If you were a young Muppet fan in the 1980s, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies series was surely a staple of your cartoon viewing. And now, a popular character from that TV show has returned after nearly 20 years away.
The idea for Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies followed a dream sequence from The Muppets Take Manhattan feature film. In the movie, Miss Piggy imagines toddler versions of herself and her friends singing together in a nursery.
That idea was turned into a cartoon series in which the young characters would make up stories and get into messes. The show was unique in that each episode typically integrated live-action footage from well-known movies with animation. Voice artists for the series include Greg Berg, Dave Coulier, Katie Leigh, Howie Mandel, Laurie O’Brien, Russi Taylor, Frank Welker, and Barbara Billingsley.
One of the characters unique to the cartoon series is Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister. A bit of a tomboy, she was added to the cast so that there would be a regular female character besides Piggy. Though a popular character, Skeeter was never actually a puppet (a point brought up in the recent Muppet Madness Tournament) and has never been included in other Muppet-related productions.
In 1993, Muppet Babies storyboard director Scott Shaw! told MuppetZine, “As for the adult Skeeter, Henson Associates art director Michael Frith once explained that she’s now a famous explorer, never seen again after an expedition to the jungles of the Amazon!”
Well, Boom Kids has been publishing a comic book adaptation of The Muppet Show and the fourth issue features the return of an adult Skeeter — mostly. Though the character is clearly meant to be Skeeter, is referred to as Scooter’s twin sister, and exhibits the same athletic personality, her name is never actually spoken.
Writer Roger Langridge tells us that the idea for Skeeter’s return came from the artist, Amy Mebberson, who’s a big fan of Muppet Babies. He recalled, “She said she’d like to use the character, sent me some sketches of how she wanted Skeeter to look and we went from there.”
Langridge said there was some hesitation on the part of Jim Lewis, a veteran Henson writer and the comic’s script consultant, for them to use the Skeeter character. This is likely due to the fact that Muppet Babies is considered more of a “what if” fantasy series and isn’t part of the Muppet characters’ official canon.
For this reason, the comic story starts off with a Greek mythology-like introduction with curmudgeons Statler and Waldorf as gods playing a game with the regular characters as game pieces. Landridge explained, “[Jim] asked us to do some sort of framing device to make this story seem one step removed from the normal “reality” of the comic, which is why we did the business with a cosmic Statler and Waldorf playing chess. This way, the story can be as real or as unreal as you want it to be.”
Langridge shared that there some legal hoops to jump through in order to use the character but didn’t want to go into details for fear of ruining some of the enjoyment for the readers. It’s safe to say, using Skeeter’s name was a part of the compromise.
Though she’s been hired to work at the theatre, Langridge also declined to say if Skeeter would be an ongoing character. He teased, “Now, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?” We do however know that she sticks around for the next issue, part two of a four-part story called “Family Reunion.”
The fifth issue of the Muppet Show comic features the return of Andy and Randy Pig. Miss Piggy’s dim-witted nephews were first introduced in the 1996 ABC series Muppets Tonight. That series ran for only 22 episodes and two seasons, finishing its run on the Disney Channel. As an updated version of The Muppet Show, the characters run their own TV studio, with typically crazy results.
What do you think? Does this make you want seek out the comics? Do you have fond memories of the Muppet Babies series and characters? Who will show up in the next Muppet Show comic?