running the labyrinth: fan fiction and fan art

Posted on July 4, 2009


For the past month, I’ve been high on everything Labyrinth. I saw the movie when I was a teenager, was captivated by it, watched it again and again until I grew up too well to remain stuck up on a girl’s quest to rescue her baby brother from the big, bad goblin king.

Or so I thought.

This strange fascination all started again when I found an inexpensive manga copy of Jim Henson’s Return to Labyrinth, volume 1 at BookSale. Though the manga centered on Toby, the baby brother Sarah run the Labyrinth and fought the Goblin King for, it made me remember how much I loved the movie.

Deciding to do some review, to remind me of characters and story details, I researched Labyrinth online… and discovered an entire universe heartsick over Sarah and Jareth, a universe that expanded on the Labyrinth mythology and psychology of Sarah’s adventure and confrontation with the Goblin King.

Apparently, fans recognized an immense romantic possibility between girl and menacing king, writing their own versions of what else could have been, posting thousands of fan fiction online, to assuage their heartsick souls and appease the raging creative beast within them.

They were ahead of me, as I only realized how powerful this attraction is until.. well, just, now. I was a kid when I saw the movie, one of those who wished to remain a child longer than most people—so for the longest time I only really saw the adventure and dismissed the hints of darker play… which there were plenty of.

With which all these fan fiction writers crafted ficlets upon ficlets, one-shots and drabbles, fluff together with imagined sequels on. I have been reading them; some I roll my eyes up at—too high on hormones, too out-of-character characters, too painfully clear as personal yearnings instead of serious attempts at fiction-writing; others I am in awe of, full of vivid sequences, lovely visions, terrible what might-have-beens or sad, sad impossibilities.

Here are samples, my select few out of thousands…

LABYRINTH II The Lands Beyond – Judith Agrethea

Novel-length, one of the first Labyrinth fan fiction I read, it centers on Jareth and Sarah. Though riddled with grammatical errors and guilty of melodramatic expressions, it is the most ambitious fan fiction of Sarah’s return to the Underground I’ve encountered. The author was able to recreate much of the fun,   adventure, absurd humor in the movie. I just wish she didn’t dissect Jareth too well (I liked it that he was enigmatic) and over-explain motivations. I also have trouble with the ending. Still, this work, by a teenager writing at 13 up to she turned 16, is an amazing feat!

The author has written two more sequels since then. The third book was finished in 2004.

Two of my favorites are decidedly dark. The first features a truly scary and obsessed Goblin King; the second portrays him as a perilous and seductive lord of the fae.

THE GOBLIN MARKET by Viciously Witty

These two are so good they should be adapted into a movie or anime. The first story has Sarah as detective trying to solve a spate of killings in the Underground. In the second, Jareth is still playing for keeps, trying to get Sarah through Toby.

Murder in the Underground by satta
Stone Tears by Circe le Fey

The following three stories are also VERY interesting. Very Grimms Brother; dark fairy tales. I rather like the dream sequences. Dreams, nightmares… for me, they seem to embody the Goblin King’s power, and stories that feature them capture what he is, someone who belongs in dreams—or nightmares. The Goblin King whose purview is the Underground or  humanity’s collective subconscious hopes and fears.

I prefer these stories that let Jareth be; I believe the Goblin King shouldn’t ever be dissected, or we destroy him… Too bad two stories are not yet done.


But this last one, it shatters me. It is the happiest, most cynical, and saddest of all the Labyrinth stories I’ve read. It takes a certain frame of mind to be able to appreciate fan fiction: one has to really be into the universe we’ve chosen. I was drowning, and then this…


I don’t know when I’ll be done being heartsick. My obsessions tend to last months. I guess I need to run my own Labyrinth if I hope to ever get over this.

Images taken from

October 25, 2009 UPDATE- my list of favorites has since grown. Click here for more excellent Labyrinth stories.

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