Friday, March 27, 2009

Nostalgia Trip: The Muppet Show

I picked up the first issue of the new Muppet Show comic by Roger Langridge that BOOM! Studios put out this week kinda on a whim. A few of my friends have been talking up Langridge for months now, but that wasn't the reason I bought the book, since if I bought every book by a lesser known creator who my friends have a boner for, I'd be selling Megan's engagement ring to afford my apartment. No, for some reason as I was walking the aisles of Hanley's the cover to The Muppet Show #1 caught my eye and, in large part because I wasn't getting much else this week anyways, I picked it up.

And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Part of my enjoyment came it from it simply being a good comic, and that certainly wasn't the surprise. As noted, I've heard nothing but good things from trusted friends about Langridge's talent and BOOM! is a fine publisher with a fairly discerning taste for this type of product in particular, so I knew that in the most basic sense I'd probably get a good comic.

No, I was more surprised with how this comic hit my nostalgia button in a warm, fuzzy way, because it was a nostalgia I was not entirely aware I possessed.

Whenever the subject of the Muppets has come up (and that's really not terribly often, despite the company I keep), I give a kinda half-assed "Oh yeah, the Muppets, love the Muppets" in the same way you say how you like pizza or roller coasters (neither of which I like, but I digress). Everybody likes the Muppets, so of course I like the Muppets. Why not.

But why?

I truthfully don't remember my first exposure to the Muppets. I think it was one of the movies, most likely Muppets Take Manhattan, because reading over the wikipedia summaries, I remember that one the most distinctly. At the very least, I must have caught it on HBO or local TV or something a buncha times because I can picture the scenes (though I can do the same with The Great Muppet Caper; it's all a mishmash). I remember playing the "Pigs in Space" video game at my friend Brendan's house. I don't even remember the timeslot of the original Muppet Show, because I can only recall watching it during the day in syndication when I was home from school sick. Oh hey, looking it up, it turns out I can't remember the timeslot because the show ended two years before I was born.

It's all part of that shapeless, warm quilt of memories that makes up childhood. It makes me feel comfort but I don't really know why.

I do remember when Muppets Tonight premiered. I was 14 and I was super excited because it felt like I got cheated out of something by not being old enough but now my generation was gonna get a shot. The 90's were like that. I think that's where Woodstock '94 came from.

Anyhow, that rambling didn't really help me figure out why I had an affinity for the Muppets, so I'll try some more.

Even though I didn't quite understand it, I did on some level even then appreciate the spirit of Kermit searching for meaning in his life through the theater and finding this bizarre surrogate family. Though I had a great home life as a kid, I think I always felt like the community I grew up in wasn't entirely where I belonged and dreamed of belonging to a more eclectic group of people, which of course happened in college and certainly in my professional life. So there's definitely a parallel there I doubt I was ever fully aware of.

I also just appreciated how weird and out there the Muppets were and that there was clearly some higher intellectual and creative ideas Jim Henson was expressing in his work, but I never felt dumb for not knowing what they were. There's too much good art that alienates people because the artists don't know how to be bold without also being condescending, and with Henson, that was definitely never the case.

And of course, bottom line, the Muppets were entertaining. They were funny. The songs were catchy. The production value was the textbook for how to make a whole lot out of not so much.

So flash forward a decade or two and after writing this entry I think I can definitely see why I felt good after taking a gander at the work of Roger Langridge and friends this past week. I hope this venture works out well and in 10-20 years, there will be guys and girls creeping up on 30 writing holographic super blogs (or whatever they have in the year 2030) figuring out why they like the Muppets. I think it's off to an excellent start and I personally can't wait for the next issue.

(Also, I learned while reading the comic that Megan is apparently terrified of Muppets, which is both sad and wonderful and will likely warrant another blog entry someday)


Jesse T. said...

I must buy this. It'll be the first time in God knows how long I've walked into a comic shop with the intention of buying something new. What a jaded old geek I am.

Ben Morse said...

You're young at heart! And a rebel too.

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I hate the Muppet's Show, by the simple reason the TV series always had been so gay and extremely boring don't' you think???

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I have seen some Muppet shows... I don't like that type of show but my sister's children have enjoyed a lot. I was very happy to see my nephews. Thanks for sharing with us....

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