Working from a script by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, Roger Langridge brings yet another Archaia-published Henson gem to shelves. Writing and drawing this tale, Langridge brings the same enthusiasm and spark to these pages as he brought to “The Muppet Show.”
Originally intended as a television special, “Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” fits nicely as a comic book tale. Set in Turkey Hollow, turkey capital of New Hampshire, this book stars the Hendersons — Timmy; his sister, Ann; and their aunt Clytemnestra. Happy to live their lives, sharing meals, music and chores, the Hendersons literally stumble across the monsters of Turkey Hollow. From there, as happens in made-for-TV specials, the plot takes a turn, Langridge ratchets up the suspense and paves the way towards a happy ending.
That’s not to say “The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” is without surprises. Langridge drops in plot twists and amps up the stakes more than once, never needing to expand the cast beyond the Hendersons, Grover Cowley (who serves as Turkey Hollow’s mayor, sheriff, storekeeper and postmaster), town grump, Mister Eldridge Sump, Sump’s lackey, Sam, and the monsters. The monsters, seven in total, run a range of sizes and colors and bring along personalities just as varied, despite not having a wide span to showcase those personalities. Bowb, a cross between Cookie Monster and Telly, with longer arms and a teal tint is the largest of the bunch. Shoop, an orange prototypical Henson Muppet who is in line with Grover’s outgoingness, joins him. Tckkk, a yellow, distant relation of Oscar, Krccch, a horned beast with a wild shock of hair; Nrlll, a octo-parrot; and Sssst, Mister Mouth with legs round out the cast and brighten up this book.
As with most Archaia projects, “The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” book is more than just a story. There are test photos of the puppets Henson and Juhl were crafting this story around. Those photos include Henson’s daughters, and the puppets themselves are nowhere near as colorful, bearing a closer resemblance to taxidermied owls than Muppets. The package also includes roughs of Langridge’s character and page designs, as well as script progression for readers to ingest the process as much as possible.
Langridge’s art is lively and fun, equally adept at telling the story as it is at visually describing the characters. Colorists Ian Herring and Jul Mae Kristoffer work in and around Langridge’s art, helping elevate it to psychedelic status or grounding it in earthtones and softer hues. The colorists add textures to Langridge’s art, completing the visuals quite nicely.
For a story that is based around “musical monsters,” Langridge and company impressively manage to bring the tale to life without musical accompaniment. While the exact tune of the songs transcribed in this book may not be known to the average reader, there is no mistaking the celebration of life those songs present. More appropriate for all ages readers than Archaia’s other Jim Henson reclamation project, “A Tale of Sand,” “The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” is a fine addition to any library, a welcome adventure into imagination and a ready candidate for a holiday special as it was intended to be.