This image comes directly from the work of H.R. Giger, who created the Alien styling.
How annoying, I can't link a picture, but Google "H.R. Giger pilot"
Scott also drew heavily from Mario Bava's 1965 film "Planet of the Vampires" for his sets and the general plot. The inspiration is more obvious at other points in the film, but here's one scene similar to the "space jockey."
(Bebergal's source also mentions this connection, in more depth. "Planet of the Vampires" is a great film for any "Alien" fan.)
I would pay good money for a Jack Kirby / Whacky Races mash-up.
I do not find the similarity uncanny. I would describe it as vague.
I'm usually reminded of (as well as of other things) Epstein's Rock Driller whenever I see Geiger's stuff.
I think that you're absolutely right about the von Däniken/Kirby connection, Mark, although I think that the more important ancestor to both Chariots of the Gods? and The Eternals was 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Kirby also adapted for Marvel Comics.
Yep. They are both people sitting down, but one is in a small shuttle-thing, while the other is on a chair under a telescope-thing. Nope, not convinced, me. Now, if you scroll down BoingBoing a bit and tell me that H.R.Geiger has been inspired by McRibs, I would be more impressed.
"Erich von Däniken touted as proof of alien visitation in his crackpot science classic"
Crackpot? Crackpot? I dare you to say that to Giorgio Tsoukalos!
Then again, perhaps I was a bit hasty. It is entirely possible that it was the aliens who made you say that; after all, there's no proof that they didn't.
What he meant to say was, "Caractacus Pott."
G I G E R
I run the Alien Explorations blog that has been linked to in Peter Bebergal's post that Mark Frauenfelder linked to and I'll state that Dan O'Bannon acknowledged in interviews that he saw only a trailer for Planet of the Vampires when he wrote Alien, and so he stole the idea of a giant skeleton of a pilot from there . His own original idea was to have it look completely non human but when came to Giger's designed it, it became a near humanoid giant. Its origins are to be found in Giger's Necronomicon book and the construction as a whole with the chair borrowed from the general shape of the ancient Egyptian's Sokar Funerary Barque since Giger had a keen interest in the Egyptian Book of the Dead imagery. I think that I remember that Dan claimed that Ridley wasn't interested in the Mario Bava movie and I can easily imagine that. It's possible that some level of general inspiration for the Space Jockey came from the Pakal Votan tomb lid as well, a reinterpretation of the tomb lid labeled as the Mayan Space Jockey shows up in Prometheus.
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