BOOM! Studios has had a critical and popular hit this past year with its Muppet comics, and recently it launched its latest Muppet-tale with Muppet Peter Pan, written by writer and actress Grace Randolph. Randolph gave us the inside scoop on the Muppet trip to Neverland.
Newsarama: Grace, can you start with the basic lowdown on Muppet Peter Pan?
Grace Randolph: Sure! Muppet Peter Pan comes on the heels of Muppet Robin Hood, and both stories are part of BOOM! Studios' new series which re-imagines classic stories ala the Muppets! Muppet Peter Pan is four issues long and it's charmingly awesome - at least that's the plan. (laughs)
It stars Kermit as Peter Pan and Miss Piggy as PiggyTink, while the Darling children are portrayed by Janice, Scooter and Bean Bunny. As for our villains, Gonzo is Captain Gonzo and Rizzo is Smee. Those are the main characters, but there are plenty of cameos from the rest of the Muppet cast!
Nrama: Tell us a little about yourself. You seem to wear many hats -- writer, actress, web content -- how'd you come to comics?
Randolph: I think a lot of people involved in the arts wear many hats - it's just the nature of the biz! As for how I started in comics, first off I've been reading them since I was a kid.
After high school, I went to NYU Film, and one of the things I studied was screenwriting. Even though the skills involved in writing for film and for comics are intrinsically different, it got me thinking I'd like to tackle the latter. So after graduating, I wrote to an editor about an idea for an original mini-series.
Well, I soon found out that new writers don't pitch original mini-series, but the editor graciously asked to see some of my spec work. He liked it, which eventually led to my first big break with DC Comics' Justice League Unlimited #41. I'm very grateful that such a big publisher had faith in a new writer like me - it meant a lot. And I like to think I delivered. In fact, that issue got a very nice review on Newsarama!
Nrama: Does your background in sketch comedy give you a particular insight into doing a Muppet show -- or Peter Pan for that matter, given how it was first popularized in the theater?
Randolph: Oh definitely. I think it's imperative to understand how to write comedy to write the Muppets. That's because I feel the humor behind the Muppets is very intelligent - you can't make a run of it with just a bunch of blue humor that a lot of comedians rely on today.
I studied sketch writing with Upright Citizens Brigade and had my own sketch group, which was great because I've not only written jokes but gotten the chance to see how they go over with an audience. A good comedian has to not only know what's funny on paper, but what will play.
That said, the original Peter Pan isn't a comedy so I also want to be respectful to its sense of adventure and the heart of the story. I think the end result is very nice - and I hope everyone agrees!
Nrama: How is your Muppet book distinct from Roger Langridge's, which, let's face it, is pretty awesome stuff?
Randolph: Haha! I know, right?! How am I supposed to follow THAT?!
I got the chance to meet Roger at San Diego Comic Con this year when we did a panel on the Muppet comics and he is absolutely wonderful. So whatever creative force you imagine is behind The Muppet Show comic while you're reading it, you won't be disappointed if you're ever lucky enough to meet Roger Langridge in person.
I'm also following Tim Beedle's Muppet Robin Hood arc which has also gone over very well with readers. But yes, I do feel that Muppet Peter Pan is distinct from both books. I'd say The Muppet Show is - well - The Muppet Show, Muppet Robin Hood is very Monty Python, and Muppet Peter Pan is The Colbert Report meets early Saturday Night Live.
Nrama: What's your favorite version of Peter Pan, and why?
Randolph: I think the great thing about Peter Pan is that the source material is so strong, every version works! It's really just a wonderfully charming story with ideas that capture everyone's imagination and themes we can all relate to.
Nrama: For that matter, do you have a favorite Muppet?
Randolph: Sam the Eagle. He is absolutely hilarious! I love the YouTube short where he's told it will be broadcast on the "World Wide Web" and asks if there's anyway to just beam it to the American part. My second favorite Muppet is my Muppet Whatnot, Josh. I'm trying to get him a cameo in the book!
Nrama: Give us the down-low on "Beyond the Trailer."
Randolph: “Beyond The Trailer” is a web show I host, write and produce every week and it's distributed via Indy Mogul. I created the show for two reasons: 1) because I feel that critics only judge movies based on their own personal opinions which don't reflect the average moviegoer, and 2) because Hollywood often talks down to audiences and doesn't understand how knowledgeable they are.
So on “Beyond The Trailer,” I not only give you behind the scenes gossip and industry facts about each new movie, but I also interview actual moviegoers who've just seen it! I really love the show because, hey, I get to talk movies every Friday with a bunch of interesting people! Plus I get to use my sketch comedy skills in my commentary, and my improv skills in the interview section.
Nrama: Do you have any more comics work coming up, and what was fun about working on this project?
Randolph: Yes, I just had two new mangas come out from TOKYOPOP! One story in StarCraft: Frontline Volume 3, and another in Warcraft: Legends Volume 5. The Warcraft story, “Warrior United” - is the sequel to my story in Volume 2 and it's the first time Blizzard has approved a sequel to an anthology story after the original was published, so I'm very proud of that!
As for what's fun about working on Muppet Peter Pan, it's the chance to play with these characters from the Muppets and within the world of Peter Pan. Both elements were such a big part of my own childhood - and who am I kidding, even now! To be able to contribute to the legacy of both is pretty amazing.
Nrama: Tell us about your artist on this book.
Randolph: My artist is the wonderful Amy Mebberson! She has a great feel for the Muppets and every time some of her pages come in, I'm blown away! What's really great about her is how well she can convey physical comedy.
I not only write a lot of jokes but a lot of gags too, and both need strong visuals to hit a home run. And if you have some time, check out her website (http://www.mimisgrotto.com) as she's got a lot of other great artwork to see there.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Randolph: Well, as you said, I'm a wearer of many hats, so please visit my website - www.gracerandolph.com - which has updates on my latest projects. It also has all the info about Long Beach Comic Con where I'm a special guest, so I hope to see some Newsarama readers and Muppet fans at the convention!
Muppet Peter Pan #1 is in stores now.
Zack Smith ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a regular contributor to Newsarama.