Comics can really make great infographics. Today’s inspiration was found in the book, Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal.
About the Infographic
This is a comic drawn by Caroll Spinney, the performer of Big Bird, as a holiday greeting to his friends. It’s well drawn but also provides a good deal of information.
Here are my favorite parts.
Mixing Fonts and Grid Construction
It’s a comic without frames, but there is definitely some order built in. There are two main columns that break into 4 as you go down the page. It’s not super precise, but as a cartoon it really doesn’t have to be precise.
The mixing of font sizes is purposeful, with narrative and caption based sizes being just a little different. The whole thing feels really well paced.
Inside Big Bird
So there it is, in a single sketch, how big bird was performed. I love how the cartoon doesn’t provide a lot of detail on the human inside, just a dashed outline to show the person with his arm in the air.
There are descriptive annotations, “the head is held as high over my head as I can manage.” But there are also commentary pieces, “Yes, my arm feels like it might ache right off, but that’s part of puppetry tiddletypom!”
There is more detail on the tiny TV monitor and microphone that aid the performance. This is how Big Bird can interact with others.
Under Oscar the Grouch
I love how he pairs the behind the scenes of Oscar right next to Big Bird. You can see how another TV is used behind the scenes, and how his performance of Oscar relates to Big Bird.
“Doing Oscar is fun because he’s just the opposite of Big Bird in personality. I get to let out lots of hostilities.”
As for the drawing itself, Caroll Spinney depicts himself performing Oscar but shows that he’s still wearing his Big Bird legs. All of the puppeteers behind muppets play multiple roles, and this just illustrates that well.
The Anything Muppets
“Here is a group of puppets that can become almost anything! The possibilities are endless.”
Do you ever wonder how they can make so many different types of muppets? Well, this certainly gives you a behind the scene view. In addition to the description we are shown the transformation.
It starts with three base puppet forms. Then we see these puppet forms dressed as characters. Finally, we see these same three puppet forms dressed as entirely different kinds of characters. The transformation quickly illustrates the description.
Bonus: Jim Henson’s design for Big Bird.
This is Jim Henson’s concept sketch.
It’s simple. But it gives enough detail to communicate how the costume should be created and how it would be performed.
Want to check out the book?
I love looking at behind the scenes journals, sketches, and other materials that show the work of creatives. If you do too, definitely find a copy of the book somewhere.
As with most things, you can find the book on Amazon.
Want to dive in deeper?
Here is a conversation with the author Karen Falk.