Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal
by Karen Falk
Foreward by Lisa Henson
Available wherever books are sold and on Amazon.com
Ryan Dosier - Straight from the heart of the Jim Henson Archives comes Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal, an incredibly detailed and gorgeous new book compiled and written by Karen Falk, the Henson Company's head archivist. For those who don't know, the book compiles incredibly rare (a lot never-before seen) photos from Jim Henson's career. Spanning from 1954 to 1990, Imagination Illustrated dedicates time to almost every single thing Jim worked on.
Of course Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and the Muppet movies get traditionally wonderful treatment, but the book also takes a wonderful look at rarities such as The Cube, The Ghost of Fafner Hall, Rowlf's time on The Jimmy Dean Show, and so much more. The book is divided into four chapters: The Washington Years (1954-1962), New York and New Directions (1963-1969), The World Tunes In (1970-1979), and Fantasy, Fraggles, and Fearless Imagination (1980-1988), as well as an epilogue called To Be Continued (1989-1990).
What Imagination Illustrated does so incredibly well is to not only capture the life of Jim Henson in snapshots and brief entries taken from Jim's Red Book, but to tell the story of Jim's life in pictures that we've hardly seen before, artwork from Jim himself that we've never seen before, and stories that we may have never heard before. Compiling pictures this rare must have been no easy task for Karen Falk. I can't even imagine the amount of time she spent poring over the archives to find such a staggering amount of rare images. There are some unbelievable finds in this book, including Jim's original sketch of Kermit, concept sketches of Wilkins and Wontkins, photos of Jim and Jane performing Rowlf and Baskerville, the original sketches Jim did of Ernie and Bert and Anything Muppets, puppet designs by Dave Goelz, original sketches of Sam Eagle and Animal, and virtually hundreds of other incredible items.
Each page contains anywhere plenty of photos, sketches, storyboards, or note pages as well as notes about what each image is and scribbles from Jim's personal journal. Also on every other page is a brief paragraph written by Karen Falk about what was happening in Jim's life at the moment in time the pictures are showcasing. Karen goes into great details even in these brief pieces. There is an entire section devoted to Barkley the Dog, in which I learned that Jim consulted Michael Frith and dancer Toby Towson on the design of the dog. Each of these writings is like that. I learn something, I'm become more amazed by Jim, and I'm blown away by Karen Falk's incredible knowledge and grasp on Jim Henson's life and her organization of the corresponding images.
Each new page of Imagination Illustrated offers another treasure from Jim Henson's career and it's impossible to accurately review all the wonders you'll find flipping through it. The book is a wonderful introduction to the life and career of Jim Henson, opening the door to start exploring through all of these projects and characters that Jim created in his life. However, Imagination Illustrated is clearly aimed at and successfully made for the Muppet fans who have known Jim their entire lives. Unless you have sifted through the Henson archives as much as Karen Falk, then I guarantee you will find dozens of images you have never seen before. If you need to give a Christmas present to the Muppet fan in your life, or if you're a Muppet fan in need of something to tell your parents to get you for Christmas... Imagination Illustrated makes the perfect gift.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org