In a most unexpected crossover, Joey Spiotto combines murderous monsters with children’s books in Alien Next Door: In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean. In the introduction, Spiotto describes how original alien-designer H.R. Giger saw some of Spiotto’s work and reached out to collaborate on a collection of lighter-themed art, something that reached Giger’s inner child — something I became recently acquainted with — but Giger’s penchant for creating gothic, industrial, often phallic art wasn’t well suited to making art for kids. Unfortunately, Giger passed before the collaboration could commence, but Spiotto moved forward with the project, and has produced one of the most delightfully funny books a sci-fi fan could ask for.
Aside from the introduction, dedication, and “About the Author,” there is no reading — this is strictly an art book, one built on in-jokes from the gamut of the Alien universe. The featured alien decorates leathery facehugger egg sacs for Easter, eats Promethe-O’s for breakfast, and has Ripley lighting his birthday cake candles with a flamethrower. He helps Ripley shave her head for Alien 3, takes care of Jonesy the cat from Alien, builds models of the lander craft from Aliens, and even take a jab at the basketball scene from Alien: Resurrection. The Weyland-Yutani logo hiding in a “Home Sweet Home” cross-stitch hanging on the wall of the alien’s house is one of many little details that really make every page noteworthy in some way.
However, it’s not all about movie references. The alien has hobbies and is trying to fit in as an average life form here on Earth. He likes bowling, cries acid tears when trying to chop onions, and uses his tail as a jump rope for kids (Newt among them). Has to take his facehugger for a walk, too. He goes trick-or-treating, gets sunburned at the beach, hits the gym, goes to see the doctor for heartburn, and so much more.
There’s no story to analyze as it’s literally a slideshow of humorous pokes at the films and universe as a whole. There are 60+ illustrations here, and while the book seems small and is a quick read, I find myself going back to it again and again, getting a grin on my face every time. I work with a bunch of nerds, and it’s been a hit around the office as well.
The light-hearted tone is interrupted only once as the author pays tribute in one piece to the late Giger, who passed in 2014. It gave me pause for reflection and the sudden change in tone, but is completely appropriate and a well presented homage without diverting the overall focus of the book.
While the art style is definitely geared towards kids, many of the jokes require having seen the R-rated movies, or getting an adult to who has to explain the references, neither of which are probably ideal. In that regard, it taps the South Park vein of mature content hiding in a kid-friendly presentation.
I’m so glad this book is seeing the light of day, and if you’re a fan of the franchise, absolutely pick it up. If you’re a newcomer, the jokes might be lost on you, but the art style is still adorable.