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Classic Dinosaur Artwork – Tales from Fantasia – Love within the Time of Chasmosaurs

Over time, we (OK, I) have been taken to process on a number of events for sticking the Classic label on books that aren’t that previous and, extra to the purpose, usually fairly mediocre (and even dangerous). And as I say each time, it’s as a result of the title of the collection caught. Nonetheless, right here now we have one of many oldest issues that I’ve lined in fairly a while – Tales from Walt Disney’s Fantasia, printed in 1940 by Random Home. Sure, it’s a tie-in for the film on its authentic launch, and sure, it options the none-more-memorable Ceremony of Spring phase, fairly probably the only piece of media that bought me all in favour of dinosaurs within the first place (on its re-release round 1990). What’s extra, there’s an enthralling narrative that I can’t assist however think about a younger R T Bakker studying…

Stories from Fantasia cover

This e-book was scanned for me by Arthur Williams again in September of final yr (!!) – thanks Arthur, and honest apologies for taking so lengthy over it. The duvet options a wide range of characters from the movie, together with Mickey (haha), a dancing hippo in a tutu, and – sure – a generic sauropod dinosaur. Such is the promoting energy of dinosaurs. Apparently, the dinosaurs have been initially conceived as extra cartoonish, extra stylistically according to different sections of the movie (and, certainly, the Disney oeuvre typically), however this was toned down over the course of the movie’s improvement. Disney wished one thing extra sensible and immersive, and as anybody who encountered this movie at an early age will certainly testify, it labored.


As one may anticipate, the artwork on this e-book tends to comply with that within the movie, but additionally appears to characteristic some earlier, extra cartoonish dinosaur designs from the idea levels of the movie’s manufacturing. Sadly, it might look like uncredited, described merely as ‘artwork from the movie’. The above Stegosaurus, with its fats tail and squared-off muzzle, is definitely according to what we see within the movie, though arguably the movie’s model is much more ungainly and portly. (Admittedly, the Stego here’s a little foreshortened.) I like the shading, and the refined detailing just like the lumpy, warty scales across the base of its plates; it additionally appears to have a horizontal pupil, which I’m certain was modified for the film (most likely to make it extra expressive throughout its massive struggle). It additionally has a musical word rising from its head, prefer it’s singing, though I believe that’s simply a part of the e-book’s design. Amusing, although.


My lasting impression of the sauropods in Fantasia consisted fully of seemingly disembodied necks. Surreal, snake-like necks that bent and twisted everywhere, hoovering up vegetation, precisely as described right here. Once more, this Diplodocus seems near the movie design, full with dangling mushy water crops and seemingly toothless mouth. (We’ll put that right down to stylisation.) Word that Triceratops is right here abbreviated to “Tritops”, which actually does remind me of Bakker’s use of “T’tops” in a few of his books. It’s additionally described as Stegosaurus‘ neighbour as a result of, you understand, it was within the movie. As effectively all know, it was an anachronism stew, or relatively, swamp.


Talking of the Triceratops, its illustration right here is notably way more cartoonish than its movie counterpart, what with its big, cute eyes, wrinkly smiling mouth and pudgy proportions. I do keep in mind seeing this illustration, particularly, being proven (someplace) for instance of the sooner idea artwork for the dinosaurs in Fantasia, earlier than the shift to a extra sensible model. It does recommend that maybe the whole lot right here is, if not really idea artwork, at the very least based mostly on it. I do keep in mind the Triceratops within the movie wanting fairly intimidating and big in a single scene, earlier than fleeing like nice massive wusses when T. rex turned up (to be honest, it was unfairly armed). Why couldn’t now we have had a T. rex versus Triceratops struggle in that movie? That wouldn’t have left 5-year-old me with fairly so many questions. Somebody dig up Walt’s frozen head and ask him.


As a result of Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs are mashed collectively in Fantasia (and Dimetrodon too! However not Tigger), right here’s “Bronto”. And it’s not solely Bronto’s demonic, stable pink eyes that make him look imply – he’s surprisingly muscular for a Forties sauropod, as well. The textual content could expend far too many phrases on the dinosaurs’ tiny brains (as authors have been wont to do again then), however this emphatically does not seem like a creature you’d need to tangle with.

Stego and Rex

And with reference to entanglements, right here’s a surprisingly realistically-styled Stegosaurus taking over “REX, KING OF THE TYRANT BEASTS,” though referring to him (for He’s absolutely a He) as ‘Rex’ makes him sound like an excellent boy, sure you’re, sure you’re such an excellent boy, sure you’re, oh sure you’re. Anyway, the Stegosaurus actually does look it may need walked out of a Knight or Burian illustration; it’s a marked stylistic departure from the creatures within the movie and earlier on this e-book, and the theropod reverse. By means of distinction, Rex is sort of clearly stylised and contorted right into a most unlikely place, its leg raised up within the air prefer it’s auditioning for a Crash McCreery paintings. (You already know the one.) Its flexible limbs could look somewhat foolish, however that is nonetheless a remarkably dynamic and lively depiction of T. rex for 1940, a lot because the creature within the movie was. Just like the film model, this Tyrannosaurus has three fingers, though its forelimbs are notably extra puny-looking.


Rex has “just one thought…to destroy Stego”. The textual content describes a battle raging for “hour after hour”, which was presumably edited for time within the movie. The film memorably depicts varied different kitten-brained dinosaurs hanging round to spectate, which is presumably what the chaps within the above illustration are doing. However what are they? It’s not fully clear. They could be ornithopods, or they could (based mostly on their fingers) be anachronistic early sauropodomorphs. They could simply be there to fill area.

Rex head

In fact, Rex emerges victorious, and rears as much as roar triumphantly towards a stormy sky. Once more – and it’s virtually definitely a coincidence caused by lightning being all dramatic and funky – the resemblance to Jurassic Park merchandise is uncanny. Humorous how dinosaur media separated by 50 years of evolution can however converge in so some ways. In any case, the Rex within the illustration sports activities a really boxy head, just like the one within the film, and an inaccurate variety of oddly uniform enamel. Not like the creature within the movie, it doesn’t sport a pair of big canine-like fangs, nor do its enamel go all the way in which again past its orbit. It’s considerably much less ‘monsterised’, and extra like an trustworthy Forties try at depicting Tyrannosaurus. I can’t assist however marvel if this, too, relies on idea artwork, and the creature grew to become extra monstrous because it was developed for the display – or if that is an authentic illustration for the e-book.

Rex wins

And at last, Rex skulks away. And I do imply skulks – take a look at how low to the bottom he’s right here! I’m fairly certain he’s dislocated one among his legs, however it’s nonetheless a extremely attention-grabbing perspective. Though considerably hidden from view by the attitude, the creature’s head does seem much less monstrous than within the movie. Using shading to point the animal’s surprisingly (for the time) substantial thigh muscle mass, and the ridge of muscle down its again and tail, is sort of wonderful. “His time would come too…and shortly…” And wasn’t that memorable, too. I’ve been listening to The Ceremony of Spring whereas penning this (why not? Thanks Natee!), and I’ll by no means not affiliate it with dinosaurs feeding, preventing, and collapsing of exhaustion in an apocalyptic heatwave. Stravinsky won’t have preferred his composition being chopped up in the way in which that it was, however I’ll wager that an terrible lot of individuals have sought out extra of his work after seeing Fantasia.

However I digress. This e-book is an attention-grabbing little little bit of historical past, and I’m very grateful to Arthur for sending me the scans. As is the case with anybody who sends me scans – I’ll get to them ultimately!



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