The Long Tomorrow (1976)
Les Humanoïdes Associés
21 x 27cm, 16 pages
Forged from the ashes of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealised dream of Dune (see Les Yeux Du Chat), was a meeting of creative minds between Jodorowsky, Moebius, Dan O’Bannon, Chris Foss and H.R. Giger that would have a far-reaching influence on the cinematic landscape of the future.
A notable example of this was a futuristic noir short story by Dune’s special effects artist Dan O’Bannon called The Long Tomorrow, who wrote and sketched it in a moment of ennui during downtime on pre-production of Dune and was then adapted into comic book form by Moebius for publication in Métal hurlant (Heavy Metal).
Set in a dystopian future The Long Tomorrow follows a day in the life of private detective Pete Club who receives a call from a dame called Dolly Vook Von Katterbar to retrieve a box containing “some personal effects” for her from a subway locker located on the disreputable 199th level. Whilst out collecting the box for Katterbar, Club soon attracts some unwanted attention and almost finds out the hard way to what lengths some would go to get the box and it’s mysterious contents but Club soon spies the perpetrator and goes on hot pursuit of his assailant. The Long Tomorrow feels like a film noir set in the future, written in the vein of a hardboiled crime fiction and would prove to be so ahead of it’s time that it is now recognised as being one of the earliest proponents of a new branch of science fiction storytelling known as cyberpunk.
After Dune failed to materialise, Dan O’Bannon suffered a nervous breakdown and returned back to Los Angeles with no money left, leaving most of his belongings back in Paris except for a book of H.R.Giger’s work ARh+ that he had borrowed from the artist himself. After going through therapy for many years, Dan O’Bannon wanted to get his old life back and one of the ways he aimed to achieve this was by feverishly churning out script after script from atop friend Ronald Shusett’s couch (which O’Bannon was living on at this point) and one of the screenplays he wrote was for Starbeast later to become Alien (1979). When Alien got green-lit, Dan O’Bannon recommended it’s director Ridley Scott to bring onboard the creative team that he worked with on Dune.
The Long Tomorrow like Jodorowsky’s Dune would be a huge inspiration for many science fiction films to come such as George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy and most noticeably Ridley Scott’s next film Blade Runner (1982) which would not be possible without it. Ridley Scott even makes reference to The Long Tomorrow in the closing scenes of his later film and Alien prequel Prometheus (2012).
Dan O’Bannon reflecting upon on the enduring appeal of The Long Tomorrow:
“…Mainly that vertical design for the city, Ridley (Scott) chose to do an ‘unauthorised borrowing’ of that city for Blade Runner and he’s right, it does make a good image!”
O’Bannon also praised Moebius’ inventiveness on one particular panel from The Long Tomorrow:
“This drawing here where I had the private detective discover that the beautiful woman that he’s in bed with, is really a shape-changing monster like something out of The Thing From Another World. My original sketch was roughly like this but it was Giraud (Moebius) who curled all of his toes inwards right there, I thought that was utterly perfect! Normally you might put a thought balloon showing what the guy is thinking but I think having his toes curled inwards like that does it even better.”
Goodbye to these great masters…
Daniel Thomas “Dan” O’Bannon
30th September 1946 – 17th December 2009
Hans Ruedi “H.R.” Giger
5th February 1940 – 12th May 2014