The Horror Returns — Alien: The Illustrated Story


Alien Illustrated StoryAlien Illustrated Story

I was 10 years old in 1979, and my parents had made their decision — I was not going to be allowed to see Alien with my friend and his dad. As a parent, I can completely understand their decision, and I believe it was the right one given the subject matter. Of course, being 10 and absolutely wanting to see the movie even more after my friend told me about a few key scenes… well, I was quite determined. So, I waited for the right moment… and it arrived. I don’t even remember what movie I was supposed to see when my mom and dad dropped me off at the theater with a couple of buddies. Doesn’t matter. I snuck in, leaving my two chicken friends to go see whatever Disney or sing-along movie I was ditching.

The first 30 minutes or so of that movie were absolutely outstanding. Even Kane’s discovery of the egg didn’t really make me jump (too much). And the acid-for-blood burning through the steel floors? I didn’t make a peep.

And then the last-meal-before-sleep scene arrived. I had no clue. My buddy had glossed over this scene. I guess it was just too boring to mention.

Wait… Kane’s acting funny. What’s going on? And… OMG!!!!

I don’t remember anything after that. My 10-year old rear end was moving out of that theater at Mach 2, all while Lambert’s screams were echoing in my ear.

I took some heat for not sitting through the entire thing, but… come on! Have you seen that movie!?

It would be a few more years before I got to see the movie in its entirety, but I have one other strong Alien memory from that same year, and it was when I walked into the Waldenbooks at the mall and found Alien: The Illustrated Story sitting in the science fiction section. I couldn’t help myself. A movie with blood and screaming is one thing, but I knew comic books… the story would obviously be toned down.

I picked it up and started reading.

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Toned down? Nope. Blood and screams? Oh, yeah! This was the first graphic novel I’d ever encountered, and although I made it through the entire book in one sitting, I still remember the goosebumps and the terror I experienced as I finally got… the rest of the story. I put the book back in its place and left, a changed kid. Before, I never realized comic books could have the same effect as a live-action movie. After, I realized I would have to keep an eye on these things called graphic novels. They didn’t play by the same comic book rules.

And 30+ years went by… bringing with it Aliens, Aliens III, Aliens: Resurrection, and the recent Prometheus.

And then, today… Titan Books delivered to my door its re-release of Alien: The Illustrated Story. It’s been out of print for over 30 years, and how I wish I’d had the money to buy that copy so many years ago. But now I’ve got what Frank Miller says might just be the only successful movie adaptation ever done in comics.

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That about nails it. I sat down and read the thing, cover to cover. And it nailed every key scene. The images are shocking, the alien is still disturbing looking, and the terror in Lambert’s eyes matches the movie completely. I may not be 10 now, but reading over the story again put me right back in that Waldenbooks as I turned each page wondering just how bad it was going to get for this crew.

To take a two hour movie and convert it to 64 pages seems like an impossible task if you’re trying to capture the horror and the jump-out-of-your seat sensations experienced with the film. But you know what? I’m pretty confident that if this re-release fell into the hands of any 10 year old out there right now, they’d probably still find it as frightening as I did, Internet-raised or not!

Original Cover, 1979

The artwork is all original, and I believe the book is slightly larger than the original. The colors are vivid. Very. Vivid. And the alien’s handiwork is detailed. Very. Detailed. Entire scenes from the movie are recreated in large, single pane formats. The Jockey and The Ship are perfectly drawn. Bits and pieces of dialogue are verbatim. The book was a classic… and now it is again.

If you’re a fan of the Alien universe or maybe only the original movie, this is one of those books that belongs on your shelf.

Note: Alien: The Illustrated Story will be released on September 4. I’d like to thank Tom from Titan Books for providing a copy for this review.

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