Roger’s Comic Ramblings: BOOM!’s The Show Must Go On

Roger Ash

Roger Ash

by Roger Ash

My first exposure to Roger Langridge’s work was a Howard the Duck story he drew (and was written by Ty Templeton) in Marvel’s Civil War: Choosing Sides. That was followed by his outstanding run on BOOM!’s The Muppet Show. I knew he had done work prior to this, but I had never read it. Based on his work on The Muppet Show, I purchased a number of mini-comics from Roger when I met him at Hero’s Con a couple years ago and found them to be fun and charming and silly. Now you can read some of those stories, plus a whole lot more, in BOOM!’s The Show Must Go On, which is published under their BOOM! Town imprint.

First, a word to those who may only know Roger Langridge’s work from The Muppet Show and Snarked. This collection is not an all ages book. There is violence and swearing, so probably not a book for the younger set. That being said, if you like Langridge’s work, there’s a whole lot to like in The Show Must Go On.

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On

The book starts off with two stories starring the Vaudevillian Mugwhump the Great. The first tale, Mugwhump’s Big Night, is one of my favorites in the book. It combines hilarious vaudeville acts such as The Peruvian Brick Dance with unrequited love, censorship, Steve the Parsnip, and more to make for a story that is both lighthearted and moving. Two of Langridge’s other creations, Knuckles the Malevolent Nun and Fred the Clown, also appear in the story.

The Show Must Go On is a longer Mugwhump story that originally appeared on and tells the rollicking adventure of Mugwhump and his ventriloquist dummy, Billy Woodentop. Billy’s not really a dummy at all, but a living puppet. The adventure begins when a mysterious philanthropist, Aleister P. Yorick, buys the theatre and fires everyone except Mugwhump and Billy. The new owner’s obsession with Billy cause the pair to flee for their lives and attempt to start over someplace new. But things don’t go smoothly as Yorick won’t let Billy go that easily. It all comes to a head at a swanky party thrown by the rich Lady Furtwangle as all the characters collide and mysteries are revealed.

Scattered throughout the book are several short Frankenstein Meets Shirley Temple stories which feature the monster and child star discussing the mysteries of the universe. These stories are lots of fun and full of clever dialog.

Scientific adventurer Doctor Sputnik and his idiotic sidekick Spud, appear in a few hilarious adventures where they face invading Martians, Bobzilla (a giant mutated chicken), and Queen Zelda from Neptune.

While most of the volume is both written and drawn by Langridge, there are three stories written by Gordon Rennie, two of which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents. The first, Kabuki Kid, stars the greatest Wu-She warrior along with his companion Lu-Win, martial arts Marxist. Their adventures begin as over-the-top parodies of martial arts movies, but eventually move on the other genres, and the movie industry itself.

The second story written by Rennie is Dr. Spin which is a biting satire of superhero comics including crossovers, multiple versions of the same character, forgotten characters, continuity, and more. Dr. Spin and his sidekick Penny Dreadful (whom he insists on calling Spingirl) attempt to set the comic book universe aright (under the auspices of The Guardians who are in charge of continuity) but this job may be even too much for them. This story is a relevant today as it was when it first appeared in 1996.

The final Rennie-penned story is a beautiful full-color tale called The Rave of the Living Dead in which zombies attack a rave.

The last major story in the book is The Book of Leppo in which the very bizarre Leppo tricks the devil (he says he wants to sell his soul for a bicycle) and takes over as ruler of Hell. Thus begins the devil’s attempt to regain his throne. It all comes down to a battle between the Devil and Leppo, but it is a battle like none I’ve seen before. It’s a very funny and clever way for the adventure to end.

There are other short tales that I haven’t mentioned here, but the finished product is a great overview of Langridge’s work. And what sticks out most to me is an overriding sense of fun. Yes, some of the stories get rather intense and serious but that doesn’t mean the fun goes away. I smiled a lot reading this book and laughed out loud many times.

On to the book itself – this is a wonderfully designed book from end flaps to outstanding printing. The few stories that are in color are simply stunning. My one complaint is that aside from The Show Must Go On, there is no mention of where the stories originally appeared. While it’s not necessary to include that information, as a reader that’s information I enjoy having.

Bottom line, The Show Must Go On is a fantastic book. I found the stories to be fun and the book as a whole was a joy to read.

Now, go read a comic!


The Show Must Go On SC


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