Comics Your Cares Away: Kate Leth And Jake Myler Talk ‘Fraggle Rock: Journey To The Everspring’ [Interview]
For most of a certain generation, the TV show Fraggle Rock is a beloved childhood memory. Beyond its basic and undeniable Henson charm, it was also a show with a lot of smart, complex lessons for kids and adults. For this reason -- as well as because some of those children have now grown up to be parents -- it's no surprise that comics publisher Archaia jumped at the chance to publish Fraggle comics.
Now that Archaia is a part of Boom Studios, the publisher's approach to Fraggle comics has shifted a little, with the first-ever Fraggle Rock comic miniseries, Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring. Written by Kate Leth and drawn by Jake Myler, it's the longest Fraggle comic yet. ComicsAlliance sat down with thes creators to talk about making Fraggle comics, working with Henson, creating new characters, and, of course, their favorite Fraggles.
ComicsAlliance: Do you have fond childhood memories of the Fraggle Rock TV show, or was it something you found out about as an adult?
Kate Leth: I have fond memories of all things Henson. I grew up on the stuff. My mom's a massive fan and made sure it was a part of my upbringing.
Jake Myler: I totally watched it growing up. They'd put it on at the daycare that I went to, and I remember it being very entrancing! You couldn't get me to look away when it was on.
CA: What will readers be able to see in the new Fraggle Rock comic that hasn't already been done on TV or in previous Fraggle comics?
KL: It's an adventure with a larger scope. Archaia and Henson came to us with the concept of the miniseries being like a movie — a story you couldn't tell in one short comic or episode. There are also new Doozers, new songs, and plenty of surprises.
JM: So far all of the Fraggle comics have been kind of one-shot, short stories. Their world is just so detailed though, so I'm really excited that this comic is a longer format, four-issue story. It gives us so much more time to get to all the good Fraggle stuff.
CA: Jake, you’ve drawn past Fraggle comics. What is most important to you when illustrating a Fraggle story?
JM: I felt like it was really important to get all the Fraggles’ personalities onto the page! And of course, Red moves around energetically, while Wembley quivers with indecisiveness, and Mokey dreams wistfully. But hopefully I've brought some of that movement and personality from the show into the comic!
CA: What are the challenges inherent in turning iconic 3-D puppets into 2-D comic characters, visually?
JM: Fraggles might seem to be pretty easy to draw at first, but then you find that the hardest part is really just drawing the shape of their heads! Each Fraggle is a little different in shape and proportion, so keeping it consistent is really hard! If I'm not paying attention, I start to draw Boober with Mokey's nose!
CA: Since this is the longest Fraggle comic that's been done to date, how does that change the way you tell and illustrate the story?
JM: I'm not sure if it comes across, but I really wanted to make this seem like an epic adventure, so as they journey forth, I wanted to dip into the fantastical styles of other Henson properties like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and make the setting more grand!
CA: What’s the tone you’re going for with the book, both in art and in writing? How do you balance making comics for a younger audience with also appealing to older fans of the Fraggle Rock TV show?
JM: The story is really epic and fun but with a little drama. It’s kid friendly but adults can totally read it and enjoy it. It's really smartly done! Good job, Kate! I was trying to make the art match the story with as much energy, excitement, and motion in the panels that I could cram in there and then a lot of grand shots of the world they're adventuring in.
KL: I wanted to write a really all-ages book. I wanted something a parent, who was a fan of the show, could read with their kids, but was friendly to new readers as well. It's fun and silly, absolutely, but I like to think the heart of the original show is there, too.
JM: One thing that hits me as an adult is the emotional range of these puppets. The original show didn't shy away from showing sadness and even desperation, and in this comic neither do we! I think seeing a range of emotions is something that's appealing to both kids and adults.
CA: The Fraggle Rock TV show dealt with a lot of complex themes like socialism vs. capitalism, God, the divine right of kings, etc while also dealing with more basic, kid-friendly things like sharing, friendship, being considerate. Was there a message you wanted to send with this comic, and if so, what was it?
KL: While we haven’t gone as theological as some episodes of the show were, our main themes in the comic are conflicts of self and what it means to create, and to contribute. When you’re dealing with something as smart as this show could be, you can’t underplay it or dumb it down. Gobo spends a great deal of the comic trying to figure out his place, who he is, and where he fits in.
CA: Kate, since you’re an artist as well as a writer, do you spend a lot of time considering the visuals, or do your scripts focus on the dialogue?
KL: It’s both. After I got the proof of the first issue of Jake’s art, I knew I could trust him pretty much implicitly to create the visuals of this world. He’s amazing, and I love his coloring so much. I would describe the creatures or environments in pretty basic detail for the most part and always get pleasantly surprised by his work. He’s just incredible. You hear that, Jake?!
CA: This story includes a brand new kind of Doozer — what can we expect from these new Doozers?
KL: They're builders, like the Doozers we know and love, but they're much more creative and less grounded by plans and calculations. It's almost like the difference between architects and sculptors. Visually, I described them at a panel at New York Comic Con as being heavily influenced by what the Back to the Future films imagined the future to look like. They're funky, vibrant, and totally jarring to their classic counterparts.
JM: Somehow I really feel like this is a type of Doozer that you might have seen on TV if the show had continued. They're different, but they don't seem out of place. These new little guys were really fun to come up with, so hopefully everyone enjoys them as much as we did making them!
CA: How much leeway do you guys have when creating new characters or new plots? What’s the approval process with Henson like?
KL: Henson has been wonderful to us. We didn't get much revision at all once the process began. They seemed to like our new Doozers a fair bit, which was great. We were given pretty free reign to have fun and make something new.
JM: I always tell everyone that if you can find a way to work on a project with Henson, don't think twice about it. When they do give me revision on a piece of art, it always makes perfect sense and really improves the drawing in the end. They truly are the best and give us a lot of creative freedom.
CA: Who’s your favorite Fraggle?
KL: Red. Always and forever. She's the brash, in-your-face Fraggle with a heart of gold. The adventurous girl. I'm predictable, I suppose, but I love her.
JM: I'm steadfast in the Boober camp. Boober and I both fret and worry about things, and just like him, my favorite thing is just a quiet day.
Fraggle Rock: Journey To The Everspring #1 is available online and in stores now. Issue #2 is on sale November 14th.