Week of Grossness—Day 4: Michael Slack and the Grumpy Viruses

By Michael Slack
Gross Body Science Series Illustrator

Being a connoisseur of all things drippy, gooey, crusted, and slime covered, I was very excited when I received a call asking if I would be interested in illustrating a series of books titled Gross Body Science.

Ummm . . . YES!

When working on kids’ books, and especially on educational kids’ books, I’m generally asked to tone down the edginess. So when I received the art notes for the Gross Body Science books, I instantly knew this project was going to be great fun. Some of the art requests were as follows:

Some type of art to go with the text, “Next stop: Large intestine. There, the melted-ice-cream-like goop becomes full-fledged poop.”

Maybe an ice-cream-making machine with ice-cream like goop going in, and poop coming out?

A big, bloody, messy pile of alien worms.

A glob of subcutaneous fat that looks cute ( goes with text, “So this bottom layer of skin is called super-cutie layer”).

A talking poop saying the line, “Did you know poop can talk?”

I can safely say that this was the first (and probably the last) time I have had someone ask me to draw a talking turd.

Throughout the series, I created tons of quirky human characters.human But being a huge fan of monsters, monster movies, and science fiction stories, I had the most fun creating all the strange critters, creatures, and germs. On the top is a sketch of one of my favorite illustrations from the books. And on the bottom is how the finished illustration tuned out.


These are some of my other favorites:

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So you are probably thinking, “Wow, how cool! I’d love to draw grumpy viruses.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, this blog post is a snoozer. I wonder how many new friend requests I have on my Facebook page?” Anyway, I’m going to assume you’re thinking drawing grumpy viruses would be cool. So here is how you do it. Pens and paper ready?

1. Draw a shape. Any shape.

DIYGerm1 2. Add eyes. When it comes to virus peepers, more is always better. Make them goofy.

DIYGerm2 3. Remember, this is the little guy who makes you feel miserable when you are sick. Give him an agitated, mean scowl.

DIYGerm3 4. Finish it off with some squiggly lines, scratchy scruff, and a few noodley appendages, and there you have it! Coxsackievirus.

virus4 Well, I hope you don’t have it. Coxsackie, that is.

Click here to find out how drawing a virus could win you an original drawing from Michael Slack, along with a free book from the Gross Body Science series!