It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
On a weekly basis during the late 70s through early 80s, the above lyrics greeted viewers of Jim Henson’s venerable Muppet Show to the strange blend of cheesy comedy and variety-show parody--not to mention Statler and Waldorf’s sardonic critiques.
The show was brilliant, as it worked in every level. Adults could appreciate the humor and the witty writing while kids, of course, loved the Muppets. Who could not love Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Scooter, Beaker, Gonzo, and the rest? They don’t make television like that anymore.
Yet, they do make comic books like that, or at least the BOOM Kids! line of comics now delivers an all-ages book that approaches the look and feel of the show with incredible dexterity thanks to the excellent artistic and writing duties handled by Roger Langridge.
The Muppet Show Comic Book: Muppet Mash delivers a collection of stories originally published as single issues #8-11. As a collected edition, it is a tour de force--a wonderful 100-page mixture of nostalgia, comedy, and visual storytelling. Bonus: The protagonist in the first tale is Gonzo!
The opening chapter’s premise? As ridiculous as any concocted on one of the program’s original skits: Gonzo has returned from a vacation in Transylvania, and the rest of the Muppets suspect he’s turned into a vampire! This development coincides with the transformation of the television show’s set as several horror motifs are brought into the design. Kermit, ever the consummate show runner explains, “It was Scooter’s idea, he’s been keeping an eye on the movie industry, he says vampires are all the rage.”
From this simple-yet-witty premise ensues a myriad of vampire gags, corny puns, and references to creatures of the night. Just like in the show, some of the gags don’t completely land, but within the framework of The Muppet Show, they work beautifully to enhance the narrative and the satirical nature of the proceedings. It’s just so much darned fun. The Swedish Chef even makes an appearance with requisite recipes including (what else?) garlic.
The rest of the book delivers a theme for every chapter: the second set of stories deals with the misadventures of Calistoga Cleo--a send off on Cleopatra--and there’s a clever spoof on the “Bride of Frankenstein” delivered in the style of the Muppets. Ongoing “skits” include “Link Hogthrob: Monster Smasher” and “Muppet Labs” which makes sense, given Beaker and Scooter are two of the most popular and beloved Muppets.
The execution of the comic, from a visual standpoint is flawless. The vivid coloring and the graphic designers’ work and lettering all contribute to the enterprise to ensure the frivolous tone of the comic, but they never deviate from the design of the characters. There is a lot of work that went into these comics, and it shows.
From the opening splash page to a cleverly crafted sequence with poetry-spouting garbage men, the comic never fails to deliver the laughs--or at list the smiles. One can almost hear Kermit’s voice as he speaks with Piggy. It is apparent through every chapter that this is a tribute to that wonderful show.
Long live Jim Henson’s Muppets; they are a throwback to an era of creativity and innocence no longer with us, but their legacy of putting smiles on people’s faces remains intact.
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