Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune

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 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:

42 Responses to “Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune”

  1. Scott Spencer Says:


  2. Meredith Yayanos Says:

  3. Larissa Says:

    Great stuff. I’ve got the Labyrinth (with David Bowie) versions of those children’s activity books and there’s some pretty priceless images involving abnormally tight pants and slightly uncomfortable subtitles.

  4. David Forbes Says:

    This is real? Oh my god, this is real. In my dreams, Herbert is calling up Lynch in the middle of the night and shouting “Ok, whatever you do with this movie, make sure there’s a kid’s coloring book, ya hear me? And don’t skimp on the really crazy parts. It’ll be good for ’em, builds character.”

    Thank you, Mer, this post made my night. Thank you for giving the Dune All Tomorrows a shout-out too.

    Also, I know I should stop starting at stillsuit pin-up Kyle McLachlan, but I just can’t. Mmmf.

  5. Christopher Jon Says:

    This is beyond awesome. Way beyond!

  6. Peter S. Says:

    I believe my brain just melted.

  7. Cass Says:

    Oh Mer, this is BEYOND AMAZING. I can’t imagine what this would have done to my tiny brain had I seen these as kid. Really goes way beyond “What Is This I Don’t Even” by a few orders of magnitude.

  8. JJ Says:

    OMFG I love Dune. I am now in a desperate search on Amazon and EBay to find all of these things.

    And more.

  9. Paul Komoda Says:

    THANKS so goddamn much for unearthing these treasures!

    It might be my mission to make those No-Bake Spice Cookies in the near future.

  10. dr.hypercube Says:

    Day = made. More fun than a box full of pain! I may even try to make the spice cookies.

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  12. Arvin Says:

    How is it at all surprising that the children’s activity book for a DAVID LYNCH MOVIE are bat shit crazy? (ps- I had them all as a kid )

  13. Cat Vincent Says:

    I have the Dune pop-up book…

  14. alumiere Says:

    Having met Jennifer Lynch, and listening to her stories about curling up asleep in the cable reels and on-set during work on some of his films, I wouldn’t be surprised if her dad had something to do with this.

    His granddaughter also seems to have inherited the family’s surreal attitudes; and probably had these books by age 2 or 3. When I met her at 8ish, she was being run over by a car repeatedly for a short film, and man was older than her years. Smart and adorable, but she knew exactly what she was doing, and there was a diva just waiting to come out.

  15. Shay Says:

    BEST POST EVER. omg, what the hellllllllllll

  16. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    Very glad you’re all enjoying these as much as I have. My generation’s love for all things Lynch is vast and mighty and multifaceted… and this series is definitely one of the strangest, unexpectedly delightful facets of all.

    @Cat Seriously? Oh man, the Pop Up Book is the only one I DON’T have. Post some photos, pretty please?

  17. The ‘Dune’ Movie Tie-In Activity Books | Geeks of Doom Says:

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  18. Sam Says:

    Do we really need more proof that Dune is the best Sci-Fi thing ever, on all levels?

    Of course we do. printing these out and coloring, asap.

  19. Convergence » links for 2011-03-03 Says:

    […] Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune (tags: Dune children inappropriate books humor scifi) […]

  20. Maggie Says:

    As much as I love Dune, and I really do, I feel like I have to show some love to the internet right now. Without it, I might have missed out on this. Thank jeebus Al Gore went and invented it for us.

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  23. Jim Says:

    This is great- thanks for sharing! I sincerely hope one of the activity books has an origami box you can tear out and fold up, so you can ask your friends to stick their hand in it and get tested.

  24. Mindy Says:

    I’ve got both the Coloring & Activity book (it has a red cover) and the Activity Book (purple)… I remember I bought them at a Toys R Us in 1988 or so for 20¢ a piece (I think). I do love how they both proclaim that they are “Based on the Spectacular Movie”.

  25. Gail Says:

    I think my head just exploded.

  26. the ninja Says:

    To be fair, they’re not so far off from Star Wars and Star Trek activity books. Except for the narcotics. And the phalluses. And the Machiavellan overtones of subterfuge, betrayal and copious quantities of stabby fun.

    Which were what made Dune that much more absorbing in the first place, I suppose.

    (side note: the Baron’s doctor’s face looks disturbingly disjointed from the rest of his head)

  27. Anonymous Says:

    This makes me happy, yet sad that I never had them. I was born after this – even had to watch Star Trek in VHS. Those were dark times . . .

  28. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    Jason Michelitch is talking about the Dune Activity Books over at Comics Alliance, and his write-up provides a lot more context:

    Basically, he posits that the circumstances that lead to this series being made can all be boiled down to: UNIVERZAL STUDIOZ CAN HAZ STAR WURZ?! Which… I dunno, does that make their existence more or less disturbing? You decide.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jason!

  29. Joel Says:

    omg! high resolution scans, please! i am hosting a dune book club next week and i want to give everyone a coloring page!

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  31. Chieftobique Says:

    I had these coloring/activity books when i was a kid. it sure beat coloring disney and warner all the time. i wish someone had read the books to me when iw as 8-12 yrs old. :D

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  34. Domino Writing Says:

    I have the movie story book (the kiddie “novelization”). Found it years ago at the local Big Lots. Funny thing is, if I was trying to explain the Dune universe to someone, I wouldn’t give them the novel or either movie – I’d hand over my story book (but I’d be sure to get it back).

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  38. blogTHOUSAND! › links for 2011-06-08 Says:

    […] Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune 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. (tags: dune merchandise movies) This was written by 5000!. Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at 12:01 pm. Filed under misc. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment. […]

  39. Gary B Says:

    ;d love to see someone try to sell a set of these on PAWN STARS.

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