'Alien' Comic Series Will Adapt Dan O'Bannon's Original Screenplay

Dark Horse is bringing Dan O'Bannon's first crack at the Alien screenplay to life with a new series, Alien: The Original Screenplay. The series will take it's cue from O'Bannon's original draft before it was re-configured by David Giler and Walter Hill and became the movie we know today. The story is basically the same: a group of unlucky saps in space run afoul of a hungry beast. But many of the details are different, and now O'Bannon's original ideas will be fully realized.

THR reports that Dark Horse is turning Dan O'Bannon's original Alien screenplay into a  five-part comic series, adapted by Cristiano Seixas and artist Guilherme Balbi. Dark Horse did something similar with William Gibson's Alien 3, which adapted an unused script for David Fincher's feature debut. Dark Horse describes Alien: The Original Screenplay as "an alternate line of events."

The Alien script evolved over time. O'Bannon first came up with the idea after co-writing the John Carpenter film Dark Star, which had a similar plot albeit with a more comedic bent. The experience left O'Bannon wanting to create a genuinely scary alien movie, and he got to work on a script called Memory. Over time, O'Bannon would work with Ronald Shusett and expand this into a story called StarbeastStarbeast would then morph into Alien, which had O'Bannon listed as sole screenwriter. However, producers Walter Hill and David Giler did extensive uncredited re-writes. You can read O'Bannon's script here. It comes complete with a synopsis that gives you an idea of how similar, and different, O'Bannon's script was:

En route back to Earth from a far part of the galaxy, the crew of the starship SNARK intercepts a transmission in an alien language, originating from a nearby storm-shrouded planet.

Mankind has waited centuries to contact another form of intelligent life in the universe — they decide to land and investigate. Their search takes them to a wrecked alien spacecraft whose doors gape open — it is dead and abandoned. Inside they find, among other strange things, the skeleton of one of the unearthly space travellers.

Certain clues in the wrecked ship lead them across the hostile surface of the planet to a primitive stone pyramid, the only remnant of a vanished civilization. Beneath this pyramid they find an ancient tomb full of fantastic artifacts. Lying dormant in the tomb are centuries- old spores, which are triggered into life by the men's presence. A parasite emerges and fastens itself to one of the men's faces — and cannot be removed.

An examination by the ship's medical computer reveals that the creature has inserted a tube down his throat, which is depositing something inside him. Then it is discovered that the parasite's blood is a horribly corrosive acid which eats through metal — they dare not kill it on the ship.

Ultimately it is dislodged from its victim and ejected from the ship, and they blast off from the Hell-planet. However, before they can seal themselves into suspended animation for the long voyage home, a horrible little monster emerges from the victim's body — it has been growing in him, deposited there by the parasite... and now it is loose on the ship.

A series of ghastly adventures follow. They trap it in an air shaft and a man has to crawl down the shaft with a flamethrower — it tears a man's head off and runs away with his body — a man is crushed in the air lock door and the ship loses most of its air in a terrific windstorm — another man is burned to death and then eaten by the creature — and another is woven into a cocoon as part of the alien's bizarre life cycle.

Finally there is only one man left alive, alone on the ship with the creature, and only six hours till his air runs out; which leads to a climax of horrifying, explosive jeopardy, the outcome of which determines who will reach Earth alive — man or alien.

Notice that last paragraph states there's only one man left alive, which is much different from the film where the only survivor is a female character – Ripley. But O'Bannon's script doesn't have a Ripley. Indeed, it doesn't have any of the characters from the movie. Instead, it features these individuals:

CHAZ STANDARD, Captain; A leader and a politician. Believes that any action is better than no action.

MARTIN ROBY, Executive Officer; Cautious but intelligent — a survivor.

DELL BROUSSARD, Navigator, Adventurer; brash glory-hound.

SANDY MELKONIS, Communications; Tech Intellectual; a romantic.

CLEAVE HUNTER, Mining Engineer; High-strung; came along to make his fortune.

JAY FAUST, Engine Tech; A worker. Unimaginative.

However, O'Bannon also added the following note: "The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women."

Alien: The Original Screenplay kicks-off on April 22. You can see the cover, and some select pages, below.