REVIEW: ‘Tale of Sand,’ Graphic Novel

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tale of Sand

Tale of Sand is published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, and written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, with art by Ramon K. Perez, colors by Ramon Herring and Ramon K. Perez, with lettering and font design by Deron Bennet based on the handwriting of Jim Henson, inks by Terry Pallot, Andy Belanger, Nick Craine, Walden Wong, and Cameron Stewart, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and Kalyan Andrasofszky.

Tale of Sand began life as an unproduced movie script written by Jim Henson, and Jerry Juhl. After over 40 years of gathering dust, it has been brought to the public in the form of a graphic novel. Given Henson’s known love for so many visual storytelling mediums, I can’t help but feel like he would be delighted by this turn of events.

Tale of Sand is a surreal story that has us following our lead character, Mac, as he travels on foot through the deserts of the American southwest. Or at least that’s what I believe is happening. As with many surrealist pieces of work, it is hard to be sure of exactly what you are seeing. Taken at face value, Mac, with much fanfare, departs a small southwestern town on foot to reach a designated location. So much of this is extremely vague as the roughly 150-page book contains roughly a dozen lines of dialogue. While the lack of storytelling in Tale of Sand may have made me feel lost sometimes on the particulars of what I was reading, it created a rare opportunity for me to experience a visual medium much like I experience classical music.

Classical, or any form of purely instrumental, music is unique in that it can hold all the emotional weight of lyrical music without hemming it into particulars set forth by the lyrics. In much the same way I was able to feel the broad experiences of what Tale of Sand was presenting me with, while not being boxed in by intricate aspects of the story. Is Mac doing something good? Is Mac a fool, or brave, for doing what he is attempting? I have no idea. Without being saddled by these details I found myself experiencing the emotions being presented in their barest forms. Confusion, fear, triumph,  without the particulars of moral leanings getting involved. It is not an approach I would desire to experience frequently, but as a novelty, it was an experience worth having.

The art in Tale of Sand has been designed to masterfully blend the surreal nature of the story with an aesthetic that feels like the characters were plucked from a Norman Rockwell painting. The ever-changing color palette used is also a particular strength. As Mac traverses the vast desert it keeps the story interesting and helps propel the reader along where dialogue would’ve done the job in most books. As well as keeping the imagery diverse, the colors also enhance the emotions of the panels excellently as well.

Looking back at my time with Tale of Sand I find myself happy I got to experience it. While it has its shortcomings for me, it was unique and a surreal, often bizarre journey into the unknown. If you have an itch for something truly one of a kind that was born, in part, from one of the great creative minds of the 20th century this book is certainly worth checking out.

Tale of Sand is available now at comic book stores everywhere


Tale of Sand
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TL;DR

While it has its shortcomings for me, it was unique and a surreal, often bizarre journey into the unknown.