This week, Archaia Comics and the Jim Henson Company confirmed rumors of a potential partnership between the two creative companies, and offered official word that the pair would be publishing new comic book series and graphic novels based on popular properties like "The Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth" and "Mirrormask." And while this news on its own should be enough to excite fans of Henson's varied and much beloved library, the pair also offered Splash Page readers the exclusive announcement regarding which property will be the first to hit shelves.
"'Fraggle Rock' is going to be the first book that we launch," Archaia’s Director of Development, Stephen Christy, told MTV News. "We're launching with 'Fraggle Rock' and other titles will be forthcoming."
The "Fraggle Rock" news has been the stuff of rumors since Christy posted a cropped image on Twitter last month and hinted that the quickly identified image from the popular Henson property had something to do with the publisher's "next big announcement."
According to the Jim Henson Company's Director of Publishing and Development, Joe LeFavi (who will serve as story editor on all the books), the titles coming out of the partnership will not be adaptations, but instead involve original stories based on existing Henson properties or new, co-branded properties. And as he points out, the comics-first move represents a major change in the company's perspective.
"For the first time ever in Henson's history, we're going to be creating original stories in print first," explained LeFavi.
The biggest reason for the change, according to LeFavi, is the restriction-free creative environment offered by comic book medium.
"If a Henson fan has ever wanted to see a $500 million dollar Henson movie, you can see it in these books," he said. "That's the potential for print: you don't have to worry about any of the constrictions, any of the budgets. You just have to focus on telling the story right."
However, LeFavi said the partnership wasn't intended to simply test the waters for new or old properties looking to make the jump to the screen, as is the case with so many other publishing partnerships lately.
"They would ideally exist on their own," he said. "We're not using publishing as some back door to selling film and television rights. We're a storyteller, and we're getting into this for the opportunity to tell more and better stories."
With Henson properties covering a fairly wide age range ("Mirrormask" and "The Dark Crystal" tend to skew a bit older than "Fraggle Rock," for example), Christy and LeFavi both promised that the properties wouldn't be homogenized or toned up or down to reach a certain demographic. In fact, they offered a "definite yes" when asked if properties that tend to resonate with an older demographic would continue to be more adult-oriented than, perhaps, "Fraggle Rock."
Possibly most intriguing about the deal, however, is the emphatic "no comment" Christy offered when asked if any of the original creators associated with certain Henson properties might be involved in the comics. Would noted comic book scribe Neil Gaiman be involved with "Mirrormask" comic, for instance?
"The wonderful thing about the Henson company over the course of its entire history is how direct a relationship the creators of the actual material had with the finished product that the fans saw," said Christy. "We're a creator-owned company. We always look to build a property starting with the creators."
"I'll just say that we want to keep that tradition alive, and I think people will be very excited when we announce the creative teams for books that we're publishing," he added.
Excited about Jim Henson Company comics? Which title are you looking forward to the most?