Deadline Comic-Con film correspondent Luke Y Thompson files:
In a small-yet-packed room, all the way across the convention center and up the stairs from Hollywood’s big Hall H stuff, significant bits of film history were coming to light. After Archaia Entertainment CEO P.J. Bickett warmed up the crowd with a joke about how their next project could be “New Kids on the Block meet Fraggle Rock,” it was revealed that Archaia’s partnership with the Jim Henson Company included material from the Henson vaults, some of which had never been seen before. A full page movie script written by Henson and longtime collaborator Jerry Juhl in 1968, A TALE OF SAND, has been found and will soon come to light in comic book form. As for a potential movie form – that went unmentioned.
Also never before seen, and screened, was a short piece of experimental animation set to the music of Chico Hamilton, all moving collages of squares, triangles, and lines. It ended with a shot of a beardless Henson manipulating every little cut-out element with tweezers.
While the plot of A TALE OF SAND is somewhat under wraps, the idea of the panel was to give a sense of the tone by showing some of Henson’s more experimental, Philip K. Dick-like shorts from the same period, including his stream-of-consciousness Oscar nominee “Time Piece,” a Bufferin commercial about how headaches affect fading memories, and a TV short from 1969 called The Cube, in which a man in the middle of a love scene gets interrupted by a team of doctors, and later told that he’s part of a television show to which he can view the ending because it has already been pre-taped.
A few early pages from the comic depict a man sitting by a stop-sign in the desert, starting to light a cigarette until the match is shot out of his hand by an unseen assailant. There’s also an eyepatched man with a goatee who appears devilish, and a jazz-club sequence in which the panels are strewn about the page with flying notes all around – mimicking the style of Henson’s experimental collage animation.
Archaia’s editor-in-chief Stephen Christy said that unearthing this story was akin to finding a lost Michael Jackson album that predates Thriller. The material features themes of how the mind works, free-association, the effect of the rat race on the soul, and the importance of taking a moment to smell the flowers…or light a cigarette.
There was one more crowd-pleasing announcement: Archaia is working on comic-book prequels to LABYRINTH and THE DARK CRYSTAL, both in
collaboration with original conceptual artist Brian Froud. Now, if they’d just finally get some movement going on the cinematic sequels everybody wants…