Monday, April 4, 2011

Archaia flying boldly ahead, sans costumes

"We don't do superheroes, and we never will," said Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy, which may sound like a dire statement to some, but not when you take a look at the projects Archaia has coming up this year and into 2012. This rapidly growing company is truly one to keep your eye on. At the panel Saturday morning, they outlined several major projects in the works, including the ancient Greek action film Immortals, starring Henry Cavill, coming out 11/11/11. UFN prefers to cover the present-day, however "alternate universe" that present may be, and other media outlets are all over Immortals, so we decided to focus on some of Archaia's other offerings.

Their partnership with the Henson company has gained them access to Jim Henson's vaults, including stories and screenplays that were created but never produced. One of these is the beloved television series, The Storyteller. Several episodes that never saw the light of day were discovered, and new ones are being crafted into a volume of graphic novels by different writers and artists in the same style.

A project I'm excited about is A Tale of Sand. It's a complete original screenplay that was created in the 1960s when Jim Henson was still an up-and-coming indy filmmaker, and Archaia is making it into a word-for-word graphic novel adaptation from the script. As the story goes, a man wakes up and finds that he's in the middle of a desert, but doesn't know how he got there, what happened to civilization, or how to get out to safety. It's his journey across the sand to try and find his life again. "I describe it to people as 127 Hours meets Alice in Wonderland if directed by Jim Henson," said Christy when asked what the story is about.

I'd seen the name Lucid being tossed around before, but didn't really know what it was, so I was excited to learn that this is one book I'll be buying for myself when it comes out this fall. It's on the "Archaia Black" label and is also a project of Before the Door, one of the partners of that company being Zachary Quinto. Lucid has manga-style artwork by Anna Wieszczyk and is written by Michael McMillian, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a signing on Saturday. What if Harry Potter grew up and went to work for the government as part of a secret cold war of magicians? That's the premise of Lucid, and it's one I greatly look forward to.

One more project particularly caught my eye, and that's Bleedout. I've been aware of peak oil for years, so to have a comic book devoted to different scenarios of how we'll be living when the oil runs out is very exciting. Since the earth is not gifted with a creamy nougat center of oil, or self-replenishing, we will be running out some day. This book, coming out in the fall, features a number of new writers and artists telling their post-oil stories. I have some scenarios of my own, so I can't wait to see what other people think about how this very real future will play out.

The Archaia folks are gracious, smart and true rising stars in the industry, with unique media partnerships and sharp attention to detail. The high quality of all their products is a clear sign of their commitment to a print publishing future. Specially-bound books, thick papers and high-quality printing are all designed for a tactile experience that you can't get on a Kindle or at the variety store spinner rack (yes, they still exist). Again, keep an eye on Archaia, they're headed for the stars.

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