Today’s day thread is dedicated to my favorite paleoartist of all time, Brian Franczak, who passed away this August at the age of 65. Franczak had been suffering from dementia since at least 2017, at which time he briefly went missing from his home in Bristol, Connecticut.
I first discovered his work as a child in either the Audubon Society’s Pocket Field Guide to Familiar Dinosaurs, which contained about 100 pieces by him, or in an MS-DOS program my family owned that I think might have been the 3-D Dinosaur Adventure CD-ROM game, which included some illustrations by him (in fact, I first learned about his death after being reminded of the game by mention of the early, shrew-like mammal Megazostrodon, which I, Proust-like, recalled learning about from that program.) He was one of the most prolific dinosaur artists of his day, contributing to many other popular dinosaur books. In addition to his many scientific illustrations for educational works, he also illustrated the picture trading cards that accompanied the original Jurassic Park action figure line. He largely retired from illustration late in the 1990s.
In his honor, here are a few of my favorite illustrations by Franczak. Though the reconstructions are occasionally dated, being mostly from the early 90s, his dinosaurs always felt very natural and lifelike to me and helped teach me to think of them as lively, vital animals living in a natural environment rather than simple action-movie monsters.
Franczak’s art was also used as the basis for the Boston Museum of Science dinosaur toyline created by Battat in the ’90s. I owned only one of their figures, a a handsome blue-and-yellow Styracosaurus just like this one reviewed by the Dinosaur Toy Blog.