BOOM! Studios’ line of Muppet Fairy Tales finds the fairest one of all in April with “Muppet Snow White,” a four-issue miniseries written by “Toy Story” scribe Jesse Blaze Snider and illustrated by Shelli Paroline. The series, like “Muppet Peter Pan” and the current “Muppet King Arthur,” recasts well-known stories with the likes of Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, and Animal, turning each classic into a purely Muppet adventure. CBR News spoke with Snider about the series, his ongoing work on “Toy Story,” and the unexpected joys and challenges of Snow White.
In Snider’s Muppefication of Snow White, the band Electric Mayhem stand in for the Seven Dwarfs, a fact the writer had hoped to emphasize in the series’ title. “The title of my pitch was ‘Snow White and the ELECTRIC MAYHEM!’ The Muppet people wanted to keep everything uniform, so the title got changed,” Snider said. “I’m still very fond of the original title though. The Electric Mayhem were perfect casting for the Seven Dwarfs.”
Snider explained that, in his story, “‘The Seven Dwarfs are a rock band, who work in the mines by day to finance a career in rock ‘n’ roll by night. The original seven dwarfs leader was ‘Doc,’ ours is Dr. Teeth. You don’t get more ‘Happy’ than Janice. Zoot’s long nights of playing gigs has made him quite ‘Sleepy.’ Floyd Pepper has always been sarcastic and maybe a little ‘Grumpy.’ Lips has never really gotten the chance to develop a personality as a Muppet, so he is pretty ‘Bashful.’
“Then Animal could have probably made a good ‘Dopey,’ but it was funnier having him walking around sneezing all the time, so he’s ‘Sneezy.'” Snider continued. “And at the beginning of our story, Scooter is their terrible manager who they call ‘Dopey!’ But he quickly gets fired and they go on the hunt for a proper seventh member.”
Rounding out the cast are Miss Piggy as the evil queen, Fozzie as the magic mirror, Kermit as the prince, and Spamela Hamderson as Snow White. “A lot of people don’t know Spamela, but she is from the short-lived ‘Muppets Tonight,’ which I am a big fan of, especially the second half. Anyway, she was a perfect foil for Piggy, she is really a sexy looking Muppet and when you see her you’ll agree and the story is all about jealousy,” Snider said. “If this was a movie, they would cast a live actor to play Snow White and be Piggy’s foil, so I cast the ditzy but gorgeous Spamela. I really had a good time using her, but the best part was, I modernized her by giving her something most Disney Princesses have, but she didn’t…her very own ‘talking animal companion’…Pepe the King Prawn!
“He’s like Abu, Mushu, and Flounder all rolled into one. Having Pepe along for the ride to hit on her and give color commentary really made the whole thing for me,” the writer added. “Actually, by the end of the first issue she has two talking animal companions, Pepe and Bobo the Dancing Bear, who is one of my favorite Muppets! Probably my favorite modern Muppet.
“Oh, and I almost forgot, our narrators! Playing the Brothers Grimm are Gonzo and Rizzo! That’s actually my favorite part of the book, having Gonzo narrate and Rizzo correct him constantly. It’s a lot of fun.”
There are, Snider continued, “loads of guest stars” in addition to the main cast. “We got Statler and Waldorf as Grumpy’s Uncles! Sweetums as the Huntsman! Parts for Uncle Deadly, Crazy Harry, Carl the Big Mean (in this case) Dwarf Eater, Clueless Morgan, Polly Lobster, Link Hogthrob, Swedish Chef, Beauregard, Bunsen & Beaker, Rowlf and loads more smaller cameos for Muppets fans.”
Though Snider’s enthusiasm for the characters and the series he’s crafted clearly shines through, the writer confessed that doing a Snow White book was a project he took on reluctantly. “Honestly, I only chose Snow White because I knew my editor Aaron [Sparrow] was hoping someone would do Snow White,” Snider said. “He kept mentioning it as an option every time we talked, and finally I called him and said, ‘Do you want me to do Snow White, because I can.’ And he said, ‘That would be great.’ But then…
“I started working on my pitch for Snow White and realized why no one wanted to pitch Snow White…it’s way too short! I had three excellent issues and then nothing. I didn’t want to stretch it out just to cover four books, and it took me a day or two to figure it out, but I finally came up with a really satisfying way to keep it going, and its totally Muppet appropriate,” the writer continued.
“Honestly, I initially only took this assignment so that I could show them what I could do with the Muppets and go on to do other books, not fairy tales. I wanted to write the Muppets being the Muppets, not fairy tale versions of them, but I ended up having the most satisfying writing experience of my life on this book. I loved it. I found a way to write the fairy tale without sacrificing who any of the characters are, and it ended up being really funny. Not groan-humor funny, but actually funny. I’m really proud of the way it’s come out and I’m actually hoping to do some more fairy tales in the future.”
Asked why the Muppets work so well both in their “variety show” incarnation on the “Muppet Show” – in TV and comics – and for adapting fairy tales – likewise – Snider explained that, “the Muppets will work in anything on any level when it comes to comedy, because they aren’t afraid to make mistakes. And while that sometimes leads to some groan-humor, it’s very endearing and it makes you want to laugh with them.
“You’re rooting for them, you want things to work out for them, because you know they’re never gonna give up trying. That’s why I love them, I think that’s why most people love them, whether they realize it or not. The Muppets are the ultimate underdogs, and everyone loves an underdog story.”
The artist on “Muppet Snow White” will be Shelli Paroline, who recently illustrated the preview issue of “The Muppet Show” ongoing series, written by Roger Langridge. “She has just started, but the stuff I’ve seen so far has been really great!” Snider said of Paroline’s work. “If anybody wants proof positive that she can draw the Muppets, look no further than the ‘Muppet Show’ #0 issue! I can’t wait to see more from her.”
Snider is also writing BOOM!’s ongoing “Toy Story” series, based on the popular line of Disney/Pixar films. The second issue (#1, following a #0) is in stores now, and finds Woody leading the toys in a quest to retrieve Buzz Lightyear, who has been returned to the store after a newer-model Buzz maneuvered to take his place in Andy’s toy chest. The ensemble cast also features appearances by lesser-seen toys from the movies. “Bringing in Rocky was an easy choice for me, because I’m a super hero action figure guy and while Woody and Buzz are extensions of that, they aren’t the bad ass characters that I would pretend my toys were,” Snider said of his choices for more obscure characters, “and I think as a kid, you really do a lot of pretending to be cool with your toys, and I wanted a toy that I could do that convincingly with, so he really spoke to me.
“But secondly, I think its my responsibility to really jump into these undiscovered characters and flesh them out a little bit, because this is the one place where you have the opportunity to do it. My next project is to give the Pink Teddy Bear a personality; I’ve decided that he is a teddy bear who doesn’t like being touched. The longer I’m on the book, the more new characters you’ll see in the spotlight,” he continued.
Snider added that writing the action provided the most fun for him on “Toy Story,” particularly figuring out how the toys might actually do the things they need to do, which so far has included “driving, break into a store, get out of the house, turn a doorknob,” and more. “Some review somewhere had commented that the second issue was a bit hard to swallow with them ‘driving’ a car, and I guess he has forgotten that they drove a ‘luggage bag’ car home from the airport in ‘Toy Story 2!’ The only difference is I showed you how they’d have had to do it. But working that stuff out has been a lot of fun for me,” Snider said.
Beyond the two BOOM! Kids series, Snider has a few other upcoming projects in the works. “I have an amazing project I just pitched BOOM! central. Its pretty ballsy, and if they get behind doing it, it could be really big for the company, but we’ll have to see what happens there,” Snider said. “I do have other things in the works with BOOM! Kids, but can’t talk about them yet.
“Outside of that, I’ve got a ‘Hulk: Let the Battle Begin’ one-shot coming from Marvel on March 10th!!! I’m so excited. I’m really proud of it. It’s hard to write a one-shot that has any lasting value or effects the character or mythos in any real way, and I think artist Steve Kurth and I really did a lot with our 22 pages. If you’re a Hulk fan, our book finally explains how Bruce Banner goes from waking up half naked in the desert to fully dressed, cleaned up, wearing glasses and hitch hiking down the street. It’s really quite cool; I hope some people check it out.”