Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the world’s most prolific and influential cult filmmakers. He is also known for a vast array of comic books, some interconnected and other not. Fans of the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune may be curious to explore more of his work, but unsure where to start. Having seen all of his films and read comics like The Incal, The Metabarons, and the first three volumes of The Metabarons: Second Cycle, I have a few thoughts on which place might be the best start for you.
El Topo and The Holy Mountain are Jodorowsky’s most well known films. But know going in that you are essentially witnessing an uncensored human unconscious in film format. Provocative, dreamlike, and confounding, if you’re watching these films straight-edged, you’re not doing it right.
I found his most recent films, Dance of Reality and Endless Poetry, to be the best executed in terms of both form and content. It’s a Magical Realistic autobiography and is easier to follow if you know Jodorowsky’s personal history. Even those unfamiliar with his upbringing can empathize with the story of an artist rejecting his father’s rigid expectations and coming into his own.
The Incal is one of the most influential works of science fiction ever put into a graphic novel. Much of its influence and acclaim is due to the immortal artwork of Moebius. The Incal was born from many of the ideas of Jodorowsky’s un-made Dune film and went on to inspire sci-fi stories like The Fifth Element and Blade Runner.
However, I and many other readers gravitate towards The Metabarons. If The Incal is a psychedelic space odyssey, then The Metabarons is a Heavy Metal retelling of Oedipus Rex with cyber-enhanced assassins. The Metabarons is a biblical tome of a book, worthy of epics like Gilgamesh or Beowulf, with sublime art by Juan Gimenez. It may have taken 50 years to get a proper Dune adaptation and I suspect it’ll take another 50 years for the creative world to catch up to The Metabarons.
If you’re curious about the world of the Jodoverse but want the most accessible story, then I would recommend The Metabarons: Second Cycle. There have been three graphic novels released in this series and the stories can be read in any order. Writer Jerry Frissen manages to capture the creativity of the Jodoverse, but doesn’t get lost in the esoteric elements. The Metabarons: Second Cycle does an excellent job at tailoring the story to contemporary tastes without pulling any punches. The new adventures of the Metabaron are still as mind-bending, transgressive, and avant-garde as ever.
I hope this gives you a proper gateway (drug) to the world of psychedelic sci-fi. No matter what story you choose, I guarantee you’re in for a trip!
Graphic novels set in the world of the Jodoverse are available from Humanoids.