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‘Alien’ Day 2024: Writer Ryan Cady on Marvel’s ‘Alien: Black, White & Blood,’ Conan the Barbarian vs. Xenomorphs, and More

The following is an interview with comic book writer Ryan Cady as part of Fanbase Press’ #AlienDay 2024 coverage. In this interview, Fanbase Press President Bryant Dillon chats with Cady about his contributions to the Marvel Comics anthology, Alien: Black, White & Blood, which comic book crossover the Xenomorph should face next, and more!

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President: Can you tell us about your personal fandom story when it comes to the Alien franchise? When were you first exposed to the Xenomorph and the stories surrounding it, and what effect did that have on you?

Ryan Cady: Sure! I talk about this a lot, but after my grandparents introduced me to horror (starting with Jaws – I was 6), we went right through a bunch of the classics. And Alien was one of the first. I know that’s unique for most folks born after the mid-’80s, who started with Aliens (which is a great movie, seriously!), but I’m pretty glad that I got the classic horror experience before the sequel.

Here was this movie that, artistically, was so over my head that I only understood the broad strokes, but everything about it was enchanting. A haunted house in space!? Genius. And the Xenomorph was so otherworldly, so genuinely alien and terrifying – I was totally drawn to it. The idea that the “perfect organism” would be this black nightmare…oh man. I never stood a chance. Any kind of horror that evoked those feelings for me, from that point on, I was hooked.

BD: You recently contributed a story called “Maternal Instinct” to Alien: Black, White & Blood, the Alien anthology comic published by Marvel Comics. What can you tell us about that story and the rest of the creative team?

RC: The story is a tale as old as time – Xenomorphs have infested the ship, and the lone survivor needs to make it to an escape pod. Only in our story, the survivor is a child, barely older than a toddler, and the ship’s MU-THR computer decides to guide him to safety, even though it might go against her self-destruct protocols.

I was joined on art by the brilliant Devmalya Pramanik, who not only crammed serious emotion and visual storytelling into every single panel, but also draws one of the best Facehuggers I’ve ever seen. Magic stuff – I couldn’t have dreamed up better.


BD: Was there a specific inspiration for “Maternal Instinct?”

RC: I like when robots can be good guys. The “organic vs. synthetic” narrative in fiction has gotten really dull for me, so whenever I’m playing with AI or bots or characters like that, I want to make them noble and interesting.

Mother (or “MU-THR,” the computer) always fascinated me as a kid, especially when I was younger and not fully absorbing the plot. She felt like this alternate force in the movie, somehow (to me) on equal playing field with the Xenomorph. A part of me always wanted some version of the story where Mother saved the day, and I guess this is grown-up me channeling that.

BD: Given the Xenomorph has been an established presence in pop culture since the first film released in 1979, why do you think this creature and these stories endure decades later? Why are audiences fascinated with this monster?

RC: I think the (for lack of a better term) Lovecraftian nature of the Xenomorph is fundamental here. Not in the classic sense – it’s not a god, or an insane entity with vast cosmic power, and it’s not even traditionally unknowable – and yet…and yet…there is something darkly magical about it. Its mind of perfect instinct, its relentless pursuit – it feels like a law of nature given flesh. It feels like the natural universe conjuring up the closest thing it could to the supernatural, and hid it up there in the dark to terrify us.

And then, obviously, there is the perfection of Giger’s design. Not just the psycho-sexual aspects (but, my god, people can write essays about this thing until the end of time), but the raw inhumanity of it – again, it’s like he imagined the ultimate evolutionary boogeyman. Of course, we’re still making statues and action figures and shivering over it all over again!

BD: The Xenomorph has also been a presence within comic book shops for some time now, bursting out of their own comic book series to battle everyone from the Predator to Judge Dredd to Batman and Superman. It was just recently announced that they’ll be taking on the Avengers next.

 Which comic book icons deserve a confrontation with the Xenomorph if you’re the one pitching?

RC: CONAN THE BARBARIAN, BABY. Could Crom concoct a more perfect foe for the brutal, unkillable Cimmerian? I love Robert E. Howard’s pulp antihero, and I really don’t think there’s a wrong way to do this. Does Conan wind up on a space ship and have to fight off Xenos and crash land back on Earth? Fantastic. Does he explore an ancient tomb and accidentally awaken some Facehuggers? Huge potential.

It doesn’t matter what era or how many, or how you position the two – it’s one of those “unstoppable force, immovable object” combos that will play out marvelously.

BD: Do you feel like you have additional stories to tell in the Alien universe? What hasn’t been explored that you’d like to shine a light on?

RC: I could write Alien stories until the end of days, and I really think you can explore (and re-explore) all the big, grand themes of human literature with this backdrop. If I had unlimited page space and free rein? I’d want to do more long-form character drama inside the horror – an ongoing nightmare where the humans and synths never quite have the upper hand, and these demons are getting closer and closer to taking them out. I also love exploring characters who are obsessed with the Xenomorph, and I think it’d be really fun to have an academic/philosopher type who seeks these destroyers with the same existential fascination that led Peter Weyland to seek out the Engineers.

BD: The latest entry of the Alien franchise, the feature film, Alien: Romulus, releases this August in theaters. Are you excited for Romulus, and what are you hoping for when it comes to the newest chapter in the Alien franchise?

RC: I try to go into these things with cautious optimism, yanno? I’m a Prometheus defender, legitimately, and I don’t love Covenant, but I’m not a full-blown hater. And I like a lot of Fede Alvarez’s stuff, so, definitely going to be there on opening weekend and trying to support. The trailer had me intrigued, and my fingers are crossed.

What I want most from this is patience. Restraint. I would love for an Alien movie to actually frighten us again, to take the time and patience to properly scare the audience and send them home to check for the Xenomorph under their beds.

BD: As always at Fanbase Press, when discussing stories, we always like to take time to address the company’s Stories Matter initiative. Stories Matter is Fanbase Press’ specific focus on how universal communication through stories allows us to examine the essentials of human existence, to understand ourselves better and to grow and/or heal, to pass on importance values, knowledge, and lessons to the next generation, and to connect with one another through empathy and compassion.

So, with that in mind, I pose to each of you, beyond the simple entertainment factor, what value or understanding does the Alien franchise offer in regards to our world or the human condition?

RC: I think a lot about how the possession narrative in fiction/religion doesn’t make much sense to me, because if I had an encounter with the devil, my faith in the Creator would suddenly feel very solid. You run into bad magic, you get to thinking there’s probably good magic out there, somewhere, too.

And again – to me, the Xenomorph is nature’s Satan. This creature that perfectly exemplifies all of the horrible psychologies of evolution, of consumption and destruction of everything Other and the elimination of kindness and selflessness and any of our higher values or virtues. So, there’s something about staring into that abyss and saying, “No way, I will not succumb to this, we will not be like you, we will work together and save each other and endure in the light,” etc. etc.

If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that we as a species must do better, something that we must rise above and reject.

BD: Readers can find out more about Ryan Cady and his work at

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President


Favorite Comic BookPreacher by Garth Ennis and Steve DillonFavorite TV ShowBuffy the Vampire Slayer Favorite BookThe Beach by Alex Garland


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