Sunday, August 2, 2009

1980's Flashback: Xenozoic Tales (aka Cadillacs and Dinosaurs)

The post-apocalyptic comic book Xenozoic Tales was created by Mark Schultz. It originally began in 1986, with the story "Xenozoic!" appearing in the comic book anthology series, Death Rattle. This was followed by Xenozoic Tales #1 in February 1987. Sadly, the comic series only ran for 14 issues, and these have been reprinted by several publishers, including Kitchen Sink Press, Marvel, and Dark Horse.

The series proved more successful under the memorable title, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, which spawned a CBS cartoon series, an arcade game from Capcom, a home video game from Rocket Science Games, toys, trading cards, candy bars, and even its own role-playing game.

Set in an alternate future where the Earth has been ravaged by pollution and natural disasters of all sorts, humanity has built vast underground cities in which they have lived for approximately 600 years. Upon emerging, the humans discovered that the world had been reclaimed by previously extinct lifeforms (including most spectacularly, dinosaurs). In the new 'Xenozoic' era, technology has become extremely limited and those with mechanical skills command a great deal of respect and influence.

There are two chief protagonists of the series: mechanic Jack Tenrec and scientist/love interest, Hannah Dundee. Tenrec operates a garage in which he restores old cars, particularly Cadillacs. Given that the post-apocalyptic world no longer possesses the ability to refine oil, Tenrec modifies his cars to run on dinosaur guano. These cars, of course, are frequently chased by rampaging dinosaurs in pulp action-style adventure stories.

Their dystopian world of tomorrow includes various criminals, politicians, scientists, and inventors who populate the world of the Xenozoic Era. There is also a race of reptilian humanoids who cannot speak in a human language but instead communicate by spelling words with Scrabble tiles. These strange creatures have befriended Tenrec, and they apparently also have the ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs. Jack has raised Hermes, an allosaurus who basically acts as the most threatening guard dog one could ask for. Mark Schultz has occasionally expressed interest in continuing the popular cult series since the last issue was released in 1996, but his slow, meticulous art-style has stymied creative interest by any publishers thus far, so the long wait continues …. alas!

Since 2004, Schultz has been the writer of the syndicated Prince Valiant newspaper strip.

1 comment:

Jay Potts said...

This was a beautiful series with an interesting concept that was wonderfully executed. Also, Mark Schultz is a heckuva nice guy.