I was chatting with some fellow dinosaur geeks about Age of Reptiles and discovered that artist Ricardo Delgado might be working on a new volume of the series to amaze and astound us. Along the way, I realized I was missing one of the short stories: “The Baby Turtles”. I have now rectified that omission!
Between the epic awesomeness of 2009’s four-issue The Journey and 2015’s stunning Spinosaurus series Ancient Egyptians, Delgado produced two mini-stories that each appear in a different volume of the anthology title Dark Horse Presents.
In 2011, “The Body” appeared in Dark Horse Presents #4 (Volume Two). The story begins with a kill, and its eight pages are essentially a prehistoric nature documentary about what happens to the body of the prey. First, large predators squabble over the meat until they’ve eaten their fill, then smaller scavenging predators arrive, followed by even smaller insects and at last, flowering plants and the elements themselves.
Filled with detail and expressive animals, this wordless poem speaks volumes about both the impermanence and interconnectedness of all life.
In 2014, “The Baby Turtles” appeared in Dark Horse Presents #3 (Volume Three). This story begins not with death but with birth, and the newly hatched sea turtles must make their way from their sandy nests to the ocean where they will spend their lives. A variety of voracious predators await them in the sky, on land, and in the water in a danger-filled expedition that remains largely unchanged for today’s modern sea turtles.
This mini-story is also eight pages long in print, but six of those eight pages are gloriously detailed two-page spreads, each a single image filled with conflict between numerous species.
On a personal note, these pages remind me of what I often drew in elementary school to alleviate the boredom. I spent hours drawing insanely detailed doodles of warfare between different races of aliens with all kinds of weapons, vehicles, and aircraft. I was no Ricardo Delgado by any stretch of the imagination. My aliens would be simple shapes such as triangles with arms and legs, or ovals with multiple appendages like paramecia—just so long as they were easy to draw and easily identifiable as different factions. Every square centimeter of my alien war scenes were covered with detail, slaughter, and simplistic characters who each had their own story in my mind. My mother would sometimes see these pages and really not know what to make of them.
I think Delgado would have understood. I enjoy seeing him take that kind of intensity and deliver it with actual skill and draftsmanship based on extensive research. The detail-rich pages can be daunting to explore, but like some kind of Mesozoic Where’s Waldo, they reveal expressive, individual characters doing unique things within the scenes, all captured in one brief instant of their struggle to survive.
Here’s hoping the rumors about a new, upcoming Age of Reptiles series are true. I’ll buy two copies!
If you’re new to Age of Reptiles and want to get started, I recommend the digital edition of the Age of Reptiles Omnibus for about USD $13. It will be a lot more cost-effective than trying to buy the print versions, and it includes the first, second, and third series.