Sunday, October 4, 2009

Totally Unrelated to Spookey Month: Paul Pope vs. Paul Atreides

In a titanic clash of two mythic Pauls, THB writer/artist Paul Pope (yeah, he's done other stuff but I really dig me some THB) takes on intergalactic space messiah/part-time sandworm wrangler Paul Muad'Dib. The only flaw in this gorgeous page is Pope's eccentric spelling "M'uad Dib." Pesky apostrophe! Whenever I type Muad'Dib's name (which is surprisingly often), I always have to do a half dozen or so Google searches to make sure I put it in the right spot.

Better than spelling it "Maude'Findlay," I suppose.

Pope's commentary on the piece also contains his observations on how to deal with a page in the "Wednesday Comics" format-- you know, based on what he learned from working on that series from DC. I love when the top art people explain technical things like that. Do you?

What really jazzes me about Paul Pope doing this is... I finished reading Frank Herbert's Dune just a couple of weeks ago. I've read it a few times since 1984 when the campy David Lynch movie came out. Everyone complained at the time how difficult it was to follow the plot. I had no problem, and I immediately became both a Dune and a David Lynch fan. Later I realized what a mess the movie is, but I still love the art direction. I tried to watch the Sci-Fi Channel adaptation a few years ago but quit because I found myself thoroughly hating the costume designs and much prefering Kyle MacLachlan's portrayal of Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib to whoever that guy is on the TV version. TV Paul reminds me too much of Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico in Starship Troopers and the costumes look like something out of a video for Styx's Kilroy Was Here concept album.

Pope writes he based his designs on "paintings John Schoenherr did for an illustrated edition of Dune published by Berkley Books in 1977." I have no idea about that; Pope obviously knows what he's talking about. I like the vaguely Moebius-esque look to the linework and the Lynchian take on the Fremen's stillsuits; they look cool in black with the nose plugs. Those exposed faces show poor water discipline, though.

Plus, Pope's Muad'Dib looks a little like Kyle MacLachlan, and I'm in favor of that.

I love these moments of pop culture synchronicity. And that Paul Pope enjoys Dune as much as I do, if not more. Here's hoping the Herbert estate puts him to work on an adaptation of the novel as soon as possible!

PS-- I learned of this from Heidi MacDonald's blog entry over at The Beat. If wormsign credit can go to Duke Leto Atreides, then we should also acknowledge the original spotter of this li'l piece of coolness.


Nathaniel said...

I actually rather like the Sci-Fi channel miniseries from a storytelling point of view. It isn't without its flaws, like the costume design and the fact that almost all the deep desert scenes are blatantly some soundstage filled with sand, but I like how it adheres more strictly to the book than David Lynch's movie. And I like Baron Harkonnen way better in the miniseries than I do in the movie.

But then again, I watched the miniseries before I ever saw the Lynch movie, which I just watched for the first time about a year ago, so I don't know if I can view it entirely objectively. I think the Lynch movie spends way too much time on the initial buildup, and then things happen at lightspeed once the cast arrives on Arrakis.

The Children of Dune miniseries that Sci-Fi also did is worth watching if you haven't seen it. They really toned down the costumes. Though it still has the same dude playing Paul.

But anyway, the comic: I really like it and would love to see more Dune comics in that style, but I'm afraid it's just a one-off thing he's done.

Joel Bryan said...

Yep, just a one off.

And you've pointed out one of the many flaws of the Lynch version. The pacing is way wrong. I think they could have glossed over a lot of exposition-- you know, the politics and schemes. It's not really that difficult.

But that movie just looks so delicious at times! Especially Virginia Madsen as the space princess.

Joel Bryan said...

If they ever did decide to do more, Pope is so obviously the right person for the job, btw!

Pete Mullins said...

I read Dune a couple of years before the Lynch film. While I like some aspects of his version of the book it is , for me, a failed film.

One of biggest issues I have with Lynch's film is the homogeneous design to all the different cultures presented in Dune.

In the 1970s director Alejandro Jodorowsky planned a very ambitious version of the book. Artists such as Giger, Moebius, Foss and Druillet all contributed designs to the project.

Giger's nightmarish take on the House Harkonnen's environs easily eclipses Lynch's tame version.

Still, the first 1/2 hour of the Lynch film has enough of the epic about it to warrant repeat viewings.

I wholeheartedly agree that the Sci-Fi Channel version is a bit feeble.
Now if only Ridley Scott....