[Groop] The Hogs of Horder #1
m00rst at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 5 15:35:51 PST 2009
Well said, Porter. But I think you're soft-pedaling on the actual socio-political relevance of DH Groo. The reason all the old critiques in Groo were both more relevant and more memorable is because the main character... in all his satirical glory... was a human character. He fell in love, he learned to read, he became an actor, a cook, a painter, a curator of manuscripts, an observer of cult ritual, Etc. He has been relegated to a caricature plot device in the last five series, and it has NOT been edifying or enriching to watch. Nor has it been funny.
There is little concern over the subject matter. Sword & sorcery/medieval tropes are, as the Epic run clearly displayed, interchangeable with practically any current event. Groo of the '80s and '90s can easily be read as a political critique of those decades. The real question is whether these characters, especially Groo, are still worth caring about.
I appreciate that people grow and change, and that it is reflected in their art. But I also believe that characters can be forgotten and compromised by their creators if they are played like a card instead of explored like a human. Mark used to talk about Groo that way in the blurbs he would write. He used to say that Groo was "getting dumber" as the comic matured, almost as if Groo were this friend of theirs that they interacted with and they had little actual control over the progression of the character because what was really happening was that they were releasing him into his world and observing what he would do. He even said of Rufferto that he "showed up one day and never left" like a real dog. The Groo Crew seemed more like mothers than owners back then.
Now the whole thing seems very owned and manufactured. Awkward. Forced. Not for corporate interests, but for personal ones. There has always been a big to do in all their press about how Sergio owns Groo, and how Groo proved this or that about creator-owned comics. But if they protected him and kept him just so they could dehumanize him, then I'm not interested. Why? Because that's not a loving relationship between creator and character. That's Ahab and the Pequod.
Here's hoping that Sergio and Mark may one day revisit their character Groo. Not for what he can say for them as some sort of muppet. But for what he still has to say and do as a classic fool.
From: publicporter at gmail.com
To: Groop at groo.com
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 2009 15:30:17 -0800
Subject: Re: [Groop] The Hogs of Horder #1
I have been thinking about this subject for awhile now.
Were one to pick up a copy of Epic #5 ('Slavers') and, well, Hogs of Horder #1, it is no great difficulty to see differences in the approach to writing and storytelling and to some degree the art as well (never mind the printing, layout and general physical qualities). With that said, Groo The Wanderer has ever been a social and political critique set amidst the antics of a fool with swords. This is one of the primary qualities The Fool has evinced historically: both veiled and overt criticism by absurd means, subversion through an innocuous and seemingly simpleminded medium (this exact same argument, both pro and con, has been made in regards to comic books in general for decades).
The difference between Groo and traditional fools, of course, is that Groo is a genuine fool, not a scholar in a buffoon's uniform. He, along with Minstrel and Sage on occasion, exists at various times (and frequently all at once) as the voice, subject and cause of criticism. But Groo and the stories themselves are different because the storytellers are different. After 25 years or so, I would hope their evolution as writers and artists would not have ended at the age of 30 or 40. One's craft, expertise, ideals, interests and motivations shift - and
for me it is equally interesting watching the creators themselves go
through a metamorphosis as it is to see the changes their characters go
But I don't think it so much an issue of moralizing or politicizing the stories - they were always that (end-of-story moral, anyone?) - but that they have become directly allegorical, overt and more current-events based than in previous adventures. In that way I do think they have become much more relevant, more immediate, and shed light in new ways upon issues that are affecting us now. In the same breath though, I think what has been missing as a result is its universalism and timelessness, its intricacy in simplistic form.
My general preference too is with the older, less allegorical approach - it is by reading Groo that I discovered the very notion of "relevance and applicability" in literature - but I do enjoy these current stories greatly nevertheless. I love them all and like the change of pace but hope for a return sometime soon. And so continues the great debate between applicability and allegory, Middle Earth and Narnia, crackers and chips, salsa and hummus, pad thai and chow mein, ale and lager, black forrest and red velvet cake... cheese dip and spit-roasted lizard.
Time to eat.
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