There's more to the xenomorph saga than you know. In 1976, Dan O'Bannon completed a screenplay that would, three years later, become Ridley Scott's Alien. His script was highly revised by producers David Giler and Walter Hill, and the original story was lost to time ... until now.
SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look inside the pages of Alien: The Original Screenplay, an upcoming comic book miniseries from Dark Horse that adapts O'Bannon's initial cinematic vision for what would eventually be described as "Jaws in space." Led by the creative duo of writer Cristiano Seixas and artist Guilherme Balbi, the project is similar to what the publisher is doing for Predator.
"One thing I would say is that the script is pretty open for interpretation in some parts — like the characters can all be male or female (yep, it's written on his script), so it was up to me and Balbi to come up with who is who now," Seixas tells us. "The dark mood is there from the beginning, and there's a bit of philosophical questions in there too, [which] I always thought started with the Ridley Scott version."
"Cris helped me a lot with the basic context, and I finalized the design based on the 'fractal' structure to develop the construction of the creatures," explains Balbi, teasing the look of the xenos as described by O'Bannon.
In the two exclusive pages below, you'll witness a familiar tableau. A group of human spacefarers stumble across a mysterious vessel full of strange eggs. Everything else, however — from the characters to the design of the Space Jockey — is totally different. For instance, there is no Ellen Ripley, and the crew's spaceship is called the Snark, not the Nostromo.
Since Seixas and Balbi live in the same city, they met up often to hammer out details like "how to make a new look for the classic Engineer [aka Space Jockey], to the crew’s uniforms and the ship," says Seixas. "The ship and the 'Alien' planet are characters on their own, and it wasn't an easy task for Balbi to draw the final designs for them."
"I really like to work on the expressions of each character; it makes them more alive. It helps to tell the story and create tension," adds Balbi. "[The ship is] certainly a very important character ... and it's very difficult to draw. There are countless details and they all must be present to keep the environment and create the mood for a good story."
This isn't Dark Horse's first rodeo in exploring the alternate paths the famous Alien mythos could have taken. In 2018, the publisher adapted William Gibson's un-produced Alien 3 screenplay into a comic from writer/artist Johnnie Christmas. With the number of parallel realities growing, there could be plenty more of these "What If...?" exercises down the road. If that happens, both Cristiano and Guilherme already know what franchise entries they'd want to help cast in a new light.
"Prometheus," admitted Seixas. "I would try to go deeper on the philosophical level [while] at the same time trying to fix some minor issues that some fans complain about it. I think it's an excellent movie that could go further on its ideas."
"I love Aliens. It really was a movie that marked my childhood," Balbi concluded. "I kept imagining the terror of the Colonial Marines when they saw a bunch of Aliens walking their way. If [you thought the Nostromo crew] had trouble trying to kill one of them, imagine [trying to kill] a bunch of them! Pulse rifles, grenades, a tank — that was awesome!!! And closing with a golden key, the appearance of the Alien queen! I’ll never forget that movie. Alien 3 would also be incredible, the atmosphere always tense, trapped inside an abandoned prison with no resources. It would be sensational, dramatic!"
Issue #1 of Alien: The Original Screenplay arrives Wednesday, April 11.