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Book review: Jim Henson’s ‘Tale of Sand’

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

The Details

Jim Henson's Tale of Sand
Four stars
By Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl and Ramon K. Perez, $30

What might Jim Henson’s career have been like without the Muppets? The new graphic novel Tale of Sand offers an intriguing look at a road not taken, in which Henson might have brought his considerable talents to bear in film rather than TV, and for an adult rather than family audience.

Archivists recently rediscovered a never-produced script for a live-action, feature-length film written by Henson and partner Jerry Juhl between 1967 and 1974. It was given to artist Ramon K. Perez to bring to life as a graphic novel, and the result is revelatory.

It’s a highly surreal comedy action adventure, following an unnamed protagonist as he’s pursued through a dreamlike desert, encountering one bizarre set piece after another. On film, it would have been a unique blend of experimental filmmaking and mass-market appeal, but Perez’s pages are so accomplished, it gradually becomes impossible to imagine this work as anything other than a comic book.

As always, Henson might be the one pulling the strings, but someone else is the star. Instead of a felt frog, here it’s Perez.

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