Off Screen: Jim Henson's Unfilmed Fantasy Screenplay Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment

Off Screen: Jim Henson's Unfilmed Fantasy Screenplay Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment

Dec 14, 2011

Welcome to Off Screen, a new feature that follows up on big-screen characters in other media, be they comics, books, TV shows or video games.

The creations of Jim Henson have been experiencing a recent renaissance of sorts, with The Muppets winning over hearts at the box office, so it makes good sense for comic publisher Archaia to be in the Jim Henson business right now. Archaia recently launched a graphic novel based on Henson’s The Storyteller, the short-lived television show which saw Jon Hurt sharing a different fairy tale every week, and they’ve been turning out quality comics based on Labyrinth and Fraggle Rock as well. Now, they’re bringing Henson’s Tale of Sand to life as a hardcover graphic novel.

Tale of Sand was a live-action fantasy screenplay written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl (head writer of The Muppet Show) in 1967, and shelved for years for being too strange and expensive to produce as a feature. Newsarama has a 6-page preview of the 160-page graphic novel, illustrated by Ramon Perez, and while Perez’s art is absolutely gorgeous, the story seems much more surreal than Henson’s other stabs at fantasy filmmaking like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

According to Muppet Wikia, “The protagonist of A Tale of Sand is a young man named Mac who is involved in a race across an expansive desert with only a rucksack full of odds-and-ends to his name. Meanwhile, he is being chased by a mysterious eye-patched man known as ‘Patch’.” Even in the preview pages, there isn’t much that reminds one of the Muppets (there don’t seem to be any puppet characters at all in the story) , but it’s evident that Henson’s huge imagination is on full display. Perhaps the screenplay will find a circuitous way to the big screen after all, if the graphic novel happens to catch the attention of Hollywood.

Jim Henson’s daughter, Lisa, has given her full blessing to the book Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, which hits comic shops and bookstores in limited quantity today, with a wider release scheduled in January 2012.

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