Review: The vibrance of Alien – The Illustrated Story

The release of the sort-of-prequel, Prometheus has caused an increase in interest in the original classic Alien film. Partly as a response to this, Titan Books has rereleased the original graphic novel adaptation of the film.

It’s not just a reprinting of the 1979 book, however. That book had a decreased color depth to save on printing costs, not to mention the cheap paper that was used for any comics at the time.

In conjunction with the Alien rights holder, Fox Consumer Products, Titan pulled the original artwork from artist Walter  Simonson’s  personal archive of illustrations. These have been used to create, from scratch, a new layout with reworked design and all the original vibrant color of the illustrations.

The print is superb as well, rivaling most modern graphic novel publications, the 60 page novel is perfect-bound with high-quality glossy full-color pages, and a thick, redesigned cover. It’s a durable reproduction of a comics masterpiece.

That’s not a figure of speech. This work was the defining one in the career of both Simonson and writer Archie Goodwin. Though not unknowns before this book, both went on to have well respected and prolific careers in the comics industry after the recognition they received for this book.  

It was and still is an incredible example of how to adapt a motion picture into a graphic novel. The book takes only the most essential moments, and weaves them into a tale that is the essence of Alien, though it may not be a scene for scene reproduction. All the characters are pulled into sharp relief against the danger of the plot, and the rousing heroics of Ripley in the face of a crew that opposes her are not lost in the translation.

Out of print for over thirty years, this essential classic is likely not on the shelves of many younger Alien fans, and for those who do have the original printing, this is a great update to put on the shelf next to the first edition, and to read when the inclination strikes you, instead of getting out the tweezers and dust mask to enjoy the original.

Alien – The Illustrated Story is available now from Titan Books and Fox.