Taking the slasher genre to both literal and metaphorical new heights, Ridley Scott’s Alien set the blueprint for sci-fi horror. Released nearly 40 years ago, much of Alien’s claustrophobic, isolated dread can be attributed to Jerry Goldsmith’s brooding, almost maniacal score. As Mondo is gearing up to release the 4LP expanded score, the label recruited Tyler Stout for the art direction. With a cult following and bewitching back catalogue of work, his trademark new retro style is the perfect breeding ground to bring Alien to life.
“The Alien franchise is custom-made for me,” notes Tyler as he reflects on how he got involved in the project. “I’m 40 years old, collect video games and comic books, I’ve worked at three different video rental stores in my life and didn’t have a girlfriend till I was 25, and I married her. I even have the 1979 Kenner Alien toy, [so when] Rob Jones [of Mondo] asked if i’d be interested in tackling this project. I said 'okay' and it went from there.”
A classic in every sense of the word, Mondo took an ocean of time to ensure the new Alien vinyl release received the quality content it deserved. But with that in mind, the label took a backseat and trusted Tyler’s approach to the artwork.
“Honestly, this project was in the works for about three years, so my memory on the specifics is pretty hazy,” Tyler admits. “But I’ll be a jerk and say they had pretty much no input on concept. Could be true, who knows? Rob did have to explain the packaging layout more than a few times. It’s four records inside a box, with a booklet included as well—basically a lot of surfaces that would need graphics.”
Dark, bleak and confined, Tyler’s designs are littered with a selection of monochrome grays set in juxtaposition to a violently bright, blood red. From the Facehugger to the infamous Chestburster scene, Tyler’s artwork is a showcase of scenes that helped Alien manifest itself into pop culture’s consciousness.
“I tried to completely research the entire Alien universe, from concepts to final film, but Alien only, not Aliens or any subsequent films. I didn’t want to have pieces or logos from Aliens, for instance, since that wouldn’t be correct. I can’t recall studying too many outside influences, it was pretty much 100% Alien.”
Going further into the process, Tyler points out, “I try to sketch things out in pencil and ink via Photoshop, but sometimes I draw directly into Photoshop to save time and make tweaks and additions. The project was started in the spring of 2014, I believe. It was probably 75% done, then dropped. It was picked back up in the summer of 2016, so it’s kind of been piecemealed together over time, though hopefully that doesn’t show. The final project is one complete piece, we just did different pieces over time.”
With the Alien soundtrack hitting vinyl shelves in September of 2017, Tyler reflects on the finished product with both cautious optimism and anticipation. “I’m pretty pleased with it. It hasn’t been printed yet, they’re still doing the pre-order thing through some of this month (May 2017), but if it prints okay, I think it’ll be pretty rad. If you’re into the Alien movie, I think you’ll enjoy the final piece. I hope.”
With malevolent, desolate soundscapes that will stalk the ears, Mondo’s expanded release of the Alien soundtrack will no doubt be the ultimate experience for fans of the franchise. Taking meticulous care in bringing the malicious to life, Tyler Stout’s artistic take on the perfect organism is nothing but structural perfection, matched only by its hostility.