CCI: Archaia's Henson Company Panel

A number of big announcements were made at the Archaia Comics: Jim Henson panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Henson fans dotted the audience, eager to hear about the successful "Fraggle Rock" comic book and news on further collaborations between The Jim Henson Company and Archaia. They were not disappointed on either account.

Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy began by introducing the creative team behind the first Henson/Archaia comic book, "Fraggle Rock." A three-issue miniseries, the first run has been collected in one volume, available now from Archaia. Editor Joe LeFavi spoke about the process of reviving the television show "Fraggle Rock" as a comic, telling the audience that the writers were most excited to explore the world of the Fraggles.

"Everybody loves Boomer," said LeFavi. "We were expecting people would just write stories about our fab five going on adventures, but the true fanboys and girls came out."

"We got Large Marvin pitches...we got tons of Red and Boomer," said editor Tim Beedle. He added that each issue contains a main story and a back-up story, where lesser-known "Fraggles" get to shine.

"When you have love and enthusiasm for a property it's hard to go wrong," said "Fraggle" writer Sam Humphries.

Christy then made the first of many Archaia "worldwide announcements," revealing a second "Fraggle Rock" three-issue miniseries is currently in the works. The first issue is due later this fall with a hardcover collection hitting shelves the following spring.

"It's so heartfelt, it's about friendship and how important that is," said artist Heidi Arnhold. "I can't wait to draw it."

Moving onto his next announcement, Christy told the audience Archaia is set to publish a "The Dark Crystal" comic book. The comic will serve as a prequel to the 1982 movie and concentrates on the Mystics and the Skeksis, two of the mythical races from the movie. Delving into their back-story, the comic will set up for the events for the movie and give readers "a peek into the origins of the Dark Crystal," said Christy.

Artist Brian Froud, who provided art and character designs for the film, is in charge of the comic, working on the story and art direction as well as providing cover art. When asked how he felt about returning to "Dark Crystal," Froud laughed before responding.

"Luckily I've forgotten everything, so everything I contribute is really fresh," said Froud.

Attendees received a poster with original "Dark Crystal" art, including Froud's first-issue cover. "The Dark Crystal" will be released as two four-issue miniseries starting next year.

"To re-approach these characters has been wonderful," said Froud. "Shining through is the human heart, and that still stands up after all this time."

A visibly excited Christy revealed he had one more comic announcement, the biggest project undertaken in Archaia's seven-year history.

"In the vaults of The Jim Henson Company, there's a script called 'A Tale of Sand,'" said Christy. "I'm overjoyed and pleased to announce that Archaia and Henson are partnering together to bring this unseen Jim Henson screenplay to life as an original graphic novel."

The crowd roared in approval as a logo for "A Tale of Sand" appeared on the big screen. Unproduced and left in the Henson vault for years, the comic version "A Tale of Sand" is tentatively slated for the second half of 2011. Though a tight-lipped Christy couldn't confirm the artist, he did say there was no writer attached as Archaia was adapting the comic directly from the script.

Archaia has had an exciting 2010, and judging by the the audience's reaction to this panel, 2011 will only get better.

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