One of Alex Jay Brady’s earliest experiences with the Alien series was Alien War in Glasgow when he was ten. With her mum. “I don’t think she really knew what it was. We queued for ages and finally got inside and a fully armed space marine screamed at us and made us run through a darkened level while a xenomorph chased us.” As all the adults panicked and ran, Alex smashed her knee on metal corner and their marine guide was taken by the Alien. “We all ran away screaming and ran out into the gift shop and everyone there laughed at us all crying. I knew Alien was something cool after that.”
It wasn’t until years later that she saw the films. “The first two are masterpieces; I’ve studied them shot by shot and their conception. I really like the comics too. Alien vs Predator, where the human ranchers are trapped between a furious predator hunting party and an out of control alien queen is epic.”
Alex started drawing from an early age, and had a steady diet of The X-Files, Millennium, Babylon5, Farscape, Stargate, Star Trek TNG and DS9, BSG, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion – and more recently The Expanse. The love of drawing would eventually lead to a career in design – with an Alien connection. Her preference for Syd Mead and 1980’s “wedgey” design meant he didn’t exactly excel while studying car design – where the style was more complex flowing surfaces. “Ironically, 10 years later those more retro influences are in fashion again”, she notes.
Instead she found inspiration in artists like John Harris, John Singer Sargent, Bougereau, Levitan, Jerome, the eastern European landscape painters and 1970s sci-fi book cover artists. This ultimately led to work as a concept artist, where her first professional art job was doing lots of little axes and swords for a mobile game. Though she does confess, “I was really bad at it.”
Others would disagree as Alex’s career so far has been quite diverse, working on Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel, the Universal ride, Fast and Furious – Supercharged, the video game Battlefield Hardline and of course, Alien – In Utero.
Working for several days over the course of two weeks, Alex describes the idea. “They wanted to show the POV of an alien/human hybrid embryo inside a womb. I thought it was a cool concept. I wanted to do a delicate thin version of Giger’s style but they preferred a chubbier, more transparent, gelatinous, interpretation. I wanted to make the viewer imagine those small, sharp, iron-hard hands beginning to pinch and pick and claw more and more ferociously at the inside of the chest where it had gestated. There were 4 or 5 versions and I worked with an original reference image by artist Bill Thompson which helped a lot. The director David Karlack is doing all sorts of cool work and was fun to work with.”
Despite finding the finished product of In Utero suitably scary and unpleasant – particularly on a limited budget, not so Alien Covenant. “I wasn’t a fan. I did laugh a few times and some parts were creepy but overall it wasn’t my thing. I think themes are cool but I didn’t feel the execution.”
On the theme of technology and art, she sees a double edged sword, “Overall technological advances worry me as I see them putting more and more destructive power in the hands of smaller groups over time. On the other hand, new kinds of art like games and electronic music and CGI can do amazing things.” And when it comes to technology and biology, “I’d get perfect Tom Cruise shiny white teeth! I like the idea of backing up my mind, but on the other hand a world where all the richest most evil people can’t permanently die ever is pretty horrifying, like being ruled by vampires. Imagine if Rupert Murdoch could just put his soul into a new body over and over? No thanks.”
Although a lot of her work got cut from Captain Marvel, she describes it as her favourite project so far as well as working with his friend, Scott Foster on ‘Stray Shadows’. He’s currently focused on a Patreon for her Dune fan art, hoping that can pay the bills until she undoubtedly lands her next project.
- Editor: Scott Middlebrook, Alien Universe Timeline