Posted by Don MacPherson on March 23rd, 2009
The Muppet Show #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Roger Langridge
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Deron Bennett
Editor: Paul Morrissey
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom Kids imprint
Price: $2.99 US
This is a big comic. I just have a feeling about it. I suspect this new release, as well as this week’s The Incredibles #1, will make a wider audience of comics readers take notice of Boom! Studios. This comic book will bring cartoonist Roger (Fred the Clown) Langridge to the attention of new readers and new fans. And the high quality of this comic book has the potential to really impress readers of all ages, those who grew up with the variety show upon which this is based and even those with only a passing familiarity with Jim Henson’s Muppets. As I read this, I smiled, even chortled a bit. I was impressed with the visuals and surprised by a slightly melancholy quality in the plot as well. I was struck by the feeling that Langridge’s take on The Muppet Show was just special, capturing the kind of magic and mirth that have made these characters icons of pop culture.
It’s time for another Muppet Show, and Scooter, Piggy, Robin, Gonzo and everyone else is scrambling to offer a theatre full of people another rousing and entertaining variety show. But tonight, something’s a little bit off. The gang’s fearless leader, Kermit, isn’t quite feeling like himself. His head’s stuck in the past, and when Kermit has an off night, the entire cast is going to have an off night. Everyone pitches in and tries to cheer Kermit up, but only one Muppet knows just what Kermit needs to do to snap out of his funk.
Roger Langridge isn’t a completely stranger to the world of work-for-hire comics and telling stories featuring well-known characters. He’s done work for Marvel that was a lot of fun, for example, but The Muppet Show is leaps and bounds beyond what super-hero fans have seen from him before. He captures the look and spirit of the Muppets incredibly well, but he still brings his own interpretation to bear as well. He brings a much more organic look to the Muppets. They don’t look like puppets, but like cartoony creatures. It’s most apparent when one looks at his take on Gonzo. There’s a certain flair and personality at play that puts me in mind of Sergio (Groo) Aragones’s cartooning as well.
Langridge’s script is a lot of fun, and at times, he’s a genius when it comes to handling these characters and their inherent humor. I laughed myself silly as I read — aloud — his dialogue for the Swedish Chef. The ending is schmaltzy, yes, but it’s effective and consistent with what we’ve seen from these characters at times in the past. The story’s climax and denouement will no doubt put some of us older readers in mind of The Muppet Movie and “The Rainbow Connection.”
Langridge does an exceptional job here, especially when one consider that he reproduces the classic feel of The Muppet Show without the benefit of music, a laugh track or the customary “guest host.” On the latter point, I think it’d be fun if a future issue managed to incorporate such a host, and since this is a comic book, maybe Boom! could strike a deal with another comics publisher who could allow another character to join the Muppets on stage.
At a time when a lot of comics fans are lamenting Marvel’s and DC’s decisions to bump up prices of many of their monthly comics to $3.99 US each, you have to give Boom! Studios credit for pricing its new kids line at $2.99 when most of its individual issues ring it at $3.99.
Maybe I just gave in to an overwhelming wave of nostalgic warmth. Maybe memory has blinded me to the notion that this is just another ordinary comic book. But even if that’s the case, I would imagine others will be similarly moved and tickled as well. Expect the first printing of this issue to sell out quickly, so make a point of getting a copy as soon as you can — not for potential investment, but simply because you really shouldn’t wait to indulge your inner child. And for those who still have that outer-child shell, you shouldn’t wait to introduce them to the weird world of Kermit and his cast at the Muppet Theatre. 9/10