It’s been a quarter of a century since Jim Henson‘s ambitious fantasy film Labyrinth first premiered to a lackluster reception from audiences. In the years since its release the movie has built up a cult following and been widely hailed as one of the best children’s fantasy films of the 1980s, thanks in no small part to the exceptional puppet work and the performances of a young Jennifer Connelly and British glam rock superstar David Bowie as the Labyrinth’s villainous Jareth, the Goblin King.
Comics publisher Archaia has announced that it will be producing a graphic novel prequel to Labyrinth that will focus entirely on the story of the Goblin King. According to Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy, “It’s the story of how Jareth is brought into the Labyrinth for the first time. So, it doesn’t deal with Sarah, it doesn’t deal with Toby or anything like that.”
In 2009 Archaia signed a deal with the Jim Henson Company to create comics based on the company’s many properties, which so far have included Fraggle Rock and a prequel to The Dark Crystal, a 1982 fantasy epic the late Henson co-directed with his longtime collaborator Frank Oz.
The film followed a girl named Sarah (Connelly) who must save her baby half-brother Toby from the Goblin King’s clutches. Toby was played by Toby Froud, the son of the film’s conceptual artist and costume designer Brian Froud, who will be “doing all the character designs and all the covers and conceptualizing and everything. It’s going to be spectacular.”
Since the movie offered no insight into the Goblin King’s background, Archaia was left with virtual carte blanche to build his origin from scratch. Said Christy:
It’s a prequel, so we know what happens in the movie. We know how it’s going to end: Jareth is going to be the Goblin King … so we’re showing how he’s pulled into the Labyrinth for the first time. It’s going to be cool. We’re switching up the dynamic of it, but what we’re doing is completely true to the spirit of the original.
Christy also explained how important music will be in the creation of the narrative, much as it did in the film. “I don’t know if this will work out,” he said, “but I want to do songs where they’re songs being sung (by characters) and we show the notes on the page, so you can actually play along.” The published is also hoping that this element of the project will have the involvement of the Goblin King himself, David Bowie, who has likeness approval over the comic’s design of the Jareth character.
Christy spoke of Bowie’s involvement, saying:
We’re talking. The budget to get Bowie to do one song would be the budget of all the books, but we’re talking to him to at least get his blessing or maybe an introduction or something.
When asked if the Labyrinth project could grow to encompass multiple volumes, Christy replied:
The story is kind-of contained like a movie. If we divided it, (the question is) where do we divide it at? We might do it as a two-volume thing to give people something to wait for a little bit. To give people something to be excited about and have a chance to make it little more epic.
Whatever the comic ends up becoming, Archaia’s editor-in-chief hopes that it will be something the Muppet Master himself would admire greatly.
I hope that Jim would be happy to see how a whole generation grew up with this movie. Labyrinth was a big deal to a lot of people—it was one of those movies that stays with you from your childhood. We can probably count on two hands the movies that really affected us when we were kids, and I think for a lot of people Labyrinth was one of them.
The untitled Labyrinth prequel graphic novel will hit stores later this year.