Title: Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas
Author: Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
Publisher: First Second
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves.
Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. (Source: Goodreads)
This book is a sorta-kinda nonfiction graphic novel biography about Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas (“The Trimates”), some of the most important ape researchers ever. All of whom were women and mentored by the same man, Dr. Louis Leakey. The story, as it is woven by Ottaviani and Wicks, shows the parallels and differences in their fields of research and links together three of the most interesting women I’ve ever read about. It’s a fantastic read for anyone.
Everything about this book is amazing. First of all, the content is hugely interesting. I did not know a lot about Goodall, Fossey, or Galdikas prior to reading this book. Not that I’m suddenly an expert, but the book has given me a good introduction and made me more interested in the women that are the subject of the book. I don’t have a background in any science (Art degree for the win!) but have always kind of wished I’d studied Zoology or something. Of course, like the women in the book my impression of their world is somewhat romanticized. I’m really glad that Ottaviani and Wicks showed just how unromantic the field is, especially if you consider how little reward these women found, initially, in their work (especially Fossey, who was, tragically, murdered). The whole book just entranced me and made me so interested in the people and the studies that were performed. I do know a few things, from a class in animal psychology and seeing a few documentaries, but now I’m even more interested.
The art in this book was everything I love in a graphic novel. Clean, colourful, very clear in its direction, motion, and emotion. I liked the depth of space in a lot of the jungle scenes. The use of space was also just fantastic. There is one section in particular where they are representing the sound of the gorillas surrounding them in the jungle, and just…amazing. The sound carries outside of the panels and fills the margins of the book. I loved this use of space, and it was consistently fantastic throughout the book.
Other notes on the book. The women are individualized well in voice and this is represented in the art through different typography for each of them representing their own notes. This paired with the incredible illustrations makes for very real characters whose personalities jump off the page. I think this is most obvious in Dian Fossey because the wrinkles, etc. on her face made her feel real, and gave a really good range of facial expressions.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this book enough. The art is amazing. The story is well written, using a good amount of research (there’s a fantastic bibliography in the back), and its well written and engaging. I wish this book had existed when I was younger so I could have read it earlier. I highly recommend this for all readers.
Have you read Primates? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Jim Ottaviani at his website, Goodreads, and Twitter.
Check out Maris Wicks on her blog and Twitter.
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