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.

borjesvensson 1

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.

borjesvensson 5

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.

borjesvensson 6

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.

borjesvensson 2

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!


  1. Wow, I remember that VCR tape! I had no idea it was actually based on a book series.

    Thanks for the fascinating look at a lesser known dinosaur park, David.

  2. I also remember the little movie based on these books. I used to rent it all the time as a kid.

    Also, the T. rex express looks to me like Mechagodzilla modified into a train.

  3. Thanks for choosing this book as this week's VDA. I loved this book as a child. I had no idea it was a series. I remember seeing the video years ago and being a bit underwhelmed. My book came with a cassette tape that was a wonderful acting out (complete with music and sound effects) of the entire book. It had a wonderful little set of notes to tell you when to turn the page. While I was scanning the book I played the cassette tape and found myself reciting the thing word for word! I'm really surprised I hadn't totally worn out that tape. They've since released the book with a cd version, but I still love my old white plastic cassette.

  4. As the author of the Dinosaur World series, imagine my delight at finding "Lost..." on this site. Borje Svensson, was a great artist. He also illustrated my book "Adventures in the Solar System." He died shortly after "Lost..." was published. Thanks to tnthielen for remembering the audio cassettes so well. I loved acting in, and producing them. If you're interested in other Dinosaur World art, Bob Cremins did a great job on "Explorers in Dinosaur World," the third book in the series. BTW in defense of Borje's research, the T-Rex that " storms into the idyllic scene...' is actually an allosaurus - with the correct number of digits. Anyway, thanks for the nice words.

  5. Holy Cow! I just surfed back to this page after months and I see that Geoff Williams had commented! Amazing. I can't say enough about this book. I listened to that cassette so many times and looked at those images over and over. I would love to see a film of this done today with a big production value and taken seriously. This book is probably why I love dinosaurs still to this day. Thank you, Geoff, for writing this book.


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