Fraggle Rock HC
Written by Various
Art by Various
Published by Archaia
Review by Jeff Marsick
There will always be certain scents and sights that harken one back to their childhood. Cracking this book open was a “Whoa” moment for me, instantly transporting me back to a family room in Cleveland, circa 1984, my butt firmly planted on shag carpet in front of a late-70s model Zenith that was only slightly smaller than a Chevy Vega. Fraggle Rock of my formative years is now Fraggle Rock of a new partnership between Archaia and the Jim Henson Company. I never read the individual issues of the three-issue run that came out earlier this year, since I’m jaded on comic adaptations of cartoons (and TV shows and movies, for that matter). Sure, back in the day I did read some of the Marvel’s Fraggle series, but was disappointed that the magic of the show couldn’t be reproduced on the page. So Archaia made a deal that would tug on the heartstrings of our fondness, I thought. Bully for them. But they won’t get it right, not as I remember it.
Well, I’ve been wrong once before (it was some time during the Reagan administration), and now the tally is two. First off, it’s a beautiful hardcover, the same size as the company’s Mouse Guard. In my opinion, Archaia and Radical set the bar for hardcover presentation and this is a fine addition to my shelf. When you open the book, the colors just leap off the page, bold and bright yet subdued so that you don’t get a first-degree burn off the reds and oranges. Just on perusal, it feels like you’re fast-forwarding through an episode which is a nice comforting feeling, indeed.
The hardcover encompasses all three of the original issues (eleven stories), plus the variant covers, some activity pages, character bios, and a cute backup feature, The Skrumps, by John Chandler. What’s unique about this book is that you have eleven stories by ten different writers and nine different artists (writer Adrienne Ambrose and artist Joanna Estep collaborated on two of the stories), yet not one of them is glaringly weaker than the others. Usually you’re expecting at least a sixty-forty ratio of good stories to “who in Crom’s name thought including THAT was a good idea?”. This time out you’re getting one hundred percent of goodness for your money.
Even better, while the tales are whimsical and cute with just an occasional smidge of saccharine (which is just the right amount) they never come across as cartoony or too kiddie, and the stories are never forced. In other words, the writers and artists didn’t get in the way of the characters. There’s a respect there, an appreciation of the Fraggle community, and it comes through in every story. “Time Flies” by Katie Cook is probably my favorite, where Junior Gorg drops a pocketwatch down a well and Fraggles, unable to comprehend its true purpose, are set off by Red to perform a series of tasks against the backdrop of ticks. It’s supposed to be a game, but racing against time quickly becomes work, and therein a valuable lesson is learned.
When my kids are older, I’m going to pull this out and read it to them, then pass it on, knowing they’ll read it until the covers come off. That’s probably the highest praise I can bestow on such a beautiful and well-done book. And this is only volume one. I can’t wait to see what the next twenty will bring. Highly recommended, especially for those of you out there nostalgic for your Fraggle memories.
Archaia said this book would be on shelves this past week, but I didn’t see it at my usual haunts, so either it was sold out or delayed. However, like Underdog says, never fear: it’s due in bookstores on September 7th, and you can pre-order it right now on Amazon.
(Check out the original review on Newsarama.)
Archaia delivers the goods down at Fraggle Rock.
BY JOEY ESPOSITO
AUG 31, 2010
If you’re a child of the 1980s and the terms “Jim Henson” or Fraggle Rock don’t bring a smile to your face and spawn fond memories, chances are you also hate fun and kill kittens.
For the rest of you, be prepared to relive your glory days. Archaia has sprung to life as of late by associating themselves with Jim Henson Productions. Though the television show ended in 1987, the Fraggle Rock characters have lived on, much like its theme song. Archaia’s three issue debut of Fraggle Rock has been collected into a gorgeous little hardcover collection that, as cliche as it sounds, is a great read for kids and adults alike.
What Archaia has done is essentially create a Fraggle Rock anthology. There’s 12 short stories within the collection, along with fun kids activity pages and an 8-page Skrumps story by John Chandler. For an anthology book priced at $19.95, Archaia does what they do best and jam packs this collection with everything they can, making it a worthwhile value for any that should purchase it. It’s also a great book for helping kids to get into reading. The stories are simple, funny, and often have some sort of lesson about the world we live in, co-existing in society, and even the meaning of art.
In that sense, Archaia’s Fraggle Rock is incredibly true to the Henson name. On the surface, it’s goofy fun and Muppets, but look deeper and there’s a high amount of educational value, both ethically and comedically. You’ll get to see all your favorite Fraggles, Gorgs, and Doozers; even the Trash Heap, Doc, and Sprocket make appearances. For the youngins that may not be familiar with Gobo and the gang, there’s even a nifty little introductory section that presents the main players, their personalities, and relationship with other characters.
What’s a joy about this collection — and something that every anthology should strive for — is that all of the tales are equal in quality and enjoyment. All of the artwork differs, but none of it dips in appeal. The stories are varied enough to keep the book from getting stale, and the page count is just enough to keep younger readers engaged.
No matter how much we love our superhero drama, over-the-top gore and hard boiled noir, there isn’t a soul on the planet without a soft spot for Jim Henson’s creations. Though Fraggle Rock and its inhabitants aren’t the most famous of the various Henson productions, Archaia has chosen the perfect avenue to blend children’s fantasy, relevant storytelling, the anthology mindset and pure sentimental value.
(Check out the original review at Crave Online.)