Friday, November 12, 2010

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) Marvel Super Special #3

Another seminal 70s sci-fi classic that I have so far neglected on this blog is Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, quite possibly the greatest UFO movie ever made. Along with Star Wars, CE3K (as the genre mags referred to it), really changed the face of science fiction films forever. No longer were sci-fi films relegated solely to B-movies and exploitation filmmakers - with that box office double punch, space movies stepped up to the A-list, with every major studio determined to field their own special effects-heavy blockbuster.

Marvel Comics had really lucked out with their decision to pick up the Star Wars license, and were duly careful not to let any other potential hits slip through their fingers. Hence, this magazine format comic adaptation of Spielberg's film, published as the third issue of their Marvel Super Special title.  Later issues would feature adaptations of Battlestar Galactica, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek - The Motion Picture... and Xanadu(!), among others.

I no longer have this comic, but I wish I did. the script was by the great Archie Goodwin, and the art was by the always awesome team of Walter Simonson and Klaus Janson. (Interestingly, Goodwin & Simonson also adapted Alien for Heavy Metal.) The cover painting above is by Bob Larkin, a prolific painter of covers for paperback novels (including a few Star Treks for Bantam Books) and comics magazines.


  1. WAAAAAAAAAAAIT, waitwaitwaitwait. There was a comics adaptation of Xanadu?!


  2. You see what $1.50 would get you back in the '70s? Magazine size format made a truly worthy showcase for the art, and of course this story was phenomenal.

    Now the comic publishers want you to shell out $3.99 for drek. Some are even charging more.
    Ah, for simpler times!

  3. A suprisingly good adaptation of one the best films ever made. The art by Walt Simonson and Klaus Janson (who also did a terrific job on Marvel's monthly Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars comics) is wonderful and the awesome two-page layout depicting the arrival of the mother ship over Devils Tower alone makes it worth owning.

  4. For some reason, I never saw Close Encounters when it came out - but I bought this comic, which I really liked.
    The same goes for Alien - I was too young to see it in 1979, but the comic adaptation did the trick, I thought it was great and actually scary - for real.

  5. Someday i'll find a copy of this at Con, I actually wish Marvel could re-release these in some sort of collection, but i suppose rights issues could be a nightmare..........

    For my money the two best adaptations of movies to comics were Alien by Archie and Walt and Dracula by Thomas and Mignola. The Alien adaptation blew my mind as a kid, what Walt managed to do with limited reference material is astounding and his own unique spin on the material is inspired. Mikes Dracula stands toe to toe with Coppalas film in my opinion....that just doesn't happen with adaptations....ever!

  6. Funny coincidence... I came across this older entry as I was looking through a book collecting some of Bob Larkin's artwork (The Savage Art of Bob Larkin, Volume 1), and this cover was featured on one page along with his wraparound cover for the Battlestar Galactica Super Special. Interestingly, he originally had the couple running FROM the UFOs due to studio secrecy regarding the film's plot, and ended up repainting the whole cover from scratch in 24 hours to become the version we see here!

    1. does the Larkin book contain the original version of the artwork? as i've been trying to source a copy for over ten years! CHEERS PHIL

  7. ps. this comic is easily obtained every single day of any given year on ebay. and it's cheap too. PHIL

  8. There's also a "treasury sized" edition. I have the standard Marvel Super Special magazine. Great adaptation. And if you love Archie and Walt's "Alien: The Illustrated Story" you really need to get the "artist's edition". It's printed from Walt's original art at it's original size. It also includes Archie's script, interview with Walt and Walt's 2 page tryout for the book.