It was a rough weekend for fans of the puppet. Word came last week that the whole Dark Crystal prequel was shut down all Halo-style. Clone War/Samurai Jack fan-god Genndy Tartakovsky was directing, preproduction was churning out some goods and seemingly, out of nowhere, it smacked face-first into a wall of postponement with no plans for pickup in any kind of immediate future.
Now, just a few days later, puppet fans can again hold their heads high. The Jim Henson Co. may have sent the Dark Crystal to a crumbly, shrieking death in limbo, but it’s moving forward on several book-based fantasy projects: The Boggart, The Doubtful Guest and Monster Blood Tattoo.
Relative newcomer Brad Peyton will be directing Edward Gorey’s picture book, The Doubtful Guest. The book is a Hensonesque tale in and of itself, about a penguiney aardvark thing who comes a knockin’ at a family’s home and causes all kinds of mischief. 17 years later, the stranger is still around because it’s a kids book, and simply turning it over to animal control or tying cinderblocks to its feet and dropping it in the river would be a little out of context.
The Boggart follows essentially the same story, as some pain in the ass scamp-creature wreaks havoc on a Canadian family too kind to kill it/call for the Ghostbusters.
Monster Blood Tattoo, a fantasy trilogy written by D.M. Cornish, follows a young would-be lamp lighter as he thrown into a world of cleverly named monsters and the shrews who hunt and burn them.
Obviously, the material is rife with the creature stuff Henson does best. While Hensons works usually clobber you over the head in their stiff narrative, I’m glad to see a resurgance of whimsical fantasy. With all the advances made in puppetry (as evidenced by the fantastical and incredibly articulated Vogons from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), there’s sure to be something wild and cool to look at.