Alien: Space Jockey's origins in "Swiss Family Robinson"

leading from

a. The whale skeleton
In the "Swiss Family Robinson" novel, the family had earlier discovered a beached whale and proceeded to cut it up, and much later they return to the island, in one version of the book, we discover a scene where the skeleton of a whale is found, and because the person who discovers it doesn't realise it is a whale expecting a whale's skeleton to be like that of a fish, decides that it must be an unknown mammoth creature.

picture of the dead whale's half eaten remains

(a. i) Swiss Family Robinson: chapter 26. Jack discovers a skeleton

Presently jack came back, shouting loudly, “Father! Mother! Do come and look. There’s an enormous skeleton lying here; the skeleton of some fearful great beast - a mammoth, I should think.

Why jack! returned I laughing,have you forgot our old acquaintance, the whale? What else could it be?

Oh no father, it is not the whale? This thing has not fishbones, but real, good, honest, huge beast bones. I don’t know what can have become of the whale - floated out to sea, most likely. This mammoth is ever so much bigger. Come and see!

We hurried to inspect Jack’s mammoth skeleton, which, of course proved to be neither more nor less than that of the whale. I convinced him of the fact by pointing out the marks of our feet on the ground and the broke jaws where we hack out the whale bone

Ernest put it into my head father. He said there seemed to be the skeleton of an antediluvian monster there, so I ran to look closer, and I never thought of the whale, when I saw no fishbones. I suppose Ernest was joking.

Ib Melchior
b. Ib Melchior's Swiss Family Robinson in Space"
Ib Melchior in his treatment for "Swiss Family Robinson In Space" developed the idea of the discovery of a giant humanoid skeleton in a cave filled with high technology and alien artifacts. The series was never made.

The scene involves the family taking shelter in a valley of stone pillars demonically carved by erosion, on Titan one of the moons of Saturn. One night from their treehouse, they see a light and the boys sojourn to discover the source of light which culminates in discovery of a cave, before which lies a giant alien skeleton. The cave itself is full of alien artifacts including a technological archive, strange glass tubes which revive a fearsome creature, a vat that gives birth to a monstrosity and a machine that causes the youngest boy of the family to disappear.
  1. See "Ib Melchior: Man of Imagination", p212

c) Skeletons of giants in America
One could also the idea of a skeleton of a giant with a reports of very large humanoid skeletons considered giant, being discovered in the nineteenth century back in the 19th century. It was also thought that Abraham Lincoln had an interest in these giants skeleton but may have been referring to mammoth or mastodon tusks that supposedly must have been found in the burial mounds
and then later in 1897, a 30 acre burial ground thought at the time be from the quarternary period with a hundred thousand skeletons of humans of various sizes, ranging from dwarf to giant, with their heads smashed in indicating that a battle had been fought in the grounds of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, discovered by the construction gang for the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railway was being built through that wild country,. The investigation was being led by archaeologist and geologist Professor Edwin Walters. Whatever the evidence would conclude, the stories caught the imagination at the time. ( See: Oamaru Mail, Volume XXIII, Issue 7087, 21 January 1898, Page 1, A Prehistoric Battle-Ground)

"Planet of the Vampires" poster
d) Ib Melchior wrote the film script "Planet of the Vampires"
Ib Melchior wrote the film script "Planet Of The Vampires". He includes the idea of skeletons of giants and in this case the remains of skeleton giants are discovered around a derelict spaceship. This managed to turn up in the final film made by Mario Bava.
  1. Ib Melchior: Man of Imagination p212
"Planet of the Vampires"' giant skeleton
e) Dead giant alien pilots in a crashed spaceship: The Trigan Empire comic book series (1965)
The Trigan Empire comic book series first published in the month when Planet of the Vampires was released, featured in its opening scenes, dead giant alien humans in a spaceship crashing to planet Earth  (See: Dead giant alien pilots in a crashed spaceship: The Trigan Empire comic book series(1965) )

f) Dan O'Bannon steals the giant skeleton
The scene in "Planet Of The Vampires" featuring the discovery of the alien giant skeletons is noted by the scriptwriter Dan O'Bannon, and he uses the idea in his script for the movie Alien, featuring the remains of a giant pilot skeleton fused to it's seat in a giant derelict space craft.. Dan O'Bannon admitted that he had seen parts of Planet of the Vampires but he did not think that he saw it completely.
  1. Dan O'Bannon:  I stole the giant skeleton from Planet of the Vampires. (Something Perfectly Disgusting by Dan O'Bannon, Alien Quadrilogy DVD disc 2) 
  2. Dan O'Bannon: I was aware of Planet of the Vampires, I don't think I had seen it all the way through. I had seen clips from it and it struck me as evocative. It had this curious mixture that you can get in these Italian films of spectacularily good production design with an aggressively low budget mentality. (Reel Terror, p297)

comic book panel from The Eternals #1
g) Jack Kirby and the comic book panel from The Eternals

1.) In 1976, Jack Kirby, a well known comic book illustrator released a comic series called "The Eternals" that reveals in the first part of the story, a group of adventurers journey beneath the high planes of the Andes to a secret place the discovery of a giant statue of an ancient spacegod piloting a vehicle carved in stone. And around the chamber they discover other artifacts , outer space technology translated in terms of mythology., including a three passenger descent vehicle, three giant suits armed with with weapons attached by supports to a disc shaped craft. One might ask if this had been inspired by the Pakal Votan tomb lid as seen in Erich Von Daniken's  1968 book "Chariots of the gods",

2.) However another thing to point out is that Jack Kirby was known for drawing a comic book story about adventurers discovering an ancient face on Mars back in 1958 long before a photograph was taken by the Viking probe showing something that has continued to be described by many people as a Face on Mars.
Now read: Development of the Space Jockey


  1. Space Jockey by Moebius? Where can I find a nice big image of this?

  2. Here's the URL:

    The image on my page here should click onto the URL here but mysteriously it does not wish to do so.

    Jean-Marc Lofficier doubted that it was by Moebius, but Prevue magazine credited it to Moebius and it has Moebius drawings of the astronauts although the head is inspired by Foss' drawing. This picture comes from American Cinematographer. I've presently missplaced my Prevue magazine, it's in a folder somewhere. It was a newspaper type magazine at the time

  3. Now the picture on there is s1600 version made smaller in the page but the "href" still doesn't work

  4. You can also, I believe, see the cicular hatch entrance that Moebius designed for the derelict in there. Thanks for the image!

  5. I'll say it's circular but I don't know what it is

  6. When you add a caption to an image it won't let you click it to enlarge it etc, which is a little daft :(

  7. Yes, this has been rather traumatic but now you've told me it's about adding the captions that causes the change. That's useful to know. I've been trying to make as many of images as possible open up to a large version of the image when you click on "view image"

  8. Nice detective work! I found this while investigating the Planet of Vampires connection, a very impressive creative inspiration trail you've etched out.

    All in all though, working with the ever second-guessing Scott seems like it would be rather maddening. That said, he picked the right horse in the end, though it never occurred to me the alien Giger designed was done long before the film, and the head meant to be a kind of interconnected pipe shaft.

  9. Another thing for me to add in the road of the space jockey's development would be the skeleton turned into a parts of a chair in Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw massacre featured in the bone room