Fraggle Talk: Joe LeFavi and Stephen Christy

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Every day this week, BF will be talking with creators, artists and writers involved in bringing Fraggle Rock to comics about their favorite Henson moments and their experience with the Fraggles and Archaia, all gearing up to this month's release of Fraggle Rock #1.

Today BF chats with Joe LeFavi, consulting editor of the Fraggle Rock comics and former Director of Publishing and Development at The Jim Henson Company and Stephen Christy, Director of Development at Archaia.

BROKEN FRONTIER: What is your first or fondest memory of Jim Henson and his creatures?

JOE LeFAVI: My fondest memory is probably the final scene in The Muppet Movie. That rainbow bursts into the soundstage as all the Muppets sing, “Life is a movie. Write your own ending. Keep believing. Keep pretending.” It’s such a powerful and emotionally poignant statement, and because it was a bunch of puppets saying it, it snuck past my defenses and actually resonated with me. I changed my entire outlook on life and what was truly possible in this world… and all because a couple puppets told me so. That’s the magic of Jim Henson. What else can I say?

STEPHEN CHRISTY: Haha... There’s no way I can pick just one! Jim Henson’s creations have been a part of my life since I was just a few years old. Sesame Street was the first TV show I watched as a kid, and The Muppet Movie was one of the first movies I ever saw and remains one of my favorite movies of all time. As I got older I branched out and fell in love with Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal... And now that I’m involved in publishing both of those titles in comic book form, it feels like things have come full circle in a funny way.

BF: This deal between Archaia and The Jim Henson Company is a deal of pure fantasy and creativity. The creatures of Henson always had the highest appeal to the fantasy of adults and children alike and to have that turned into comics is something extraordinary. How do you perceive this collaboration?

JL: The Jim Henson Company, much like imagination in general, thrives best when it can run free. Though Film and Television are remarkable mediums, the development process is complicated with so many rules, taboos, obstacles and budgetary restrictions. Even the greatest tales must conform to a certain structure or scope eventually. Yet in comics, we can devote all our energy to developing a truly great story. Our goal is to bring new worlds and new characters to life in ways we’ve never been able to achieve before. It’s been quite exhilarating thus far, and with Archaia’s guidance and extraordinary talent pool, these books are, quite frankly, Henson at its best.

SC: It’s a fantastic collaboration, one that’s grounded in a true love of these properties and a shared vision of how best to continue the legacies of not only Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, but the legacy of Jim Henson himself. No pressure, right?!

BF: I heard the story about this deal coming through, as you got just the right impression of how loveably "Henson-dorky" Archaia's Stephen Christy was, humming away the theme of The Dark Crystal. The Jim Henson Company really seems to want this to work and both companies seem to be looking at this more from the creative side then from a business side. Am I correct in that presumption?

JL: I’ve always believed that good people make good stories, and good stories make good business. That’s how Henson and I have always approached this partnership with Archaia. If you’re genuinely passionate about quality storytelling and team up with like-minded individuals equally committed to achieving something extraordinary, the results will speak for themselves. These books will succeed because Henson fans will know that the people behind these books cared about them, that they were never treated as some marketing tool or moneymaking scheme. Knowing Stephen, he’d work on these books for free. So would I. And it’s that kind of heart that is going to make these books shine.

SC: You’re absolutely correct. At the end of the day, the business of this deal is extremely important, because if we don’t sell books that means that we won’t have a financial reason to publish more of them. However, unlike some partnerships that I’ve seen before the conversations between myself and Joe started on purely a creative level, based on our mutual love for these properties. Starting from a place of mutual respect and creativity was amazing, and it’s reflective of how Archaia likes to do business with everyone, from companies like Henson to individual creators. Once we built trust between Archaia and Henson, it was at that point that we started to figure out how to make it work for both companies from a business standpoint.

BF: Of all the Henson characters, which is your favorite?

JL: Though many Henson characters hold a special place in my heart, I’ve always identified the most with Gonzo. No matter what he does or where he goes, he’s always the outlandish, overly enthusiastic weirdo in the gang. Eager to go waterskiing with chickens and jump through flaming circles of doom instead of doing whatever normal people do. His unflappable optimism and naïve idealism have always inspired me, and if Gonzo the Great can enjoy such a charmed life with such true friends, maybe there’s hope for all us oddballs…

SC: It varies from time to time, but right now being a kid from the Midwest who moved to LA to pursue his dreams I feel a lot like Kermit, so right now he’s my favorite. But catch me on a bad day and I might answer that Animal is my favorite!

BF: Animal indeed brings that "je ne sais quoi" to words like "WOMAN...WOMAN"... The magic of Henson and his amazing characters triggered an instant love. To me that is! How are you planning to tackle that magic on paper?

JL: From an early age, the works of Jim Henson have always resonated with me. Yet only after working in the Film/TV industry have I begun to understand what truly distinguished him from the rest. For most, this industry is a business. For Jim Henson, it was a cause. He had something important to say to the world, and he used Film and Television to say it. So, regardless if you were watching Sesame Street or The Storyteller, it never felt motivated by money or power. He was never selling us something. He was giving us something that was intended to make our lives better. There was this altruistic, selfless spirit to it all… as though these stories were made just for us… and to experience that, at any age, is truly magical.

So how do I plan on infusing that same magic into these books? I can only hope that our love for these books saturate as deeply into these pages as Jim’s love did into every frame and piece of felt. It’s all we can do.

SC: By creating experiences instead of just comic books, if that makes any sense. We’re bringing the same care, attention and sense of world-building to these comics that Henson brought to the TV shows and films that these are based on. We’re not interested in just putting out a licensed comic, we want to make something that people will be able to treasure for years, and hopefully pass onto their kids, much in the same way that people who were children when Fraggle Rock originally aired are now exposing it to their kids. It sounds lofty, but that’s the approach that we try to take across the board here at Archaia. 

BF: Can you tell me something more about the adventures you are planning in Fraggle Rock #1?

JL: And spoil the surprise?! All that’s important is that you’ll see all your old friends, enjoy some great stories, and hopefully walk away a little wiser in the end. All the magic is in the details.

SC: Well, I’m not sure how much I can say. Fraggle Rock #1 is really just the first chapter in the bigger picture of Archaia’s Fraggle plans, and I want readers to be surprised by where the book goes! That being said, if anyone is on the fence about picking the book up they can get a first taste of what we’re planning for Fraggle Rock in our Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Free Comic Book Day Flip Book, which will be available for free at your local comic book store on May 1st! 

BF: With all the different groups like the Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs and fan favorite characters Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley and Boober, what is the biggest challenge in getting the characters in a comic, like Fraggle Rock #1?

SC: I’m not sure if every single one of those characters will be appearing in issue #1, but I can guarantee that they’ll all pop up in at least one of the chapters of the first series.

JL: Since everyone involved with these books are die-hard fans of the TV show, we can’t help but feel the exhilaration of revisiting Fraggle Rock. The urge to explore caves we’ve never seen before and litter each page with subtle homages to our favorite moments is almost overwhelming. Yet we always remind ourselves that there’s an entirely new generation of readers who have never stepped foot inside Fraggle Rock. They’ve never seen a Trash Heap speak. They’ve yet to grasp the vital significance of the common radish. So for us, the greatest challenge is making this incredible world as bright, warm and welcoming for our new fans, ensuring that everyone, young and old, can dance their cares away together. Side by side.

BF: Final question and then I will leave you and your magic alone. The 3-issue miniseries Fraggle Rock is the first step in the partnership of Archaia and The Jim Henson Company. Can you elaborate more on the Swamp of Eternal Stench or more to the point Labyrinth, but also the other properties?

JL: We’re just beginning the process on the next titles in the Archaia line, and I’ve sadly been sworn to secrecy. Jareth has threatened to take my first born if I utter a single word, and he has quite a remarkable reach, if he’s so inclined. I’d keep an eye on that bedroom mirror, not to mention that book on your nightstand. No telling where a goblin could be lurking these days.

SC: Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal are both going to be coming out after Fraggle Rock. As of right now, each property will get their own four-issue miniseries, which will be debuting later this year. What’s really exciting about both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal is that we’re lucky enough to have Brian Froud, the original concept designer for both films and the man who is most responsible for the look of the movies, providing covers, art direction and story concepts for both miniseries. This is the first time since the original movies and the art book World of The Dark Crystal that Brian Froud has returned to both of these properties, and I can promise fans of both movies that they’re going to be blown away by what we’ve been planning for these books!


Fraggle Rock #1 goes on sale in April 2010. The Fraggle Rock/Mouse Guard Flip Book out on May 1, 2010.

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Apr 5, 2010 at 7:26pm

    Brian Froud's doing art and story direction for the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth books? Sold! May have to check out Fraggle Rock as well.

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