Fri
Mar 2 2012 11:00am
The Real Struggle at the Heart of Alien

Alien comic by Faith Erin Hicks

Enjoy this examination of Alien from Faith Erin Hicks, the cartoonist behind this loving tribute of A Wrinkle in Time. (“Punch of love!”) In this comic, an oddity in the marketing copy on the DVD case of Alien prompts Faith to think about the class struggle at the heart of this classic science fiction film.

Faith Erin Hicks is the author and illustrator of a number of webcomics, including Demonology 101 and Zombies Calling. Her comic Friends With Boys is now available as a graphic novel from First Second.

 

9 comments
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
I found the scene she mentions in Friends With Boys pretty great...though I was sold by the cover, since I went "oh hey, I know that prosthetic arm, I've totally used that picture as a prop in one of my DnD campaigns!"
Eden Miller
2. Eden Miller
The alien wearing sunglasses would make an excellent tattoo for someone.

I like this interpretation of Alien. I'm going to remember it the next time I'm having a bad day at work.
Eden Miller
3. lightninglouie
I think the thing that really works about Alien is that the characters aren't types. (Unlike, say, Aliens, where the Marines are all pretty much WWII movie archetypes.) The characters were written fairly broadly, with the filmmakers and casting directors determining gender, race, age, personality traits, etc., as they saw fit. The actors, under Scott's supervision, ended up figuring out what kinds of people they were playing -- even what kinds of jobs they'd done, where they'd been educated, what their families back home were like. Even Ian Holm developed a fake "biography" that would serve as his character's background. None of this comes out in the movie; like the "Weylan Yutani" logos or the hints at a depersonalized corporate society, it's a near-invisble background detail that adds to a sense of depth and reality.

Matt Zoller Seitz had a great writeup in Salon where he argued that the reason people really connect with Alien is because it's a movie about work; the crew aren't explorers or warriors, just blue collar employees (and a handful of higher-paid execs) working a crummy job they don't find enjoyable or financially rewarding. This was (and remains) pretty radical for an SF movie, but it also makes the characters more relatable. I think this is something that the sequels forgot; unlike the personality-free in your typical slasher/monster flick we really don't want to see any of these people die or suffer, because they are us.
Eden Miller
4. a1ay
None of this comes out in the movie; like the "Weylan Yutani"
logos or the hints at a depersonalized corporate society, it's a
near-invisble background detail that adds to a sense of depth and
reality.

The Nostromo is registered in the Solomon Islands. Well, maybe that's just a flag-of-convenience thing. And the main traffic control centre for Earth is in Antarctica. Interesting.

working a crummy job they don't find enjoyable or financially rewarding.

By modern standards they're not too badly off. They get guaranteed bonuses! (And they risk being impregnated by a hideous murderous alien without pity or morality, but then that's pretty much situation normal on Wall Street too, and at least the Company has a fairly lax dress code.)
Warren Ockrassa
5. warreno
This is what happens when you have a really good director handling a horror film.

There was absolutely no reason to do any follow-ups to the first film. I've spoken - over the years - to people whose priapism for Alien only increased with each succeeding sequel. These people are, invariably, blithering twits.
Eden Miller
6. Jim Kakalios
I saw Alien the first week it opened in NY. The ads and TV commercials were moody and suggestive, with no spoilers about what the alien creature might look like. My date and I were therefore unprepared for the chest bursting scene - we thought the face hugger was bad enough.

It took two gin and tonics each after the film to dilute the adreneline rush we were feeling, and just get back to sober. I've seen Alien many times in again in a theater - but never any of the sequels more than once.
Eden Miller
7. John I. White
Hi There,
You hit the nail on the head Faith. you've also got a wonderful gift for illustration and humour! I gave you a mention today over at:
http://alienage11.com/48-flung-into-space.shtml

Keep it up!
John White
Eden Miller
8. Silent Hunter
Great drawings and thoughts!
Eden Miller
9. Nobel Chan
Hullo People of the world,
I got here because one of Faith Erin Hicks books (Friends with boys) which was nominated as a rocky mountain reader book and im a rocky mountain reader and its been nominated for 2013-2014. I look forward to reading it!
-Nobel Chan
DUH

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