Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Atlas of Dinosaurs, The Return

Our sole criterion for a book to qualify for the blog's Vintage Dinosaur Art series is that it is 20 years old. (And yes, because of that, I am very guilty of stretching the definition of 'vintage' to breaking point.) Atlas of Dinosaurs is rather newer than that, but as was plainly seen last week, it might as well be straight out of the 1980s. Following the panoramic illustrations in the previous post, I'd like to dedicate this one to depictions of individual animals. Warning: levels of plagiarism and the positions of eye sockets may vary.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Further adventures in Russian: Atlas of Dinosaurs, part 1

Following last week's 'Russian interlude', palaeoartist and (I'm very happy to say) LITC reader Vladimir Nikolov has offered up another slice of Russian-language non-quite-vintage dinosaur art. Behold, one and all, the glorious Atlas of Dinosaurs and other Fossil Animals. It's a far more recent book than you might think...or hope.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Russian interlude

What's all this then? Well, I was recently contacted by Dave Hone, well-known palaeontologist, blogger, and exuberant fellow. Dave and I have met a few times, and he even lent me a pile of his old books on one such occasion. This time, Dr Dave had another treat for me. In a letter sealed with wax and carefully delivered by a dashing man in a hat, he had written:
"Dearest Marc,

I do hope this letter finds you well. On a recent field trip to the badlands of somewhere-or-other, one of my students mentioned a glorious 1990s dinosaur book filled with brightly coloured, haphazardly proportioned and occasionally obviously plagiarised dinosaurs, and I had to think of you. Please find a series of photographs enclosed.

Cordially yours,

Dr David Hone."
 Or he might have just sent me an e-mail. But check it out - Russian vintageish dinosaur art! Hurrah.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Doctor Who Dinosaur Book - Part 2

So it turns out that Doctor Who is quite popular - who'da thought? As such, there was much demand for a second instalment of The Doctor Who Dinosaur Book (1976), featuring everyone's favourite Doctor* - the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker - wandering around and posing like a prat among dinosaur art faithfully traced from the pages of earlier books. I do hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Doctor Who Dinosaur Book

It's a very good day for those interested in palaeoart - its history, trends over time, the current consensus on restoring certain animals, and where it might be going. Firstly, there's Mark Witton's article in Palaeontology Online, in addition to one on the 'new' Spinosaurus on his own blog. Secondly, Darren Naish's latest blog post is also a look at the changing appearance of dinosaurs in art (what, again?).

Here at LITC, we like to think we do our bit in aiding public understanding of the history of palaeoart; in particular, how certain trends are adopted by illustrators perhaps less accustomed to drawing dinosaurs, frequently resulting in grievous errors being repeated ad nauseam. The best palaeoartists will often find that their very particular take on an animal will take on a life of its own, appearing all over the bleedin' shop until it becomes the de facto 'genuine' restoration. This week's book is an exemplar of these tendencies in palaeoart. It also has Tom Baker in it. "You have a woman's bottom, my lady!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The AMNH's Book of Dinosaurs, Part 2 - James Robins

Over the years of writing these blog posts, I'd like to think that I've matured somewhat - that the vodka-fuelled gratuity of my late university years has mellowed into something more thoughtful and, dare I say it, nuanced. (Oh yes. I went there.) Sure, I'll still point out shonky dinosaur art, but with less savagery, and an acknowledgement that, by contemporary standards, it's often not so bad. Plus, illustrators gotta eat.

On the other hand, one is occasionally reminded that a few - a very few - palaeoartists over the years managed to make their jobbing contemporaries' work look more than a little embarrassing - maybe, even, deserving of the occasional pouring of scorn. One of those artists is James Robins.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Brontësaurus‏. Sepia ink and gouache on Strathmore grey toned paper, 151 x 147mm.

'My literary and palaeo friends and audiences so rarely converge (which is a great pity), but I’m jolly well going to try.'

So I said when I first shared this drawing on my own illustration blog, Twitter, and Facebook page a few weeks ago. It has since gained what was for me quite unprecedented attention for a single piece of work on any of those media platforms.* Why, it's even been spread about on Tumblr without any attribution, which I daresay is about as 'viral' as it gets for me. As usual, I hesitated sharing it here from the first because it offers very little next to the nutritional goodness posted by my Chasmosaurs brethren, but I've been persuaded otherwise. Stay tuned, therefore, for more in this series.

*Except perhaps for Ol' Salty, which was shared by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts' Facebook page, though as they uploaded the drawing afresh instead of sharing it directly from mine, the figures were not reflected in the latter. *Chagrined mutterings*

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The American Museum of Natural History's Book of Dinosaurs

Meeting our Vintage Dinosaur Art criterion by the slimmest of margins, The American Museum of Natural History's Book of Dinosaurs and Other Ancient Creatures (snappier titles are there none) is a mere twenty years old. However - and as I've said numerous times before - it's amazing how much has changed since the early '90s, even when it comes to restorations of dinosaurs that aren't (yet) known to have been feathered. The AMNH book (as I'm sure you won't mind me calling it) is also notable for featuring artists with differing approaches and styles, which only adds further historical interest. Some of our old friends are in there, but there's at least one highly notable contributor who hasn't been featured in a VDA post before...which always makes me So Very Happy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview: Ross Campbell

We here at LITC were pleasantly surprised by Ross Campbell's art in the recent Turtles in Time #1, which depicted all of its prehistoric creatures with various feathery coverings (including, presciently enough, the ornithischians.) When it turned out that Ross Campbell is active on Deviantart, well, that was too tempting an opportunity to resist. I reached out with a few questions, and he was kind of enough to reply.

So how did you end up on the Turtles in Time creative team? Did you have much input on the setting and on which dinosaurs were featured?

My editor Bobby asked if I wanted to draw Turtles in Time #1, I said "of course I do," and that was that! The writer, Paul Allor, and I talked a bit beforehand about the setting and which dinosaurs we were going to use. Paul picked the ones neccessary for his script, though, such as the Tyrannosaurus and the Triceratops, although for some of them it was more of a general type, like something that could fly. The specific species was left to me.

Since my mom saves everything, I pulled out a bunch of old dinosaur books I had as a kid and picked out the ones I liked and which fit the time period and setting. I picked all of the background dinosaurs myself, such as the Therizinosaurus and Pepperoni [the baby Protoceratops Raphael takes as a pet]. When I came on board, I was determined to give the Turtles an adorable dinosaur sidekick, and I wouldn't rest until I'd gotten her into the story! For the flying reptile we needed Mikey to ride, I decided on the Quetzalcoatlus, not just because of the time period but because it seemed the most rid-

Pepperoni is a great little side character. Do you have much of an interest in paleontology? Do you see yourself drawing them again in the future?

I don't have a big, active interest in it, other then that I like dinosaurs. I don't read up on the science or the new discoveries that often, but I still enjoy it. I especially love reading about the weird discoveries that shatter the popular image of what people think dinosaurs are. I used to draw dinosaurs a lot as a kid, and I'd love to draw them again in the future. I'm doing a Ninja-Turtles fan-comic right now that I post online, and some dinosaurs might show up in that.



What was the process you used to do the dinosaur character design? Was it something you had a lot of freedom with?

Paul and I were on the same page before we ever discussed it. I've always loved dinosaurs with feathers since I was a kid, so I knew that was what I was going to do. I wasn't sure how Paul or Nickelodeon would like it, although I was prepared to fight for it. I can get pretty stubborn. But luckily, Paul asked for feathered dinosaurs before I even said anything, so it worked out. Early on I had been planning on coloring the issue myself, so when I did dinosaur sketches I did color schemes for them too. Some of which eventual colorist Bill Crabtree used, like the colors for the Tyrannosaurus and Pepperoni. Nickelodeon didn't like my Triceratops colors, so we had to change that. It was a little too weird, I guess.

I love bright and weird colored dinosaurs, though. I get bored of everything always being shown in grey and brown and single solid colors. I wanted the dinosaurs in the background to be more colorful than they ended up being, but there was a bit of concern over my Valentine's Day/Easter-colored dinosaurs, so it was scaled back.

Another thing was that even though I wanted there to be some accuracy, like the feathers, I also wanted it to be cartoony and cute. I love Jurassic Park and all that, but I get a little tired of dinosaurs always being expected to be "badass" and fearsome and ugly all of the time. So I wanted to do something in the middle, which, to me anyway, makes them seem more believable within the world of the comic. And it just fit the tone better.

Was there any kind of dinosaur that you wanted to add but couldn't? 

I would have liked to have drawn some swimming dinosaurs, and it would have been fun to draw the Turtles dealing with something really big, like a Mamenchiasaurus. It would be fun to draw something at that scale.

Finally, Ross, what's your favorite prehistoric animal?

I love Glyptodon! And Deinonychus.

Thanks for the interview! OK, Pepperoni, play us out. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Mysterious World of Dinosaurs - Part 2

In the first part of our examination of The Mysterious World of Dinosaurs, we came upon chubby, oily-looking tyrannosaurs, alarmingly carnivorous-looking stegosaurs, and Godzilla. However - and as the title implies - this book goes beyond the eponymous archosaur clade, taking a look at various other Mesozoic monstrosities. Bring on the zombie-pterosaurs!