When you write sci-fi (when you write in general, really) you never know when your brain is going to demand that you parse out some little sliver of information it's been holding onto forever. Like tonight. For some reason I've got the Alien franchise on the brain, and that throwaway line about a "bughunt" came to mind, and I wanted to know what it meant. Of course, the internet always has an answer.
This then, of course, led me on a hunt for a couple of old Alien trade paperbacks published by Dark Horse Comics, some of the first comics I ever owned: the grim and moody Book 1, told in eerie black and white, about whatever happened to Hicks and Newt if they ever got home to Earth; Book 2, a luxurious airbrushed marvel, like a film come to life on the page; and Earth War, shredded with Sam Keith's signature artwork, a post-apocalyptic end to a series that took a very different turn on the screen. I lost all three in a fire over twenty years ago. I remember trying to salvage them, sooty and moldering.
I mention this because I can easily and immediately recall entire panels and pages from these books. Iconic imagery, each volume distinct but burned into my mind forever. The storytelling left a lasting mark on me as a writer. I've joked about how the only way I knew how to communicate what I needed when I've directed films in the past was due to what I learned reading comics, but picture books can turn you into a writer eventually. They leave cave paintings on your brain, waiting to be unearthed.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.