In light of the charming Goodnight Dune children’s book that’s making the rounds online right now, today seems like a great time to share some treasures from my personal stash of weird, random, off-color, No-Seriously-WTF-Were-They-Thinking movie franchise ephemera.
These, for your delectation, are scans and photos of various pages from the astoundingly age-inappropriate Dune activity book series, published in 1984 to promote David Lynch’s movie adaptation of the classic Frank Herbert novel, produced by Universal Studios.
You know, FOR KIDS:
Yes, that’s a coloring page of Dr. Yueh preparing to assassinate Duke Leto with a dartgun. And up at the top there, that’s a floppy, diseased sex organ-reminiscent Guild Navigator, presented a-la la la “Connect the Dots”.
And here’s another cheerful coloring page of the fresh corpses of Duke Leto and Piter:
Heeeeee! Who the frak was in charge of marketing? More to the point, what kind of Melange were they smokin’ during the merch meeting, when it was decided that producing this series of vengeful activity books for a K-through-8 demographic made good business sense?
Well, whoever they were, Coilhouse salutes them.
Explore the childlike wonderment murder, intrigue, suppurating boils, phallic symbolism and knifeplay after the jump.
A quick rundown of the various editions of the series– first, there’s the Dune Coloring Book, 44 pages of lurid scenes featuring conspiratorial characters from the film. Then there’s the Dune Activity Book. 60 pages of puzzles and games, mazes and more pictures for coloring. Plus! This recipe for “No-Bake Spice Cookies” (arguably the most wholesome thing in this entire series):
(That’d be cinnamon, kids, not the wacky awareness spectrum narcotic that controls the universe. And don’t forget to ask your parents to melt the butter FOR you!)
Next, there’s Dune Coloring and Activity Book. (Sensing some repetition? It’s okay. Just walk without rhythm and it won’t attract the worm.) 48 pages of foreboding, messianic FUN. One particularly sinister detail: the answer to a puzzle intended for a 4th or 5th grade level reader is “They tried to take the life of my son!”)
But wait, there’s MORE. Dune Puzzles, Games, Mazes, Activities. 48 pages. Weigh the Big Baron!
I think that’s also the one with a coloring page for the Baron’s weeping pustules, but don’t hold me to it… the books all start to blur together in one’s mind after a while:
[EDIT: Ah, wait. Actually, it’s from the coloring book.] “Put the pick in there, Pete, and turn it round real neat. … You are so beautiful, my Baron. Your skin — love to me. Your diseases — lovingly scribbled on for all eternity!”
And finally, the Dune Cut-Out Activity Book. This one is arguably the most interesting, well-developed and challenging of the series. It includes cut-out paper models, puppets and designs of the Ornithopter, a Fremen sound gun, a Saduakar militant mask, “Paul Rides The Sandworm”, a desert scene with cliffs, dunes and an army battalion, the Emperor’s spaceship, Desert backdrop with sand dunes, rock cliffs, and a sandworm army, and several paper dolls of Dune‘s main characters.
A few more odds n’ ends from the various volumes (apologies, by the way, for the crappy photos, I don’t have a light kit or a particularly great camera):
(Wow. Now THERE’S a line that definitely belonged on the cutting room floor.)
And that’s just the tip of the Shai-Hulud. If you want to see more, you can still find most of these volumes for sale on Amazon and Ebay for around ten bucks each. [EDIT: Here’s a Google search result that includes plenty more of the less actively odd illustrations, as well as hilarious collage art assembled from various pages. And check out Dunestuff for more eyebrow-raising merchandise. (Long ago when I first started researching this stuff, I found some of the better high res scans and amusing item details over there, cheers!)]
I’ve often imagined what I’d have thought of this stuff, had I discovered it back when the books were first published (and when, in fact, I was a part of their intended demographic) as opposed to stumbling across one of them years later, in college, on a shelf in a dingy dollar store in rural upstate New York. To be fair, I think I would have loved them. What about you? Yes, no?
If no, here’s a taste of some slightly more mature, sophisticated fare to cleanse your palate: