I have long been of the opinion that Brian Froud is one of the most inspirational artists of the last oh, 50 years or so. Another man, sadly passed on a number of years ago, whom I think was inspirational (and still is to a certain degree) is Jim Henson. Together, twenty-odd years ago, both men started a magical endeavour that would become a cult classic to rival any modern-day children’s fantasy film.
And it has muppets!
Yes, I am talking about The Dark Crystal.
To anyone who hasn’t seen the movie before, it will probably seem extremely primitive compared to today’s hits of Toy Story, Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life. To those who were lucky enough to see it in the cinemas, it’s a trip down memory lane into the way things used to be, when stop-motion animation and puppets were all we had and the only CGI available was very basic and the effects very cartoony.
Via way of Froud’s gorgeous conceptual art, Henson brought his story to life.
Froud’s art and the story of the Dark Crystal was published in a special volume that has just been re-released with new art and a special facsimilie copy of the original storyline created by Froud and Henson. I recently got my hands on a copy and for fans of the film, I promise that it’s a truly delight to behold.
There are descriptions set amongst beautiful sketches explaining every single detail featured in the film from the rule of trines to the Pod People. There are also pictures and bios of each of the Skeksis and Mystics. It’s a book where much like Tolkien did with his world of Middle Earth (later to be brought to the screen by Peter Jackson’s film adaptations), manages to get across the impression that this world once existed in reality and we poor and uninspired mortals missed out on being part of it. I was rivetted for hours simply looking at the glorious pictures on each page and reading the stories and description of each element that makes The Dark Crystal.