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SYFY WIRE Cretaceous

Exclusive preview: Tadd Galusha goes primeval with Oni Press' new dino-studded graphic novel, Cretaceous

By Jeff Spry
Cretaceous Cover Slice

There are few constants in the universe but one in which we here at SYFY WIRE indulge in at every opportunity is our extreme delirium for dinosaurs, whether represented in feature films, video games, collector statues, plush toys, or comics.

Cretaceous, a brilliant new graphic novel from Portland's Oni Press and writer/artist Tadd Galusha (TMNT/Ghostbusters 2, Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers) is poised to thunder into comic shops in March with a mesmerizing journey back in time when prehistoric creatures ruled supreme.

SYFY WIRE is proud to present an exclusive look inside the ancient forests and plains of Cretaceous to meet its monstrous menagerie of colorful dinosaur denizens.

Cretaceous Cover

This text-free, atmospheric graphic novel is a labor of love from rising star Galusha who spent many years composing the silent saga and sketching the hundreds of jaw-dropping illustrations. It's a 160-page, research-based chronicle of an adolescent Tyrannosaurus Rex who gets separated from its parental unit and must navigate the dangerous primeval world around it.

Embarking on a perilous journey to reunite with them before the violent dangers of the Cretaceous Era separate them for good, Galusha's heart-touching tale takes to the skies and dives deep into the sea exploring all realms in between with hauntingly beautiful drawings on every page.

Cretaceous Page Slice

SYFY WIRE spoke to Cretaceous' creator from his Alaskan home to hear where his dinosaur obsession began, and learn what readers can anticipate in this immersive adventure. After the chat, enter into our 9-page preview in the gallery below, then tell us if you'll trek into its absorbing journey when Cretaceous stomps into existence March 13.

“Cretaceous” is a glimpse into the lives of animals that existed toward the end of the Upper (or Late) Cretaceous period in a region of North America that would be somewhere in present day Alberta/Montana," Galusha tells SYFY WIRE. "The main story centers around the struggles of a family unit of Tyrannosaurus Rex. I wanted the constraints of the environment to dictate the narrative, so I decided for the project to be wordless and let the animals' natural actions and body language propel the story." 

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When crafting his epic dino-drama, Galusha discovered that one builds a "catalog of inspiration." He started off with the usual places for dinosaur stories: Jurassic Park, Tyrant, and Phil Tippett’s short, Prehistoric Beast. As he assigned animals to ecological niches, he also binged-watched PBS nature documentaries as well as silent films. 

"The research was extensive and as much as I hate to admit it I’m still learning a lot.  Just Tyrannosaur physiology alone is an endless amount of material. As a kid I was always into dinosaurs, maybe a little too much into dinosaurs for a while.  Once Cretaceous became a serious possibility I had to really invest some time into research because a lot had changed since Jurassic Park hit the theaters."

Galusha's biggest challenge was making sure that the narrative was clear. There couldn't be anything too confusing or complex or it would kill the flow and readers could get disconnected. 

"I really wanted this book to capture the realities of nature, while also keeping in mind that this is an all ages book," he adds. "I wanted the reader to feel the hardships that the animals endure by simply surviving day to day. A beautiful brutality, if you will. The wilderness is a visceral place of unspeakable beauty where even the greatest predator to have ever lived struggled to subsist. I’m hoping that if the opportunity does arise that I can expand on the world of Cretaceous. I can really get more in depth with the flora and fauna, and even completely new biomes. The source material is endless. Besides the research, the book itself was a timely undertaking. It took quite a few years to find it a home. It was a long road, but it was completely worth every second.

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Our thrilling preview below is a savage sequence showing an interaction of an old Triceratops and a very audacious pack of Dromaeosaurus. 

"I like to think of the Dromaeos like coyotes," Galusha explains. "They’ll distract and bait larger animals that are in some way old and weakened and then lead them into an ambush. Because it’s silent, the underlying narrative is open to the reader’s own interpretation. At no point is it determined the sex of the animals or which dinosaur is “good” or “bad,” so the reader is open to their own assessment as to the dynamic of the animals actions, allowing each person to have a unique and personal viewing."