Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Skeeter and Questions of a Muppet Canon

I've been FINALLY catching up on reading The Muppet Show Comic Book. Currently I'm reading the storyline "Family Reunion," which sees Scooter's twin sister Skeeter working backstage at the Muppet Theatre. She's a fantastic character, probably the most well-rounded and purely fun female character they've ever had with the main Muppets, and I would love to see her come back again and balance out the cast. The dynamic with her around shifts a bit, but in a fun and energetic way.

The only thing that bugs me about this story is that Skeeter is only referred to once by name, at the very end (signing a letter), per some weird agreement between Disney and Boom Studios (who was, until recently, doing an awesome job of handling the Muppet comics). Writer Roger Langridge (who is brilliant) also makes an interesting choice in framing each issue with a sort of celestial, Greek godlike version of Statler and Waldorf playing a chess-like game and introducing chaos into the Muppet Theatre. It gives the story an air of fantasy that raises the question of whether or not this story is happening in continuity--or, as Langridge much more prosaically put it, "it's as real as you want it to be." (What's weird is that, despite whatever agreement, the back of the trade paperback loudly trumpets THE RETURN OF SKEETER!)

I was thinking, though--as other, poorer comic book universes force you to do these days--about what, exactly, the Muppet continuity is. One of the things I've always liked about the Muppets is the conceit that the characters are the "real" performers, and that the projects they've worked on have been just that: projects. I love that The Muppet Movie uses the device where the Muppets themselves are watching a movie they've made about themselves, which Kermit assures Robin is "sort of approximately" the real story of how the Muppets started.

The Muppet writers themselves have had fun over the years with the idea of "real" Muppet continuity. I remember when I was a kid reading Muppet Magazine (how I wish I still had those!) and the clashing in Kermit's editorial and Piggy's advice column over whether or not the two were actually married since, in The Muppets Take Manhattan, Piggy switched the ministers. ("I thought Gonzo was going to play the minister.")

The "Family Reunion" story brings up two lingering questions, then: did Muppet Babies actually happen "in canon" and whatever happened to Skeeter? Michael Frith, the great Muppet artist, was quoted in another issue of Muppet Magazine as saying that Skeeter grew up to be an explorer and was never seen again after an expedition to the jungles of the Amazon (and the comic alludes to her career exploring the globe). The comic book also reveals that she's an assistant to a world famous private eye.

As for Muppet Babies really happening, that was a fantasy sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, which is just a movie the Muppets starred in (again, editorials in Muppet Magazine) and which spawned a cartoon series. So Muppet Babies isn't "real" as far as a Muppet canon goes, I would assume.

Of course, none of this really matters, does it? The idea of canon is philosophically interesting, but the story is much more important. What I'm more interested in is that Skeeter makes a great addition to the Muppet troupe, and I really think the people currently in charge of the Muppets should think seriously about making her part of the actual group. How about Karen Prell to perform her? Or Fran Brill?

It's long past time for this character.

1 comment:

Devilham said...

it's actually long past time that The Muppet Show was brought back, in it's original format....I loved that show as a kid (and later, in reruns or some such thing, as an adult), and am certain that my son would enjoy the quirky humor of the muppet show (he's a little snarkster at heart, I just know it)