As Duke Leto and his family prepare to move to Arrakis, political unrest could mean their new home is not safe.
Kyle MacLachlan with those tubes coming out of his nose. The giant worm. Sting in a futuristic dance belt. After associating these images with Dune for so long, it’s weird to finally know what they mean. Out of a sense of solidarity with David Lynch — who didn’t get final cut on Dune — I’ve never known whether or not to check out the movie; and as for reading Frank Herbert’s magnum opus, it never really occurred to me (and I lugged around a lot of giant tombs back in the day).
Knowing what those images mean, though, makes a difference. When I first saw the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, I remember not being excited about it, but re-watching it after reading this graphic novel is an entirely different experience. The movie, of course, was supposed to come out in December, but has since been moved to October next year. So if you’re looking for a way to introduce yourself to the universe, I strongly suggest Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book One.
The graphic novel is adapted by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson; longtime Dune fans may be familiar with their names from various prequels and sequels to Dune (Herbert is also one of Frank’s sons). With the comic book pages, though, they wanted to create a faithful adaptation of the original novel. The three book series will continue with the second volume in Spring 2022.
Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín are responsible for the art and while the book is a little vague on who did what (though everyone is plainly credited), this article from Syfy Wire provides more of a breakdown.
Book One looks at House Atreides as they get ready to move from Caladan to Arrakis. The two planets couldn’t be more different. As underlined by the color schemes, Arrakis is a desert planet. Water is very precious there and by associating the water-rich world of Caladan with blue you’re always aware of the privilege Duke Leto and his family are coming from. It also throws into question why they would ever want to move to Arrakis.
Arrakis, for its part, is hot pink instead of yellow, a refreshing change from the usual hazy depiction of deserts. Hot pink is a color that brings to mind a glowing coal – the hottest kind of hot.
Besides the unusual desert palette, Dune is different from other graphic novels thanks to the amount of access both Herberts and Anderson give readers to the characters’ inner thoughts. While there are thought bubbles in comics — and sometimes you have one or two characters providing narration — widespread access is usually one of the perks of reading a novel. Here, each character’s thoughts are assigned a different color box (the Duke’s are a dark green while his son, Paul’s, are a brighter shade of green) and it creates more transparency with regards to the characters’ motivations.
While Dune isn’t shy about inventing words, Herbert and Anderson never really stop to define them, instead allowing readers to figure out what they mean in context. Martín did the letters and one of her greatest tricks is being able to get across that certain phrases are said with an inflection, like “the voice,” without changing the lettering too much (sometimes she makes important terms bold).
One of the strongest characters in this adaptation is Paul’s mother, Jessica, who’s a member of the Bene Gesserit. They are a religious-order-meets-spy-agency secretly pulling the strings in Dune. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of them in Book 2.
Abrams ComicsArts have designed a beautiful hardcover volume. The paper is extremely thick and underneath the dust jacket, the book itself is covered with a space design.
Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 is on sale now from Abrams ComicsArts.