“In Space, no one can hear you scream. With this book, you may just let out a small one. But not in terror. It will be in total amazement”
Forty years ago? Really? I wouldn’t have believed it unless you’d told me. Actually, it’s forty-one this year but lets not split hairs. I mean, what’s a year between friends? Nothing if you decide to do the honorable and logical thing and grab a copy of this outstanding book. There is absolutely nothing not to like about it. It encompasses exactly what its title suggests. A worthy and remarkable collection of artist’s interpretations of the classic movie posters and selected scenes from the movie. Each is a worthy entry into the book and onto its delightful printed pages. The designs vary as they should and some are, to my eyes anyway, better than others but it’s for the reader to discover and select their own favorites amongst the beauty contained within.
Alien 40 Years 40 Artists | Titan Books
Just by looking at the front cover, any art fan, any budding artist, any student studying art, or more obviously, the ‘Alien‘ fans among us, will be instantly drawn towards the book. It goes without saying that I love everything to do with the franchise, whether it be a book, a figure, a plush toy (yes, I have those in my collection too! What’s not to love about cuddling up with a soft toy Facehugger? On second thoughts though…), soundtracks and the films themselves and as soon as I saw the cover of the book, then that was it. It HAD to be mine. The front cover is of the second stage of our beloved Xenomorphs creation, the phallic-shaped embryo stage, or ‘Chestburster’ as we know it. It is reminiscent of the teaser poster for ‘Alien 3‘ except this time, instead of being drawn and colored with the now common green hues and shading, here we see that it has been designed in a wonderful and understated faded red hue with the shading to match. All the excellent work of Matt Hatton who gets the piece printed inside the book itself. It is quite frankly the perfect way to catch the eye and draws you in like a fisherman reeling in a catch. The lettering for the title is in keeping with the font used for the original film and suits the cover down to the ground and in a nice touch, the title is almost like the original film displaying the title at the start of the movie, instead of being dead center, it is high above any image displayed. The back cover shows us eight smaller representations of what we will discover inside along with a description of what awaits us inside the pages. Each piece is accompanied by sketches, process pieces, and insights into what inspired the artist to create what they have for the book.
We open the book and are immediately confronted with an x-ray of the chestburster in all its glory. Hello, old friend. It’s so nice to see you again. And you look good still. As we turn the page, the fully-grown Alien looks like he is on the run from something in a nice drawing of him (some people may complain that the adult drones and warriors are almost all male and referred to as such. All I shall say is the female aliens attended to the Queen Alien and are considered the most important of all the varieties of the Xenomorphs). We turn the page and are greeted with what can be described as a children’s book illustration of Ripley, Jones the cat, and a xenomorph by Katherine Kuehne. And it is cute looking and quite welcome. I could actually see this design being framed and hung on my wall and admired. We now come to the foreword by Chris Foss, who was a concept artist on the original film. Foss talks of his enjoyment working on the original film and how he loved working on the concept for the Nostromo, the ship from the original movie. How he and fellow artist Ron Cobb had to motivate themselves, mostly by looking at Victorian machinery to inspire ideas. And he praises the great H. R Giger for his superb work on designing the xenomorph itself. And he ends his writings with compliments paid to him by several artists after ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy‘ was released who confirmed that it was he, Chris Foss, and his designs that inspired them to start off in the industry. Alongside Foss’s memories and writing, we are treated to several of his concepts on the pages which give the reader a glimpse at what he had in mind all those years ago.
We now come to the art itself and boy, are we in for a treat. The first piece we see is by Tom Humberstone and refers to a scene featuring Ripley, Brett, and Parker. It has been drawn in a graphic novel/ comic book style and looks amazing. The work that has been put into this piece of art goes without saying. It leaps off the printed page and astonishes the reader. Next up is a piece by David Benzal and all I can say is, I WANT IT! It depicts Ripley inside a cryostasis tube with a xenomorph staring in, all drool coming from its mouth and from its jaws, its razor-sharp claws look ready to tear flesh asunder if the creature so desires to. If this piece was to become available as a large poster or canvas art, then it would 100% be hanging in my home. It is gorgeous and I’ve fallen in love with it. The texture, coloring, and depth presented in this piece alone are worth purchasing the book by itself. In fact, I found myself looking at it, studying it, and be taken by it for a good hour before I actually turned the page. Believe me, when I say, you’ll be in awe of it. Forget the real Mona Lisa, this is the ‘Alien‘ fans version of it. Breathtaking. Chelsea Lowe is up next with her depiction of Kane and the opening of the alien egg. Once again, the style and class of the work shine through, all green-tinged, shaded, and completely beautiful. Again, another piece that I could easily see hanging on a wall in my home.
We come to Jorge ‘Quetta’ Garza next and what I can only describe as a kind of an Aztec cave painting design. It is something that you’d expect to see drawn by a caveman or an Aztec or Egyptian artist. And it is quite simply brilliant. The representation of the xenomorph with Captain Dallas in one of its taloned hands surrounded by images of an open and empty egg, A facehugger on the face of the doomed Kane, the chestburster exiting from his ribcage, and even a cute representation of Jones the cat is quite unusual but nevertheless a joy to behold. Sweeney Boo gives us a Manga inspired piece of Ripley, holding Jones in one arm while clutching a flamethrower in the other in yet another marvelous piece of art. David Lupton gives us a wonderful pencil drawing of Brett with the Alien just out of focus but easily seen behind him. Tristan ‘T-Rex’ Jones gives us a frightening Dark Horse inspired piece that is a perfect addition to the pages, our (un)friendly xenomorph staring at the disemboweled remains of one of its victims still attached to the stinger at the end of its tail. And I have to give praise to Joey Spiotto for his work that he has provided. After all the (mostly) adult-themed artwork presented throughout the pages, he has given us a wonderful childlike drawing of the xenomorph, eating a piece of birthday cake at its 40th birthday party, all colored banners and a 40th helium balloon present under the table and both the Xenomorph and a guest appearing Jones are wearing party hats. It is so childlike and cute and a welcome change from the violence and bloodletting that adorns most of the other pages.
I challenge any art fan or ‘Alien‘ fan out there to not look through the pages of the book and be seriously impressed with what is presented to the reader. Forget going to an art gallery, grab this book and you’ll be amazed at what it contains. I would adore having many of the pieces contained throughout its pages adorning the walls in my home and that includes David Benzal’s piece hanging in the pride of place. I’m no art critic or art lover but what I saw on the pages of this sublime collection is enough to inspire anyone with an interest in art. The pieces are of such a quality that I was completely amazed. Many different techniques and styles make up the art on display here and all are exemplary. Do yourself and the universe a favor, grab a copy of this incredible volume now and like me, be amazed, enthralled, and motivated by what you’ll encounter. In Space, no one can hear you scream. On earth, with this book, you may just let out a small one. But not in terror. It will be in total amazement.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note | A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy. All images taken from Alien: 40 Years 40 Artists, published by Titan Books. Alien ™ & © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.