The Dune Coloring & Activity Books: When David Lynch’s 1984 Film Created Countless Hours of Peculiar Fun for Kids

David Lynch’s Dune, the $40 million cinematic spectacle based on Frank Herbert’s science-fiction epic, faced more than its fair share of challenges: Lynch’s lack of artistic control, elaborate but not quite successful special effects, source material so unsuited to feature-film adaptation that audiences had to read glossaries before the first screenings. In an attempt to get ahead of bad buzz, the massive advertising and merchandising blitz had begun well before the movie’s Christmas 1984 release, but none of its flaks seemed to understand the enterprise of Dune any better than most of those viewers did.

Case in point: the Dune coloring and activity books, evidence that, as Comics Alliance’s Jason Michelitch writes, “what Universal Pictures wanted was a Star Wars of their very own — a whiz-bang space adventure for eight-year-olds that they could merchandise the heck out of to the wide-eyed kids that just a year previous had wheedled their parents into buying plush ewok dolls and toy lightsabers. Instead, Lynch and producer Dino De Laurentis provided them with a dark epic actually fit for consumption by thinking adults. Imagine their chagrin.”

Meredith Yanos at Coilhouse offers a more detailed writeup of the hours of fun on offer in these tonally bizarre books: “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,” including a recipe for “No-Bake Spice Cookies” that substitutes common cinnamon for Dune‘s Spice, a  “wacky awareness spectrum narcotic that controls the universe.” Other volumes contain Dune-themed paper dolls, Dune-themed word puzzles, and even Dune-themed math problems.

Though Dune remains primarily remembered as one of the worst flops in cinema history (and even Lynch himself usually refuses to discuss it), a few fans have also come to its defense over the past 32 years. Some of them have no doubt wanted to pass this revisionist appreciation down to their children, a task the Dune coloring and activity books may (or may not) make easier. If you buy them on Amazon, you’ll have to pay between $45 and $75 each — nothing compared to the cost of anything in the actual production of Dune, of course, but still, you may want to keep an eye on eBay instead.

Related Content:

The Glossary Universal Studios Gave Out to the First Audiences of David Lynch’s Dune (1984)

The 14-Hour Epic Film, Dune, That Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pink Floyd, Salvador Dalí, Moebius, Orson Welles & Mick Jagger Never Made

Howard Johnson’s Presents a Children’s Menu Featuring Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: The Met, New York Public Library, Smithsonian & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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  • Karen says:

    These books should have been made into a spectacular three part movie. I still believe with the right writers and director and backing it can happen. It needs a Steven Spielberg director.

  • Mabuse Mtz says:

    Dennis Villanueve,director of the new Blade Runner 2049,is set to direct a new DUNE film very soon.

  • jin says:

    And it is cast with the stupidest cast of actors ever assembled. Blade Runner memberberries was one of the worst films ever made, utter garbage.

  • Gin says:

    Please try to quantify or otherwide justify that messy pile of words, for they just sit there on the screen in a messy pile of angry little bitty words of directionless hate; all smelly and grossly offensive and my sympathies to the first person that comes along and sees….THIS. I mean, REALLY. it’s like you pulled your car over on a remote highway, left the engine running, opened the door, stepped out, pilled down your pants and squatted, forcing out these words that never had a chance, left to die by the thoughtless whore that gave birth to them and got back in and drove off, leaving this, this unceremonious dumping of nastiness that I wouldn’t want stinking up my car either. But you could at least have the decency to own up to this abusive and scatological squandering of language. The least you could do is bury this celebration of death so it doesn’t spread your toxic contagion.

    And there’s no evidence anywhere here that you even made an effort to have least wiped afterward, no towelettes baby wipes or even dollar bills. And don’t try to convince me you used a bidet, nobody who would defecate words like these could understand anything that comes close to the deeper concepts og hygenic living. You alimentary philistine.

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