The Book of Alien by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross was originally published by Heavy Metal Books in 1979. Ridley Scott’s return to science-fiction with Prometheus has sparked a renewed interest in the Alien mythos once again, so Titan Books has reprinted this 112-page art book, which features conceptual designs and illustrations that would come to define Ridley Scott‘s Alien as a science-fiction masterpiece.
The book features minimal information about the genesis of Dan O’Bannon’s script and the film’s production. Instead, The Book of Alien is an art book that focuses strictly on the visual aspects of Alien, filled with countless illustrations and photographs from the film’s production.
Artists Ron Cobb created hundreds of preliminary sketches of the interiors and exteriors of the Nostromo ship, which went through many design concepts, as well as the escape shuttle, Narcissus. Joining Cobb on the more human aspects of the film was artist Chris Foss, known for his covers of science-fiction novels and spaceship illustrations.
French comic book artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud worked on Alien and designed the Nostromo crew’s spacesuits, while Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger designed the Derelict Ship, the Space Jockey and the various stages of the Alien lifecycle.
The titular beast was influenced by an aesthetic Giger termed biomechanical, a fusion of the organic and the mechanic. The Book of Alien is worth picking up if only to gaze upon Giger’s ghastly, disturbing images of the Xenomorph and the asymmetrical, horseshoe-shaped Derelict Ship.
Giger was extremely hands-on with the production of Alien, airbrushing sets and the giant Space Jockey resign sculpture by hand. As for the Alien itself, Giger sculpted the creature’s body using plasticine, incorporating pieces such as vertebrae from snakes and cooling tubes from a Rolls-Royce to create the terrifying, beautiful organism.
With Prometheus hitting theaters on June 8th, The Book of Alien will satiate fans of the franchise with numerous images of the Space Jockey and the Derelict Ship, as well as early conceptual designs that were abandoned that could be revisited for Scott’s upcoming film.
For those who haven’t known the chest-bursting joy of the Alien franchise, Scanlon and Gross’ book will introduce newcomers to the trappings of Scott’s alien universe – strands of DNA that will no doubt resurface in Prometheus.
Written by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross (Burt Gummer from Tremors!? probably not, but I like to think so), The Book of Alien is available starting May 29, 2012 from Titan Books.