ALIEN: 40 YEARS 40 ARTISTS, Insider Preview!

Posted by Justin Bartlett

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of horror sci-fi classic ALIEN, Titan Books along with Twentieth Century Fox Film invited 40 artists, filmmakers, and fans to contribute a piece of art.

"Pieces range from alternative posters to gothic interpretations of key scenes. Sketches, process pieces, and interview text accompany each new and unique nightmare."

Titan Books have published some of the world's best movie and TV art books on everything from Star Wars, Blade Runner, Judge Dredd, Star Trek, and Syd Mead.

Below you'll find some info on my involvement and process and more previews from the book.

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As you might know, I am a huge ALIEN fan. It blew my mind to be involved! This project is one of the final remnants of the original 20th Century Fox franchise. Yep, Disney now owns all of the former Fox properties including Ridley Scott's acid-blooded xenomorph.

Hopefully Disney can create new and engaging content for fans that is also respectful to the legacy of ALIEN. I have some hope!

I contributed a tribute to ALIEN by reimagining the artwork for "Born Again" by BLACK SABBATH, their much-overlooked and only album with Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) taking over after Ronnie James Dio left. In case you aren't up on your Black Sabbath history, Dio had taken over as vocalist after Ozzy Osbourne was kicked out or left or whatever happened.

This Sabbath album's artwork is one of my favorites along with "Mob Rules" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". (Movie Poster trivia: Drew Struzen of Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie poster fame created the illustrations for the latter.)

Originally designed by Steve "Krusher" Joule, the "Born Again" album cover featured a posterized and stylized graphic of a newborn baby. In my mind, it didn't seem like a huge leap to exchange the baby for an ALIEN chestburster.

Although I already knew what this was supposed to look like as a finished product in my head - the chestburster was a little difficult to get just right since I had to imagine and draw the juvenile xenomorph in the same position and lighting as the screaming baby. That was the biggest time eater in this project.

Since the original source image for the 1983 album was a mechanically reproduced photo, I knew my drawing would need to be altered to mimic that aesthetic. Luckily I already knew what I needed everything to look like since I was replicating the look of an existing album - in a way that made the project easier.

The central chestburster figure started out as a greyscale drawing based on key frames from the original movie. The finished image had to look like a used album cover that was printed so I added a dot pattern print effect using Photoshop.

TIP: adding the right kinds of texture and print artifacts to your work really gives greater depth and realism rather than a pixel perfect clean imagery! Since this was supposed to be a record from 1983, the distress and effects had to be just right.

For the logo and lettering - (the easiest part), I searched for and chose a near-identical typeface to the original and distressed/outlined them by hand to match the Sabbath album.

About "Xeno Morph" the band... in my imagination, in an alternate reality or timeline, XENO MORPH was a science-fiction themed heavy metal band started by Tony Iommi after the fallout of Black Sabbath's breakup in 1979.

The original ALIEN came out that year as well, so why not mix all of these ideas together?

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I hope you all enjoy the book as I know the artists, contributors, and Titan Books put a lot of effort into making these available. Originally "Alien: 40 Years 40 Artists" was supposed to be published in 2019 but due to the Disney acquisition of Fox, many ALIEN-related projects were put on hold and even shelved altogether due to contracts.

Although it may be difficult to believe, last year marked the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott's Alien, and to celebrate, Titan Books gathered together an eclectic team of artists to pay tribute to H.R. Giger's gorgeously haunting visuals with original artwork of their own in "Alien: 40 Years 40 Artists". With the new hardcover collection coming out on August 11th, we've been provided with an exclusive preview featuring stunning, scary good artwork by David Benzal, Dane Hallett, Justin ‘Vberkvlt’ Bartlett, and Marta Lech.


So happy and honored to be an official part of the ALIEN franchise. The book can be ordered from your favorite online bookseller. Enjoy the previews below.

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