File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 413


To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 14:59:01 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry



I'm not sure if "Bad puppetry" is the phrase you're looking for here.
I feel really the same way about most of this Muppets behaving badly stuff, but, especially for work on the web I think what you're talking about isn't as much quality as promise, or at least interesting intent.

I've watched "Ask Blackie" and there's really nowhere for it to go, it's doing a bad job at what it's trying to be, but even if the execution were perfect I don't feel it would add much to the world.

For other stuff, like Jigsaw or Little's creatures, the execution is rough in ways, but the intent is there. If they continue to polish their work, it could become interesting to watch (even if still very muppets derivative)

I've been very involved in webcomics for a while now, and there's a similar dynamic. The absolute best comics online are still not as good as the best print material out there. There is no equivalent of Maus, or The Maxx. Both web-based puppetry, and web based comics are comparatively new media, and before work reaches the levels of the best of old media, people need time to explore. They also need a revenue model that works. I can't think of much that is truly great in puppetry or comics that was produced without at least a way to pay for production costs. Online comics are really just getting to the point where a couple dozen people are making a living, and the quality is improving immensely. Online puppetry still doesn't have a strong business model. There were a couple comedy media sites, like Superdeluxe, and MyDamnchannel that tried to create a market for short format web video, but they've collapsed with the economy.

So in my mind, it would be wonderful if there was online puppetry that was a brilliant as Henson, or Obratsov or Blair Thomas. But realistically, that's not going to happen for a while. Not until there's money in it, in my opinion.

Again, looking at webcomics, here's the technically ugly work of a dedicated amatuer. 
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/1998/11/18/

Here's what they developed into after more than a decade of work
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/4/8/

The story repeats itself again and again in online comics. Artists with weaker technical skills, but positive ambition create work worth looking at after a few years working in the medium, and as importantly, when opportunities for the work to become profitable open up. The same thing can be said of blogs, even though it's more similar to print formats than online puppetry or comics are to their predecessors. The earliest blogs were not impressive compared to newspaper or magazine writing.

There's no reason to dismiss a sub-medium in it's infancy just because it hasn't reached the heights of it's predecessor. If it follows similar media at all, the stuff to watch is the stuff with room to grow, the stuff with promise. Give it a few years and a little money and that's where it gets really interesting.

B. Shur




> Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 10:52:03 -0400
> To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
> From: puppetvision-AT-gmail.com
> Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry
> 
> I have to agree with you about Meet the Feebles; Peter Jackson did do 
> it first and best. Another project that I like is Fur TV, an MTV 
> project which is probably not to everyone's taste, but is performed 
> by some of the better TV puppeteers in the UK.
> 
> I also have to agree that many (most) of these shows do derive their 
> appeal from basically being "Muppets behaving badly". I'm trying to 
> think of an online puppet show that does derive it's appeal from 
> being puppetry...I think the Rag Show - 
> <http://www.theragshow.com>http://www.theragshow.com - is somewhat 
> unique in that it wouldn't quite work if you did it any other medium.
> 
> Some of these shows also benefit from their premise being amusing, 
> rather than the quality of the puppetry. "Duffy and the Crab" is a 
> new show on YouTube about a giant crab that lives with actor Patrick 
> Duffy (of Dallas fame) - 
> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwaWrHuHxvg>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwaWrHuHxvg
> 
> I also enjoy seeing shows that are perhaps not terribly polished on a 
> technical level, but have creators that are creative and 
> experimenting with new things. Jigsaw - 
> <http://www.jigsawfanclub.com>http://www.jigsawfanclub.com - is one 
> of those. I also like a lot of the things that Brian Hogg - 
> <http://www.hoggworks.com>http://www.hoggworks.com - is trying to do 
> in the puppet podcasting space.
> 
> - Andrew
> 
> 
> On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 12:00 PM, 
> <<mailto:puptcrit-request-AT-puptcrit.org>puptcrit-request-AT-puptcrit.org> 
> wrote:
> 
> 
> Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 01:42:11 -0400
> From: Alexander Winfield <<mailto:sheepwpunks-AT-gmail.com>sheepwpunks-AT-gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry
> To: <mailto:puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
> Message-ID:
>  
>  <<mailto:7336f0e60904242242k189f41b1la458805d2c6804eb-AT-mail.gmail.com>7336f0e60904242242k189f41b1la458805d2c6804eb-AT-mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> 
> It would seem to me that none of these works so far mentioned, including Ask
> Blackie, Avenue Q and Apollo's Pad derivetheir appeal from utilizing puppets
> per se, but because they reference and pervert memories of the Jim Henson
> shows, which
> most North Americans of this generations (20s to 30s) grew up with. The
> quality of the puppeteering matters not so much, then,
> as the sight of creatures from childhood memory acting in grotesquely adult
> fashions.
> This, by the way, was done earliest and quite effectively by Peter Jackson
> in his greatest film, MEET THE FEEBLES. Everything since is dribble.
> It helps me then to think of these skits as not so much sincere attempts at
> puppetry or the realisation of character through puppetry (the characters in
> Apollo's Pad never even look at each other correctly, for Christ's sake) but
> as just a few more pieces of post modern fluff.
> It is ironic and unfortunate that Henson, who took great pains to promote
> the many masters and obscure arts of puppetry in his lifetime, could not
> quite prevent his posthumous fame and influence from obscuring the mass
> public's perception of all other forms of puppetry other than his own. See
> also how the fame of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS has dominated fantasy since
> its publication. Pre-Tolkien fantasy was remarkably rich and varied (see A
> VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS, THE OTHER SIDE, THE DREAM QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, THE
> NIGHT LAND, THE WORM OUROBOROS etc.); since Tolkien its all, with exceptions
> (ie. the works of John Crowley) dwarves and elves.
> But I digress.
> 
> To end this on a pleasant note, here is an excellent group I met called Les
> Sages Fous:
> 
> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfx333i2Fhs>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfx333i2Fhs
> 
> -Alexander
> 
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