Monday, June 27, 2011
Vintage Dinosaur Art: Lost in Dinosaur World
Today's entry in the hallowed Vintage Dinosaur Art series, brought to you by the kindness of Terry Thielen who uploaded the scans to Flickr, is Lost in Dinosaur World. This is the second book in the four-part Dinosaur World series by Geoffrey T. Williams, but is the only one illustrated by Borje Svensson. Unlike so many of the books featured in these posts, this series has an honest-to-gosh website dedicated to it. Most intriguingly, there was a direct-to-video movie made from the series in 1993, with creatures by Dinamation. The stills on the site make me mighty curious to see it (especially this one). But that's for another day, hopefully. Our plate is full with Svensson's whimsical illustrations.
Having established the Dinosaur World concept in the first book, Williams jumps right in, with a young boy named Tim and his family visiting the park. I'm not quite sure how the Dinosaur World park came about in the story, but it does predate Crichton's Jurassic Park by a few years; Williams even tried to sue Crichton in 1996 (also see this PDF). Yet another wrinkle that threatens to overshadow Svensson's work, so instead let's look at that, shall we?
It begins with rather standard depictions of pterosaurs, though the large size difference between the background Pteranodons and the rhamphorynchid in the foreground doesn't really come across.
Refreshingly, Svensson depicts Parasaurolophus with the correct posture, and as the main character feeds a juvenile, you can tell that it's rearing up from being on all fours. The distinctive crest could certainly be reduced in size and other proportions could be changed to make the animal look more juvenile, but overall it's a good mid-eighties take on the popular hadrosaur.
T. rex storms into the idyllic scene, rudely interrupting the bonding between boy and duckbill. It's got a bit of potbelly syndrome, but again the posture corrects the old man-in-suit trope that stuck around for so long. The head seems small, and there's one too many digits on those hands, but it's a decent stab at the beast for a children's book of the period. Though I believe, thanks to Marc, that this tyrannosaur would be in a tremendous amount of pain if its leg was actually extended in that way.
The coolest part of the book is the T. rex Express, a totally badass train by which visitors can safely move around Dinosaur World. The locomotive is styled like a great robotic tyrannosaur, and I am crossing my fingers that the creators of my favorite PBS Kids series don't find themselves on the business end of a lawsuit.
Oddly humanoid hands on the express, aren't they? For more from this title, head to the Vintage Dinosaur Art pool to see more of Thielen's scans. He also shared Bronto the Dinosaur with the group, which I featured here in May. Thanks again, Terry!