Aragonés, Sergio 1937-
ARAGONÉS, Sergio 1937-
PERSONAL: Surname accented on fourth syllable; born September 6, 1937, in Castellon, Spain; immigrated to United States, 1962; son of Pascual (a movie producer) and Isabel (Domenech) Aragonés; married Lilio Chomette (a teacher), September 14, 1962. Education: Attended the University of Mexico for four years. Studied mime with Marcel Marceau and Alexandro Jodorowsky. Hobbies and other interests: Pantomime, model ship building, traveling, sailing, scuba diving.
ADDRESSES: Home—Ojai, CA. Office—Mad, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Freelance cartoonist, 1954—; Mad magazine, New York, NY, editor, cartoonist and writer, 1962—. Cartoonist and writer of comic book stories and comic strips for National Periodical Publications, beginning in 1967; has worked as a clown and as a documentary filmmaker. Military service: Served in Mexican Navy.
MEMBER: National Cartoonists Society, Academy of Comic Writers Guild of America, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Cartoonist Guild, Comic Art Professional Society (vice-president, 1980-81), Academy of Comic Book Arts, Screen Actors Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Harvey, Will Eisner Hall of Fame, and Reuben Award from National Cartoonists Society, 1997.
Woody Gelman, Sam, the Ceiling Needs Painting, Kanrom, 1964.
Betty Rollin, Mothers Are Funnier Than Children, Doubleday, 1964.
Edward J. Hegarty, The Seven Secrets of Sales Success, McGraw-Hill, 1966.
John De Coursey, Up Your Lexicon, Kanrom, 1966.
Henry Blankfort, Henry, the Smiling Dog (juvenile), Putnam, 1967.
David M., The World's Best Dirty Limericks, Lyle Stuart, 1982.
Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide: Beeps, Bleats, Boskas, and Other Common Intergalactic Verbiage (Star Wars), by Ben Burtt, Ballantine, 2001.
Mark Evanier, Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life (essays) TwoMorrows Publishing, 2002.
Viva Mad, New American Library, 1968.
Mad about Mad, New American Library, 1970.
Aunts in Your Pants: Memoirs of a Dirty Old Woman, Kanrom, 1972.
Mad-ly Yours, Warner Books, 1972.
In Mad We Trust, Warner Books, 1974.
Mad Marginals, Warner Books, 1974.
Mad as the Devil, Warner Books, 1975.
Incurably Mad, Warner Books, 1977.
Sergio Aragoneás on Parade, edited by Albert B. Feldstein and Jerry De Fuccio, Warner Books, 1978, published as Mad's Sergio Aragoneás on Parade, Warner Books, 1982.
Mad As a Hatter, Warner Books, 1981.
Mad Menagerie, Warner Books, 1983.
More Mad Pant Mines, Warner Books, 1988.
Harvey Kurtzman's Strange Adventures, Epic Comics, 1990.
Groo the Wanderer, Epic Comics, 1991.
The Life of Groo, Epic Comics, 1993.
Sergio Aragones' The Groo Festival, Epic Comics, 1993.
Sergio Massacres Marvel, Volume 1, number 1 (serial), Marvel Comics, June, 1996.
(Editor) Mad: The Half-Wit and Wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman, Warner Books, 1997.
(Author of foreword) Tayyar Ozkan, Cave Man: Evolution, Heck! Nantier Beall Minoustchine (NBM Publishing), April, 1997.
Louder Than Words, Dark Horse Comics, September 16, 1998.
(With Mark Evanier) Groo: Most Intelligent Man in the World, Dark Horse Comics, December 2, 1998.
Groo: Houndbook, Dark Horse Comics, June 9, 1999.
Boogeyman, Dark Horse Comics, June 23, 1999.
Groo: Inferno, Dark Horse Comics, October 27, 1999.
Groo and Rufferto, Dark Horse Comics, April 26, 2000.
Groo: Jamboree, Dark Horse Comics, July 19, 2000.
New Comics and Conversation: Using Humor to Develop Vocabulary and Elicit Conversation, JAG, 2000.
Sergio Aragones' Groo: Library, Dark Horse Comics, 2000.
The Death and Life of Groo, Graphitti Design, 2001.
Groo: Kingdom, Dark Horse Comics, March 14, 2001.
Sergio Aragones' Groo: Mightier Than the Sword, Dark Horse Comics, November 30, 2001.
The Groo Maiden, Dark Horse Comics, March, 2002.
Sergio Aragones' Groo: Nursery, Dark Horse Comics, 2002.
Sergio Aragones' Actions Speak, Dark Horse Comics, May, 2002.
Groo: Death & Taxes, Dark Horse Comics, November 15, 2002.
Groo Odyssey, Dark Horse Comics, February, 2003.
Coauthor of television special "It's a Wacky World." Contributor of cartoons and drawings to Mexican magazines, including Ja Ja and Mantildeana.
SIDELIGHTS: Widely regarded as one of the greatest living cartoonists, Sergio Aragonés was born in Spain. He and his family moved to Mexico in the early 1940s to escape the Spanish civil war. Once in the Americas, "The young Aragonés became an avid artist, sketching, drawing, and lampooning his way through Catholic school and through four years of architectural studies at the University of Mexico," according to the publisher of Sergio Aragones' Groo: Library. In an International Museum of Cartoon Art sketch, Aragonés says he spent most of the time at architecture school "drawing cartoons, doing theatre, pantomime, and being a clown in an aquatic ballet troupe." He began selling comic drawings to humor magazines in 1954.
Although, in his clowning role, he briefly studied pantomime with Alexandro Jodorowsky, he found his niche when he arrived in New York City in 1962 with twenty dollars in his pocket and portfolio in hand. For a while he worked at low-paying jobs, including playing guitar and singing at restaurants. But when he gathered enough courage to show his work to the editors of MAD magazine, he was taken on board to produce inspired doodles in the margins of each issue. He has worked with them ever since, being published in every issue but one and becoming an editor. He also branched out into animation for television, including Laugh-In and TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes. In 1967 he started creating comic books for DC, moving on to Pacific, Eclipse, Marvel/Epic, and Image Comics, three of which have since gone bankrupt. In the early 1980s, it became possible for cartoonists to own their own work—partly because of Aragonés' refusal to give away the copyright to his character Groo. During a legal battle between Steve Gerber and Marvel Comics, Gerber and friends produced a "benefit comic," Destroyer Duck, to bolster Gerber's dwindling legal fund, and as part of it, Aragonés gave Groo to the world. In late 1982, the independent publisher, Pacific Comics, produced "Groo the Wanderer," a spoof of barbarian heroes such as Robert E. Howard's Conan. "Groo," with writing by Mark Evanier, has been serialized for twenty years and more than 150 issues at the time of writing. Aragonés has also come up with "Buzz and Bell," "Smoke House Five" and others. Aragonés and Evanier have published over twenty books, among them Louder Than Words, and Boogeyman, a spoof on the comic-book horror genre, with Dark Horse Comics (since 1998).
Asked on "Ask Sergio," a Web site run by Mark Evanier, how much research he does to produce his cartoons, Aragonés responded, "Research takes a great percentage of my time. For my 'MAD Look At . . .' articles, I have a few weeks to read about the specific topic. For instance, I just did a piece about videogames and I went to shops that specialized in them and I had the enormous help of Kirby Shaw, who spent a long time after his homework showing me all his video games, what's popular, how to play them, etc. For the graphics, I looked at the magazines and advertisements. Every month, the same process gets repeated with a different subject. For the comics, it's different. Once the story is all solved, I immerse myself in National Geographics and memories of my travels to give the characters the proper backgrounds that at the same time is different and appealing to the reader. Weapons take a long time, as do crafts and architecture. The greatest amount of research goes into stories involving known characters, such as the Star Wars projects I've done, or when Mark wrote Sergio Destroys DC and Sergio Massacres Marvel. I had to go through so many comic books in order to faithfully reproduce the characters."
Aragonéss's cartoons are stories without words, which are supplied by Mark Evanier. Groo, "the most intelligent man in the world," is an unsurpassedly brainless barbarian who roams the world with his slightly more intelligent dog, Rufferto. Groo unintentionally creates havoc wherever he goes, mirroring the well-intentioned but disastrous efforts of ordinary human beings everywhere to "manage" the environment, relationships, and life in general. If Groo is the most intelligent man in the world, we are in deep trouble. And, it could be said, we certainly are. In one story, reprinted in Sergio Aragones' Groo: Nursery, Groo "lands on a tropical island paradise and attempts to be helpful, disrupting the ecology of the area with each effort," according to a School Library Journal review. Randy Lander, in a 4th-Rail review, pointed out that Death & Taxes, which came out in 2002, "is a particularly timely book as it is a commentary on the folly of war and how governments manipulate the facts to turn the enemy into a faceless obstacle to be defeated. Evanier has a particularly cynical take on the force behind this war, a greedy undertaker with plenty of smarts but little to no morals, and though this is a gross exaggeration of the kind of third-party factors that can affect a war effort, that allows it to be funny rather than overly tragic or sad." A Whole Earth Review critique of the "Groo" series commented, "Nominally a satire of the hulking-barbarian genre, this title displays the comedic timing of a Keystone Kops film and elevates the device of the running joke to an art form. But the best thing about 'Groo' is its integrity. . . . In graduating to the full-length format, Aragonés has produced one of the most consistently funny comics around."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, January, 2003, p. 80.
School Library Journal, December, 2001, p. 175; December, 2002, p. 176.
Science Fiction Chronicle, February, 1992, p. 33.
Whole Earth Review, summer, 1989, p. 91.
4th-Rail,http://www.thefourthrail.com/ (September 10, 2003), Randy Lander, review of Death & Taxes.
Dark Horse Comics,http://www.darkhorse.com/ (September 10, 2003).
Groo the Wanderer Official Homepage,http://www.groo.com/ (September 10, 2003).
International Museum of Cartoon Art,http://www.cartoon.org/aragones.htm/ (September 10, 2003).
POV Online,http://www.povonline.com/Groo/Stuff/htm/ (September 10, 2003), Mark Evanier Web site.
Sergio Aragonés Home Page,http://www.sergioaragones.com/ (September 10, 2003).*