A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Cory Godbey, whose book Labyrinth Tales I reviewed last September. He kindly sent me his new book, The Dark Crystal Tales, which both I and my son thoroughly enjoyed.
Unlike Labyrinth Tales, Dark Crystal Tales have subtle connections to each other, forming an overarching narrative through the three stories from different characters and locations in the land of Thra. When I asked about this, Godbey told me:
“The stories in Labyrinth Tales were never originally intended to be read as a complete book. They were a collection of just three of the stories I’d done over the years for Arachia/BOOM!/Henson for Free Comic Book Day. Simple character stories based around a joke or one idea….the stories for The Dark Crystal Tales proved much more difficult for me to find. I wanted to write stories that meant a little bit more, that while fun still reflected the themes of the film and were braided together to tell a story larger than each individual story.
All of that to say, while the Labyrinth Tales stories were all written separately there was an opportunity with The Dark Crystal Tales to write three stories that were actually meant to be read together.”
Although the Dark Crystal in general is one of Henson’s darker films, much more serious and often scarier for younger kids, Godbey’s stories showcase some of the more pleasant elements. Even the Skeksis and their gargantuan Garthim are featured in a comedic Wile E Coyote-style escapade as the Garthim attempts to catch food for its Skeksis masters.
When I asked which story he enjoyed writing the most, Godbey said:
“The Jen and Mystic story is really the heart of the book but I got to say my favorite is the Fizzgig story. It’s the one that ties the threads of the other two stories together and it’s kind of a walking tour of Thra (plus, we get to see Fizzgig try to do something heroic). It’s also the story that came to me first and got me thinking about writing the other two that could braid together with it.
Each one means something different to me but Fizzgig’s story let me journey through the wild and dangerous world of Thra itself and explore some of the characters, creatures, and landmarks in a wider way.”
Once again, Godbey shows an amazing ability to create stories that fit extraordinarily well in the established world. What really surprised me was that Godbey didn’t become a fan of either Dark Crystal or Labyrinth until his early twenties, coming to movies by following his favorite artists, including Brian Froud. However, he does cite various animated movies as early influences, including Disney, Studio Ghibli, and his childhood in the foothills of the Appalachians. It’s always interesting to hear about the early influences of artists when such nostalgia-triggering works are published, but it’s clear that regardless of when Godbey became a fan, he has a brilliant ability to connect to these fantastic worlds.
As the gift-giving season approaches, do yourself and the other fans in your life a favor and grab a copy of The Dark Crystal Tales. Great to read, great to share, and great for growing imaginations with a wonderful message about being kind and how it can change the world.