Creatives: Scott Middlebrook

The man who keeps the Alien Universe together answers some questions on canon and comics.

via The Alien Universe Timeline

Image – Alien: The Weyland Yutani Report Hardcover – 1 Jul 2016 by S.D. Perry (Author)

Recently I (Clara) have had the pleasure of being introduced to Scott Middlebrook, who has consulted for 20th Century Fox and has helped with the Weyland Yutani Report.

Both Jason and I are constantly brimming with questions about Alien Canon, so Bradley Suedbeck kindly put us through to Scott to help quell any doubts we may have about the present state of it.

 @jasonromeo Jason Leger: Hi Scott, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, its appreciated.  I just have a basic inquiry in regards to the films “canon,” and or established timeline.  I just wanted to know how things are established as canon, and how or why things are included or excluded from the timeline?

 Scott Middlebrook: I made up my own version of what was and wasn’t canon when I created the timeline, whenever it was – 1999 I think?  This included the films as the primary resource, with other stuff connected to the films like novelisations, or production info or shooting scripts, as a secondary resource where they didn’t conflict with the films.

 @muthur9000 Clara Fei-Fei: In regards to the Weyland Yutani Report, I heard that 20th Century Fox didn’t acknowledge it officially as canon for 2 years. I don’t know how it is possible if you were involved with fact checking. What hoops does one need to go through to publish an alien reference like that?

 SM:  The Weyland-Yutani Report was written as a canon piece and intended to be as canonically accurate as possible at that point.  Any discrepancies are due to the fact it was written in 2013, and neither S.D. Perry nor any of us who did any proof reading – as far as I’m aware – had any insight into what was going to happen with Covenant.  Perry was approached by either 20th Century Fox or Insight.

 JL: Does 20th Century Fox have specific guidelines for it to be considered canon or are some things never meant to be in the first place? For instance does is Dark Horse or Titan Books work with 20th Century Fox when producing new material?

 SM : Fox works with its licensees about what they can and can’t do. I think it’s fairly well known, for example, that the timeframe for the Fire & Stone comics had to be changed to avoid conflicts with a Prometheus sequel.  After working on Weyland Yutani Report and 20th Century Fox officially publicly including non-film references like Fire & Stone, River of Pain and the Alien: Isolation game; I updated my timeline to also include those events.

CF:  Two discrepancies I have noticed now in the WYR, Elizabeth Shaw’s birth year which is different from the Alien: Covenant Novelisation and the information. If there is a resource of what her birthday is, why is there a mistake?

SM:  Elizabeth’s birth date is different due to the fact Perry used my timeline, where I based it on Noomi Rapace’s actual age.  Not sure where Alan Dean Foster sourced his date from(Alan Dean Foster later confirmed the date came down from 20th Century Fox).  I read a draft of Origins back in May or something, but never saw a draft of the novelisation, so I’m not sure how the mistake happened.  I’ve been considering the option of David being an unreliable narrator for the date discrepancy.  It works as a decent fix as far as I’m concerned. It’s irritating but these kinds of errors are always going to happen.  I completely missed a mistake in WYR that said Vriess died in Resurrection (which I think was later corrected).

 CF:  About David in regards to the Prometheus mission since it was revealed in A:C that he is indeed the first prototype and not a David 8 built within years of Weyland passing away. Did the company not know? Is that how they are going to play that information now?

SM:  Same deal with the changes with David from Prometheus to Covenant.  WYR used the film, virals, and Weyland Corporate timeline as a resource.  Some of those things in the virals and corporate timeline may now be apocryphal.

CF :  Could you tell me the official date of Weyland’s death? Or should I say faked death? Since it wasn’t on the original Weyland Industries Timeline.

SM :  By the time of Covenant it seemed to be common knowledge – at least within the Company – that he’d travelled with the Prometheus and was lost when it disappeared.  There’s no official version of events of what people knew on Earth after the Prometheus left.  I’m not sure how much publicity was given to a mission travelling to a classified location.

 JL:  Any chance Aliens Defiance might be added as its or seems linked to isolation (although through cameo only)? 

 SM:  Defiance was recently included in the main timeline. Ditto Dead Orbit and Life & Death.  The Rage Wars and Bug Hunt will also be included when I get around to it – more than likely in the non-canon stuff (Bug Hunt was deliberately written that some stories fit and some don’t – I’m not sure which so am putting them in the ‘don’t’ category for the time being). So there will be more updates in the coming months.

 

 Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, to follow Scott’s progress go to Alien Universe Timeline https://alientimeline.wordpress.com/

*As you know since Disney had acquired Fox the contents of this interview is subject to change, thank you.

Dark horse comics!

Dark Horse Comics , the legendary folks who , for more than 20 years have released excellent companion pieces and even an alternate history to our beloved Alien franchise . Dark Horse have released over a dozen stories in their long history associated with Aliens . Some are silly and some are well written and drawn companion pieces that work in ways that some might criminally overlook .

Lets take a second to consider how and why comic books are a great medium that works alongside our favourite films .

For one , comics released in between films have always personally helped me stay focused on my obsession with everything Alien . They keep me interested , wanting more , and most importantly letting me know personally ” what works ” and ” what doesn’t ”

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Second of all , I’ve always felt that the comics and or novels for that matter are the safest place for new and bold ideas to be explored . The ‘Music of the Spears’ is a great example of this , it’s completely out of left field and I personally wouldn’t be upset if a film version never got made; but on its own it’s very unique and entertaining in its own right . So take note Disney , I don’t think we need an alien film about a symphony of hate, lol .

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Over the years Dark Horse have released some stories that I think with some expansion in regards to length could have served as the basis for direct sequels or standalone films in the franchise . ‘Aliens Salvation’ comes to mind . It’s unique in terms of setting and fresh enough ( at the time at least ) that it would have made a very exciting film . In my personal opinion it stayed very true to the themes of the first three films . It honours the source material while being different enough that it doesn’t come across as a boring re-tread of things we’ve already seen .

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In the past year ‘Defiance’ and ‘Dead Orbit’ have been released and I couldn’t be happier . Dead Orbit perfectly captured the claustrophobia and that gritty ” lived in ” feel the first films evoked .

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Aliens Defiance was a great addition , such a nice treat to open a comic and see things like the compression suit , the Muthur computer room , pulse rifles and just the overall aesthetic of the films captured perfectly . I absolutely loved the main protagonist. She’s moody , strong willed , and better yet flawed . I could not get enough of the supporting characters either . The story itself felt a tad unfocused towards the end or few final issues but after the extraordinary first few issues it was a lot to live up to .

I’m not sure what Disney buying Fox means for the future of Dark Horse’s long established history with the franchise ; but one can only hope that they can recognize the great works that have been done over the years, and that they stay associated with it .

I encourage anyone who reads this to give Dark Horse Comics a look if you haven’t already , the titles released as of late felt like next level stuff that deserves to be read .