James Gannon - News broke out last week on Roger Langridge's blog, The Hotel Fred, that he plans to leave The Muppet Show Comic Book. While there are some very personal reasons (which are his own business and I think we should keep it that way), he also feels that it’s time he moved on from the project anyway, feeling he’s done enough with the characters. Highly respectable, since I’m sure everyone would rather be left wanting more than seeing a stale, redundant project done joylessly by all involved (I wish The Simpsons wasn’t the first example that came to my mind). While I do respect his wishes, I also feel a little uncertain. After all, there are two obvious and completely different choices BOOM! has to make now. The Muppet Show Comic Book could go on with a different writer and artist, or they could end the comic with the last issue Roger penned. While we still have the Langridge's "Four Seasons" arc to look forward to (which is delayed because of aforementioned personal reasons) I’m just wondering about that future.
Now, if it were to continue, this question arises... would the new writers and artists have to copy Roger’s style or would they be free to go on doing their own thing? In all my years of reading licensed character comics, I’ve seen some pretty shabby results. Generic situations, poor handling of the characters in writing and art, rigid looking artwork copied off of model sheets (some that actually USED cut and paste features from model sheets), unfaithfulness to the source material, and my personal NOT favorite the “heck with it, let’s just copy a story from the show and take any of the fun parts out if they get in the way” adaptations. Roger’s Muppet Show not only avoided that, but I have rarely seen someone take to the essence of a series AND manage to let his own voice come out at the same time. It was a perfect balance. Roger was free to do as he wished, and I hope the same can be said if they decide to find a replacement. I especially do NOT want to see someone laboriously copy his style character by character. That was a huge problem with the art in the Muppet Robin Hood series. Kermit looked exactly like someone trying to draw like Roger rather than Roger’s Kermit.
If they do decide to end the series on mutual terms, that gets me to wondering. We haven’t heard much about the Muppet Classics line in a while. There have been no plans after Muppet Sherlock Holmes that have been leaked, and one could either assume they have a big surprise, or there’s nothing after it. It would be a shame to see the Muppet titles vanish, as great as they were (for the most part). Frankly, I’m going to be a bit more upset when Darkwing Duck ends, because... well, Darkwing doesn’t have a bunch of viral videos and a movie coming out next year. If they do chose to end the series, though, I’d really like to see another direction taken with the Muppets. Something that takes them away from the theater entirely, and utilizes more new era characters like Sal, Johnny, Pepe, and Dr. Phil van Neuter (who has yet to make a comic book appearance of any kind).
Don’t get me wrong... like all of you, I actually have no idea what the next step is. Those are both hypothetical scenarios. I really hope that we get to see the Muppet comics continue, be it with a new writer, a new series, or whatever. But in any case, Roger’s madcap, perfect representation of The Muppet Show will be missed, as will his wacky style of art. I was one of the first to actually LIKE that style, and it never needed to grow on me. So, good luck with whatever is going on, Roger, we all thank you for those wonderful comics that were even better than we deserved.
Ryan Dosier - For over a year, Roger Langridge has been sitting at the helm of the Muppet comic book kingdom being grown by BOOM! Studios and Disney. From his first short comic strip in the now out of print Disney Adventures Magazine, Langridge has always been the go-to guy for Muppet comics--and with good reason! His writing of our favorite characters is better than a lot we've seen since Jerry Juhl stepped down as head writer. He understood the characters almost immediately and it showed through in his wonderful writing and his even more expressive illustrations. The Muppets became zany and expressive in their eyes and facial regions--something that most Muppet fans got used to seeing, but will now have to grow accustomed to not seeing... because Roger Langridge is stepping down from his post as writer/artist of The Muppet Show Comic Book.
The next arc, "The Four Seasons" will be Roger's last on the comic for personal reasons that we should all respect. It's just a crying shame... because he'll be sorely missed. It's truly incredible to think that this little gem of a comic has been going on continuously under Roger Langridge for a staggering 24 issues. Considering the release schedule of most of these issues (monthly), by the time Roger's final issue comes out, we'll have gotten two years of The Muppet Show Comic Book. That's nothing short of staggering for a comic series adapted from a 35 year old television show.
I don't consider it a stretch at all to say that Langridge's comics were one of the greatest Muppet things of 2009 and 2010. They didn't have the immense awesomeness power of, say, guest appearances on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and America's Funniest Home Videos and "Bohemian Rhapsody," but each issue was always consistently wonderful. The art was always gorgeous and expressive and Muppety, and the writing was all of those things and then some. Every month The Muppet Show Comic Book was a great treat to read and enjoy thanks to the hard work and dedication of Roger Langridge and his respect for The Muppets, Jim Henson, and The Muppet Show.
But Langridge's leaving does beg the unfortunate question... What next? Does the comic continue under a new team of writer and artist? Does it change after every arc like the line of Muppet Classics? Or does it, heaven forbid, end all together? My hope is that we see already-established Muppet fans working on the series after Langridge departs. I would love to see the series taken over by Amy Mebberson (Muppet Peter Pan, Family Reunion, Muppet Sherlock Holmes) or James Silvani (Muppet King Arthur) in the art department and Jesse Blaze Snider (Muppet Snow White) handling the writing. Between the three of them, I think we see the best grasp on the Muppets out of anyone. I believe Mebberson and Snider have both expressed their keen interest in taking over the project on their respective Twitter accounts... while Silvani's duties are needed elsewhere in the wonderful Darkwing Duck comic from BOOM! Either way, I just want to see this comic continued and these out-spoken, unbelievably talented Muppet fans are the perfect candidates to do so.
But no matter what happens with The Muppet Show Comic Book, one thing is for sure: Roger Langridge's contribution will never be forgotten. Who can possibly forget that gorgeous cover of the first issue featuring so many Muppets spread out on the page and Kermit's joy to have the whole family back together? The Muppet comics may not always be the biggest or most hailed project in the Muppet stable, but, quite frankly, they should be. Thanks to Roger Langridge, the comics are quality products and probably the best Muppet things you can buy.
Thank you, Roger Langridge. Jim Henson would be immensely proud!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier