Well, my fellow comic book sniffers, I’ve not only seen the grail, I now hold it in my hands! After thirty years of being out of print, Titan Books and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products are releasing a brand new edition of Alien: The Illustrated Story that has been completely and meticulously restored using the original artwork from Walt Simonson’s studio! I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this gorgeous book (must be the close relationship I have with my local Weyland-Yutani rep), and I’m happy to let you know that it is a masterpiece and easily worth twice the amount of the $14.95 price tag.
Comic book movie adaptations can be an odd beast. In my experience, they often leave the reader feeling like something magical is missing from the pages. And, it’s a rough task to create a movie adaptation that must compete with the original film version. The film always receives more finances, more time, and more promotional support and will always be the definitive version in the public’s mind. While Alien: The Illustrated Story doesn’t surpass the film, it is one of the best translations of film story to sequential art that I’ve ever read. The tone and horror of the film are deftly captured in Goodwin’s writing, and Simonson’s art is absolutely stellar. I have no doubt that the unsuspecting souls who experienced this story first in the pages of Heavy Metal instead of on film were sure to have been just as disturbed and petrified by the tale as those in the theater. The book's large-scale format only enhances this feeling by lending a cosmic epicness to Simonson’s breathtaking splash pages.
While being a successful adaptation (Frank Miller actually called it “ . . . the only successful movie adaptation ever done in comics . . . ”), the book also has just enough unique content to make it interesting for a hard-core Alien fanatic like myself. There are several scenes containing cut material from Alien’s original script, variations of the death scenes of major characters, and the beautiful addition of a Joseph Conrad quote to start the book: “We live as we dream - alone.” Conrad is well known for writing his novel, The Nostromo, which also happens to share its name with Ellen Ripley’s ill-fated ship.
I do have one complaint, and it’s an extremely small one: with a book this beautiful, why isn’t it a hardcover? I promise to forgive Titan Books for this oversight, as long as they publish a hardcover version down the road, perhaps with some excellent bonus content from Goodwin or Simonson. No, I don’t have any problem paying for an additional hardcover copy, even though I have the soft cover, as well. Trust me, neither will you!
You can nab your own copy of Alien: The Illustrated Story on Amazon.com. Also, be sure to stop by the Facebook page to get some more peeks at Simonson’s amazing interior art work.
That’s the end of my transmission, gang!
This is Bryant the Comic Book Slayer . . . last surviving comic book sniffer of the Nostromo . . . signing off.