Tuesday, August 2, 2011

David Peters' Childrens Books -and- Links of Interest!

Before I get into this, big shout-out to Glendon and the crew over at Symbiartic. Thanks for the kind words and promotion! Symbiartic in turn is really neat so far, and you should all have it in your blogroll/feed/whatnot.

Also, one of my favorite pieces for the card game PHYLO is featured in the special Natural History Museum of London deck! Thanks to everyone involved in the ongoing project. And readers, do download and print a copy of the starter deck (which itself includes my Starling and House Sparrow) for every pre-teen you know.


David Peters?!

Way, way back in April, I found
a book with illustrations that were beautiful (if frustrating.) I just received some more books by the same illustrator and they are all gorgeous, with lots of stuff to cover. So today, we are going to celebrate the paleoart found in the children's books of David Peters.

"But Trish!" Some of you shout, "Is this not the very same David Peters who has - how shall we put this gently- controversial ideas about biology in general and animal anatomy in specific?"

Well, yes it is
that David Peters. He has indeed got some ideas about animal anatomy and biology that I would most generously describe as... different.

But we're going to ignore all of this for now. Because Peters has already been criticized enough for this and I want to talk about what's less known about David Peters: the fact that before he started... I will use the word "reinterpreting" pterosaur fossils, he was an excellent paleoartist. No, really! Look at this spread from 1991's
From the Beginning, an ambitious history of mammal evolution from the beginning of the Universe to humans (top that, Dave Mamet) published by Morrow Junior Books:

From the Beginning

Deft with both pen and ink and acrylics, Peters' animal drawings and paintings were lively and exhaustively researched. For their time, his books were easily among the best zoology books for children available.


This batch of paintings is from
Supergiants! The book was written by Don Lessem and published by Little Brown and Co. in 1997. Meant as a companion piece to the aforementioned Raptors, Supergiants covers the largest of the sauropods.


It very definitely is a companion to
Raptors; there's the anatomically accurate but annoyingly buck naked Utahraptor from the previous book.


Since this is a book focusing on the largest sauropods, it was nice to see some old friends I haven't seen mentioned very often. Supersaurus and Ultrasauros were both very popular in the dinosaur books of the '70s and '80s, both vying for the hotly contested title of biggest-ever land animal.

It appears as though two things have happened that keep Super and Ultra out of the books these days. Some sources say that they are more likely just really big individuals of sauropods we already are pretty familiar with. Maybe. But, more importantly, Argentinosaurus stole their thunder.

Strange Creatures

Strange Creatures, written in 1992 and published by Morrow Junior Books, is basically a collection of portraits of animals who need more love. Both living and extinct species are represented, every creature is either life-size or to scale with a human figure, and the book covers everything from Tullimonstrum to Bramatherium:

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

The book's emphasis is almost wholly on obscure extinct animals. I think I'll keep it as a welcome companion piece to the
Macmillan Encyclopedia.

Strange Creatures

I like the look on the face of this girl hanging out with the amphibians. "Please don't leave me alone with the Eupelor!"

Strange Creatures

And Phorusrhacos is totally thinking, "Eff you, I'm a dinosaur!" Terror birds are awesome and have no damns to give. (But note the buck naked Oviraptor.)

Strange Creatures p.36.37

Strange Creatures

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

And here are more Peters' pterosaurs, circa 1989. These are from A Gallery of Dinosaurs, published by Alfred A. Knopf. They are a little overly bipedal, but nothing else looks particularly... different... about them. I like how the Pink Pterodaustro meme appears twice.

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

Although it was written and published several years before
Strange Creatures, Gallery feels more like a companion and expansion of the later book. There is a wide variety of animals, many of which are rather obscure, but I'm just going to focus on the dinosaurs here. Here's a not-quite buck naked Oviraptor...

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

And a fully feathered (for 1989) Deinonychus! Remember, this was painted well before
Raptors. Weird. Meanwhile, Segnosaurus is still on Team Prosauropod (Maybe) here.

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

And Baryonyx is still on Team Quadruped.

A Gallery of Dinosaurs

And finally, here is my favorite illustration in the book. That kid personifies the late 1980's. ALL of it.

ADDENDUM: An anonymous poster below directed my attention to a Dave Peters picture book you can go and read right now: Giants of the Land, Sea, and Air. It is available as a PDF file on his website. Though I can't really find anything funny to say about them, the illustrations are once again fantastic.


Links of Interest!

* - So... once again, a pretty neat analysis of a recent dinosaur discovery has been blown out of proportion by the mainstream press. Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs has the tale of Xiaotingia as well as a song I am astonished I'd never heard of until now.

* - And yet the Xiaotingia boner still isn't as facepalm-worthy as this Telegraph boner. Poor Darren Naish.

* - In a surprising number of these old dinosaur books, I've been noticing a weird quadrupedal theropod meme (see the Baryonx above for an example). Other Branch has a story about one possible origin.

* - Illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi has a sweet and touching tribute to 70's coloring books of all things. The Troubadour books really are beautiful. He also shows off some of his character sketches from a never-finished edition of A Princess of Mars.

* - /Film shared some of the art from Gallery 1988's Pee-Wee Herman tribute show.

* - Awkward Family Photos is having another Strangest Vacation Photos contest.

* - If you haven't seen David Wolter's gorgeous short "Eyrie", watch it right away. It's beautiful, and I can't even tell you how much I love that last shot.

* - We Love Fine may have come up with the greatest "LOL Random Mashup" themed shirt ever.

* - And now for something completely different, care of Everything is Terrible.

* - And now for something else completely different, care of LITC.

* - Agony and Ecstasy have a fine review of Ray Harryhausen's "The Valley of Gwangi". They've also got a Chronological Disney Canon project of their own! I'll have to read that on a rainy day. (EDIT: I am halfway through and it is fantastic -- except Tim's full-length, trivia-packed essays make me look like a slacker.)

* - A couple of fantastic fan-made sci-fi (or not) themed music videos for your enjoyment. The first two are God-damn beautiful (though the second is way too short) and the third *almost* makes me okay with Ke$ha.

* - And finally, here is Chris Sanders' "Big Bear Aircraft Company" story, which has been making the rounds recently and which needs to be read by any and all creative types and the people who (usually) manage them. Sanders talks a great deal more about it at Cartoon Brew.


Sketch of the Day!

Speaking of strange creatures, guess who finally finished her Carboniferous Gallery painting?

The Carboniferous Period!

If just one other person laughs at this, it will be worth it.


taichara said...

*definitely laughed* X3~

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I remember hearing about "Gallery" at DinoGoss. And if you look at that book's family tree (forgetting whether it's closer to the book's beginning or end), you'll notice that Peters classified Segnosaurus as some kind of ornithischian.

Say, when do we get to check out "Giants" (available as a free PDF on Peters' website)?

On a related note, nice comic.

Trish said...

^ Thanks, Taichara and Anonymous. I didn't know _Giants_ was available for free. I may review it later. Thanks for the heads-up.

Fishy said...

Immediately after reading this post, I went on amazon and ordered myself a copy of Strange Creatures. Crazy theories or no, the man can sure draw.

And I am never one to complain at attaining more paleontology books.

Rappy said...

Strange Creatures! Thank you, Trish. I've been trying to remember the name of that book (since I can't find it in any old my old trunks of books from my youth) for a while now. If I recall, it had a pretty rocking Baurusuchus and Gigantopithecus inside.

Also, I totally laughed at that comic.

raptor_044 said...

"And Phorusrhacos is totally thinking, "Eff you, I'm a dinosaur!" Terror birds are awesome and have no damns to give."

That's my favorite part of this blog post. You're right in that Terror Birds are awesome, which is why the lack of non-technical info about them annoys me. That may just be a reflection of what's known about them, but still.

"And a fully feathered (for 1989) Deinonychus! Remember, this was painted well before Raptors."

Speaking of awesome, that's my other favorite part of this blog post.

Zach said...

Wow, I really want all of those books. Peters really is a talented artist--it's a shame he went batshit crazy. He could make a pretty penny illustrating children's books like this.

I don't think Supersaurus or Ultrasauros are valid anymore, are they? I know at least Supersaurus is just a big Diplodocus. Right? I'm too lazy to investigate.

And that is quite a clever comic. Bugs, man!

Trish said...

^ Good point about Super and Ultra. I'll add that to the post.

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt at all that David Peters has his drawing and painting chops, really nice stuff.

Sometimes someone who comes at things from a completely different direction can be useful too, even if it's to present arguments which by their nature re-enforce the mainstream.

Albertonykus said...

Feathered Deinonychus in 1989 is win.

I don't follow sauropods that closely (following all those new titanosaurs that don't even have terribly catchy names gets confusing, though I'm certain sauropod fans would disagree), but I think Supersaurus is still commonly accepted to be a distinct taxon. "Seismosaurus" on the other hand...

Pds3.14 said...

Wow. He did have absolutely amazing artistic skills. I remember seeing these at my friends' houses and they're just as beautiful now as they were then.

Such a shame that now he thinks Ptero-lizards couldn't quad-launch.