One of the great cinematic creators of giant monsters is famed stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, whose movies have rested firmly at the centre of the Hollywood giant monster tradition since his 1953 The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Even earlier than that, of course, he was mentored by the great Willis O’Brien and hence can boast a sort of lineal connection to King Kong (1933) and The Lost World (1925) — the two films that set the template for things to come.
Harryhausen’s name is currently attached to a series of graphic novels from Bluewater Productions, under the banner Ray Harryhausen Presents. Among its upcoming titles is Flying Saucers vs the Earth, with artwork — cover and internals — by Alan Brooks.
Alan Brooks is an English boy living in Illinois, who produces some rather spectacular images — an example of which is his cover to the upcoming Flying Saucers vs the Earth (the first issue is set to appear at the end of April).
“The Ray Harryhausen Presents project came about from a meeting between Ray Harryhausen and Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions at a Comic convention,” Brooks explained. “Davis, who has been involved in all things comic for some time now, simply asked Ray, ‘Have you ever thought of making comics of your movies’? Ray informed him that he had not and if he had been approached in the past nothing concrete ever transpired. Darren showed him some themes and approaches a couple of weeks later and things got moving!”
Other titles in the series include Wrath of the Titans (the first to be released, based on the Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans), 20 Million Miles More (based on 20 Million Miles To Earth), Sinbad: Rogue of Mars (based on an idea that had at one time been put forward as a Harryhausen movie but did not get past the development phase), Jason and the Argonauts — Kingdom of Hades, It Came From Beneath the Sea… Again, The Elementals (another Harryhausen project that never emerged from Development Hell), and Back to Mysterious Island.
“The rational behind the project was to explore themes from Ray’s movies. Harryhausen oversees the artworks and story lines. Either a What-If-This- Happened, or a What-Developed-Next kind of thing. What happened after Clash of the Titans ended? Why were the aliens attacking Earth [in Earth vs the Flying Saucers]? So we have my involvement in Flying Saucers vs the Earth. This one explores why the aliens would attack Earth in the first place? The why of it all. It isn’t Shakespeare and isn’t meant to be. It is a fun romp and has all of the ingredients that Harryhausen loves, that is, lots of saucers and giant monsters!”
Flying Saucers vs the Earth looks at similar events to those of Earth vs the Flying Saucers from the aliens’ point-of-view, including what is happening on their home world — an interesting approach to say the least, and one that offers significant potential.
“Darren knew my work and said he would approach me with some titles that he thought may be right for me. Flying Saucers was amongst the ones he showed me and I grabbed it!”
From the images below you can get some idea of the detail and dynamic quality of Brooks’ artwork. Immediately below are pages 8 and 9, a double-page spread. (You can click on either side to see a large version of each page.)
Brooks added: “Here’s a pic of a suited alien on his bike [with monster] and below that a pic of a monster I designed for Episode 3.”
The words are written by Ryan Burton and all 3d models are designed and built by Brooks’ son Jay Brooks. Below is a 3D model of Jay’s alien suit and bike that was designed for the series.
I for one can’t wait to see the final results.
Note: All the above images are copyright © Alan Brooks
And, though it’s not Brooks’ artwork, here is the cover for Back to Mysterious Island — because… hey… it’s a BIG reptilian eye!