HAHAHAHA, well, we definitely wouldn’t use “groot” as the name of some rando creature if we were doing this today. I knew about Groot mainly from his appearance as a rampaging monster in a 1960 comic and later references to it in Fantastic Four. By this point, the gentler and less verbal Groot was starting to show up in the comics, but I wasn’t reading those, so I thought, “sure, this reference is the right level of obscure.” J.G. Ballard was a science-fiction author who often imagined environments of intimidating scope, and it saddens me that he’s more obscure today.

With all these other references we’re slinging around, maybe you didn’t notice the Goldilocks and the Three Bears bit that pairs with the bear and honey imagery. “The first monster was TOO SOFT. And the second monster was TOO HARD. But the dire bear was JUST RIGHT.”

I gave John a lot of notes on a few creatures that showed up in the last page, but having established the general look and feel of the ur-animals, I let him do his own designs for the named animals here. He put the ballard in the previous page, too.

I mislabeled the “Hunneeeuuuh” bit as dialogue for Byron. I meant it for the bear, as if it were just on the edge of articulate. But when I brought that up to Phil, he felt it was a happy accident and we should leave it as Byron’s line. I suppose since this is a hunting story, it’s probably better not to even flirt with the idea that this animal is a semi-intelligent being. We got enough grief over the kobolds.