Monday, March 23, 2015

Mammoth is Mopey, a paleoart alphabet book

I am excited to announce that the children's book Mammoth is Mopey, written by my wife Jennie and me and featuring 26 of my original illustrations, is close to publication! It has been a labor of love for the last few years, and I'm on pins and needles as we work on the crucial last step. What's the book about? This Venn diagram is a good place to start.

At its heart, Mammoth is Mopey is simply a fun celebration of prehistoric life. Written as an alphabet book, it features 26 animals spanning 500 million years of Earth history. Some are familiar - Ankylosaurus, Velociraptor, and the title character for example. But most of them are not household names, from Permian synapsids to recently discovered non-avian dinosaurs to a terror bird and a temnospondyl. They're whimsical and cartoony, but they are thoroughly contemporary, with the kinds of integumentary variety and other anatomical details we are accustomed to nowadays, and that we wish the mainstream pop culture would embrace more quickly. Emily Willoughby wrote eloquently on this angle of the book in a wonderful post at her Things With Feathers tumblog. Mark Witton also gave it a big thumbs up at his blog.

Not that I'm seriously suggesting therapsids were either bipedal or nattily dressed...

...or that ankylosaurs fancied painting the occasional still-life.

Another reason for the book is to provide a fun way for adults and children to learn about these amazing animals together. Each spread includes information about when and where each critter lived, and pronunciations produced with help from Mike Keesey. Big and small readers can learn the names together and talk about the emotions and actions of the animals.

Our funding campaign via Indiegogo has two goals. First, we want to print an initial run of 1,000 copies of the book. We're not skimping on it. After much deliberation about materials, we settled on doing a solid casebound hardcover format with a thick, uncoated interior paper stock. It will be a sturdy little book.

Second, we are raising money to fund an art exhibition to be held this June at Wonderlab. As part of their larger "Science A-Z" programming over the summer, prints of every one of the book's animals will be displayed on their gallery wall. Wonderlab will also have signed copies of Mammoth is Mopey for sale in their gift shop, provided we can fund it.

We would greatly appreciate any support, and to sweeten the deal, we have all sorts of excellent perks for people who donate to the campaign. Physical copies of the book come with donations as low as $15, and there are 1" buttons, character prints, posters, and even custom illustration commissions at higher level. Want an illustration of your daughter riding a Postosuchus or you giving Futalognkosaurus a hug? I'll do it! Of course, tweets and Facebook shares are all appreciated as well, if you're not able to donate.

Please check out our campaign page and learn more about the book at, which will be dedicated to the book and its supplemental content in the eventuality that the campaign is successful!


  1. You got my $15! My son would love this book.

  2. And you guys make fun of other peoples illustrations?

  3. Not in the Permian perhaps, but there certainly are bipedal, nattily dressed therapsids in the Holocene. ;)


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