US publisher Caliber Comics is to release a new edition of the Amongst the Stars collection most recently published here in the UK by Planet Jimbot.
Written by Jim Alexander with art from Mike Perkins and Will Pickering, Amongst The Stars reveals aliens have nightmares too – us! An alien race reaches out to planet Earth with its collective mind. But for the aliens, too late, it proves a mentally crippling experience, where Earth drags them down to a level they don’t want to go and cannot escape from. They are trapped in something akin to a horror movie. Everyone on Earth remains blissfully unaware of this alien intervention, or do they? Can we somehow help save them? It’s in the back of their minds…
The project has come full circle for its creators, as the strip was first published by Caliber Comics in their flagship anthology series High Caliber, then through Jim’s own company Planet Jimbot back in 2012.
“[Mike Perkins] made the human characters real and the alien characters incredibly surreal, and enmeshed both environments seamlessly, our world and theirs,” says Jim Alexander in an article for the August 2016 issue of Caliber Rounds, the company’s digital magazine devoted to their range.
“As for the story, there were a couple of inspirations I drew from. First, was the fascination at the time with finding evidence of life on other planets. I thought I would turn this on its head by telling the story of an alien culture looking for the same thing – evidence of life in a sterile Universe – and suddenly stumbling on ourselves.
“As it was in the 90s, so it is now, people seem to cling so much to the idea of finding life on other planets. And this, I think is why the story hasn’t dated. We‘re all still fascinated with the idea of not being unique; of not being alone in the Universe. It is such a big place out there after all.”
“Amongst The Stars is the sort of book that takes you back to the days of science fiction before the explosions of Star Wars,” noted Tony Esmond in his review of the Planet Jimbot collection last year here on downthetubes. “Before everything was about a good looking hero saving the galaxy. In it, we see the love of strangeness. We see echoes of Robert Silverberg, A. E. van Vogt, Philip K. Dick and the like. Back then, science fiction was a eerie and often scary world. Ideas were full of unfamiliar and unsettling worlds and aliens – and, in my humble opinion, Amongst the Stars has all of this going for it.”
“I hope readers who are new to the book, or ones who haven’t read it for a while and fancy dipping back in, see something in it for themselves” says Jim. “Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it. But it is a compelling idea, a compulsion even; that we’re all individualsh but also somehow part of this greater whole; a thriving and confused and humane and belligerent living species. I’m not only ‘me’, I’m also something else.
“The more Amongst the Stars is about aliens, the more it is about us, our place in the Universe and our unquenchable, unshakable, zest for life.”
• If anyone wants the original Planet Jimbot version of the book it’s still up on the Planet Jimbot Etsy shop, price £5, but when they are gone, they are gone