2016 marks the 30 year anniversary of Jim Henson’s feature fantasy film, Labyrinth. To celebrate the life, joy, and legacy that both Labyrinth and Jim Henson have left behind, Archaia (Boom! Studios) has published a tribute book filled with artwork remembering the film, from all your favorite artists in the industry.
Labyrinth is a film so irreplaceable, so grotesquely exquisite that I can barely fathom the extent to which it has shaped me. My first time seeing teenage Sarah journey into an unknown, otherworldly labyrinth to save young Toby from the Goblin King and his puppets was no less than life-changing. The sheer volume of creativity, expanse of imagination was eye-opening. It made me feel like magic exists—like life is more interesting than the bog of downtrodden monotony that has become oh so familiar to us now. There are many more things to be curious about than what we’re told is an acceptable amount. I never would have learned that if it wasn’t for Jim Henson and Brian Froud (who worked on conceptual designs for the film), and they will forever have my sincerest gratitude.
I feel obligated and obliged to mention David Bowie here. After his passing away this year, it feels like the world has lost a large part of itself, like a little piece of the magic we all knew and longed for is gone. His role as the Goblin King in Labyrinth was portrayed with such elegance and grace. Not a single soul can challenge the work he did and the songs he sang with dozens of puppets surrounding him. It isn’t hard to imagine Bowie and Henson as friends or at least artists on the same level of passion. His dramatic take on the Goblin King perfectly paired with the spastic motions of the puppet goblins. His songs resonate with anyone who believes in the power of imagination, as Henson sought out to make us do.
Looking through this book is both nostalgic and novel. Designers Scott Newman and Jillian Crab have orchestrated a book with so much fluidity that it’s hard to stop turning pages. Artists’ illustrations take whole pages, sometimes two. The artwork is mixed with small praises from the artists for Labyrinth, Jim Henson, and reflections on how the film affected their lives. From the faded, maze-like backgrounds to the pull quotes, this book is laid out perfectly, gorgeously, and entertainingly.
There are over 50 touching and remarkable takes on the film by artists ranging from Eric Powell to Kelsey Beckett. From what seem like sketches to two-paged, colored, and detailed spreads, the artwork presented in this book is sure to hit readers right in the childhood—but in the best way possible. So many different art styles presented on the same subject (in the same book) can easily get sloppy. The fact that this book doesn’t carry a story, but rather pays a beautiful homage to a piece of history (let’s be honest, calling Labyrinth “film” just isn’t enough) makes it a lot easier to get through; you don’t need to pay extra attention to foreshadowing, allusions, frame stories, dialogue, etc.
For anyone who has seen Labyrinth, this will be a pleasant yet emotional read. If you haven’t seen Labyrinth, this book is a great way to introduce yourself to Henson and his ability to touch so many lives in so many ways. When you’re done with the book, you should be hyped enough to watch the movie and experience that magic for yourself. I, admittedly, didn’t even know this book was coming out until it landed on my desk. But I am humbled to be able to write about a compilation of such artistic talent and a film that taught me how to use my imagination to its fullest capabilities; Labyrinth will always mean more to me than any of my words can describe.
Written & Illustrated by: Various