MUPPET KING ARTHUR #1 of 4 (Boom Kids, February 10, 2010) Writers: Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck; Artist: Dave Alvarez
There are numerous versions of King Arthur’s story available in many different formats. That begs the question = why do we need yet another? Answer: because it’s very funny and clever and worth your time. I don’t regret a minute I spent reading this book. I wish I could read it to a young niece or nephew right now so I could enjoy it again and also observe their delight. Just as the Muppet television show was a classic that appealed to all ages, MUPPET KING ARTHUR also has something for everyone.
The Muppets occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of anyone (of any age) who has ever been exposed to their unique and witty way of story-telling and entertaining. This memory was reinforced during a recent and very short trip through the Hollywood Land section of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I took some time to catch the Muppets In 3-D show (extremely well done) and laughed my butt off. There is a certain style and wit to anything Muppets, and this book holds true to form. I also suspect that all the current Boom Kids Muppet titles are just as respectfully faithful.
Some months ago I devoted an article on this blog site to a list of recommended books for younger readers, as a way of encouraging and introducing new readers to comics. It’ s very easy for me now to add MUPPET KING ARTHUR to my list. It will appeal to all ages, including middle-school students as well as those in high school. Any young person at the 3rd grade reading level will be able to easily comprehend this book and enjoy it. And those beginning students and of pre-school age should delight in having this read to them. I suspect all the Boom Muppet books are of equal merit and I’d add them all to the list except for my personal rule not to recommend anything that I haven’t read for myself and verified the quality (or recommended by other trusted BC members).
The Muppet characters have proven their popularity in various media, and as depicted here are very friendly, appealing and non-threatening to the younger reader. The art is not too complex for them to follow, focusing mainly on character actions and expressions with just the necessary basics in the background. Yet it’s very interesting and well-done, especially some of the body language. There are silly jokes and scenes here to amuse those younger readers, as well as some funny asides, and implied humor that adults will appreciate. In fact, every page has something that made me grin.
The two old geezers who used to sit in the balcony at the Muppet TV show and heckle and ridicule the program are here, and writers Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck add some very amusing notes from the editor throughout the book (unless those were actually inserted later by editor Aaron Sparrow - - and he has a sharp wit if indeed he is the author of them). That starts right with the very first panel, all black / darkness with just a caption and in the right corner the Editor’s note: “Seriously, the Dark Ages weren’t this dark. Give the artist something to draw or we’re all out of a job!” And there is a great double entendre on page three during a conversation between the knight (Sam the Eagle) and his page (Kermit the Frog). Sam wants a new sword and Kermit while disagreeing refers to a page’s union while exclaiming “I don’t know what your employee turnaround is like, but you can’t just turn a page like that.” After further debate Sam asks “How long has this union of yours been around?” and Kermit replies “We’re the first chapter.” Sam looks annoyed, as he retorts “And how many pages are in this first chapter?” Kermit, with a cross eyed tongue-tied look answers” Twenty-two. And we’ve pretty much just wasted one of them.”
Also hidden behind the regular youthful humor are digs at politicians, Star Trek, TV infomercials, second-hand smoke and Monty Python. A one-page interlude at Eagle Rock, home of Sir Sam of Eagle is an exercise in cramming every classic rock music reference into the dialogue while still making it sound not just normal, but actually moving the plot forward. Name-dropped are The Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks, Zombies, Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Smiths, the Who, the Clash, and Pink Floyd. Whew!
I am enchanted by this book.