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Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock Hardcover – September 7, 2010
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About the Author
Jim Hensen is best known for his work on the Muppets as well as his other creative works in story and film such as The Dark Crystal, The Storyteller, and Sesame Street. The humor and whimsy of his characters have continued to entertain generations of children over the past 42 years.
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The illustrations are never disappointing and each style is highly unique yet faithful to the appearance of the original characters. The storylines are all brilliant and will please even die-hard fans, and the back of the book has nice special activity pages (specifically geared toward children).
What I'd like to do is present to you some comments on each story; hopefully I will showcase what stands out about each one:
"A Throne of My Own" - with interestingly angular renditions of the characters, the art style is very digital in feel but also possesses a distinct vibrance. The story itself relies heavily on a character dynamic familiar to fans--the constant competition between Red and Gobo, which of course gets them into trouble once again.
"Time Flies" - Katie Cook's Fraggle art is one of my favorites. It's very kid-friendly, with rounded, flat, simple depictions of the characters that are just adorable. Red Fraggle takes advantage of a pocket watch that finds its way into the Rock and uses it to force her friends into competition.
"Different Tastes" - A pleasing art style with a lot of movement and beautiful line work--not as distinct as either of the previous ones, but quite pretty. Uncle Travelling Matt encounters a dump truck.
"Party, Doozer Style!" - The Doozers have never looked so cute! It's also nice to see that like the show, the comics take care to delve into the worlds of the separate species that are connected through the Rock. Cotterpin tries to introduce the idea of a "party" to the workaholic Doozers. Clever ending.
"A Visitor from Outer Space" - Doc and Sprocket start this one off! They, like the Doozers, are illustrated extremely well. A cat finds its way into Fraggle Rock and wreaks absolute havoc. The character interactions in this one are particularly well-organized, with shining one-on-one moments between Wembley and Boober and a broader sense of teamwork among the Fraggle Five coming through strongly. Boober's superstitious nature is also highlighted, which made for some fun moments.
"Red's Big Idea" - The artwork for this one is a bit strange--it's a bit dark, and gives off vibes similar to Matt Groening-type character designs (in my opinion). The story is short and seems just slightly out-of-character for Red, but it's a lot of fun. Red conspires with Cotterpin to invent amazing objects, and shows them off to her friends.
"The Convincing of Convincing John" - It's WONDERFUL to see a story featuring Convincing John! He convinces Wembley to get over his stage fright, all the while revealing some of his own backstory. The best part about this comic is that it is written almost entirely in song, and anyone who has heard John and his Fragglettes sing their famous melody will be able to match the lyrics straight to the song in their head. ('Listen to Convincing John / And all your troubles will be go-o-one!...')
"The Birthday Present" - A sketchier style of artwork that features the characters with slightly red eyes (a little unnerving to me), it showcases Red's rebellious nature as showing through her creative talents. The Fraggles make birthday presents for The World's Oldest Fraggle.
"Where Have All the Doozers Gone?" - By far the best in the collection. A complex story that was able to fit elements of mystery to it(!), it features all three of the main worlds of Fraggle Rock--the Doozers, the Fraggles, and the Gorgs. The author and artist are the same as for "Different Tastes." As far as the story goes, the title really explains it all--I don't want to spoil anything more. Also features Large Marvin.
"Boober the Doozer" - blunt linework and heavy but smooth shading describes this artwork. Boober is so unlike a Fraggle, he tries to become a Doozer!
Finally, "To Catch a Fwaggle" - A close runner-up for my favorite in this collection--which is surprising, considering that its main characters are the Gorgs. The artwork here is likely the most detailed and is filled with movement and charm. The coloring is more subtle here, capturing the forested tones of the Gorgs' garden. An exploration of Junior's true feelings about the Fraggles, the ending is a one-panel page with a lot of heart.
An observation I have about these stories is that they tend to be only a bit Red-heavy, but all the characters are represented faithfully to their personalities, so it didn't bug me too much. Red is also a popular character, so most other readers will also likely not be bothered.
The extras in the back are very simple, but I'm sure if I had a kid they would find the activities pretty fun. A big plus for this collection too is a foreword by Karen Prell, aka Red Fraggle. Imaginative stuff, and highly recommended even if you aren't a Fraggle fan yet!
The children's show Fraggle Rock ran from 1983 to 1987 and has popped up in reruns frequently since then. There seems to be a pretty devoted fandom, but for those who missed it, this graphic novel starts out with short introductions to the characters and the world of the story, so anyone can follow along.
"Graphic novel" is a misnomer; this book is an anthology of short stories by an extraordinarily talented group of writers and artists who are just beginning to come into their own: Bryce P. Coleman, Leigh Dragoon, Neil Kleid, Joanna Estep, and Eisner nominee Jeremy Love. Anthologies are usually a mix of stronger and weaker stories, but every page in this book sings. The only difference is that some of the stories are quite simple while others are more complex, making for a variety of reading experiences. Although the artists use different styles and techniques, the character designs are consistent across the book, so even new readers will have no trouble telling who is who.
The first story is an excellent introduction to the characters and the overall world of the Fraggles: Gobo, who is sort of the leader of the Fraggles, gets into an argument with Red, the hyperactive second lead, and they dare each other to spend the night in "outer space," the yard outside Fraggle Rock. Their return is blocked by Junior Gorg, who unwittingly places a chair right in front of the entrance to the rock and falls asleep in it. This crisis causes Gobo and Red to argue and split up, and inside the rock, the Fraggles panic, but eventually everyone comes to their senses and, with a nudge from Marjory the Talking Trash Heap, they solve the problem by working together. There is a gentle lesson buried in the slapstick, but it's a soft sell, with the characters acting in a surprisingly realistic way (including the bickering).
Henson's original concept was for the world of the Fraggles to encompass several different groups, each of whom was only somewhat aware of the other and of the ways in which they are connected. The Doozers make radishes into sticks that they use to build elaborate buildings. The Fraggles eat the radish sticks, demolishing the Doozers' buildings in the process. That's OK, because it allows the Doozers to build more buildings, which is their favorite thing to do. The Fraggles don't really get where the Doozers are coming from, and the cluelessness is mutual, but they have found a comfortable equilibrium. In one story, the Doozers ask the Fraggles not to wreck their building, which disrupts the relationship and causes both sides to think a little harder about it. Again, it's not preachy, just a good story, and also a rather wise one.
Fraggle Rock will strike a chord with adults who remember the original show as well as kids who just like a good giggle. Its tone is earnest but never too serious, and the colorful art makes this a very attractive package.
-- Brigid Alverson
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Fraggle Rock is from The Muppets creator Jim Henson. Fraggles are known to be a curious group that can't seem to stay out of trouble. They are a close community that is full of love and looks out for one another. The trash heap of wisdom is guarded by the Gorgs so watch out because they like to eat the Fraggles.
This graphic novel is well illustrated with bright colorful pages full of your favorite Fraggle characters. The story was fun and flowed well. Lilly and I enjoyed reading it together since we both love the show.
I think the Fraggles are becoming popular again with the help of the Hub, which shows the old episodes of Fraggle Rock. It is introducing them to a whole new generation, which will love these graphic novels.
Overall these graphic novels will be a hit with all ages. We give Fraggle Rock Volume 1 4 Stars.