Muppet Comic Mondays: The Muppet Show Comic Book #5 – Family Reunion

James Gannon –
The Muppet Show Comic’s Family Reunion arc has been full of surprises, and it’s only been two issues so far. First, we get the return of Scooter’s long lost sister, now we get our first Muppets Tonight characters in the series. Since no one here is related to Johnny, Sal, Pepe, Dr. Van Neuter, or Mulch, unfortunately it’s Andy and Randy Pig. Piggy’s Nephews that haven’t been long nor lost enough. But you’ll still want this issue anyway. Trust me.

The difference between Skeeter and the pigs is simple. Skeeter is a fan favorite, and her absence in any media besides Muppet Babies has been the subject of fan fiction, fan art, and all that other stuff with the word “fan” in it. Andy and Randy Pig are on the opposite end of the spectrum. While they were initially created for Muppet Classic Theater, they were absorbed into Muppets Tonight. There, the characters were basically the standard dumb characters acting dumb and making jokes about how dumb they are. Roger Langridge’s first challenge in this arc was to develop the adult personality of a Muppet Babies character. Now he took on the much more difficult challenge of making Andy and Randy funny. Let’s see how he did, shall we?

After mishearing a (justifiably) nasty comment from Piggy, her nephews accept an invitation to come to the theater for a week long visit. To keep them underfoot, Kermit pulls the ultimate act of self sacrifice for Piggy, giving those klutzy morons work to keep them busy. Right there you can tell Kermit has deep feelings for Piggy. With those two in any position, the whole theater could burn down. If you’re wondering, yes… Skeeter is in this issue too. She plays a very pivotal role, actually. The Pig brothers decide that she’s a genius after she’s able to open doors they can’t. And I mean that literally. The plot eventually shifts to Andy and Randy feeling they need to show Piggy how much they appreciate her and her “invitation” by getting her a gift, but not before earning the money for one. Langridge attempted something here that the Muppets Tonight writers didn’t. They turned from one note jokes to actual feeling characters in this story, even though they keep all their idiot screw up traits from the opening introduction to the closing number.

I would say that Langridge was pretty successful in making the characters personable and even funny in some parts, and that’s a tall order for characters the entire fan base hates. There’s also a subtle cleverness in the writing, hinting that the events of this issue takes place in the realm of the Muppet Show, as opposed to after Muppets Tonight. Only Piggy knows the extent of pain and disaster they can bring, Kermit knowing only through stories. I also noticed how this issue’s A cover has dialogue to help re-establish the characters for the casual Muppet fan. Seems that sort of thing has been avoided till now.

While some of us will find it amazing that a couple of Muppets Tonight characters actually got into this series (Pepe and Andy and Randy were drawn in the backgrounds before), I was more amazed by what else was in this issue. While we have another great Pigs in Space, a Swedish Chef and all that, this issue marks the first appearance of Bobby Benson and his Baby Band. The entire appeal of those characters is that they can play musical numbers with toy pianos and kazoos. Not a bad little gag, but it doesn’t sound like it would work in comics. But we all know what kind of thick skin and daringness Langridge takes to these comics. Not only does he put them in a great number that works in this format (“The Girl with the Goo Goo Eyes”) but he improves upon the source material, making a skit a lot more interesting than the Baby Band segments from the show. If you’re still disgusted by the very idea that Andy and Randy, check this issue out for those great Muppet Show skits.

You know I always gush about the artwork, so I’ll cut it quick here. While I love the usual Muppet Show Comic’s crazy art, Roger and Amy make a great writing and artistic team. Her artwork has becomes even better with each passing issue, drawing some nice little background gags all over the issue (Like Bunsen looking into Big V’s gaping maw with a flashlight in the opening splash panel). All the while, it seems that something gets freed up, making the writing better than normal. Can’t wait to see who’s family member comes back next issue.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

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