Jim Henson’s Doodle Dreams:
Inspiration for Living Life Outside the Lines
Art by Jim Henson and Text by Jim Lewis
Meredith Books, 2008, $12.95
(out of 5)
By Ryan Dosier – Everyone knows that Jim Henson was a visionary, a genius, an inspiration—an artist. But what only some appreciators of Jim Henson’s work know is that he truly was an artist; someone who doodled haphazardly, scribbling the things that just couldn’t escape his bustling mind. It’s probably safe to say that these doodles were how Kermit, Big Bird, and the other Muppets were all first conceived.
It’s obvious, then, that a book of Jim Henson’s doodles would be released so that the world can delight in his mind’s wonderings (and wanderings). That book is Jim Henson’s Doodle Dreams. An inspirational sort of self-help book, it features pages of Henson’s doodles coupled with quips and clever captions by veteran Muppet writer, Jim Lewis. As Lewis says in his introduction to the book, “As for the words, they are my attempts to capture Jim’s spirit.” So while the words in the book were not spoken by Henson himself, Lewis feels that they capture the essence of who Jim was—just as the doodles do.
As someone who has read countless numbers of Jim Henson quotes, I can easily say that Jim Lewis has done a fantastic job of illuminating Henson’s spirit and meaning. Some of the quotes sound like things Henson would have actually said. Things like “Be interested in everything” (coupled with a doodle of a man with a butterfly net chasing a flying blue fuzzy), “Try to instigate silliness” (coupled with a goofy looking monster doodle), and “You are where you are because that’s where you need to be. And if you need to move on, you’ll move on” (partnered with a picture of a business man) all seem like quotes that could be pulled from a book written by Henson himself.
What could there possibly be to criticize about the artwork of Jim Henson? His doodles are quirky and silly—just like he was. Some of them, such as a beautiful watercolor of a turtle ascending a hill, seem deep and profound—even if they may just be quick doodles. All of the drawings are fun and irreverent and very, very Henson. A great selection of work—most of which I had never seen before—which really highlights the book.
My only complaint about the book is that it’s simply just too short. There are probably thousands of Henson’s doodles lying around in the Jim Henson Legacy’s file cabinets—surely more of them could’ve been included.
But past that one small grievance, this book is truly marvelous. Jim Henson’s Doodle Dreams is a must-own for any Muppet fan, Henson fan, or just someone in need of a smile. Jim Lewis’s words partner with Jim Henson’s artwork wonderfully—a truly commendable feat.
This book is inspiring in a way that only Jim Henson could be. His immortal words keep ringing through my mind while reading this book—“Keep believing, keep pretending” and, if I may add, keep doodling.
“Understanding other points of view keeps you fresh. You can look at the same thing one way forever, and it never seems to change. Then someone comes in and turns it upside down or inside out and suddenly, together, you’ve made something amazing.”