I haven’t posted in a while, so that means I have to post right now to give updates. I’m waiting for my shipment of Triassic books to arrive. I actually received 15 copies, just in time for Comic Arts Brooklyn, and I sold out. So, it’s good to know my prehistoric books still gets interest, even though my books have been making appearances at CAB for a while now. I’ve been working on the series for almost ten years now, and I’m a bit tired of it, to be honest. All my projects devolve into a battle of endurance, in that I become sick of it and I have to force myself to work on it. Which is why I generally take a break when I finish a prehistoric book. Right now I’m working on completing another project that’s been screaming to be finished for close to ten years: my science fiction comic about an encounter with alien ant-like beings. But in this post, I don’t want to talk about my space ants, I want to respond to a question I get pretty often when I do conventions: Why do many of my books have a scientific bend to them?
So, I should explain that I have no schooling in science: I’m not a paleontologist, a doctor, or any sort of scientist. I’m just interested in science (especially biology). Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. Well initially I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I learned vets had to euthanize animals, and I wanted no part of that, so I moved on to doctor. I was actually pretty knowledgeable in biology as a kid, thanks to cartoons like “Once upon a time Life”…actually there were a couple of educational cartoons in France that I watched, and I don’t understand why, in the U.S, educational cartoons are practically non-existent. But I digress. I’m a nerd, and as a nerd, I’m compelled to collect facts about the world and to know things. It’s kind of strange when I think about it because my siblings are pretty content knowing nothing. They’re not going to be happy reading this, it’s an exaggeration to mean that they’re not nerds.
Going into my teen years, I went through philosophical turmoil: what’s the point of healing people if we’re all going to die anyway? Needless to say, it was a mostly nihilistic phase, and one I haven’t entirely outgrown. More importantly, I realize two things about myself: I’m an anxious and socially awkward person. If I have a patient with a deadly affliction, how am I going to break the news and how am I going to deal with being around sick people every day? So it’s at that point that I give up my aspiration to be a doctor. In hindsight, I’ve realized that being mildly antisocial and awkward would not have destroyed my medical career: many doctors I’ve met are insensitive jerks, and I could have been an insensitive jerk alongside them.
In my teen years, I veered more towards art. Knowing things is cool, but making things is even cooler. Scientists don’t create, they discover things. Newton discovered the laws of gravity, he didn’t create gravity (although, it’d be funny if he did). And creation is more freeing because you can create something completely nonsensical and stupid, whereas, with science, you can’t discover something absurd, and stupid. I should clarify that my art interest didn’t manifest suddenly in my teen years, I had artistic abilities since I was a kid (I drew pretty well, and I took pottery and piano classes). It’s just that, thanks to my newfound nihilistic thoughts, my artistic tendencies took the upper hand over my intellectual side.
I gave up my aspirations for a scientific career when I gave up on becoming a doctor. But that doesn’t mean I stopped being a nerd who likes to learn things for the heck of it. Maybe because of that, I’ve been the sort of creative person who stayed grounded in reality even though art afforded me the capability to do crazy stupid things. I just did abstract drawings in high school and decided that I preferred drawing things that actually existed. I kind of hate and admire conceptual artists to be honest because their imagination is a lot freer than mine, but at the same time, they don’t put any effort into communicating with their audience. I mean, kudos to you if nailing wood planks in strange configurations is cathartic, but as a viewer, it’s not serving any of my needs.
As for me, it turns out I get catharsis from teaching people things I’ve learned. That’s how I married together my intellectual side with my artistic side. In hindsight, I realize that I was always annoying my parents as a preacher of facts. “Have you heard the good news? Our bodies have an adaptive immune system comprised of neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, and antibodies.” It’s part of human nature to want to share things you think are just phenomenal. For some people, it’s memes or religion. For me, it’s facts. So I attempt to make educational things most of the time. Even my space ant comic I mentioned above is a bit educational: I’m exploring what communicating with aliens would be like, and not assume that every living thing in the universe speaks English. While the educational content might not be as obvious as making huge prehistoric landscapes, I’m trying to impart some knowledge through my work.
So that’s the long answer to why my work has a scientific bend. The short answer, I’m just a nerd.