This book is based on an unproduced screenplay from Jim Henson and his writing partner Jerry Juhls. They worked on this from the 60s to the 70s and never found a home for it. This represents the sort of experimental insanity you might expect from the guys who brought you “The Muppets” and “Fraggle Rock.” Those were crazy shows for kids that worked evolving ideas into the frenzy of learning minds. “Tale of Sand” is aimed at adults and so is rightfully allowed to be that much weirder, more existential, and truly about something.
A strange man wanders into panel -- surely once a movie frame -- and stumbles into a town where a celebration occurs. It’s a celebration that quickly turns out to be about, and for, him. They slap him on his back and send him on his way to do things he does not understand; neither what he must do nor why is clear. Nevertheless, he is quickly on his way and fighting for his life.
Once this set up is established, you have to give your mind over as if David Fincher got his hands on an old Salvador Dali script and wanted it to pop in pastel. This book requires you to both think to connect the dots with what is happening, but also to then interpret the meaning of these happenings. Nothing is explained and the further in you delve the more you realize explanation within the text would be the worst idea. You, yes YOU, need to do some work in this one. You can choose to take a patched man hunting mercilessly across the barren plains of America at face value or you can align certain ideologies to this scenario and tweak your feelings as the plot continues, or develop new lines of understanding through rereads. Oh, yes, there will most certainly be more than one occasion you spend an afternoon stick into these pages like a pig at a trough.
This narrative isn’t exactly linear. It zooms from “Spy Vs Spy” style violence to fantastic visual gags played scarily straight and then through slapstick chase scenes slipping in and out of reality. “Tale of Sand” is a complete trip and it wants you to slow down, be confused, and have fun figuring the whole mess out.
Ramon K Perez is the real star of this book, carrying an excessive number of wordless pages. His storytelling sublimely pushes the jigsaw pieces of this story into place so you at least see a corner or a border line at any one time. The lyrical flow of these pages is captivating. You will, and should, actually study this book if you have any deep interest in comics and their creation. You will love and you will learn. The other man heavily responsible for this successful adaptation is colorist Ian Herring and his varied palette. He knows how to draw your focus and sway your feelings with simplicity and subtlety. This book looks amazing and will make a fan of comics and non-comics fans, no matter the ages.
Hopefully people don’t see Jim Henson’s name and immediately think they know what this book is. This isn’t a Muppet caper and no puppet could do these characters justice. This is an existential trip into the mind of a man who does not know his purpose in life and isn’t sure how to find it. The masculine enigma that dwells beneath the surface of this book is surreally laid out. Fans of art and stories to discuss heavily need to invest in this book.