Ryan Dosier - I had the great opportunity of interviewing Muppet Comic Book artist Amy Mebberson once again. For this interview, I was thrilled to have a chance to ask her about Skeeter's addition to The Muppet Show Comic Book. As always, Amy's insights are great--but don't take my word for it, read for yourself!
Another Interview with Amy Mebberson
RYAN: As everyone knows by now, you had a big role in bring Skeeter back to the Muppet world. Skeeter hasn’t been seen since Muppet Babies, so what sparked this idea of bringing her back into the Muppet mix?
AMY: It was more a case of 'Why the heck HASN'T she been around?' I adored the Muppet Babies, even though I was probably old enough at the time to worry my mother that I was still into cartoons. I always remembered Skeeter and wondered why she got left behind. In addition, a lingering problem with those of us working on the Muppet Classics comics is the alarming lack of female characters to cast. Piggy and Janice can only take you so far and Skeeter is a perfect addition to the female roster. Piggy is the Diva, Janice is the Earth Mother/Rocker Chick and Skeeter is the essential smart-alec cynical girl. We NEEDED her back.
RYAN: You mentioned on Muppet Central that you had the honor of actually designing Skeeter’s new look. How did that come about?
AMY: Very uneventfully. I'm always playing around with what-if ideas and revival designs for old, neglected cartoons and I just doodled what I thought an older Skeeter might look like next to Scooter. She pretty much just popped from my head fully-formed.
RYAN: Did you have a lot of episodes of Muppet Babies to use as references when redesigning Skeeter?
AMY: Apart from the ones permanently etched on my memory? Nope. I can play several eps verbatim in my head and recall Welker/Mandell's voice in my head instantly.My siblings and I watched that cartoon a LOT.
RYAN: How involved were The Muppets Studio folks in your design of Skeeter?
AMY: I wouldn't know, my editor is the one who deals with them. All I knew is that they were fine with the idea and didn't really have any objections or corrections to how Roger and I portrayed her.
RYAN: What has it been like working with the fantastic Roger Langridge?
AMY: Roger is a true cartoonist and a gentleman. His scripts are great and although I am very conscious of not trying to 'override' talent of his caliber, he's very open to any suggestions I might have. I really hope to meet him some time.
RYAN: Were you involved in any story discussions with Roger before or after the idea was made to bring Skeeter back?
AMY: No, not really. Again, my editor was the one who set the situation up with Roger and assigned me as the artist. Roger isn't all that familiar with Muppet Babies, so I drew a cleaner model sheet of Skeeter with a brief character profile and some of my own suggestions for her personality. He used that as a guide when writing her, I imagine.
RYAN: What were the biggest challenges of turning Skeeter into an adult?
AMY: None. As I said, she was just there waiting to hit the paper.
RYAN: How did you find inspiration for her outfit and overall look?
AMY: Well, it was pretty much the classic idea of opposites. Scooter is the yes-man and yeah, a bit of a nerd. It made perfect sense that athletic tomboy Skeeter would look identical but express a completely opposite personality with her dress and attitude.
If she wore a letter-man jacket like Scooter, it'd be ripped and covered in badges and graffiti.I think she'd probably have piercings, too, but Disney get a little skittish on things like that, so I played safe.
RYAN: Moving on from the Skeeter topic (just so this interview isn’t all about her), which did you enjoy more, drawing the Muppets as Peter Pan characters or as themselves in the theater setting?
AMY: Drawing Muppet Classics are fun, but I have to say I do prefer them in their original Muppet Show set. There, I can focus on them just being their normal funny selves rather than them masquerading as another character altogether.
RYAN: Has there been any pressure from Disney to adjust the way you draw certain Muppets? I know they’re trying to phase in a new Sam the Eagle puppet. Do the current puppet designs have an effect on what they want from your work?
AMY: No, not at all. I have never had any note from Disney asking that I change a character's look. In general, Disney have been fantastic to BOOM Kids! in that in most cases, they're very accepting of diverse artistic styles. Roger's style and mine are pretty different, but fans and Disney seem equally happy with both. The other artists like James Silvani and Shelli Paroline also bring their own interpretation to the Muppets.
RYAN: What would you say is the most rewarding experience of working with the Muppet comics?
AMY: I think it's hearing from readers how much they love seeing the Muppets back again. At every con I go to, there are always a number of people who still don't know these comics exist and are always delighted to discover them. And of course, the kids. Drawing a sketch cover and hearing the happy gasp of a passing child as they recognise the character is pretty awesome.
RYAN: Do you ever feel taken aback by the fact that you have successfully revived a character who was arguably the most intensely sought after character in all of Muppetdom?
AMY: Oh heck no, I hope she gets to stay around! Every artist hopes to leave some kind of impacting legacy and I sincerely hope my work on the Muppets will be remembered. The response from fans has been amazing and we're truly grateful Skeeter has been accepted. Hopefully she'll get a chance to grow on younger fans who never got to see Muppet Babies. I don't dare to hope at this stage that Roger and my version of Skeeter will extend past the comics, but it would be fantastic if she did and I would be so proud.
RYAN: Well, unfortunately those are all the questions I’ve got, Amy. Thank you again for another great interview! I know I’m not alone when I say that I hope to see you work with the Muppets time and again. Congratulations on bringing Skeeter back and on all the success your work has found!
AMY: Thanks Ryan. I truly love my job and drawing the Muppets is a wonderful experience.
Thanks again to Amy Mebberson for the fantastic interview and all of her great work! For more info about Amy, be sure to visit her blog!
Special thanks to our good friends at ToughPigs for a few of the images in today's article.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier