Interview with Grace Randolph
Conducted by Ryan Dosier
GRACE: I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying Muppet Peter Pan! It’s always a little nerve-wracking working on something that has already been established for many years. You know people are going to be picking it up with certain expectations, so you want to meet those expectations and – if you can pull it off – exceed them!RYAN: Let’s get started, shall we? How did Muppet Peter Pan come about? Did you pitch the idea to Disney/BOOM! and then run with it? Or was it pitched by someone else and they just asked you to write it?
GRACE: Paul Morrissey was my editor over at TOKYOPOP and when he moved over to BOOM! Kids to take over the Muppet books, he asked me to pitch some ideas. One was Muppet Peter Pan. He liked it, Disney liked it, and so it was off to the races! And when Aaron Sparrow came aboard as the new Muppet Editor he really liked what I was doing so it was a seamless transition. The book is as fun to make as it is – hopefully – to read!
RYAN: What is the casting process for a comic book like this like? Does Disney approach you with an idea of which Muppets they’d like to portray which characters? Or is there some sort of creative leeway on your part?
GRACE: I’m happy to say that I cast the entire book myself. Of course, the major roles are discussed in the pitch, so Disney knew what I wanted to do before they approved it. Casting-wise, I’m most proud of Sam The Eagle as the narrator and Janice as Wendy. I think a large role like that really allows the character to come into her own.
RYAN: Is it difficult writing somewhat minor Muppet characters like Janice, Scooter, and Bean Bunny in the starring roles as the Darling Children? The casting is superb, but it must be hard to find the right “voice” for a character like Bean due to such a lack of source material.
GRACE: Well, to me Bean will always be the star of THE MUPPET SHOW 3D at Disney Hollywood Studios! He’s cute and spunky, so I have a lot of fun writing him. I enjoy finding each character’s voice and trying to be true to that. If there isn’t a lot of source material, I try to think about what the character stands for and what image they project. And the great thing about the minor characters is that I can flesh them out a little. Like I said, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Janice.
RYAN: Tell us about Amy Mebberson, the artist for Muppet Peter Pan. What is it like working with her on this project? How would you describe her beautiful artwork? (Keep in mind, the word perfect can be used.)
GRACE: Amy Mebberson is the perfect artist for the Muppets! Her renditions of the characters are pure perfection, and her attention to “puppet anatomy” is perfect-a-mundo!
RYAN: Muppet Peter Pan is far from your first job in the comic book industry. What have some of your past projects been?
GRACE: Well my first big break was at DC Comics with Justice League Unlimited #41, starring the Joker and Harley Quinn! I then went on to do a lot of work for TOKYOPOP, starting with an entry in their Pilot Program which I’m happy to say was the most popular one with readers. I then did a number of short stories for their Warcraft and StarCraft anthologies.
RYAN: Where do you draw your inspiration for writing from (either Muppet-related or not)?
GRACE: Hmm, well, I’d say I write the kind of comics I’d want to read. I’m a big comic book reader and I know what it’s like to read an amazing comic – and what it’s like to read a crappy one. So whenever I’m sitting at my computer writing a comic, I imagine what it’s like to read that issue as I go along.
RYAN: I know in another interview you mentioned that you have your very own Muppet Whatnot. Tell us about him. I hear he made a brief cameo in issue #2.
GRACE: Yes, Josh! I made him at FAO Schwartz in New York City and he’s named after the guy who put him together for me. Muppet Robin Hood writer Tim Beedle suggested I give him a cameo in the book so I sent his picture to Amy. He did indeed make it into issue #2 – he’s the pirate with glasses when we first see Captain Hook’s ship, The Saucy Pullet!
RYAN: Were you at the D23 Disney fan convention in Anaheim in September? If so, tell us about what seemed to be a truly incredible experience.
GRACE: Aside from comic books, I’m a HUGE Disney fan. So I jumped at the chance to attend D23 where I was at the BOOM! Studios’ booth promoting Muppet Peter Pan. I think it’s a good idea for Disney to have its own convention for fans – their own San Diego Comic Con if you will. And boy was it chock full of great Disney news and behind the scenes information! I’m a D23 member and I highly recommend joining. They publish a quarterly D23 magazine (which you can also buy in Disney Stores) and I believe that the spring issue will have a whole section on D23 for those who missed it.
RYAN: You seem to be a huge Muppet fan, just like myself, and that is fantastic. How did you become a fan of the Muppets?
GRACE: When I was a kid it’s something my parents thought I might like, so they introduced me to the show, etc. The Muppets stand out because their humor is very adult. A lot of times people think you need to dumb stuff down for kids, which is ridiculous. The Muppets don’t talk down to kids, which is one of the reasons I think those same kids are still fans when they grow-up.
RYAN: Who is your favorite Muppet?
GRACE: I really like Sam The Eagle. I find his Americana humor hilarious! But after writing Muppet Peter Pan, I’d say I’ve developed a soft spot for all the Muppets I’ve written. When you have to think like a Muppet, you become a Muppet. Or at least understand them a whole lot better!
RYAN: What about your favorite Muppet production?
GRACE: Hands down, A Muppet Christmas Carol. I love that movie and I think it’s really very clever. I’m always impressed that Michael Caine was so game.
RYAN: What are the chances of seeing Angus McGonagle the Gargling Gargoyle appear in Muppet Peter Pan?
GRACE: Hehe – sorry! There are no buildings in Neverswamp!
RYAN: Are you excited for all of the incredible Muppet projects being worked on by Disney (The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made, a new Halloween special, etc.)?
GRACE: At the D23 Expo I attended the Muppet Panel and let me tell you, there is just a ton of wonderful Muppet stuff on the way! Everyone will get to experience the Muppet Renaissance in the next year or so.
RYAN: Without giving away too much, what sort of fun surprises can readers expect from Muppet Peter Pan?
GRACE: More awesomeness.
RYAN: Do you have any other plans to work with the Muppets in the future?
GRACE: I have some pitches in, but of course I’m looking forward to the upcoming Muppet King Arthur!
RYAN: Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring Muppet writers or comic book writers who want to get involved in the industry?
GRACE: Nobody is going to hand you a writing job. You’ve got to get out there and be persistent, professional, and polite. I suggest going to conventions and meeting the people who would hire you – and be sure you’ve got the goods to back up your pitch.
RYAN: Thank you so much for doing an interview with us, Grace. It’s an honor and a privilege! Where can fans find out more about you and your work?
GRACE: It was my pleasure! I’ve gotten such great feedback on Muppet Peter Pan from readers and it’s meant a lot. If anyone would like to know more about the other stuff I’m working on, please visit my website www.gracerandolph.com.
RYAN: Fantastic. Thank you again!
Remember folks, go get yourself a copy of Muppet Peter Pan! Issues 1 and 2 are available today online or in a comic book store near you! Be sure to read The Muppet Mindset’s interview with the other half of the Muppet Robin Hood team by checking out our interview with artist Amy Mebberson!