How the Gods Kill: H.R. Giger, Dead From a Fall



If he’d only ever designed the xenomorph Alien, and nothing else, ever, Hans Rudolf Giger would have solidified himself into the pop-culture pantheon. As is, he can also lay claim to the cover of one of my favorite albums (though he later sued Danzig over that), the design of Species and Troma’s Killer Condom, the great unused proposals for Jodorowsky’s Dune, the inspiration for various Batmobiles, and the signature “bio-organic” aesthetic that has graced many a tattoo and fired up the imagination of many a dark and brooding adolescent (this one included).

I used to argue with my father that Giger was too a good artist, and that if he wanted me to like art, he should appreciate the stuff I did enjoy. Years later, we went to an exhibition of his work with my younger brother, who, about five years old, went running from painting to painting, pointing out various creatures, and endlessly, breathlessly demanding to know, “If him…and him…if they fighted…WHOWOULDWIN?”

Most of today’s comic-book monsters, from the Brood to Doomsday, owe their designs in some way to Giger’s work. The only reason we didn’t see more from him, as best I understand it, is that he was something of a reclusive “crazy cat person”; my friend Digger Mesch once visited him in Switzerland to try to make a toy deal with him, and said his place reeked of pet urine.

if you collect toys, comics or videogames, I guarantee you own at least one thing that was inspired by the man. Merging skeletal forms, phallic symbols and hive-like structures in hindsight may seem like obvious fusion now, but in hindsight it was brilliant.

Apparently he has now died, of unspecified injuries in an unspecified fall. It seems a fairly simple way to go, when you’d hope and expect he would somehow go out inside some weird fetish-chamber experiment gone wrong. Hell, maybe that is what happened, and the family’s covering up.

Though he had issues with it later, this tune will always make think of him. Because when I feel alive in that darkened room, he is the name of my solitude. Rest in pieces.

Oh, and in his memory, please learn to say his name right. It rhymes with “eager,” NOT “tiger.”