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Puppetry

More Than Socks

The Puppetry Institute of Santa Cruz is the impressive name of a California facility that believe in “…giving all who walk through the doors a chance to experience first hand the beauty and wonder of an art form that encompasses all the other arts into one.” No prizes for guessing: They’re located in Santa Cruz, at the Capitola Mall, “Just around the corner from the Santa Cruz Museum of Discovery”.  But they also get out and about to various conventions and fannish events — we found them at BLFC! According to their web site, they give adults, kids, and families a chance to “Explore puppetry through workshops, classes, and demonstrations. Puppetry is more then just a sock with googly eyes — it’s design, construction, movement, masks, sewing — the list goes on. We offer a wide variety of classes in puppetry, theater, and FX skills, that cannot only be counted as art credits but also math, science, and engineering. We have 1000 sq ft space where students can learn in a lively and creative environment; or, we can do 1 and 2 hr pop-up classes at a location of your choosing.” The sight includes a lot of photos of their projects past and present. (Be sure to ask them about the “Dragon Petting Zoo”!)

image c. 2019 The Puppetry Institute

You Remind Me Of The Babe

With the death of David Bowie earlier this year, lots of people have been remembering his 1986 turn as the Goblin King in Labyrinth. Now Boom! Studios have their own salute to that landmark film as they bring us Jim Henson’s Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Special. “Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the beloved Jim Henson fantasy film with stories from inside the magical walls of the labyrinth. Featuring fan-favorite characters like Ludo, Hoggle, Sir Didymus, and a few surprises, this special celebration collects for the first time all of the Labyrinth Free Comic Book Day stories along with new tales from Eisner Award winner Jonathan Case (The New Deal), Gustavo Duarte (Bizarro), and more!” Entertainment Weekly did a special preview recently.

image c. 2016 Boom! Studios

image c. 2016 Boom! Studios

Just Two Little Monsters

Dave Hulteen Jr. and Jerome Green got together and formed Hulgreen Productions with the intention of making some seriously silly entertainment using puppetry, animation, and video effects. Their first creation was The Bang and Bump Show, featuring “two little monsters in a big studio”. According to their web site, “Finding two store bought and generic monster puppets, Dave and Jerome created a simple buddy style duet video naming the puppets ‘Bang’ and ‘Bump’. They were named after the respective sounds monsters make in the night. The video caused enough attention for the two to make a regular series.” They’ve since gone on to create many other humorous videos and animated shorts.

image c. 2016 Hulgreen Productions

image c. 2016 Hulgreen Productions

One Little Lizard, One Big World

Another discovery from MIPCOM, thanks to Animation World Network. Created by BRB Internacional, Minchi’s Adventures combines puppetry, live action footage, and animation in each 3-minute episode. “The series follows a pet lizard belonging to a 7-year-old boy that, connected to the outside world via Internet, explains nature in a simple and very fun-filled way while encouraging ecological values.” You can learn more about it at BRB’s official Minchi page.

image c. 2015 BRB Internacional

image c. 2015 BRB Internacional

Down at Fraggle Rock — Again

Word has been spreading fast among the Silly Creatures that the long-rumored big screen version of Jim Henson’s cult TV series Fraggle Rock is finally a go. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) is set to produce and star in the feature film version. (Interesting side note: Mr. Gordon-Levitt was the voice of Jim Hawkins in the Disney animated film Treasure Planet.) Here what we got from The Nerdist: “Originally an HBO series which ran from 1983-1987, Fraggle Rock centered around a group of tiny creatures called Fraggles, along with the even smaller Doozers who lived among them. The Fraggles and the Doozers lived in a series of caves called Fraggle Rock, and would only venture outside of it to gather radishes to eat, where they would have to avoid the giant Gorgs.” That and get advice from a matronly trash heap named Marjory, and occasionally interact with the human (and his dog) who lives above them all. Trust us, none of this even begins to capture the magic that went into making this show and the magic that viewers took away from it. This new live-action feature film version is being created by the Jim Henson Company and released by New Regency.  (Hmm, not by Disney, eh?) No word yet on a targeted released date, but you can bet you’ll be hearing more about it soon.

image c. 2015 The Jim Henson Company

image c. 2015 The Jim Henson Company

Fuzzy Cloth People

Taking a cue from the life and work of Jim Henson (who else?), Gordon Smuder and his associates formed The Puppet Forge back in 2001 to make and perform with puppets for a variety television and other media projects. Since then they’ve appeared in commercials for the Minnesota State Lottery, The Choo Choo Bob Show, Transylvania Television, John Kovalic’s The Dork Tower Project, and many other places. They also travel the land to various fandom conventions to sell puppets and teach about puppetry. Their web site has much more — and a plethora of pictures. Like this one…

image c. 2014 The Puppet Forge

image c. 2014 The Puppet Forge

Monsters are Odd Roommates

A Guy, a Girl, and Their Monster is a new puppet-based on-line video short series created by Jenn Daugherty. Here’s the description: “Henry is a monster, of the under-the-bed variety. Down on his luck he searches out the little girl he belonged to in the ’80s. He finds her in Los Angeles living with her fiancé. They take him in and the trio learns to live together in the big city.” The project is put together by students from the University of Southern California (USC) Graduate Film Program. The first episode is up on YouTube, and there’s also a Facebook page for the series.

image c. 2013 Jenn Daugherty

Here Come the Muppets Again

Walt Disney Pictures have announced several upcoming feature films, and among them is the sequel to the successful 2011 re-launch of The Muppets. Currently titled The Muppets… Again, the new film is scheduled for release in March of 2014. According to The Muppet Wiki, “The film is planned to be a ‘comedy caper’ set in Europe.  Ricky Gervais will star as ‘a male lead whose intentions are always in question’ along with Ty Burrell as an Interpol inspector, Tina Fey as a ‘Russian femme fatale,’ and a ‘slew of cameos'”. [Oh like they ever have that in a Muppet movie!] The sequel will be again directed by James Bobin, and scripted by Nick Stoller, who co-wrote the 2011 film with star Jason Segel.

image c. 2013 Walt Disney Pictures

Surprise Furry Extras

Folks running out to pick up the new DVD/Blue Ray of Spike Jonze’s live-action Where the Wild Things Are will find an interesting extra included: A brand-new short (24 minute) film based on Higglety Pigglety Pop, another book by Maurice Sendak. Using a combination of live action, puppetry, stop-motion animation and more, the film tells the story of Jennie, a fluffy white terrier dog (voiced by Meryl Streep).  When she finds that she is bored and thinks “There must be more to life”, Jennie sets out to become leading lady of the World Mother Goose Theater. Unfortunately, she’s informed that the leading lady has to have experience. And Jennie has no idea what “experience” even is, let alone where to find it! Setting out on a quest for it, Jennie winds up as a nurse-maid for a very strange baby who refuses to eat. And nurse-maids who fail to convince the baby to eat are fed to the ravenous lion living in the basement! Only Maurice Sendak comes up with plots like this, folks… The production company for Higglety Pigglety Pop also created the Oscar-Nominated short film Madame Tutli-Putli. Clips from the former and the latter are up on YouTube.