I've been a dinosaur fanatic since I was 10. I know, most kids are at that age, but I never grew out of it. And by "fanatic" I don't mean I have lots of dinosaur merchandise (though I do), or I can name them on sight (though I can), or I've got a few fossils lying around (though I have) - I mean for the last 15 years or so I've seriously studied them. At one point, I was actually taking classes on my way to becoming a Paleontologist. I own full shelves of textbooks on dinosaurs, scores of articles, subscriptions to current dig newsletters - heck, I own several autographed textbooks on the subject. Let me repeat that: I own science textbooks signed by the Paleontologist authors. That's hard geek, right there.

So, yeah, I'm a dino-nut. This passion also bleeds nicely into my love for comics, of course. If it's a decent representation of my favorite 150 million year-old critters, I'm buying it. I could probably put together a lone long-box solely for dinosaur-related comics. I prefer the accurate representations - they appeal to my book learnin' about them - but I just love them if they're done well. I remember being completely heart-broken when I learned that Bill Watterson was retiring Calvin and Hobbes because - well, there are hundreds of reasons why that was a sad, sad day, but at the top of my personal list was that I would no longer get to see a master cartoonist drawing dinosaurs so well and so entertaining that I would squeal with glee nearly every week.

My favorite comic-related dinosaur series, however, pretty much fell completely under the radar. This series is so blasted good that I end up re-reading it pretty much every couple of months or so, and I'm currently re-reading it this time searching for a scene that will be my next tattoo. The dinosaur-lover's Watchman, I give you:

Nine shades of Dino-Awesome!
Clicky for Dino-Sized

Age of Reptiles
Ricardo Delgado

Check that shit out! That cover is a thing of sheer dino-beauty. Aside from being absolutely stunning, Delgado gets everything right. That's a pack of Deinonychus taking down a beautifully colored Saltasaurus on the run. Notice the broken claws, the turf and small animals caught up in the stampede, and the straight-spine balls-out running of the Deinonychis. I mean, the Deiny's are even a little emaciated! That's a fantastic detail. My only complaint is that the Deiny's should have more feathers. But that's just me, really. Anyway, that is one freckin' amazing action sequence - the guy's got "dynamic motion" down pat. You can see that scene taking place fluidly in front of you - the sounds, the smells, the blood, the thundering stampede of these massive creatures....

Ricardo Delgado, as near as I can tell, is mainly a designer/concept artist with several big-name projects under his belt - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is probably the best known. This (again - going on a brief bio included in the first issue and minor internet research) is his first comic series. That's amazing. Utterly amazing.

Why? Because this series has absolutely no words in it. None. Not even an opening "70 Million Years Ago..." It doesn't need them. It's completely done by manipulating pantomine, a focus on action, and expert pacing. That's no small task for an expert, much less a 1st timer! Check this out:


That's another amazingly fluid scene. And this series is chock full of them.

The plot basically follows an increasingly escalating war between a tyrannosaur pack and the Deiny's. It's simple, but it's doesn't need to be anything more complex. From the amazing panoramic landscape shots seen from the eyes of soaring pteranodons, to the character (yes, character) design of the many, many dinos (there's actually a "cast of players" guide in the back along with a map of the area), this book is a joy to read. Someone like me can read it with a dino-science eye towards the details, but anyone else can just enjoy it as a fantastic story and another example of how comics can experiment with different methods of story telling - and get it right.

This series gets my highest recommendation. Go get the trade. And the sequel's. (what? sequel?) Yes, sequel. A 6-issue series, Age of Reptiles: The Hunt follows this one. And it's even better. Delgado's only other series (at least for Dark Horse), Hieroglyph, is a really creepy stranded astronaut story that is also very, very good. We need more comics from this guy. He's 3 for 3 so far.

I leave you with quite possibly the greatest single dinosaur panel ever from someone not named Delgado:

Oh, how I miss you...

It's dino-riffic!


SallyP said...

Very nice. Frank Cho actually draws some very nice dinosaurs as well. And have you ever picked up Xenozoic Tales? Great stuff.

FoldedSoup said...

Yep - got Xenozoic Tales around here somewhere. And I mean to pick up the trade for Shanna one of these days just for the dinos. And the cheesecake. I'll wait for the uncensored version, I think. I'm easy like that.

(Heck, I have most of Budd Root's Cavewoman for those same two reasons. Those and the dinosaurs, I mean. heh.)