As we get into the second half of 52 Blogs we’ve got a quartet of themed topics, starting with Something Old.
By rights the oldest things I owned (as in the things I’ve owned the longest, rather than things that are old) should be Doctor Who related. I started to get into Doctor Who around 1978 and had books, magazines, records, whatever limited merchandise was around at the time. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, my teenage years proved incompatible with my Doctor Who collection and I sold the lot of it.
However, there was another sci-fi franchise that caught my imagination at around the same time.
The story of my long relationship with Alien is something for another post, but it started with this book: Alien – The Illustrated Story. I saw it in a cheap bookshop while I was shopping with my mother one day. I’d guess it was probably sometime in late 1979 or early 1980. I’d heard enough (or little enough) about the film that I wanted to know more and I vaguely recall pleading with my mother to buy the book for me. Because she was a very cool person she did exactly that and, also because she was a very cool person, she let me read it as well, even though I would have only been about nine years old at the time.
I sat on the sofa that evening and read the whole thing through, possibly even choosing it over the latest episode of The A-Team. It’s sometimes hard to remember days without the internet, where you could check out clips from a film on youtube, or read the synopsis on IMDB. This was also in the very, very early days of home video when it would take months and months for films to come out on VHS. Even the novelisation would have been a little heavy going for me at that age. Consequently this graphic novel provided my only real doorway into the Alien universe.
Of course, I was completely swept away. I don’t ever recall being scared or disturbed while I was reading it but I do remember poring over every detail of every page: I might even have read it twice straight away.
Looking back I still love this book. The rough artwork perfectly epitomises the ‘truckers in space’ aesthetic of the movie, but the bold colouring gives it a wholly different sense of drama. The adaptation is also excellent: nothing’s missed out (in fact a few extra bits get slipped in) but the pace is tight and what can sometimes be a moody, slow-paced sci-fi chiller becomes an action-packed race to survive on the page.
If you want to see more examples of the art then Google proves surprisingly generous. If you want to buy your own copy the great news is that it was recently reissued. Me, I think I’ll be sticking with my 30 plus year-old copy for now, even if the pages threaten to fall apart every time I look at it