Muppets creator Jim Henson is focus of two forthcoming books

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A graphic novel based on a never-before-seen-or-produced screenplay developed by Jim Henson is due for release in summer 2011, announced Publishers Weekly on July 30. That news followed just days after Ballantine books announced plans to publish a biography of the Muppets creator.

Independent graphic novel publisher Archaia is planning the release of A Tale of Sand, based on a screenplay written by Henson and his longtime collaborator Jerry Juhl more than 30 years ago. According to Stephen Christy, Archaia editor-in-chief, who is working with Henson's daughter Lisa on the project, the novel will tell the story of a young boy who embarks on an "oddball journey" after being kicked out of a town in the middle of the desert.

Christy calls A Tale of Sand a "dark and weird" full-length screenplay that was "too expansive to be produced as a film" when it was developed in the 1960s. The graphic novel, based on a 1974 draft of the concept, will be the first original work by Henson to be published since his death in 1990.

Meanwhile, on July 27, Ballantine Books announced that it will publish a biography of Jim Henson written by Brian Jay Jones, author of Washington Irving: An American Original. According to a press release quoted on publishing blog GalleyCat: "The biography begins with Henson's days as an early TV pioneer, innovative artist and businessman who created a whole new way to present puppetry in a popular art form for television and motion pictures. It will also cover Henson's famous creations, such as The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock and his important contribution to the development and success of Sesame Street, and describe his groundbreaking artistic and technological work that continues to this day."

Written with the blessing of Henson's family, the biography is as-yet-untitled, and a release date has yet to be announced.