This is one of those books that I’ve really really wanted to read ever since I first heard about it a very long time ago. I mean, how could you not want to read this? It’s got Archie Goodwin, one of the all-time great writers and the guy who wrote the best Star Wars comics ever. And then its got art by Walter Simsonson. Yes, the same Walter Simonson who did Manhunter with Goodwin, made Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica into a surprisingly good comic and then did a definitive and long run on Thor.
But for whatever reason, I never picked this up until now. Part of that is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a copy in any of the dozens of comics shops I”ve frequented over the years. The other part being it just never came to mind as something to get on eBay, until now.
And despite the long wait and the high expectations, this really did live up to my expectations. First, Alien is a great movie, one of the best from that heady period between Star Wars and the mid-1980s, when almost every sci-fi/superhero movie coming out had at least something to recommend it. (Consider Superman: The Movie, the first couple of Star Trek movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tron … and that’s without getting into secondary stuff like The Last Starfighter or Krull.)
What I love the most is this book works as both an adaptation that accurately conveys the story and the experience of the movie and as a damn fine comic book with smart scripting and excellent art.
I have no idea what the reaction to this book might have been. The indicia says it came out in 1979, same year as the movie, but its in a format where the dimensions are similar to a magazine yet the quality of the paper and the ad-free interior are like a book. It’s a bit like what Marvel and DC would try a few years down the road with their original graphic novel format. The pages are larger than the average comic, which lets Goodwin and Simonson put more panels on a page without having to make them too small. The coloring is excellent and the lettering is by John Workman, so you know it’s good. I imagine this must have sold on newsstands alongside things like Heavy Metal magazine (HM published this adapation by the way — and it looks like it could have been serialized in the magazine. I don’t know.) All this for the original cover price of $3.95 — not much less than what I just paid for it recently on eBay.
The only downside is there’s now one less lost gem to cross of my list … I’ll have to start looking for another.