It’s a well known thing I’m a big Dune person. Herbert’s book was the first book I ever bought for myself at the Scholastic Book Fair when I was a kid, and has been my core nearest and dearest set of novels ever since. I spent my 14th birthday at the Friday release of David Lynch’s film and when I heard Denis Villeneuve was going to take a stab at it, I made it an obsessive mission to work on it anyway I could. At the time, the Mutant team (mo, Mitch, Eric and Spencer) was over at Mondo and were and continue to be amazing partners in making that dream come true. Now, four LP soundtracks, 2 CD collections and a metric ton of original art created, we are hear at this massive undertaking depicting one of the story’s most iconic epicenters in its entire history: The Battle of Arrakeen and the fall of House Corrino who had ruled over the galactic emperium since the Butlerian Jihad, 10, ooo years earlier.

I will fully admit going into this as steeped as I am in Dune lore, and the films by Denis, I was pooping all the pants. It felt too important and too consequential for me personally. ALL eyes were on this film and whether Denis and the rest could stick the landing and all the expectations and pressure built from our first outing with the DUNE OST and the DUNE SKETCHBOOKS meant I had to make this thing the pinnacle of all we’d worked on so far. TERRIBLE way to go into a project creatively. It really seizes up the mind with a screaming horde of second guessing pre-editorial jabbering in my head. It is the kind of circumstance that proves the point that it’s no gift to be given a too massive opportunity like this too young in your career. Lucky for me I’m an old war horse at this stage so I was able to lean on the anti-panic tools that got me through working with Prince, Obama, and a dozen other major big timers and even that rascal Ethan Hawke and beyond. So I did the thing I learned myself to do: I gave myself permission to screw up five times before the real piece started. It’s a sort of trick to wrangle the expanding panic ball down, fence it in and give it a place to run amok, but not to run free. Typically the first or second try is or at least possesses the nuts to grow a great piece from. But also the last or fifth piece does too- born from the experience of the previous four. Whatever the cause or formula by that fifth piece a lot of the maddening inner panic has calmed, the canvas has been properly mussed and the machine of working is in gear.

And I’m not an action adventure artist like many of my peers. At least not by instinct. Comics taught me a lot about those compositional tricks and story energies, but for me it’s like foreign languages or color: I always have to relearn it every time I revisit. The piece I settle din to do was just WAY too massive and complex to know where to begin. SO I treated it like I do my comics: I broke it up into as many smaller drawings as I could so that I could scan them in and edit them all later in an arena of infinite freedom. I’d learned long ago just after my last full p[age of comics I ever did for The Matrix story, “A Path Among Stones” and the value of making your final piece for press, in photoshop to assure your values and print quality in the final outcome. This was after all, not a huge painting I intended for the gallery, but a thing for press to be printed in the thousands. It’s most present causality was to be a breathtaking expansive shock upon unfolding our 4x split DUNE PART 2 LP soundtrack. Plus I had never worked ona s ingle piece like this before and a new twist, while scary, was always a valuable chase to do when working on something important like this.

One of the things I went to early on for inspiration, was a little tidbit from the Battlestar Galactica reboot by Ron Moore. In this series, for just a brief moment, and then walked passed here and there for the rest of the series, there was this huge oil painting in Admiral Adama’s quarters on the ship. A huge old dark battle scene masterwork depicting the final struggle of the first Cylon War. There was something infinitely cool to me about having an old relic painting of a future event from my perspective as a viewer. I thought it was a brilliant way to world build too- something Tolkein mastered indelibly in his Lord of the Rings series. Seeing Frodo and the group pass by fallen statues from forgotten ages, and gettin glimpses of those times, the trolls stone frozen where Bilbo and Gandalf had been, stories walking across older stories the way cities were built upon the bones of old cities. I saw this as an opportunity to do something along those lines. And it’s what unlocked the whole piece for me in the end. This was a personal root to grow the tree from, a private connection that wouldn’t be readable by the viewer… but that was the answer for me. The idea of perspective and camera placement. Something I’ve always been a studious nerd of in Roman Polanski’s films and his genius for knowing exactly where to see a moment from for the sake of the viewer not just the director or people in the story. So that was the key- show this moment from the point of view of a unseen Fremen Feydakin riding across the final enscarpments of the ground before the Emperor’s palace, like she or he took a mental screenshot of a moment of glancing left to see what they were apart of before the plunge into violence. This way we ALL of us could be there individually playing a part in this moment that would alrter the course of human history in this world, forever. It melted all the anxiety away and from it grew a ferocious nerd-fueled thrill to do everything I could muster to convey that feeling. Like a hipshot picture during a plunge into a volcano of war.

Pieces like this are always an act of editing and reducing. There’s just WAY too much going on that CAN be included, but shouldn’t be for the sake of the piece in front of you. And while the first bits are always the most expansive, with days of back and forth throwing in new elements and scrapping old ones. Flipping it upside down and working on it that way, reversing the composition, etc… At the time I wasn;t sure if we’d make a poster for the film or even if this would be the image we’d use, so the main focus was on making this extremely, insanely long widescreen style vista image, roughly 48″ x 12″

It had to be built to allow for the folds and breaks into four separate sort of square pieces, and consider them as their own thing as much as the whole piece. When the notion of making THIS the poster, that presented some new challenges as well. This was way too long and skinny to even come close to fitting anything printable within reason. And it HAD to be this big landscape- the architecture of the piece was founded on that approach, so a normal 24×36″ screenprint was out of the question- even on it’s side. We’d have to lose too much of what made this work  to do that. a 70mm filmscape reduced to a 1980’s 12″ movie screen was not a possibility. And also no screen print. the details and delicate atmosphere was too important to lose to the comparatively large pixelations of the screenprint process.


SO… by both curse and blessing I set about moving the piece around to get down to a more suitable shape, losing about 20% of the width. Each cloud, every figure, all the streaks fo lazgun blasts and rocket trails, thopters, Fremen, worms and all the dust and flying dirty and explosions and flags and sand dunes, even the reflections in the emperor’s palace all made up of separate layers totally over 212 in a 8 gigabyte sized full scale piece. It took DAYS and DAYS to fiddle move sort and label everything into place. Simply cropping the piece wasn’t doable, the puzzle had to be rebuilt from scratch. And of course in doing so the piece became tighter and better. Eric Garza’s keen eye for my screw ups helped us snipe a dozen errors or bad fills and placement issues and in thee nd we had the better of all the versions before us. Lucky for me the LP had not yet gone to press so I ended up retconning that initial piece from the one it bore. and repeated much of the process in reverse again… I know I’m not a sane person to work like this. and I don’t reccommend it. it was tedious and horrible a lot of the time and frankly exhausting beyond words, months ands months in. I started it as the first piece for the LP in November and didn’t finish it completely until at least March. It was a LOT.

We went back and forth a bit over how to do this properly, we did some test prints of the potential piece on a beautiful rice paper type approach that Mu Pan used for his amazing Midsommar prints from Static Medium- the company who had also produced our amazing Twin Peaks series and I’ve worked with on many occasions since. But the rice paper just didn’t seem to capture it the way the colors sang out in the moab entrada paper. and the scale felt wrong. too small somehow… a little meh was the feeling I got when unrolling it. It needed to be BIG, but we were already pushing into weird boundaries with this shape and scale. In the end We came to land on a huge 48″ x 20″ piece on the moab paper. And let me tell you it couldn’t be more satisfying. This is what makes Mutant great, this willingness to flout the norms and conventions and make something artful and terrific in its own realm, regardless of the screenprint community we all came from, or the practical framing issues this might complicate. You build the museum around the art, not the other way round. Working with people who are willing to take these kinds of risks and not laugh me out of the room even if it was as I heard, “the greggiest of the greg ideas ever”… here we are!

As of this writing the posters go on sale in a few hours this Thursday, May 9, at 1 pm CMT HERE.

Whether it sold out or not by now at the posting of this article, you can still preorder the remaining few in stock of the DUNE PART 2 LP soundtrack that also houses this piece within its gatefold, HERE.