Friday, 24 August 2012

Prehistoric Times in Review

Cover art by Giang T. Nguyen
I first became aware of Prehistoric Times (PT) back in 2001. At the time I was looking around to see if there were any magazines dedicated to dinosaurs and prehistoric life as a whole. I found two, of which one was the aforementioned Prehistoric Times, whilst the second was the ill-fated Dinosaur magazine.
The first edition of Dinosaur magazine was actually pretty good and featured a multitude of articles and stories backed up by copious amounts of images and I looked forward to the next edition. Unfortunately this never materialised and it appears that there were allegedly strange circumstances and rumours of management malpractice that were behind the disappearance of the magazine. I did here that a few people, as well as contributors, got their hands burnt during this venture and, even today, Dinosaur magazine has left a sour taste in the mouth.  
However, Prehistoric Times had been around since the 1990’s and had a very respectable track record. I managed to source a sample copy of PT which was issue 47 and featured a couple of Karen Carr created dromaeosaurids on the cover – featherless still at that point. These can be seen in the Cretaceous Coastal Environment mural in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.
Cover art by Karen Carr
I was sufficiently impressed that I took out a subscription to the magazine and have remained a staunch supporter ever since. The man behind PT is Mike Fredericks and I must say that the amount of time and effort that Mike has put in over the years has bordered on superhuman and it appears obvious to me that is has been a struggle at times but, never the less, he has persevered and we have today a very impressive and finely crafted magazine.
PT has something for everyone who has an interest in the prehistoric world but, for me, is primarily an excellent source of information, technique and inspiration for the palaeoartist, whether he is an aspiring amateur or seasoned campaigner. I have never made any secret that my artistic abilities are relatively poor but I am constantly amazed by the quality of work that features in the magazine – not only by the top artists but also by so many amateurs out there. Indeed it is often the new and upcoming palaeoartists that come up with refreshing new ways of depicting past life.
And do not be misled that I am simply referring to artwork for there are always ample examples of superb models and kits to admire and these are also quite spectacular to look at. And, like the science of palaeontology itself, both artwork and models are constantly evolving in an effort to capture the latest depictions of prehistoric life based upon the latest scientific discoveries and, of course, any newly discovered animal is always a favourite for reconstruction.
Cover art by Fabio Pastori
PT, however, also caters for the enthusiast and collector as a whole and has featured a multitude of interesting articles. There are interviews with all sorts of palaeo-people which are always fascinating.  Tracy Ford has been a fixture in the magazine since I have been reading PT and his How to Draw Dinosaurs has always been a favourite of mine. Another mainstay of the magazine has been Mesozoic Media which, as the name suggests, reviews books, DVD’s and other media.
There are many other cool articles (too many to highlight) which look at collectibles, TV and film, museums and exhibitions and there are always “featured” prehistoric animals in the magazine where upon readers are invited to send in their artwork to be displayed with an upcoming article about the animal. Some of the short stories are pretty good too. Those interested in the science of palaeontology are not left out and there have been interviews with various palaeontologists over the years, features on fossils and new discoveries and, at the end of the year, Steve Brusatte presents a review of the dinosaur discoveries of the year.
So, all in all, PT is an excellent palaeo-read and I readily endorse the magazine and am happy to confirm that I have been a subscriber since that first issue I bought back in 2001. If you are interested then please support Mike and PT by subscribing but only do so directly at Prehistoric Times which, incidentally is now also available for download to a multitude of devices. Highly recommended – especially to all you talented palaeoartists out there who are looking for ideas and inspiration.  
Cover art by Raul Martin


Alessio said...

PT is indeed a kickass magazine!


English Blog Reader said...

Very informative stuff, Nice !

Mark Wildman said...

Thanks for the comments guys - they are always appreciated.

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