Jurassic World not enough to feed your jones for more dinosaur-based entertainment? Click through to see our recommendations for prime dinosaur-based comics.
The world is in the grip of dinosaur-mania, at least if the worldwide box-office returns for Jurassic World are any indication. The latest film in the Jurassic Park franchise has just broken the record for largest global opening weekend for a film, grossing over half a billion dollars, kicking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($483.2 million) off its perch at the top and ensuring that the residency of The Avengers: Age of Ultron ($392.5 million) in the global weekend opening top five would be a short one.
That record comes with caveats, of course—rising ticket prices, inflation, the fact that truly global openings are a fairly recent phenomenon—but it is still impressive. What needs no qualification, however, is the notion that dinosaurs are popular. They always have been. Ever since the early 19th century discovery and description of the first fossils of Iguanadon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus, people—and children, especially—have been fascinated by the idea of reptilian giants roaming the earth in eons past. Who hasn’t grown up with a favorite dinosaur and gotten into schoolyard arguments about which dinosaur would beat some other dinosaur in a one-on-one tourney? I was a Triceratops guy myself, but was also partial to the Allosaurus—the large theropod of choice for the preteen dinosaur connoisseur who didn’t buy into the Tyrannosaurus Rex hype.
It makes a world of sense, then, that dinosaurs are a popular subject in comics, with depictions that range from the painstakingly-researched and accurate to the downright bizarre and ridiculous. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite dinosaur-centric comics. Check them out, share them with younger readers, and keep spreading the love for comics and dinosaurs.
Age of Reptiles (Dark Horse)
If you’re going to read only one dinosaur comic book, make it Ricardo Delgado’s ongoing opus. Delgado combines detailed rendering, meticulous research, and wildlife drama in this “comics documentary” about everyday life in the Mesozoic Era, as reconstructed from contemporary paleontology research. Don’t let the fact that the comic doesn’t feature any narration, dialogue, or captions turn you off: Delgado has the visual storytelling chops of a student of the works of Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, and Sergio Leone, and he packs more narrative in one comic book panel than some writers can manage in a whole page of dialogue. The first three Age of Reptiles miniseries were recently collected by Dark Horse in an omnibus paperback, and a new Age of Reptiles miniseries, subtitled Ancient Egyptians (first issue reviewed here), is currently underway.
An all-ages friendly graphic album series by writer Arnaud Plumeri and mononymous artist Bloz that aims to entertain younger readers while teaching them dinosaur and paleontology facts. The caricatures of dinosaurs might bug sticklers for scientific accuracy, but they pass “the squint test” for the most part, and the humorous situations will have children (and their parents) laughing as they learn. Originally published in French by BAMBOO Édition, the first three Dinosaurs books—In the Beginning, Bite of the Albertosaurus, and Jurassic Smarts—have recently been translated into English and released by Papercutz.
Paleo (Zeromayo Studios/Empty Sky Publishing)
This comic by Jim Lawson strikes a happy medium between Age of Reptiles‘ silent naturalism and Dinosaurs‘ funny talking animals approach— the fan-favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles artist’s use of captions and narration boxes makes the work perhaps more accessible to the dinosaur novice than the former, but by eschewing animal dialogue and sticking to a documentary style, he avoids the “silliness” of the latter. Originally serialized as a free webcomic, Paleo can also be purchased in paperback format from Zeromayo/Empty Sky.
Xenozoic Tales (Dark Horse)
If Age of Reptiles, Dinosaurs, and Paleo are three stylistically different attempts to portray dinosaurs based on the latest reliable information made available by science, then Mark Schultz’s Xenozoic Tales heads in the opposite direction, with its story about a post-apocalyptic world set 600 years in the future where dinosaurs have, against all odds (and logic), re-evolved to once again dominate the planet, placing the remnants of mankind in a dire fight for survival. Xenozoic Tales is the pulp-inspired B-movie to Age of Reptiles‘ National Geographic special: Leave the attention to scientific detail at the door and prepare to have loads of fun. Originally published by Kitchen Sink Press and later reissued in color by Marvel Comics’ Epic Comics imprint as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, (the name by which it is perhaps more famously known, as this name was lent to the video game and Saturday morning cartoon adaptations), the Mark Schultz issues of Xenozoic Tales have been collected by Dark Horse in two paperback volumes.
Also worth a peek
Devil Dinosaur (Marvel Comics): It’s Jack Kirby near the end of his 1970s love affair with cosmic psychedelia, drawing and writing the prehistoric parallel Earth adventures of a fire engine-red Tyrannosaurus with disturbingly human-like hands and his juvenile primate friend. What else do you need to know?
Terrible Lizard (Oni Press): Written by Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Sixth Gun) with art by Drew Moss (The Colonized), Terrible Lizard is an endearing adventure tale about a girl and her friendship with a time-displaced Tyrannosaurus. The miniseries has recently been reissued and collected in paperback by Oni Press.
Half Past Danger (IDW Publishing): A recent comic that trades in the same pulp fiction sensibilities as Xenozoic Tales, artist-writer Stephen Mooney throws dinosaurs, sexy spies, lantern-jawed heroes, ninjas, and Nazis together in rip-roaring adventure that is equal parts Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. Available in paperback from IDW Publishing.
Fantastic Four #345 and #346 (Marvel Comics): Marvel’s First Family journeys back in time and does battle with dinosaurs in this fun two-parter written and illustrated by the legendary Walt Simonson.
Dinosaurs Attack! (IDW Publishing): Inspired by the trading card set of the same name, this five-issue miniseries originally solicited for 1988 by Eclipse Comics was canceled after just one issue, but was recently reissued in its entirety by IDW Publishing. Written by Pumpkinhead and Vampirella screenwriter Gary Gerani with line art by iconic Incredible Hulk and G.I. Joe artist Herb Trimpe and painted art by men’s magazine favorite Earl Norem, Dinosaurs Attack! has all the charm (and scientific inaccuracy) of the classic monster movies of the 1950s.
And for even more dinosaur comics goodness and dinosaur-themed pop culture, visit the good folks at the Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs blog. (Isn’t that the best blog name ever?)