Comic Book Cats, number 113: Alien: The Illustrated Story

Comic Book Cats, number 113: Alien: The Illustrated Story, drawn by Walter Simonson, written by Archie Goodwin, lettered by John Workman and colored by Louise Jones, Polly Law & Deborah Pedlar, published by Heavy Metal in 1979.

Archie Goodwin & Walter Simonson’s adaptation of the Ridley Scott directed sci-fi / horror movie Alien is one of the all time great translations from big screen to sequential illustration. Simonson certainly did a superb job bringing across the suspenseful atmosphere of the movie onto the printed page. This was an undoubtedly difficult task as much of the sense of dread in the movie was reliant on the quick, fleeting glimpses of the Xenomorph creature, something that was much more difficult to bring across in static illustrations. Simonson succeeded though his very effective layouts and storytelling.

Simonson was also successful in rendering the main characters. I have often said that drawing likenesses can be a tricky balancing act. Make them too photorealistic and it feels artificial, something that immediately takes the reader out of the story. It’s not so much capturing the likeness of the actors as it is the personalities of the characters they play. Simonson certainly did a fine job with that, as seen on this page that introduces the crew of the Nostromo. Likewise, in skewing a bit more towards personality than realism, Simonson makes Jones the cat an almost animated figure, giving him a certain amount of personality. ????

This page also gets bonus points for having everyone drinking coffee! ☕️

If you don’t know who Walter Simonson is then shame on you. He is one of the top artists and writers in comic books of the past half century. Among the many series Simonson has worked on over the decades are Manhunter, Thor, X-Factor, Fantastic Four, Star Slammers, Orion, Elric, The Judas Coin and Ragnarok.

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