Moebius' concept sketches for Duke Leto Atreides, Sardaukar soldier. More here.
So I'm poking around his wikipedia article when I find this:
In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights to Dune from Arthur P. Jacobs. Jodorowsky was set to direct. In 1975, Jodorowsky planned to film the story as a ten hour feature, in collaboration with Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Alain Delon, Hervé Villechaize and Mick Jagger. The music would be composed by Pink Floyd, Magma, Henry Cow and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, a British artist who designed covers for science fiction periodicals, Jean Giraud (Moebius), a French illustrator who created and also wrote and drew for Metal Hurlant magazine, and H. R. Giger. Moebius began designing creatures and characters for the film, while Foss was brought in to design the film's space ships and hardware. Giger began designing the Harkonnen Castle based on Moebius' storyboards, and Dali was cast as the Emperor with a reported salary of $100,000 an hour. His son Brontis Jodorowsky was to play Paul. Dan O'Bannon was to head the special effects department.
Dali and Jodorowsky began quarreling over money, and just as the storyboards, designs, and script were finished, the financial backing dried up. Frank Herbert travelled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production, and that Jodorowsky's script would result in a 14-hour movie ("It was the size of a phonebook", Herbert later recalled). Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship.
I believe "holy awesome bat-shit" is the correct expression. The tale only gets stranger from there.
The '70s was, if you'll remember, the era of the auteur in film. Studio execs were suddenly willing to shell out millions for unique psychedelic visions and what was once outre cinema was given more mainstream credibility than ever.
That led, of course, to a golden age of cinema, of which Jodorowsky was an important part. It also ended, and the tale of this abortive Dune project is a good example of why. Read this translated excerpt from Jodorowsky's account of the project's fate and the impression one receives is a combination of stunning vision and insane hubris all rolled into one.
"I did not want to respect the novel, I wanted to recreate it," he declares at the beginning, before going on to proclaim that Dune didn't really belong to Herbert because the author had received it from the collective unconscious, space-god style.
So Jodorowsky was going to take some liberties, from having Duke Leto being "a man castrated in ritual combat in the arenas during a bullfight" to Dali's Emperor drifting around the cosmos in a golden palace "built according to not-laws of antilogical" on a golden planet with a robot twin. Brontis Jodorowsky would play Paul Atreides in part because, his father claimed, his son had been trained in knife-fighting from the age of nine. A Latin American expert in guerilla warfare would advise the production.
It takes a lot to make a David Lynch production (as Dune would finally become in 1984) look downright normal by comparison.
And that's before we get into God's endorsement of the project or Jodorowsky's poetry describing space-faring craft ("I want whore-ships driven/ By the sperm of passionate ejaculations")
That's vision unleashed, all right, and looking over Moebius and Giger's sketches, it's easy to see the appeal: there's some great stuff here. But the movie would also have ended up 14-hours long, and could easily have descended into fiasco. Limits can, and do, destroy good art, but they can also compel a certain discipline and help to curb insanity.
In the end, Jodorowsky declared he learned how to fail from the experience and the younger artists among the who's who of weird royalty assembled for the project went on to do some amazing work. His Icarus-like attempt at Dune provides an object lesson in the beauty — and perils — of utterly uncompromising vision.