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Friday, August 23, 2013

Marvel Comics readies 'The Muppets Omnibus'


Upcoming hardcover tome collects four Muppet series by cartoonist Roger Langridge.

It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights and, for a new generation of fans, it's time to meet the Muppets in a Marvel Comics omnibus.

The upcoming hardcover tome The Muppets Omnibus collects four series by cartoonist Roger Langridge featuring Jim Henson's fan-favorite creations: The Muppet Show, The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, The Muppet Show Comic Book and The Muppets. Slated for an April release, the book pulls from material originally published by Disney and Boom! Studios, which previously had the license to release Muppets comics.

The lovable craziness of The Muppet Show dates to the 1970s TV show, but the Kermit the Frog, Sam the Eagle, Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and the rest of the gang remain timeless because they're so recognizable from people's own lives, Langridge says: "Kermit the put-upon guy burdened with responsibility, Piggy the wounded diva, Gonzo the attention-craving eccentric, Fozzie the guy whose station in life slightly outstrips his talent for it, and on and on.

"There's a kernel of truth around which each character is constructed which keeps them vital and relevant and — despite their flippers, fur, beaks or trotters — very human."

Drawing those comics was a dream assignment for Langridge, the British writer and artist who's tackled everyone from Judge Dredd and Thor to Popeye and Fred the Clown in his day. He was a fan of the old series, but the major attraction for him was "the trappings and concerns" of The Muppet Show had shown up in a lot of his previous work.

"The showbiz setting, the opportunity to write tortured doggerel and pass it off as 'musical numbers,' the balance between humor and pathos, the sketch-show format itself — these were all things I was doing independently," Langridge explains. "In many ways, The Muppet Show Comic Book fit me like a glove, and I like to think I was well-positioned to do the project justice as a result."

Animal was always a favorite for him to draw "with all the wild, uninhibited lines and extremes of movement," the cartoonist says, but in time he also found personalities such as Miss Piggy, Floyd and Gonzo "seemed to fall out of the pencil more easily than others."

While he's not drawing the Muppets regularly now, Langridge still sketches them at comic-book conventions for kids — and sometimes their parents, too.

"Of all the things I've worked on, the Muppets seem to be what has made a connection with the largest number of people, and it remains the thing I'm requested to draw most often," Langridge says. "I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to be associated with something that is held in such great affection by so many."

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