Art from the originally
planned release by
BOOM! Studios.In 2009, BOOM! Studios debuted a comic book version of The Muppet Show, written and illustrated by Roger Langridge. Presenting both a tonal match to Jim Henson's original, beloved variety series and a unique visual interpretation of the famous characters, the comic became a hit, earning acclaim including a 2010 Eisner nomination for "Best Humor Publication."
Langridge's run on The Muppet Show continued for several story arcs, until BOOM! lost the rights to Disney properties a couple of years following that company's acquisition of Marvel in 2009. As a result, Langridge's planned final Muppet story, The Four Seasons, has sat in limbo for more than a year — until the first issue of the four-part series showed up in Marvel's July 2012 solicitations, simply titled Muppets.
Newsarama talked with Langridge — whose first issue of Popeye for IDW is out today — about The Four Seasons finally seeing print, whether or not the increased visibility of the Muppets might lead to him returning to the characters, and his thoughts on last fall's film, The Muppets.
Newsarama: Roger, we should probably start with the obvious — how does it feel now that The Four Seasons finally has a release date? Was there a point where you thought it might not ever see the light of day?
Roger Langridge: Oh, yeah — I'd pretty much written it off. So obviously I'm delighted that it'll finally see print. I'm sure no cartoonist likes doing four months' work that nobody will ever see — we're all sad little egomaniacs in our own way!
Nrama: Story-wise, what can you share about The Four Seasons? Clearly, it's got a seasonal theme (and I'll go ahead and make the educated guess that each issue covers a different season).
Langridge: Why, sir, you appear to have read my mind! Yes, it initially grew out of the observation that issue #12 was going to come out in December, so I thought a Christmas issue might be fun, and then the seasonal theme grew from that starting-point.Story-wise, Winter is about the gang trying to find a perfect present for Kermit for Christmas, Spring is a love story between Animal and a gorilla, Summer tells of how the Muppets try to put on a show at the beach despite unseasonal snow and blizzards (with a subplot for Fozzie as he gets offered a big break), and the Fall issue puts the spotlight on Pops, who, in his "autumn years" (see what I did there!), seems to be getting ready to retire.
Nrama: Since it's your last Muppet story, was there any amount of working in Muppets or Muppet Show segments that you hadn't used yet, or wanted to explore further?
Langridge: No, I was about ready to move on — I was really struggling to come up with fresh ideas and I wanted this arc to be my last one, regardless of whether or not BOOM! retained the license. I felt like I had enough juice in me to go out on a high note and gracefully move on to something else, before the quality started to decline.
Nrama: Since it has been a while, are there any changes being made along the way? On your site you noted that you had to redraw Gonzo's nose for the Italian release.
Langridge: Yes — to be honest, I think that request was made just so somebody at Disney Italy could say they'd earned their paycheck. And if that was what I had to do to get the work to see the light of day, I was happy enough to oblige. That was the only change.
Nrama You've said multiple times that The Four Seasons would be your last Muppet comic, and obviously you're busy with other work like Popeye and Snarked. But with a successful recent movie, a sequel being planned, and Marvel now publishing Muppet comics — is that door still closed, or maybe cracked open just a tad?
Langridge: Personally, I have no interest in going back to the Muppets — I feel I've done all I could do with it, really, and I'd rather be working on my own stuff. Also, as far as I know, Marvel have no interest in commissioning new material — if they do, they certainly haven't approached me — and it was really Disney Italy we have to thank for getting this material out of limbo. So, well done, them!
Nrama: And speaking of the latest Muppet movie, and I'm sure it's something you've been asked many times, but — what did you think?
Langridge: I haven't seen it! I don't want to get all melodramatic — "that frog is dead to me!" — but there was a bit of that; I felt like the Muppets were something that was behind me, like a relationship that had run its course. I might catch up with it in a couple of years over a beer or two!
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