Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.
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Featuring a collection of short stories and a vast recognisable cast, our contributor Darryll Robson takes a look at the Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Special from the Archaia imprint of Boom! Studios.
It’s been 30 years since the movie Labyrinth swept into theatres and into the hearts of an entire generation of children. I remember clearly pestering my parents to take me to see it after watching a short ‘making of’ on television. We saw it twice at the cinema, rented it several times on video and at one point I owned three copies of it on DVD. If you’ve not seen Labyrinth you’re missing out, it’s easily one of the best fantasy films ever made.
Because of its popularity, and the way it touched so many people, the characters from Labyrinth have never gone away. They have made up the back bone of Archaia’s Free Comic Book day releases, along with Mouse Guard for many years. So what better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary than to release a comic dedicated to those characters.
The Jim Henson’s Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Special is made up of a selection of unconnected short stories that feature characters from the movie. None of them have any link to the movie and don’t have any greater significance other than to entertain and delight. There’s no big meaning or large narrative on display, the comic is about revisiting and enjoying the laid back world of the Labyrinth.
The opening short sees Sir Didymus and Ludo comparing fishing techniques in Gone Fishing by Gustavo Duarte. A visit by a large crocodile type beast has Didymus worried but Ludo isn’t fazed. It’s a one gag buddy tale in the comedic style of Bugs and Daffy.
This is followed by two tales from Cory Godbey. The first is a string of bad jokes told in a humorous fashion while the second follows Ludo as he tries to find a cure for his sneezing.
Rock Solid Friendship by Adam Smith and Kyla Vanderklugt again features Ludo, this time it’s a historical tale explaining why, and how, he gets into the Labyrinth in the first place. Some weaselly bird creatures chase him through the plains in a fine example of bullying but an unusual saviour comes to our hero’s aid and a historic friendship is born.
Cory Godbey illustrates the next, wonderfully witty story written by Ted Naifeh and Adrianne Ambrose called Hoggle and the Worm. A simple misunderstanding between friends leads to awkward consequences when Hoggle goes looking for love.
Humongous Two adds action to the proceedings as the new, unconfident pilot of the Humongous armour needs to step up to save the goblin city. Jonathan Case steers the narrative while Daniel Bayliss illustrates the heroic actions of the smallest goblin in goblin city.
Finally, a diary style entry illustrates a day in the life of Sir Didymus. The everyday diary entry is contrasted to the drawn, crazy, fantasy action which shows how the characters of the Labyrinth live their lives day in and day out. To the reader it’s all outlandish and mind bending, but to the muppets of old, it’s just business as usual.
This is a feel good, heart-warming collection of short stories. Although it’s not all brand new material, a number of the stories featured in previous Free Comic Book Day releases, it’s good to see them all collected together in one place. The order of them within the comic is like a beautifully choreographed ballet with one tale flowing seamlessly into the next. If there is one drawback to the story placements it is that it highlights the comic as being Ludo heavy. Ludo is a well-remembered and loved character but there are so many characters in the movie it would have been nice to see one or two of the others.
The biggest hole in the cast is Jareth who gets a mention and a pin up only. I don’t know if this was a deliberate move or happenstance but it gives the comic more of a sombre note, like a letter to a lost love, and is an unwritten dedication to David Bowie who was instrumental in fixing Labyrinth into the minds of a generation. He is a character that is missed but a star who is missed more.
All of the writers adopt their own takes on the characters but none of them stray to far from the representations that movie fans will be familiar with. Some pick up the simple beats of the characteristics while others expand on them. As has been stated, Ludo gets the most mileage out of this and the reader is treated to some of his past and possible future. This means that you get to see Ludo’s motivations and gain a better understanding of him. Surprisingly some amazing insight into the Worm’s character comes out of one of the narratives and almost makes you forgive him for leading Sarah down the wrong path.
The comic is packed with a collection of art styles and techniques as you would expect from an anthology. Cory Godbey’s work is most memorable, partly because there’s so much of it but also because he catches the spirit of the characters and the world of the Labyrinth. The best story within the collection is Hoggle and the Worm. It has Godbey’s beautiful art bringing to life a funny/sad love story crafted by Naifeh and Ambrose. Heartwarming doesn’t cover it.
The beauty of Labyrinth is that is revels in an innocent world tainted with a hint of menace. It’s not the pitch black of The Dark Crystal or the sickly sweet of most Disney cartoons, it’s a world where most children live; alive with adventure and over the top characters. This anniversary comic celebrates that and appeals to everyone by layering narrative tones and sprinkling everything with Jim Henson magic. It’s not so much a case as ‘there’s something for everyone’ as theres’ nothing you won’t like. If you only buy one comic this year, I would highly recommend it being this one.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he might use his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson
Source: Boom Studios
Whether an old fan or new to the world of Labyrinth this comic will light up your heart and put you on top of the world. A must read for any age.