted by the audience everything was in motion for later on.
Actually, when Sergio was asked if the auction was acceptable to him, he
joked the guy should really be asking the audience since everyone could
easily just walk off after the panel, thus negating any chances of the

	Oh, before I forget, toward the end of the panel Sergio made
sure the audience was free to ask any more questions he had. Although
earlier during the panel he had made it clear people could interject and
ask any follow up questions as he was blabbing on in order to keep the
flow going. Regardless, I got to ask a couple of questions myself.
	One of them was whether Sergio had seen Stan's contribution to
the Groo fan art, which appeared in the San Diego Comic Con booklet.
Initially he seemed to not be at all familiar with it, so I sadly had to
inform him of the death of Groo and the loss of his head. Sergio seemed
bummed, but I elaborated a bit more afterward to explain the
circumstances of how Groo sliced his own head off. Sergio laughed and
said if there was any good way Stan could have executed the meeting
between Usagi and Groo that was one of them. At that point he appeared
to finally recall the piece himself and added that Stan was a great
friend and could get away with killing Groo all he wants. However,
Sergio also pointed out it just gives him the opportunity to draw Groo
killing Usagi in a more vicious way later on.
	Another question I asked was when or how long it would take all
the upcoming Groo stories to be released. Sergio did not have an exact
answer, but he did say basically, apart from his ongoing monthly
contributions to MAD, the Hell on Earth series is what he is
prioritizing, then immediately after that he will be focused on the Groo
vs. Conan series. I think he did say all his artwork for the first Hell
on Earth book was already complete. What I forget is at what stage he
said it is in (possibly even being printed right now?). Basically I just
got the impression the upcoming books will be released each or every
other month with one following the other until they are all complete.
After that he simply did not have any specific plans for more Groo stuff
lined up... maybe a break finally. Although he doubted the fans would
give him an inch after so many years of letting Groo slide. :) He hoped
the movie might appease them for a time if it ever did come out.

	Ok, so the panel ended and the auction was under way. Our
Groopie Dominick actually started it all off with a whopping buck! :) It
pumped up rather quickly until there was a lull, but I joined in with
some amount I forget. Perhaps it was $50 or $80. After that it seemed
only one other person was bidding against me, then when it sounded like
the auction was about to come to an end and I would be winning the piece
someone completely new to the bidding sitting just a few seats from me
in the front put in a bid.
	From then on it bounced back between the two of us for a bit at
$5 and $10 intervals. Eventually I had a bid of $135, which happens to
be the time on Sergio's sketch, but I was quickly out done with $140. I
took a good look at the other bidder. I was willing to pump it up
another $5 to make it $145, but I could see the other guy would probably
not let go of his grip. I figured he was good for at least $150, but I
knew I could not justify more than $150. I already had the $100 drawing
of Rufferto I bought from Sergio. I did not want to be greedy, but it
was in support of a good cause after all. Either way I could tell the
other bidder would most likely go to the $150 mark or more, so rather
than increase his costs I stop my bidding at $135 and he won it for
	After the convention I did some calculations of my own for geeky
amusement. I have no idea how Sergio felt about the price of his
auctioned artwork. SHOCKINLY... he seemed to just be doodling while the
auction was in play. :) I felt a little guilty I did not go higher,
considering I was supposedly such a dedicated Groop member and Sergio
had been so gracious to me. Either way the way I figure it, the piece
was auctioned off at $140 and it took Sergio only 1 minute and 35
seconds. According to those numbers Sergio can draw 37.89--- of those
drawings in one hour. That actually means Sergio could potentially earn
$5305 & one-cent-over-a-quarter every hour! We in the Groop should
therefore be and feel extremely fortunate Sergio has ANY time for his
fans. :) I can not even imagine how much MAD Magazine is paying him per
page these days considering inflation and the $50 per page rate Sergio
was paid when he first started contributing to MAD.

	So that was the end of the panel, but as I got up Dominick from
the Groop got up too. He was sitting a couple of seats to my right and I
was extremely hard to miss with my newly bought Groo hat, my 20th
anniversary T-shirt, and my silver & orange Groop membership cards
dangling from my neck. Therefore, I guess he was taking a shot in the
dark when he asked if I was in the Groop. That was how we met and
started talking. Shortly after, Eric Chun walked up to the both of us to
introduce himself, and the three of us all started talking, then walked
out of the room together.
	Eric suggested we get a Groop photo with Sergio, who had been
held up outside the room by his adoring fans. Luckily he still had his
shirt on. Eventually we were able to stand with Sergio, who was more
than happy to pose with us. That was the photo Eric posted a link for:

	After that Sergio was able to escape, only to end up once again
back at his table in the basement with a long line of fans. Eric,
Dominick, and I took our time going back down because we were talking
about Groo stuff of course. I shared my collection and want list, which
I posted a link for in an earlier segment of my report, with Eric and
Dominick. They were both kind enough to clue me in on a few Groo related
items at the convention I was not aware of, and we all headed over to
the associated booths.
	Even though I had been in Sergio's panel and heard the auction
presenter for some reason the information of the 3-Minute sketch book
for sale at the HERO table eluded me. I figured since I was unable to
win Sergio's original HERO sketch, I might as well purchase their book
to obtain a copy of the image and still support a good cause.
	Apparently, even though I had been to the Dark Horse booth on
three separate occasions during the day I had also completely missed
there being a free Dark Horse signing book:
	I already admitted I do not have good comic convention skills
essential in sniffing out relevant finds. Luckily Eric and Dominick were
there to impart their knowledge. In the Dark Horse book there is a page
for Groo with a grayscale image taken from a part of the Groo 25th
Anniversary Special:
	I naturally scored a copy of the Dark Horse book. It was free
after all.

	By this time it was well past 3pm since Sergio's panel had been
scheduled to end at 2:50. A week before I had intended on going to the
convention up to 1pm or so. That was only because I had to bicycle
another 58 miles home and if I left around 1pm I would have been able to
make it back by nightfall. Of course, when I had discovered there was a
Sergio panel that changed everything. I had to actually contact the York
County Parks Department for yet another exception to their rules of
people not being on the rail trail at night. They were again very
accommodating, and I could leave the convention almost any time I wanted
to. Still, if I did not leave shortly after 3pm I could potentially only
arrive home around midnight, so I KIND-OF wanted to leave earlier than
	After getting the Dark Horse book Dominick had to hunt down his
young daughter, who was dressed up as a comic character and roaming
around the convention with her friend. We therefore said our good byes,
but I knew we would see each other again since Dominick lives across the
river from me in the next city over.
	That left Eric and I, so we decided to head back to Sergio's
table to see how things were going. Once again Sergio still had about a
dozen people on his line and was pretty focused. I thought it would be
terrific if I could say goodbye to Sergio, but I did not want to cut the
line of fans and felt I could not wait in line that long either. I had
already experienced what I came to the convention to do, so I did not
mind leaving without saying goodbye.
	However, I was with Eric, who is a veteran Groopie and
convention attendee. For those who know him, Eric is quite soft spoken,
which was rather difficult for me since I have bad hearing in my left
ear. Regardless of this, Eric acted like quite the VIP and stood right
at the beginning of Sergio's line and even got Sergio's attention. I
consider myself fairly humble, so I felt uncomfortable cutting the line
and instead stood back a bit. It turned out though Eric got Sergio's
attention primarily to give me a chance to say good bye to him.
	Sergio warmly greeted Eric once again and Eric told Sergio I was
leaving and wanted to say goodbye. Upon that Sergio was glad to send me
off with a handshake, but Eric did not stop there. He continued by
telling Sergio I biked over five hours to meet Sergio. I felt even more
humbled and out of place because I did not want Sergio to perceive me as
some fan-atic. :) Although from his reaction, I got the impression
Sergio did not fully realize what Eric had said. If anything, maybe
Sergio misheard Eric or could only conceive I rode a motorcycle for five
hours. Either way he was still certainly appreciative and smiled

	At that I thanked Eric and we said our good byes. I was a bit
worried, but my bike was fortunately still fully intact and locked up to
a rail directly outside the convention doors in full view. A few people
looked at me while I unlocked my bike, most likely due to its unusual
cargo-bike set up, but other than that I cycled off uneventfully without
any further excitement.
	The ride home went pretty much as expected, but because I had to
cycle along a stream for most of the dusk hours it was literally like I
was biking through a drizzle of gnats. I was squinting my eyes and
clenching my lips for about an hour of my journey back while gnats
bombarded my face and arms before sticking to me sweaty skin. Lovely
image, isn't it? I was fully equipped with mosquito repellent, but I had
not thought of gnats. Riding over 10 miles per hour any insect repellent
would not have mattered, but I really wish I at least had goggles. Some
sort of snorkel would have been welcome too. I think the gnats
definitely slowed my progress down a bit, but I picked up the pace once
it became dark out. I finally stopped my bike and journey in our yard at
10:55pm, but for whatever reasons I still did not go to sleep until 2am.
Apart from a shower and a snack I do not even remember what I did for
three hours. :)

	Well, that concludes ALL of the segments of my Baltimore Comic
Convention Report. I hope you guys at least enjoyed it to some degree. I
should get back to the rest of my life now. :)

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