Let us here at PoP! guide you through a minefield of books that seem full of win from the word go, but which once you crack them open have you shouting… It’s a Trap!
Written and drawn by Roger Langridge
Published by BOOM Studios
For as long as I can remember, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the characters made famous by Jim Henson’s immortal The Muppet Show. Thanks to the magic of DVD, I have successfully transferred that same love for the show and for these characters to my own children, so I was initially very excited when I found out that BOOM Studios would be publishing a comic book based on this highly influential and entertaining show. My five-year-old daughter has also inherited my enthusiasm for comics, so I figured this would be the perfect birthday gift for her. As I started to read it to her, both she and I began to realize that adapting The Muppet Show in comic form may not have been the best idea. This four-issue miniseries tries its best to appeal to both kids and the adults who grew up with the show but sadly failed to interest either demographic, at least in my household.
One of the biggest problems with BOOM’s Muppet Show comic is that it tries to recreate the variety show aspect of the original Muppet Show in comic form, complete with sketches and songs presented in conjunction with the overall plot of each issue. This presentation simply does not work, because without the benefit of sound, the jokes mostly fall flat and the songs have no impact at all. One of the most endearing aspects of the original Muppet Show was the interaction the Muppets had with their human guest stars, but there are no regular humans to be found at all in the comic, leaving the reader without an anchor to help them relate to all the anarchy happening onstage and backstage at the Muppet Theater. Visually, Langridge tries to offer a unique take on these well-loved characters, but his art style makes many of the most prominent Muppets look like they are recovering from an all-night coke binge, with their huge eyes and highly exaggerated facial expressions. The backstage plots of each issue fail to hold much interest, even though they deal with issues that were explored several times in the show, such as Fozzie’s desperate search for a successful comedy routine and the constant inquiry as to what specific species Gonzo the Great belongs to. Even though Langridge puts forth a noble effort, none of these stories seem to capture the true essence of these characters and left this reader deeply unsatisfied.
While reading the first two issues of this trade collection to my daughter, I found both myself and her growing quite bored with what we were reading, which is something I never want to happen when dealing with a budding reader like her. I soon stopped offering to read this book to her and moved on to other books and comic series that seemed more to her liking. Luckily, this experience has not soured her on either comics or the Muppets, as she still seems to enjoy both. My daughter and I seem to be in the minority when it comes to our reactions to this book, as it was met with much critical praise when it was first published. In my experience, however, the Muppet Show comic failed to capture the spirit and energy of the original show and was a poor showcase for these characters in comic form. I’m not saying that the Muppets could never work in comic form(I distinctly remember the Muppet Babies comic from Marvel’s kid-friendly Star Comics imprint was quite delightful), but BOOM’s attempt to recreate the format of the old Muppet Show in this unique storytelling form was a bold experiment that simply did not work, at least in this reader’s opinion. Sadly, this comic adaptation of one of my all-time favorite television shows only gets 1 out of 5 Exploding Amphibians.