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The True Origin of Commodore Dinosaur

The Mini-Comic:
​Commodore Dinosaur began as just a name back in 1987. I was in college at the time studying commercial art. Partly Inspired by a new-wave/punk catalog for a company called "Commander Salamander" that was lying around my apartment, I started sketching out a goggle-eyed reptile in a very "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band"  looking uniform. Cut to three years later...I'm working the third shift (10 pm to 8 am) at a Kinko's copies and it occurs to me that I could use an employee discount to produce a little comic book. So I did. It was sold at comic shops, used book stores and used clothing shops in the East Lansing and MSU area...there was a local mini-magazine movement going on at the time, so it was an easy sell. Below is a scan of the original production art for the cover. And talk about old school...you can see the paste-up marks and zip-a-tone edges...  

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Dragontales:
​Cut to a year later. I'm now a layout artist in a newspaper comp room. On the side, I'm kind of active in the mini-comic community. Small press producers use snail mail (because that's all there was) to exchange and sell their mini- comics. Through this network, I hear that a guy out east is starting comic book company. I send him a copy of Commodore Dinosaur #1 and (a few weeks later) he contacts me asking for an 8-page backup series for a new title he's starting.  Here a sample...These are the first three pages of the first story that Appeared in "Dragontales." You can see some obvious similarities between this and the current version (at least as far as the story is concerned).

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By the third story, I was given 10 pages an issue. I did a total of five stories for "Dragontales" before the title was cancelled. After that I didn't really do anything with the character for another 12 years.

The Web-strip:
​By 2002 the internet had taken off and I was starting to see comic creators posting their own work online as "web-comics." Just out of curiosity, I did a URL search and found that the dot-com for "Commodore Dinosaur" was available. I leapt on it immediately and began pumping out 3 strips a week. About a year into this venture, I began teaching graphic design, drawing and illustration at a local community college. Even though I didn't have quite the same amount of time to devote to it, I still managed to produce 3 strips a week for 3 years, totaling around 375 strips.

The Current Commodore Dinosaur:
In 2013 I began graduate studies at the Academy of Art University studying Illustration with a focus on sequential art. While taking a character design course with disney animator Jennifer Oliver, I decided to take another stab at Commodore Dinosaur. She rightly pointed out that the Commodore looked a lot like any number of reptilian comic book characters and suggested that I try something with a more unique profile.I decided that no dinosaur could have a more uniques profile than a Parasaurolophus.

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Master of Fine Arts Thesis:

Working on These initial character design sketches showed me just how limited the facial expressions of my earlier Commodore Dinosaur designs were. As I continued work on the character, I beefed up his physique and added a little bit more of a jaw-line. After completing this redesign, I used it as this basis for my MFA thesis proposal. That proposal was for a full color 24-page comic book divided into 3-eight page chapters. With 3 semesters left before my graduation date, I would work on one chapter per remaining semester. This proposal was accepted and it grew into the Commodore Dinosaur origin story, The Quest of Quetzalcoatl.

 

So there you have it.

How after 30 years a character with an admittedly goofy, rhyming name helped earn me my Master's degree. 

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An early concept painting of some of the primarly characters in Commodore Dinosaur. Some of the color schemes and other details would changed as the story developed.