The Jim Henson Novel Slipcase Box Set is a beautiful slipcase collection of three novelizations of Jim Henson’s beloved works, finally back in print from BOOM!/Archaia! This collection, a great gift for the Holidays, will be available on Wednesday, December 24th.
This box set includes The Dark Crystal: The Novelization and Labyrinth: The Novelization, adapted by A.C.H. Smith and featuring never before seen illustrations by world-renowned illustrator Brian Froud. The set also includes The Storyteller, written by Anthony Minghella, the Academy Award-winning showrunner of the Emmy Award-winning television series. Each book includes additional material from the Jim Henson Archives making these hardcovers a celebration of not only Jim Henson’s work but his creative process.
Our interview is with Head Archivist of The Jim Henson Company, Karen Falk.
Josh Green for Comics Bulletin: When did you start your role as the Head Archivist of the Jim Henson Company and what’s a typical day for you in such a unique job position?
Karen Falk: I have been responsible for The Jim Henson Company Archives for about twenty-two years, and the job has evolved over time. At the beginning, most days involved seeking out materials to document our creative history and then organizing and cataloging them into a coherent collection. In recent years, my work has been more curatorial in nature, using the collections for research and to write materials publications, museum exhibits and our website.
CB: The Jim Henson Novel Slipcase Box Set is a beautiful package. Tell Henson fans, as well as fans who might not be familiar with these works, what to expect in this box set.
Falk: As you mentioned above, the box set will contain Anthony Smith’s novelizations of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth along with Anthony Minghella’s lovely storybook based on The Storyteller television series. The Dark Crystal has artwork from the production process and Jim’s notes to Smith about his draft novel; the Labyrinth includes a reproduction of Jim’s handwritten notebook with his ideas for the film, and The Storyteller has behind-the-scenes production photography.
CB: How extensive was your role in putting together The Dark Crystal: The Novelization and Labyrinth: The Novelization as well as The Storyteller? Do you have any editorial influence or do you leave it to BOOM!/Archaia to do their thing once you provide them with the material?
Falk: Our editor at Boom!/Archaia, Cameron Chittock, and I spoke at length about the sorts of things to include with the original manuscripts that would resonate with fans. We worked together to make sure the extras would be different in each of the three books. Boom!/Archaia did the legwork on getting the notes from the University of Texas, and I reached out to A.C.H. Smith to get the back story on the original novelizations and to make sure fans knew about him. Cameron’s team made the decisions on design and placement of the extras in consultation with Jim Formanek in our publishing department. So, definitely a team effort!
CB: Your work with BOOM!/Archaia has gone back several years. Your biggest success was Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, which was a lost screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl. Talk about your time with this project, and why you think it became such an award-winning success!
Falk: It was thrilling to see the Tale of Sand screenplay come to life after so many years in the files, especially because Ramon Perez did such a masterful job transforming it from words to images, and Archaia took such care in the overall presentation. Lisa Henson was a champion from the start and stayed very hands-on throughout the process. This project was initiated by and shepherded by Stephen Christy at Archaia whose enthusiasm and creativity ensured that such an unlikely project would be realized. The success of the book is certainly due in large part to Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl’s unique vision coupled with Ramon Perez’s incredible talent along with contributions from both the Henson and Archaia teams.
CB: There’s a new A Tale of Sand supplemental book that has recently come out, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand: The Illustrated Screenplay. Did you find more material that you didn’t have on-hand when A Tale of Sand initially came out? Why would readers who love A Tale of Sand also want Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand: The Illustrated Screenplay?
Falk: The material in the supplemental book includes the original archival documents that I provided to Archaia and that Ramon Perez used to create the book. Fans of Tale of Sand or people coming to it for the first time will have a chance to go back in time to the 1960s and really get a sense for the primary material. I am privileged to have access to these sorts of things every day, to really connect very closely with Jim and Jerry’s creative process, and this will give fans who don’t have access to the archives a chance to experience this genius first hand.
CB: BOOM!/Archaia recently came out with Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow written and drawn by acclaimed The Muppet Show cartoonist Roger Langridge. This was very similar to Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand in that this project was also put together from a lost screenplay from Henson and Juhl. Are there any more lost treasures that you are in the process of digging up for a future release from BOOM!/Archaia?
Falk: Given that we are not a public institution, it is wonderful to find various ways to share our collections. Boom!/Archaia has certainly been a terrific partner to that end, and we hope we can continue sharing our treasures in this way.
CB: There’s a new Jim Henson’s Storytellers series that has recently come out called Witches. Do you have any participation in that series? Likewise, do you have any influence on their current Fraggle Rock comics, such as their current mini-series, Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring? How about reprints of older Fraggle Rock stories with Fraggle Rock Classics?
Falk: I have shared various archival materials relating to The Storyteller with the Archaia team that they have used as inspiration and background and, of course, the reprints of the Fraggle Classics are based on archival materials. My colleague in the publishing department, Jim Formanek, takes the lead on these new stories, working with our design review people and ensuring that anything new with our characters or brands reflects our historical sensibility.
CB: Talk about the three-part Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths series of graphic novels. Are they based on anything specifically written by Jim Henson, or does this series of books take inspiration from the original classic film?
Falk: They are inspired by the classic film which, of course, was Jim’s masterpiece.
CB: What future projects are you excited for from BOOM!/Archaia, as well as your work with The Jim Henson Company?
Falk: As someone eager to share our historical treasures with the public, I am most excited by our partnerships with The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and The Museum of the Moving Image in New York. The Henson Family has made major gifts (hundreds of puppets and artifacts) to both institutions and, collaborating with the Family and The Jim Henson Legacy, each are building permanent Jim Henson galleries to open in late 2015. It is a joy to work with the curators and designers and have the opportunity to share Jim’s story in such a big way.