Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jim Henson's Tale of Sand

Screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl
Realized by Ramón Pérez

I'm sure it's not possible to find someone who doesn't have fond memories of something done by Jim Henson, be it his Muppets, his work on Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, or the Dark Crystal.  He was clearly a visionary artist, whose oeuvre has had a lasting influence on children's entertainment and the psyches of generations.

Personally, I didn't realize he was such a surrealist visionary as well.  A Tale of Sand was the name he put on a screenplay for a live-action movie he wrote with his frequent collaborator Jerry Juhl back in 1967 or so.  The film was never made, but the script was recently uncovered and adapted as a beautifully produced hardcover graphic novel by Ramón Pérez.

The story doesn't explain much - a man is attending a party in a small town in the middle of a desert.  He is escorted away by the town's Sheriff, who rather vaguely explains that he has a ten minute's head start to run out of town, and that if he makes it to a group of mountains, he should be safe.  The guy has no clue what's going on, but quickly heads out of town, with only a backpack of supplies, and an over-sized skeleton key to aid him.  It's not long before he realizes that he's being followed by a slim, bearded man, who starts shooting at him.

The guy continues to try to escape, and his journeys lead him through a surrealistic desert landscape, populated with angry Arabs, football players, Kalahari bushmen, busy highways, a shark-infested saltwater swimming pool, and other odd things.

As strange as all of this sounds, on the page, it seems to make perfect sense.  Pérez has done a phenomenal job of drawing this book in such a way as to present its internal logic as ultimately sane and very compelling.  He plays with colour and page layouts to help propel the story, and generally, has created one of the most gorgeous graphic novels I've read in a while.

This book is highly recommended.

No comments: