Last week, I posted about how I’ve been reading a biography of Jim Henson (by the same author who wrote a biography of Dr Seuss), and the inspiration I’ve gained from it.
Well, I thought I would continue on that theme today. Because there was something else I learned from that book. Something that was a little unexpected.
Of course, one of the key chapters in the book concerned the production of the series Fraggle Rock. I wasn’t a big watcher of this programme. Though I’d spent years as a massive fan of The Muppet Show, and I was quite excited when Fraggle Rock first appeared (anything new by Henson was a reason to be excited), I found myself losing interest fairly quickly. I think I got a sense that I wasn’t quite the target demographic for this new show. As much as I hate to say it, I think I felt a bit grown up, and that it was a bit too much of a kids show for me at that point.
So I could only have watched a handful of episodes. To be honest, I barely remember much about the show, beyond the most basic idea of its premise. And yet, it apparently influenced me more than I might have thought possible.
As I read through the details of the characters on the show, I have to say I felt more than a little surprised. Beyond the Fraggles, the two other main character types were the Doozers and the Gorgs. Which sounded a little eerily familiar. Because in my epic fantasy novel Magnus Opum, I have character types called Doosies and Glurgs. Now as it happens, my Doosies and Glurgs have very little in common with the Doozers and Gorgs. But still, the similarities in the names seems like more than a coincidence.
But that wasn’t all. Another character occurring in the series was Marjory, a sentient trash heap who functions as an oracle character and has two sycophantic assistants. I also have an oracle character attended by two sycophantic assistants – they may not be a trash heap (to be honest, they’re not much of an oracle) but again the similarities are undeniable.
The first thing that struck me was how much of Fraggle Rock must have seeped into my subconscious, even if I only watched it a handful of times. In some ways, that isn’t so surprising. The type of audience I’d love to reach with my stories is similar to the type of audience who enjoyed Fraggle Rock. I’ve always looked to a appeal to a mix of younger and older people – the common denominator is more about a sense of humour and a view of the world, rather than a specific age. And there are other similarities too. Fraggle Rock didn’t regurgitate all the tired old tropes of fantasy. It created a whole new range of characters with their own features and identities. That’s something I’m always trying to do.
The second thing that struck me, on remembering that Disney now owns the muppets, was “Oh my goodness, I hope I don’t get sued by Disney.” While the publicity might be useful, I’m not sure my finances could stand up to the strain. But on reading further, I learnt that the Fraggles were not part of the Disney deal.
So I suppose I’m all right.
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