Frank Herbert’s sci-fi space opera novel Dune has been wildly influential since it was first released in 1965. And not just on other novels. Its influence has been felt in movies, video games, and, of course, comic books. So it’s fitting that Dune would become the subject of its own comic book adaptation. In the following email interview, the artists working on this visual version — Patricia Martín and Raúl Allén— discuss the second book of three, Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib (hardcover, Kindle).
Patricia Martín (Photo Credit: Raúl Allén), Raúl Allén (Photo Credit: Victor Alonso)
Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib is the second book of three in your retelling of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel. What part of the story does Muad’Dib cover?
Patricia: We start with Jessica and Paul stranded in the desert and their first interactions with the fremen as equals up until they become a central part of their culture, taking on key roles in the future of Arrakis.
When you first started working on this adaptation, did you design all of the characters, ships, and other things you were going to need first, or have you been designing things as they’ve come up?
Raúl: The world of Dune is so vast it would have been impossible to design everything at the beginning, but the work we did on the first book has served as a solid foundation for all the new designs that appear in the second book. But in the same way Paul is discovering who he is and his powers, we wanted to incorporate that same sense of wonder in how the world of Dune is presented throughout every aspect of the page.
Patricia: I try to emphasize this idea of discovery and strength using all the tools the language of comics allows me; such as the page layout taking into account the gutters as another active element of design. For that I used black, white and red gutters to communicate different scenes or emotions.
In the interview we did for Book 1, you said that, for research, you not only reread the original novel, but you also looked at other adaptations of Dune, such as Moebius’ designs for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unfinished movie. What Dune stuff had the biggest influence on what you did in Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib?
Raúl: Once things were established in the first book, the process became less permeable to exterior influences. We followed the basis established on book one in order to give more continuity and listened to what the story and the script asked for and organically incorporated variations.
You also said in that interview that you had finished the first chapter when the images and trailer for the Dune movie came out. When in relation to the movie being released did you draw the pages of Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib?
Patricia: We had finished half of Muad’Dib when the movie came out. But the whole book was laid out from the start and we had all the scenes roughly designed by then, so the movie didn’t influence this book.
The scene of Paul and Jessica running through a tunnel with top lights in the movie has a very different approach in the graphic novel, and it’s one of the best examples of how different the two mediums are. The layout of the page became the architecture in the scene, and the panel shapes took on specific configurations to follow both the story narrative and the structure of the background.
Raúl: You can make any panel look cinematic, but ultimately the page layout is what sets the rhythm and the pacing of the story. What appears on each individual panel follows that hierarchy to serve the plot.
Dune has, of course, inspired a lot of sci-fi movies, TV shows, games, and books. But to flip things around, is there anything in Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib that was inspired by something not Dune related?
Raúl: We took a lot of things from nature; our planet has plenty of alien landscapes on its own, you just have to put your own twist on them.
Patricia: From the Grand Canyon to Michelangelo’s Pietà and everything in between, we find inspiration everywhere.
In doing research for this interview, I went to your websites, and looked at your art. And while there are some similarities between your work, you each have your own style. How often, when drawing Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib, was it obvious who should do what? Like, Raúl, how often was something clearly more of a Patricia thing, and how often was it more of a “you” thing?
Patricia: The book is drawn on Raúl’s style, but I set the narrative in the panel layout, the color palettes and the lettering. So the look of our books is a combination of both our inputs.
Also, Jesús R. Pastrana is our returning collaborator on this book, and he has contributed greatly to the backgrounds and the overall aesthetic of the book.
Raúl: He has a tremendous epic sense that adds so much to our own sensibilities. He has not only a great attention to detail but a great sense of scale and a shared love for Dune. He is an integral part of the process.
Also assisting on color duties we had Monica Jaspe Garfia, who helped a lot with the color rendering. While she played a smaller part in the first book, her contribution grew much larger on this one.
Patricia: Ultimately, it’s a team effort, and the book is better because of it.
Speaking of other people, the text in Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib was done by Brian Herbert, who is Frank’s son and the author of a number of Dune books himself, and Kevin J. Anderson, who has co-written more than a dozen Dune books with Brian. Did you ever consult with them on how things would look in Muad’Dib?
Both: Both Brian and Kevin trust us to bring in our vision into the process. That allows us to have more freedom in order to play with the medium.
So how often, since you started working on Dune, The Graphic Novel, have you gone out to eat and been like, “Okay, let’s not to talk about work,” but then you end up talking about work anyway?
Raúl: The spice must flow. Whenever we are involved in a project, it is oh so very hard not to let it permeate into our everyday life…
Finally, if someone enjoys Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib — and they’ve presumably already read Dune, The Graphic Novel, Book 1 — what graphic novels that are original stories and not retellings of classic novels would you suggest they read while waiting for Book 3?
Raúl: These might be on different tone and genre to Dune, but they are certainly great books. Some recommendations: Totem by Laura Perez; The Nice House On The Lake by James Tynion VI, Alvaro Martinez and Jordie Bellaire; and A Gift For A Ghost by Borja Gonzalez.