Author & Illustrator Interview: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Bestiary: A Definitive Guide to the Creatures of the Goblin King’s Realm by S.T. Bende, with Art by Iris Compiet

Crushed on by Christy Jane, on September 28, 2022, in Author Interview / 1 Comment

Author & Illustrator Interview: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Bestiary by S.T. Bende, with Art by Iris Compiet

I have had the pleasure of knowing S.T. Bende for almost a decade, I was introduced to her bestselling Norse fantasy YA novels, and soon we met at a multi-day author signing convention, and we stayed in touch ever since. I am thrilled for all of her Disney and Star Wars fandoms that we always chatted about have come to life in the literary world – but to have another cult classic like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth developed into such a cool guide book of creatures, and next up she’s co-authoring an Alice in Wonderland Cookbook – I am nothing but thrilled for S.T. and what’s to come!

Thank you to S.T., Iris, for chatting with us and to Insight Editions for sending us copies of Labyrinth: Bestiary!

Author & Illustrator Interview: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Bestiary: A Definitive Guide to the Creatures of the Goblin King’s Realm by S.T. Bende, with Art by Iris Compiet

Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Bestiary: A Definitive Guide to the Creatures of the Goblin King's Realm

by S.T. Bende, Iris Compiet
Published by: Insight Editions
on June 7, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Pages: 160

Discover the world of Labyrinth in this guide to the wondrous creatures of the Goblin King’s realm, featuring illustrations by acclaimed artist Iris Compiet.

From Ludo to Sir Didymus, to the Goblin King’s legion of mischievous minions, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is packed with wondrous beings and chaotic critters. For the first time, Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Bestiary - A Definitive Guide to the Goblin King's Realm brings their world to life. Exploring the nature and behavior of each creature through original illustrations and insightful text, this is a must-have book for fans of Labyrinth, Jim Henson, and the fantasy genre.

ALL-NEW LABYRINTH ART: Experience the world of Labyrinth in a whole new way through the stunning art of acclaimed illustrator Iris Compiet (The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra).

DISCOVER THE CREATURES OF LABYRINTH: This book features an in-depth look at every creature from the world of Labyrinth, covering the beloved 1986 movie as well as the wider world of the Goblin King’s realm, including the hit comics and the original novelization.

AN EPIC ADDITION TO YOUR HOME LIBRARY: A gorgeous volume filled with incredible artwork, Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Bestiary is the definitive tribute to the fantastical creatures of this much-loved classic.

Interview with S.T. Bende & Iris Compiet

Tell us about your collaborative process. What was it like working together?

S.T.: Working with Iris is such a fun experience. She is kind and funny and so incredibly talented. She really inspires you to bring your very best to everything you do, and I just adore her! I very quickly learned to sit down whenever I opened her e-mails – Iris sends batches of pieces as she creates them, and her work quite literally took my breath away every single time. The two of us met with our editor at the start of this project, and we chatted a fair bit about what we wanted this book to look like. Once we’d worked through a basic structure, I went off to write while Iris created the amazing images that brought the Labyrinth to life.  One of my favorite parts of this process was seeing little things we talked about come to play in the book. We both really love Jim Henson, and during the research stage we learned that he really loved chickens – it’s why we see so many of them in his work. We decided that we wanted to feature chickens throughout the book, as a way of honoring the Labyrinth’s creator. Seeing Iris’ epic chickens running wild along those final pages brought a huge smile to my face! 

Iris: I very much enjoyed working with ST. I always enjoy the process more when the author and myself get to stick our heads together and come up with ideas on how to approach certain things. How we can create the best possible book. This isn’t always a given, very often I am sent a text to work with and that’s it, there’s no contact with the author. But in this case ST and I talked about how we wanted to approach this. As a longtime fan of the Labyrinth I really wanted to pay homage to what everyone involved created and add some elements that true fans would spot immediately. It was great to work with someone like ST, who understands how much love people have for this world. And I think both the text as well as the illustrations show that we’ve tried our very best to add to the lore.

How does your writing and illustrative process differ when you’re working in your own worlds compared to the worlds created by others?

S.T.: So much of writing is a solitary experience. And while I love my original works, I also truly enjoy the collaborative experience of creating in someone else’s world. Not only is it a huge joy to create within your fandoms, but getting to work with people who love those worlds as much as you is incredibly inspirational! Writing in someone else’s world involves a lot of research – you want to honor the spirit and the structure of the world you’re playing in, and you need to make sure your voice and verbiage match the tone of that universe, galaxy, or Labyrinth. But the research is always one of my favorite stages, and for the Labyrinth Bestiary, it ended up sparking some really fun additions . . . like those chickens!

Iris: My process isn’t really all that different, creating my own worlds or stepping into the ones created by others. It is scary at first, to dive into a world you loved so dearly since childhood, like the Labyrinth or the Dark Crystal (another bestiary I did before this book). I’m aware of how important and loved these worlds are, how much these characters and creatures mean to people. And I’m aware of the amazing artwork that’s gone before me. This does make it a bit intimidating because I want to make sure I add to the world, compliment it, honor it in such a way that I still have my own visual voice but that it fits just right, as if it was always part of the world. That’s the aim, and for that to happen I too do a lot of research. I try to approach the world I’m asked to illustrate as if it was my own. I want to immerse myself in it, I try to understand all the living creatures. I want to be able to ‘see’ them in my mind, want to see them move and understand how they’d react. But since the art I’ve created is pretty much the same as I would for my own world it felt natural to me, I didn’t have to adapt a new voice, this was already ‘me’.

On Writing with S.T. Bende

What was the research like in crafting Bestiary

For our Labyrinth Bestiary I read everything I could get my hands on – from the novelization to the graphic novels. I highlighted characters, made notes of things we might be able to use, and tagged relevant pages with sticky notes so I’d be able to circle back when needed. Then I created a master list of all of the Labyrinth’s characters and regions, fleshing out the information I’d learned about each and including page references to the source material. When it came time to write, I had my outline – but I’d jump sections based on what Iris was working on at the time. She’s such a master at capturing emotions and nuances and seeing Hoggle’s skeptical face or Sir Didymus’ quirky brow would always spark a new idea. It was a huge treat to get to create alongside her!

On Creating Art With Iris

Were there artists from the 80s that inspired the art in Bestiary?

In all honesty, no not really. Other than of course the obvious, Brian Froud. Him being the artist responsible for the designs of the Labyrinth. But that’s not necessarily ‘being inspired by’, it’s part of the research, doing the art for the Bestiary means it has to ‘fit’ into the world that’s already there. It has to have a similar feel. And luckily my art already has a bit of that, so it wasn’t all that difficult. I just did my thing and painted and sketched the characters and creatures the way I would do my own.

About S.T. Bende

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, S.T. Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (where she became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and studied Shakespeare in Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats.

Her Scandinavian heritage and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired her YA Norse fantasy series’ (Ære Saga, Viking Academy, Shieldmaiden Squadron, Elsker Saga, and Alfheim Academy). And her deep love of a galaxy far, far away led to her writing children’s books for the Star Wars franchise. As an experienced IP writer, she’s written multiple books published by Disney, Lucasfilm, and The Jim Henson Company, and looks to expand into additional beloved licensed projects.

When she’s not creating stories, S.T. dreams of skiing on Jotunheim and Hoth.

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