Like everything on ToughPigs, this roundup was a team effort. Our New York Comic Con coverage was written by Joe Hennes, Matthew Soberman, and Ryan Roe, with additional material by Staci Rosen and Louie Pearlman.
Another New York Comic Con has come and gone. This morning, I woke up feeling sore from walking amongst a quarter-million fellow geeks for four full days, bruises on my arms from heavy cosplay props, and a good chunk of money gone from my wallet due to all the merch I collected. All in all, it was one of the more successful cons.
What also made it successful was the amount of Muppet-related content! Usually our expectations are pretty low, but this year saw a preview of a new Henson series, several Sesame Street celebrities, and some brilliant cosplay. Read on to learn all about everything we saw at this year’s NYCC!
The most anticipated news came during the “Netflix and Chills” panel, as fans got their first look at the upcoming series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Executive producer Lisa Henson and executive producer/director Louis Leterrier explained that there wasn’t any finished footage to share as filming had only wrapped in London the previous week. The 10-episode series is quite obviously a source of pride for the entire company, as Henson described the year-long production process “one of the best years of my professional life.”
Another point of pride was that in an age of digital effects, all of the creatures are puppets. (Henson joked that it seemed that every puppeteer in England was working on the show.) Like recent Muppet productions, CGI will mainly be used to erase arm-rods and visible puppeteers from the final work. They also described an eagerness to return to the “extremely rich” world of The Dark Crystal, and the premise of the series is taken from a moment in the film when Jen and Kira discover the ruins of a once-strong Gelfling city. The series will explore how the Gelflings flourished and then virtually disappeared.
And then came the juiciest bit of trivia for Henson fans: the entire Froud family, Brian, Wendy, and Toby, all worked on the series. Finally, there was the exclusive footage, showing a behind-the-scenes look at the puppets and set being built, leading to footage of the series being shot, with some familiar faces making appearances (think Aughra). I can personally attest that the most impressive part was that it really looks just like it did in 1982. Aesthetically, nothing had changed, and with the Frouds being involved, it almost feels like the band is getting back together (as well as it can over 35 years later). If you liked the film, you will likely enjoy Age of Resistance. There was no formal release date announced beyond sometime in 2019. The age of wonder will return next year.
Lucky for us, the Dark Crystal portion of the panel has popped up on YouTube! Enjoy:
While the Dark Crystal news may have been the most notable, the most fun (and the most bonkers) panel was “The George Lucas Talk Show”, starring improvisers Connor Ratliff (The Chris Gethard Show) and Griffin Newman (The Tick) as George Lucas and his sidekick Watto. Among their guests was Sonia Manzano, better known as Sesame Street’s Maria. Manzano was a great sport, playing along with “George”, asking things like whether Frank Oz auditioned as Grover for the role of Yoda. “George” confirmed that yes, Yoda is a descendant of Grover.
The best moment of the panel was when George Lucas told Sonia that she had the rare honor of having acted with Star Wars characters in a non-Star Wars production. She had no memory of this, but when they played a clip of C-3PO and R2-D2 on Sesame Street, the look on Sonia’s face was priceless. It was a mix of shock and flooded memories. George Lucas confirmed what we all assumed already: This episode of Sesame Street is officially Star Wars canon.
A few other notable moments from Manzano: When asked what her favorite Sesame Street moment was, she said it was Maria’s marriage to Luis. If she was in a Star Wars movie, she’d want to be Princess Leia. She was excited to remind the crowd that if they like Star Wars, they must also love the Yip Yip Martians. When asked “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street,” she quickly replied, “Practice”.
Sonia Manzano wasn’t the only Sesame Street panelist at New York Comic Con. Geri Cole, a current Sesame writer, appeared on the “Geeks of Color” panel, along with various comic book writer and novelists. Geri spoke a bit about Sesame Street‘s history with diversity, and how it’s equally important for TV and film producers to hire people of color as their writers and crew members. Surprisingly, Geri is Sesame Street‘s first black female writer, and she feels that part of her job is to continue to push the conversation of diversity and inclusion behind the scenes in TV and film forward.
Her advice for anyone trying to break into television writing: Write every day. Just keep writing. You’ll never hit perfection, but you will always improve. Write, write, write.
Diamond Select Toys hosted a panel, during which DST president Chuck Terceira went through a PowerPoint chock-full of announcements about upcoming Marvel, Kingdom Hearts, Nightmare Before Christmas and Ghostbusters releases — and one little slide about the Muppets. It was just the Animal bust and the Swedish Chef deluxe action figure, both of which we already knew about. But it’s worth noting that the Muppets slide got one of the biggest reactions from the audience. Folks were delighted to see the Chef and Animal, and I even heard a “bork bork bork!” There’s enthusiasm for the Muppets out there.
It turns out each of the various kitchen tools in the photos of the Chef figure are separate, individual accessories, so that’s going to be a lot of little plastic pots, pans, spatulas, and meatballs to keep track of… or lose. But it’ll be a great addition to the existing Diamond Select Muppets collection. The Diamond guy also revealed that they have developed sculpts of Sam the Eagle, Rizzo, Dr. Teeth and Zoot, and they’re really hoping the Chef sells well enough to justify the release of Dr. Teeth and Zoot so they can complete the Electric Mayhem. So are we!
Erik Forrest Jackson, who wrote last year’s Muppetized adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera”, moderated a panel with Penguin Publishing, and while he didn’t speak much about his Muppet work, he did appear at the Penguin booth to sign copies of his new book, “Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm”, featuring (you guessed it) the Muppets! Stay tuned for ToughPigs’ review coming very soon!
Chronicle Collectibles (makers of the shirtless Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park statue you may have seen pictures of) was showing off their forthcoming Jareth statue, and it looked fantastic. According to the Chronicle folks, it will be limited to a series of only about 300 pieces, and it will cost somewhere north of $1,000. They’ll be taking orders by the end of this month, and they hope to have it in the hands of fans, human and goblin alike, sometime in summer 2019. They also told us the hair was the hardest part to get right — it’s not resin like the rest of the statue, it’s actually a fuzzy, hairlike substance, so they had to make it look just like David Bowie’s crazy wig from the movie.
Over at the BOOM! booth, the comics for sale included an array of Archaia’s Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Storyteller books. I’ll confess I haven’t read all of these, but the books all look beautiful, and it was quite impressive to see the whole Archaia/Henson library all together like that.
Not to be forgotten, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab had their Fraggle and Labyrinth-inspired perfumes on sale. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why these exists or who buys them, but it’s nice to see them pop up at Comic Con year after year.
As usual, the show floor included several vendors selling vintage and recent Muppety toys, t-shirts, and miscellany… A set of vintage Muppet Show puppets, including a Rowlf still in the box, made me wish I were rich. The price tags on some unopened Muppet Funko Pops made me think maybe I shouldn’t have taken mine out of the box. And an unauthorized t-shirt featuring Cookie Monster as Jabba the Hutt made me feel perfectly okay that I didn’t buy that t-shirt.
The Muppet Show print by Ape Meets Girl was lovely, and surprisingly large. Equally lovely and large was a Labyrinth piece by the same artist. Both prints seemed to be selling very well, and we were pleased to learn that the Muppet Show one sold out within the first few days of the Con. Here’s hoping Disney is paying attention!
Labyrinth was a common subject for prints being offered by artists in Artists Alley as well. People love that Goblin King.
Artist Javier Cruz Winnik was eager to show us his Sesame Street print, which is animated and exciting. What really caught my eye was his method – the characters are digitally colored to bring out their bright hues, but the backgrounds are watercolor to help bring our their realism. It’s a cool effect to see in person.
One piece of art we didn’t love was this Kermit painting. Not because it isn’t pretty, but because it was being sold for almost $4300 by an authorized seller of Disney art. Sheesh.
My personal highlight in Artists Alley was meeting Art Baltazar, the writer and artist responsible for a fantastic issue of the recent Fraggle Rock comic book. While we chatted, he drew these two wonderful sketch cards for us. I was particularly impressed how he accurately remembered Bert’s turtleneck – a detail forgotten by most artists.
Probably the most exciting part of any Con is the amazing costumes people put together. So as we wrap up this year’s New York Comic Con writeup, we hope you enjoy these talented cosplayers who have perfectly embodied some of our favorite characters of all time.
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by the ToughPigs Staff