Interview: Heather White & Jeff Stokely on Fraggle Rock

A few weeks ago, we broke the news that Archaia Comics had acquired the rights to Fraggle Rock.  And I excitedly and cryptically mentioned that if you were a Fraggle Rock fan, you should really keep an eye on the site.  Then, that whole website blowing up thing happened (sorry about that, again), and it all got kinda put off.  But, now we’re caught up, and here it is: our first ever interview!

Archaia was kind enough to put us in touch with the Fraggle Rock‘s writer Heather White and artist Jeff Stokely, and they were awesome enough to answer a few questions on what they’re bringing to the table for Fraggle Rock, why they’re the perfect choice to bring these characters to comics, and why the book is aimed squarely at you.

Heather White
"Fraggle Rock" writer Heather White
Jeff Stokely
"Fraggle Rock" artist Jeff Stokely

1. Fraggle Rock is a franchise that’s been a pretty big part of a lot of people’s childhoods.  What was it’s significance in yours?

HEATHER WHITE: “Fraggle Rock” was a gigantic part of my childhood. It was this beautiful, over-stimulating, and magical half-hour that I treasured, and still do!

JEFF STOKELY: “Fraggle Rock” was a bit before my time; I watched it when I was very very young. Lots of it I don’t remember…but what I do remember was very vibrant and fun to watch. As soon as I watched the first episode again, a flood of memories came rushing back! Watching it again, I realize how great of a children’s show it really is. That is rare today, in my opinion.

Fraggle Rock #1 Cover A
Cover Art to Fraggle Rock #1

2. With this project, you’re tackling a 25 year old franchise with a dedicated fanbase, but one that’s also getting a new lease on life as that fanbase begins to have children.  What are you doing to make sure the book is memorable for the older fans but also remains new and fresh?

HEATHER WHITE: One of the reasons that the original “Fraggle Rock” is still so loved today is because the storytelling was so rich and thoughtful. As a fan, I think that Archaia was a brilliant match for the material because they share that passion and drive to tell good stories that have heart and actually mean something. Everyone, at every level, was dedicated to doing this right, and keeping the spirit Jim Henson intended with the show. The goal was never to change the characters, because the characters are amazing already. What we wanted was to bring them into fresh adventures that both kids and older fans could enjoy because they feel like they could be part of the original series. For my part, (and since I am part of that “dedicated fanbase”) I included a few obscure characters and references from past episodes that I love. An extra treat for the older fans will be seeing their favorite characters stylized in new and gorgeous ways by Jeff and the other artists working on these comics.

JEFF STOKELY: In working with the design and look of the characters I wanted them to feel very much like the old Fraggles and stay faithful to the original show. I also wanted to incorporate a lot of the cartoons and comics I am influenced by today, like Skottie Young and Vaughn Bode. Never changing the character designs was not hard; they were very fun to work with and I think the fans will be incredibly pleased with the outcome. People seem to be liking the cover so far! I guess that means I’m doing my job right!

Free Comic Book Day: Fraggle Rock
Art from "FCBD Fraggle Rock"
Fraggle Rock #1
Art from "Fraggle Rock" #1

3. In that same vein, you’ve got two very diverse markets: older readers who are lifelong Fraggle Rock fans, and younger children who are drawn to the fun, cartoon-like characterizations of the Fraggles.  Which market do you feel you’re skewing towards more?

HEATHER WHITE: Personally, I tried to keep in the vein of the original series and have humor that hits on different levels. Homages and jokes that the younger readers might not catch will hopefully be entertaining to the older readers. We wanted this to be accessible to everyone who loves the Fraggles and worked tremendously hard to make the story into everything the fans, new and old, deserve. My best friend Kate has young children who love the Rock as much as their mom, and I really thought about them and how to entertain the whole family while I was writing. It’s awesome that “Fraggle Rock” is so universal.

JEFF STOKELY: I’m reaching out for the fans, hands down. Many of the licensed comic books out there do not do their original title justice and I want to make sure this pleases the fans just as much as the new generation. There is something about the works of Jim Henson that are just purely entertaining. I really think it’s apparent and stays true to “Fraggle Rock” in this book. When I finished reading Heather’s script, I felt like I just watched an episode. This is something I’m really proud to be a part of.

Fraggle Rock #2 Cover Art
Cover Art to Fraggle Rock #2

4. Finally, you’ve got a world of hype surrounding the Fraggle Rock release.  Any idea what’s down the line for you, or is there any book that you’ve long wanted to work on?

HEATHER WHITE: To be honest, Fraggle Rock is my dream project so I am really delighted right now! I can’t remember the last time I had more fun writing something. This whole experience with Archaia and Henson has been nothing short of fantastic – I would love to work with them again. I also have a few original ideas that are in development, but I would love to work on other original Henson properties – especially The Muppets, Labyrinthand The Dark Crystal.

JEFF STOKELY: To be honest, the work I plan on doing in the future is much, much different than Fraggle Rock. I hope to get some of my creator-owned work out there but I’m open to suggestions! There are actually quite a few licensed titles that I’ve always wanted to work on. They aren’t being published currently but if all goes well, they will be again and hopefully I can help make them just as rad as they were in my childhood.

Fraggle Rock #1 comes out this April, and #2 hits in May.  For every three issues of the standard cover on each issue, retailers pick up the alternate cover.  Want to whet your appetite before you buy?  The Fraggle Rock/Mouse Guard Free Comic Book Day flip book will be available on May 1st, 2010.

About Christopher Baggett

Christopher Baggett has owned and operated The HomeWorld independently since 2009 after spinning it off from his previous concept, ‘The Anime Homeworld’. In addition to journalistic endeavors, he is an aspiring novelist. Arizona born military brat Christopher currently resides in the Georgia area.

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  1. I don’t think anyone can be more excited about Fraggle Rock than me. I am beyond P-R-oud.

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