Up until WonderCon, the only one of the titles that I'd heard of, from very far corners of some of my geek circles, was the Mouse Guard series by David Petersen. But I never ventured off into the realm until last month when I came across the Archaia booth. As I searched through the different graphic novels they offered, I began wondering why I had never really heard of them before. The incredibly intriguing thing, and the thing I love the most, is how much creative freedom their creators are given. Many of their titles are fully drawn and written by the creator, while others work with only their closest collaborators. It gives these books a very different feel from the major comic publishers. There's no crossovers that connect the different series they offer, no real publisher interference that you seem in some cases, nothing like that. This is real, unadulterated, creative freedom at it's finest. It's made me really fall in love with this publisher and the things they put out.
The thing that initially drew me to them was when I took notice of their line of Jim Henson property comics. As I walked by, I noticed that they had a series of Fraggle Rock books, and as I continued to look around, I realized that wasn't the only Henson property that Archaia had. They were also doing series for The Storyteller, a prequel for The Dark Crystal, and have begun work on a prequel for Labyrinth! Having access to the Henson vault in the way they do really helped put this company on the map for me, and to have them getting to continue some of my favorite TV series and movies of all time, it was hard not to fall in love with this company. The series are handled with great care, and are all signed off by the Henson estate, meaning they have their official seal of approval. That's a big deal, and It really makes this books that much more special. But these are the only Henson titles that Archaia has. There is one very interesting book that you should definitely pique the interest of fans.
The comic in question is called Tale of Sand, and is actually an Jim Henson's unrproduced screenplay he had been working on when he passed away. The Henson family actually gave Archaia the rights to finally see Henson's final work brought to life, and it's quite the interesting read, and would have been an excellent movie. The story revolves around a man who wakes up in the middle of a small town, not sure where he is, who begins a journey across the midwest, where people and things are after him. It's a very bizarre and cool tale in only the way a Henson tale can be, and is very much like a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style tale that I absolutely fell in love with. For Henson fans, this is a huge deal to finally get one last glimpse into the mind of a creative genius, and I can personally say it was great to have one final Henson story to read. The writing in the book is actually from his scribbled notes of his original script, which makes the story much that better to read. And as of this posting today, it has been nominated for five Eisner awards! This is definitely something everyone should check out.
Seriously, I could go on talking about the many titles that Archaia offers all day. I've become fully immersed in their back catalog of titles since WonderCon ended. They're such a great company, and the work they do is unparalleled by any of the big companies right now. Their books are the nicest printed books on the market, and they all come in beautiful hardcover bindings. When you open the books, from the first flap, you become immersed in the world that you're about to read. They set the tone quickly and sweep you off your feet into a new place. And these look great on a shelf together! These aren't cheap hardcovers, they're really nice. Like I said, they're some of the nicest books on the market right now.