Fans curious about how events in the worlds of "Labyrinth" and "Mirrormask" unfolded after the movies ended, or those who yearn to once again dance their cares away down at "Fraggle Rock" will get their wish later this year. Through a new partnership between the Jim Henson Company and Archaia Comics, new stories set in the various Henson films will begin arriving in comics shops this winter, starting with a "Fraggle Rock" title. The agreement also allows for completely original properties to be developed under the Henson-Archaia banner. The companies expect to announce launch titles at San Diego's Comic-Con International in July, but CBR News spoke with Joe LeFavi, Director of Publishing and Development at The Jim Henson Company, and Stephen Christy, Archaia's Director of Development, to get the background and early details of the partnership.
"Joe and I met at San Diego Comic-Con last year," Christy told CBR. "I think the deal kind of came about when we first met and Joe was like, 'I work for Henson!' and me screaming like a little girl because I was so excited about the fact that he worked for Henson."
"We basically instantly clicked because we're both a bit of Henson dorks, we're a bit obsessed with this legacy," LeFavi agreed. "We [at Henson] were looking into getting into comics for a bit and were talking to some other providers and I knew that the second I first met with Stephen that he was the one that was going to get it. It was hysterical because I brought him on to the Henson lot for a general meeting, and on the walk to the conference room, there is one of the refurbished Skekses from 'The Dark Crystal,' the Ornamentalist. And he literally stopped mid-sentence, completely blanched-faced, and said, 'Can I just take a picture of this for my sister with my cell phone?' And was literally humming the music from 'Dark Crystal' as he was doing it. I remember that moment so clearly and I remember thinking, whatever it takes, this guy's getting the gig."
Christy and LeFavi described the arrangement between Archaia and the Henson Company as a partnership rather than a straight licensing agreement. In addition to creating new stories in the worlds of "Fraggle Rock," "The Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth," "Mirrormask," "The Storyteller," and others, Archaia and Henson expect to also create original co-branded series.
Additionally, all comics released under the Archaia-Henson banner will be new stories rather than adaptations of the films. "One of the reasons it's so exciting to do this kind of work is that Henson has created mythology after mythology of these massive worlds that we haven't even scraped the surface of," LeFavi said. "And there's so much to do and explore in these worlds that we've created, and Archaia's really going to let us do that and explore the boundaries of fantasia, if you will. We're going to finally give fans the opportunity to step into these worlds and take a walk around for themselves."
Joe LeFavi will serve as Story Editor for the new line of Henson and Archaia comics. "Henson has put a lot of trust in me as basically their in-house geek, so I'll be there from the ground level ensuring that the Henson fans are getting the level of quality and imagination that they expect from us," he said.
Stephen Christy praised LeFavi's advocacy for developing new talent and told CBR that he was particularly excited for the original titles that may come out of the partnership. "I think one of the things we're all excited about is that the people we're going to be bringing in to do these new ideas are really going to be becoming part of the family. That we're definitely not taking lightly, because we want to be able to bring in new artists, new writers, into the comic book space, as well as artists and writers that are already in the comic book space, and really mentor them and allow the Henson-Archaia brand and line of books to be something where they can really express their creativity and where they can do so with the full support of both Archaia and the Henson Company."
Explaining this philosophy, LeFavi added, "The Jim Henson Company, back in the day, was known for being this creative community that no matter who you were, you could come to Henson and tell your story right. When everywhere else you were hitting against walls, you were a little stifled, you couldn't be as edgy or as quirky or anything you wanted to be, you couldn't fully realize the potential of your story except at Henson, and that's what I want to recreate. I want to create this artistic community where you can be welcomed into the Henson family and tell those stories you've always wanted to tell, and tell them right.
"That's really what I'm hoping to do with this partnership, and every original tale that we do, is that we find creators and worlds that the Henson brand can help gain distinction for them, to bring them into the marketplace and give them the kind of spotlight they deserve to find the right audiences," he continued. "That is one of the fortunate aspects of working at Henson is that people see Henson, they expect great things from Henson, we stand out and our fans love us and if we put something out there, the fans will support it."
Both Henson's LeFavi and Archaia's Christy believe the two companies are well matched and expressed an excited giddiness about the upcoming comics line. "People are flocking to comics because this really is the platform that's had all the most innovative and imaginative stories out there, and we wanted someone who had the artistic integrity that, no matter what they do, it's a labor of love. That's really how we felt about Archaia," LeFavi said. "The Henson brand is a scary thing to entrust to someone. A lot of people love this legacy and are expecting great things from us, especially when we do new content. We needed to find a partner that we could trust with that legacy, where we say, 'Get ready, people! These next stories are gonna be great!' They're gonna have that same Henson charm and magic. It took a while to find the right match, but that partner, the one we've been looking for, is definitely 100% Archaia."
"I can't even say how excited I am, basically," Christy said. "This is a huge, huge, huge deal for Archaia, and these Henson properties are really going to flagship titles for us in addition to our flagships of 'Mouse Guard' and 'Artesia' and 'The Killer' moving forward. I just really hope that as we start announcing the books and creative teams, fans are going to be excited. These books are being created by fans of the Henson properties. To be able to kind of add to the mythology that we grew up with is a huge honor and I think that fans of both Henson and Archaia are going to hopefully be really happy once these books start hitting the shelves."