Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards

Subtitled A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology and illustrated by Big Time Attic, a studio made up of Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon, and Shad Petosky, with a cover by Mark Schultz.

Ottaviani’s most entertaining book yet is full of schemes and, as guest star P.T. Barnum is told, “humbug” as dinosaur hunters plot against each other for status and money. O.C. Marsh is buying up antiquities while Edward Drinker Cope considers Marsh a gloryhound who only wants his name in the papers. Charles Knight, illustrator, helps brings their bone discoveries to life with his artistic reconstructions of what the beasts might have looked like.

Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards cover
Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and
Thunder Lizards
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Those who do their own field work are contrasted with those who have crews to do dirty work while they claim glory and hobnob with politicians. Although the story is historical, the question of whether promotion is a necessary evil (to gather funds through attention) or a base desire of those with the wrong motivations is a very modern one. Those with purer motives take comfort in being uncorrupted by money, but that money would come in awfully handy when they’re working hard and struggling with debts.

This dusty subject is given life and verve through the personal politics of the participants, and it’s the details that make it fun. For example, instead of plain text, Barnum’s comments are printed in display type, similar to a circus poster. The toned art is expressive, fluid to read, and perfectly captures the emotional involvement of these early paleontologists. It’s ironic that today, I recognized images of their discoveries but hadn’t previously heard of any of them. Lives end; science and art endure.

There are notes at the end of the book telling which elements of the story are factual and which fictional, with more in the former category than you might expect. The GT Labs website has more information, including preview pages. Jim Ottaviani’s previous book was Suspended in Language.

5 Responses to “Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Avigon: Gods and Demons Bone Sharps, Cowboys & Thunder Lizards Capote in Kansas Owly: Just a Little Blue Tramps Like Us (books 4-7 out in 2005) True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to 11 Wet Moon: Feeble Wanderings And Planetes, which concluded in 2005. […]

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] While at SPX, I had the chance to talk for a bit with the talented Jim Ottaviani. He didn’t have a new book this year (his most recent is Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards), but he had small posters promoting the next one, Levitation (with a gorgeous cover by Michael Kaluta). […]

  3. The Stuff of Life » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Kevin Cannon, who previously worked with Ottaviani on two books, T-Minus: The Race to the Moon and Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards. Unfortunately, I was severely […]

  4. Coming Up: Good Comics Due February 2011 or Later » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] have great hopes for Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, illustrated by Kevin and Zander Cannon (Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards). I’ll buy just about anything Dr. Hosler […]

  5. Publishers Weekly’s Best of 2005 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Gods and Demons Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards Capote in Kansas Owly: Just a Little Blue Tramps Like Us (books 4-7 out in 2005) True Story, Swear […]




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