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Indie Comics Spotlight: Inside the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance comic prequel
The late Jim Henson's Dark Crystal saga has had a long and exceptional journey from its humble beginnings as an art film, to a series of best-selling books and comics, to its recent incarnation in Netflix’s triumph of a prequel, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
While director Louis Leterrier and star Taron Egerton (Rian) were putting the finishing touches on the 13-episode series, BOOM! Studios has been working on the companion comic book series, Jim Henson's Dark Crystal Age of Resistance, which begins with the first 4-issue arc The Quest for the Dual Glaive. Matthew Levine and Allyson Gronowitz, the editorial team on the new series, are no strangers to the world of Thra, having collaborated on editing duties for the 2018 comic book arc Jim Henson's Beneath the Dark Crystal (Archaia).
Nicole Andelfinger (Adventure Time, Lumberjanes) is writing the "sequel to the prequel," so to speak. Despite being petrified of the Skeksis as a child, she was thrilled to join the Dark Crystal Universe, in collaboration with artist Matias Basla. Their Quest for the Dual Glaive chronicles the story of Rian’s father Ordon (voiced by Mark Strong in AoR) and the first Gelfling search for the mysterious sword.
If it sounds familiar, that's because it's the same weapon Rian used to defeat the Skesis in the Netflix series, but whose origins were referenced only through flashbacks. The comic book series also appears to introduce a young Fara, (the adult Maudra Fara was voiced by Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey in the series).
SYFY WIRE spoke to Andelfinger about taking on such an intricate narrative, and how she worked to cultivate a new story with the seeds of what writers Jeffrey Addiss and Will Mathews planted in Age of Resistance.
Were you a Dark Crystal fan before this?
Nicole Andelfinger: Yes, despite the fact the General and Skeksis scared me when I was young! Though I will say, the Skeksis are scary for completely different reasons now.
What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be working on this series?
Beyond ecstatic! And then distraught because being under NDA means you can't call your friends up and brag about what awesome stuff you're working on!
Since Dark Crystal is known to be dark and a little scary, did you work to “lighten” the story a bit?
Only a little; the tone and feel of Dark Crystal is more on the darker side of the scale and I wanted to be sure to stay true to that exciting, bittersweet feel that the original movie and the Netflix series have. That said, there are a few light-hearted moments because every series needs those! And my editors were amazing at helping me hone those moments to fit in with the overall mood and tone.
Dark Crystal has such a long history and a dedicated fandom, did taking on this project seem like a daunting task?
Anytime you 'play' in someone else's sandbox, especially one with as deep a history as Dark Crystal, I feel a little daunted by the task. It's a fine line between adding your own flavor to a story and keeping true to the core of what makes the original so magical. The Netflix series does such an amazing job of just that, I won't lie, there was a bit of pressure coming from myself to meet that standard!
The story of the history of the Dual Glaive and how it ended up separated was one of the most mysterious parts of the show. Were you commissioned to come up with a prequel focusing on Rian’s father?
Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews were the masterminds behind the story. I was lucky enough to get to help bring those ideas into form and onto a page! Working on projects like this is always a team effort and even when provided with a story idea or outline there are always elements to interpret. I love what this series turned out to be!
Rian’s father is joined by what appears to be a new character. Who is she and how does she relate to the story?
Fara is a wonderful character because of how easy it is to relate to her. She's a kid who can't wait to grow up and prove herself, not just to her mother but to society. Who doesn't want to grow up just a bit faster when they're young? The series is bittersweet because we see Fara learn what price responsibility comes with, but also learn to have confidence in herself and in her own abilities.
We also get to see the origins of the hive mind of the Arathim here. Were you given story parameters on them?
Not so much on the Ascendancy or Arathim as this story in particular focuses on Ordon and Fara. Both Ordon and Fara go through their own personal journeys within these issues and have this wonderful push/pull kind of relationship that gives a great deal of context to how they interact in the Netflix show. Who doesn't love a peek behind the curtain like that?
You started working on this before the Netflix series dropped. Did they let you watch the series for context? Or did you just have the trailer and a script?
I was privileged to get to read the scripts before the trailer even dropped and to see some behind the scenes shots to help envision what some of the characters looked like. Once that trailer dropped though?
What is your favorite panel in this series?
That I can talk about? As of right now it's Issue #1, page 15, where Shoni ties Ordon's armor on for him. Their relationship here is perfectly captured in Matias' art. (Though I will say that anytime Matias draws the Arathim, Ascendancy, or literally any action scene I get CHILLS!)