I brought Bodie Troll! Well, technically, Bodie met me in New York. Let me explain...
A year and a half ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to have a Bodie Troll puppet built. I'm friends with several very talented puppet builders, and one whom I'd always wanted to work with was James Wojtal. James has a history of working with the Jim Henson Company, and continually has his hands in both the building and performing of puppets for various productions today. James and I briefly discussed it, agreed to make it happen one day, and we both sat on the idea while other projects took priority.
While at San Diego Comic Con this past July, the idea came back to me in a big way. My friend Kelly had recently dyed her hair a bright orange, and we both agreed that she could make a great Cholly (Bodie's best friend from the comics)...
A major promotional opportunity was forming. I immediately wrote James, asking if he was still game for creating a Bodie puppet, and in time for New York Comic Con. He agreed without hesitation. I did a geeky little fanboy dance of jubilation, and set to making some designs for James to work off of.
This is the turn-around model sheet I provided James with.
James ended up bring Bodie right to my hotel room on my first night in New York. I'd only seen the progress pics of Bodie, so I had no idea what was in store. My confidence in James' skills was well founded, because what was in store was AWESOME!!!
James is not only a fantastic puppet builder, but an amazing guy whom I'm thrilled to call my friend. Here he is at the con, posing with Bodie, me and Kelly, who walked the con floor dressed as Cholly and with Bodie in her arms.
As I expected, people were entranced with the little guy and his best friend, and soon, loads of people came to my table to find out more about them. The Bodie comic is now in large circulation amongst my East Coast fan base, thanks to James, Kelly and Bodie!
One of several cool encounters I had was with Dave Hulteen and Jerome Green, fellow Muppet fans and creators of the puppet web series, "The Bang and Bump Show". We three had been online pals for years, and now, with all our fuzzy creations in tow, we had a big ol' puppet play date in the middle of artist alley!
I also took Bodie out into the streets of New York. With Sesame Street and so many other puppet productions being recorded in the city, one more puppet wasn't going to necessarily stand out. That said, Bodie had some nice reactions from people. We took Bodie to Good Morning America's studio, where we tried to get him and Cholly (Kelly) on TV. We actually got in the door before security realized we weren't cleared to be there, and they politely showed us the way back out. A highlight from that moment was having security feign concern while talking into their headset, saying, "We have a suspicious looking lady and a monkey..."
On our last morning of the show, we got up early and took Bodie over to Rockefeller Center, and attempted to get him on camera there. No such luck, though we did get some nice shots around the area, and with another security guard.
But the coolest Bodie moment of the whole weekend was on the last day of the con, when a very special visitor came to my table. Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, who performs Abby Cadabby on "Sesame Street", had heard about the Bodie puppet on the first day of the con, and brought Abby by to meet him on Sunday! As we popped our characters onto our arms, we immediately started improvising through our characters about everything from fairy farts to dirty roots--it was pure puppet bliss!
Ever the professional puppeteer, Leslie hunkered down out of shot so that Abby would be in the forefront. I was too giddy, and stuck my goofy mug into the shot each time! The best part was how Leslie helped me pose Bodie for the camera--I was being directed by one of the best and most popular puppeteers of the last twenty years! I was performing with the Muppets! Childhood dream #2 fulfilled! SQUEE!!!
Leslie and I had a wonderful conversation outside of the characters, and I gave her this piece that I drew for her. It was just so amazing to connect with her, and I was teary eyed when she left. I can barely talk about it now without getting choked up--but they're tears of absolute joy!
There were plenty of other fantastic memories from that weekend that are better documented by friends--great meals, midnight trips to 30 Rock, subway rides and angry cab drivers...but that whole trip was just one big golden memory, of wish fulfillment achieved, of new opportunities being born, and of friendships being forged and cherished. Thank you to those who shared it with me then, and who share it with me now through these words.
Love to all!