Alien: The Illustrated Story, The Original Art Edition

Titan's take on the original art publishing format, Alien: The Illustrated Story The Original Art Edition is a wonderful look at Walt Simonson's 1970s art style and craftsmanship.

Titan’s take on the original art publishing format, Alien: The Illustrated Story The Original Art Edition is a wonderful look at Walt Simonson’s 1970s art style and craftsmanship.

Alien The Illustrated Story Original Art Edition coverTwo of comics’ greatest talents joined forces in 1979 to bring Ridley Scott’s epic Alien motion picture to the comic book page. Out of print for over thirty years, this brand new edition (released in time to coincide with Scott’s latest opus Prometheus) has been meticulously restored from original artwork in Walt Simonson’s studio — presenting for the very first time the definitive artist’s edition of the greatest sci-fi horror ever produced.

It collects Alien: The Illustrated Story b/w comic strip, scanned from the artist’s original art boards, plus an in-depth interview with Simonson, the original script pages, colour tryouts and sketches.

  • Writer: Archie Goodwin
  • Illustrator: Walter Simonson
  • Titan Books, October 2012
  • 96 pages,  0.7 x 12.9 x 16.8 inches
  • ISBN: 9781781161302
  • $75 USD
  • Order online: Amazon, Book Depository

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

Heavy Metal magazine was commissioned to do a comic adaptation of the movie Alien, and in 1979 was partly serialized in two parts as a teaser for the graphic novel. Lucky for us Walt Simonson has kept almost all the art he’s done in his career and Titan Books was able to put this volume together from his original art pages.

Alien The Illustrated Story Original Art Edition interior 3

I received this book for Christmas last year, but it lingered in the closet with all my other giant books until recently when I dug it out and gave it a good read. I was initially put off last year by seeing the softcover collection reprint of the coloured series: I found the colours harsh and almost painful to look at. Looking at this work Simonson’s pencil and ink work shine; it’s a pleasure to read.

Alien The Illustrated Story Original Art Edition interior 2

Not having seen the film in many years the book read well: the pacing was spot on and the story was clear and concise. Dialogue and interpersonal relationships dominate between the moments of gut wrenching tension and fast action. Ultimately the shock of seeing the alien burst from Kane’s chest didn’t work in a comic book, nor did the alien uncoiling itself or creeping behind the crew. Those elements are best left to film, but it’s a worthwhile effort by Goodwin who was at the top of his game by 1979.

Alien The Illustrated Story Original Art Edition interior 1

Shot from Simonson’s originals, Titan had to make a few concessions. The art pages were different sizes so they focused on the art on the page to determine size; the 13×17″ size of this book works wonderfully. As well there was no lettering so they had to add it to the scans, although sound effects like the one above are part of the art pages.

Alien The Illustrated Story Original Art Edition signature plate

This Original Art Edition is filled with extras: a signature plate with Simonsons’ in pencil, complete script, colouring examples, an in-depth interview and an afterward by Simonson. Packed with features and well produced, this is a bargain at $75 and is heavily discounted online. Titan produced 2000 of these and they don’t seem to have done well: this book surpasses the material and value presented by IDW in their Artist’s Edition line. Let’s hope Titan has a few more up their sleeve, perhaps from British material or creators.

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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Dennis De Pues
10 years ago

I am betting after this little promo, there will be a few more copies sold.I for one will be picking this up!

Ed Campbell
10 years ago

Undervalued “Collector’s Edition” Spotlight for sure. Looks awesome.

Dennis De Pues
10 years ago

I just received the Original Art Edition today from Amazon , and am very impressed with scale of this adaptation.I have seen bits and pieces of this in various forms, but Walt Simonsons art really works the best in this original size and without colour.Very nice package indeed as Titan has done a quality job of reproducing the original art and the book is well worth the money.Fans of Alien should not be disappointed and for those who have lived in a cave and not seen the movie adaptation with be thoroughly entertained.