I woke up this morning oblivious to the fact that today is a milestone in the life of cartoonist Sergio Aragonès. Today is his 80th birthday!!! I read about it online. The reason for not realizing that today Sergio is 80 is because he seems like a man twenty years younger creating wonderful whimsical drawings more common for a man fifty years younger!!!!
Sergio is a cartoonists cartoonist. He’s the guy we all would like to be professionally speaking – prolific and hilarious. I also like to think of him as the Hemingway of cartoonists. He is a man who has lived a life of adventure around the world. He has the BEST stories of where he has been, and what has happened in those locales. They are absolutely amazing (and have cropped up in his comics from time to time). “The world’s most interesting man” is an amateur compared to Sergio.
I first met Sergio at a National Cartoonists Society gathering in New York City in 1996. The next year I moved to California where seeing Sergio became a regular thing, and a friendship ensued. I became involved with a Los Angeles based professional cartoonist organization called the Comic Art Professional Society, otherwise known as CAPS. Sergio was one of its co-founders and biggest cheerleader.
Ten years ago, CAPS established The Sergio Award, unbeknownst to Sergio himself. The first recipient at a banquet was Sergio’s fellow MAD Magazine artist Jack Davis. After Jack was given an award, CAPS gave one to Sergio as well. All the artists in the room were aware there would be two awards that night except for Sergio. We all had drawn tribute art to Sergio that was published in a second secret program book that was handed out when the award was being presented. Below is the piece I did for Sergio featuring his popular comic book characters Groo the Wanderer and his dog Rufferto.
The very next year after that banquet, it was the 25th anniversary of the Groo the Wanderer comic book. While drawn by Sergio, it is written by one of CAPS’ other co-founders Mark Evanier. The gang at CAPS each drew their own version of Groo which was put together in a big jam drawing and was published in the pages of San Diego Comic Con’s program book that year. Some of the folks who contributed their own version of Groo included illustrator William Stout, Beetle Bailey cartoonist Mort Walker, Momma comic strip artist Mell Lazarus, current MAD Magazine editor Bill Morrison, Mulan director Tony Bancroft, children’s book illustrator Mark Fearing, Usagi Yojimbo comic book artist Stan Sakai, and comic book legend Dan Spiegle to name a few.
Of course, I contributed one to the above composition. Can you find it in the crowd?