3/12/1979 – ‘Fly to Kansas City- see Hallmark then on to LA- work with Muppet Show writers- also Mups go H’wood’

Starting in 1980s, the Hallmark company produced numerous cards, posters, puzzles, party products and bath items featuring the Muppets. This was a substantial deal for an impressive array of items with wide distribution. Given Jim’s interest in making sure licensed products properly reflected his characters and his design esthetic, it’s not surprising that he took time during what would prove to be an exceptionally busy year to go out to Hallmark’s headquarters in Kansas City to discuss arrangements.

Over the course of the next few years, Jim would review the designs for each product and give approvals or changes. Art director Michael Frith was usually in charge of design, painstakingly sketching out ideas for the photos that would appear on each item. These were then translated by the costumers and prop makers in the Muppet Workshop into 3-D and carefully photographed in-house, usually by John E. Barrett. The Henson writing team checked the copy, and the licensing team made sure everything was properly communicated to Hallmark. The end result were quality products that allowed Muppet fans to invite Miss Piggy, Kermit and their friends to take part in celebrations, personal correspondence, school events, hand washing, and other activities around the house.

Costume design for Hallmark products featuring Miss Piggy dressed as Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, 1981.

Playing cards from Hallmark featuring Miss Piggy in her Miss Kitty costume, 1981.

The array of Muppet products offered under the “Jim Henson’s Muppets Extravaganza” banner by Hallmark in 1981.

Read more from Jim Henson’s Red Book in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal available from Chronicle Books.

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