Hej allesammen! It’s onerous to search out correct illustrated mass-appeal dinosaur books from earlier than the Nineteen Seventies, when Zdeněokay Burian introduced Life Earlier than Man into each European residence. It’s at all times trigger for minor celebration every time one thing older than that exhibits up that isn’t Knight or Zallinger. So think about my delight after I rediscovered this e book in my very personal archives after I moved home final yr. Oh sure, I keep in mind this one. This very, very previous one.
How previous? It dates from way back to 1957. It’s of Danish origin, initially titled Fortidsdyr i farver (Prehistoric Animals in Color). It was written by Kai Petersen and illustrated by Verner Hancke. All I do know of Classic Danish Dinosaur Artwork begins and ends with Gerhard Heilmann, so I needed to google these guys. Kai Petersen is so frequent a Danish identify that I didn’t discover a lot of a path there. This appears to be the one e book of his on the market. What I discovered from Verner Hancke was largely Christmas playing cards, kitsch with gnomes and guides to backyard vegetation; your typical jobbing illustrator who would do you a dinosaur or two on the facet on a fee. Experience in palaeontological reconstruction was not likely a ability folks had and even knew the right way to purchase again then. Getting a maintain of some high quality reference materials was the perfect you possibly can hope for.
Because the entrance cowl signifies, this can be a “journey by means of time” e book about prehistoric animals typically moderately than a devoted dinosaur e book. There may be loads of dinosaur content material, nevertheless, in order that’s what I’ll concentrate on right here. On the duvet, you possibly can benefit from the Burian-tastic terror chook, Archaeopteryx with hoopoe colors and a prehistoric man taking up a cave bear head-on with nothing however a sharp stick. I don’t fancy his probabilities a lot.
There’s some enjoyably patronizing rambling within the foreword, written by Magnus Degerbøl, who was the curator of the NHM of Copenhagen on the time. He ponders how children today are all about their colored illustrations, not like in his day, when all you bought was scribbles in black and white and also you have been pleased with that. I’m wondering what the person will need to have manufactured from color TV.
I’m not gonna lie. I disliked this e book as a child. That’s as a result of I used to be an unbearable snobby nerd raised on Dinosaurs! Journal, the collection that mercilessly offered outdated views on dinosaurs as silly errors. All this retro stuff, all dragging tails, ponderous upright tyrannosaurs and wading sauropods, regarded very silly to me. How silly I used to be. Now that I’m older and wiser, after all, I’m going to be unbearable and snobby at this e book for a totally completely different cause. The copying of Knight and Zallinger is fairly blatant with this one. For Brontosaurus, the perfect Hancke may do was mildly change the composition and the styling of the Knight authentic. The Jurassic chook flying low is a cute contact, and it exhibits up in a number of different illustations, too. For example…
I’m fairly suprised to see Anchisaurus make an look. Between all the same old suspects, your brontos and rexes and iguanodons, Anchisaurus is an animal that has been barely forgotten. It seems little in books even now, however Anchisaurus has a protracted and storied historical past as one of many first dinosaurs ever discovered. Not that the specialists within the early nineteenth century knew what it was, after all. As you in all probability know, it’s a really small herbivorous sauropodomorph that’s, regardless of its diminutive stature, carefully associated to sauropods correct. On this e book, nevertheless, it’s described as, I child you not, a “large predator”, the large amongst carnivores within the Triassic. I don’t know whether or not that is the place science stood on the time (as you may need guessed, Anchisaurus has been a wastebasket taxon for a very long time) or if one thing acquired misplaced in translation right here. The purple bipeds within the foreground are supposed to be Compsognathus, removed from the one anachronism on this e book.
The illustration exhibits a fairly recognizable bipedal sauropodomorph, anyway. Which is to say, as generic as dinosaurs come. It seems very humanoid, with plantigrade toes (one thing Hancke avoids elsewhere) and really human arms. If it’s meant to be a toothy predator, these tooth are hidden behind lips, an concept that’s again in vogue once more. Its expression is fairly haughty. I don’t suppose Hancke has primarily based himself on any pre-existing paintings right here. The one older Anchisaurus illustation I may discover was from Joseph Smit*, and this one doesn’t resemble it a lot.
*The Dutch illustrator, not the Mormon prophet. I hope that’s clear.
The centrepiece of the Mesozoic artwork within the e book is that this “Jurassic” unfold that includes many tropey dinosaurs. Little question you’ll acknowledge Allosaurus as lifted from Zallinger and Stegosaurus and Ornitholestes from Knight. The sort of atmosphere they inhabit could be very a lot impressed by Zallinger, too, right down to the color palette. As an indication of the utter trope-dependence of the e book, a separate standalone Ornitholestes illustation seems within the e book, and it, too, is a-grabbing a chook. Illustrators may barely conceptualize Ornitholestes with out one.
The odd one out is Iguanodon, and never merely as a result of it doesn’t belong within the Morrison. There doesn’t appear to be any Zallinger or Knight affect there. Oddly, I do see the affect of Joseph Smit on this one, particularly the place the stance is worried. I sort of take pleasure in how Hancke will simply indiscriminately add each pterosaurs and birds to any scene to liven them up.
Right here’s a phytosaur as a result of I like a phytosaur.
Ichthyosaurs within the gloom. I by no means consider ichthyosaurs as notably scary creatures, however many classic artists will make them look notably monstrous or ominous. Hancke makes this one a nocturnal horror with a giant, siniter eye and a toothy maw. Our information of marine reptiles was a few century forward of our information of dinosaurs, so this one holds up fairly effectively. I notably just like the one within the background that’s diving down, seen from the highest.
Against this, Hancke’s pterosaurs (these are Dimorphodon and Rhamphorhynchus) usually are not notably monstrous, in comparison with a few of his contemporaries. Hancke in all probability didn’t have a lot reference materials to fall again on right here avoid wasting nineteenth century stuff that made them appear to be hideous hellbeasts, and Hancke does a satisfactory job making these appear to be actual, functioning animals. The upside-down one could be very old-school, I believe that one may come from sure pre-Crystal Palace reconstructions.
Petersen within the textual content describes the Cretaceous particularly as a nightmare world, full of wondrous and horrible creatures past any author’s most fearful creativeness. After all, on this primordial chaos, the dreadful Tyrannosaurus seems, regal and towering, equal elements Knight, Zallinger and Godzilla (a model new film that had crossed over within the West by this time, so it’s concievable that Hancke was accustomed to it). It seems pugnacious, ponderous and never too vivid. The ankylosaur (primarily based on Knight’s “Palaeoscincus“) runs away, although Rexy doesn’t appear to pay it a lot consideration. The ankylosaur is a bit bizarre. I can’t fairly learn its face. The place are its eyes? Background volcano, take a shot.
Triceratops is pitted in opposition to Gorgosaurus in what I could possibly be satisfied into declaring my favorite dinosaur illustration by Verner Hancke. Should you examine this to Rexy above, staring vacantly into the center distance, there’s only a world of distinction. This tyrannosaur is that rather more menacing, just by advantage of truly taking a look at its adversary, implying its malicious intent. The expressions on the faces of each the animals is shamelessly cartoony. The Triceratops shouldn’t be unhealthy. Once more, there’s anachronisms in all places, however what are you able to do.
Trachodon is one other classic dinosaur artwork staple. I can’t recover from how sinister these two look. The place Knight’s duckbills at all times regarded goofy and harmless, these each have sly, evil grins on their faces… what are you as much as, Trachodon? I haven’t seen hadrosaurs this scary since Flyorov’s Saurolophus.
This one’s fairly cool. The marine scene with Pteranodon and Mosasaurus is nothing new, however Hancke’s model of it’s fairly dramatic and dynamic, at the least. Gotta love these rolling waves. Pictures like this show that, whereas he doesn’t add a lot originality to the classic dinosaur artwork pool, Werner Hancke was a really high-quality illustrator of the pure world. The animals have a delightful solidity to them. Hancke’s approach of including miscellaneous fish, birds and pterosaurs to each scene does lots to liven all of it up, to offer it a way of a lived in and dynamic world.
The e book is usually severe, however on the finish right here Petersen and Hancke enable themselves some whimsy. The dinosaurs andotherprehistoricanimals have been transported to the fashionable world to trigger havoc! After all, it’s at all times enjoyable to have dinosaurs work together with folks, buildings and machines. The Pteranodon and othocone scenes have been re-enacted in Strolling With Dinosaurs, the T. rex scene in The Misplaced World. The scared chimney sweep is fairly humorous.
I particularly like how the mammals disrupt the peace. The enormous sloth is described as “innocent” within the text- I very a lot doubt it will have been. I need a pet glyptodont to journey now.
And that’s Prehistoric Animals in Color, the Danish dino e book from the fifties. There’s loads of otherprehistoricanimals in right here, however I’ll go away it right here. Actually, there’s solely thus far a e book of this classic can go to impress me, particularly when the artwork is so spinoff. However Hancke is a reliable illustrator, the e book doesn’t discuss right down to its viewers and little question it will have regarded much more spectacular to the European households on the time, who weren’t used to there being many books on dinosaurs available on the market. Nonetheless, it makes you respect simply how a lot of a leap ahead Burian’s work in Life Earlier than Man was. Possibly not a lot by way of science, however undoubtedly by way of inventive aptitude.
And talking of leaps ahead: I believe I’ll return to the great previous nineties for the following one.