Friday, September 17, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Michael Berenstain

King of the Dinosaurs Front Cover

The Berenstain Bears series of books were some of my favorites as a kid, and almost certainly one of my big influences as a cartoonist (though not responsible for the mediocrity of my cartooning, natch). I was also a connoisseur of Happy Meal toys from McDonald's, and I remember the Berenstain Bears set getting more than their fair share of use. In my estimation, they occupied the highest tier of Happy Meal toys, a position they shared with the exquisite Muppet Babies figurines.



McDonald's wasn't the only fast food establishment to profit from a partnership with the Berenstain cabal. Long John Silvers issued a set of dinosaur books, including today's addition to the Vintage Dinosaur Art pantheon, Michael Berenstain's King of the Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex. It's part of his "I Love Dinosaurs" series, which was reprinted by Long John's for this promotion.

Michael, son of Stan and Jan, was on his game here, and without looking at the cover or title page, there's no missing the influence of his parents.

King of the Dinosaurs 3

My favorite part of this title is just how astonished these dinosaurs look. Notice the ankylosaur in this next image; he wouldn't be more surprised if David Bowie had just strutted in, in full Aladdin Sane regalia.

King of the Dinosaurs 1

Even other members of the lead character's species are nonplussed by the high dudgeon* of the heavyweight champion of tyrant lizards, recoiling before the sight of his flesh-shredding teeth and the reek of his breath.

King of the Dinosaurs 2

Of course, even T. rex is caught off guard by the ultimate buzz-kill, the asteroid. This is the ultimate "aw, crap" moment.

King of the Dinosaurs 4

Berenstain wisely closes the book with a mournful T. rex contemplating the end of the Mesozoic.

King of the Dinosaurs5

Hopefully this won't be the last time the Berenstains pop up here... I'm on the hunt for this title as well as this one. I remember owning the latter back in the day. Letting it slip from my possession is one of the more prominent shames in my already shameful life.

*I'll never relent in my quest to install this as a catchphrase on par with "All your base are belong to us."

7 comments:

  1. Call me crazy, but I suspect that _The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone_ has an almost identical plot to _Cam Jensson and the Missing Dinosaur Bone_. XD

    I am also willing to bet that _Brother Bear Loves Dinosaurs_ ends with Mother Bear giving one of her patented "This fun thing you kids like is bad somehow and you should fell bad" lectures these books always seemed to end with (see "Too Much Junk Food", "Too Much TV", "Computer Trouble" [brand new, but one can imagine], ad nauseum).

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  2. I love the "vintage art" posts you do, but this one is by far my favorite for nostalgic reasons. Had the books (dinosaur and bear) and the toys (bear and Muppet Babies). Crazy flashbacks to childhood all throughout the week! Wish I still had the other titles so I could help you out.

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  3. ^^ I should mention that, for all that I disliked the Berenstein Bears as a kid, _The Too Much Birthday_ is the single most frighteningly prescient children's book ever written. See here: http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/04/08/awkward-family-itinerary/

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  4. Those surprised faces when the asteroid hits are brilliant!
    I love the depressed T-Rex at the end too.

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  5. I have the Stegosaurus book in this series.

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  6. I had that book when I was a kid!

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  7. i love this series, i first saw this series on a vhs tape of the series when i was a kid. i now have most of the books form this series besides one. i mostly got them on ebay this pass two weeks.

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