Monday, March 21, 2011

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Paperbacks of Yesteryear

As I mentioned here last week, the gig that keeps my refrigerator stocked and my dogs clothed in the finest canine apparel is designing book covers. This week's entry in this series is especially fun for me, as it's a roundup of old pulp dinosaur book covers.

We start with a pair of Tarzan titles. Both of these showcase a common theme in pulp dinosaur covers, a theme you'll see below as well: steamy, sun-deprived primordial jungles in which giant lizards reign. The first is easily recognizable as the work of Boris Vallejo, a legend in fantasy art.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice - Tarzan the Terrible (1983 PB)
Shared by sdobie. Cover art by Boris Vallejo.

The second is by Dick Powers, and his Tarzan is of the clean-cut and square-jawed variety, a suburban dad goring a red-eyed theropod through the throat with a spear.

Tarzan at the Earth's Core
Shared by Ron and Sandra Lightburn. Cover art by Dick Powers.

The next one is Behold the Mighty Dinosaur, a short story collection featuring some titans of fiction, as well as James Farlow, a paleontologist at Indiana University Fort Wayne. This one is squarely set in the design aesthetic of the seventies, with its mixture of line art and painting.

Behold The Mighty Dinosaur
Shared by Kevin O'Neill

One of the classics in the genre, being the first work of fiction to explicitly feature dinosaurs, is Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. The first takes us deep into a timeless jungle.

Harlequin-Pan 238 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Lost World
Shared by swallace99. Cover artist unknown.

The second was clearly meant to pop off of book shelves (and save money) with its limited color palette of blue and yellow.

Shared by Birmingham Phil. Cover artist unknown.

The cover of Anne McCaffrey's Dinosaur Planet was graced by a blatant ripoff of Charles R. Knight's Brontosaurus.

Anne McCaffrey: Dinosaur Planet
Shared by John Blakey. Cover artist unknown.

This one, The Crossroads of Time, tosses any pretense of accuracy to the wind. It's bananas. I hope that's a dino-proof bubble.

Andre Norton: Crossroads of Time
Shared by John Blakey. Cover art by Tony Roberts.

The collection 10,000 Light Years From Home by groundbreaking female (and pseudonymous) sci-fi writer James Tiptree, Jr. fared better, outfitting its dinosaurs and pseudodinosaurs with mighty riders.

James Tiptree jr. 10,000 Light-Years from Home
Shared by John Blakey. Cover art by Gino D'Achille(?).

If you like this sort of stuff I'll go ahead and once again recommend exploring Michael May's Adventureblog (who shared my favorite Tarzan cover of all). Along with jungle girls, robots, cephalopods, pirates, and movie monsters, you'll find all sorts of cool old dinosaur stuff to cram down your piehole. And for even more of these, check out Pulp Covers at Posterous. If you're looking to delve into the glories of dinosaur science fiction, the Internet Review of Science Fiction offers a great guide to the subgenre.


  1. I love this stuff! Thanks for sharing. As a paleo-artist, this stuff is muy inspirational!


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