Ageless Youth Can Lead To A Labyrinth
Dec 07, 2017
by Vince Brusio
Memorable movies that are “kids” movies which are equally enjoyed by adults are hard to roll off the tongue. Try it. Take Disney out of the mix, and try it. They’re rare. When they hit the mark, though, you don’t’ forget them, and Labyrinth is a perfect example. Simon Spurrier was not yet old enough to buy his own movie ticket when the film rolled into theaters, but it impressed him well beyond his tweens to the point where he’s now signed on to Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Coronation #1 (DEC171194) as the scribe for BOOM! Studios’ mini-series. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, Spurrier speaks about the spell he’s been under since he was first dazzled by the Goblin King.
Vince Brusio: How did Labyrinth impress you when the movie first rolled out into theaters? Or did you have the luxury of watching it on videotape, so that you could rewind, pause, and slow-mo your way through the movie at leisure?
Simon Spurrier: I think I was only four years old when the movie hit theatres, so definitely a VHS experience, probably circa nine years old. A sleepover for a friend’s birthday, if memory serves. Initial hiding-behind-the-sofa moments morphing into grotesque fascination and onwards to sheer delight. It’s been a huge influence on me in the years since. As a piece of moviemaking it’s a completely liminal thing—a story that wobbles between genres, between childhood and adulthood, the beautiful and the grotesque, the fantastical and the imagined. There’s a little of the Labyrinth in everything I’ve ever written, I think.
Vince Brusio: Will any of the film’s continuity play a role in this book, or are you turning a new page?
Simon Spurrier: Yes, absolutely. Whilst the main part of our story concerns entirely new and unseen aspects of the Labyrinth and its denizens, it’s fitted very neatly into a very familiar framing narrative. We’ll have plenty of screen time — as it were — for Jareth and his court.
Vince Brusio: If you had to profile the Goblin King in your own words, what would you offer? Would you paint him as a grand manipulator? A prince of paradox? New wave Satan with fantastic hair that obscures his horns?
Simon Spurrier: Ah, but which Goblin King do you mean [cackle]? Which, I suppose, is the mischievous way of hinting at the answer: Nothing is ever as it seems in the Labyrinth. Take nothing for granted.
Vince Brusio: Why do you think Labyrinth is appealing to comic readers, despite the fact that many of them may not have even been alive when the movie debuted? What makes Labyrinth not a maze, but a monster? A property that reaches out, grabs you, and doesn’t let go?
Simon Spurrier: I think because it speaks so directly to the sorts of fundamental, mythic preoccupations that exist inside everyone, but which lend themselves particularly well to the storytelling methods of — and the demographics often associated with — the comic book medium.
Ultimately, it’s an enduring story, despite the elements which make it very much a product of its era. Even bulging tights, copious hairspray, and eighties synth can’t date a fable — especially when you add humor to the equation.
Vince Brusio: Why are you proud of your work on this book? How do you leave your mark on Jim Henson’s legacy?
Simon Spurrier: The beauty of the Labyrinth in particular — as a creator, I mean — is that it’s built on a tissue of ambiguities. Is it a real place, or just the unconscious of those within it? Or both. Or neither. Whatever the answer, it means that one can ride the concept in one’s own direction for a while without fear of soiling the existing journey nor betraying the canon. In my case, it’s an irresistible opportunity to explore an unseen part of this unique fantasy realm teeming with wonderfully grotesque creatures and cultures, while exploring some very universal themes.
On a broader level I think Henson, like so many of my creative heroes, saw little distinction between the fantastic and the real, and no distinction at all between fictions for kids and fictions for adults. Whether it was stubbornness or childlike innocence on his part (see Roald Dahl, Hayao Miyazaki, etc.), I’m embracing wholeheartedly what I see as his lesson: stories which appeal to all ages are truly ageless.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.