I wrote this comic review nine years ago, almost to the day (original was from July 14th of 2012) for In the Mouth of Dorkness. Watching ‘Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal’ put me in mind of this comic, so I thought I’d edit and repost it here.
Yeah, I was that kid. I was the kid who had all the books about dinosaurs. I stared at the pictures and imagined a world of giant monsters and strange creatures. I watched every single documentary that ever played on TV, and when I finally got a VCR I rented a few more. I was always excited to see movies and TV shows featuring dinosaurs, like Land of the Lost, King Kong or any kind of time travel thing. Those giant beasts were the bee’s knees. And you know what? They still are. Once in a while, something like Jurassic Park or Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake will come along and remind me they’re still totally awesome.
Richard Delgado has captured that wild mystery of my childhood imaginings. He’s created a world as exotic and alien as it is plausible. It reminded me of the best wildlife documentaries I watched as a lad, following the narrative of these creatures who quickly take on unique personalities, without ever speaking. Like those nature documentaries, the camera’s eye watches no matter what befalls the subjects, passing no moral judgment.
The first story, ‘Tribal Warfare,’ deals with the back and forth hunting and eating of various species. With several fascinating environments, on land, sea, and air. The art is impressive, with lots of different creatures. Without dialog, you can follow the story along just fine. In that way, it uses the visual nature of the comic book medium to great effect.
The second story, ‘The Hunt,’ is probably my favorite. Following a single red dinosaur as it makes its way through the dangerous world, chased by a pack of killers hungry for its flesh. The adventure takes it into strange new lands, vast landscapes that stagger the imagination and capture a primal awe. The two page spread of the gargantuan mountain-like cloud formation hanging over the massive stone pillars is gorgeous. Actually, that whole segment is very impressive.
The final story, ‘The Journey’ follows an epic multi-species migration and the various dangers found along the way. One of the things that strikes me is the occasional touch of tenderness. That said, the vicious battle by the ocean is truly epic, feeling like some kind of Moby Dick titan-fight.
At the end of the volume there’s a nice series of essays by Delgado about the folks who inspired him. Reading about his younger days, I was reminded of my own. I even took to drawing dinosaurs and dragons for a while, but sadly didn’t stick with it. Any artistic talent slipped through my inactive fingers years ago. These are the images I wish I could create. A great book, and a must for anyone interested in visual storytelling or obviously, in dinosaurs. Though violent and bloody, I think this would be very popular among young kids with any kind of interest in nature or dinosaurs.
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