July 23, 2010

Comics Worth Reading: FRAGGLE ROCK

A few days ago, I posted an old article I wrote back in 2004. I posted it in reaction to the news that DC Comics is canceling two of their all ages titles.

Those of you who know me, know I've spent much of my career working on all ages comics. (Shameless plug: coming soon -- The Oz/Wonderland Kids!!! Stay posted as I can give more details.)

So I was reminded yesterday while at the comic shop that there was a series on the shelf that I've been talking up with everyone I can talk it up to. (Did that sentence make sense? I need an editor . . .) And that series is Fraggle Rock, by Archaia Comics.

Fraggle Rock, Free Comic Book Day issue

Now, i had no idea that there was going to be a Fraggle Rock comic. Or maybe I did, but I heard about it so long ago that I completely forgot. But when I helped my local comic shop, BuyMeToys.com (also publisher of The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles and The Oz/Wonderland Kids), with their Free Comic Book Day event, The Archaia free comic caught my eye.

"Fraggles?" I said. "Really? Fraggles?" Guess what the first comic in my take home pile was. Guess what the only comic in my take home pile that I've actually read was.

Fraggle Rock #1

I've made no secret how much I admire Jim Henson. Dark Crystal and Muppets and Labyrinth and The Storyteller and Fraggle Rock. These things all helped shape me creatively. Not only that, puppets are a huge part of my life, between the work I do with children and some of the film work I'm looking at doing in the near future. When I was a child, my parents would travel to work at camps and Bible schools and stuff like that, and those puppets were passed down to me.

So, armed with the knowledge that Fraggle Rock is a comic book, but cautiously optimistic (it's EASY to write for a license, NOT easy to do it well) I flipped through the free comic. It looked AWESOME. I read it, and it read AWESOME. They got it.

And I got the next issue. Paid for that one. (And eventually, the other two issues as well.)

Fraggle Rock #2

The Fraggle Rock comic series is an anthology. I don't know how they selected the different artists and writers for the series (but I'm jealous of them), but each issue of the books has three or four different short stories, each one by a different team. There are a number of different styles, but amazingly each style is able to capture the character design without following a "house style".

These books are, simply put, gorgeous. I mentioned in some previous posts about how much I love to flip through concept art. These comic books are similar. I could stare at this artwork forever.

Essentially what you have here is an anthology on the level of Flight . . . except all the stories are about Fraggles.

Not one story looks "wrong", even though each story looks different.

Fraggle Rock #3

But on to the topic that made me post this in the first place: these books are TRULY "all ages". Like the TV series, these Fraggle stories are "for the young and young at heart" (to use an apropos cliche). They are fun. They are energetic. They are sweet. They are even a bit edgy. Just like the TV show.

A hardcover collection is coming out in September, I believe. You can order the Fraggle Rock Hardcover from Amazon for just $10. (That may just be a pre-order deal.) I believe that means that it would be in last month's Previews. I'm going to be ordering mine through my local comic shop (although that means paying more for it) (it also means I'm buying it twice, but I can live with supporting it like that). But for any fan of all ages fantasy and whimsy, this is a must have.

~ Ben

PS -- I understand Archaia is developing both Dark Crystal and Labyrinth comics. Very interested to see what they do with those . . .

Artwork (c) Archaia Comics

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