No matter how you cut it, sharks have an image problem. Ever since Jaws terrified audiences, these ancient and fascinating creatures have long been relegated to berserker villains obsessively hunting their favorite meal—us. Unfortunately, these finned-fish (representing an incredibly diversified group of over 500 species) have paid an incredible toll to our fears.
“As a society, we humans are really good at demonizing certain animals,” says author and illustrator Ted Rechlin (Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jurassic). Best known for natural history-themed dinosaur graphic novels, Ted looked to build on this tradition for his newest release SHARKS. His science-based, adventure-documentary style was largely inspired by the apex-predator’s incredible resiliency. “ Dinosaurs came onto the scene about 180 million years ago. By then sharks had already been around for over 200 million years. And they are still here today! To me that is just so cool. I couldn't help but dive in.”
The result is a thrilling, epoch-spanning epic that seamlessly combines visually stunning comic-style panels with captivatingly strange and ancient shark species. Packed with insights into the history of the Earth, Sharks describes how these legendary ocean dwellers got their start—and how they developed into the complicated creatures we know today.
Putting together such a comprehensive and ambitious project wasn’t easy. “For the most part,” Ted recalls, “the only thing sharks leave to the fossil record is their teeth. Recreating some of these sharks, especially the really old ones, was quite the challenge.” However, it was a task that allowed Ted’s abilities as an artist to truly shine. Due to his dedication to scientifically accurate visual storytelling, readers of all ages can feast their eyes upon the incredible Helicoprion, the eel-like Xenacanthus, and the much loved (and massive) C. megaladon (among countless other fierce, and sometime bizarre creatures.)
Even though a big part of the fun is marveling at these predators (and their rows of razor-sharp teeth), Ted doesn't want to see these creatures cast as villains. “I just hope readers can take away from the book that sharks aren't monsters—that they have value, both as predators that keep ocean ecosystems healthy and as a look into the long, long history of life on Earth. Sharks help us understand the our world.”
Educational, fascinating, and beautifully produced, this is the perfect adventure for budding marine biologists, comic enthusiasts, and lovers of these ancient apex predators of the deep. Sharks: A 400 Million Year Journey (ISBN: 978-1-59152-213-3, $19.95, Sweetgrass Books, 2018) is available at local bookstores and gift shops, through online retailers, or from Farcountry Press at 1.800.821.3874, www.farcountrypress.com.
About the Author/Illustrator
Author and illustrator Ted Rechlin has been drawing pictures and telling stories since he was three years old. While his drawings have gotten much better, his stories haven’t really changed much. They’re still about superheroes, bears, wolves, sharks, monsters, and lots of dinosaurs. Ted feels very fortunate to live a life where he now gets paid to draw his pictures and tell his stories. He has contributed his work to many museums, zoos, and publishing companies like DC Comics and Dover Publications. With four of his own educational children’s books under his belt, Ted is excited about his newest release distributed by Farcountry Press, the epic marine adventure Sharks.