REVIEW: Read Your Cares Away Down At Fraggle Rock

Cover for Down at Fraggle Rock C Boom!Studios/Archaia 2020

A lovely volume of short stories make Down at Fraggle Rock a good choice for parents and kids to read together.

Down at Fraggle Rock
Art Baltazar (writing/art); Katie Cook (story/art); Jared Cullum (art, writing; Cover); Mike Fiorentino (Letters): Jay Fosgitt (art/story); Joana Lafunte (colors)
Archaia/BOOM! Studios
August 5, 2020

It’s impossible to dislike Fraggle Rock. Its gentle, well-meaning stories of friendship, community, and sharing are about to see a revival on Apple+ when the show reboots next year, but in the meantime Boom!Studios and its fantasy imprint, Archaia, continue to bring kids and their parents quality Fraggle content with their graphic novel and softcover collections of one-shot comics. Down at Fraggle Rock collects four one-shot stories published over the last couple of years, short stories set within the universe that are beautifully painted and tenderly told.

“Mokey Loses Her Muse” – with lovely watercolor artwork and gentle writing by Jared Cullum – is the best story in the volume thanks to its careful exploration of both character and moral and its gorgeous art. It explores what happens when Mokey hits an art block and her friends try to help. Red, naturally, is the one with the drive and the idea. She decides the gang should hold an art show to celebrate Mokey’s art, but that just makes her block worse. Advice from Marjorie the All-Knowing Trash Heap complicates things. It takes an encounter with a Doozer for Mokey to reconnect with her creative side. Cullum’s art and message are both inspiring, his colors bright and his art pretty to behold, with soft, gentle pencil lines. It’s as soothing as Mokey’s presence itself.

“The Rough Side of the Rock” features a look into the annual “Splish Splash Friend Bash,” where Fraggles from the other side of the rock come to meet with our favorite gang. Four Fraggles from deeper in the tunnels bump into Gobo when he’s distributing fliers for the Bash and decide to head out toward the Great Hall and make trouble. When they’re generally met with amusement and passive good humor instead of hurt, anger and outrage, the situation escalates. Jay Fosgitt’s art is appealingly cartoony, with a Saturday morning flair, and while the moral of the story supports the show’s belief that passive friendliness rules the day, many will be frustrated by the lack of comeuppance for the bullies involved here. But it also contains the cutest Uncle Traveling Matt story I’ve ever seen in a comic, in which a bunch of “small silly creatures” teach Uncle Matt how to play tag.

“Where is It” is as friendly and lighthearted as a stick figure doodle, as Boober and Wembley are dragged into a cave-wide search for Gobo’s undefined missing “thing” which defines the universe. A quick and sunny tale, its cheerful art and fun writing teaching a tale about friendship – and its limits! Baltazar’s art, in particular, takes center stage here, elastic and electric.

Rounding out the volume is “Rock Hopping,” with Katie Cook’s very colorful and anime-like art. As Uncle Traveling Matt discovers what cell phones are, Gobo realizes he misses his uncle and worries he’ll never come home if he decides Outer Space is more interesting than Fraggle Rock. To encourage a visit, Gobo decides to create a book about how great Fraggle Rock is and about all of the things that make it special. To accomplish that aim, he interviews his fellow Fraggles, The All-Knowing Trash Heap, and even eavesdrops on Junior Gorg. By the end of the day, Gobo knows a lot about his found family – and Travelling Matt has a reason to go home. Cook’s writing is a standout with its loving portrayal of the Fraggle world and her gentle humor, and her art is sweetly rubbery and big-eyed, reminding me of My Little Pony.

The volume overall is a standout among Boom’s comic releases, with “Rock Hopping” and “Mokey Loses Her Muse” being gems that kids (or kids at heart) will love reading. A handsome volume with some fun stories, Down at Fraggle Rock is a good – if not particularly long – example of the magic that Boom! has woven with the license and is well worth a look.

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