Welcome to The Muppet Mindset’s first installment of Muppet Comic Mondays! Every Monday, a new review of one of the fantastic Muppet comic books from BOOM! Studios will be posted here on the blog. Once I run out of weekly comics to review, this will become Muppet Comic Monthly–but until then, why don’t we get things started?
The Muppet Show Comic Book: Issue 1 of 4
Ryan Dosier – The Muppet Show has often been regarded as the greatest family television program of all time. In its prime, Jim Henson’s opus was broadcast in over 100 countries around the world. It’s no wonder, then, that The Muppet Show still has wide, outstanding appeal. There’s a Muppet for everyone to love, a song for everyone to sing along to, and a joke for everyone to laugh at. With the show’s release on DVD, a whole new generation of fans has grown to laugh and love while Kermit and the gang try to put on a show.
While the cameras have been turned off in the Muppet Theater since 1981, comic book artist and writer Roger Langridge (of “Fred the Clown” comic acclaim) convinces us to believe that the show never stopped. How does he do this? With BOOM! Studios’ “The Muppet Show Comic Book.” Starting out as a comic strip idea in the now-defunct Disney Adventures children’s magazine, Disney decided to revive the Muppets in comic form—this time in their own book.
“Kermit’s Story,” the first issue of the now-ongoing series of comics was released in March 2009.
As the title implies, “The Muppet Show Comic Book” features a direct transfer of the classic Vaudevillian television show onto the comic page. It’s as if the cameras switched off and the cartoonist switched on. The comic even starts with a Muppet News Flash, starring everyone’s favorite unfortunate Newsman. He reveals that “The Muppet Show is back on the air in a new format, that of the so-called ‘comic book.’” (As if we couldn’t already tell that.)
The premiere issue focuses on Kermit the Frog as he pines for the sweet stench of the swamp air. Robin, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the Muppets try their best to make him realize that he is home.
The comic also features onstage acts mixed in with the backstage antics. Acts featured in this issue include, “Muppet News Flash,” the “musical” number “Bang, Boom, Splat and POW,” a Kermit news sketch on Koozebane—“Close Encounters of the Worst Kind,” The Swedish Chef, Pigs in Space, and a final song performed by Kermit.
The plot’s ending is very satisfactory and balances the off-the-wall tone of the comic with some classic Muppet sappiness.
Langridge really knows what he’s doing in this department. The whole “atmosphere” of the theater feels as if Jim and the gang were there doing it themselves. Everything clicks (and explodes) just like it did on the show. It all works, and Langridge should be commended for producing such a good “feeling” comic.
The true highlight of this comic series is the writing. It’s simply amazing that Roger Langridge, who had never worked or written for the Muppets before this, can capture the voice and the heart of each and every character so beautifully. Even more amazing is the fact that even minor characters, some who haven’t been heard from in years, are all written perfectly—as if Jerry Juhl himself wrote them.
The Muppet Newsman is deliciously punny, Statler and Waldorf are flawless, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Pops (yes, Pops), the Electric Mayhem, Rowlf, Fozzie, Robin, Scooter—everyone is written perfectly. There wasn’t one moment while reading when I scratched my head and thought to myself, “So-and-so wouldn’t say that.” The writing in this 21-page comic book is better and more in-character than the 105-minute Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.
What amazes me about this is how Langridge includes “musical” numbers. They’re written with such clever lyrics that each one is so incredibly easy to visualize as an actual sketch on the show.
Also of note about this comic is the way Langridge ties in the sweet, heart-warming ending after all the zaniness of the show. It’s a great moment that leaves you with a loving feeling of Muppety goodness.
The art of this comic has become the most controversial and argued part. Scooter now has teeth, Gonzo’s eyelids are on both sides of his eyes, and Robin has jaw problems. At one point, Gonzo even looked like a buzzard (in a bad way). Yes, the art is off-model, but so are the Muppets.
Jim Henson’s vision was for the whole world to be accepted as one, no matter how crazy or distinct you are—and Langridge’s art is just that, crazy and distinct. It stands out as being delightfully Muppety—no matter how many cheesy grins Scooter shows off with his pearly whites. All of the characters look enough like themselves to be distinguished as such, and they all have wacky facial expressions that add to the comedy.
While the art is not copied straight from “The Muppet Style Guide,” it’s a welcome change to see a fresh new take on the characters after suffering through so many stale old poser puppet pictures (say that three times fast) and poser puppet picture paintings (say that five times fast).
This comic is an incredible start to what’s sure to be a bright future. The Muppet Show Comic Book is now on its sixth issue (The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #2), and shows no sign of stopping. In fact, BOOM! Studios recently announced that it would become an ongoing story, and stop renumbering the issues after every four.
Kermit’s Story is a highlight because it shows the humble beginnings of Langridge to the Muppet world. It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s Muppety, and it’s heart-warming. Everything a classic episode of The Muppet Show should be—and that’s how I see these comics; as classic episodes of The Muppet Show brought to us by the fantastic Roger Langridge.
Pick up a copy of The Muppet Show Comic Book: Kermit’s Story today! Or buy the first trade paperback, The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets, containing Issues 1-4.
The Muppet Show Comic Book Issue 2/4: Fozzie’s Story was released in April 2009. It focuses on Fozzie Bear trying to make the audience laugh (as always) and going to extreme measures to do so.
The Muppets featured in this issue include: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, The Muppet Newsman, Statler, Waldorf, Scooter, Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Animal, Zoot, The Swedish Chef, Rowlf, Sam Eagle, Robin the Frog, Link Hogthrob, Dr. Strangepork, Lew Zealand, Sweetums, Crazy Harry, Pops, Bunsen, Beaker, Beauregard, George the Janitor, Nigel the Conductor, J.P. Grosse, Uncle Deadly, Mildred, Male Koozebanian, Female Koozebanian, Rizzo, Gloat, The Zimmer Twins, Chickens, Toads, and other various background Muppets.