BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE FRAGGLE ROCK COMIC, PART 1: THE PITCH
LA-based Archaia published the Fraggle Rock comic, an anthology featuring short stories by a variety of creative teams. Stephen Christy, editor-in-chief of Archaia, told me about the book at a party, and asked if I wanted to pitch some ideas. That’s how these things happen: with booze.
Thankfully, after the hangovers wore off the offer was still open. Armed with
a bowl of hallucinogenic Lucky Charms a charming antique fountain pen and bamboo papyrus, I sat down to absorb several hours of the Fraggle Rock television show, which holds up surprisingly well. When I emerged from my vision quest research, this is one of the ideas I had:
The Birthday Present
It’s the World’s Oldest Fraggle’s birthday, one of the biggest holidays in Fraggle Rock! In celebration, Fraggles create artistic portraits of the beloved geezer, and the World’s Oldest Fraggle picks his favorite as his birthday present. Mokey, Gobo, and Wembley are all hard at work on their paintings, depicting the birthday boy in a variety of expressive styles. Red, however, rejects her own attempt as too ugly. While her friends create art with ease and joy, Red stomps off to Marjorie the Trash Heap for a dose of wisdom. Surrounded by garbage, Marjorie helps the frustrated Fraggle realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Back at the birthday festival, Red reveals her entry, an abstract sculpture assembled from found pieces of the Trash Heap. The other Fraggles are confused by a piece of “junk” in an art contest. But the Oldest Fraggle sees the beautiful essence of Red’s creation, and chooses it as his birthday portrait for the year.
I knew I wanted to write a story with Red Fraggle. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is very competitive; enthusiastic characters like that are a blast because they almost writes themselves. The minor, obscure characters like the World’s Oldest Fraggle are some of my favorites, because they tend to be more eccentric than the five principle Fraggles…and I like weirdos. The TV show has hella singing in it, but a comic book is silent. I wanted something that would be fun for the artist to draw, something to work with the visual strengths of the comic medium instead of against it. Like an art contest! Of course, there needs to be a message, a lesson, and I wanted a message I believe in. I ain’t no poser!
Me me me. I want this, I want that. This is how you come up with a story, by putting your own selfish desires first. What do you want to write about? If you don’t have fun writing it, no one will have fun reading it.
The Birthday Present was one of three pitches I sent to Tim Beedle, my editor at Archaia. I’d like to say that everyone who read the pitch immediately recognized it as a pristine lotus flower of brilliance that simply demanded to see print. But in reality, the first pitch was similar to another story in the Fraggle comic, and the second pitch was too complex to tell in six comic pages.
The Henson Company, god bless ‘em, they have several million reasons per year to get picky about what their Fraggles do and say in public. But they had no notes or changes on my pitch. You can swing a dead cat on the floor of Comic Con and hit a thousand nightmare stories about working with picky licensors and their precious intellectual property, but Henson was a pleasant exception.
So The Birthday Present won, and the other two bit the dust. It’s hardly ideal to have 66% of your ideas go into the trash bin. But, it’s better to pitch several ideas at a time to hedge your bets against rejection. "You think that pitch sucks? Psyche, what about THIS one!"
What counts is getting the job, and with the thumbs up from both Archaia and Henson I was IN.
Tomorrow: Writing a comic book script