Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book Review: 'The Thing' by Alan Dean Foster
Comic Review: 'The Thing From Another World' (Part One) Dark Horse Comics (1991)

Back in July 1982 I went to see John Carpenter’s The Thing at the Ritz Theater on Clinton Street. The film had rather quickly gone from the first-run theaters to the second-run theaters like the Ritz, which offered admission for –if I remember correctly – only $ 2. Part of the reason for the film’s lack of success was the fact that ‘E.T.’ was out at the same time and everyone was going to see the kiddie film with the lovable alien, rather than the gross-out spectacle of The Thing. In today’s era of Saw movies the blood and guts aspect of The Thing may seem a bit subdued, but back in ’82 they were considered pretty intense .

Ironically, in the decades since its release Carpenter’s film has emerged as a classic of SF cinema while ET has dwindled in reputation. It’s fine with me; I thought The Thing was a great movie, and second only to Escape From New York among Carpenter’s best films.

Allen Dean Foster’s novelization of The Thing (Bantam Books, February 1982, 196 pp.) was released in advance of the feature film. The book has a suitably creepy cover, by an uncredited artist, depicting the creature pushing itself up through the snow.

I won’t divulge much about the storyline in order not to spoil things for those who have yet to see the movie. The novelization offers some expansion on various scenes in the film, as well as depictions of minor events not present in the film. There’s a bit more exposition on the possible nature of the creature and its spaceship, and the first possession of a camp member by The Thing occurs differently from what is depicted on screen. Some of this extra material is padding, and could have been excised without harming the narrative. But overall the novelization remains true to the filmed version.

In 1991, nearly a decade after the movie was released, Dark Horse comics, which had seen quite a bit of financial success in releasing comics based on licensed properties like the Alien movies, produced a two-part sequel to the film, titled ‘The Thing From Another World’. The first issue featured a brilliant cover, and interior art, by the British artist John Higgins.

The script, by Chuck Pfarrer, picked up where the film left off, with MacReady (Kurt Russell’s character) being carried over the icepack by Childs, the other survivor, and left in the care of a Japanese whaling ship called the Misaki Maru. MacReady regains consciousness and heads back to what remains of his Antarctic Research outpost in order to confront Childs and eliminate any vestiges of The Thing. It turns out some other people have an interest in the destroyed research outpost, and MacReady will have quite a bit of explaining to do…to men with guns and skeptical attitudes.

I’ve provided some interior pages from Part One here, and I intend to provide some pages from Part Two in an upcoming post. ‘The Thing From Another World’ is a great two-part comic, with memorable art from Higgins (who draws monsters better than any other artist out there), and belongs in the collection of any fan of the Carpenter film.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

*Love* the cover of the novelization! Need to track it down for myself.