We've got good news and we've got bad news. The bad news is that Jurassic World: Dominion won't be out until summer 2022. The good news is that you can immediately satisfy your dinosaur cravings with The Folio Society's illustrated edition of Jurassic Park. Bound between two scaly covers, the high-end reprint of Michael Crichton's classic sci-fi novel features six never-before-seen drawings by the U.K.-based artist known as Vector That Fox.
"It’s always been in my favorite film category and favorite book and just anything that Michael Crichton’s done as an author has been at the top of my list," Vector exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "I think Westworld’s probably my favorite TV show. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve not actually [received] a copy of the book yet, so I don’t think I will believe it until I actually see it in my hands."
Thanks to the good folks working at The Folio Society (and in Dr. Henry Wu's lab), SYFY WIRE was able to clone up some exclusive, behind-the-scenes sketches from Vector That Fox's creative process. From the start, the artist was told that the story's tropical jungle setting called for "super vibrant" and "super eye-catching" imagery, which was quite a departure from their personal style that they describes as "quite moody."
"As I was going through the book, I was scribbling on scrap bits of paper and literally placing them in the pages that they belonged to, so that I could look at the book closed from the outside and see that everything was well distributed. Which worked quite well," the artist says. "I also made a really dorky spreadsheet of all of my ideas and then things to tick off like, ‘Is it in the films? Is it not in the films? What’s the mood? What’s the weather?’"
With six being the limit, Vector needed to capture the highs and lows of the book in a relatively small batch of drawings. They admit there was a lot riding on the six scenes that ended up including: the T. rex breaking free of its enclosure and the top secret genetics work going on in the Jurassic Park labs.
"I think especially in the book, it’s just so intense in some areas. The mood kind of drove [me]," the artist adds. "I think having the six illustrations felt like a lot of pressure to get sort of one of each of those feelings in. I wanted to make sure that [I captured] the range of emotions: suspense versus calm and exciting versus terrifying. I wanted to make sure I got at least one of everything. That was really important to me at the start and it was making sure that journey was covered with each drawing."
When asked about their favorite among the bunch, Vector says their preference "probably changes every day." That said, the artist is particularly partial to the lab scene ("all the mist is pretty exciting for me") and the T. rex's debut. "I don’t think it could not be the T. rex attacking the car. It’s such an iconic moment in the book [and] in the film, just across the board. That was definitely the most fun one to draw … When I was pitching the ideas for each section of the book I had to draw, that was up there. I knew that had to go somewhere."
They continue: "I spent over a day working out how the T. Rex’s body would look at that angle with its leg up. It took a really long time to work out the anatomy of it. It showed me that I really want to get more into 3D modeling, so I can build my own skeletons and position them in the ways I want them to be. Working out how the T. rex looked was really challenging, but also the most fun thing I’ve ever done."
Like many fans, the artist was first introduced to Jurassic Park via Steven Spielberg's 1993 film adaptation. Once they took Folio up on their illustration offer, however, Vector avoided the original movie as though it was a hungry and venom-spitting dilophosaurus. "I banned myself from watching it while I was drawing the book, which I think helped," the artist says. "But going back and watching [the movie] after I’d drawn, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ It kind of made me look at things a bit differently."
During their re-read, Vector was pleasantly surprised to find that the raptors (iconic after chasing Lex and Tim through the JP kitchen) get a lot more time to shine in the source material. "I think it gives you another plot line within the whole thing, which I thought was a real treat personally," the artist explains. "It just added some extra stuff, just bonus content. I knew when I was drawing it that I wanted to combine what people knew about Jurassic Park, especially from the films, and include some of that, but then also highlight some of the differences."
Getting to draw the raptors on the cover was another highlight. "They were really fun to do," Vector says. "Just to make them look intelligent and sneaky. It sounds like I root for the baddies. I was definitely told in the first wave of roughs that ... I didn’t have any human beings in them. And I was like, ‘Yeah, because we all know what they look like.’ But I was encouraged to add more humans, which I get. I would have just drawn dinosaurs had it just been left to me."
Just like Spielberg relied on Jack Horner for scientific expertise on his movies, so too did Vector That Fox turn to world-renowned paleontologist Stephen Brusatte for academic advice on his dinosaur depictions. The artist describes Brusatte as "a real-life Alan Grant ... he was really great, working out what I could get away with in terms of what’s actually written and what I need to draw based on the words on the page, but then also what I can twist. Like, ‘Oh, well, it doesn’t mention what they have on their head or not,' so you can squeeze a few feathers in here and there to keep the accurate people happy and just making sure that things are the right scale. He was super useful."
The Folio Society edition of Jurassic Park is now on sale for $59.95 in the U.S. You can order a copy right here before checking out some of Vector's completed illustrations in the media gallery below...