Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 80 (4/24) -- The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson by Roger Langridge

Now, that's a long title! The second collection of Roger Langridge "Muppet Show" comics picks up right after the first one (which I reviewed in the middle of a long monthly round-up), and continues Langridge's eerily accurate evocation of the late '70s Muppet Show. As I said the first time, there was no reason to expect that this would work: the TV show was an odd, lumpy concoction in the first place, made up equally of old fashioned showbiz/British music-hall razzmatazz and quirky humor, cemented together by a cast of fine performers and their very expressive characters. A comic book can't rely on performers, or musical numbers, or puppetry, or the original Muppet Show's reliance on then-famous guest stars. And, yet, Langridge did it -- his first book felt like an adaptation of particularly good shows from that old series (though completely without any guest stars), and this second continues that evocation while also adding a stronger plotline.

Once again, we're at the Muppet Theater, wherever that may be. The chance discovery of a map -- from the titular Peg-Leg Wilson -- leads the rats and others to start searching the theater for his hidden treasure. Meanwhile, someone whom the reader is sure is not Kermit is wandering around in leather glasses and dark sunglasses, making flippant replies to everyone else's questions and requests. Animal has become unaccountably quiet and civilized, due to an unlikely experiment, though he still doesn't speak. And, all the while, the usual Muppet bits -- Pigs in Space, Bear on patrol, Professor Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and various musical numbers (which, most particularly, should not work in comics, and yet do) -- continue, interspersed with the backstage story, again just like the old TV show.

Langridge continues to draw the Muppet characters not quite on model -- they're very close, but subtly Langridge-ized (particularly Fozzie). Even more subtly, Langridge's versions of the Muppets have somewhat more realistic facial expressions -- since they're pen drawings, and not lumps of fur and felt -- that adds to the sense that these are real characters that we should care about. (Despite their clearly closed-interior half-moon mouths and other artifacts of their puppet origins.) His page layouts still have his own comics version of the music-hall/vaudeville energy of the TV Muppet Show -- not to say that Langridge hasn't had that energy and flair for a longer time, since he has -- giving the whole enterprise a rollicking air.

The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson is published as if it were for kids, though I would be happily surprised to find out that its current audience was primarily too young to drive (as opposed to those of my generation who were kids for the original Muppet Show). On the other hand, I am going to pass this on to my own boys, and I expect they'll enjoy it. Come to think of it, I never asked them what they thought of the first volume....
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment