In the 1980s, James Cameron created some of the most iconic sci-fi antagonists of all time: the Terminator (specifically the T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the Alien Queen. Both would become mainstays of the genre and were re-purposed over the years in several sequels, comics, and TV shows. While you've probably seen The Terminator and Aliens, you might not know that Cameron (Avatar) is not just a talented filmmaker, but a gifted artist as well, doing all the preliminary sketches for his cinematic projects. It wasn't a studio-mandated artist that came up with the designs for the time-traveling robot and the Xenomorph mother, it was all Cameron.
Thanks to the new book James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction (tying into the current AMC docuseries of the same name), the director's fans can check out never-before-seen sketches that would turn into some of his most recognizable works. SYFY WIRE got its hands on four of these sketches that depict the Alien Queen and T-800 and they're pretty remarkable. The story behind the Queen is interesting because Cameron took the initial Alien design by H.R. Giger and expanded on it, thus building out the morphology and life cycle of these creatures.
As you can see in the image below, Cameron's initial idea for the Queen's egg sac was different than the hanging one he eventually went with.
"Well, obviously I was inspired by Giger, but as a lover of monsters and creatures, and a designer of them myself, I wanted to have my own go at it," Cameron says in the book. "I took the biomechanoid concept, which was very phallic in the creature created for Alien, and turned it around and tried to make it female. So, I gave ger very long, elegant tapering legs and almost a kind of high-heel look, and then she turned into this creature that was hideous and yet somehow beautiful."
The entire idea to have a mother-like Xenomorph who would lay all the Facehugger eggs was steeped in science for Cameron; he was inspired by the reproductive habits of the digger wasp, which lays its eggs in a paralyzed host (usually a caterpillar) that is eaten alive once the spawn hatch. There was an original idea that never made it into the first Alien, where human victims would somehow turn into Facehugger eggs, but Cameron didn't think that "made a damn bit of sense" and created his own canonized method of procreation for the Xenomorphs.
Continue on to the gallery below to see all of the exclusive sketches...