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As Comicpalooza approached, I began to realize that the convention had booked a number of non-actors associated with Aliens for the show. It occurred to me that I ought to get some sort of catch-all "technical achievement" commission that would create a space for all of these creators to be acknowledged and leave their John Hancocks. For instance, the entire team responsible for the first Dark Horse Comics Aliens mini-series were present, including illustrator Mark A. Nelson. I was familiar with him through his extensive work at Dark Horse, as well as the cool but forgotten Vertigo mini-series Blood & Shadows with Joe R. Lansdale. I approached him about doing an Alien Queen, which he confessed he hadn't drawn in a long time, but we had a shared reference point through Starlog's 1986 The Official ALIENS movie book. He'd used it for years but I'd only recently bought one after being taunted by ads for it going back to my impoverished childhood. Nelson was totally game about the commission, and also a great sport in general and a good conversationalist besides.
I ended up buying a copy of Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series from him, which is a very nifty oversized hardcover collection of the first mini, covers, plates, anthology stories and other rarities with black metallic ink ringing around the edges of the pages. Nelson drew an Alien Warrior head for me on the inside, while letter Willie Schubert (who I still need to contact about a project we discussed) and writer Mark Verheiden (who I also got to interview) also signed the book & the commission. Pretty sweet, no? They were joined on the art piece by Spat Oktan of SpatCave Studios (who had designed costumes for the Aliens: Colonial Marines video game and outfitted a number of cosplayers at the show) and Alec Gillis. The latter had done design and effects work on several Aliens films, and is featured on the commentary track for Alien3. We had quite a nice chat about the virtues of practical FX and his current project, Annabelle 2, which never would have happened without this commission. Pretty sweet, no?
Mark A. Nelson
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