Jun 06, 14
Children, Artists, Dinosaur Lovers
This fanciful retelling of "The Land that Time Forgot" would just be a passable (if fun) story if not for Gurney's rather lovely artwork. His imagining of his new and strange world carries a depth and weight that, to be trite, truly transports you there--but then, that's what he built his career on.
A competent draughtsman who plied his imagining of ancient Egyptian rituals and architectural recreations in the pages of National Geographic, Gurney's style evokes the travelogue of a naturalist (which is, happily enough, his story's frame), so that the sometimes indulgent fantasy or unremarkable characterization mostly comes off as an occasionally unlikely (or overly likely) world.
This isn't to say that his art is always wholly successful--there are rough patches here and there, especially when his sartorial and tonsorial choices cause his characters to resemble late 60's hippies. It reminds me of the way that one can always tell when a period film was made because the costuming is always viewed through the lens of modern fashion, so that 70's Shakespeare is all wide lapels and feathered bangs, which the 80's trades in for mullets and angular silhouettes.
Portrayed as a travelogue of a shipwreck survivor on the island of Dinotopia, Gurney successfully captures the feel of early century sci-fi tales which even today seem only just beyond the realm of possibility. It seems that the only area positively affected by a little scientific naivete is that of the visionary futurist. Of course, it was not as difficult for Gurney to look back and imitate this method than it was for the original Victorian authors to create it, though it is not a very familiar style for modern readers, anyway.
Perhaps the greatest gift of Gurney's as a combined author/illustrator is that he lets you forget what you know and allows you to believe in what he has created.