Prehistoric Humor

Ready to return to the primordial swamp? Or dig deep among the Disney fossils to discover some more tasty tidbits about the ill-conceived Dinosaur movie? There are as many stories to be told as there were dollars wasted. Of course, we all know that burning through millions in the movie business is as natural as ordering that second Mercedes for your Malibu beach house, don't we?

During the movie's early development, the director brought me on board because of my reputation as a cartoonist. The motion picture already had a who's who of talented Dinosaur artists, historians and illustrators. I never saw myself worthy of being a part of such a distinguished team. However, I did have some chops as a Disney storyteller, and I hoped I could at least contribute in that way. In this somewhat serious epic, it was probably a wise choice to lighten things up a bit. We all knew what awaited the huge lumbering creatures that inhabited the early world, and the outcome was hardly a happy one. In such a grim story, one would think a laugh or two might be a welcome addition to the storytelling.

I set about developing Dinosaur humor in my early months on the film. I sketched gag ideas such as the image posted below as well as storyboarding comic sequences that might help lighten the rather dark story. I'm hardly drawing realistic Dinosaurs here. These cartoony sketches were there to simply sell the idea. Over time, I must have come up with dozens of silly ideas that would exploit the creature's massive size or their unique physicality. I explored every idea from getting stuck in the mud or the struggle to gather a meal. I paired large dinosaurs with teeny ones and played with their interaction. It was a fun assignment that lasted nearly six months and I eventually developed affection for these amazing creatures. I'll confess there were some Dinosaurs that simply were not funny. The fearsome Carnasaur and theT- Rex failed to engender any laughs no matter how hard I tried.

So you see, the world of the Dinosaur can have it's light side and there were aspects of the production that could actually be called fun. In closing I'll have to add that though I probably did hundreds of sketches on this Disney film over a period of fourteen months not one single sketch or idea was ever used.