Jarrod Fairclough – When Disney announced their adult Muppet coloring book way back in September, I was a little dubious. While some pop culture characters lend themselves to intricate pencil work, The Muppets are fairly cartoony in the first place, so when a preview copy landed on my doorstep six weeks ago, I was curious to see how the illustrations would set it apart from any other generic kids coloring book. And after opening it, I can’t say I think Disney tried too hard to differentiate them at all.
That’s not to say the illustrations in this book aren’t great – many of them are! However rather than give characters a lot of detail (which, admittedly would be very difficult to pull off) Disney have instead just put together some fairly simple drawings with some fairly bland generic backgrounds that look a little more like you’d find in these sorts of books.
Let’s look at the pros first – for a start, Disney made a Muppet adult coloring book, so that’s a win in any book. I just like it when Disney remembers these characters exist.
A lot of the artwork is great, even if it is a little ‘clip art’ like, with characters like Zoot and even Lips getting an appearance. Fan favorites like Uncle Deadly and Walter make small cameos in one or two pictures, and a lot of it is filled with the same five characters in different poses; Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and Animal. There’s a few images in the book I’m not sure we’ve seen before, and I loved the fact that Statler and Waldorf get a fair few pages to themselves. You’ll get to see Beaker in an Elvis costume and Fozzie as a wizard, plus Piggy as the Statue of Liberty, which looks very reminsicent of her role in MuppetVision* 3D.
Then there’s the cons – for a start, this book advertises itself as ‘100 Images to Inspire Creativity’. They’d be lucky if they made 75, because quite a few of the images are repeated, especially the generic ‘pattern only’ pages. You’ll see the same couple of Fozzie drawings in multiple places, and as far as I can tell, one page was just a zoomed in version of another. I get that all of Disney’s ‘adult’ coloring books have 100 images, but surely they could have found another couple of drawings to fill it out a little.
There’s also some images we’ve seen before, like an illustrated version of the poster for the 2011 film The Muppets, and another from The Muppet Show era that features all the characters. Another picture has been copied from the 80’s book ‘The Muppets On The Road, and another from the cover of Muppets at Sea, which frankly isn’t great. While some pictures are well done, others like that picture feel like the artist just kind of gave up halfway through, which was disappointing. Some characters were so haphazardly drawn that I couldn’t even tell who they were, while others were crystal clear, with no real pattern to who got to be drawn well. Some just felt like photoshop filters that you’d find in one of those rip-off books in a $1 store, not an official Disney product. The background images don’t always relate to anything Muppety, and many seem to be there just to make up the numbers.
…Also, on the cover Scooter is wearing short shorts, and he looks like he should be roller skating to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham!. That bothers me more than it should.
While I definitely enjoyed some of the coloring I did in this book, I’m not sure I’ll finish it anytime soon. However if you’re a lover of these sorts of coloring books, it’d be a no brainer to pick it up. As for the rest of you, this would make a great ‘stocking stuffer’ come Christmas time, or a cool present to give your 10 year old niece who wants to know who that frog is that you’re always going on about. It’s cool that Disney released this book, I just wish they’d gone to a little more effort. There’s plenty of great intricate art out there by people like James Carroll or Kenny Durkin or Chris Smigliano that would have been perfect for a book like this.
If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself or that niece, you can buy Art of Coloring: The Muppets on Amazon here!