Dance Your Cares Away with FRAGGLE ROCK Mini-Series by Kate Leth & BOOM!
CREDIT: BOOM! Studios
Dance your cares away!
Worries for another day!
Let the music play...oh hopefully you know the rest. Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock was a staple of children's television in the 80's and has been revitatlized in recent years by Archaia (now under the BOOM! Studios banner) as a series of all-ages comics. While the Fraggle Rock title has been more of a series of one-shots than an actual serialized story, that's about to change with Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring, a new mini-series by Kate Leth (Kate or Die, Bravest Warriors) and Jake Myler (Fraggle Rock, Darkwing Duck.
Newsarama spoke to Leth recently about Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring, growing up on Jim Henson and his lasting influences upon her, her favorite characters growing up and now, and what it's like to be part of something that meant so much to a generation of fans.
Newsarama: Kate, you're part of the generation that grew up with Henson shows on TV from "Muppet Babies" to "Fraggle Rock" (both animated and live-action), as well as "The Storyteller," how does it feel to part of all of this now?
Kate Leth: Honestly, it's terribly exciting to finally be working on something my mom's excited about! My parents were big Henson fans and so I grew up on the stuff - "Muppets Tonight" was a big deal in our house, and I still claim "Muppets Christmas Carol" as the holiday film to beat. It makes me cry every time. I came to "Fraggle Rock" later, and loved in much the same way. All the best Henson stuff focuses on heart, on friendship, on challenging yourself. It's an incredible honour that they trust me to carry on that tradition.
Before I took on the project, I rewatched hours upon hours of "Fraggle Rock", as well as a video of the wrap party on the show. Watching Jim Henson do Convincing John onstage was such a wonderful moment. Everyone working on the show loved it so much, and it showed. It was important to everyone involved with the comic to bring that same kind of enthusiasm and energy to it.
Nrama: You've quickly established yourself as a BOOM! alum working on Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, and now Fraggle Rock, what is it about BOOM! that makes you keep coming back?
Leth: They keep asking me! Haha! Shannon Watters, who is an editor and the co-creator of Lumberjanes, has always been incredibly supportive of me. She offered me a shot doing covers for some Adventure Time miniseries a few years back, then the Adventure Time graphic novels, and eventually Bravest Warriors! My resume was a short list of webcomics before I had worked for them and they trusted me enough to bring their stories to life. I work with a few different publishers now, but I think I'll always be in the roster of BOOM! reliables in one way or another.
It also comes down to the focus on all-ages material. As a publisher, they've got such a foothold in the world of kids' and kid-friendly comics, both with licensed properties and now original material (with Midas Flesh, Lumberjanes, and, soon, Teen Dog). Joining up with Archaia, who also focused strongly on the same kinds of stories, made a whole bunch of sense. Plus, it means... Fraggles!
Nrama: When the subject of doing a Fraggle Rock title came up, was it something you pursued or was it something BOOM! wanted you specifically for?
Leth: I got a very mysterious e-mail from one of my editors on Bravest Warriors one day asking if I was a fan of "Fraggle Rock". After jumping around the room excitedly for a few minutes, I responded, and was quickly connected with the developing editorial team. I pitched, and not long after got an email that "Henson loved it," which I'll save in a folder for the rest of my days. From there, we moved on to building a whole new world and story for Gobo, Mokey, Boober, Wembley, Red and the Doozers. I just about lost my mind when I saw Jake Myler's art for the series - just you wait. It's so beautiful. I couldn't be more pleased.
Nrama: Now, Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring is a four-issue mini-series, tell us what is going on here in the world of Fraggles.
Leth: Well, this is the longest Fraggle story to be told in comics, so we wanted it to feel a bit more like a movie than a clip from the show. Basically, the Fraggles discover that their home has run dry. All the water has up and disappeared, leaving them in quite a state! They're forced to venture further and deeper into the tunnels below Fraggle Rock, which is where they encounter a whole new colony of Doozers.
Nrama: Speaking of which, I understand you did redesigns of new Doozers that were actually approved by Henson. Walk us through the designs and what it is like to get the company's seal of approval.
Leth: This was so neat. I love bringing new characters into existing universes, and this was a perfect opportunity. These Doozers, well, I don't want to give too much away, but they moved away from the original group do to, shall we say, artistic differences! They're a lot more creative and artsy, but they still build like crazy.
Jake and I wanted them to be a big contrast to the construction-focused Doozers we all know, so we made them as colourful as possible. They're a little bit retro, a touch Marty McFly, dabs of disco here and there. Jake's designs were so much fun, and Henson seemed to think so, too. It's a pretty neat experience to be able to add to that world.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about the process and collaboration style with artist Jake Myler for this project.
Leth: Jake and I worked together pretty closely on some of the designs for this world, and continue to as it comes together! When it comes to scripting, that all gets done, then he pencils and we go over it before he moves into finished art. It's always a thrill to wake up to pages from him.
Nrama: Do you ever feel comfortable handling just the scripting aspect for something like this or is it something you wish you could just dive in and draw?
Leth: I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is always no! I love writing for other artists to draw. I get to tell the stories I want to tell, then amazingly talented people bring them to life in ways I couldn't. I like the collaboration, quite a bit more than I think I'd like drawing someone else's story. It's a thrill to hand in pages of script and get back a painted comic!
Leth: Any chance you have a favorite Fraggle, or one you found particularly fun to write for?
Nrama: Oh, it'd have to be Red. The headstrong, brash, outgoing one in the bunch who doesn't always know when to quit? I can't help it, she's my kind of girl! All of the Fraggles have these very strong, distinct personalities and it's pretty easy to love them, but Red takes the cake. Then again, I've got a real soft spot for Wembley.
Nrama: Lastly, the Fraggle franchise has seen its share of great talent involved with the likes of Sam Humphries, Jeff Stokely, Katie Cook, and of course your partner Jake Myler, how do you feel leaving your mark on such a treasured cast of characters?
Leth: Intimidated, of course! I went through all the previous Fraggle comics a few times before we got started, and they're just wonderful. There was a story about Convincing John that, er, convinced me it would be okay to include songs and poems in the comics. They're such a vital part of the show and I wasn't sure how that would translate to the page, but that story did the trick!
All I can say is that Jake and I, along with our editorial team and everyone involved, put a lot of love into this series. I asked a lot of friends what characters and concepts they loved most about Fraggle Rock and tried to bring them in. It's intimidating, like I said, but it's mostly such an honour. Henson was a huge part of my childhood, and I couldn't be happier to be taking it on.