|"The Dark Crystal" begins in 2010|
In a packed room at Comic-Con International last Friday, Archaia hosted a panel at to discuss its publishing schedule as well as its new relationship with The Jim Henson Company. On hand from Archaia were Marketing Manager Mel Caylo, Director of Development Stephen Christy, Publisher and "Artesia" creator Mark Smylie, and President P.J. Bickett. David Petersen, creator of "Mouse Guard," rounded out the Archaia camp. Representing Henson was Director of Publishing and Development, Joe LeFavi.
"This is our coming-out party," said Caylo. "This is when we announce we're having a full publishing schedule."
True to his word, Caylo announced that "Besieged," volume four of Smylie's "Artesia" series, was available for sale at the Archaia booth.
Smylie explained there had been so much of a gap between volume three and volume four due to his double duties as a creator and as Publisher at Archaia. "There's only so much time you can devote to drawing, and so much time to devote to accounting," said Smylie.
The final volume of "Artesia" should be available by the end of the year.
Next up was "Mouse Guard." Petersen didn't want to give too much away, but did show some preview art of the next storyline of the book, entitled "Black Axe." "It's going back—I can't do the math—many, many years, many generations," said Petersen.
Caylo then introduced LeFavi, who did the Cabbage Patch in his chair. "Joe promised me he wouldn't do the happy dance," said Christy.
"I can't help it!" said LeFavi.
"We met at last year's Comic-Con, then I showed [LeFavi] Archaia stuff on the Henson lot," Christy said, explaining how the partnership began. "I knew Henson was working on breaking into the comics scene, so I knew that we were the only company who could do it because we put our heart into everything we do."
For more information on the origins of the partnership, check out CBR's interview with Christy and LeFavi.
Christy took this opportunity to announce that Brian Froud, the conceptual designer for Henson classics "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth," will be working as a creative consultant on the entire Henson line, as well as drawing covers.
Christy discussed the production schedule. "We're doing it in a very slow—purposefully slow—rollout schedule because we're taking the time to do it right. To make it something to be proud of."
The first book in the line will be "Fraggle Rock," which is scheduled for release in spring 2010. "Fraggle Rock" will be published in eight-inch by eight-inch books, a la "Mouse Guard." Christy explained that this is a very important choice because these are the same dimensions as children's books.
There are other surprises in store for "Fraggle Rock" readers, said Christy. The books won't be just sequential art, but "new levels of interactivity that we're experimenting with. I know that sounds vague, but it's going to be really cool."
LeFavi pointed into the audience at Tim Beedle, the editor of the "Labyrinth" and "Dark Crystal" manga books when they were at Tokyopop. Beedle will also edit "Fraggle Rock" for Archaia.
The "Fraggle" book will be an anthology format with both long and short stories.
"Huge talent" will be working on the book, said Christy, "but also people you have never heard of before."
"Henson's always been about fostering new talent," said LeFavi.