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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paleo Interview #5: Mike Fredericks

Even if you skimped over the title of the article, you can probably already guess who is our next interviewee (that's still an actual word, wow) is. He is the publisher, editor, and founder of Prehistoric Times magazine, which is now in its 19th year with 101 issues. Recently, I submitted a drawing (entitled "Tug of War" on my Deviantart page) featuring Hesperornis for the 101th issue. Our interviewee was able to publish it in that issue, which is out now for you to buy and enjoy. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gentlemanly ladies and lady-like gentlemen, it is my honour to feature Mike Fredericks. Start virtual applause now.


1. First off, thanks for publishing my drawing in issue #101 of PT. So, when did you first get interested in dinosaurs?
My pleasure Connor, thanks for sharing your nice art. 
Dinosaurs were very popular when I was a kid in the 60s. Several movies, books and toys helped make them “big” in my life at that time. King Kong was shown on TV once a year and I loved it. A film called “Dinosaurus” also was a hit with me. I loved my Marx toy dinosaurs and looked at several kid’s books on dinosaurs practically to the point of rubbing all the ink off of them.

2. What made you want to publish a magazine on dinosaurs?
As a young adult, I rediscovered dinosaurs through the same ways that had initially made me interested in them as a kid; movies, books and toys. Jurassic Park came out in theaters, I found a couple of great dinosaur books in stores that included artwork by William Stout, John Sibbick and others, plus I found a collection of vintage dinosaur toys in an antique store and bought them all. I love both science and art plus I wanted to find out more about dinosaur toys and collectibles. I found another dinosaur nut and he and I decided to start our own dinosaur publication to find more like-minded people around the world.

3. What do you think the hardest part is of composing and publishing a magazine?
I have found it to be a pure joy to publish Prehistoric Times. “Dinosaur people” are the nicest group of people you could ever hope to meet and working and chatting with thousands of them over the past 20 years has been a highlight of my life. I started off slow and only improved the quality of the printing of the magazine as my readership grew so coming up with the money has never been too difficult. (Although I confess to worrying about it from time to time.) I have never been at a loss for content as PT readers are constantly sending me art, info and articles, but most of all you have to love what you are doing and I really enjoy publishing PT.

4. PT features a lot of interviews with paleontologists and paleoartists. What are some of the most memorable interviews you've had?
Having all my favorite paleoartists be a part of the magazine has long been a thrill and I have been fortunate enough to meet most of them in person on several occasions as well. As much as I love the science too, I admit to still being a bit nervous about interviewing paleontologists. I have often let other people do those interviews but for the few that I have done, it was great to be able to ask questions of experts on a subject that I love. Many paleontologists have been good enough to be a part of the magazine over the years and I have had the pleasure of meeting most of them too. I have especially fond memories of interviewing Phil Currie from Canada. Ken Carpenter of Denver was a very good interview in the magazine too, although I didn't do it myself.

5. Here comes the random mandatory question: what is your favorite piece of paleoart / paleoartist?
I have been asked this many times and will never answer. I truly love it all and while I have a few favorites, I am so grateful to all the artists that donate their fine art to PT that I wouldn't want to leave anybody out.

6. Who in your life supported/encouraged your interest in prehistoric creatures?
Certainly my wife has been a saint to put up with it all. We get phone calls at all hours from readers and our beautiful home has dinosaur models on display in it that she does not share my interest in, etc etc. Of course all the PT readers and contributors have supported and encouraged me. If they had not embraced the magazine, I wouldn't still be publishing it.

7. Did any paleontologists/paleoartists (as people such as Thomas Holtz, Bob Bakker, Stephen Brusatte, and Tyler Keillor did for me) influence your interest?
I have had the privilege to meet or converse with most every paleoartist (including Tyler Keillor) and many paleontologists (including Thomas Holtz and Bob Bakker) over the years or at least e-mail with them. They were all the icing on the cake of getting a magazine going on a subject that I love. (One time, Bakker called my house and I didn't believe it was really him for a minute. I thought someone was playing a joke on me.) 

8. What would you recommend for anyone interested in prehistoric creatures?
Read, research and enjoy all that is available out there in books, on-line and everywhere. Oh, and perhaps pick up a copy of Prehistoric Times from time to time. www.prehistorictimes.com
Mike Fredericks
Prehistoric Times

It is once again an honour to feature Mike Fredericks on the blog, and I already have several people on my list that I want to interview too. I've noticed that this interview is different then the rest, because instead of a paleoartist, a paleosculpturist (????), an aspiring well-accomplished paleontologist, and another well-accomplished paleontologist, we had the publisher of Prehistoric Times. I'd have to thank my dad for giving me the idea to interview him, and also thank Mike for interview, and thank the readers for...well... reading, yeah. Oh, make sure to sign up to get updates on your email. Seriously. Do it now. I know you're out there, I know you're reading...

All images from Prehistoric Times website.

*Yes, I know, the highlight around the words doesn't fit the post. I've copied these straight from my email and if I don't do this, there's an ugly white around them. If you know how to remedy this, email me at crexsaurs@gmail.com. 

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