1990: Lil’ Grusome

Lil’ Grusome (1988) by Gene Iossa and Matt Hollingsworth.

What’s this then?

cat βŠ• yronwode’s web site says that they published “Lil’ Grusome, a cute green monster, learns how volunteering to help those in need can be fun in this comic produced for the United Way” in 1990. I thought that that’s what I bought from somebody on ebay, but instead I’ve gotten a book published in 1988.

Hm… I’ve now searched and searched, and I can’t find any mention anywhere of Gene Iossa publishing a Lil’ Grusome comic book, or United Way doing it, or Eclipse.

Iossa’s bio has this to say:

He won the award for the county’s “best” artist ,The Dupont award for art excellence.

Gene then went on to cartooning school developing LIL’ GRUSOME and THE NUTSHELL GANG which was published in 1988. The characters were again published in a comic in 1990 winning the “gold” award for United way of morris county for best new idea and character.

So both Iossa and yronwode says that a comic book has been published, but Google won’t deliver the goods. I won’t go on that whole Google rant now, but during the past year or so, they’ve really made it difficult to find obscure things. Behind the scenes, perhaps they’re translating the “Grusome” to “Gruesome”, even if I quote it? Because this image search gives me zero results.

Google! Why do you suck now!

But I found it! By going directly to the Mile High Comics site, and there’s a picture of the cover and everything, so it exists.

But they have no copies.

I’ll include a copy of the cover here from Mile High Comics, since that shot seems to be so scarce:

OK, let’s just have a look at this book instead, and if I ever find a copy of Lil’ Grusome (published by Eclipse Comics or United Way), I’ll update this blog post. I mean, I don’t want to cheat! That’s be bad!

My copy is signed by Iossa and has a sketch by him.

Published by Carlton Press.

This is a very short story about a little troll who grows up in an orphanage which is rife with racism.

But humanism prevails, and everybody gets along in the end.

There’s really not much plot here. I mean, I’m guessing this is directed at, say, four year olds? But even so, there’s not a lot there there. On the other hand, is Teletubbies? I mean, does? Er, whatever.

The artwork is serviceable.

At least it teases a sequel.

And the inside back cover has a sketch from somebody who was probably in the intended age group, from the looks of it.

If I managed to find the Eclipse comic, I’ll edit this blog article and talk about it after the colon:

Edit December 9th, 2020:

Today I got an Ebay Alert saying that the book is available! Whoho! So I followed the link and:

I don’t think so? No. I don’t think so.

The wait continues. If I do find a sanely priced copy of the comic, I’ll talk about it after the colon:

Edit February 13th, 2022:


I scored a copy of this comic! It only took me… er… four years? It’s a weird phenomenon: There’s comics that gets traded so seldom that people think they’re worth a lot of money, so… they get sold even less often. That $500 copy of this book that’s been on ebay since 2020? It’s still there. I’ve also seen people put up $300 copies of this, and they stay unsold for half a year, and then are withdrawn.

For all I know, it’s because of this blog post that people think this is a coveted item or something?

But a couple weeks ago somebody put up a copy that wasn’t totally ridiculous, so I bought it.

So now we’re going to have a look at it.

Besides the logo on the cover, the only place Eclipse Comics is mentioned is in the indicia: “Production”. The book is published by United Way of Morris County, so perhaps it was only distributed in New Jersey, and that explains why nobody has this?

In any case, it’s a quite attractively drawn book.

The plot is that Lil’ Grusome going to a party, but he runs into these other kids on the way, and very tiny adventures ensue.

After each encounter we get a page like this that explain how you can make the world a better place.

Matt Hollingsworth did the colours (and the inking), and I think that’s a great part of the charm.

But I mean, a gig like this can’t have been easy for Iossa, either — how do you make something as didactic as this readable? But he carries it off.

The schtick is that Lil’ Grusome’s pet spider is running away, because he doesn’t want to take a bath before the party. Sure, why not.

Yes, you can fix the world, too!

This was the only comic book they published that I was unable to find when I was doing this blog about Eclipse Comics, and it’s now well and truly finished.


8 thoughts on “1990: Lil’ Grusome”

  1. I was thinking about this comic today. I went to school in Parsippany, NJ and it was handed out for free by our teachers (1st grade class.) He was kind of a thing for awhile and I vaguely recall our teachers creeping us out with a “find lil grusome,” scavenger hunt around the hallways.


  2. I came across a copy while going through old coloring books! No writing on the back cover, just a small piece peeling on the back cover. Make me an offer??


    1. I’ll give you an offer of $30, because I’m curious to read it… but not that curious. πŸ™‚ However, I see that people are (trying to) sell it for $300-500 on ebay, so it’s probably worth a lot more than that, so I’d suggest selling it there instead.


      1. There was a blogger looking to get his hands on one. I was hoping to see if he was interested. Apparently it’s rare, but I doubt $500 rare!


      2. Oh ok. Well back it goes in its protective cover and to disappear for another 30+ years!


      3. There was a blogger looking to get his hands on one. I was hoping to see if he was interested. Apparently it’s rare, but I doubt $500 rare!


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