The Muppets Character Encyclopedia
by Craig Shemin
Available now in bookstores and online
The most impressive aspect of the 200 page book is just how deep Craig Shemin dug to include characters in the book. No, it's not nearly as all-encompassing as Muppet Wiki, but it also doesn't try (or need) to be. We get entries for The Flying Zucchini Brothers (who are given names like Marco, Giuseppi, and Heathcliff), Fazoobs, Quongo, Rufus the dog, Clodhoppers, and Mama Fiama. The amount of obscurity gathered here is completely insane and I absolutely adore it. Almost every time I turned the page I said, "What?! They included THAT character?! How?!" It's incredible.
The other incredible thing this book contains is a massive, dense collection of high-resolution, beautiful photos. Who among us knew that there were high-resolution, poser puppet photos of Mr. Poodlepants or Mildred Huxtetter or a cacophony of various Whatnots? For characters without high-res, posed photos, screenshots are used. The Koozebanians, Jowls and the Muppets Tonight Band, Jacques Roach, and many others are pulled right from shots from various productions. The dedication and commitment to making this book look good practically oozes from the pages.
Really, there is only one issue I have with the book--and it's an issue I've had with most of Disney's output these days--and it's the fact that there is not a single mention of a Muppet performer to be found. No, I didn't expect every page to say "performed by" on it, and I fully understand that Disney wants these characters to seem real, but would it have been so hard to include an acknowledgements section? All that would've had to be done is a classy "Thanks to Jim, Frank, Jerry, Richard, Dave, Steve, Bill, David, Matt, Peter, Kevin, Louise, Brian, and all the others who've given us a hand over the years." It's really, really not cool with me that the contributions of these men and women is totally glossed over.
But that is in no way a deal breaker for this book. I can't recommend purchasing The Muppet Character Encyclopedia enough. If you are any level of Muppet fan, this book will be a joy to you. For the obsessed fan there's hilarious entries about Miss Mousey's current career, Nigel's path after Muppets Tonight, and Dr. Strangepork's favorite type of music. For casual fans there's info on characters you've never heard of and fun pages about Gonzo's stunts or Fozzie's jokes. For newbies, there's a ton of gorgeous pictures of these amazing characters, plus the book is a great jumping off point to start your Muppet obsession.
Overall, Craig Shemin and DK Publishing have produced a really, really awesome book about the Muppets. It is beautiful, funny, and completely brilliant. Don't miss out on this one!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org