Monday, June 11, 2012

Vintage Dinosaur Art: I Can Read About Dinosaurs!

Today we feature another piece shared by Terry Thielen. We've featured a pretty wide spectrum of work during this series, and this one definitely sits on the "cheapo" end of the spectrum: compositions obviously inspired by classic work, printing that can charitably be described as frugal, text seemingly spat out from the top of the writer's head. Of course, it's also not exactly aiming high: I Can Read About Dinosaurs has a pretty modest goal embedded in its title.

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It was published in 1972 by Troll, with illustrations credited to Judith Fringuello. For what it is, the art is about as good as it needs to be: there sure are some dinosaurs in this book.

Her Tyrannosaurus rex strikes a surprisingly modern posture as it chases down a Trachodon, that dependable, now-defunct duckbill of mid-century dinosaur illustrations. The duckbill seems to be sauntering more than running, but then again, with those flippers for feet, that's about as fast as it can go.

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The bird-catching Ornitholestes. We've seen this meme pop up over and over again, nicked from Charles R. Knight. It's not always Ornitholestes; sometimes another small theropod fills in. This isn't the most blatant tracing of the original, but the inspiration is clear. I also appreciate the expression on the "big meat eating dinosaur's" face. "Oh you do get into some hi-jinks, don't you?"

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I'll end with another of my favorite classic forms of dinosaur illustrations: the gory reality of nature brought to life by a big theropod chompin' away at some poor, docile herbivore. In this case, it's a duckbill of some sort watching some brute take a big bite out of its pelvis. I assume that the theropod in question is Allosaurus, given the similarity of the pose to the iconic mount at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Nodding to Burian's work, here are some snorkling sauropods. Can't beat that hungry theropod on shore, eyeing all those tons of unattainable sauropod flesh.

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I recently found that "Tyrannosaurus rex vs Triceratops" is the 12th most common search term that has led people to this blog since it began. And why the heck not? Sure, I've groused about interspecies conflict fantasies before, but I'd be telling a hefty fib if I said that I'd look away given the chance to see these two iconic saurians face off. They are like Olympian gods, the chiefs of warring tribes, destined to relive their battles for eternity. It will remain an essential part of any kind of mainstream dinosaur media - most recently the brutal treatment in Dinosaur Revolution - as long as there is sufficient demand. Best to accept it and hope it's packaged with some good science.

So, here's them doing it again.

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13 comments:

  1. Love the book cover. The two big guys there look as if they're snickering away after having set off a bunch of firecrackers.

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  2. The Allosaurus is very obviously a Zallinger rip-off, right down to the spines.

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    1. Oh yeah, you're right. It's another degree removed. Knight > Zallinger > This.

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  3. Oh, gosh, I love this! I just think there is immense charm in its 'homemade'quality. From the printing to the character of the drawings themselves.

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    1. i have many more copies of this book if you are interested. i'd be happy to send you one. i had to purchase what was obviously an old classroom set.

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    2. Terry, if you're sure, that would be so kind!

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. "most recently the brutal treatment in Dinosaur Revolution"

    Why brutal? B/c it was kept short or something else? To be fair (in reference to the former), it was 2-on-1.

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    1. My bad. I originally thought you meant "brutal" as in "bad".

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    2. We've really done a disservice to the english language by appropriating adjectives with good, specific meanings for vague slang, haven't we? Awesome. Radical. Brutal.

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    3. This (just to put on my language geek hat; my aunt didn't name me 'linguist' for nothing...).

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    4. "We've really done a disservice to the english language ..."

      Speak for yourself! The thing that amuses me is how words with negative connotations get co-opted as positive adjectives; eg wicked, sick, mental. Mind you, it's hardly a modern phenomenon - nice used to mean foolish, ignorant, or picky, and (good word, now bad) awful used to mean "full of wonder/reverence".

      That's just fetid, man!

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