As you may or may not know by now, Netflix has announced that they will be working with the Jim Henson Company to create a prequel television show of The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal is a film that I didn’t discover until after I had worn out my first VHS copy of Labyrinth and noticed the Jim Henson logo at the top of multiple movies in the same section as my replacement. I was seven years old when I first watched the film and it absolutely terrified me. I instantly fell in love.
I know all of the criticisms given to the film and I fully understand that it is a flawed masterpiece. As a child I loved all of the deeply weird puppets and I enjoyed feeling disturbed every time the Skeksis and Garthim showed up on the screen. I have never changed my outlook on the film and every time I watch it I become even more fascinated with it. When you watch the film as an adult it is immediately evident that Jim Henson put every part of himself into this movie and you know by the end that its initial failure had to completely crush his soul. I truly wish he could see how beloved and popular his film is today and will continue to be.
After Netflix’s announcement, I decided to go back and look at all of the current and upcoming merchandise releases. When I love a film I typically obsess over owning as much collectible merchandise that I can for each property. I know that there are many fans of The Dark Crystal out there and I wanted to give them a list of in print items that are available for them to purchase. Even if you are not familiar with The Dark Crystal you may be interested to find that it is a franchise that has stayed alive for over 30 years without any filmed sequels. Everyone should give the film at least one watch. For those that become hooked this list will help you to discover more from Jim Henson’s masterpiece and lead you deeper into the mysteries of Thra.
GRAPHIC NOVELS & BOOKS
The Legends of the Dark Crystal: The Garthim Wars & Trial by Fire
The Legends of the Dark Crystal mangas were the first set of canon prequels to be released. Both are set one hundred years after the crystal cracked and detail events leading to the genocide of the Gelflings. I am not an avid manga reader, but I found the format to be beneficial to the story and the author/illustrators did a great job of staying faithful to the property.
The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. 1-3
A collection of comics that is set one thousand years before the crystal cracks. These volumes are epic and you can tell a lot of effort went into creating a massive backstory for the beloved film. The world of Thra is passionately detailed and offers a look at the arrival/metamorphosis of the Mystics and Skeksis. We even get a look into the origins of crazy old Aughra. It was announced that Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will take place decades before the original film and I imagine this trilogy has been looked over in preparation for the show.
Shadows of the Dark Crystal
What I really like about all of these written prequels is that none of them (so far) have overlapped or contradicted each other. Last year a new prequel series was released and is primarily geared towards introducing the franchise to the Young Adult audience. There has been a significant resurgence in the popularity of both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth with the younger generation and these novels are actually a great way to build interest. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is done for Labyrinth before the reboot begins production. The first of four planned novels is set before the genocide of the Gelflings and follows a teenage Gelfling in search of her missing brother. Brian Froud also contributes incredible illustrations throughout the novel. The second book, Song of the Dark Crystal, will be released this month, in July 2017.
Jim Henson’s The Power of the Dark Crystal Vol. 1
In 2006 an official sequel to The Dark Crystal was announced and Genndy Tartakovsky (The Powerpuff Girls Movie, Hotel Transylvania 1 & 2) was set to direct. It was titled The Power of the Dark Crystal and would have shown the world of Thra many years after being ruled by Jen and Kira. The beloved Gelflings have become bewitched by power and a girl from a new race of creatures must band together with a young Gelfling to bring back the Mystics and Skeksis. I’m not sure that will end well, but I am very excited to find out! Production on the film has been canceled, but they made the very wise decision of turning the unproduced script into a twelve-issue comic book series. A collection of the comics will be released as a hardcover graphic novel on October 31st of this year. I’ve been excited for The Power of the Dark Crystal ever since it was announced and I’m glad that they have found a way of releasing the heavily delayed sequel. Even though the film has been canceled it is possible that the comic series and the Netflix show will become popular enough to get an adaption of the sequel rolling again.
As with many cult classic films, a series of Funko POPs have been released for Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. The first series includes figures of Jen, Kira with Fizzgig, Aughra, The Chamberlain, and Ursol the Chanter. I find that many people find Funko figures “too cute” to be considered serious collectibles, but I love the fact that I can finally find figures for obscure or cult classic films that never existed when I was younger. Funko also creates figures that fall in line with the classic action figure collectibles and a few have been released for The Dark Crystal.
The majority of them can be found at your local Toys R Us (at least in my area). My personal favorites are the extremely badass Landstrider and Garthim figures. I would never have thought any of those creatures would be released as collectible figures and if they had they would have never stayed sealed in a box. The Garthim would have been fighting many velociraptors and xenomorphs around my childhood home. NECA also has plans to release a set of Dark Crystal action figures in 2018 and I will definitely be picking those up.
Last year I purchased a copy of the Movie History book Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History. The collectible book was one of my favorite purchases of last year and I was completely in awe at the amount of new information and artwork that I had never discovered during my obsessive years of learning everything I could about that film. This year the same publisher, Insight Editions, will be releasing The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History. I have been disappointed with these types of collectible books before, but I can recommend Insight Edition’s collections as the highest quality of Movie History books you can buy. I can’t wait to receive this book when it releases on September 19th and discover even more stories about this unique and unforgettable film.
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