Continuing the story of how the illustrated book, Dinotopia, came to be....
The nineteenth-century setting presented some conceptual problems. Only a tiny fraction of the dinosaur species known today had been discovered in Arthur Denison’s time.
Line study and finished painting of Dinosaur Boulevard
How could he possibly encounter dinosaurs that were not discovered and named in his lifetime?
And how could all the prehistoric forms in Dinotopia remain unchanged for millions of years? Scientists have observed that isolated island populations tend toward either gigantism or dwarfism, according to what's known as the "island rule."
With paleontologists (Edit: Bob Harmon) and Jack Horner at a dig site in Wyoming, 1992. Photo Tobey Sanford greatpix.com
After giving these concerns serious consideration, I had to sweep them away, because adhering to them would muddy the waters and take away from the simplicity of the poetic logic.
I wanted Dinotopia to be a flawed utopia in a perpetual state of instability and self-correction. There was a danger in letting it become too sentimental or preachy.
I was attracted to the idea of a utopia only if it was tempered by challenges and pitfalls. Paradise needed a curmudgeon like Lee Crabb. There had to be plenty of meat-eaters nipping at the edges, not motivated by blind aggression, but by hunger. I tried to focus on the practicalities of daily life, because I felt that utopian stories risk being mired in the abstractions of politics, economics, and religion.
Even though I dwell in fantasy, at heart I’m a realist in love with commonplace detail. I’m interested in the ordinariness of extraordinary scenes. That meant showing not just the parade, but the clean-up after the parade.
Read More at these Links:
The new official Dinotopia website
Purchase a signed 20th Anniversary Edition of Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time
The Island Rule (Nova article)
Previously: The Real Lee Crabb
"Origins of Dinotopia" series on GurneyJourney:
Part 1: Childhood Dreams
Part 2: College Obsessions
Part 3: Lost Empires
Part 4: Dinosaurs
Part 5: Treetown
Part 6: The Illustrated Book
Part 7: Utopias
Part 8: Building a World
Part 9: Words and Pictures
Part 10: Canyon Worlds
Part 11: Putting it Together
Part 12: Book Launch