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Heavy Metal Presents Alien: The Illustrated Story

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Alien 00
Heavy Metal Presents Alien: The Illustrated Story
Written by Archie Goodwin
Illustrated by Walt Simonson
Inked by
Lettered by
Colored by
Cover(s) by
Edited by Charles Lippincott
Publisher Futura Publications Limited
Titan Books (reissue)
Release date(s) 1979
September 7, 2012 (reissue)
Media type
Pages 64
96 (Original Art Edition)
Preceded by
Followed by
Alternate cover
Alien 01
Alien: The Illustrated Story reissue cover

Heavy Metal Presents Alien: The Illustrated Story is a graphic novel adaptation of film of the same name, commissioned by Heavy Metal in 1979. Based on the original screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, the adaptation was scripted by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Walt Simonson and edited by Charles Lippincott. Originally rendered in black and white, it was reprinted in color and reissued as simply Alien: The Illustrated Story in 2012.

Following the original publication, the next Alien-franchise-related comic book to be released would be 1988's Aliens, based on James Cameron's film of the same name, by the then-recently formed Dark Horse Comics. It would go on to spawn an entire line of Aliens comics by Dark Horse that continues until the present.

Publisher's SummaryEdit

Two space helmets resting on chairs.
Electrical hum.
Lights on the helmets begin to signal one another.
Moments of silence.
A yellow light goes on.
Electronic hum.
A green light goes on in front of one helmet.
Electronic pulsing sounds.
A red light goes on in front of the other helmet.
An electronic conversation ensues.
Reaches a crescendo.
Then silence.

And when the silence is broken... the crew of the Nostromo must grapple with a terrifying life force they cannot leash, nor even comprehend — the Alien!


The adaptation was released prior to Dark Horse Comics acquiring the license to produce Aliens comics following the release of Aliens in 1986. Indeed, Alien: The Illustrated Story pre-dates the existence of Dark Horse Comics itself. The film adaptation was created by comics legends Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson for the equally acclaimed Heavy Metal magazine, which had been started in 1974 as an American version of the French science fiction/fantasy/erotica magazine Metal Hurlant. Prior to being published, the comic was partially serialized in Heavy Metal — two eight-page segments from the start of the graphic novel were run to serve as a teaser for the full release.[1] Due to an editing error, the title used at the start of the second of these segments was erroneously retained in the trade paperback release, although this was removed for the 2012 re-release.[1]

Goodwin is also well known for being a former editor at Marvel Comics and long-time Star Wars comics writer/editor in comic book, daily strip, and movie adaptation forms. Simonson also worked on Marvel's Star Wars Comics, but would become renowned for his work on Marvel's Thor. His future wife, Louise Jones, also served as an editor on Marvel's Star Wars, on which the two worked together for a time.

The Original Art EditionEdit

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The Original Art Edition cover.

Following the comic's reissue in 2012, an expanded Original Art Edition was also released with additional content, including samples from the comic's script (by Goodwin) and an interview with the creators revealing more on how the comic came to be, the writing process and Simonson's trip to England to see the film being made. The Original Art Edition was released in the hardcover format with black and white cover artwork that recreated the original graphic novel's front cover.


Unusually for a comic book adaptation of a feature film, Alien: The Illustrated Story was critically acclaimed, with some even going as far as to label it superior to the movie.[1] Simonson later commented that 20th Century Fox themselves expressed a reservation for the distinctive cover artwork, as they considered it to be superior to the posters that had been created for the film itself.[1]

Differences from the FilmEdit

The graphic novel generally follows the plot and visuals of the feature film, although in a condensed form owing to the nature of the format. It also includes several scenes cut from the theatrical version of the film (including several that were later added in the Director's Cut).

  • When the crew wakes from hypersleep, Kane is the first to rise and begins preparing breakfast for the others. This sequence was partially filmed for the movie, but was never completed and dropped from the final cut.
  • Before landing on the planetoid, the crew listen to the transmission on the bridge. This scene was later added to the Director's Cut.
  • When exploring the derelict, Dallas deactivates the beacon that brought the Nostromo to the moon by flicking a switch on the Pilot's chair.
  • Lambert punches Ripley when back aboard the Nostromo for her refusal to let them back on board. This scene was later added to the Director' Cut.
  • An added scene has Ripley interrupting Parker and Brett over the intercom as they make repairs, and Parker and Ripley trade insults. Parker hangs up and calls her a bitch before continuing with his work. This footage was shot but not included in the film.
  • While discussing the last-minute replacement of the ship's regular science officer with Ash, Dallas points out that Ripley was also a last-minute addition to the crew.
  • Kane's funeral goes unseen in the comic, happening "off-screen".
  • Following Kane's funeral, Dallas questions Ash in the medical bay, his suspicions raised by the fact he allowed the alien organism back on board the ship. A much longer version of this scene was planned for the film, and appears in the novelization.
  • The fully-grown Alien in the comic is huge, towering over its victims at anything between fifteen and twenty feet in height, although this size may just be for artistic impression.
  • Before killing Brett, the Alien stabs him in the back with its tail and lifts him up to deliver the killing Headbite.
  • Before he is taken by the Alien, Dallas passes by Lambert and Parker as he crawls through the vents, briefly acknowledging their presence. In the film, Dallas never encounters any of the crew again after entering the vents.
  • After assuming command, Ripley asks Lambert if she has ever slept with Ash, to which she responds in the negative, further fuelling Ripley's suspicions. This footage was filmed for the movie but cut.
  • When Ash confronts Ripley, he knocks her unconscious inside the Mother interface room, before dragging her out to the mess to kill her with the rolled-up magazine. The following fight is also slightly different — Parker beheads Ash with one of the motion detectors, not a fire extinguisher as in the film, and it is Ripley, not Lambert, who finally "kills" his beheaded body with one of the cattle prods.
  • Ash's Special Order 937 is said to come from "Mil/Sci" (presumably some military/science research entity or division) rather than the company that operates the ship.
  • Ripley activates the Nostromo's self destruct system before Parker and Lambert are killed, not after as in the movie.
  • As she attempts to flee to the Narcissus, Ripley encounters a strange box in a corridor, which unfolds and reveals itself to be the Alien. This scene was supposedly shot, but in the final film Ripley merely encounters the Alien around a corner.
  • After failing to abort the self destruct, Ripley incinerates one of Mother's computer banks in frustration.
  • After discovering the Alien has stowed away aboard the Narcissus, Ripley theorizes that the Alien refrains from killing her immediately because it knows she is trapped, and is simply going to leave her alone until it requires her for food, at which point it will turn hostile.



See AlsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Comic Book Resources - WALT SIMONSON REFLECTS ON "ALIEN: THE ILLUSTRATED STORY"". Retrieved on 2014-11-12.

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