The Man from Planet X

A confession: I like a lot of old movies. And I have a bit of a soft spot for many of the old sci-fi or monster movies. Recently, I had the chance to watch The Man from Planet X (courtesy of TCM and my DVR), which I’d never seen before. I had only ever run across mentions of it as a kid from time to time in library books on sci-fi films. Turned out the film was decent, but nothing really all that special…except for one thing: the title character. There was something really striking about the alien design for this film.

When you boil it down, I suppose there’s not all that much to it. It’s just a nice bit of sculptural design for the head and helmet assembly. The thing that probably sells the alien and makes him memorable is the built-in up-lighting they included in his helmet, so he carried “drama” with him wherever he went. Others’ mileage may vary, but the visual was striking enough to lodge in my head at least. It’s a good example of making very effective use of what was probably a limited production budget.

So here’s my shot at the Man from Planet X. I saw it as a chance to play around with some dramatic lighting and black-spotting. It’s a bit of an experiment, in that I tried to ink it the way Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles used to do: banging in all my blacks first with a brush (scary!), then going back in with pen where it still needed it. I do like the whole “lost edges” effect that working this way helps to achieve.

This scene didn’t exactly happen this way in the movie, but so what? It’s my blog, and I can draw what I want! And anyway, it seems a reasonably appropriate image for Halloween.

One last thing here, a bit of trivia: the female lead in the film was Margaret Field, the mother of Sally Field. I don’t know if anything like that would ever come up in a game of Trivial Pursuit or not, but if so, don’t say I never did anything for you!

UPDATE: FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck made me aware of the fact Fawcett had actually published a comic adapting this movie, with art by Kurt Schaffenberger, and that you can check out a b/w UK reprint of it here. Interesting to see Schaffenberger take his art in a different direction from what we’re used to seeing him do, and to note that there are places in the comic where they diverged from the movie! Thanks Paul!

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3 Responses to The Man from Planet X

  1. John G. Pierce says:

    Besides a very good drawing, you gave us a nice bit of trivia. I had no idea that Sally’s mother had also been an actress.

    • Mark says:

      Honestly, I didn’t know that either, until I did a little online research after seeing this film. Margaret Field actually had a pretty decent career as an actress, appearing (according to IMDB) in about 90 different films and TV shows!

  2. Lyle Dodd says:

    This illustration also conveys a “spooky” feeling…it makes you want to know more about the story surrounding the characters and the situation. What a tease!

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