Page 45 Review by Stephen
Fourth wordless foray into the food chain that is our natural world, you can read our reviews of the previous three (TIGER, LION, FOX) in our enticingly titled LOVE: THE section. And it is very much the food chain being presented here as our constant companion in this ancient obstacle course - the Bambiraptor Feinbergi - attempts to duck and dive under cover, out of trouble, and off the metaphorical dinner plate.
The substantial cover is provided by a gigantic Isisaurus Colberti, one of those long-necked behemoths like the Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus or Diplodocus. Hasn't one of those recently been discredited? This one has a thicker, powerful, rubbery neck ribbed with muscles and we are reminded throughout that vegetarians aren't necessarily pacifists. You don't have to be a carnivore to be formidably enraged. Eggs are eggs, territory is territory, and self-defence can become exceedingly aggressive.
Not quite as aggressive as in Ricardo Delgado's AGE OF REPTILES, to be sure, but I'm not going toe-to-toe with a Triceratops. AGE OF REPTILES is a silent series too. Dinosaurs didn't have much to say for themselves, did they?
I only have one later image from the interior art - and that's subaquatic - but I can promise you that there will be a Tyrannosaurus Rex or two.
It begins, however, in a hazy, diffused light, with a bee and a locust which also reminds us that insects are true survivors and that we are lucky to have them still with us or else in some circles pollination would be a thing of the past. Speaking of "things of the past" and "survivors", I also spy a Solenodon on the very first page. You call tell that it's ancient by its name. It sounds like it should be some imposing leviathan, but it isn't. It's one of Earth's earliest mammals which exists to this day, so meriting its inclusion in dear David Attenborough's television ark. And he was only allowed to select ten species.
It's these little details which endear me to this edition and I'm endeared to them all. The thought behind the genesis of each LOVE: THE graphic novel shouldn't be overlooked, however distractingly dramatic and spectacular the art. You are assured of spectacle each and every time, and especially on a day like today; because we haven't woken up on any random morning.
Initially I was quite startled that the creators had decided to "do" dinosaurs because half of my brain appears inexplicably to consider them fantasy. And I'm no crazy-headed Creationist, let me tell you. I was once quite the dinosaur expert, having collected PG Tips' excursion into the equivalent of cigarette cards, aged 5 or 6. I stuck them all semi-neatly into a much-treasured album and devoured all their details.
That love is rewarded and rekindled in the back by a more expansive closing gallery than usual: 22 pages of storyboards, painting and sketches, identifying each exotic creature including four different species / iterations of the cow-like lizard whose best-known example is the Triceratops.
Some of these paintings are rendered on coarse-grained canvas, which works wonders in adding a thick, pitted, leathery texture to their armoured hides, just like a rhinoceros'.
Conversely, Bertolucci's less intense sketches in ink with wild washes allow the movement and musculature to shine through. There's one other page in which an eye shines with intelligence, with spirit, with soul, just like every horse and cow that I've ever met.
Is it only me who finds the name 'Bambiraptor' oxymoronically funny?
Of all the cast here, he is imbued with a certain, slapstick, Disney anthropomorphism, especially when trampled underfoot by his hunger-frenzied friends.