1 The Muppet Mindset: Four Seasons
Showing posts with label Four Seasons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Four Seasons. Show all posts

Oct 8, 2012

Muppet Comic Mondays: The Four Seasons - Winter

 The Muppets: The Four Seasons - Winter
written and illustrated by Roger Langridge
James Gannon - So, it's come to this...

The final issue of Roger Langridge's The Muppet Show Comic Book has been released, and a month shy of two years after it was due. The Winter issue, which was to be the first story in the arc under BOOM!, now completes the collection on a certain holiday the Muppets know all too well: Christmas. You just can't make Muppet anything and not eventually do a Christmas version of it. There have been special edition Muppet Christmas Palisades action figures. You can't punt a football and not hit Muppet Christmas something or other. So, it's about time they did it in comic book form.

Basically, it's a Christmas only the Muppets can have. The Chef tries to make a Figgy Pudding that goes horribly wrong, Gonzo tries to wrestle the Figgy Pudding which goes horribly wrong, Sam the Eagle reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" that goes horribly wrong, and Pigs in Space is made of horribly wrong. Piggy wants to put up Mistletoe for obvious reasons, Kermit has to get her a gift, Rizzo eats Gonzo's trained yogurt, and a refrigerator gets busted. Yep! Roger Langridge and the Muppets. You know the drill by now. It's wacky, Muppety fun that Roger Langridge is so spectacular at delivering.

With that, the era of the Muppet Comic book has ended. From the promise of short 1-2 page comics in the completely defunct Disney Adventures magazine, to BOOM! Comics' dual running Muppet comic lines, to the disappointing near loss of the final story arc, to the year of the magazine reprints that were a boon for those who had no access to the original issues and a bane to those who managed to grab every single one. What's next for the Muppets in comic book for are for Disney and Marvel to decide. I would be ecstatic if we saw a Marvel produced Muppet comic series, but I'm fine if we don't. Of course, I could also say how lackluster this release was (not a fan of the stock of paper they used), but that's biting the hand that released it. Marvel could have just left the series unresolved.

If there's one thing I took away from these comics, it's that I wouldn't have discovered Langridge without them. Snarked just ended last month, his stint on Popeye is ongoing, but he retired from the Muppet Comics with this arc. It makes you wonder if that was one of the key factors in BOOM! ending the license or if it was the other way around. As I said last time, it almost seems he left things open ended in case someone else takes up the Muppet pen.

Well, now that's over, we just have to wait for whenever the heck those Ape published Sesame Street comics come out. And Archaia... please PLEASE PLEASE do another volume of Fraggle Rock.

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

Sep 10, 2012

Muppet Comic Mondays: The Four Seasons - Fall

 The Muppets: The Four Seasons - Fall
written and illustrated by Roger Langridge

The Fall issue of The Muppets: The Four Seasons is here. I need to point out that, while this is the penultimate issue of the Marvel release, it really was the last issue of the comic out of order. There's still Winter, which was supposed to be the first issue left. Brace yourself, though, I'm going to bring it up a few times in the review.

Pops the doorman has reached the mandatory retirement age. As bad as the group wants him to stay, he has no choice in the matter. Pops is grooming his nephew, Nat Crochet, to be the new Muppet Theater doorman. Among his duties are rejecting unwanted talent that constantly harassed Pops. Meanwhile, Gonzo comes up with an idea, that only Gonzo can, which is just convoluted enough to work. Switch birth certificates, and do his usual crazy stuntman Gonzo thing before they realize the name on the certificate is wrong. And the best part? No one in the theater has a birth certificate (Animal ate his) except for Piggy. We have a lot of excellent character development on the part of Pops, a character that was low key on the original Muppet Show. According to this comic, he was in the military--we never saw that in the series. Even his Palisades action figure was based on his appearance in The Great Muppet Caper.

This issue has some pretty interesting sketches, considering how obscure the references are. Notably, Rizzo stars in a parody of a Windsor McCay comic strip, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (in Rizzo's case, Gorgonzola), which would be the basis of the Little Nemo in Slumberland comics. I don't expect anyone but animation and comic history scholars to get that one; I barely did (college tuition well spent, I suppose). Meanwhile, Pigs in Space takes on a Flash Gordon style of its story telling. And one of the comic's original characters, Topaz the Dwarf from all the way back in Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson series returns to tell another one of his terrible poems.

This is a very good issue, almost seems like a fifth act for the Family Reunion arc due to the inclusion of the original character of Nat Crochet. But (as I stated earlier) as a grand finale of The Muppet Show Comic Book, it leaves me just a little unsatisfied. This was the last issue penned by Roger before he decided to leave the comic. Other than Pops sort of going to retire in this issue, nothing really says "Goodbye, and thanks for reading." That leads me to think Roger left it open to either pass on the comic to another artist and writer or to fit into the continuity of The Muppet Show. Either way, the bright spot in these being released out of order is that there's no continuity in this arc, making it episodic. Not even a small, continuous gag. So the last issue, which will have a much less satisfying ending to the series anyway, won't read as out of order. As far as I can tell, anyway. I'm really warming up to the cartoony, juvenile, dizzying covers. At least having someone draw them instead of using stock pictures is a big effort. They did manage to pop out of the rest of the comics on the shelves. But the real improvement in Marvel's handling of this comic? Other than one movie poster advertisement for The Avengers, there are no intrusive ads, leaving a smooth read this issue.

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

Aug 6, 2012

Muppet Comic Mondays: The Four Seasons - Summer

James Gannon - Summer hits the Muppet Theater in issue 14... errr... Limited Series Issue 2 of The Muppet Show Comic Book, or rather "The Muppets." Kermit is taking the venue to the beach for the Muppet Show Beach Party Extravaganza, while Fozzie mulls a summer season stint at a different theater. Scooter has built the end routine on a dancing bear number (a reference to the Simon Smith number from the original Muppet Show), and the idea hinges on Fozzie staying with the Muppets. When he decides to leave, Scooter is forced to cast another dancing animal in his place.

Being the Muppets, chaos ensues on the beach show. Wayne and Wanda make a terrible opening act, singing a song that invites a rain storm. Then seasonal rainstorm turns to freak snowstorm, causing Gonzo's "diving into a swimming pool full of custard" into "diving into a swimming pool of FROZEN custard," which is a great lead in for a Vet's Hospital skit. Meanwhile, Fozzie arrives at the Whatnot Theater. Here we meet yet another gang of Muppet Doppelgangers, who thankfully are much friendlier than the Moopets or Kismet the Toad. Fozzie's stint would fill in for their own comedian bear, Ozzie, who's having a summer season stint of his own. Ozzie points out a few things that get to Fozzie, and Fozzie gets a huge moral dilemma.

This is a much stronger story than the last issue, with quite a few short sketches in between. We get a strong A and B story that tie each other up very nicely, and all that Muppety Chaos and Murphy's Law we all love. I wish there was more time spent with Fozzie at the Whatnot Theater, though. We only met a few of their crazy crew. The giant carrot that obsesses about spoons knocked me out of my seat. I'm really looking forward to Fall (the issue of the comics, not necessarily the season of decaying plant life).

But the one major improvement over the first issue? Better overall layout. The credits page is now at the end, and it only takes three pages of comic to get into the first three pages of story, rather than last issue's five. Even the ads are more strategically placed. The color situation is slightly better. Wanda is a blonde now, for some reason, and there's some inconsistency when summer comes back to the beach, as it's still colored wintery. Just not quite as inconsistent as last issue. Also, I'm not really a fan of the magazine paper stock used here, but that's a cost control thing. I'd gladly pay the extra dollar for the sturdy glossy pages we had when BOOM! was in command, but that can't be helped.

But the one issue I must address is the cover situation. I kind of both like them and dislike them. They are certainly colorful, vibrant, and have a great movement that helps it jump off the store shelves. Though, the cartoony Muppet renderings are more Disney than Muppety, and I'm not a fan of the big-lipped Kermit-gator on the Summer cover. Though, I like the reference to the giant octopus that's only in the opening splash panel. But the new covers mean that they bothered to make new covers. They could just as easily have slapped on some stock photos on instead. I'd rather have dizzying cartoony Muppets to seeing them in sunglasses from those overused 90's photos. You know the ones I'm talking about.

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

Jul 9, 2012

Muppet Comic Mondays: The Muppets - The Four Seasons, Spring

THE MUPPETS Issue #1 of 4
The Four Seasons: Spring
 Written and Illustrated by Roger Langridge

James Gannon - Back in October of 2010, the last issue of The Muppet Show Comic Book's "Muppet Mash" arc was released. During a delay in the production of the last arc, "The Four Seasons," BOOM! lost the license, and the rights disappeared into Disney owned Marvel in February of last year. Months later, they pledged to reprint everything that was already released in magazine form, leaving "The Four Seasons" once again lost in Marvel's hands. Almost two years from the last issue, Marvel has FINALLY given us the last story arc. Without any fanfare, Issue 1, "Spring" was released on July 4. Marvel started with the second issue written, "Spring," for some reason. Hopefully nothing gets hurt (running gags, or some big payoff at the end) by it being out of order.

Tonight, the Muppet Theater welcomes their special guests Colonel Marmaduke Bunch and Meredith, the Mountain Mama of Mgahinga, the greatest primate-based song and dance act in showbiz. Meredith is a gorilla, to the surprise of Pops and the delight of Animal. You see, Animal becomes quite smitten with her.  Rizzo has a conniption because of the interspecies relationship (until he realizes Kermit and Piggy are standing right behind him, that is). But he's not the only one unhappy about this revelation; Meredith's longtime admirer, Bruce (another gorilla) isn't pleased. Once again, we're treated to special segments intercutting the plotline, including Pigs in Space.

I really can't think of say anything to say that I haven't said about these comics in the past. They're still phenomenal, and while I think Jason Segel and his movie writing team brought in a new, classic energetic feel with The Muppets, Roger Langridge brought twice that much to The Muppet Show Comic Book.  He's moved on to the equally amazing IDW "Popeye" and BOOM! "Snarked," which I still goad you to all check out. He disappears as flawlessly into the spinach eating sailor as he does with frogs, pigs, and weirdos.

I'm completely grateful Marvel is taking the time to publish these last four issues, rather than losing them to eternity. However, there are a couple problems I have with this release. First off, there are advertisements interspersed into the issue, while it ruins the aesthetic BOOM! had when they published it (the credits are now on the first page instead of the inside front cover, but thankfully the two page spread isn't monkeyed with), that's just a reality of moving from a smaller company to a mainstream one. Hopefully that doesn't mean anything was edited out to make room.

Secondly, the new coloring company managed to be inconsistent and make some mistakes. While there was the occasional yellow beak on Sam or something, Colonel Bunch is colored differently in his number than he is the rest of the issue, and a simple internet search would show the Pigs in Space uniforms are not red. Also, we have new covers for these comics by Elisabeth Melaranci and Silvano Scolari, which have a wonderful sense of movement on them, but it makes me miss Amy Mebberson, James Silvani, et al. Those are just mild nitpicks, I assure you. If anything, at least the Marvel name will equal better distribution.

If this means Marvel will publish more Muppet comics, I'd be happy if they did. However, I'm just happy to see the last of Langridge's work finally coming out for fans who have been rabidly waiting longer than they needed to.

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

Jul 5, 2012

News Update: July 5, 2012

NEWS UPDATE: July 5, 2012
Back in March, 2009, the Jim Henson Company announced that they would be producing a brand new children's television series starring the Doozers of Fraggle Rock. And, like many Henson projects unfortunately, the series never came to fruition, with only a 30 second computer-generated clip being produced. Now, however, the Chronicle Herald is reporting that the series is finally going into actual production. This could be great news, or it could end up falling through again, but I like to hold out hope that one day we might actually get to see this thing. Putting the Doozers in their own show relieves a lot of the unavoidable high expectations Fraggle Rock fans have of a Fraggle-themed project. Fingers crossed!

The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roget Langridge is back! The final four Langridge-written issues, The Four Seasons are being released sporadically throughout the year. The first issue, "Spring," just happened to be released yesterday and is available in stores now! For awhile the first issue being released was presumed to be "Summer" (since, you know, it is summer), but our friends at Muppet Stuff have found the issue in stores and it is indeed "Spring." (See picture at right.) Whatever the case, get out there and buy it for yourself!

Archaia Comics, the company that distributes Jim Henson Company projects in comic book form, has scored six major nominations in the 2012 Harvey Awards, which honor excellence in comic books. Five of these nominations are Henson-related, with honors for Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson's The Storyteller, and Jim Henson's The Tale of Sand. Fraggle Rock is nominated for Best Original Graphic Publication for Young Readers, The Storyteller for Best Anthology, and The Tale of Sand for Best Graphic Album Original and Best Single Issue or Story. Congratulations to Archaia and all the talented people who contributed to these wonderful books! The Harvey awards will be presented on September 28th.

Finally, click on over to the Hostess with the Mostess blog for a look at the most incredible birthday party I have ever seen. This Muppet themed bash looks like an amazing good time, with so many gorgeous decorations and everything you might want sans actual Muppets showing up (but looking at these pictures, I wouldn't be surprised if they had). Enjoy!

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