Archaia Holds Free Comic Book Day Down at FRAGGLE ROCK

Dance your cares away,

Worry's for another day.

Let the music play,

Down at Fraggle Rock!

Whether that theme song is a blast from the past or something new, comic book readers of all ages will be introduced to the unique world of Fraggle Rock in April with a new series from Archaia that is being launched by one of Fraggle's biggest fans.

Created by legendary puppeteer Jim Henson in 1983 as a TV show for English-speaking countries worldwide, Fraggle Rock depicted a land where symbiotic relationships between creatures mirrored how diversity can co-exist on Earth. Showing how different "races" of creatures – like the Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs – interacted in their world, Fraggle Rock was filled with light-hearted music and stories of friendship, but it also explored complex issues like spirituality and prejudice.

It ended up being one of the most popular shows of its time in many countries, and despite its short four-year run, the show still has a cult following among those who remember it.

One of those cult-level fans is writer Heather White. Her new story – created with artist Jeff Stokely – is kicking off a new Fraggle series in April in Fraggle Rock #1, the first of three issues that will have main and back-up stories by a variety of creators. The Fraggle series will also be featured by Archaia on Free Comic Book Day in a flip book, couple with the popular series Mouse Guard on the other side.

The Fraggle Rock comic book begins just as The Jim Henson Company has also launched a new licensing program that includes apparel, jewelry, plush and DVDs.

Newsarama talked with White to find out more about her fandom and how it led to her involvement with Fraggle Rock, plus we got a primer on all things Fraggle for people who are new to the Rock.

Newsarama: As this new comic series kicks off, along with the DVDs and plush and everything, it appears that there's an interest at Henson to revive this franchise. Will that revival stick to the overall feel and continuity of the original series?

Heather White: There is an interest. They're trying to sort of revive the Fraggles because there is such a huge, almost cult fanbase behind them. Because of that, as we're telling the new stories, we want to stay with the feel of the original show and respect its continuity as best as we can. The best things about the original show were they had these fantastic stories and really solid characters.

So it was really nice to write for this comic. Everybody already loves these characters. And they're just such great characters already that we didn't feel the need to modernize them or anything.

Nrama: So the story that you're telling, are you taking it from the TV show or did you come up with something all new?

White: All the stories are all-new, but using the five main characters, and a few of the secondary characters and other characters that us Fraggle geeks will love. My goal was to make a story that I felt could be one of the original episodes, but also make something completely new. That way, all of the old fans could experience their favorite characters on new adventures, but the new fans get to meet the characters and meet them as they were originally intended.

Nrama: Would comic book readers have seen any of your work before?

White: I'm new to comics. I do other types of writing, but the opportunity for Fraggle presented itself. I knew Joe LeFavi over at Henson, and he knew I was a huge fan and that I was a writer, so he was nice enough to see if I had any ideas. I did a lot of thinking and luckily came up with something that everyone was really happy with.

Nrama: Does the comic give a primer to people who don't remember Fraggle Rock?

White: Definitely. We wanted to make sure this was accessible to new readers too. A lot of young kids would like this just as much as adults. People who are fans of this show often have children of their own now. So it's something the whole family can enjoy.

We tried to bring this television show to comics in a really light and fun way, and in a way where everyone can get a grasp of the characters without over-explaining things.

Nrama: For those who don't know what Fraggle Rock is, how would you explain it?

White: Fraggle Rock is a really great example of friendship and cooperation and acceptance, showing this microcosm of the world in this place called Fraggle Rock. The characters are sort of representative of people. Everyone I know, I could probably match them to a Fraggle personality. It's like, "Oh, yeah, you're a Wembley," you know? And it's filled with these adventures and stories about friendship, and moral tales, told in a fun way that is indicative of Henson.

Everything is an adventure for these friends as they learn lessons about love and working together and so many other things.

And it's not simply this small group, but there are outside characters too, like the Gorgs, who appear in my first story. They have a different view and live in their own quasi-universe.

Nrama: The universe is made up of three basic types of "beings," right?

White: Yeah. The Fraggles are the main inhabitants of Fraggle Rock. They live to play and have fun and sing. The Doozers live to work, and that's the joy of their lives. One of the things they do is make these big constructs out of Doozer Sticks, which are actually the primary food of Fraggles. And it ends up being a very symbiotic relationship because the Doozers love it when the Fraggles eat their constructions. And it gives them more work to do. And the Fraggles love to eat, so they have this great relationship.

Outside of Fraggle Rock is where the Gorgs live. They have this farm they consider their kingdom, but the Fraggles like to go there and get radishes, which they also like to eat. The Gorgs are always trying to capture them, so that's sort of the danger element of universe, out in the Gorg garden.

Nrama: Who are some of the main characters? And will we see them show up in the first issue?

White: In my story, the five main Fraggles are there: Wembley, Gobo, Red, Boober and Mokey. We'll also see Junior Gorg, and there will be a few cameos by some old-school characters that hard-core fans will recognize and love seeing.

Nrama: Since this is your first comics work, how has it been seeing the artwork for your stories?

White: It looks fantastic. Jeff's work has been such a joy to see. He's done a beautiful job of taking these characters and breathing a new form of life into them. They're highly recognizable, if you're a fan, but there's this great style to them. I think how it's turning out is just mind-blowing. I get little snippets every once in awhile, and it always makes my day because I'm so excited to see it.

Nrama: Is there any chance we'll see more Fraggle stories from you?

White: We've talked about it, but they're doing a variety at first. It would be great, because I really enjoyed working with everybody at Archaia. The people at Archaia are amazing, and Henson is this huge part of so many people's childhood, and they've totally lived up to their name. So I would love to. I've had so much fun working on the Fraggles. After being a fan, this experience has been wonderful.

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