The “fastest cartoonist in the world” was born 86 years ago, on Sept. 6, 1937…
By CHRIS RYALL
Let’s be honest – there are really no remaining unused superlatives with which to describe Sergio Aragones and his art. For decades now, he’s been referred to as “the fastest cartoonist in the world,” but really, you could substitute the word “best” for “fastest” and likely not hear any compelling argument otherwise.
He’s talented as can be. He’s nice as can be. And he’s probably, over his six-plus decades of making comics and art, about as lauded as a person can be, too.
So how, on this celebration of Sergio’s birth, does one sum up his contributions in 13 images? Where should it even start? With Mad? (Probably) Or with his early-’70s DC horror work? With Groo the Wanderer, the comic series that has now been running for well over 40 years? With his various dabblings on other properties like Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and beyond? His work supporting Comic-Con International and the Cartoonists’ Society? Or maybe his Sergio Aragones Funnies series, the one that made us all aware that Sergio is even more well-rounded and impressive than we already thought?
Yeah. It’s pretty impossible to display anywhere near the sum total of his works without leaving something out. And I’ve not even touched on his acting, his animated work, his appearing as a character in comics like Marvel’s Star Wars (“Serji-X Arrogantus” in 1978’s Star Wars #8) or even First Comics’ Jon Sable, Freelance #33 (“Sucio Eroganes”).
I considered focusing this particular birthday celebration on his lesser-known series, like The Mighty Magnor, Fanboy, and Space Circus, but in the end, it’s Groo the Wanderer that has held me rapt for the entirety of its run. What Sergio, Mark Evanier, and Stan Sakai (along with longtime colorist Tom Luth and the other colorists who have been driven insane by having to color all those detailed pages; Carrie Strachan is the latest, and while she’s been doing an amazing job, I do worry about her sanity in the long term…).
And it’s in Groo that Sergio has done so many impressive spreads, the kind that stop you in your tracks while you marvel at not only the staging and the detail of the images, but also the seeming period-correct clothing and architecture on display, too.
While the pages that follow don’t require any additional words from me to help you appreciate the skill of the person who made them, know that they’ve all been selected from across the full Groo pantheon, starting in the early ’80s and extending to, well, now and beyond.
And because he’s produced just too much great work, even deciding to focus on only Groo pieces requires, well a couple bonus images as a lead-in:
First up, Sergio’s 1981 map of the United States from Mad magazine…
… followed by his excellent Free Comic Book Day image from 2009, just to help further illustrate how long he’s been creating this kind of stunning work.
So here’s to you, Sergio. Thanks for the lifetimes upon lifetimes of good cheer, great art, and unquantifiable contributions to this industry. Long may you reign!
— 13 COVERS: A SERGIO ARAGONES Birthday Celebration. Click here.
— 13 COVERS: A Salute to MAD MAGAZINE. Click here.
Chris Ryall is the co-owner/publisher of Image Comics imprint Syzygy Publishing. His latest series is Tales of Syzpense, out now. Subscribe to his Substack of the same name!