Maris Wicks is the illustrator of Primates (written by Jim Ottaviani), a fantastic comic book about Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas, and the primates they studied. (It was mentioned in our Serious Comics series here.) Wicks also has an upcoming graphic novel, Human Body Theater, a 240-page non-fiction book narrated by a skeleton about how the body works. GeekDad is happy to reveal the cover of Human Body Theater, which will be published in October by First Second Books, accompanied by this guest post from Wicks about her inspiration for the book.
What better a common denominator of the human race than the human body? Everybody Poops truly said it best. No matter what we’re like on the outside, we’re all pretty much the same on the inside (well, at least compared to something like a snail or sparrow or sea sponge). Yet, as human beings, we seem to overlook our fleshy vessels. I mean, when was the last time you said to yourself “Hmmm, oh yeah, there’s a skeleton underneath all this skin and muscle!”?
This fascination with the meat machines that we call “us” is the motivation behind Human Body Theater. (And, some song and dance and magic tricks — it IS the theater, after all.) Beyond that, it’s basic curiosity with our immediate, mobile selves. We are our own greatest science experiments: from the color and shape of our poop, to the texture of our snot when we have a cold, to measuring our growth each year on the door frame, to checking our pulse after sprinting across a field. Some of our first discoveries as a small child are our body parts; toddlers are very quick to point out their eyes, ears, nose, mouth and fingers once they’ve learned their locations. Is through our bodies that we experience the world; the sight of our favorite book, the sound of tweeting birds, the smell of baking cookies, followed by the taste of said cookies, the touch of our favorite blanket.
To inspire this bodily interest is to inspire a broader interest in the natural world. Learning to care for yourself leads to caring for others and the environment around you. Realizing why your body does what it does when you have a cold, or break a bone, get a headache or stomachache can help you to help yourself. Self-care is not something that is always promoted or encouraged from an early age, although as a culture, we have started to place more emphasis on this in adolescence. But we should care for ourselves, and really cherish everything from our tear ducts to our descending colon.
One of my main goals in all my jobs (as both a writer/illustrator and as an educator at the New England Aquarium) is to get kids interested in science. While my upcoming graphic novel Human Body Theater is for everyone, I feel strongly about inspiring girls to learn about themselves and the world around them. I suppose I am doing what many authors do: creating a book that I would have loved to have as a kid, with the hopes that it will reach and inspire future writers, illustrators, scientists, and well, just plain human beings. And to not be so embarrassed next time a fart sneaks out.
After all, everybody farts.
Maris Wicks lives with fellow human Joe Quinones and their cat, Biggs, in Somerville, Massachusetts. She has harnessed the power of her various biological systems to draw comics for Adhouse Books, Tugboat Press, and Spongebob Comics, and written stories for Image and DC Comics. Wicks is the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Primates, with Jim Ottaviani. When she’s not making comics, Wicks works as a program educator at the New England Aquarium. She’s especially proud of her pulmonary system.
Her graphic novel Human Body Theater will be in stores in October.