Way back in January, we had ourselves a little chat with Roger Langridge, the writer and artist for BOOM! Studios’ recent hit, The Muppet Show Comic Book, which is already selling out and garnering rave reviews (including one from your favorite Muppet fan site). In our first of what we hope will be a monthly feature, we’ll be holding a Q&A with Roger Langridge after every issue. If you’ve got pressing questions for Roger, feel free to e-mail me or post on the ToughPigs forum. Now, let’s get on with the gettin’ on!
ToughPigs: What sort of updates in the writing and design did you make between the preview comic and the first issue? Gonzo’s more-rounded nose, for example, is one obvious change you’ve made.
Roger Langridge: As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the preview comic consisted of material originally produced for Disney Adventures magazine which was never published, and my brief on those stories was to do it in my own style, hence what some fans probably regard as my stylistic eccentricities. The Boom! comic was really a fresh start, and the expectations were somewhat different, so Gonzo’s streamlined nose reflects that – the comic is more like “official merchandise”, as far as that goes, despite not being commissioned by Disney directly. So it wasn’t so much a case of making conscious changes, more a case of treating the Boom comic as its own thing and approaching it accordingly.
TP: Did you get any notes from BOOM! or Disney about Americanizing the dialog? (Note: Roger Langridge hails from New Zealand and currently lives in London.)
RL: Jim Lewis made a couple of suggestions and queried a colloquialism or two that wouldn’t travel well. They’re keeping their eyes open for the obvious ones!
TP: Aside from Jim Lewis, who we Muppet fans are intimately familiar with, who are the other names listed in the “Special Thanks” section? (Tishana Williams, Ivonne Feliciano, Jesse Post, and Susan Butterworth)
RL: No idea! (Apart from Jesse Post, who was one of the people who got me into Disney Adventures when he worked there.) The Thank-Yous were put in at editorial level – presumably they’re all Disney/Henson liaisons of some kind or other.
TP: What is your process for writing original songs that appear only in print form like “Bang, Boom, Splat and Pow” and “In the Pond Where I Was Born”? Did you actually write or record music for them?
RL: Good lord, no! It’s just doggerel, really – I don’t have a musical bone in my body. Proper songs usually involve a lot more repetition (choruses, refrains), which is something that doesn’t usually work on the printed page. I’m trying to get the idea of a musical number across, but in a way that works in print. My ideal here is Alice in Wonderland (the book, that is), where characters are constantly breaking into “song” but in a way that uses the printed page to full effect, like Carroll’s “Tail of a Mouse”, in which the text is actually shaped like a tail. I’m not there yet, but that’s something to strive towards.
TP: I enjoyed the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards analogs in the comic. Will you have “celebrity” guest stars in future issues?
RL: If I can work them into the story artfully, I’d be up for that. Nothing in the ones I’ve yet written, though. Believe it or not, I didn’t think of the Zimmer Twins as guest stars (except to use that as an excuse to wedge them in there) – I just thought “The Zimmer Twins” was a nifty gag! Kermit and Scooter discuss possible guest stars in issue 4 as an excuse for me to trot out some atrocious celebrity Spoonerisms, for what that’s worth. I’m aware it’s a part of the show’s format that has to be addressed from time to time.
TP: When you create original characters like the hoptoads, do you envision certain puppeteers performing each one?
RL: I’m not as immersed in the behind-the-scenes stuff as most of your readers are, so the only puppeteers I’m aware of are the really well-known ones, the household names. But since these hop-toad characters were really just throwaways, here for two pages and then gone forever, I wasn’t too concerned about giving them individual personalities – in fact, I think that would have been counter-productive in this context.
TP: Rumor has it that you’re already starting work on a second Muppet Show miniseries. Can you give us any details on that?
RL: As far as my work schedule is concerned, The Muppet Show Comic is an ongoing monthly series, but Boom! Studios want to re-start the numbering every four issue for marketing reasons. So the next four-issue story arc is called “The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson”, in which rumours of a hidden treasure inside the theatre lead to, one hopes, hilarious complications – all this as a background subplot to the usual songs, sketches and so forth. Nothing radically different to the initial four issues, except the subplot element is a bit stronger. And that will lead us into the next four-issue arc, which is a logical progression from this one, I hope.
TP: Do you have a favorite character to write for? A favorite episode of The Muppet Show?
RL: I’m finding Gonzo and Miss Piggy the most enjoyable so far, because they both seem to have layers like an onion. You think you know them and then they surprise you. But I can’t think of a single character I’m not enjoying on some level.
Favourite episode: Probably the Spike Milligan one. I’m a huge Milligan fan and it just seemed like such a perfect mesh of sensibilities.
TP: Is there anything else you want to relate to the Muppet fans?
RL: Just to say thanks for being open-minded about the book, and thanks for giving it such a warm reception. I really appreciate it.
Super special thanks to Roger Langridge for chatting with us! And double super special thanks to him for making The Muppet Show Comic Book! Issue #2, “Fozzie’s Story,” hits the stands on April 29! And while you’re at the comic shop, be sure to get the first issue of Muppet Robin Hood, which will be released on the same day.
Click here to break into (written) song on the ToughPigs forum!