Early summer of 1979. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, its warm and I should be out playing somewhere but I’m with my parents shopping in Willenhall. The town has a large newsagents and for me this shop is the highlight of our weekly shopping trips, somewhere I can browse the shelves of paperbacks (its where I bought the Splinter of the Minds Eye paperback and so many others) and look through magazines, pick up the latest issue of Starburst if I haven’t gotten it yet. But my eyes suddenly catch the cover of a new film magazine, the one you can see on the right here. Alien is the big new science fiction film, and I don’t yet realise it will be certified ‘X’ over here and its joys be forbidden to me for a few more years. This issue of Fantastic Films (renumbered number one to favour its launch in this country) has a big article on Alien, but I pause to just soak up that cover photo. It looks just so strange, so unusual and, yes, alien… to my young self its utterly mindboggling and arresting. The colours are so dull and brown and earthy, gritty, the spacesuits almost old and victorian to my eyes. Behind the figures the enigmatic Space Jockey rests, utterly strange and bizarre and unlike anything I have ever seen. Its my first encounter with the designs and art of H R Giger.
Today news has broken that Giger passed away on Monday, at the age of 74 following a fall at his home in Zurich. Another creative icon of my distant youth has gone. Better writers than I will be able to wax lyrical and describe in detail the Swiss artists surreal dreamlike nightmare images, his career and accomplishments, so I just thought I’d share this memory of my first encounter with his strange and remarkable visions. The world will be a more mundane place without him.