Review: Fraggle Rock #1

Published on May 5th, 2010

One great thing about the comics medium is it’s ability to give us MORE of what we want. You can continue a show without committing the cast, you can produce a sequel to a movie without the big budget of special effects and you can even rejuvenate loved characters and stories in a stimulating new way.  I am reminded of this because I read a comic this week based on a property popular during my childhood.  So if you’ll indulge me, let’s step back into the 80s and take a look at Fraggle Rock.

Having not been alive the majority of years the popular TV show Fraggle Rock  originally aired, I have to assume I caught it on rerun and still at a very young age. Admittedly I don’t recall much of the show outside of images of characters and settings and the unforgettable theme song, but reading this comic brought a lot back.

fragglerock01coveraThis first issue, of what will be a 3-part series published by Archaia Comics, is similar to other kids comics in that it is broken into an number of short stories.  In this case each tale is written and drawn by various creators.  I’m not sure I agree with the idea of having multiple creators in a single issue as it is a bit jarring and it sort of killed the magic of the comic changing the look and feel of the story.  I can only imagine how it would affect an actual kid reading this. Maybe I’m being a bit picky but if I’m taking a trip through my childhood I’d rather it be first class all the way. The first feature with art by Jeff Stokely and Lizzy John really captured that Fraggle feel I was hoping for. The art was more fitting than the following 2 and  it captured the fantastical nature of the Fraggle world. It  was also a bit more similar to the show, which was live action with puppets, than the flatly animated art which came next.  In fact, the art thereafter was a little creepy to me, it was like my favorite Fraggles were trapped in a cartoon world with no escape!

As for the writing it was nothing particularly great unfortunately. I feel like there are ways to write characters who are meant to be child like and not make them obnoxious. Is that just me? If I may tangent a bit here? I think comics in general are really bad at giving kids, or in this case Fraggles, credit for just how clever and mature they can be, OR dare I say even likable. I think creators dumb down “kids” because they underestimate their reader and think they can only relate to things like emotional outbursts and fart jokes, whatever.  I don’t remember if the characters were this way in the show but who knows maybe my standards were lower then.

Aaaaaaand then they spelled out the moral or the first story, “great adventures are meaningless without friends” and “it’s ok to ask for help”. The writing didn’t get much better from there. The second story’s tone was a bit condescending I felt,  like it was written in baby voice with flat and simple characters. And sure, ok, children’s books don’t have to teach children phenomenology or have characters whose back story matches tabloid headlines, but I would hope that they could include something more than single minded characters who seem to be more a parody of kids than anything else. As for the final chapter, it was short and mostly inoffensive. Although it faked me out a bit.  It started with what I thought was encouraging children to be imaginative and ended in mocking the final result of that imagination. Upon full reflection I was a bit disappointed by this issue, I may need to re-read the most recent Tiny Titans to remind me what a good kids comic is like.

Dancing my cares away

~Dana Shukartsi