Monday, November 17, 2008

A Muppet Show Comic Update

Things are moving along on BOOM Studio's upcoming series of Muppet comic books. Boom plans to launch the new line in March 2009. The comics will launch next year with an initial four-issue miniseries written by Roger Langridge. As you may know, Langridge had previously created Muppet comics for the now defunct Disney Adventure magazine. The debut miniseries will be based on "The Muppet Show" and is said to be very much in the same vein as the show -- with a lot of skits and gags. Several of the key people involved in development and approvals for the comics were also involved in the production of the original Muppet Show. The publisher has decided to issue several variant covers on the first issue - you can check out a sample of Langridge's preliminary penciling for one such cover on the right.

After the initial four-part miniseries, Langridge will be working with various writers and artists to create future Muppet miniseries. BOOM's second batch of Muppet comics are said to feature the Muppets in parodies of classic literary works – such as King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the Three Musketeers.

The new comics are sure to garner a lot of attention from Muppet fans when they arrive early next; and you can be sure that I will keep you updated with more information on these upcoming comic books as soon as more details become available.


Dwayne said...

This is Great news! I was just thinking about this the other day,and wondered how they where comming.

Fletcher Bird said...

That looks fantastic! I really liked Langridge's Fred the Clown and think his style is gelling really nicely with the muppet world - there's chaos in that image and I'm really glad someone with a unique style (and someone who has a quirky sense of pacing and staging) is working on this rather than a stock-pose-copier.

Roll on March!

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the style at all. I'm absolutely fine with stylizing the Muppets, but not to the extreme of getting basic characteristics plain wrong.

Langridge should really study the characters that he's working with... Rowlf, Fozzie and Lew Zealand are probably the worst ones for me, not to speak of his choice to screw up just about every character's eyes - one of the most important features that make or break the character.

Oh, where's Michael Frith when he's needed?!

Anonymous said...

Gotta say I agree with the previous anonymous. I could accept a pretty radical "interpretation" of the Muppets graphically, but this is just too radical. Rowlf and Fozzie (at least I THINK that's who they are) are particularly nightmarish.

What bothers me is that I don't get the feeling he particularly LIKES these characters. Doesn't understand why they are appealing. I like his style in and of itself, but this really doesn't work. They look like a bunch of big-mouth-flapping freaks.

frogboy4 said...

Rowlf and Gonzo are hideous! Is there any way the fans can give this guy feedback?

I do like his page layout compositions from what I have seen and some of the characters do take to his style, but the key ones like Kermit and Fozzie really suffer in this heavy handed over stylization that leaves more fingerprints of Langridge than of the Muppets! This smacks of individual artistic narcissism rather than respect for the Muppets that Jim Henson, Michael Frith and Don Sahlin created.

By tweaking a few of the designs and insuring the correct spelling of "Wocka Wocka" NOT "Wakka Wakka" as this artist has inked in the past, I think this could be both stylized and respectful to the subject matter. Someone contact this dude before it goes to print - please!

I will say that much of the art really does shine like Janice, but THAT GONZO IS UNFORGIVABLE! If I met this guy in person I'd hurl a chicken at him for that.

This should be a vehicle for the Muppets, not for an artist to make a bigger name for himself. I do believe he can easily back up from that line if he chose to do so. Let's see if pride or quality will win out.

fletcher bird said...

Wow, that's some contrasting opinion right there...

I think we're in very dangerous ground when fans cans start undermining the evolving creative process and nitpick character by character based on one extreme pose. Gonzo is certainly no worse than the Gilchrist overly cartoonized version of the eighties, and IMO will look fine when coloured.

It is important that Kermit always stays appealing, and i'm sure that will improve as things progress, but comic artworking is such a personal medium, that I really fear that too mauch extreme, ferocious reaction will create an unhealthy paranoia in the people behind this project to stop trusting their own instincts and not let it happen at all. There is sooooo much right about that image (Scooter!!!) that i'm happy to see how things turn out in full colour, and page by page, in context of Langridge's stories.

Langridge's sense of humour has proven itself to be magnificent in the past (on his previous own-creation books) and I really think we need to give him the chance here - I for one am delighted that Disney are willing to try something slightly different for these comics in a medium that is so perfect for experimenting in.

(Oh, and Frogboy, I think we can pick out the bits of your text that are the most important for ourselves without the bold, if that's cool. It just sounds like you're shouting and possibly being much more rude than you're meaning to be :) )

Anonymous said...

I would have to say I'm on the fence on this one. Part of me wants to scream 'sacrilege' but the other part of me wants to applaud the unique approach.

I would wholeheartedly agree with with Frogboys comment about Gonzo. He resembles Cyril Sneer from the 80's TV series 'The Raccoons' not the Muppet we know and love. There are other Muppets too whose incarnations here are really...'off'.

The whole style could grow on me OR it could go the other way. Time will tell I guess!!

frogboy4 said...

Fletcher Bird.

There is something of value here and that was expressed in my other post. There were a couple of compliments in there, but I am calling a major foul on this artist from what has been shown thus far. There is a reason why Boom and Disney decided to go with character photos for the cover of the ComicCon sampler rather than any of Langride’s art housed inside.

You are obviously a fan of the artist already, but much of this work with the Muppets misses the innate charm of the characters that translated easily into the Gilchrist cartoons. I have seen bad Muppet and Henson product in the past kill future plans for better stuff so yes, it is important to emphasize fan opinion boldly or otherwise. It is presumptuous to feel that fans should just eat up anything with the Muppet label. I am known to be one of the biggest supporters of good product and giving artists and creative teams in the Muppetverse the benefit of a doubt. In fact, I am often criticized for that.

The Glichrist Gonzo design exaggerates the lines already in the puppet. That is what sets the difference. This Langridge fellow invents his own character. This is Warner Brother’s Beaky Bird not Gonzo. There has already been some art published showing more of these drawings. This seems like fan art than licensed product. I’ve provided paid work on official Gonzo product. I know it well. This isn’t even a bad interpretation of Gonzo. It isn’t Gonzo at all. And when you misspell a character’s trademarked catchphrase and worst of all – give Gonzo 4 fingers on this current rendering, it shows a gross lack of knowledge of the Muppets.

frogboy4 said...

Okay, last message I'll leave on this thread for a while. Just wanted to say that the artist is email accessible through his official site that can be easily googled. I sent off a friendly email to ask questions, voice concerns and offer a couple of unsolicited suggestions. He could read it, he could spam it. Either way I will purchase the first copy and request to review it over at Muppet Central where I will give it a fair shake whatever happens. I do want this comic to be a success and I would like to see the Muppets look good too.

Dwayne said...

I think the main thing is that the Muppets are getting out there with some quality things. I think that this Comic will really draw another group of people to the Muppets. It may also lead to more things like trading cards and games.

Alex Hart said...

I think the art is dynamite. Yes, Langridge's style comes through very strongly, but the style fits the chaos and silliness of the Muppets. His Muppets have a lot of life and energy, and still look like puppets, to boot. It's perfectly clear who is who, and I think a project like this needs an artist who can bring a lot of himself to the work, rather than just focusing on the likenesses and phoning in everything else. (If you've ever picked up any licensed comics before, you probably know that the best ones are always the ones that allow the writers and artists the most freedom, rather than the ones that try to adhere strictly to the property.)

I'm Jon, just a guy. I try to smell good. said...

As a cartoonist and puppet maker I really like the style of the art. And I think it's great to see a different take on the looks of the characters...
And it sure beats the art on the old Marvel Comics adaptions of Muppets Take Manhatten!!!

frogboy4 said...

I will have to agree with Jon's take on the old Marvel stuff. That was pretty bad. I remember Rowlf being purple in the Manhattan issue.

I do believe in creative freedom, but not in writing a total blank artistic check. Artists do need some editing, rules and boundaries. That is what makes for creative problem solving. I wonder how much this will be filtered through Disney and the Muppets Studio.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, what an awful take on the Muppets!

Fozzie is plain HIDEOUS with that wide flapped thing of a mouth and completely different eyes (no lids), and not only does Rowlf have a similar problem with his eyes and ugly wide mouth, his nose is turned by 90°, and he sports a TONGUE!!! Holy crap!

And frogboy4 is right, what's with Gonzo having four fingers all of a sudden, and again what seems to be a common problem with Langridge, no eye lids?!

Then what's with Scooter's teeth? Beaker's humongous head and 80's supermodel do? Bunsen's comparably small anime-style noggin? Statler's overgrown side burns? And the overuse of the ring-around-the-pupil effect on Animal, Camilla, Crazy Harry and Beaker (and if we could see Sweetums behind the logo he'd probably have it too)? Ugh. Lame. I hope they'll consider adding some respectful artists down the road.

Stylizing is cool by me, as long as you show respect to the characters' characteristics.

Anonymous said...

Okay there are some things here i like, He's captured Scooter's eager to pleaseness, Piggy's man(frog) hungryness, and Robin's hyperactiveness and as for Janice, she's hot. Other bits i dont like, but i will say this for the guy. He must be a fan, when was the last time yo saw Crazy Harry or a Snowth depicted anywhere? I think its important to give the guy space to breathe, look at it like this we didnt all like every part of Studio DC live but there were parts of it that were good and charming, just as im sure there will be parts of this that are charming and some parts less so.
i dont draw, I write and osmtimes people dont like what i write but ya know, theres a reason an artist, writer, actor interprets things in a certain way

Dwayne said...

I'm Sorry but I really like what i see.

Anonymous said...

'Tis okay dude, nobody's perfect. ;)

frogboy4 said...

Probably what I should have posted in the first place ;)

I have slept on it and let the elements sink in. I was very excited about this comic initially and with much of the art that many fans criticized. Langridge's layout style is some of the best I've seen. His character style and humor are unique and can work for the Muppets. Much of it already works very well while some of the preliminary art I've seen on this is quite attractive.

The bothersome part for me is this - I still see some of these designs as an abuse of creative freedom that other artists fought hard to gain with the Muppets. Slight tweaks on a few of the key characters and a re-haul on Gonzo is mainly what this fan wants. Yes the picture featured here is small - the weirdo is even smaller and out of context but it reinforces his previous larger color designs that have popped up around the web.

Disney requiring Kermit edited out of Henson specials in order to strengthen the Muppet brand, Disney requiring unnecessary nose netting on Master Replicas Gonzo poser to insure product longevity and Henson not permitting Palisades to create a scrunched faced expression for a Kermit figure due to what they viewed as lack of context is the kind of heavy corporate control that hampers an artist.

Insuring that a drawing of Gonzo somehow resembles the character and has the correct number of fingers is not much to ask. I feel Langridge is trying to work against the grain on Gonzo's design (among a few other central characters). I think that his style can be injected into the existing form instead of eclipsing it. The very head shape is incorrect and actually an inverted form of what it should be.

I have seen many interpretations of the characters over the years from fans and professionals. Let me also admit to seeing some unsightly officially built poser images and character art sent to licensors over the years to be used as models of the characters. That seems to finally be rectified, but some of these comic extremes aren't going to help.

I'm still giving issue one a chance. I just hope to recognize enough of the characters I know and love - especially my favorite Gonzo. I don’t believe it to be nitpicky or asking too much for the artist to reign himself in a little bit. Creativity thrives on working within some level of constraint. I hope the best for this project.

Bunny said...

I'm looking forward to this so much! I am conflicted with this picture just a bit...There are a few characters in this piece that, as a Muppet fan make me cringe but as an artist who also draws the Muppets slightly stylized, makes me smile at a fresh look at them.

frogboy4 said...

I have had communication with the artist and actually do feel a little better. He was very gracious. I hope this will not require my turning a blind eye to a character or two (or three...) but I am willing to put preconceptions aside and open issue one with fresh eyes.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, this is growing on me, in a good way, still a couple of bits im not all that keen on but i like it slightly more than i did yesterday

Anonymous said...

I'm still too unhappy with so much in this image to be able get excited about this. I always really liked the freakishness and stylization in Graham Thompson's take on the Muppets (here and here), but can't quite see how Langridge's pretty rigid style would work for them. He's more of an illustrator than a comic artist, which would require more of a free hand and bolder choices in my eyes.

Matthewwave said...

Funny... I can understand people complaining that Lew and Rowlf don't look enough like Lew and Rowlf, but I think Landridge's Fozzie captures the character PERFECTLY. I think his Fozzie isn't just "accurate" -- it's GREAT.

Even with characters with such established looks, with such beloved characters (and I love the Muppets and Rowlf and Fozzie are my favorite Muppets), I agree with Fletcher Bird that there's a place for atypical styles of art. Yeah, having Rowlf be "off" throws me some, but I'm not so sure that means this version of the character is so wrong.


Anonymous said...

I recommend giving Roger Langridge a chance!

Have you seen the Muppets comics he did(in Disney Adventures? He really gets the humor of the show, the characters, the set pieces...I personally like his interpretation (I like the old comic strip too, and have been a huge fan of the show since I was a kid, btw) but I think it's best to see the ACTUAL COMIC before issuing a full critique.

For anyone who thinks Roger is more of an illustrator than a cartoonist, then I invite you to:

Andrew Farago said...

I'm really looking forward to this. Roger is one of my favorite cartoonists working today, and I can't think of anyone who's a better match for this comic than Roger.

Dwayne said...

If you go over to we have a thread going on about the comic. Frogboy (Who has shared on this froum) had sent a letter to Langridge, well he replyed and I think that what he said will help a lot of people give this a chance.

HulkSmash said...

People are nitpicking about character designs based on one picture for a title that hasn't even been released yet? Really???

Clearly, some of you never saw the old "Muppets Take Manhattan" mini series from Star Comics. The artwork was awful, and yet the Muppets seemed to survive just fine.

Any time you are dealing with something like this, there is going to be some artistic interpretatio, but it is all for the purpose of telling a story through sequential artwork. It may not be the most classic, iconic version of the character(s), but the execution of the storytelling will be the bigger factor in the success and acceptance of the book (see also: Don Rosa on "Uncle Scrooge").

I, for one, can't wait until March. I just wish this was an ongoing rather than a mini series.

frogboy4 said...

You must have missed somewhere in this very lengthy string of posts that many fans are not merely going off this one/singular image (this is why I over-bold some statements). This new cover art appears to reinforce the several other more expansive Muppet layouts released in Langridge's sampler.

Jim Henson was around in the Muppets take Manhattan days to make sure the characters remained strong in their projects, but since he left us nearly two decades ago the Muppets have been an inconsistent entertainment property. Disney and the old Muppeteers have just now formulated a realistic remedy that is just now being implemented but the brand has been quite weak for a long time. That is where the concern comes from. The Muppets have had a long journey of various ownership and direction since their golden days.

I hope this Langridge stuff will help bring the Muppets back to their former glory. I do like his stylizations for the most part but I feel several designs have gone too far down the rabbit hole. However, the artist has recently reassured the fans that the style is evolving into something at least a little more classic than what we've seen so far. Because of that I’m looking forward to this too.

frogboy4 said... contains Langridge's new press release about the Muppets along with the second variant cover. I actually like most of it. Gonzo is still quite incorrect in his nose area. The sharp shape just doesn't capture his personality at all. It is a step closer than previous incarnations and it does appear that he is attempting to get closer to the mark. I hope he arrives there before Gonzo's original comic book story.

After looking through more of his site I feel confident that the Muppets can shine under Langridge. I just hope they get there. Right now I'm just focused on Gonzo.

Anonymous said...

The revision is mostly BETTER. I thought the first drawing of Gonzo was such an "extreme" pose that it was hard to judge. Here in the revision, Gonzo just look plain wrong, far too bird-like. But the other characters are as good as the first draft or markedly better. Kermit looks warmer, Rowlf a LOT more like Rowlf, and I think I can live with this Fozzie, which DOES capture an aspect of the character nicely. And Sam is funny. Animal oddly perhaps looks a bit too well-groomed here...but anyway, I feel better about this whole project now.