For those of you with short attention spans or with no more than 15 seconds of free time, here is my review of the first issue of the Fraggle Rock comic book: It is good. Like, really really good.
For those of you with a little more time on your hands, here’s a few more thoughts about the comic book in question.
The Fraggle Rock comic book follows contains one feature story, two slightly shorter stories, and one activity page. It’s hard to choose a favorite portion since all three sections are so different from each other. And as much as I’d love to be lazy and review all three at once, I think we’ve got to take them one at a time. Ugh, blogging is hard!
The first story, “A Throne of My Own” (written by Heather White and illustrated by Jeff Stokely) is without a doubt the Fraggliest portion of the comic. It actually reads as if it was a missing chapter from the show. The story begins with Gobo retrieving a postcard from Outer Space, continues as Red challenges Gobo’s bravery, and takes the two Fraggles through the Gorg’s garden where Junior Gorg unwittingly creates a challenge that they have to work together to overcome. Sound familiar? That’s the idea! Heather White’s script doesn’t allow for much that might take advantage of the comic book medium, but I think that’s better for the first story in the first issue of the Fraggle Rock comic book. Everything about the story screams of familiarity, and it allows us to be brought straight back into this world which we haven’t seen since 1987.
Jeff Stokely’s art also helps to bring that familiarity, illustrating characters with a good mix of realism and stylization. At times, the characters look like puppets, and other times they’re wacky cartoon characters. Either way, they feel like they’re alive, which is a good sign. The amazing coloring job by Lizzy John is also worth noting, as the colors really help to bring the designs into the third dimension. Stokley’s portrayals of Junior Gorg and the Trash Heap might take a little flak from the fans, as they’re a little off-model, especially the Trash Heap who looks more like Swamp Thing than a pile of garbage. Even still, I was mightily impressed by his drawin’ skillz, and I hope we see more of his work in this comic in the future.
The second story is called “Time Flies”, and is written and illustrated by fan favorite Katie Cook. Katie, as you may recall, is a die-hard Fraggle fan who used to make Fraggle Rock art for fun. And now she does it for fun and for work. Seriously, how awesome is that? Her story involves Junior Gorg losing a pocket watch (Gorgs have pockets??), and then the Fraggles find it and teach themselves how to tell time. Of course, Red manages to turn it into Rock-wide panic. I personally love Katie Cook’s artistic style. The characters are cute, yet instantly recognizable, and they’re all-around fun, which is exactly how a Fraggle Rock comic book should feel. In just six pages, we get a glimpse at what makes both Gorgs and Fraggles happy, as well as the insecurities of most of the characters involved. If that doesn’t scream Fraggle Rock, I don’t know what does.
Katie also provides this issue’s activity page, which is “How to Draw a Doozer” (as presented by local artist Mokey Fraggle). Of course, Katie doesn’t just show us how to draw a Doozer, but how to draw the cutest dang Doozer you’ll ever see.
The final story is “Red’s Big Idea”, written and illustrated by Jeffrey Brown. Unlike the previous stories, this one feels a little out-of-place, and a little more distant from the TV show. Here, Red goes all Marcia Brady and gets hit in the head with a ball. In her near-concussion state, inspiration strikes and she becomes an inventor. Brown’s style, both artistically and in storytelling, has its roots in independent comics, so it comes across as very different from what we’re used to. But I found it to be a breath of fresh air, showing a different interpretation of those characters we’re so familiar with. His story even has a twist that made me laugh out loud, mainly because it was so unexpected. So whatever you do, don’t expect anything when you read this comic and you’ll love it.
The entire issue is very Red-heavy, as she figured prominently into all three stories. I can only assume this was done on purpose and that each Fraggle will get their own spotlight issue in this miniseries. But with three issues and one Free Comic Book Day issue, who will be left out? Okay, we’ll say it on the count of three. One, two, three: Mokey!
Naturally, I loved this comic book. The writing is phenomenal, the art is spectacular, and the show lends itself so perfectly into the anthology format. I can’t wait to see what issue #2 will bring. Hopefully much more awesomeness.
Remember, Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, May 1st! Visit your local comic book store to pick up your free copy of the Fraggle Rock/Mouse Guard flip-book from Archaia Comics!
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com