by Mitchell Stein
I made sure to grab a copy of the truly fantastic Jim Henson: The Biography on the release date, September 24th, which of course, would have also been Jim's 77th birthday this year.
The book is definetley the biggest book about Jim Henson to ever be written, with over 600 pages, Brian Jay Jones goes into incredible detail of every place Jim's ever been or anyone who Jim's ever met or worked with before. Any Muppet expert will be flabbergasted by the amount of brand-new Muppet info that is shared in this book.
Did you know that Rowlf was named after the Purina Dog Chow owner who had the name Ralph? This of course puts to rest a debate that's been going on within the Muppet fan world for over ten years.
Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of photos in this book, but of the handful of ones that were featured are mostly brand new, never before seen photos recently uncovered by the Henson Archives. (Haven't you ever wondered what Pierre the French Rat looked like?) Many of the photos referenced can be found in Jim Henson: The Works, written by Christopher Finch.
Mr. Jones also provides us with a great index and source for each and every page, so if you don't believe it, just flip to thew back of the book and see for yourself.
I've always envisioned Jim Henson as a saint or a god, but known that was unrealistic. He always seemed like a flawless person in most previous biographies.
Mr. Jones takes the brilliant life of Jim Henson and shows it in a different life. Yes, Jim was a creative and brilliant artist, futurist, and all around great guy, but jut like everyone else on this earth, he had his flaws as well.
This isn't a "The Dark Side of Jim Henson" or anything wacky like that. Brian Jay Jones shines Jim with the the brightest light in depth that has never been read before. Yes, he was an undeniable genius, but, like everyone else, he was capable of missteps. Jones looks at Jim's 'failures' or less popular productions too, so you, the Muppet fan can learn the entire story, and giving some great info that even the folks at Muppet Wiki will be embarrassed they didn't know.
Let's face it, not everything Jim's done in his life has been a complete success. The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth weren't exactly box-office hits and the Jim Henson Hour got cancelled before it's second season. Included in the book are some ideas from Jim that barely even made it to the drawing board.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If there's anything Muppety you should spend your money on this year, make it Jim Henson: The Biography. You won't be sorry.