By Brian Holguin, Brian Froud, Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John.
I can’t remember the first time I was won over by the magic of the Dark Crystal movie. Certainly I think it must have been no later than the mid-90s – an early teenage discovery. There was no defining moment that I am aware of now; I have just always counted Dark Crystal amongst my long-lasting favourites and can’t remember a time when I did not love the fascinating creatures and magic of Henson’s legacy and of course of Froud’s artwork.
So with The Dark Crystal Creation Myths comes another welcome opportunity to dive into the world of Thra. This time we have a prequel set 1,000 yeas before the great crystal cracked, and a reunion with a dear old friend. We are invited by a hooded figure to take a place around the fire and listen to an old fashioned story that will begin “where all great stories must… at the beginning”.
And so Aughra, as the cover suggests, is the star of this first volume. We learn more about who she is and her place in the world. Aughra is connected to everything and sees all. She teaches the gentle Gelflings how to prosper and they teach her to dreamfast. They sing and tell stories under the three suns and all is well until the crystal begins to call out to another across the worlds.
This book is the first in a three part story, and so Holguin takes us smoothly from the beginning of Aughra’s tale to the development of the Gelflings and the discovery of the crystal at the heart of the world. As the main plotline progresses, volume one is broken up with small fables about the Gelflings and life on Thra, which is a great additional touch in bringing this world to life.
The narrative plot has begun very promisingly, but unfortunately it cut off far too early for my liking and there is definitely going to be a need for an investment over time in the series to see where the story is taking us. It will be a while yet before we find out how much chaos Aughra’s actions will cause and what exactly happened in the lead up to the crystal cracking. At this point, as you might expect 1,000 years before, there are not any other known characters in play and we are truly in new territory, although the threat of the Skeksis lurks somewhere beyond the horizon; darker things are definitely coming in volume two.
It almost seems unnecessary to mention the artwork, as it is absolutely perfect and very true to Froud’s originals. The cover is of course stunning and depicts in one image the very heart of where the Creation Myths story begins. The whole book is quite beautiful; each page embellished with the symbols and flourishes that made the world of Dark Crystal so rich and enticing to begin with. The graphics are exceptional throughout, and bring back to life the Gelflings, the wonderful creatures of Thra, and of course, the power of the crystal itself. The transition from puppets on film to images on a page is actually pretty flawless.
For Dark Crystal fans this is a must, and a new character in the form of Raunip, Aughra’s rather playful and mischievous son, injects some fresh energy into the world. The story has great promise at this stage, and the imagery and additional tales of Thra make the necessary investment of cost and time worth it.