We’re big fans of the Fraggle Rock comic books over here at ToughPigs HQ.  Archaia did a bang-up job at choosing a great variety of talent to write and illustrate the individual stories that really brought a lot of fun interpretations of the Fraggle Rock universe.

For their next Fraggle story, Archaia is doing something a little different.  They’ve tagged writer Kate Leth and artist Jake Myler to create a long-form Fraggle story to span over four issues in Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring.  We got the opportunity to speak with Kate and Jake to get their takes on their part in the Fraggle Rock mythos.

First up, writer Kate Leth:

FraggleRock_001_Myler_CLRToughPigs: Where did your inspiration for the story come from? What was the catalyst?

Kate Leth: I wanted to take the Fraggles somewhere new. So many places and ideas were explored in the original series, and while I wanted to use the things we all love about the show, I wanted to introduce some different and contrasting elements. We played around with a few ideas, but ultimately everyone on the project liked the thought of the Fraggles digging deeper and discovering a whole new world right underneath their feet!

TP: It’s rare for Archaia to do a single-issue series instead of just a collection, did that make your deadlines easier? Was that something you requested or did they?

KL: It’s all kind of new to me! I’d written two graphic novels for Adventure Time and just started on Bravest Warriors when Fraggle came to me. I quite like writing in installments, as opposed to 140 pages at once, although that has its upsides as well. Miniseries are a lot of fun, because you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

TP: Speaking of “Adventure Time” and “Bravest Warriors.” Where do you think the Fraggles should explore, outer space or the Land of Ooo?

KL: I think the Fraggles would fit in very well in Ooo.

TP: Do you think Finn and Jake would want to explore Fraggle Rock? How would they like it?

KL: Well, Finn would be too tall – it’d all be up to Jake, or Marceline if she shrunk herself down. Marceline would look really cool as a Henson creature!

fraggle5TP: You’re an artist and cartoonist as well as a writer, did you have any input on the look of the characters?

KL: A little bit, yeah! Jake Myler and I, along with our awesome editors Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor, all kind of collaborated on the look of the new Doozers. Jake brought them to life in such a fun, vibrant way. It’s always a treat to design something new.

TP: You run the Valkyries, an online group for girls who work in comic shops. Who do you think would be a better comic book shop employee, Red or Mokey?

KL: Oh, I think they’d both have their ups and downs! Red would be a great salesperson. She’s always up and in your face, with that competitive edge! I think she’d work well in a bigger shop like Midtown or Forbidden Planet. Mokey, I could see at a smaller, neighbourhood shop. A little dusty, a lingering smell of incense, but very welcoming. Mokey would really enjoy a lot of underground and indie comics. I could see her getting into Magic and D&D.

TP: You’ve also collaborated with “Welcome to Night Vale.” Do you see any similarities between Fraggle Rock and the Underground City beneath the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex? Do you think there’s a Fraggle Hole hidden somewhere in Night Vale?

KL: Haha, I think Night Vale probably has openings to all kinds of different worlds hidden here and there. The Underground City is a lot more hostile, though! I can’t imagine the Fraggles declaring war on anybody.

fraggle12TP: What excited you most about working on this book?

KL: Writing poems and songs. It’s the one thing I dream about, when I think about writing for animation. I love writing songs. I’m so inspired lately by the ones from Steven Universe. They’re so charming!

TP: What was your favorite Jim Henson production/character growing up?

KL: Pepe, the King Prawn.

TP: Are there any other Henson properties you’d love to work on?

KL: Muppets! I’m a real big Muppet fan, and I grew up on Muppets Tonight. I’ve seen all the movies, especially Muppet Christmas Carol. Makes me cry every dang time.

TP: Did you watch “Fraggle Rock” as a kid or did you get into it later in life?

KL: I watched it occasionally, but to be fair, it stopped airing a year before I was born. Muppets Tonight was on in the mid-nineties, so it caught me at the right age. I’d see Fraggle in syndication quite a bit. I’d pretty much watch anything Henson as a kid, so I saw it all.

fraggle11TP: Who’s your favorite Fraggle?

KL: Red! No question! She’s a brash, tough little spitfire with a heart of gold. A girl after my own heart.

TP: Can we expect any cameos from a favorite Fraggle Rock character you feel is underrated? Any cameos from other properties you’ve worked on?

KL: Ahah, there might be a few surprises here and there! I know Jake’s worked in a few things. I don’t want to spoil it.

TP: How many hours a day did you spend watching “Fraggle Rock” while working on this?

KL: I watched the first two seasons the week I got the job. So… A lot. I took it pretty seriously. I still watch an episode or two every time, before I sit down to write, to make sure I’m getting the voices right.

TP: Was it a challenge to live up to the original stories of the “Fraggle Rock” series? Did you feel a lot of pressure?

KL: Absolutely! Henson is a huge deal to me, and was incredibly formative. I got cold sweats and had a little freak-out, but then I put on the DVDs and got to work. I like to think I’ve done it justice – I absolutely know that Jake’s art is above and beyond what anyone could hope for. He’s astounding. Together, and with our awesome editorial team, I think we’ve made something pretty special.

TP: Finally, do you have a message you’d like to pass along to all the Fraggle Rock fans out there?

KL: Just that we had a lot of fun making this, and we all hope you’re going to have a lot of fun reading it. Worries for another day, Silly Creatures! We’ll see you underground!

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And now, artist Jake Myler:

myler - booberToughPigs: How excited were you to return to the world of the Fraggles?

Jake Myler: I can’t describe how excited I get every time I have the opportunity to work with a Henson property. It’s like getting to play with the actual puppets (which would be amazing)! Until they send me a Fraggle of my own I guess I’ll have to live with just drawing them.

TP: Did you try to update your designs in any significant ways?

JM: Not really. The Fraggles have a pretty distinct look and a really solid design so I’ve always tries to stick to that look as much I can while translating it into a drawn form. Looking back at the other Fraggle comics I’ve done, I feel like I could improve on some technical stuff with them. In my mind I’d faltered a little on a panel here or there, not being as accurate as I would have liked or maybe I could have given them better expressions etc. So this time around I just want to go for a little more accuracy and a little more emotion!

TP: Who are the hardest creatures to draw – Fraggles, Gorgs, Trash Heaps, or Humans?

JM: I think Fraggles are deceptively hard to draw. They’re composed of very simple shapes and in the TV show they can really rely on movement to get across their feelings! In the comic things get more subtle, and it sometimes feels like every detail really counts! I have to keep an eraser handy and redraw those Fraggle faces quite often!

TP: Who’s your favorite Fraggle?

JM: Definitely Boober. He worries about everything and I can really identify with that a lot, especially when it comes to comic deadlines! Plus, who doesn’t love a fashionable scarf and hat?

fraggle6TP: What was your favorite Jim Henson production/character growing up?

JM: Labyrinth because the world he created in that movie seemed so solid even though it was so utterly fantastical. I’d say Dark Crystal but I think as a kid it really scared me!

TP: What are other Henson characters do you love to draw?

JM: I recently got the opportunity to draw a Xmas Card for The Jim Henson Company and it had everyone on it from Pajanimals, to Sid the Science Kid, to the more esoteric Emmet Otter. But I think I liked drawing the Mystic from The Dark Crystal the most. When you draw one of them, you realize they have such an original, cool design!

TP: Are there any other Henson properties you’d love to work on?

JM: I know I said I was scared of it as a kid, but I really would love to draw The Dark Crystal. Mainly because it’s such an imaginative and interesting world filled with such unique creatures that really could only have come from the mind of Jim Henson.

TP: You’ve worked on a variety of Disney properties – Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Rescue Rangers – Do you think the Fraggles would do well on Chip and Dale’s team?

JM: That’s an interesting question! Thinking about it, I feel like Chip and Dale are really all about getting down to business and solving the case. Maybe they’d start to really get irritated when the Fraggles start bursting into song! Although, on the other hand, somehow Fraggles always seem to get out of the predicament they’re in! So maybe the Rescue Ranger team would be quite impressed with them at the end!

fraggle10TP: It’s rare for Archaia to do a single-issue series instead of just a collection, did that make your deadlines easier? Was that something you requested or did they?

JM: Actually, all the Fraggle Rock books came out as single issues in comic stores first and then were collected into those nice hardcover editions later. The different thing this time around is that it’s all done by Kate Leth and myself instead of a dozen different writers and artists, and it’s one ongoing story rather than numerous, self-contained stories. I guess that made things trickier, but also gave us the rare chance to make it more cohesive and tell an epic, continuous storyline throughout! I really can’t wait for people to read it!

TP: What are your feelings on the possible Fraggle Rock movie? Any ideas on what you think it should be about?

JM: I hope that it happens! I know a lot of folks are a little skeptical about it, especially after so many years, but working with the Fraggles in comic form, it’s really convinced me that they are characters that can really live on and perhaps go on even more great adventures! I kinda wish that the movie would be something like Journey to the Everspring – where they have to venture outside their comfort zone, and discover strange new worlds and new friends and, of course, sing a song or two (or three or four)! Fraggles kind of remind me of Hobbits that way, so couldn’t they also be due for a Lord of the Rings type adventure in movie form?

TP: I don’t know about you, but I always want to see more Fraggle toys on the shelves. Any thoughts on what you’d like to see?

JM: DEFINITELY! I’ve read the forums and heard the outcry, and I think one of the coolest things would be more accurate to model Fraggle toys or puppets! There was a good looking one released last year, but was a doll of Red Fraggle by Gregg Ortiz, and as tempting as it is, it was retailing for $1200! It doesn’t need to be dirt-cheap but maybe something a little cheaper than that so I could get all of them! The FAO Schwarz Muppet Whatnot Workshop is just the type of thing that I think could be adapted to make custom Fraggles as well don’t you think? Who do I need to talk to in order to get that going?

fraggle7TP: There are a lot of new locations that we never saw on the TV show in the comic book. Where did you draw inspiration from to illustrate them?

JM: I think I just tried to keep things in the vein of Fraggle Rock, where it’s underground, but also bright and colorful. I was kind of obsessed with the idea of spelunking as a kid, exploring caves and finding secret caverns filled with crystals, so drawing from those past obsessions helps a lot!

TP: How many hours a day did you spend watching “Fraggle Rock” while working on this?

JM: Not enough! I quickly found that if I watch Fraggle Rock while drawing Fraggle Rock, I end up JUST watching Fraggle Rock! To its credit, it’s a very distracting show! I got a healthy dose of my Fraggle watching done right before I started working on the issues, though, and marathoned a good twenty episodes.

TP: Finally, do you have a message you’d like to pass along to all the Fraggle Rock fans out there?

JM: I’d like to tell everyone that I really hope you have fun reading these new adventures! Kate and I are doing this as fans, for fans. And hopefully we’ll make a few new fans of Mokey, Red, Boober, Gobo and Wembly along the way!

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The first issue of Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring will be in stores on October 8, 2014.

Many thanks to Kate Leth and Jake Myler, as well as Archaia/BOOM! Studios’ Mel Caylo and Stephanie Hocutt for all their help!

Click here to do your research by watching Fraggle Rock on the ToughPigs forum!

by Matt Wilkie

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