32 years after Jim Henson's Labyrinth movie, you can finally return - and discover new secrets of the film, including the origin of David Bowie's Jareth, the Goblin King.
In the new miniseries Labyrinth: Coronation from BOOM! Studios, Jareth recounts how he first came to the epic maze - and of the king before him, the Owl King.
With Labyrinth: Coronation #1 on stands now, Newsarama spoke with series writer Si Spurrier and editor Cameron Chittock about this unique prequel, the mythology of this Henson creation, the artwork of Daniel Bayliss, and just how scary the Fireys can be.
Newsarama: Si, Cameron, thanks for doing this, how did you individually come in to do this project?
Si Spurrier: Thanks to my previous work with Boom! and the Henson guys on The Power of the Dark Crystal I like to think I was the obvious candidate. Licensed projects can present big challenges at the best of times, but when the IP is a fondly regarded cult title, with a family legacy at the reins and a determined disregard for genre conventions at its core, it could very easily have been a nightmare. Instead we all got into a happy place pretty quickly with the Dark Crystal project, and I made damn sure to mention out loud as often as I could that I was massive fan of Labyrinthtoo - just in case the stars ever aligned. As it happened I didn’t have to wait long.
Cameron Chittock: I've been part of the editorial team working on our line of Jim Henson comics since I started here at BOOM! as an assistant editor. We've done some incredible projects in that time but it's always been a dream to tell a long form story in the world of Labyrinth. It couldn't just be any story though, it had to be the right one and I believe we have that with Labyrinth: Coronation.
Nrama: What's your own personal story about becoming aware and being a fan of Labyrinth?
Spurrier: I was only five when it came out, so I don’t think I saw it straight away. I remember watching it on VHS at a sleepover for a friend’s birthday - I was probably 9 or 10. Definitely at the right level of mental malleability to be well and truly shaken by its creepiness, creativity and brilliance. I think part of Jim Henson’s legacy lies in his genius for disregarding all notion of differentiating stories for kids vs stories for adults. There’s no reason they can’t work on every level. Henson, like Roald Dahl and Hayao Miyazaki, knew that kids find value in stories about darkness and grossness just as effectively as adults can - often moreso, frankly - and that an “all ages” story can be truly ageless.
Cut forward to now, I can honestly say that there’s a little trace of the darkness, weirdness and genre-defiance of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal in everything I write.
Chittock: It’s one of those movies that I have a distinct memory of exactly where I was when I first watched it - at my neighbor's house, sitting on the floor mere feet from the TV. I was too young to fully grasp it but I remember being totally enthralled by the world and creatures. I think if you see that movie at the right age, it's impossible for it to not leave an impression on you. Also...the Fireys terrified me.
Nrama: This really looks to delve into the mythology of Labyrinth. How much of this is what the Henson company passed on to you, and how much of it is concepts you came up with?
Chittock: The folks at the Henson Company are incredibly collaborative and supportive at every step of the process. Thereare guiding principles and core concepts established from the onset and then a natural back and forth as the series continues.
Nrama: Who from the original movie are slated to appear in Coronation?
Spurrier:The framing narrative is rather clever, in as much as it fits in and around the events of the movie. The conceit is that whenever he’s not out in the maze tormenting poor Sarah, Jareth the goblin king is entertaining himself by telling a story to the baby, Toby. So, we spend a lot of time with Jareth, and the action frequently intersects with scenes you’ll know from the movie. (For the thespgeeks among your readers, it is to Labyrinth as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is to Hamlet.)
As for the story he’s telling - which occupies the majority of our series - it’s a chance to explore a very different, older version of the labyrinth. Here the tale begins not in 1980’s America but in 1790s Venice. This time the stolen child isn’t the victim of a young girl’s thoughtless caprice, but of his own father’s shame. And it’s not a spoilt teenage sister who delves into the madness of the maze to retrieve him, but a working-class mother desperate to find her abducted son
Nrama: And that son is a young Jareth.
If Jareth is the one needing saving from the Goblins - who is the Goblin King in this story?
Spurrier: Put simply, before Jareth arrived there was a different king. A king who had no heir, and so abducted a human infant. He is the Owl King - a dark and malevolent entity. The twists and turns of how he came to be supplanted by a vulpine wunderkind with an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie are what most occupy our story. And - since this is the Labyrinth - nothing goes quite the way you might expect...
Chittock: We don't want to spoil too much but I will say that the series explores in depth the nature of the "Goblin King" and what the title really means.
Nrama: And who is the other young woman in this series?
Spurrier: That would be Maria - the mother of the stolen baby. She’s about as different from Sarah as it’s possible to get. She’s a fiery, angry working-class woman, and she won’t stop until she gets back her kid. And unlike Sarah, it’s not her own impetuousness that caused the kid’s loss in the first place, but the callousness and venality of someone else - the child’s father.
Nrama: What are your big goals for this series?
Spurrier: To tell a fitting sequel story to one of my favorite movies. No pressure.
The trick is to walk a tightrope between slavishly repeating the beats and ideas of the movie - that’s just fanfic, ultimately, and nobody wants that - and going completely off-age with something iconoclastic, which is just as much of a no-no.
I think we’ve found a really happy space in the middle, simply by leaning hard into the creative madness of a world like the labyrinth. So you can expect some mind-blowingly crazy creatures, some astonishing sights, some really funny moments, and some exceptionally creepy stuff, all packed into a heartfelt thematic package about familial love and ambition, and all given the most amazing visuals possible by the pen of the inimitable Mr Bayliss.
Chittock: As with any comic in our Henson line, we want to above all honor Jim Henson's legacy and tell new stories worthy of the film and its passionate fan base. We could not be prouder of the whole team and the work they're doing on this one.