The Men OF Groo 

Most of the legendary comic-book characters at this weekend's MO-KAN Comics Conspiracy convention at BTC Convention Hall (1775 Universal Avenue, 816-924-1566 ) have achieved their status through long decades of standing up for truth, justice and the defeat of whatever particular villains are assigned to them. Then there's Groo, that gourd-nosed, noodle-legged, slow-of-mind barbarian sword master created by Mad magazine margin-filler Sergio Aragones some 25 years back."I think Groo sticks around because of a paucity of funny in comic-book stores," says Mark Evanier, the often self-deprecating comic, cartoon and TV writer who since the beginning has been working with Aragones to put words into Groo's mouth. "There were years there where we kind of won the awards for Best Humor Comic by default. We were darn near the only comic that intentionally made people laugh."At noon today, Evanier and Aragones make a rare convention appearance with their Groo compatriots Stan Sakai (letterer) and Tom Luth (indefatigable colorist). Between Evanier and Aragones, conventiongoers will be witness not just to comics royalty but to two of the culture's most influential talents in comedy, period. Groo stories are packed with world-class silliness and sword-sharp satire. And the early '90s series Garfield and Friends, which Evanier co-produced and often wrote, was — like Mad — a crash course in 20th-century American humor. Why must all-ages entertainment of such quality be so rare? "I think it's just easier to write for dummies," Evanier says. At 2 p.m., Sakai will discuss his own legendary Usagi Yojimbo. Evanier will return to the convention stage on Sunday at 1 to talk about his gorgeous book Kirby: King of Comics and real-life legend Jack Kirby. Admission to the convention costs $7 today and $5 on Sunday. Other key events: appearances from Phil Hester, Andre Parks, Matt Fraction and many others. For more event highlights, see mokan comics.com.
Sat., Sept. 20; Sun., Sept. 21, 2008

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