Today we think of paleontology as one of the fun sciences. Nearly everyone seems to like a good dinosaur discovery with its lively debate about what the bones reveal. We enjoy stories about the travels and work of modern dino-hounds, such as Paul Sereno, Sue Hendrickson, and Xu Xing. Paleontologists were not always held in such high regard. In fact, in the late nineteenth century, they were ridiculed for their crazy theories and their bitter rivalries. Jim Ottaviani and the artists of Big Time Attic tell about early paleontologists, who perhaps deserved some of their bad press, in the graphic novel Bone Sharps, Cowboys, And Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology.
The publisher of Bone Sharps, Cowboys, And Thunder Lizards labels it as "science/history," but Ottaviani says clearly in his afterward that it is historical fiction. Most of the characters are or were based on real people, but the author took artistic license with the story in the way movie producers do when they present true stories. Time lines are rearranged, quotes are given to other speakers, and people who never actually met meet. Ottaviani adds eleven pages of notes to let readers know what was fact and what was fiction in his story. It is a pretty clever way to teach history.
Being a graphic novel, you might think it could be read very quickly, but there is so much content in the pictures themselves. A reader must take some time looking at facial expressions and what is going on in the background. Not all of it made sense to me. I was grateful for the notes at the end.
The publisher G. T. Labs has a series of science history graphic novels. I am placing some more reserves to see what else I might learn.
Ottaviani, Jim and Big Time Attic. Bone Sharps, Cowboys, And Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology. G. T. Labs, 2005. ISBN 0966010663