V is for Vladimir Harkonnen

I’ve had this guy in mind for “V” since the very beginning…

V is for Vladimir Harkonnen – from Dune by Frank Herbert

I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out; I think it’s one of my stronger AlphaBooks drawings. I did the initial sketch for this one right after Ahab (I was considering “B is for Baron…” but decided that wasn’t legit) and it seems like I was doing a better job of really pushing myself in the character design department earlier in the project. Maybe I can salvage a bit of that for these last few letters.

I first read Dune as a young whippersnapper–a few years before the David Lynch film version came out–so my mental images of the characters were in place before the now-pervasive film-based ones had settled in. Baron Harkonnen is a telling example of just how influential the look of the David Lynch Dune is: if you do an image search for “Baron Harkonnen” pretty much every image of him will have red hair. I’m pretty sure, though, that this is never mentioned in the book and is something that’s just become “canon” after the red-headed Kenneth McMillan version from the film.

The David Lynch film adaptation has a sort of “beautiful disaster” appeal to it, but honestly none of the visual adaptations have matched the look of the novel in my brain. The combination of the houses/royalty bit and the vaguely mid-eastern motifs from Arrakis give me the impression of 19th century Orientalism, and that’s the look I went for here.

The coolest Dune visuals I’ve seen are these amazing character designs by Moebius for the Alejandro Jodorowsky film version of the book that never got made. Even they’re a little bit too superhero-ish in places, but they’ve definitely got the feel of courtesans, of ornateness. Here’s the Moebius version of the Baron:

Next week: “W”…

You can find all the AlphaBooks entries to-date at the AlphaBooks tumblr: http://alphabooks.tumblr.com. You can also follow many of the entries as they’re posted in real-time by following the #AlphaBooks hashtag on Twitter on Mondays.

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