“James Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens is my personal Citizen Kane” – Jason Lenox
“They (UA571-C Auto Gun Platform) Really Kick Ass”- Cpl D. Hicks, U.S. Colonial Marine Forces
Final Pencils on Aliens Overrun Colonial Marine Checkpoint Pinup
So I love Aliens (1986), and what a twisted web that film weaves in our pop culture- it was the last good “Alien” film despite about 5 sequels that never came close, Prometheus being the latest failure in 2012. Aliens was probably James Cameron’s second to last good film, T2 being the last one in 1991, Avatar was a lame version of the Colonial Marines set to the script from Dances with Wolves, in my opinion. Aliens also inspired tons of cool comics from Dark Horse with some great writing- unfortunately most of them had really substandard artwork except Dark Horse’s “ALIENS:MORE THAN HUMAN from Arcudi/Howard/Irwin- again in my opinion. 2013 saw Aliens & the Colonial Marines spawn a horrible video game sequel to the 1986 film that FOX films and the game maker said was “film cannon” – I’ll hit on that later as it’s most recent failure in the pop culture arena. Rarely is something so cool sh*t on so often, so here’s hoping I can shed some coolness on this property- read on!
What they all were trying to get and failed at to was the mystique that Cameron made with the Colonial Marines, their gear, uniforms, vehicles and general feel when they got wiped out by the Aliens in 1986 in that iconic film, which was widely imitated and never matched.
But then I found one thing did hit the mark- a book. In fact a technical manual.
Early in 2013 I got a copy of the long time out of print Book “ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES TECHNICAL MANUAL” which was reprinted thanks to the hype machine around PROMETHEUS. you can get a copy here and geek out a bit. Here is my copy that I kept with me as I worked on this project.
This 1996 book was expertly made by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood , and really captured everything the failed attempts to re-create this “feel” in the years since it was published, heck since 1986. The most recent failure as I mentioned above was for the new ALIENS video game in 2013 click here to read the reviews great for some laughs.
Then I started noticing people even cosplaying the Colonial Marines at conventions.
Here are two guys (one in full Colonial Marine gear!) I saw at Pittsburgh Comic Con in Late September 2013 that were super fans, I was inspired again. One even had me do a quick ALIEN sketch- check out his jacket with badges from the first two ALIEN films!
Then after Pittsburgh I got this amazing Aliens inspired UA571-C shirt from 8-Ball Tees last Fall…click here to get one yourself! O.K.- so what is the UA571-C? well I got an answer, see below, but look at my shirt here first!
This shirt featuring the gun was the geekiest ALIENS reference ever…. and I had to have it as a fan of the 1986 film! Hell, now I was all fired up by the technical manual and wanted to see more, just like all of the fans of the film have over the years….
Anyway- the UA571-C Gun… I got sidetracked, sorry!
The UA571-C gun is in a deleted scene of the film here– I couldn’t believe people were picking up on this obscure element just like the tech manual had done years ago.
So fast forward to now 2014 my pinup project is wrapping up before my next comic book creation starts in March of 2014- and one of my fans (Eric Suarez) asked me to do an ALIENS commission- it fit all of my goals as far as pinups were concerned.
1-Making a fan happy
2-Creating something that will sell as a print at shows
3-Generating something that I can show to publisher and as a portfolio piece
4-Finally it has to be something I’m passionate about that I want to show the world.
And on top of all that, I wanted to make that piece of “ALIENS” art that I never saw within the pages of Dark Horse quality wise, alot of “meh” artwork in those pages. I also wanted something that the folks that made the ALIENS Colonial Marines Tech Manual would love (super fans) and to show something that we never “quite” saw in the films. Hopefully all of this makes something awesome for my client that is paying me for the original artwork too! So the bar is now set- at “unique, unseen in the films (but hinted at) and my normal high level of pen and ink execution” on a property that has been dumped on for years.
So I made a checklist of sorts before I started
1- Show Aliens moving people infected with facehuggers away to their nesting area- the off-screen process we never saw in ALIENS (per my note above about something we have not seen before) was hinted at but never seen- I thought that would be cool to illustrate what that might look like.
2- The UA571-C gun is the centerpiece of the composition, gotta rock my shirt, right?
3- Colonial Marines on the bad end of a conflict- guns out of ammo, checkpoint overrun, Aliens placement in the artwork should be all over the place- showing their fast unpredictable movement.
4 -Use the designs from the ALIENS universe- hexagon wall layouts, flashing lights etc.
5- Using the Cameron ALIENS design from 1986, not the more HR GIGER design from the 1970’s to keep it consistent with the latter film- yes the original film Alien is quite different- sources below.
7- The M56 Smart Gun- Vazquez gun from the film ( THIS DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT UNFORTUNATELY)
8- A perspective to show ACTION!!! not straight on, with a composition of the figures to make your eye move- like the action scenes in ALIENS.
9- A close up Alien so I can do some pen and ink magic to make the details and anatomy pop up close.
And I hit 8/9 in my goal to make the best possible ALIENS & COLONIAL MARINES artwork that would catch my eye and make me want to stop and look for a bit- so here are my source pieces for ref. to my pencil sketches to transfers on sketch paper the final pencils headlined the entry above. ENJOY MARINES!!!