One of Jim Henson's oldest projects was sitting on a shelf for decades, but now it's getting new life.
Before The Muppet Show and the Muppet feature films, even before Sesame Street, Henson was using his puppets for talk-show appearances, commercials and children's TV specials. Among his early projects was a planned Thanksgiving special called The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow. Henson co-wrote a screenplay with frequent collaborator Jerry Juhl, and even designed puppets for the show, but it was never produced. The puppets themselves have since begun to fall apart with age, but the screenplay is still usable, and this October we'll finally see it adapted as an Archaia graphic novel by acclaimed writer and artist Roger Langridge, who previously worked on Muppets comics for both BOOM! Studios and Marvel.
The story is set in 1968 in the New Hampshire town of Turkey Hollow, home to more than 3,000 turkeys and fewer than 30 people. But there's something more interesting than turkeys in this town. Centuries ago, a mysterious egg crashed crashed near Turkey Hollow, with seven furry alien beings on board. No one in the town knows about them until a boy named Timmy Henderson meets them one day when they join him in an odd musical accompaniment while he's practicing his guitar. Timmy's made some new friends, but others in town see an opportunity to use the aliens for their own ends, and a vengeful farmer launches a scheme to steal land from Timmy's aunt using the aliens and missing turkeys as a scapegoat. It sounds like a great all-ages adventure in the Henson tradition, but for Langridge, the story also has a powerful coming-of-age element thanks to Timmy, who struggles with his musical ability and confidence throughout the tale.
"The protagonists' parents are absent, the villain lives in a big spooky house in the woods, and the monsters of the title, although they're supposed to be from outer space, are effectively woodland elves. Overall, it has the feeling of a timeless fable," Langridge said.
"A lot of the substance of the tale is Timmy discovering his self-confidence — and his own emerging talent — through his friendship with the musical monsters, and learning to stand up for what's important to him."
Jim Henson's The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow will be released in October, just in time for Thanksgiving reading, and Henson's daughter Lisa said a small-screen adaptation is also in the works. Check out some of Langridge's art for the project below. For more, including a photo of Henson's original puppets, head over to USA Today.