Thoughts On / Images From the Upcoming Muppet Show Comic Book
With all of the promised and then canceled Muppet projects over the past few years, fans are rightfully excited about the actually happening Muppet Show comic book. It looks like it’ll be a four-issue arc revisiting the Muppets at the peak of the televisual fame. This is a good thing. But some art has been leaked/released/whatever recently, and I have a few concerns.
I’ll share them after the jump.
Let’s start with this image, as it highlights both the good and bad of the artist’s style. (Why am I only discussing art and not story or dialogue? Because the latter will invariably be out of context, you silly billy.) Dr. Bunsen Honeydew is, without question, fucking perfect. He’s exactly what a cartoonized version of the puppet should look like. He’s true to the original design and yet obviously not just a boring recreation. I especially love his double chin, which was indeed a fixture of the puppet but wasn’t quite as obvious as it is here. It’s good. It’s an interesting detail and it makes this rendering stand out at the same time it endears it to sharp-eyed fans.
Beaker, on the other hand…well…it’s tough to be critical of a character like Beaker. Surely the limits of his manic attitude were dictated by the fact that the puppet was only so articulated. So while this little doodle here might seem like Beaker is too off his head with terror, it’s not miles away from what we imagined the character was feeling on the show. Still, those limitations of mania were what made us like the character. If Beaker were too bananas on the show it’d have been off-putting. We liked him because he actually seemed to be making an effort to keep his (understandable) fear on the inside. The poor guy…he was just trying to act as normally as he could. Here he comes off as kind of…a mental patient.
Again, though, that’s Beaker. It might be a slight overkill, but it’s a single frame of a one-joke character, so let’s move on.
Gah. Where to begin? Well, let’s start with Scooter. Scooter looks great, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite Muppet. He looks…right. I see that picture and I think, “Yep, that’s a cartoon version of the Scooter puppet alright.” The fact that his eyes are actually part of his glasses is a nice touch. I love him. I have no quarrel with Scooter.
But Kermit…Jesus. Why is he so…sharp? It looks like his upper lip could put your eye out. He somehow looks even more fake than the puppet ever did. Shouldn’t the rendering here work in the other direction? On The Muppet Show, Kermit was a puppet surrounded by real props and often real people, so of course he’d seem a bit artificial from time to time. Here, in a comic strip, though, he is just a cartoon, and so is everything and everyone else. Why does he seem out of place? He doesn’t even look like his fellow Muppets. I know Kermit wasn’t the most detailed Muppet and so it might be difficult to “find” something in him to make the drawing interesting, but for God’s sake he’s one of the main characters and arguably the first Muppet anyone thinks of ever. It would have been worth putting some more thought into this design. I don’t care how many times you need to sit down at your drafting table and start over…it’s Kermit the Motherfucking Frog. If you can’t make him interesting, why even do the Muppets?
And Gonzo? Oh…oh Gonzo. When, exactly, did you become a toucan? I mean, alright, maybe the artist wasn’t satisfied with the “He’s an alien!” explanation we got from Muppets in Space. That’s okay…nobody else in the world was, either. In my mind Gonzo is still a “whatever,” as dictated with hilarious disinterest in The Great Muppet Caper. (The “weirdo” appellation from Muppet Babies works well, too.) But…I don’t know. Dismissing the alien origin is one thing…assigning an avian one is something else all together. I have to admit…I’m pretty disappointed with a lot of the designs so far…not the least because Gonzo, like Kermit, is one of the main fucking Muppets.
I have no complaints about Piggy in this strip at all. I just included it for two reasons: 1) to prove that yes, I actually do like things, and 2) to reassure everybody (including myself) that the artist does know how to draw Muppets, and we shouldn’t write him off yet.
This Piggy (in her Pigs in Space commander outfit, as if you didn’t know…) is just fucking beautiful. Talk about being true to the original while bringing her to life in new ways. Major kudos on the classic hairstyle, too, rather than the fucking Rachel cut she’s been cursed with for the past few years. This is one lovely Miss Piggy.
We’ve got razor-lipped Kermit again, for some reason, and a pretty wimpy rendering of Piggy, but she’s pretty much in the background so I can understand that. Scooter, again, looks great for what he is, and it’s nice to see Sweetums in some capacity.
But what the fuck are those other two characters? One of them looks vaguely like a miscellaneous blue Muppet from Sesame Street, but it has a mustache…and I don’t think too many Muppets have facial hair. He’s also just kind of staring dead-eyed into the camera and leaning off to the side, leading me to believe he might be having a stroke while Kermit deals with the showbiz folk in the foreground. Well, whatever, he’s not really my concern here…
…my concern is the squinty-eyed pink fellow staring at the back of Kermit’s head. What the fuck is that supposed to be? It doesn’t look remotely like any Muppet I’ve ever seen before. In fact, it looks like Popeye’s nephew. Is he supposed to be one of the “real” people on The Muppet Show? He seems entirely out of place…not even consistent with the art style of the rest of the characters.
Oh well. It’s tough to judge now…and I look forward to the comic being released…but, I don’t know. I mean, a few artistic design choices…hey, I can overlook what I don’t agree with. But with such a shitty Kermit and Gonzo with an inexplicable new beak, I kind of wish the artist gave himself a better quality check.
Interestingly there’s no Fozzie to be seen…though maybe that’s for the best. He’s probably been reimagined as a penguin.
EDIT: These images were obtained from Tough Pigs, a genuinely excellent (and very opinionated) Muppet site. I had assumed they were more or less common around the web and so neglected to source them (a sorry excuse, I realize), so apologies to both Tough Pigs and my readers here. It was unprofessional on my part—pure and simple.