Thursday, 2 February 2012

1984: THE MUPPETS TAKE MARVEL

With THE MUPPETS about to (belatedly) open in the UK, Slow Robot looks back at Marvel's eighties Muppets and Jim Henson comic books.

THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN

Marvel adapted the final movie in the original, unofficial, Muppet trilogy in the fall of 1984.  As with many of Marvel's movie tie-ins of the era, it appeared as a three-issue limited series and as a collected one-shot Super Special magazine.

The comic book editions were the first to appear under the Star Comics banner, marking a soft launch of the young readers imprint.  

There was no UK edition.

THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN
ISSUE ONE
November 1984

Issue 1 splash page.

THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN
ISSUE TWO
December 1984


THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN
ISSUE THREE
January1985


MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL
ISSUE 33

MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE promoted the adaptation with an original cover and three page article.

MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE
ISSUE 17
August 1984




MOVIE TRAILER

THE DARK CRYSTAL

Jim Henson's puppet fantasy was adapted by Marvel in Super Special and limited series formats.

In the UK, the strip was serialised as a back-up feature in STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI weekly.
MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL
ISSUE 24
February 1983

Splash page

THE DARK CRYSTAL
ISSUE ONE
April 1983

THE DARK CRYSTAL
ISSUE TWO
May 1983

Movie trailer

LABYRINTH

Jim Henson's next non-Muppet fantasy movie, starring David Bowie, was, again, adapted by Marvel and issued as a one-shot Super Special and as a limited series in the regular comic book format.

There was no UK edition.

MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL
ISSUE 40

Splash page

LABYRINTH
ISSUE ONE
November 1986

LABYRINTH
ISSUE TWO
December 1986

LABYRINTH
ISSUE THREE
January 1987

MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE issue 43 ran a three page article to promote the adaptation:


MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE
ISSUE 43
October 1986





A fan-made trailer for the movie which isn't perfect but is good fun.


JIM HENSON'S MUPPET BABIES

Introduced, in puppet form, in THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, it didn't take long for the junior Muppets to graduate to their own (Emmy Award Winning) animated series.  As a co-production between Henson and Marvel Productions, it was logical that a comic book version should appear under Marvel's Star Comics banner.

It ran for 26 issues, ending in 1989.

Marvel UK issued a MUPPET BABIES ANNUAL prior to the UK premiere of the TV series and followed-up with a regular weekly, reprinting the US material.  The back-up strip was, initially, FRAGGLE ROCK.

MUPPET BABIES
ISSUE ONE
May 1985

MUPPET BABIES title sequence

FRAGGLE ROCK

Another entry into the Star Comics line was Marvel's adaptation of the puppet series FRAGGLE ROCK.

The US edition lasted 8 issues, the last cover-dated September 1986.

In 1988, Marvel reissued some of the original Rock run under the main Marvel Comics brand (the Star Comics imprint having been abandoned at the beginning of 1988).  This was, presumably, a low-cost way of capitalising on renewed interest in the property, either through reruns or the animated version.

The series, which aired on ITV in the UK, was interesting as Henson product it as a series of local co-productions, sharing the puppet sequences across all versions but adding country-specific live-action segments (usually involving Sprocket the dog) to the different versions.  Henson's partner in the UK was the (now defunct) ITV broadcaster TVS.

The Marvel strips initially appeared in the UK as a back-up feature in the just-relaunched (for a younger audience) THE SPIDER-MAN COMIC.  The same material later appeared in JIM HENSON'S MUPPET BABIES.  A one-shot spring special reprinted US issue 5.

FRAGGLE ROCK
VOLUME ONE
ISSUE ONE
April 1985

FRAGGLE ROCK
VOLUME TWO
ISSUE ONE
1988

FRAGGLE ROCK TITLE SEQUENCE
US version

Slow Robot will have a lot more on Star Comics, and the Muppets at Marvel UK, in future editions.

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