LABYRINTH Graphic Novel Prequel Explores Origins of David Bowie’s Goblin King

     January 8, 2012


Once upon a time, a fantasy movie debuted in theaters without much critical acclaim and even less box office success. Over the years, however, it became a cult classic; more than 25 years later, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is still held as one of fantasy fans’ most beloved films. The story centered on Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) an imaginative young girl who, in a fit of frustration, wished the Goblin King would whisk her baby brother Toby (Toby Froud) away. Answering her prayers was Jareth (David Bowie), the Goblin King himself. While the rest of Labyrinth is a fantastic experience of sight and sound, blending puppetry and live human performance, one mystery that was never solved is the origin of the Goblin King. Now, a graphic novel by Archaia will seek to answer that question and expand upon Henson’s world. Hit the jump for much more, including Bowie’s rumored involvement with the project.

ShelfLife spoke with Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy about his long-awaited project tie-in with the world of Labyrinth. Fans of the original film may never have thought to ask the question, “Where did the Goblin King come from?” but Christy hopes to answer it anyway:

“We can say it’s a prequel. 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.”

labyrinth-jennifer-connelly-david-bowieWhile Christy says that they’ll be keeping the feel of the movie, Jareth’s tale will be quite different from Sarah’s:

“It’s a very tragic story that is the opposite of Sarah’s, which has triumph at the end. 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.”

Archaia, who signed a deal with The Jim Henson Company in 2009, has already adapted Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Tale of Sand, a lost Henson script. Overseeing the work is illustrator Brian Froud, real-life father of baby Toby in the original movie and partner of Henson during the realization of the creations in Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Froud will be tasked with:

“doing all the character designs and all the covers and conceptualizing and everything. It’s going to be spectacular.”

labyrinth-david-bowieNow, for the fans of Bowie. Obviously, he not only contributed his physical performance to the Goblin King in Labyrinth, but his musical talent as well. Christy is hoping to integrate music into the graphic novel:

“I don’t know if this will work out, 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.”

But will Bowie be involved?

“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. He also has likeness approval.”

No word on whether or not the young Jareth will sport the “Tina Turner” haircut that Bowie did as a grown up Goblin King, but his age will be closer to Sarah’s from the original film.

“He’s kind of a punk in his own way. We’re huge fans so we know that if we’re getting excited, other fans will. The story is kind-of contained like a movie. If we divided it, 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.”

labyrinth-jim-hensonPurists of Henson’s original Labyrinth may be put at ease by Christy’s fondness for the material and ambitions to make a prequel more of an homage than a re-imagining:

“We’re really taking our time with stuff. At Archaia we never want to do things the way other people do it — unless they’re doing it better than we’re doing it.  We are such fans of the material that we couldn’t in good conscience just sh– something out.

“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.”

Fans can look for the graphic novel to be released sometime in late 2012. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the work, check out the original trailer below.

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