STUMPTOWN UNDERGROUND is a zine collective publishing monthly issues around a given theme. The theme of their fourth installment? DINOSAURS.
While the thematic territory of Terrible Lizards is perhaps too close to that of their third issue ("Monsters"), the adorable dinosaur's hold on the imagination of the hipster is well documented. (That chick who does tarot readings with plastic dinosaurs at the Hawthorne food carts should stock up on a stack of these, and sell them along with her fortunes.) And really, who could fail to be charmed by Cathy Camper's observation—clumsily scrawled in childlike print on an early page of Terrible Lizards—that "Inside every bird is a dinosaur!," as a drawing of an X-rayed bird reveals its lizard-like interior.
While the digital copy of Terrible Lizards I received for review was missing a few entries, it was clear that the anthology is packed with poetry, prose, comics, and jokey little advertisements—and while all of the comics crouch somewhat awkwardly in the shadow of Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics (see Fun Page, pg. 55), they're nonetheless the highlight of the collection. The prose suffers from a lack of basic editing—take Jon Hallman's essay about Godzilla. "There are only two movies that I have cried at the end: Bambi and Godzilla 1985. When they lured him into a volcano at the end using a high-frequency homing signal and then blow up said volcano I lost it." Clunky. Wouldn't pass in a high-school composition class. It'd only take a quick fix—adjust some tenses, clarify some pronouns—and the piece would more effectively make Hallman's point that Godzilla might not be so bad, if people would only give him a chance. Far better is Tom Lechner's ravaging dino, tearing into the belly of a downed beast only to stop and ask, "Do I look fat?"
Interestingly, a recurring theme is one of childhood education betrayed: What happened to the brontosaurus? Remember when dinosaurs were lizards? The T-Rex isn't King of the Jungle, he's just a giant scavenger with internal elbows—and so on. Terrible Lizard's contributors embrace nostalgia for the dinosaurs of their childhood, while lamenting, whether consciously or not, the fundamental limits of their understanding.