Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tale Of Sand

On Thursday afternoon I had a few hours to kill while waiting for approval from a client on a new job. So I decided to get out of the house and take a little field trip down the street to Barnes and Noble. I had just finished the first Dune book and wanted to get the second one to see how I liked it. Another book I had on my "list of things to check out" was this book, Jim Henson's "Tale of Sand."

I'd seen a few reviews of "Tale of Sand" on a couple of comic book websites I read. I also saw a video interview of an artist I like recently and he also recommended the book.

So, I picked it up.

The idea for the book is from a lost screenplay Jim Henson wrote before he got too busy doing Sesame Street and The Muppet Show in the late 60's and early 70's. As I read the introduction to the book I found out Henson had done some experimental short films before doing all the kid's work he is known for.

One of these films was called "Time Piece." So, I checked around YouTube and found a clip of it. And, let me tell you, it is such a far cry from The Muppet Show that I was amazed. The movie stars a young Jim Henson going through a series of landscapes and scenarios. There isn't really a story to speak of but a lot of imagery is thrown at the viewer.

I was glad I watched the video before I started reading "Tale of Sand" because I got a sense of the flavor Henson was going for in his work when he wrote the screenplay. I'm not sure what I would have thought of the book if I hadn't gone in without seeing it first.

I looked through the book for the next couple of days but I knew I'd have to carve some time out of my day to actually sit down and read it. The book is largely without any dialogue or word balloons and the story is told almost entirely in pictures. It wasn't something I could simple read in chunks. I needed to spend some time with it.

So, I took it with me to lunch this afternoon.

And, I sat there, engrossed, for an hour and a half, reading this book.

The artwork of Ramon Perez is absolutely beautiful and his storytelling was clear and simple and captivating. In an era of comic books where I think a lot of artists have lost the skill of telling a story with pictures and no words made this work stand out that much more.

The hero of the piece, Mac, enters a small desert town to find a celebration. He doesn't know what's going on but finds himself caught up with the townspeople and even dancing with a beautiful girl. Suddenly he is pulled aside by the local sheriff of the town and told his instructions. Mac is given a map, some supplies, and some water. He's told if he gets from the town they are in, across the desert, and to Eagle Mountain he'll be safe. And, he's ensured he'll be given a ten minute head start.

"On what?" Mac asks.

Before there is an answer the sheriff is told all is ready and it's time. Before Mac is sent out the sheriff has one last bit of advice.

"Don't trust the map."

Mac is pushed over the line and the game is on. As he runs into the desert with his ten minute head start he looks back in the distance of the town and sees a shadowy man pursuing him.

From the moment he enters the desert all bets are off. Mac encounters things you would only find in a dream and almost none of it makes sense. He comes across lions in limousines, deadly sharks in pools, and, at one point, finds himself running from both Arabs and an entire football team.

It was a great story and I was totally transfixed as I sat at my table and read this story. There is nothing about it that I didn't find amazing. From the story, to the art, to even the colors, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book. If it was up to me I'd go back in time so I could read it all over again for the first time.

So, yeah, if you have a chance, pick this up, find yourself a few extra hours and enjoy yourself.

It made for a great afternoon and makes me feel like I need to try that much harder when doing my art, storytelling, and painting.

Tomorrow, it's back to work. But, I'm now that much more inspired. Have a great one.

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