The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths

Concept, character designs, cover: Brian Froud

Writer: Joshua Dysart

Artists: Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John

Archaia, $19.95, color, 96 pages

Archaia sent me this book, so I'm obliged to review it, but I have to wonder who the target audience is.

Are there really huge Dark Crystal fans out there? Has there been continuous material since the 1982 movie that I have somehow missed that has kept them engaged? Are there enough of them to support this book, the second in a proposed trilogy?

Well, if so, God bless 'em. I saw the Dark Crystal in the theater in '82, a year after I graduated from college, and shrugged it off. It was muppets, for heaven's sake, none of which convinced me they were real, or that I should care what happens to them.

So I picked this book up with only fuzzy memories of the Dark Crystal storyline-slash-mythos, and I have to say, given all the negativity I've expressed heretofore, it was pretty good. I still don't give a hoot about anything Dark Crystal-y, but Dysart (Unknown Soldier) crafts a linear, crackling, head-first adventure story with enough exposition along the way that I didn't feel lost. And the art is superlative; mostly painted, I'm guessing, with some Photoshop effects. Or maybe it's all Photoshop with some painting effects. Whatever, it's pretty good.

Other than that, what's to say? I didn't read the first book, and after this review, it's unlikely Archaia will send me the third. So I've read the middle part of a trilogy, and my review is that if you're interested in Dark Crystal, this is required reading, as it's part of the story of how the Dark Crystal world got started. If you're not, it's still interesting, but nothing to hock your house for.

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I can answer a few of your questions, Cap.  The target audience for Dark Crystal II would be comic book fans who were kids when the movie first came out... and who likely now have kids of their own.  If you were born between 1968 and '76, there's a good chance you have fond memories of this movie (as well as other puppet features from the time like The Never Ending Story and Labyrinth).  I was 8 when this movie came out- though I probably didn't see it until I was 9 or 10- and that made me the perfect age to appreciate this mythic adventure. 

Furthermore, people in this age group- which is right in the middle of Generation X- have been more than willing to engage in nostalgic entertainment.  Consider the properties from the early '80s that have been turned into successful movie franchises or revamped as successful cartoons (Transformers 1984 for the former, My Little Pony 1983 and ThunderCats 1985 for the latter).  You've also got current comic book series featuring GI Joe (which has more in common with the 1982 toy line than the 1964 "Barbie" dolls), Ghostbusters (1984), MacGyver (1985) and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983).  I can see why a company would think that a similar property from that time period would connect with Generation X customers- even if that property has been absent from the marketplace for 30 years- whether they're buying the book for their own consumption or to pass on to their kids.

In addition, there were rumors of a Dark Crystal sequel coming out after Disney purchased the Henson catalog and successfully rejuvenated the Muppets franchise.  Those plans were shelved but it's possible that the comic was commissioned when the movie was still a possibility, or even that the unused screenplay was reformatted for the comic book. 

I'm glad to hear that you liked it, even though you don't have a particular attachment to the concept.  I'll have to keep an eye out for it as I'm pretty much the target audience- a kid when it first came out with kids of my own who are the right age to enjoy it now. 

Thanks, Chris. That makes a lot of sense. And, yes, it's a very well done book.

I remember the movie and I liked it, but I figured the story ended.

You're welcome, Cap. 

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

I remember the movie and I liked it, but I figured the story ended.

It kind of did.  As Cap mentioned, this is actually a prequel. 

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