Perhaps there’s something about dinosaurs that lends itself to wordless storytelling. Last week we talked about the adventures of Gon, the tiny dinosaur. Today, we have the less whimsical but equally exciting tales of Ricardo Delgado, who has published Age Of Reptiles in parallel to his career as a successful storyboard artist.
Age of Reptiles has been published as a handful of miniseries and short stories. The first one, Tribal Warfare, appeared in 1993, and the latest so far, Ancient Egyptians, came out in 2015.
Joseph Campbell used to describe the horrors of existence by pointing out that life feeds on life, and that could be this series leitmotif. The world presented here is a brutal, survival of the fittest scenario in which feeding and protecting the progeny are the motors behind almost any action.
That’s actually one of the interesting things Delgado does with his stories. With this savage drive for survival as the backdrop, he usually sets an ongoing conflict between a group of dinosaurs as the backbone of each miniseries. These conflicts can be read in terms of human drives. But there’s also the question: say, a T-Rex mom chasing a pack of smaller dinosaurs that ate some of her eggs, is seeking revenge, or trying to save the rest of the eggs from predators?
Since there is no dialogue, these questions are not explored, and they don’t need to. Delgado’s dinosaurs are carefully rendered, in a detailed and realistic style. He also manages to convey certain basic emotions on their facial expressions without getting too cartoony. The backgrounds are also often awe-inducing. Delgado gets a lot of mileage of contrasting the sizes of the smaller and larger dinosaurs, and then dwarfing even the biggest ones against the massive environments they inhabit, be the desert, the jungle, the mountains or, in the case of pterodactyls, even the clouds!
Last but definitely not least, is Delgado’s action storytelling. His experience in storyboarding definitely serve him well to show very dynamic action sequences, which are usually preceded by moments of great tension. Since the dinosaurs are rendered in a fairly realistic style, there are no cartooning shortcuts to differentiate them in an overt way, so sometimes it requires a bit of attention to follow which dinosaur is which, but usually they are identifiable by subtle details.
This is a really good series. It feels very realistic, though Delgado takes some geologic liberties for dramatic purposes. It can get pretty brutal and sometimes a little gory, so it’s probably not for kid as young as those who could enjoy something like Gon. Teenagers and adults will certainly get a kick out of it, though. It is admirable the way Delgado can sustain the narrative, with no words, for a mini-series length story!