Creepy Creatures – Love within the Time of Chasmosaurs


For many people, an curiosity in dinosaurs goes hand in hand with a basic fascination with all issues monstrous. This affiliation of imagined creatures with the true monsters of the previous is such a robust one which many books targeted on the previous can’t assist however spend a little bit of time on the latter. Creepy Creatures, printed in 1982, is one such guide. Cover art featuring an assortment of monsters, including a satyr, mummy, and a saber-toothed cat

Written and illustrated completely by Dan Nevins, this guide profiles a menagerie of creatures hailing from literature, movie, mythology, folklore, and prehistory. Nevins has a singularly easy model with numerous character. The just about childlike art work struck a chord with me as a preschooler and my very own artwork from the time borrowed lots from his model.

A cartoonish grey T.rex pinning a generic dinosaur with its foot

It’s clear that Nevins was extra fascinated about depicting prehistoric creatures as a type of monster, largely influenced by standard media of the time, than any form of high-fidelity reconstruction of an extinct animal! This T.rex isn’t a transparent copy of one other artist’s work however the affect of basic dinosaur movies is apparent. Simply check out these three fingers, the generalized reptilian face lined with zig-zag spiky enamel, the scowling expression, plus a masking of what seems to be to be toad pores and skin! Nevins’ T.rex is a rampaging terror the place predatory energy is emphasised above all else, and woe betide any nondescript noodle-necked dinosaur in its path. Regardless of being utterly totally different anatomically, I can’t assist however consider the equally unusual T.rex-victim George Solonevich painted for Dinosaurs and Extra Dinosaurs.

A cartoony Diplodocus with red speckles and snake-like fangs.

That is ostensibly a Diplodocus however it seems to be extra like a python that swallowed a bear. In the event you requested a baby to attract you a sauropod however described it within the easiest phrases (“a giant four-legged reptile with a protracted neck and tail”) you’d find yourself with one thing lots like this. It’s a disgrace that there are solely a handful of dinosaurs on this guide, I can solely think about how an Ankylosaurus or Deinonychus on this model would possibly look! Take a second to pity the poor Squonk, who’s so ashamed of its ugliness that it dissolves from its personal tears of sorrow. Relatable.

A spread with cartoony depictions of a Triceratops, Loch Ness Monster, and Abominable Snowman

This Triceratops is clearly based mostly on considered one of Charles Knight’s basic depictions of the species, however with an enthralling masking of splotchy dots and the paw-like arms and toes that characterize all of Nevins’ dinosaurs. The nasal horn is kind of the place it needs to be, however the forehead horns are rising from the frill in a basic inventive blunder. Nonetheless, it’s an outline of Triceratops loaded with persona. I prefer to assume he’d converse within the voice of Brian Blessed!

Nessie, in line with the textual content, may be correctly recognized as “the Plesiosaur, a dinosaur that lived 200 million years in the past.” The much less stated about that the higher. She’s sporting a noticed cover that jogs my memory a little bit of a sea turtle’s shell however moreso of a whole lot of staring eyes. Her little fanged face is positively cute. The bagpipe-playing rider doesn’t appear to be bothering her, in reality, she appears fairly completely happy about the entire state of affairs. Not the Abominable Snowman, although, who’s famously averse to all woodwind devices.

Cartoonish depictions of an ichthyosaur, Stegosaurus, and Dr. Jekyll

Our closing non-avian dinosaur is a surprisingly energetic trying Stegosaurus for a guide so stuffed with dumpy cold-blooded lizards. Of specific observe are the (form of) accurately staggered plates, correct variety of thagomizer spikes, and hilarious little expression. It’s simply completely happy to be right here! Sadly the little blurb about it repeats the basic two-brains delusion however so do a whole lot of different books.

The ichthyosaur is sporting a trendy serrated back-ridge that I can’t say I’ve ever seen in one other depiction, and people ferocious pink eyes are eye-catching! An orca-like colouration is as near a conventional alternative as potential, however it’s properly executed right here and makes good sense. Apart from the upcoming mammoth, it may be the animal that appears closest to our trendy concepts of life look.

A cartoony Pteranodon soaring behind the head of a red-nosed warlock with a black hat.

That’s a reasonably good Pteranodon for the an affordable youngsters guide from the early 80s! The wings even sport the best association of fingers and the crest is in correct proportion with the beak, certainly that bodes properly for the textual content!

Oh no.

Greatest we simply transfer on.

A cartoony depiction of a woolly mammoth with a white wolf clinging to the top of its head.

A couple of prehistoric mammals are additionally well-known sufficient to characteristic. I don’t imply to maintain making enjoyable of the textual content however 40 toes tall!? I can’t think about how you find yourself making a mistake that huge. Regardless of that, it’s a very cute depiction of everybody’s favorite fossil proboscidean. I feel we’re meant to interpret the wolf as being tossed by the mammoth, however I’ve at all times seen it as a wolf desperately clinging to the highest of its head in some form of horrendously botched predation try.

A cartoonish drawing of Smilodon

The Smilodon is fairly cute too, nearly Flintstones-ian! It’s uncommon to see a noticed saber-tooth, particularly at a time the place they had been nearly at all times given the very same sample as a lion. Smilodon lived ten million years in the past, positive, why not.

And with that, we’ve reached the top of the prehistoric creatures. However there’s at all times room for a sure quasi-dinosaurian supermonster everyone knows and love! Sure, that’s proper, it’s…

A cartoonish depiction of Godzilla and a Leprechaun

Godzilla, proudly displaying his skill to spit radioactive flames that look suspiciously like plastic ribbons. Funnily sufficient, this Godzilla has lots in widespread with the well-known Heisei-era look that wouldn’t be created for a number of years after this guide was printed. As a child I traced the T.rex above and put it aspect by aspect with Godzilla to see all of the similarities. I felt like I’d cracked some form of secret code concerning the origin of Godzilla! Being a dignified weblog, I received’t touch upon the Leprechaun past acknowledgement that it’s there.

Sadly, that’s about all of the blog-appropriate content material I can scrape out of this enjoyable little guide. If anybody desires to see among the non-palaeontology themed creatures inside let me know over on Twitter and I’ll be completely happy to share some extra!

Coming quickly: the long-awaited continuation of the Zoobooks article!

 

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