Comic Book Artist James Stokoe’s Fantastical Take on the Alien Franchise

Aliens Dead Orbit

The Alien franchise comic books are about to get a makeover.

Although the title has remained popular throughout the decades via various mediums, the comics barely hold the excitement and passion that were ignited by the first film. To reinvigorate the franchise, the company hired acclaimed cartoonist James Stokoe as writer and artist for a new miniseries.

The first comic book under his leadership is entitled Alien: Dead Orbit #1Vice shared their interview with the veteran illustrator, where he expressed his love for the franchise and how he’s changing his style to fit the series. “I saw the second film at the perfect age—around 12 or so—and I instantly loved everything about it. Then I saw the first film and the sequels, and I turned into an Alien sucker for life,” he gushed.  (The following images are previews from Dark Horse Comics)Preview from Dark Horse ComicsStokoe approached the franchise with more suspense than he’s used to in his previous works. He did this to stay true to the films but admitted that it was challenging nonetheless. “I’ve never really done a horror-type comic before, so the pacing is a completely different animal than what I’ve been used to,” the artist stated. He went on to note that he had to redraw some pages to get them right. He views this experience as a major learning curve in his career.

Preview from Dark Horse Comics

James Stokoe is known for colorful, bombastic and action-packed illustrations. Other comics he has worked on include Wonton SoupOrc StainStrange Tales, and even Marvel’s The AvengersHe relayed to Comics and Cola how he progressed into the impactful independent artist he is today. “I was definitely drawing them before I was reading them. Like, I knew from a young age what they were, but never owned any until I had met a friend with a collection,” he confessed. His ability to layout incredible details is among the traits that are often admired by both readers as well as other artists. This level of dedication inspires fellow indie artists to further hone their craft, despite the challenging situations in the industry.

Stokoe is well aware of the circumstances, too. In terms of his career path, he says that he just goes with the flow. The Canadian artist professed, “Enjoyment and a bit of money is all I’m really asking for. I like to draw, and I like to eat!” He hopes that more talented illustrators and writers will be given the chance to showcase their creations and realize their dreams.

Preview from Dark Horse Comics

Since the announcement of Stokoe’s involvement with the Alien franchise, Dead Orbit #1 soon became one of the most anticipated comic books of the year. It was even listed by The Guardian as one of the comic books to watch out for in 2017. It was mentioned that the pairing of Stokoe and the Alien franchise was “worthy of notice”. The Guardian describes Stokoe as a rare cartoonist gifted with both technical ability and the capacity for developing beloved characters without straying away from their essence. Paired with Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, they herald 2017 as a banner year for the franchise.

True enough, the comic became a massive hit when it hit the shelves last April. Nikki Powers of Comicosity even gave it a 10/10 rating after reviewing the issue. She exclaimed, “If you’re an Alien/Aliens fan, you won’t want to miss this book. This first issue captures the horror ethos of the first movie: the dread, the solitude, the unknowing, all while introducing you to a foul-mouthed action-oriented crew, much like the space marines in Aliens.”

The Alien franchise is one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises ever made, so it’s no wonder Stokoe jumped at the chance to be affiliated with it. Its reach is far and wide, and the films have had success in every continent they’ve been released in since the franchise’s inception. Similarly, the many games the Alien franchise has released have also had success. Among them Alien: Isolation, which was released in 2014 by The Creative Assembly is held in high regard and has been downloaded from Steam by hundreds of thousands of sci-fi gamers. Additionally, the franchise collaborated with Slingo to create the Aliens slots game, which consists of three levels – each one incorporating the characters and settings of the original cult classic. The franchise has permeated almost every aspect of visual entertainment, and Stokoe is just the latest artist tasked with breathing new life into it.

With all this positive media attention brought about by Dead Orbit, the future looks bright for Dark Horse Comics and James Stokoe. The independent artist is one of many new artists that are turning the spotlight on the art of comic books and graphic novels. And by touching on a legendary franchise, his stock will undoubtedly rise in the coming months.