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Jim Henson's lost Tale of Sand, in graphic novel form by Ramon Perez
July 6, 2013 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Let's think back to the 1960s, when more people were writing surreal, paranoid themes. Now place Jim Henson in that context, and you get Time Piece (YouTube, excerpt; behind the scenes clip, YT). Add in collaboration with writer (and puppeteer) Jerry Juhl and you have The Cube (YT, full film), as well as the setting for the hypnagogic story of a man pursued in the desert, called Tale of Sand. This was first written up as a screenplay and pitched as a movie in the late 1960s, then revised and re-pitched in 1974. But no one bit, so the screenplay was shelved, and then Jim gained fame for Sesame Street and The Muppets. Elements of Tale of Sand appeared in The Muppet Movie (YT, full movie) and other places since then, but the work was largely unseen and forgotten. Jump ahead three decades, and the Henson Company teams up with Archaia, first releasing Fraggle Rock and Dark Crystal comics, then digging in the Henson Company vault to bring Tale of Sand to light with cartoonist Ramón Pérez. You can see a preview of the graphic novel on Graphicly (including a nice dynamic display) and Amazon (static images, but more pages in the preview).

Mentalfloss has an interview with Karen Falk, head archivist at The Jim Henson Company, and RadNerd TV interviewed Ramón Pérez (YT). If you'd like to see more of his work, check out ButterNutSquash and Kukuburi, two webcomics.

Archaia has a bit more on Tales of Sand, and Nemphtis has some nice photos of the hardcover printing. Comic Attack has a podcast interview with Pérez, plus the cover and a page from the '74 edition of the Tale of Sand screenplay, and some inked pages and frames from the graphic novel in progress.

Parting note: the Muppet Wiki notes that there was talk of the screenplay itself being published, but that has since been shelved. Until then, there are random pictures of pages on the internet related to the graphic novel, and the some pages are incorporated in the graphic novel (source: Section 244 review).
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think it was when I first saw the early SNL sketches featuring Muppets that I realized there was more to Jim Henson's story than wholesome family fare.
posted by Miko at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jim Henson's sense of timing is weird in a way that I've not seen many other directors do well. The best way I can describe it is that it's like someone juggling at you, and then you get hit on the head with a nerf hammer at the end of it.
posted by oonh at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work in entertainment, and I have friends who worked on the Muppet Show and on other Muppet productions, and I've worked a bit with them too. Some of the Henson/Oz behind the scenes stories me me feel a lot less cynical. They are just good people. It breaks my heart that Henson is no longer alive.
posted by nevercalm at 10:14 PM on July 6, 2013


Wow, The Cube is great. Thanks for sharing, flt; looking forward to watching the others.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:26 AM on July 7, 2013


Walked into a library to idle for a while on a lazy vacation day, picked up a copy of Tale of Sand on a whim, and chewed through the whole thing. It's a good read.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:58 AM on July 7, 2013


oonh: "Jim Henson's sense of timing is weird in a way that I've not seen many other directors do well. The best way I can describe it is that it's like someone juggling at you, and then you get hit on the head with a nerf hammer at the end of it."

The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie were both heavily influenced by Vaudeville, and Henson seemed to bring that theatrical, slapstick sense of timing and dialogue from that era to all his work. Your description is pretty much how I'd describe Vaudeville, even moreso Henson's take on it.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:08 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Walked into a library to idle for a while on a lazy vacation day, picked up a copy of Tale of Sand on a whim, and chewed through the whole thing. It's a good read.

And I'll bet you never paid the copyright holders a dime, huh? Lousy communist copyright-flaunting libraries. What an un-American concept they are.

</hijack>
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:36 PM on July 7, 2013


Just put a hold on this at the local library, thanks for the heads up.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:10 AM on July 8, 2013


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