1 The Muppet Mindset: February 2010

Feb 28, 2010

The Diary of an Obsessed Muppet Fan - The Muppet Show Season 3


The Diary of an Obsessed Muppet Fan - Entry 3, February 28, 2010

Diary, I'm hoooooome! Is dinner ready? Ugh. Meatloaf again? What do you do all day? Didn't I page you four times while I was at work to remind you not to make meatloaf again? Blech.

Luckily, I'm not here for the food. I'm here to scribble inside you again about watching more Muppet stuff. Continuing along the same trend, this week I watched The Muppet Show Season 3. Also along that trend is the fact that the Muppets just keep getting better and better with each year. This is the year that they made a movie (no, not Apocalypse Now) and all of the Muppets are looking they're best and acting they're funniest. (Statler and Waldorf: That's what you think!)

It's also this season that we meet Lew Zealand and Beauregard, along with characters that didn't make the cut like Gladys the Canteen Lady. Something odd I noticed about Lew Zealand is that he seemed to be a guest star favorite. Both Spike Milligan and Roger Miller recognized him only by his voice. I don't know what this has to do with anything at all... but I noticed it, so there!

I love the guest stars in this season. Though most of their names aren't immediately recognizable today, so many of them were and still are wonderful performers. Some of the best of this season (and my favorites, coincidentally) include the indomitable Pearl Bailey, the hysterical Gilda Radner, the sexational (her word, my thoughts) Raquel Welch, and the world-turning Harry Belafonte.

There were so many wonderful moments this season. The Jousting Scene (sort of) from Camelot, a seven-foot tall talking carrot, "The Rhyming Song," Liberace's "shameless boogie-woogie," Sylvester Stalone's gladiator fight, Big Bird meeting Miss Piggy, the cluckitis outbreak, and so much more.

The bonus features on this season aren't mind-blowingly awesome by any means (but then again, none of them really have been). Featuring "Muppets on Puppets," a 1960's presentation featuring Jim and Frank playing with puppets (it's not nearly as exciting as it sounds), "A Company of Players" which features Muppet people talking about the performers and is WAAAAAY too short, and Muppets Commercials featuring Rowlf and Baskerville advertising for Purina Dog Chow. While it is nice to have such rare material on the set, it's kind of annoying that more wasn't included when there is just SO much more that we could have.

Overall, though, this set is wonderful. Just having the entire season together is enough for me. Now's the time in the diary when I name the most Muppety moment of the entire season... Well, that's hard to pinpoint in Season 3. There are just so many fantastic moments throughout that it's hard to come up with just one. So... I'll just pick my own personal favorite! The Jousting Scene in the Pearl Bailey episode is one of my all-time favorite Muppet moments. It's just so silly and ridiculous and hilarious. Floyd and Gonzo jousting can't be beat and Pearl coming in at the end to belt out "Everything's Coming Up Roses" is fantastic.

Well, that's Season 3. Next time I get to start watching the Muppet movies! Check back next week to see where I start! (As if you don't already know.)

Resenting and restrained,
Ryan Dosier, Obsessed Muppet Fan
President and CEO of Nothing at All Industries
A Division of Completely Pointless, Inc.















The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 27, 2010

Sesame Street Saturdays: Season 40 - Week 7


Shane Keating - Here’s yet another rundown from the shows from this week and a couple of weeks ago. Vamos!

EPISODE 4208 – THE COUNTING BOOTH


STREET SCENE
The Count has to leave on a counting emergency and needs someone to watch his counting booth. Elmo and Abby happen to be the only willing ones around and are given the job. With Maria’s help, they learn how to count by 2s, 5s and 10s when The Three Little Pigs, Old MacDonald, Baby Bear, Big Bird, Snuffy and the Birdkateers show up with things that need to be counted. The Count comes back and complements them.

Hidden Gem: Maria’s scrapbook features many old Sesame images, which she makes while humming “Proud to be a Cow."

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christina Applegate and Elmo show the various kinds of booths
  • An animated pig sings “Bein’ a Pig” (using Joe Raposo’s original vocal track)
  • Ernie sings “Adding, Adding, Adding”, filling the apartment with cows, Cookie, Grover, an elephant and a Martian (while Bert tries to read)
EPISODE 4209 – NUMBER SEVEN TRIBUTE

STREET SCENE
Zoe, Rosita and Abby are hosting a tribute show for the number 7. Their first act is Zoe singing about counting 7 chickens. Rosita and Maria then perform “The Number Siete Rumba.” A sad letter S wanders by, who feels he can’t help with the tribute. The girls musically help him out by finding 7 things that start with S. Finally, Abby performs some magic tricks with Elmo assisting. One trick involves her making one pumpkin into seven ones, but instead makes 6 more Elmos (making seven all together). She makes them disappear and makes seven pumpkins. They all perform a closing number.

Hidden Gem: Harvey Kneeslapper runs by at the end, slapping a 7 onto Wolfgang’s beach ball.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Hugh Jackman and Elmo try to concentrate to explain the word.
  • Cookie Monster sings about the letter S.
  • A song about the word, ME.
  • Ernie sings about what he does in his room, which is Bert’s room too.
  • An animated segment where two different kinds of creatures make a rhythm.
EPISODE 4210 – ABBY’S TRICYCLE

STREET SCENE
Elmo rides by Abby and sees she has her own tricycle. However, she can’t go riding with him, since she doesn’t know how to ride it yet. Elmo says Gordon helped him and he could help her. She uses a magic spell to make Gordon appear. However, Gordon was taking a bathtub and is poofed on the street, bathtub and all. After getting changed, he helps her learn how to ride and her trike magically begins flying around the street. Once back on the ground, Elmo and Abby ride off together.

Hidden Gems: Gordon is seen reading “Dialogue with Dirt” by Solomon Grundy. The sandwich board outside Hooper’s also reads “SPECIAL – Loaf of bread, container of milk, stick of butter”

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Judah Friedlander explains what spectacular is, and gives his “SPECTACULAR” hat to Telly.
  • A cartoon about M words that have to do with music.
  • Kevin Clash sings a song about how pasta is made.
  • Abby accidentally conjures up a penguin and she, Zoe and Rosita try to guess where it lives.
  • The Twiddlebugs find several uses for a paperclip. (CGI segment)
EPISODE 4211 – JACK NEEDS HELP

STREET SCENE
Telly and Leela meet Jack, from “Jack and the Beanstalk”. He is sobbing because he must trade his cow for something to make a beanstalk, but he doesn’t know what (and he must figure it out alone). They give him clues to indirectly help him. His first clue is something that grows in the ground. He trades his cow for a duck, which doesn’t fit their clue. They say the item rhymes with “jeans”. He trades the duck for some tambourines. His last clue is the item is small. He trades the tambourines for the magic beans! He plants them and instantly gets a beanstalk, which he then sings about. Going against his story, he finds his plant so beautiful, he’s not going to harm it by climbing it. Instead, he’ll be growing more for a beanstalk farm!

Hidden Gem: John and Cheryl Henson make cameos at the beginning.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cartoon ants look for Z words
  • Debi Mazar looks for “humongous” things.
  • Miles raps about the number 1. (from season 38)
  • Super Grover helps Sarah Jessica Parker, who’s waiting for “Big”. He brings her a big pumpkin, a bigger drum, then the biggest boulder he could find. However, none of them are the “Big” she wants. Her “Big” then arrives – Big Bird!
EPISODE 4212 – THE PRINCE AND THE PENGUIN

STREET SCENE
Abby, Rosita and a penguin are playing princess today. They each take a princess leap, which sends the penguin onto a high balcony. Suddenly, the handsome prince (played by Paul Rudd) from such stories as “Cinderella”, “Rapunzel” and “Sleep Beauty” arrives to save her. He asks her to let down her hair, like Rapunzel would, but sees she has none. While he runs around distraught, Abby uses her wings to fly to the penguin and save her. Next, they try rollerskating, but the penguin is missing one. The prince shows up again, with a class slipper for her. Rosita discovers the missing skate, saddening the Prince again. As they skate, the penguin sends herself into a mailbox. The prince shows up once more to save her by kisser her, but learns to save the penguin, they need to cooperate. After freeing the penguin, they make friends with the prince and play football.

Hidden Gem: An ad for “Northern Reality” is seen in a store window and features a picture of Northern Calloway (David).

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eva Longoria and Elmo explain “exquisite”
  • A film about the letter P, for princess.
  • Cartoon ants look for P words.
  • A claymation remake of Bud Lucky’s classic “Ten Turtles” cartoon.
  • Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures: While in East Africa, Ernie and Bert find a baby elephant lost from the heard.
Stay tuned for a full-season wrap up!

Feb 26, 2010

News Update: February 26, 2010

NEWS UPDATE: February 26, 2010
Today, Grover appeared on The Dr. Oz Show (check local listings). He apparently popped in to ask Dr. Oz (not Frank, sadly) a question about hair. A clip of which can be seen on Sesame Street's Facebook page. If more video of the full appearance surfaces I'll be sure to let you know.

Thankfully, if you missed Grover's appearance, there is still more Sesame goodness coming. Elmo will be stopping by The Wendy Williams Show on Monday (March 1). For local listings, be sure to check out Wendy's website.

Various Disney websites are confirming that Muppet*Vision 3D in Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios will be closing for refurbishment from April 24 to May 14. This refurbishment is most likely taking place to upgrade the film to Disney Digital 3D. Note: The original film is not going anywhere. The same content will be seen but the film's 3D effects will now look crisper and sharper in the new Digital upgrade.














The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 25, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Mean, Part 5

The British Correspondent - Personally, I love to hate my Muppet villains just as I love to hate my coffee: a latte. One of the things that I love to hate most is that the Muppet villains are often many-layered and, having removed the lid of the cappuccino cup, you’ll find it contains many layers, much as a hot chocolate contains a layer of marshmallows, a layer of spray-cream, and thick layers of chocolate and steamed milk. (Note: I may be mixing up my drink metaphors. But what can I say, I’m writing this from a Costa Coffee in an undisclosed location within the United Kingdom, hoping to avoid detection by my agent so they won’t realise my deadline date went whooshing by weeks ago.)

Now, as with most drinks, what you get out of character analysis is related to what you put into it (Much as dried leaves in hot water, generally leads to tea...sometimes just leads to soggy leaves). Character analysis can be influenced by how you read the character, how you see their experiences through your own eyes, and what meaning the character traits bring to you. Whether the original actor intended a certain character trait to reveal something of their character, or whether they just tried not to laugh after the director shouted, “Action” is up to you to decide.

With that in mind, here is my deep and thoughtful (and caffeinated) musings on Ms Rachel Bitterman. If you have your own theories as to why she is the way she is, please feel free to send them to me at the address below:

The British Correspondent,
Undisclosed Coffee Shop,
Nondescript British High Street,
Britain, UK

Ms Rachel Bitterman (It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie)
Many of the Muppet Villains are given a slow-burn to villainy. Doc Hopper, for example, starts out as a humble sales-frog in a green costume with some rather snazzy opera-glasses. Nicky Holiday appears as a charming sibling...and even gets to help a brownie across the road (or visa versa) early on in the movie before later turning evil and pulling a gun on our frog. Even the shady talent manager from The Muppets Take Manhattan agreed to put on their show...right before trying to scam them outta their money. But Ms Bitterman isn’t given this treatment, instead the effects of her devilry are demonstrated from the start with Kermit (yes, KERMIT) suffering from a serious case of the upsets, Fozzie sighing sadly, Miss Piggy being shrugged off and Johnny not truly appreciating Sal’s solid gold record player. (Okay, that last one wasn’t really her fault.) The point is, before we’ve even met the woman, we pretty much despise her for what she has done to our friends...

Perhaps if the story was told in a linear fashion, she’d have been given more of a fighting chance?

Perhaps not.

From the moment she steps onto the scene, she appears to hold the Muppets in contempt, referring to them as Muffins. But, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she greets each and every one of her clients as breakfast carbohydrate based food products, she still only gets about ten seconds to introduce herself, before once again her contempt snakes across the screen as she glibly informs the Muppets that their former banker, Mr Bitterman, is dead.

We never find out exactly what relationship this fellow has to Rachel (for the purpose of this article we are assuming father) but her deadpan expression upon announcing her bereavement and subsequent segue into payment details on the theatre or foreclosure suggest that whoever he was, she didn’t care for him all that much.

And so it continues, every sentence that pours from the woman’s lips simply aches with contempt and utter lack of regard for dreams or imagination – except that one moment when she accidentally lets slip the line about being the queen of a Polynesian tribe.

Now, here’s where we deviate from straight facts and I start speculating heavily. As I watch Ms Bitterman talking, I feel as though it is not her speaking. I mean, obviously, she’s speaking...but I don’t feel that it comes from the core of herself but rather the lines seem forced and rehearsed and said with utter contempt – not just for the Muppets but also for the words she is speaking. I’d like to invite you to imagine a scene, don’t worry, we’ll have a little fun with it.

Imagine a young Rachel (let’s imagine her played by Rachel McAddams, shall we?). Now let yourself imagine her as punk rocker with the leather studs, purple hair...in short, one of the pierced and tattooed rave monkey she appears to loathe so much. (See, I told you it would be fun.) Imagine she’s the lead singer of a punk rock band, staying out one Christmas Eve at her biggest gig yet...while at home her parents wait up disapprovingly for her to return by Midnight for ‘Family Christmas’. It’s funny how one day can mean so many different things. Finally, she returns home filled with the hopes and dreams and stardust that comes from having a band, determined to make it to the big time.

I imagine her parents would have acted fast and hard to remove any such dream from her mind, reminding her that she cannot work for stardust and that you cannot eat a dream, you cannot sell a dream. After they had told her this time after time, eventually, she gave up her dream of becoming a punk-rock goddess of the stage and sufficed herself with becoming an accountant. What’s more, having suffered under those guiding principles of harsh reality and contempt for dreams, she clearly began to pass that contempt on to others, inflicting on them what she felt herself.

Now go back to the beginning of the story...Her father, who would never invest in her dreams, has given the Muppets plenty of time to pay off their debts, investing in their dreams. He then dies, and Rachel (probably already a partner in the firm) takes over the company. Why shouldn’t she take that moment to go smash up someone else’s party?

I know what you’re thinking, is the point of this article series just to give the Villains an excuse to act the way they do? NO. I’m trying to understand their motivation, but a motivation is certainly not an excuse. Rachel...poor little Rachel...still had a choice, she still could have stood by what she wanted to do and she could certainly have stopped the loop by not crushing the dreams of others the way that her own were crushed.

She’s even given a moment for redemption right at the last minute when Bunsen suggests that she invest in the theatre and make it the best Christmas ever! But even this, she rejects...determined to follow her villainy through to its ultimate, lonely, bitter end.

Ruthlessness: 8 (Rachel was the only villain to really make Kermit give up on his dream... Where Doc Hopper tried to stop him, Rachel succeeded. Where Nicky tried to separate Piggy and Kermit, Rachel succeeded.)
Sidekick: 6 (Pepe played an important part as her sidekick, having been lured away by the fact ‘she is hawt, h’okay!’ and I would give him a 10, but her other sidekick was the employee she took home to decorate her tree, and he brought the side-kick rating down to 6.)
Evil appearance: 8 (Deliciously devilish in her pouty sexiness...she lured Pepe away and is an expert at the cats’bum lip pout so we’ll give her an 8 for that.)
Talking the talk: 10 (She gets high points for calling the Muppets ‘Muffins’ and for screaming and shouting! Plus, she paused halfway through the movie to effectively say, “I’d have thought you’d have figured out by now that I’m the bad guy...”)
Likability: 4 (She’s funny, and interesting, but there’s nothing really very likable to her character. I don’t think you’d want to share a cup of coffee with this woman...which reminds me...I left that coffee shop in such a hurry earlier after seeing someone who looked rather like my agent passing by and am now typing this quickly from the bus-stop...I probably should have paid before I left...)
Returnability: 6 (I’m sure she could have something interesting to add in another encounter with the Muppets, but once again I feel as though her story has fully told.)
Likelihood to offer you a rather nifty Christmas bonus: 10 (I offered my agent a Christmas bonus once, but that still hasn’t let me off the hook. I better mail this in before the #14 bus arrives.)











The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 24, 2010

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Sam the Eagle

Written by Blake.

SAM THE EAGLE


Performed by...
Frank Oz (1975-1999)
Eric Jacobson (2005-present)
Kevin Clash (2002-2003)

First appearance...
The Muppet Show "Sex and Violence" pilot (1975)

Most recent appearance...
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Memorable quotes...
"You are all weirdos."
"It is called ‘A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America.’"

WHO IS SAM THE EAGLE?
Sam the Eagle is the “keeper of the peace,” per say, of the Muppets and one of their funniest characters.  He generally disapproves of the various shenanigans that Kermit and company are up to and often tries his best to encourage the crew to maintain the dignity they have left.  He never personally ridicules anyone, he just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with most of the other Muppets.  This often inspires Sam to create segments of his own so that he can weave in at least a little bit of “educational value” into the show.

Sam is definitely proud of his American citizenship.  Many of his speeches and appearances have discussed his patriotism.  He just wishes that everyone else would show as much American pride as he does.

If Sam’s actions prove anything, it’s that he sure is persistent.  Many folks might give up on the tiresome task of trying to high-brow the Muppets, but Sam has remained loyal to them for 35 years now.  He must see some untapped potential in them that everyone else obviously doesn’t!

Additionally, while some (cough, cough, Miss Piggy, cough, cough) might blow their top when herding together such a rowdy bunch of characters, Sam has kept composure and poise in the midst of his many Muppet mishaps, even when everything seems to get chaotic.

Although it might be in Sam’s best interest to search elsewhere if he’s looking for scholarly, dignified performers, we sure are glad that he’s stuck around all these years so that we get to watch his unsuccessful attempts unfold.

SAM THE EAGLE'S FRIENDS
Sam is occasionally paired with a Muppet here and there, but for the most part he tries to isolate himself from the rest of the gang.  However, that doesn’t mean that he’s friendless.

In The Muppet Show’s first season, Sam was very supportive of the singing duo Wayne and Wanda.  He very much liked their performances and viewed them as a quality act that deserved to stick around with the Muppets.  However, their songs often ended in mayhem.  Unfortunately, except for a few random appearances, Wayne and Wanda have not been a major part of the Muppets since The Muppet Show episode 124 (season one’s finale).

Without Wayne and Wanda, Sam thankfully still has someone to talk to when he feels like expressing himself.  He feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and ideas with Kermit.  Although the frog might be nice, he never manages to fit Sam’s grand ideas as they were intended into the Muppets’ productions.

SAM THE EAGLE MOMENTS
Sam has been sporadically used throughout Muppet history in a variety of different types of roles.  He’s been a front-running star, a supporting player, and a brief cameo guest in a number of Muppet productions. 

In The Muppet Show, Sam was most active in season one in the aforementioned Wayne and Wanda skits, as well as in several panel discussion segments.  From there, his appearances on the show were mostly restricted to several brief speeches.

Later on, Sam proved himself to be quite the versatile actor.  He’s performed a part in each of the Muppets’ “role-playing” movies: Scrooge’s teacher in The Muppets Christmas Carol, Arrow in Muppet Treasure Island, and an employee of Oz in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.

In the summer of 2008, Sam joined YouTube under the pseudonym “patrioticeagle” and uploaded the Virmup (Muppet Viral) video “Stars and Strives FOREVER!” to much success.

Perhaps Sam’s most prominent and arguably best moments, though, are part of Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D, an attraction that debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World in 1991 and at Disney’s California Adventure in Disneyland in 2001.  Sam is one of the main stars of the attraction’s pre-show video, which includes several hilarious “opening acts.”  Later, just before guests head into Muppet Theater, Sam relays several safety instructions that include some very funny back-and-forth banter with Gonzo.  This pairing wasn’t used again to my knowledge, but it certainly works well here.  Gonzo’s wacky personality and Sam’s orderly behavior play off of each other very well and could definitely be used again in the future.  Once the main 3-D film begins, Sam delivers more hysterical remarks, some of which are highlights of the show amongst many park guests.

SAM THE EAGLE'S ANNOYANCES
Everyone gets a little ticked off from time to time, and there are several specific issues that seem to get in Sam’s way.  Whenever a musical production number arises, Sam is the first to proclaim his disapproval.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” was simply an outrage as Sam sees it.  Crazy Harry has also recently been an annoyance to Sam, having twice caused a YouTube explosion that the poor eagle simply wasn’t fond of.  Generally, whenever a Muppet is doing something that he or she shouldn’t be doing (which is quite often), Sam becomes stressed.

SAM THE EAGLE AND THE U.S.A.
As stated earlier, Sam is a proud American.  He feels that he should do his part to help others appreciate his nation and often stages patriotic odes to his country, none of which have been successfully performed in their entirety.  His three-hour “A Salute to All Nations But Mostly America” was degraded to a minute and a half (much to Sam’s horror), his viral Internet extravaganza didn’t go as well as he would have hoped, his speech at the 2009 D23 Expo was interrupted by several fellow Muppets, and his recent inspiring volunteer speech concluded with him being dropped to the ground.  Thankfully he has wings.

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED SAM THE EAGLE?
Sam’s specific role pertaining to the Muppets as a group is questionable.  Although he inputs many ideas and tries his best to keep things organized, he’s not really the “glue” that keeps the show on the road.  (That’s more the job of Kermit and Scooter.)  So in reality, it would seem as if Sam needs the Muppets more than the Muppets need Sam!  Without them, he’d have no one to concoct zany ideas for.  If he was surrounded by people similar to him, he probably wouldn’t stand out, though when he’s around his Muppet friends, he’s an original because he’s so much different than them.

Even though Sam may not be integral to the functioning of the Muppets in the grand scheme of things, he has definitely been the root of several of their biggest adventures.  Had he not let Dorothy and her friends into Oz, they would have never realized that what they truly wished for was with them all along.  Instead, their journey would have abruptly and prematurely come to a halt.  Additionally, if Sam had not been at the post office to inform Fozzie and Gonzo that opening Santa’s letters was illegal, there would have never been the crazy voyage to the North Pole (not to mention that Fozzie and Gonzo could have potentially gone to prison).

Sam the Eagle is one of the Muppets’ most memorable characters because he dares to be an original in a crowd of weirdos.  Usually he appears in random cameos, though that’s really what Sam is best at.  If he were overused, his comedic style wouldn’t read as funny as it does when it’s unexpected and quick.  That being said, when he does appear, Sam’s presence is a treat to enjoy as he inspires those around him to do good, have poise, and appreciate America.  Thank you.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Feb 23, 2010

Interview with Muppet King Arthur #1 Artist Dave Alvarez



Lisa Alexander - Today on The Muppet Mindset we interview artist Dave Alvarez. Dave has been involved with BOOM! Studios and the Muppet comics since the very first issue of "The Muppet Show Comic Book" when he drew a variant cover for "Kermit's Story." Most recently, Dave drew the interior artwork for Muppet King Arthur #1.

Dave Alvarez Interview

LISA:   First of all, Dave, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with the Mindset. We really appreciate it. Do you prefer to be called Dave or David?

DAVE:   I got used to Dave. It’s different. I grew up listening to the name “David” attached to a “clean up your room!” way too many times.

LISA:   You did a beautiful variant cover for the first issue of Muppet Robin Hood. How did that come about? Did someone approach you to do it, or did you wave Semaphore flags around until someone noticed you were interested?

DAVE:   Why, thank you, I’m glad that you like it! I was “waving flags” like you said way before that to see if I could fit with their “Muppet Show” series at first.

Eventually, BOOM’s editor saw my Muppet fan-made- comic strips and asked me if I could do a variant cover for “The Muppet Show” and then they asked one for Muppet Robin Hood. 

LISA:   What about your variant covers for Kermit’s and Gonzo’s stories? How did those come about?

DAVE:   They came about the same way. Disney liked what I did for Muppet Robin Hood so they asked for variants as well. These were very limited since they were used for some specific stores but at least I got a couple of copies.

LISA:   How much did you know about the content of those issues when you did the covers? Obviously you knew Kermit and Sweetums were in Robin Hood… (Not that Kermit was much of a surprise…)

DAVE:  
BOOM sends me all kinds of visual references and the script as well. I saw one cover sample of Kermit fighting with Sweetums on a bridge and it brought my attention. So I decided to go with that.

LISA:   Now you’re doing ALL of the art for Muppet King Arthur. How is it different, from your perspective, to do the entire series, as opposed to a few covers?

DAVE:   It’s way different. I’m only in charge of pencils and inks. Colors will be provided by another artist. It’s interesting because the story demanded the intervention of many “generic” Muppets, so I made my research and drew some obscure characters from way back. Let’s see how many of them can you recognize.

LISA:   Who picks the “camera angle,” so to speak, of any given frame in the comic? Do the writers choose, or do you decide what’s in the “shot”?

DAVE:   Although the writer gives you a guideline, like for example, “establishing shot of town” or “wide shot of castle”, sometimes, one as the artist needs to modify certain angles in order for them to fit the page.

LISA:   Building off of the last question a little, how much of a say do you have in which background characters appear, for example, in a group of spectators or passers-by?

DAVE:   I got a free hand in that. Sometimes the writer wanted certain obscure characters as well. Others I just chose by my own.

LISA:   Any chance we’ll see Angus McGonagle the gargling gargoyle?

DAVE:   Aaaah, maybe! Who knows?

LISA:   King Arthur requires a lot of period clothing, even for characters who don’t usually dress at all (i.e. Kermit, Fozzie…). Kermit’s, Fozzie’s, and Gonzo’s armor all look fantastic. Do you decide what the characters wear? Or do Benjamin and Storck say, for example, “Give Kermit a red cape, and put a chicken on Gonzo’s shield”?

DAVE:   Although I also got a free ticket on some of those many of them were beautifully rendered by Amy. Some sharp-eyed readers will notice the Disney reference that I chose for Kermit’s first clothes.

LISA:   Clothing aside, there’s a huge style difference between the cover art you’ve done and the comics you’ve posted on DeviantArt and Muppet Central, and even between King Arthur and your other covers. Was that your choice, or someone else’s? Do you prefer drawing one style more than another?

DAVE:   The cover arts were done entirely by me but the interiors will be colored by another artist so you might find a slight difference in style. In the covers I combine many composition elements and was given more time.

LISA:   Speaking of your own comicswhich are hilarious , by the way—where do you find your inspiration for those? Would you ever consider writing a full story arc, if given the opportunity?

DAVE:   It’s easy once you know the characters. You just think of a situation and how the characters will react to them. I’ve been working on my daily comic strip Yenny since 2003, so it’s easy to think how Yenny or Zacha will react to certain situations.

With the Muppets is basically the same. I grew up with them so I sort of know what Kermit will say to a burned Gonzo.

LISA:   Do you look at anything as a reference when you draw the Muppets? Does what you look at vary for different styles?

DAVE:   I have a lot (if not all) of the Muppet movies, videos and books. The internet is very helpful when it comes to obscure characters. You can easily detect which Muppets have the Don Sahlin touch and which not.

LISA:   Which character, would you say, is the most difficult to draw? Which is the easiest?

DAVE:   Sweetums was the most…uhm… I won’t say difficult, but tricky. I doodled a lot first before choosing a final design. I will add myself to a list of people who say that Muppets were not meant to be drawn. That’s why I decided to go very cartoony. Just to feel as if I was making a parody of them.

LISA:   Drawing aside, who is your favorite Muppet?

DAVE:   Kermit the Frog. He always knows what to do and has the nerve to deal with millions of mentally impaired Muppets. LOL

LISA:   What’s your favorite Muppet production?

DAVE:   I would say The Muppet Movie because Jim Henson made magic when computers were not around. But somehow I love “Muppets take Manhattan” mainly because I was a small kid when it came out. I remember that my grandma used to keep all the newspaper movie reviews and pictures for me. There was even a headline that said “La Rana RenĂ© por fin se Casa” which means “Kermit finally got married” and had a picture of him and Piggy in bride and groom clothes.

LISA:   You’ve done a lot of non-Muppet work, too. Tell us about some of that. What’s your favorite group of characters to draw?

DAVE:   I’ve been working in the Looney Tunes comics for 12 years now. I’ve also worked on other characters like Tomb Raider and some Paul Dini creations.  It’s difficult to say which characters are my favorite to draw. I like it when I can have a free creative input on them.

LISA:   You’re also a member of Muppet Central. What drew you into THAT insanity?

DAVE:   I don’t know. My psychiatrist says that is a good therapy. It keeps me from bungee jumping in Greek robes.

LISA:   Any suggestions for other fan artists who want to actually work for the Muppets?

DAVE:   Find your own style and show what you can do by just being yourself.

LISA:   Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview with us. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

DAVE:   I think that’s all that we have for today so we’ll see you next time in The Muppet Show!! YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!


Thanks again to Dave Alvarez for this fantastic interview! Check out Dave's work in Muppet King Arthur #1, on shelves now!











The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 22, 2010

Muppet Comic Mondays: Muppet King Arthur #1


Muppet King Arthur #1
Comic Book Review
Written by Paul Benjamin and Peter Stork
Illustrated
by Dave Alvarez



James Gannon - After tackling Robin Hood and Peter Pan, BOOM! Comics has taken Kermit and Co. to the days of King Arthur and his well rounded night tables. Right off the bat, you can tell the tone is much different than the previous fairy tales. Pretty obvious when it starts as an infomercial, then jumps into crazy snappy word play.  Paul Benjamin and Peter Stork have decidedly taken a raucous comedy path that really showcases the off the wall wackiness of the Muppets. Kermit is cast as Arthur, and the legend starts out with him being a page (and a page worth of groan inducing “page” puns ensue). Sam, being his master, sends him out to find a new sword after a training session with Sir Perciful (Fozzie as a combination knight/ Jester, and his weapon, a large plastic chicken shaped like a baseball bat).

This leads to the chance meeting of the Lady of the Lake (Janice, fer shure), who instructs Kermit to grab the magical Excalibur (From United Kingdom, I’m looking for him… Soul Eater fans know what I’m talking about). Which leads to another Jay Wardian pun about why it’s jammed in a stone in the first place. He becomes king, as the legend goes, with extreme protest from Sam, who will clearly stop at nothing to become king himself. Even making a sharp jab at Town Hall meetings (I had a feeling some of those guys were paid off). Now, Merlin the Magician (a role played by Rowlf, who was actually cast beforehand in The Jim Henson Hour) has to train Kermit to become king, and instructs him on using the magical sword,  And even more crazy antics ensue, with all your favorites and fun little cameos, including Miss Piggy who’s tailor made to play the role of Morgana.

Having been through two fairy tale adaptations already, the side projects to The Muppet Show Comic Book have become quite breezy and fun to read. While Robin Hood had the misfortune of being the first one (and therefore being the test comic), Peter Pan came out much more fluid (in writing and art). King Arthur is just as fluid as Peter Pan was. Robin Hood, long story short, tried to cram in too much legend into 4 smaller issues, leading to lengthy dialogue balloons that detracted from the action. Peter Pan, however, took the barest parts of the story and managed to get everything into those 4 issues, shortening and omitting parts of the story. But it didn’t exactly need them to get their point across, and I hardly even missed the Crocodile (he wouldn’t have worked in their version anyway). 

Now, King Arthur is a legend that has been completely inconstant to begin with, with half the characters added in by different writers (Lancelot came from a French epic for example).  The story combines the Lady of the Lake and the Sword in the Stone, and manages (so far) to take bare bones parts of the story, leaving the writers to adapt the rest of the story as they please.

And I can’t close this without mentioning the art. If Roger Langride is schooled in underground Comix and Amy Mebberson is clearly inspired by Disney, Dave Alvarez is a follower of the old Tex Avery Looney Tunes style. And it works just as well as the other adaptations. I swear, if the Muppets ever got another animated cartoon, this would be the style they’d use. The illustrations looks like they’re moving, and can barely stay on the page. Now, Dave is a veteran of this, and has a bunch of great fan Muppet Strips online somewhere, and he really brings that same visual humor to this one. I’d almost say it’s a shame he’s not doing the rest of the series, but I can’t wait to see the next artist take a crack at is as well.


Be sure to check back on The Muppet Mindset tomorrow for our exclusive interview with Dave Alvarez, artist of Muppet King Arthur #1!












The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier