By Roger Langridge
24 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios
It’s always seemed a little strange to me that there haven’t been many The Muppet Show comics. Aside from movie adaptations, you can round up most of their comic appearances in the form of Muppet Babies comics, and to me that really isn’t quite the same. I was pretty pleased, as a result, to hear that Boom! Studios had not only ended up with The Muppet Show license but that Roger Langridge was writing and drawing the book. Because quite frankly, if there’s one cartoonist out there who truly "gets" the The Muppet Show, it’s Langridge.
It’s another typical day at the Muppet Show; musical numbers are heading on stage, back stage is chaos, and Statler and Waldorf are still hating any and every act to grace the stage. The other Muppets are worried, though, thanks to an unusually melancholy Kermit moping about behind stage. If Kermit can’t have his normal fire to lead the show, what hope do the rest of them possibly have of moving forward? And is there anything that they can do to cheer him up?
First off, I have to say how happy I am that Langridge isn’t just doing a comic about Muppets, he’s doing a genuine The Muppet Show comic. By that, I mean it’s like reading a print version of the original television show; back stage drama, actual musical numbers and sketches, the whole works. There’s even a special guest appearance by a celebrity, something I wasn’t expecting to see in a comic version of the show. (Although here, said celebrities are thinly disguised as someone else, no doubt to avoid any potential legal situations.) And, just like the original program, it’s a nice mixture of recurring and new sketches; I just about cheered when Kermit did one of his reporter segments, for example, or we get the Muppet news anchor. By the time I finished reading The Muppet Show #1, I wanted to race out and buy all the DVDs of the television show. Langridge has a strong grasp of what makes the show tick, with one off-jokes as well as an overarching story throughout the entire issue that slowly gets resolved even as the show continues to move forward.
The art is also a real delight; Langridge manages to both make all of the various characters recognizable as well as keeping the entire comic in his own style. So for example, while Gonzo doesn’t look like a photographic reference of the character, it still feels like the character with his sheepish grin, hooked nose, and blue feathers. (Or is that fur? I’ve never managed to figure that out.) The entire book is really sharply presented, from old-fashioned transition cards for the start of new skits, to easter eggs for Muppet aficionados. (Beauregard the Janitor meeting George the Janitor in the background of the opening splash page is just one of the fine details that Langridge crams into the book.)
Best of all, have I mentioned that The Muppet Show #1 is just plain funny? It’s hard to not just crack a smile from start to finish, here. The idea of trying to transition a sketch comedy show into a comic book seems like a thankless task, but Langridge just makes it look easy. After I read the first issue of The Muppet Show, half an hour later I found myself still humming the theme song to the television show. Langridge has knocked this one out of the park. Highly recommended.