Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 328 (12/28) -- The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion by Langridge and Mebberson

Roger Langridge's Muppet Show comics -- there have been three previous volumes, all of which are very good -- showed that there really aren't any art forms that can't be mashed into each other, given the right creator and enough energy. Because, let's face it: turning a half-hour musical TV show starring a bunch of puppets into a comic book doesn't really make a lot of sense on its face. But Langridge deeply understands the old-vaudeville, "let's put on a show!" sensibility of the old Muppet TV show, and even has the very unlikely ability to pull off songs on the comics page.

The fourth book, Family Reunion, collects the first storyline completely illustrated by someone other than Langridge; he only provided the covers this time out. (Though one of the issues collected in the third collection was by a different artist.) Amy Mebberson draws a fine Muppet -- she's probably closer to the model sheets than Langridge -- but her work isn't quite as expressive and idiosyncratic as Langridge's. She's a perfectly acceptable Muppet artist, but Langridge was something better -- he drew the Muppets as if he'd just invented them and all of their adventures.

So this series is fun and deeply entertaining...but slightly less so than the previous, all-Langridge, stories. The entire crew is back in their rebuilt theater after the escapades of The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson and On the Road, and things presumably would be expected to settle back to normal. But there's no "normal" when it comes to the Muppet Show, and so a procession of minor characters return -- Scooter's twin Skeeter, Miss Piggy's dim nephews Randy and Andy, Fozzie's mother, and Kermit's nephew Robin (who supposedly works in the theater with everyone else, though we only see him during his story) -- to complicate things.

(There's also a not-entirely-explained framing story, in which a godlike Statler and Waldorf play a bizarre hybrid board game with the Muppets for pieces, but it stays a frame story, and is only the slightest excuse for a explanation of the events.)

Langridge has recently announced that he's nearing the end of his Muppets work -- though that announcement also mentions that the story he's working on currently, his last Muppets work for now, is one he's drawing as well -- which might lead some readers to examine this story closely for signs of fatigue. It's not as zany as the last couple of storylines, true, but this is the "back to normal" story to begin with, so that's what it's supposed to be. Aside from preferring Langridge's art (which may be a personal quirk), these issues are just as fun and Muppety as all of his previous work on the series, so I wouldn't say there was any reason not to want him to keep telling Muppet stories as long as he wanted to. (And, if he doesn't want to, that just means that I need to dig out some non-licensed Langridge work as soon as possible.)

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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