I’ve always been a big fan of Denis Villeneuve’s films, and equally of Hans Zimmer’s industrial sounds and scores, from his work with Christopher Nolan, thru the epic Blade Runner 2049, through this new soundtrack for Denis’ DUNE PART TWO. There’s something especially focused and determined about this film and its music that made the opportunity to work on it another pure delight. The LP scene, in particular the soundtrack arena has exploded over the past few years and I’ve been largely doing work ion that medium. There’s something about designing and illustrating a physical object that takes the experience into a whole new realm that I love. It offers more room for a narrative experience, too. Considering how you open and interact with the piece, when and how you see the art and in what order can be all manipulated by how the thing opens and reveals itself. Definitely harkens back to my narrative addiction and comics/childrens picture books in the way it tells it’s own story as a companion to the music’s narrative alignment in a way I really get excited. With DUNE PART TWO it was about the extreme intimacies and the vast expanse of the world they inhabit, to enter the piece with this in mind so you end up unfolding it to reveal this massive 48″ wide panorama battle scene hiding in the interior gatefold. Needless to say, a deep and lasting honor to get to work on something so personally meaningful and with partners so deeply obsessed with getting it right.

So, how did this all come together? Well in many ways by the grace of good luck and catastrophe. When Mondo’s midnight massacre event unfolded a year ago, and the entire core staff and colleagues I’d been working with for years there had all been either sacked or were leaving in the mass exodus that followed, one of the many projects left homeless was this impending one. I had no idea where anyone would end up, or how and really as much as the ex-mondo founders were in the early days of figuring the next steps, Dune 2’s expected Fall release, following in its predecessor’s footsteps, seemed too soon to know what would happen- if anything. A lot of the exiles had started working on projects outside of the old Mondoverse under the umbrella of a few of their old competitors or followed friends to new locations. We had done so much and been so greatly brought under the wing od Denis and Hans in the process of making the first two LP releases of the music, both the initial DUNE SKETCHBOOKS and then the ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK, it was breaking my heart a little during that summer to think about losing that momentum. But happily Mutant began forming around early Fall and DUNE TWO took a delay to be released in early 2024 instead. A perfect combination of timing that allowed the entire team, minus the most excellent Rob Jones (who has gone on to rule over Vinyl Me Please as its creative director), to return in full for the project. Watertower Records were a tremendous part of making sure we reassembled on this. and like all follow up projects, it was time to be loyal to the themes we had established in the last work, and leap forward to outstrip it as much as we could.

Of the two films, this one always promised to be the most actionable and cinematically exciting. We were going to get to five in more deeply into characters we had merely brushed against before, and nfurther enhance the look and source material with new settings and new characters too. It seemed obvious to connect this new project with the previous OST, which mean that super pricey, but deliciously substantive rigid plastic sleeve with the swirl and my own reconfigured DUNE logo on front. I had originall decided on using the water of life, a blurring blue swirl of water to note the combined import of it in both Jessica’s and Paul’s intake of it that solidified their roles int he story, but it was decided that affect might serve the third LP soundtrack better so all the water of life aspects were shelved in lieu of spending more time on the Harkonens and the festival celebration on Geidi Prime- specifically the weird milky colorless fireworks that exploded over the city as Feyd battled the drugged and ragged captured remnants of the Atreides Honor Guard in the arena. I always intended on giving the back of the package a proper portrait of the lil mud’dib kangaroo mouse that became the quiet through line in to this film and Paul’s publicly tribal namesake.

The rest was a different sort of puzzle. Back in November when we were locked and off to the races and I had also begun another LP project with Mutant alongside my old Mondo comrades, Spencer Hickman and Mo Shafeek with Mitch Putnam and Eric Garza running the poster side of things, the first thing I tackled was also the biggest thing. It would be come the literally largest piece of art physically I have ever created as well as the most complex. And it fast became clear there was no way I was going to be able to make this in a single fell stroke piece like I usually do. We were still way early on but close enough to the launch date of the film where this time, we could actually release it in conjunction with the premiere. A coup we could not manage the last time. But it did put a hard clock on things and alongside that chasing coyote, a need to be flexible as things changed along the way. We had to simply hit the road, running, but also were going to be lacking almost any material that could help us do something completely unique to what was expected to be an absolute avalanche of DUNE 2 posters and art that would certainly flood the spring launch. Hans was still fiddling with the soundtrack, Legendary was being even more hush hush about the film, and was only allowing for secure screenings in faraday caged theaters by special appointment- not a great way to gather inspiration for a project both this big and this humongously public and important as this. But sometimes you have to do the work with whatever little you have. It made doing this first piece both a little bit harrowing and a little bit freeing.

I grew up with these books and have read the core series a dozen times at least by now, so featuring the attack on the Emperor’s camp and the nuking of the Shield Wall that protected it a clear choice. We had gotten some VERY preliminary peeks at sandriders, the equipment and still-suit designs, but most of ti was still going to be a lot of guesswork. That would still need to mesh seamlessly with the film no one had scene and the music no one had gotten a listen to yet. Flying blind doesn’t come close to it.


One thing that sparked me forward was remembering a secret little love I had for this gigantic old oil painting Admiral Adama kept in his quarters on Ron Moore’s revamped Battelstar Galactica. I always loved this painting and the idea behind it. This heroic Caravaggio styled depiction of the the decisive battle that sealed the fate of the first Cylon Wars as an ancient historical object remebering an event in our future always struck me as a kind of brilliant piece of world building. It also helped me out of a jam by bringing an inherent translation of the thew moment that didn’t require actually being there to express. I didn’t need to see the filmed battle Denis had put together to do it- I just needed to express the same moment interpretively. If there were going to be style conflicts later on, then that could be tweaked.


The first thing was considering a point of view. I’ve always looked to this as a continual side effect of growing up on too many movies and tv, and something I’d bring into comics repeatedly later: where are we seeing this from, and by whom? It struck me to create this whole imaginary story around one of the Feydakin Warriors was a kind of historian or artist int he tribe, who was there to tell the tale. That this piece would, like Adama’s painting be an illustration of this major historical moment as told be someone who’d survived it. So I imagined the entire thing being a kind of quick passing glimpse of one of the wormriders’ POV as he took a moment to look to his left and take in this moment of impact. Thopters firing rockets as incoming fire from the surface exploded up and against the monstrously large sand worms as they thrust from the dunes to crash down upon the Sardaukaer troops and fortifications, Fremen cheering and waving battle flags like wooden warships on the oceans of the past. It was going to be a LOT and I wasn’t sure how to build it and what it would want to look like. I was also going to have to format it from this excessively long narrow 48″ x 12″ framing to something more squished for the poster release, which meant either having to make two of these or do a massive amount of cutting and pasting to bring things in to satisfy both the drastically different formats. The only way I could think to do it was to shatter it into a million little sub drawings, scan them all in separately and build the piece entirely in Photoshop. With a computer that was actively out of date, dying along with the scanner I had been using for over a decade. (thus the panicked computer/scanner please for advice a few months ago on FB).

Was this the best way to do it? I would have to say it was this time, but I’m not sure I’d want to repeat it. What time it may have saved in not having to redraw and paint this endlessly, and it truly did offer almost infinite compositional freedom, it cost as much at least in pure tedium. I’m an old school type who prefers to draw than click or wand a drawing on a computer. So while each of these elements were all drawn on paper…. the Emperor’s ship/palace, each of the four depicted sandworms, each individual fremen rider, thopter, explosion, sand burst, and clouds blackening the sky from all the violence and fire below, the piece itself as a whole thing never actually existed save for the copies of itself that would come. Which I always kind of like as a conceptual art idea, especially for a guy whole digs on original pieces of art. In the end it took three months of fiddling tweaking reversing and rebuilding from scratch. A lot of redraws came in and as we began int he final days before press and new assets from the film finally began to arrive, last minute redraws and scrambling too. In the end it came together as you see, a kind of compositionally staid piece for an action sequence, but I wanted to push against all my usual comics action tricks and make it more formal and fixed. a restored memory of a moment caught in a glimpse by one who was there, illustrated for Gurney’s office back on Caladan…

After this giant piece got all the juices going all over, we got down to the business of the rest of the LP. Which also changed a lot from 4 LPs to 3 then back to four and finally to 2. Much of the reason for the 4x LP package reflects that we did most of the work for this despite it being just two in the end was that we had made all this art for it assuming a larger scale, but I think it was Spencer who advocated for it in the end so that the big battle spread of the interior gatefold image above could land with the largest possible impact. Why I love working with these lunatics- art always leads the way except when practicality insists it cannot. (We may not get to the nines like we always dream at the beginning of a project, but we’ve gotten closer than most and more often than I could ever complain about).

I confess I was a bit worried doing another set of portraits- I have been doing this for a lot of projects and I always get the nervous wibblys when I do the same thing to many times in a row… but we wanted to make this a seamless companion ot the previous Mondo release of the OST, and the presumed Messiah OST to come. It’s one of the burdens and the weird delights of getting to do a series… planning to house them together or make of them a family to each other like we did with Westworld’s LP soundtrack set. Everyone wanted the portraits anyway and we still had not yet seen the film so it made sense. That said we then had to figure out who to show… which is always less than who I’d want to draw, but aside from the obvious inclusion of Paul, Jessica and Chani- Chani especially as this was her film almost as much as anyone’s- sussing out the others was tricky.

Feyd was one of the  more immediate ideas, carrying through the milky black oil from RABBAN’s portrait in the previuous release. In DUNE 2 we get to really see Geidi Prime in a way we’ve never seen before- the black low spectrum sun and the utter sponging away of all the color of that world in the anemic light from it is a marvelous thing to see. Austin Butler’s distinct features laid bare by his shaved from made this kind of inverse cutout thing I do from time to time, an interesting reversal. If I can get away with black and white at any moment, I tend to take it.

Sometimes it’s about the character int he film, and sometimes it gets sprinkled with a little bit of the actors playing them as a metric. And again planning forward. We never saw the Emperor in the first film and we’re likely never to see him again after the second so Shaddam had to be there. Irulan was an easy one too, not just because they were clearly marketing FLorence Pugh’s, participation in the movie, but also because she is such an integral part of the events of the third installment. ALia was a mystery they wanted to be kept secret and that’s fine too, because Messiah is her story. We hadn’t gotten Stilgar in to the last one and he would be a big part of Paul’s training and meshing into the whole Lisan al Gaib legend amongst the Fremen… and then of course there’s Feyd. When you’re on the second string of a series these kinds of editoriaal choices get easier both from the pressures around the material, and having already used some o fthose assets, but also because I’m more in the groove of the thing and can dj the art collection together more coherently. It’s not just about m,aking the right individual choices, but also about making sure it all hangs together as a solid unified organism. Opening one of our LPs is by design an act of participating in storytelling, so how you open it, who and what you see first then second and so on…. all of this becomes part of the planning in building the whole package out. And they also need to pop against each other Feyd’s black field against Irulan’s light, or Jessica’s red tones and Stilagr’s stark almost colorless portrait, etc… A lot of balls to juggle, but once that’s settled it’s down to the drawing part. My favorite part.  (Except for all the damned beadwork on both Irulan’s and ESPECIALLY Jessica’s Sayyadina garb. I swear to go if I never see another bead again… ).

The golf leaf which has become a recent obsession of mine came into play for the portraits our two Corrions, Shaddam and Irulan- but this time to denote the gilded wealth in collapse, the flakes unset and drifting apart like dried leaves. Like when I made my own spice/sand blend for the pet sleeve cover to DUNE PART ONE’s original soundtrack, I emptied the jars of leftover gold leaf on a large black sheet and photographed it in randome bits, maybe thirty different photos in all, to drop in over the images once they were settled. Irulan’s being more warm and glowing and Shaddams, anemic, bleached and ragged.

Another hurdle in this process is the dread actor likeness approvals. This is always a tricky thing with these projects and where the road bumps will be if you’ve managed to navigate all the others going in. And big supserstar casts likes this are of the the WORST. That said it went like a breeze for the most part. We managed to have only one hitch in our stride and after a couple of high anxiety scramble weeks of work and back and forths, managed to settle that and keep to our press deadline. Which in the end is of the most primary need. Respect your deadlines kids, or it’s your career that will be dead.

STILGAR was a a secret response to the FEYD drawing, as proper white cutout approach so it was as if he were peeking through the veil of his world. I had elements I’d drawn for the first Dune work such as the moons and some desert images I could cannibalize for this one.

All in all I think we pulled it off. I honestly can’t even say at this stage as I still haven’t had enough distance to gain any kind of perspective from this, and we’re gearing up for the very limited oversized print release of the interior battle sequence, another dream come true (thank you Mitch and Eric!). DUNE has and will always be the cornerstone of my favorite stories. It was the first book I ever bought with my own money at the Scholastic Book fair at Briargrove Elementary in Houston, Texas in the 70’s, and the only book I have reread so consistently and religiously. As much as I love David Lynch’s film seeing Denis bring his own flair to this marvelous story with his astonishing sense of scope and intimacy and place has been a true delight. To get to work alongside it on companion projects like this even more so. It feels like being on the front lines of a major cultural moment and a private secret joy all at once. A lot of pressure a lot of stress and even more work, but a true gift and delight in the end to be pulling it off as best as we could with my friends and coworkers, now fully Mutants the lot of them, as we ride the worm forward into the future. It’s great to be back, to herald this terrific new publisher from Elijah Wood’s SPECTREVISION production company, and to be able to plan for what’s next. I hope you all got out to see the film, and hope even more that you will support Mutant in its new baby steps into the Imperium too. I’ve seen it a couple of times now myself, and as per the usual with Denis’ films, it gets better with each new viewing. The details and delicate decisions and narrative changes unfold in a way I never seem to get on the first go.

You can get the DUNE PART TWO original motion picture soundtrack on both LP and CD formats at the MUTANT shop, HERE:


To grab ahold of the DUNE SKETCHBOOKS & the original motion picture soundtrack for DUNE PART ONE, as well as the CD edition which collects them both, please point your Navigators to HERE: