Indie comics publisher Archaia has reached a multiyear agreement with the Jim Henson Company to produce a series of comic book serials and graphic novels based on popular Henson properties as well as creating new and original co-branded properties. Henson and Archaia will jointly put together the creative teams for each property; the first title will be released this fall. Creative teams and the release schedule will be announced at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July.

“Some of the best storytellers in the world are flocking to comic books and graphic novels, making them the foremost platform for innovative and imaginative storytelling,” said Joe LeFavi, director of publishing and development at the Jim Henson Company; he will serve as story editor on all the books. The deal will include works based on such Henson TV/Film properties as Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Mirrormask and The Storyteller. LeFavi emphasized that the joint venture will feature new stories set within the universe of the various Henson properties rather than strict adaptations. “Archaia’s passion and support for our brands ensure that fans will receive the very best from the properties they know and love as well as from the new stories we will tell,” LeFavi said.

With offices in New Jersey and Los Angeles, Archaia plans to bring in a variety of artists and writers from the television and film industries to produce the works. Stephen Christy, Archaia’s director of development, said that the agreement is a “partnership,” not, “just a licensing deal. The movies and TV shows themselves are so iconic that it wouldn't be worth it to just adapt them.” Christy said, “what we're actually doing is a lot more exciting, creating new stories set within the worlds established by the films and expanding on the original stories and universes in a way that fans of the original films will hopefully love.”

Some of the properties will start as serials and be collected into books and other will be published as standalone graphic novels. There may be multi-volume graphic novels, “it’s a little to early to say definitively,” Christy said. “Right now it's important to us that each series/graphic novel stands on its own, but if the books are as successful as we hope they'll be, I can guarantee you're going to see multiple volumes for each property.”

LeFavi said that currently the Henson Company comics list includes a Farscape comic series produced by Boom Studios and two manga miniseries—Legends of The Dark Crystal: TheGarthim Wars and the bestselling Return to Labyrinth—both produced by Tokyopop. LeFavi said “we will continue to explore and expand Henson Classics such The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, with our partnrs at Archaia.” But he also noted that the new relationship with Archaia is, “equally focused on launching original stories, introducing worlds that have never been seen before in print. The opportunity to create whole new universes in the style our company is known for, regardless of the budget and logistical restrictions that can come with film and TV, is incredibly exciting.” And he emphasized the importance of publishing to the Henson Company. “Comics, graphic novels, and publishing in general will continue to play a increasingly vital role at Henson, so keep your eyes on those bookshelves.”

The agreement follows Archaia’s reorganization and acquisition by Chicago-based media and entertainment firm Kunoichi Inc. late last year. The deal is the latest and biggest one Archaia has announced since that acquisition—during BEA, Archaia announced a deal with Rodenberry Productions to create a non—Star Trek sci-fi graphic novel—and steps up Archaia’s presence in the broader entertainment sector. Christy said, “to work with the entire Jim Henson Company and with new talent to create the next generation of Jim Henson Company fan favorites is an unprecedented opportunity. I think fans will share our excitement when they see the talent we’re bringing in to help make these comics a reality.”