THE LAST DINOSAUR
David Bruce Bozarth
Copyright © 2003
I am sharing an email that I sent to a long time fan of ERB who happens to like graphic representations as much as I do. I am a pastiche writer. (See Tangor's Fan Fiction) I am also a pastiche artist/illustrator, which appears at ERBList, ERBmania!, and Fan Fiction. Sometimes I work with similar art themes and imaging that has come before. When I sent the image at right to my friend I said something to the effect that this image might be something Roy G. Krenkel, Jr. and Frank Frazetta might have produced. His thoughts:
The atmospheric background was beautifully handled. The lady was provided just enough detail so that she looks lovely, and yet not so much detail that she becomes "your idea of lovely" as opposed to "my idea of lovely." She is vague enough to be lovely to all of us. Another well-done work from the great Tangor!
For whatever reason, that I cannot recall at this time, I sent the following reply which is a few paragraphs of free association addressing many of the reasons why Edgar Rice Burroughs continues to excite me.
If only there was a market where I could make a buck with this "calm me down, occupy my mind piddling with images instead of worrying about others things" scribblings. I am a pastiche illustrator as well as pastiche writer. I am neither Artist or Author, though I could be either. My original works are shades different, yet are so similar to the Old Ways.
I feel like the last dinosaur after the asteroid hit a million years earlier...still doing what the ancestors did, doing it better, and doing it in a world that has moved to a different level. I am not despondent in this regard. I would rather be the best last dinosaur than the first too fast, too loose, too unstructured, and too diversified mammal. But that is because I am the last dinosaur.
There is something to be said for the "new age" in that it repeats the old. Different skin, fur, feathers, diversification, bits and pieces strewn across the landscape of evolution natural and cultural. Bits and pieces of the past embedded in the too fast, too loose, too unstructured and too diversified, yet still tied to the simple themes of eat or be eatten, reproduce or die out, survive or be prey. These aspects of life are the Old Ways revisited in slightly different or slightly perverted, or slightly inverted themes in the new age, yet there is more brutality, more ugliness, more sex--and it is always about sex though it used to be called Romance.
The other last dinosaurs enjoy what I do. Little mammals haunting the places of last dinosaurs might be intrigued and nip about my heels, but they will take what they like best and make it their own to further evolve. Rambling, but on the mark, dear friend. I am not yet ready to write an article of this magnitude because my time is not at an end. The last dinosaur has a life span that has already embraced the First Mammals, their pups, and their litters thereafter. Perhaps the last dinosaur will see the mammals come to their senses and embrace the Old Ways.
ERB probably felt the same as Grey, Wister, Kline or even his old friend Doc Smith entering the fray of literary evolution. Their way was not his way but was similar. The first mammals like Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov and Anderson got his attention, but after the Second to Last Dinosaur died there was Carter, Bulmer, Dick, and Brunner and almost immediately there was Ellison, Niven, Delaney, and Anthony. Each evolution was a bit more divergent, each more brutal, each more sexual.
This last dinosaur exists as a reminder to the mammals. At some point, however, the last dinosaur will perish and can only hope that the short memories of the mammals will retain the Old Ways despite their too fast, too loose, too unstructured, and too diversified New Ways.
I went to take a leak. When I returned to the keyboard I looked over the above. Whew! What a spew of metaphorical BS! I almost deleted the above, but realize there is an ERB related article in the chain of thoughts. I am sure there is a Chinese proverb somewhere that addresses the above. After all, what has come before comes around again whether we wish it or not. Humanity evolves, but that's a dang slow process. Aristole complained about the youths having no courtesy and their lacivious ways way back when. The more it changes, the more it remains the same.
There is comfort in that knowledge.