by Cory Godbey

Deep within the remote swamplands of Sog, a young Gelfling woman called Naia encounters a mysterious silver-haired traveler who brings life-altering news from the All-Maudra. No longer bound to remain in her small village, Naia embarks on a journey to the Castle of the Crystal—the home of the Skeksis overlords who have accused her twin brother of treason. 

Unwilling to accept these accusations, Naia hopes to learn the truth about her brother. However, the truths that she uncovers reveal something far greater than the fate of one Gelfling or even of the whole Gelfling race. 

Something dark is spreading throughout Thra, and there are those who will do whatever it takes to ensure that its true nature remains hidden.

I’m sure that one of these days Brian Froud is going to come swinging out his front door with a broom and chase me off his lawn. Until then, I’m happy to say that over the last few years I’ve had the very good fortune to work in an official capacity with Labyrinth and now The Dark Crystal. 

SHADOWS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL is the first in a new series of novels from author J. M. Lee, publisher Grosset & Dunlap (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and The Jim Henson Co.

For this new series, I’ve had the oppurtunity to create the interior illustrations. And hey, before I forget, I’ll be doing a signed copy giveaway! See the end of the post for more information.

Cover art by Brian Froud

About the story itself, Lee has pulled off something amazing. Speaking as a big fan of the original film, he’s not only nailed the tone and feel of this world but he (seemingly effortlessly) has smoothed out the edges of that world and documented, with a lot of heart, what he found beyond the walls of the movie. It’s fresh, fun, and fast-paced. The story honors the original work while being completely it’s own new creation.

There are eight black and white interior illustrations in total and each one presented a special challenge. Here’s a look at a couple of them and then below I’ll walk through the steps, start to finish.

For many of these illustrations I put together several different thumbnails and compositions. This particular piece, though, was the unusual instance where I felt that I had immediately hit on the idea I wanted so I presented only two (admittedly pretty similar) ideas.
Digital rough painted over the initial thumbnail.
Brown pencil rough.

Finished drawing.
Watercolor sky. I knew that I wanted to persevere the original drawing
so I did this separately and knit it together digitally.
I had such a great time getting to read the manuscript in advance. And goodness, imagining my way through the illustrations was some of the most fun I’ve ever had working on a book. 
Because I can’t help it, here’s a look at one more progression. I really liked each one of these thumbnails and would have been happy to take any of them to final (though in the end they chose the right one; I’m glad it wasn’t totally up to me). Thanks, Giuseppe!
You know, it was probably seven or eight years ago I heard that Henson was going to be expanding on Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. New books, comics, all that kind of stuff. And when I heard it I just remember thinking, “I want in on that.” I’ve been gratified to see the response to my work.
Sketchbook page of thumbnails.

Digital roughs.
Hey, that giveaway I mentioned! Two places to enter, check my Twitter and Instagram, 11 AM EDT for more information. Both are @corygodbey.