The Candle Cove Novel Series was an unfinished Graphic Novel mini-series series made to serve as a prequel to the original TV Show. The graphic novel series was conceived by Lisa Rollins (pen name Lisa Barker), daughter of Caroline Barker, developer of the original series. The books departed from the happy tune of the original show, in favor of a more "epic" mood, while the and heightened by macabre prose.
The first book of the series, Candle Cove: Come and Rip, published in 1987, introduced the Tarantula Crew and supposedly revealed The Skin-Taker's past as novice sailor Thade Soben, not much different from Janice, who by the end of the book began to show signs of turning into his more well-known self.
The second book, Candle Cove: In Red Tides (1988) picked up immediately where the second book ended.
The third book, Candle Cove: The Spirits Cave (1991) focused on the character of Percy explaining his past, while giving flashforwards to the TV Show era and to the prequel novels in a follow-up to the second book.
The first two books, although obscure, received several enthusiastic reviews, complimenting the pacing, "fast-paced, vivid prose" and the "surprisingly serious and deep" inner dialogues.
It was however not exent of critics; as Andrew Irons, from the Chicago Literary Column wrote: "At this point, the people who actually remember the old show have no reasons to be interested in this origin story". Nonetheless, they were also seen as an attempt to capitalize on nostalgia, while for others they "crushed the concept of the series". While the first two books were well-received, the third one didn't faired well, with the critics pointing at the "disjointed narrative" specially because of his non-linear storytelling. Adam Brody, from the Arizona Penhouse, said the book should have been the first one in being published, though at the end he said "[the writer] should have scrapped Percy's story altogether".
Rollins said their books are true to the series, and makes sure that she based the characters from the novel series in a Candle Cove cartoon project from the late '70s, and she said she had created those characters along with her mother. The storylines from each of the book are said to have been based on the scripts for those unproduced episodes. While Caroline Barker refused to clear any connection with her work or the mere existence of a cartoon series, it is confirmed the title for a Candle Cove cartoon series was registered in 1977 and the DiC animation studio was in deals to produce the series. Only an animated TV pilot (produced by an unknown studio, not DiC) survives.
While the literary rights over Candle Cove had been transferred to Bantam Books with the plan of comission the novels to some of their writers, in the end Barker didn't retain control of them due to a clause she oversaw when signing the contract, and they signed Lisa Rollins to takeover the line. Bantam explained that it was a result of Barker's delay on commissioning writers, but Barker saw her daughter's take as an opportunistic move to take advantage of his mother's creation. Rollins had written several novels that were rejected by many editors, but she was instantly hired when they knew she was the daughter of Barker. It has been pointed that she even took her mother's surname as her pen name, eventually creating a conflict in the copyrights.
This controversy caused the delay of the third book, that was published in 1991, two years later than planned, and the eventual cancellation of the novel series. As part of this controversy and the rights over her mother's surname, the third book was delayed and published two years after the planned release date, and the book series goes into a hiatus and never resumed publication, despite of the plans for at least two more books, the first one reportedly finished. The rights reverted to Caroline Baker in 1995 but she died two years later and she didn't include her daughter in her will.
According to an interview, there were plans for at least three more books. The fourth one was going to be called Candle Cove: To Grind Your Skin (working title). In May 2011, apocryphal versions of the novel surfaced on The Pirate Bay.
From books 5 and 6, at least one of them was reportedly completed, and it would have titled "Candle Cove: One Year Closer". Supposedly a Bantam editor confirmed the book was written, yet it had to be revised, and it was going to be actually the sixth and final book of the novel series. The script is unknown until then.
Based on the details said by Rollins in interviews, there's much speculation about the unreleased novels.
The books recieved mixed feelings by people associated with the original show.
Adrian Grimes has been at odds with The Barker Foundation, as Adrian Grimes believes that the Candle Cove franchise, "Should wither away and die." The books were not safe from his criticism, as he was quoted saying, "The show was rotten and twisted, and (censored) tried to not only to bring the characters back, but justify the actions of The Skin-Taker!" Many of Adrian Grimes statements about the books were later mistaken for Caroline Barker's own words.
Interestingly, despite his claims that the show was "rotten" he was quick to claim the show was the only "Candle Cove Canon" and at one point tried to buy the rights to the show. The reasons for this are unknown.
For a while people claimed that Caroline Barker hated the novel series and considered them "non-canon."
However, Caroline Barker had released a statement in an interview regarding the canonicity of the show in response to the rumors. It included the following;
"Thade Soben originated from an idea me and my daughter had while working together. Why would I hate that? Before she started helping me with that, she was often arguing and fighting with me. While we were working on it, we were getting along. I was disappointed that it didn't work out, but I don't hate the ideas my daughter used. Heck, most of them were going to be used for the cartoon, anyway."
The Caroline Barker Foundation later added these statements to their website, but still does not include information on the novels for some reason, and refuse to comment on why.
Despite the statements, Lisa Rollins described "tension" between them, claiming that when she started the novels, her mother told her "not to get involved."
Mary Prescott, who sold her rights to the show to Caroline Barker, believes the books were a step in the right direction, but has different ideas about how it should have been approached: "I believe a weekly comic would have done a better job attracting attention" she says, "and perhaps with a better known publishing company."
She has not released any further statements.
With the years, the novel series has reached a cult status, just like the original TV show.
Some famous lines from the books were spoken (albeit by other characters) in the cancelled Candle Cove TV Movie.