Alien: Variations of Giger's Life Cycle Hieroglyphics painting

leading from:

HR Giger painting the Hieroglyphs, (image taken from Giger's Alien)

a) The original Space Jockey/Alien relationship
The Space Jockey's history begins with the basic idea that O'Bannon had in mind, which Scott wanted to include evidence of in a prognosis scene.
This involved the space jockey being an entity who landed on the planet in his ship and became infected by the spores in the pyramid. 
He at the time had no relationship with the film's Alien other than to become its victim.

Original life cycle tableau

b) Starting the Hierogylphs
On 5th April 1978 Giger began the hieroglyphs, a photographs shows him during the painting of the Facehugger's spring tail as it sleeps in the egg, 
At the time, the head would still be a space helmet and the image that we see of it is found in the Giger's Alien book, 
It is a humanoid astronaut wearing a costume with biomechanic patterns. 
Once he had designed both the derelict and the silo, both would have his biomechanic style and the astronaut in the hieroglyphs is also wearing a biomechanic suit.

alteration made to astronaut figure, before and after
c) Change in the Space Jockey / Alien's relationship
In Giger's Alien diaries, it appears to be around March that the merger between the derelict and the silo becomes apparent but in the Giger's Alien book, it was not until June that the derelict and the silo are combined. 
The head of the anonymous astronaut victim in Alien Life Cycle Hieroglyphics had been changed at some point to resemble a member of the Space Jockey's race.
This image can be found in Scanlon and Gross 'The Book of Alien" and that is the way the painting is to be found today.

d) Giger interview confuses the issue or adds another
In 2004, it has been a few years now that the difference had been brought to the public about the difference between the two paintings.
However Giger when asked about this by the magaxine Dixieme Planete
It's revealed in the interview about how he started off with a victim that looked like the alien and transformed it into human like victims to make the distinction.
It's not quite an answer that explains the paintings but then one might ask if Giger started off with an idea for a victim of the same species as the main alien of from the movie, changed it to a humanoid astronaut victim and then to a victim of the same species as the Space Jockey. 
  1. H R Giger (5th April 1978): I go on working and start on the design of the hieroglyphics.(Giger's Alien, p14) 
  2. Dixieme Planete : Une dernière question : pourquoi existe-fil deux versions du tableau représentant le cycle de l'Alien ? (Ce tableau est reproduit avec des différences dans le magazine Métal Hurlant et dans le livre dans lequel Giger raconte son aventure cinématographique).

    HR Giger : En fait, j'ai modifié l'apparence des victimes car ils ressemblaient trop à des extraterrestres ayant une tête de Alien. J'ai voulu les faire plus humains pour qu 'il n'y ait pas de confusion ! Mon travail sur Alien est loin, maintenant, mais je suis heureux d'avoir contribué à créer un monstre parfaitement crédible, malgré les contraintes imposées par le cinéma.
    Google Translation :
    Dixieme Planete: One last question: why are two versions of the tableau representing the cycle of the Alien? (This tableau is reproduced with differences in the magazine Screaming Metal and the book in which Giger describes his cinematographic adventure).
    HR Giger: 
    In fact, I modified the appearance of the victims because they resembled the extraterrestrial ones too much having a head of Alien. I wanted to make them more human so that there is no confusion! My work on Alien is far, now, but I am happy to have contributed to create a perfectly credible monster, in spite of the constraints imposed by the cinema. (Dixieme Planete 31, October/November 2004 , p49)


  1. "3) Tying everything in with his biomechanoid concept, Giger states that the creature "is biomechanical to the extent that he has physically grown into or out of his seat - he's integrated totally into the function he performs." (origin of quote?)"

    I'm almost certain that's from Cinefex, because I transcribed the same quote recently, and most of the quotes I've been transcribing are from that!

  2. Yes, page 64, thanks. Now I''ll add the correction in.