FARGO - Rick Stenerson jokes that he came up with the idea for Urban Dinosaurs, his new graphic T-shirt line, because he was looking for a reason to go to Las Vegas he could write off. The T-shirt idea, however, dates back much further.
As a child, Stenerson remembers his dad once drawing a dinosaur on his T-shirt with a black marker. He loved it, but, unfortunately, it was gone after the first wash.
Many years later, Stenerson created a merchandise line called Club Dinosaur, a takeoff of Club Med. He hit a dead end rather quickly, however, when he wasn't able to trademark it because a similar dinosaur-themed sportswear line already existed. Stenerson believed there was more than enough room for two, but he didn't have the money to fight the matter at the time.
He dusted off the Club Dinosaur drawings last year when he wanted to attend the licensing convention in Las Vegas. They seemed a bit outdated, so he asked his son, Jack Stenerson, for some advice.
The 26-year-old owner of the New Direction music venue in downtown Fargo and member of several local bands suggested a T-shirt line with large graphics and few, if any, words.
They came up with a Starbucks-swilling dinosaur wearing an iWatch and Converse sneakers called the Urbansaurus.
Stenerson asked his longtime friend Noel "Scotch" Anderson to draw the Urbansaurus.
The two had met several years earlier when Anderson worked for Stenerson at Take 2 Video. Stenerson managed the chain of video stores and starred in the television commercials with his son. Readers may remember young Jack and his "You want it, you got it" tagline.
Today, Anderson is a co-host of the Mix 101.9 morning radio show, author of "Scotch draws today's headlines" in The Forum, and owner of Goof Roof, a freelance illustration and graphic design company.
Stenerson said he was blown away by Anderson's take on the Urbansaurus.
"This would be nothing if it weren't for Noel, or Scotch. He's always been Noel to me. It's all on his talent," he said.
Anderson also suggested he create a comic-book series to complement the T-shirt line.
"I think about when I was a kid and there was always this synergy," Anderson said. "You didn't want to go buy a shirt without there being something behind it."
The comic book features the adventures of the Urbansaurus, T-Riff, M.C. Raptor and Hot Rod Rex.
The three men are now all considered co-founders and co-owners of the business. Anderson creates the images; Stenerson, who also owns Stenerson Advertising, manages the day-to-day operations; and his son handles all social media promotions.
Their target market is children ages 5 to 10, but Stenerson said Urban Dinosaur T-shirts are for people of any age.
"I was wearing these shirts in Vegas, and I noticed a lot of people looking," he said. "I'm really looking forward to having some fun with this."
Urban Dinosaur T-shirts and comic books are sold at area comic-book conventions as well as online at www.urbandinosaurs.com.